Decision will be a template for reconciling environmental protection with new “market based” planning rules 

Hamilton, Ont. – Taking its cue from tens of thousands of residents, Hamilton’s City Council has committed to accommodate the next 30 years of urban growth through greyfield redevelopment, intensification along proposed mass transit lines, and zoning reform designed to add many thousands of new homes to existing low-rise residential neighbourhoods – and not through boundary expansion. Hamilton will preserve all of its contested countryside including the 3,300 acres of prime farmland targeted by developers this year.

“Hamilton City Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. The 13 – 3 council vote for ‘No Boundary Expansion’ demonstrates a solid commitment to taking serious action to build a Hamilton that is truly climate resilient and inclusive,” said Lynda Lukasik of Environment Hamilton. “There is plenty of work still to be done, but we know Hamiltonians are ready to make it happen!”                                     

Hamilton’s decision will be a valuable template for other Greater Golden Horseshoe regions struggling to reconcile social equity and environmental protection with the province’s radical “market-based” planning policy changes. That is because, rather than defying provincial rules, or disregarding market demand projections, Council has directed staff to reform existing residential zoning to generate the same numbers and types of homes that would otherwise be produced through settlement area boundary expansion. It will be very difficult for the province to justify rejecting Hamilton’s decision, because it signalled approval for this housing mix in a letter earlier this year.

“Hamilton’s decision has demolished the wall of developer-spawned misinformation that has already duped at least one Region into acquiescing to 30 more years of accelerated, car-dependent, farmland-chewing “greenfield” sprawl development,” said Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager, Environmental Defence. “Despite the Ontario government’s attempts to railroad municipalities into sprawl, Hamilton has shown all of the GTHA’s regional councils how they can legally transform their existing car-dependent neighborhoods into complete walkable communities, rather than sacrificing more farmland and natural heritage. Every other regional government should slam on the brakes and apply the precedent Hamilton has set.”

“We are a grassroots group of concerned citizens that grew from two people eleven months ago to tens of thousands of engaged Hamiltonians. The City of Hamilton has now committed to building more vibrant neighbourhoods with efficient transit, safe active transportation, and a mix of housing types that are suitable for all stages of life and all income levels while saving 3,300 acres of prime Hamilton farmland,” said Nancy Hurst, Co-Founder of Stop Sprawl HamOnt. “Hamilton’s decision will have positive ripple effects across the Greater Golden Horseshoe and should embolden citizens who also are fighting to save their natural heritage from the big sprawl.”

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities


For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca,

Nancy Hurst, Stop Sprawl HamOnt  info@ssho.ca

Lynda Lukasik, Environment Hamilton Llukasik@environmenthamilton.org

Don McLean, Hamilton 350 Donmurrraymclean@gamil.com