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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Suburbs must be recognized for what they are, and the challenges they pose to the cities around which they orbit. Its the saddest thing to see, across North America, suburban strip malls and cul-de-sacs (all based on automotive transport) literally gutting the downtown areas of life. Furthermore, the “services” end of supplying transport and utilities to a “sprawl” is prohibitively cost-ineffective.

    And yet the trend continues.

    Regardless of the income of the folks living in suburbs, I believe the the debilitating cost of sprawl should factor in to the taxes in those areas. Perhaps they could do a system – like today – where increased tax assessments don’t effect current homeowners: it kicks in when someone new purchases the house.

    The double-standard I am seeing is that on one hand you have the opposition to the Chebucto widening project, favoring bike lanes and all that, and on the other hand, suburban sprawl is allowed to continue unchecked! You can’t limit one without limiting the other: how would one expect all the suburbanites to get into their jobs from suburbs that barely have bus routes?

  2. It seems to me that if we applied a “per service” methodology to all taxation, we’d have a pretty dumb tax system. Would we charge families for sending their kids to school? More children, more money? Would we be charged for going to the doctor?

    If the incentive is really to discourage suburban sprawl, I’m sure there are more efficient ways than to reform the tax system. It is pretty transparent that this will favour the rich and harm the poor, and that’s why they’re scrambling to implement relief for the poor under this system, and something about a bit more money for really rich people (wait a minute, don’t we already have a system that is pretty fair?). But in the end this favours the majority of rich people, perhaps giving them incentive to buy suburban homes now that they don’t have to worry about high taxes, and harming the moderately poor people, forcing them into deeper poverty.

    If we want to curb suburban sprawl, why not attempt to make the suburbs themselves more efficient? They have the houses and the roads, now all they need is a local economy, a more dense urban center within the neighbourhoods, shops close at hand so the residents can walk or bike to the store instead of drive. Stuff like that, instead of just making poor people pay more money. What are they going to do… abandon the suburbs because they can’t afford them anymore? That doesn’t seem like a sustainable approach to me…

  3. This was a fantastic article! While reading it, more than a few times, I found myself saying ‘wow, I never thought of it that way.’ Very imformative and very helpful.

    Being from Cape Breton, living in Toronto, and having land near Baddeck, I ended up thinking about all the different ways taxation could affect the places I live and have lived. Do I deserve a tax break to live in downtown TO? Not really… Do I deserve a tax increase for developing near Baddeck? Probably not…but the ‘in between’ (ie: suburbs) raise a ton of questions.

    Look forward to the next piece on this topic….