Peter Hume Throws Down

Peter Hume, the chair of the city’s planning and development committee isn’t particularly sympathetic to the complaints of Brian Johnston, the Chief Operating Officer of Mattamy Homes, who recently complained about the “red tape” associated with development projects in Ottawa. Here’s what Hume had to say:

“I’m exasperated. I’d reject the claims that red tape is an issue,” said Hume. “In Ottawa, as well as other municipalities, we are trying to control growth and stop sprawl. It’s not sustainable. It’s the residents that will suffer.”

And at the planning meeting on Tuesday, Hume went even further:

Here’s what the COO said:

“Buying land is very difficult. If it’s got approvals, it’s incredibly expensive,” Johnston told the Globe and Mail. “We’ve created such an onerous planning system in this country, and I would argue that’s one of the reasons that we see such significant house price inflation. We’ve made it difficult for ourselves to get land through the planning system, and that’s creating this supply constraint. So you’re seeing much higher (house) prices, and a lot more highrise condominiums.”

Well, guess what; that’s what happens in a democracy. We’re allowed to shape our community as we see fit. We’re allowed to fight sprawl. We’re entitled to fight environmental degradation…we have a moral obligation to fight environmental degradation. Our city does not have to genuflect to the whims of developers and financiers.

Johnston complained that it is easier to develop property in Florida than it is here. Florida’s housing market was one of the worst hit during the recession of 2008, and they’re still recovering. They grew fast, created a huge bubble and suffered severely when it burst. It’s probably best we don’t follow their lead.

I’ll take Peter Hume over the trivial bleatings of a developer.

Intensification and ghettos

It looks as though the city is about to take an interesting step in its zoning regulations. Worrying about the potential emergence of student ghettos in Sandy Hill, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, city council has before it a motion to put a temporary moratorium on the conversion of houses into apartments. The motion was presented by Alta Vista Councillor Peter Hume and will be voted on tomorrow (Wednesday).

It’s noteworthy that Mr. Hume dubbed his own motion “draconian”. This is, perhaps, a tad hyperbolic, but his characterization demonstrates the severity of the measure and, thus, the apparent degree to which the threat of student ghettos is perceived. Continue reading