NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

CANADA HASN'T LEARNED THE PORTLAND LESSON

July 6, 2005

Toronto is taking a cue from Portland, Oregon, by establishing a growth boundary around the city, thus prohibiting further development. But farmland in the "no-build" zone will drop in value, while housing prices inside the boundary will skyrocket, according to the Western Standard.

Farmers who simply want to sell their land at market value are accusing Ontario's premier, Dalton McGuinty, of transferring wealth from rural citizens to urban dwellers. Furthermore, limiting development will make housing more unaffordable as the population grows:

  • By 2030, the population of greater Toronto is expected to increase by over 2 million; Toronto's growth boundary will make housing out of reach for lower-income families.
  • Demographic and transportation consultant Wendell Cox notes that when Portland established its growth boundary in 1997, housing affordability levels became the worst in the United States.
  • Economist Randal O'Toole notes that Portland's growth boundary has made Portland the second most traffic-congested city in the United States, just behind Los Angeles.

While farmers are permitted to continue farming on their land, it is little consolation for landowners who are facing five-year lows on corn and soy prices, and would rather have the option of selling their land to developers.

Furthermore, Victor Doyle, co-manager of the greenbelt plan, says that Canada does not guarantee property rights like the United States, so there is no mechanism by which individual landowners can appeal the boundary.

Source: Cyril Doll, "Giant Green Folly?" Western Standard, April 4, 2005.

 

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