Density over sprawl, says St. John’s Board of Trade

Published on August 5, 2013
Board of Trade chairman Denis Mahoney.

According to St. John’s Board of Trade, size does matter, but bigger is not necessarily better.

At least not when it comes to a sprawling city.

The board is bringing up density as a municipal election issue and suggesting voters ask infrastructure-savvy questions when candidates come knocking on their doors looking for support.

According to a news release from the board, if the city of St. John’s were designed more densely, basic services could cost less.

“Growing out is not a good indicator of prosperity if it is more expensive to service and maintain needed infrastructure,” board chairman Denis Mahoney says in the release.

“The question to ask your candidates when they come knocking for your vote, is what their plans are for using existing infrastructure?

“How do they plan to effectively grow the city without sprawling out?”

The news release says a Sierra Club report called “How Sprawl Hurts us All” points out that residential tax rates are 38 per cent lower in Toronto proper than in many surrounding municipalities that are growing at more than twice the rate of Toronto.

It’s suggested this disparity is due to the municipalities building new infrastructure while Toronto uses what already exists.

The release says more than $67 million in infrastructure was built and turned over to the St. John’s  from new developments between 2007 and 2010.

Taxes will have to pay for the clearing and repaving of those roads over the years and the regular maintenance on the water and sewer lines.

The release says the number of lane kilometres of road has increased significantly and public works is struggling to get lines painted on them.

“Redeveloping previously used spaces, connecting neighbourhoods via trails, parks and bike lanes, among other tactics, have been used to increase density and reduce sprawl around the world,” Mahoney says.

“We have seen glimpses of such initiatives in St. John’s, and we encourage the candidates to start talking about how they would enhance our existing neighbourhoods.”