Downtown Secondary Plan, “Putting People First: The New Land Use Plan for Downtown Hamilton”
The Hamilton Downtown Secondary Plan (DTSP) is the first formal plan that was developed for the Hamilton downtown core in 2001. The Plan applies to the areas bordered by Victoria Ave, Queen St, Hunter St, and Cannon St. It also includes properties along James St N from St. Joseph’s Hospital to the CN Rail. This is the third draft of the plan since launching a review in 2008. Since then, it has gone through many revisions, and the latest changes stem from community input on three main issues: housing, escarpment views, and building height.
Hamilton’s rental vacancies have dropped to record lows (2.7%). In the latest development of the Hamilton Downtown Secondary Plan, incentivized construction of rental units and maintenance of existing properties are of high importance. As a result, the DTSP includes a strategy so that any demolition or redevelopment of a property involving existing rentals must also replace the original units.
The property owner must also implement an acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan, including the right to return and occupy the replacement housing at similar rents to lessen the hardship of co-operating with plans for redevelopment.
Section 37 bonusing
Another incentive introduced to the Plan is the Section 37 bonusing, which potentially allows more building height than zoning requirements dictate for the area. Approval for bonusing requires the proposal to fit DTSP requirements:
- Shall not be taller than the escarpment
- Is consistent with the DTSP mandate
- Compatible with the surrounding area
- Provides community benefit(child care facilities, affordable housing)
Many areas of the downtown core have seen significant changes to maximum allowable building heights. After much discussion between the City and community leaders, the City clarified that a development proposal with the maximum allowable height of 30 storeys would need to show a significant benefit to the community in order to be approved.
The maximum height map shows the future home of the much-debated towers is located west of James St. The only areas where development is guaranteed to stay under six storeys is Whitehern, and the land bordered by Hunter St W, Caroline St N, and Jackson St W.
Other key changes
- Builders are required to include noise prevention measures for residential properties surrounding live music venues.
- The City will lessen parking requirements in exchange for larger 3-bedroom apartments in order to encourage new developments with family-sized units.