Not In My Backyard

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In today’s Lethbride Herald, there was an article about a group of roughly 100 residents who oppose a developer’s plan to build a complex that included affordable housing, assisted living and condos.

Here was my response:

Editor,

I read with interest your article entitled “Council to consider land-use change but Fairmont Park residents opposed” in the 12 February 2007 issue.

I was first encouraged by the article when I read that at least one developer in Lethbridge is interested in providing housing options other than single-family homes on individual lots. Given that our vacancy rate is 0.6%, our multi-family housing starts are at the lowest in seven years and average home prices are projected to increase at least $25,000 by year’s end, one would think medium-density housing would be welcomed.

Yet, unfortunately, many people are quite unwelcome to it as evidenced by 100 local residents opposing the development.

Given all the benefits medium- to high-density housing would provide our growing city, I do not see why people would oppose this. I do not see why people are willing to accept higher property taxes, greater infrastructure costs, traffic increases, more pollution and all the other negative issues that accompany urban sprawl. Not only would higher density housing alleviate all of the above problems, but it increases transit use, decreases property crime and promotes healthier living (via pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods).

And yet the only benefit to low-density housing is one is separated from one’s neighbour. Is it worth it?

5 thoughts on “Not In My Backyard

  1. Were there any responses to your letter Kim? My response would be that “most” people still dream of their own piece of grass. Their own home with their own yard that they do not have to share. By having multi-family areas or medium density living areas, you do not have this. We live in a condo and when we sit in our back yard which consists of a 3 feet by 1 foot piece of cement we watch people walk past us watching what we are doing and it is very annoying. You can hear people closing their cupboard doors above you and in the early mornings you can hear the guy next door going to the bathroom.

    Living in a medium or high density area does not increase transit usage. Not normally anyway… everyone leaves from our area in their cars. Very few neighbors use transit. Why take transit that will take you 2 hours one way to get to work when it will take you 30 minutes by car? Yes it would save the eco-system technically, less gas use less traffic. One the other hand, several years ago our transit system went on strike. They remained on strike for several months. I had to drive into Richmond to go to work and going over one of the bridges I began to notice how clear I could see around me and in the distance. The first day the transit began running as I went over the bridge all I could see was smog. Yup.. using transit really cleaned up the air.

    I use transit to get around now. I live in a condo area. I do my part to help the environment. But I would give it all up to have my own space and my own piece of grass.

  2. There were no responses yet. It was published just yesterday.

    Living in a medium or high density area does not increase transit usage.

    Medium- and high-density housing increases transit usage when the development is on a transit route. Not only that, but it decreases the distance buses need to travel to carry the same number of people, reducing costs to run transit and reduce travel times.

    The first day the transit began running as I went over the bridge all I could see was smog.

    Smog is not just vehicle pollution. In addition, several factors contribute to how heavy smog is (including air pressure, humidity, and temperature).

    using transit really cleaned up the air.

    Transit will clean up the air only if the vehicles it took off the road are not replaced.

  3. and that will never happen in any large city. Well maybe in an ideal city but not in a real one. The only time you are going to be able to use that logic is when new development is happening which is normally on the outskirts of any city. But then you have to increase the distance you will be traveling whether by car or transit. Not only that but city officials are people that normally do NOT take transit and so they put buses on areas that “they” think need them and remove them from areas that really do need them. For example, there are no longer buses running on 64th between the hours of 9 and 3:30. Somebody decided that people on that street and in that vicinity all work and are all gone away from their homes during those times.

    I do not have a car and I volunteer at the Family History Centre 2 afternoons a week starting at 2PM that is in that area. There are no buses. I can take one bus on 132nd to 68th ave but would have to get off there and walk 10 blocks over. I can take a different bus to Newton Exchange and transfer to one going down King George and get off on 64th and walk the 12 blocks over. I can take a different bus on 72nd ave to 126th street and walk the 8 blocks down. I can take the same bus down 72nd ave to Scottsdale Exchange transfer there to one going south on 120th till 64th then walk the 6 technical blocks uphill . I say technical for those who are doing the math that think 126(where the building is)-120 is only 6 blocks won’t know that blocks out here are not normal length blocks. Or I can do what I normally do and that is walk the hour it takes me to get there from my door cause most buses only run every 30 minutes and if you just missed it I would have to wait another 30 minutes.

    And this is just one person. Yup.. a great big huge bonus for me to use transit. And then of course when you do have the blessing of living in a medium density area where there are a lot of people who happen to take the same transit that you do, you will have the extra bonus of being on a standing room only vehicle with a bunch of people who don’t ever use deodorant. Joy.

    You said “Medium- and high-density housing increases transit usage when the development is on a transit route. Not only that, but it decreases the distance buses need to travel to carry the same number of people”

    How can it decrease the distance the buses need to travel when they are still going to say the sky train station? You actually will be going farther away.

  4. There is only one solution to reducing traffic; take away the roads, period.

    There is an increasingly popular idea among urban planners to make large areas vehicle inaccessible.

    I have no problem with that at all.

    The use of a Segway or electric cart can be used for transporting loads around and everyone else can park on the perimeter; the rapid transit, on the other hand, takes you straight through.

    This rewards people who take transit and, by design, reduces amount of vehicles.

    I, for one, am all for it.

  5. and that will never happen in any large city.

    Because, as rick says, they keep building more roads. Drivers will rarely use transit without incentives. One good example of this is urban planners who build an extra vehicle lane for HOV use rather than converting an existing lane. All that does is encourage an increase in vehicles.

    “I say technical for those who are doing the math that think 126(where the building is)-120 is only 6 blocks won’t know that blocks out here are not normal length blocks.

    Or you can take the C75 to 128 St and 64 Av and walk only three blocks (unless you count the five blocks from your house to the bus stop), and you don’t even have to transfer. Your experience illustrates precisely how higher density housing would encourage better bus service along 64 Av. If more people lived on 64 Av (or there were more services to attract people), there would be more incentive for transit to service the street.

    where there are a lot of people who happen to take the same transit that you do, you will have the extra bonus of being on a standing room only vehicle with a bunch of people who don’t ever use deodorant.

    Quite frankly, that’s a poor reason not to build higher density housing. Even so, if a bus consistently has standing room only throughout the day, then transit will increase route frequency.

    How can it decrease the distance the buses need to travel when they are still going to say the sky train station?

    Because it has less distance to travel to pick up the same amount of people. If all the medium- to -higher density housing on that route was replaced with low-density housing, the route would have to be longer to pick up the same number of people.

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