Shifting urban boundary 'makes millionaires,' planning prof says

By Kate Porter, CBC News Ottawa, May 26, 2020

When a city's urban boundary moves an inch, people get rich, David Gordon says.

Gordon, author of Town and Crown, a history of how Canada's capital developed, points to how the former Nepean township allowed Barrhaven to become a residential area. Its reeve, Aubrey Moodie, later faced accusations of conflict in the 1970s when property he partly owned was sold for 30 times the original purchase price after only seven years, Gordon recounts.

A generation later, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton granted an application by Terrace Investments in Kanata to rezone 100 hectares of agricultural land for urban uses so an NHL hockey arena could be built. It was part of a larger pitch to create an entire town around the rink, Gordon said.

"The very deep-pocketed developers have bought [rural] property decades in advance, far out. When you get those [properties] converted, they become the foundation of local fortunes," said Gordon, who is a professor at Queen's University's School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Already, councillors on the planning and rural affairs committees have supported the expansion in a 10-1 vote.

Among the 100 public delegations they heard from earlier this month were developers, as well as consultants in real estate, land economics and planning.

Coun. Shawn Menard didn't have a seat on those committees but asked several presenters if they owned land outside the boundary and stood to gain financially from an expansion. It was a question committee chairs Jan Harder and Eli El-Chantiry sometimes dissuaded him from asking.

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