Industry Report: New Residential Development Brings New Amenities to GTA Communities
Have you noticed that when a community gets a new crop of houses, townhouses and condos, it also acquires a wider selection of shops and restaurants, new public spaces, maybe even a park or a community centre?
These are just some of the benefits that our communities receive when we build new housing for GTA residents.
With more people moving into an area, a larger number and variety of businesses — coffee shops, pizzerias, dentist offices, dry cleaners and fitness studios — can thrive. A great example is the Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. neighbourhood. Along with condos, the area has lately added a renovated shopping centre, a major grocery store, a wider selection of unique restaurants and fun venues like board game cafes. Neighbourhood amenities like these don’t just make life more convenient and enjoyable, they also provide expanded employment opportunities in the area.
Residential development also brings new parks to communities in the GTA and helps expand and maintain existing ones. The City of Toronto, for instance, asks builders and developers to set aside a certain amount of land on development sites for parkland or pay a fee to be used to purchase land for new parks or improve existing ones. The 3.1- hectare Canoe Landing Park in the CityPlace neighbourhood in Toronto, with its sports fields, walking paths and art by Douglas Coupland, is an example of a new park created through a parkland dedication agreement.
Other open spaces become available to the public when developers provide landscaped courtyards, walkways and plazas as community benefits. These privately owned, publicly-accessible places may be smaller than traditional parks, but they still provide much-needed retreats from the bustle of urban life.
For example, residents and visitors alike enjoy the rose garden next to the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, and office workers soak up the sun on their lunch hour in the many landscaped parkettes that dot the Financial District.
Another benefit that residential development brings to communities is improvements to infrastructure such as roads, transit, sewers, libraries and community centres. Whether you are seeing work crews resurfacing roads in your neighbourhood or you are enjoying the new community centre in Markham, you can be sure that a significant portion of the funds for this infrastructure work came from development charges levied by municipal governments.
There is no doubt, however, that the central benefit of our industry’s work is bringing to market a supply of new houses, townhouses and condominium suites so that people who want to live in the GTA can find housing options at prices they can afford. As the municipal elections approach this fall, we will be encouraging GTA residents to ask their local candidates to commit to taking action on increasing housing supply. That way, we can all reap the many benefits of housing development.
DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Bildgta.ca