NIMBY’s Are Alive And Well In The GTA!

NIMBY’s Are Alive And Well In The GTA!

I was in the kitchen at Bosley Real Estate on Wednesday afternoon, putting dry tuna on an ever more dry rice-cake, and an agent who I hadn’t seen in a few months came up and gave me a hug.


What was this for?

“Hey, um, great to see you too,” I said.  “What’s up?” I asked.

She looked at me with these sad eyes and said, “I read your blog today.  It was awful.  And I saw you here, so, I just wanted to give you a big hug!”

That was nice!

The blog was not.

And the readers came out in full force to talk smack, which I found amusing.

Combine the two blogs on Monday and Wednesday and it might leave a reader feeling blue.

Well, it shouldn’t.  I mean, these experiences didn’t happen to you guys and gals, but the subject matter wasn’t exactly uplifting.

I wanted to write something positive today to offset those two blogs, but without a slew of funny “MLS musings” on hand to show off, I found myself looking at other options.

There was one such option that I just couldn’t move past.

A reader emailed me this week with a link to an article and I had it queued up, but I felt it “deserved” more time than a typical Friday blog allows.  But we have a long weekend coming up, thus the “holiday schedule” for next week is in full effect (I believe it was Derek who coined the term, and noted the pattern, in the summer of 2021…), so I think today is a good day for the topic!

Let’s play a game, shall we?

Caption this photo:

(Simon Martin/Metroland)

How about: “The guy on the right in the blue is colder than anybody else.”

What if we said, “Everybody look tough on 1, 2…….3″

Maybe the caption should read, “This is what a gang looks like – in the suburbs.”

But in the end, I think I’d go with this:

NIMBY’ism personified.

That’s who these people are.

They are NIMBYS.

They are literally NIMBYS by the very definition of the word, as you’ll soon read, but they’re also something else: they’re a new generation of NIMBYS.

They’re proud NIMBYS.

This is what “NIMBY pride” looks like.

It’s a bunch of people posing for a photo, completely fine with having their name, imagine, and likeness on file in the annals of the Internet for all of eternity, because they are so incredibly proud and justified in and of their actions.

Have a gander at this article:


“Development Proposal For Stacked Townhouses On Main Street In Stouffville Draws Heavy Criticism From Residents”
April 10th, 2023


I laughed when I read the sub-heading:

Plan to build 60 stacked townhouses from 6481 to 6487 Main STreet, east of Park Drive, has local residents up in arms.

Get it?

Up in arms.

Their arms are all up, and crossed across their chests in the photo.  Well, except for the guy in the blue hoodie who looks cold and somewhat disoriented.

From the article:

The heritage district of Main Street has mostly been spared from development proposals until now. A proposal from 6481 Main Street Stouffville Limited Partnership to build 60 stacked townhouses from 6461 Main St. to 6487 Main St. east of Park Drive has local residents up in arms. They voiced a litany of concerns with the development at a public meeting late last month.

“The number of units and overall density is far too high for that area,” Dave Nicoll said. “A reasonable number in our opinion would be 30 to 40 units.”

Nicoll helped form the Stouffville Village Ratepayers group to respond to the original proposal, which was for 106 stacked townhouses.

The new proposal may have shaved 46 units off the original, but resident Kathleen Phelan said the first proposal was so outlandish that any concessions should be approached with skepticism.

“The proposed development is the first of many on the east side of the heritage district of Main Street,” she said. “The allowances we give this development will be allowed for coming developments.”


Alright, so you have a developer that is looking to build 60 stacked townhouses and a local resident says “a reasonable number in our opinion would be 30 to 40 units.”

In their opinion.

Their opinion………  As city planners?  Or as NIMBYS?

The original application was for 106 stacked townhouses, but their second application was for 60.

And it’s still not small enough?

The one resident quoted above believes that the first proposal was “so outlandish that any concessions should be approached with skepticism.”

Again, is that an opinion as a city planner or a NIMBY?

Here’s a classic NIMBY line:

“Let’s not turn the core of our town into towering complexes that will ruin the look, feel and the use of our beautiful Main Street,” she said.

Right or wrong, that is a NIMBY’ism.

“Ruin the look, feel, and use….”

Not In My Back Yard

Here’s some more reasoning:

Mick Oliveira said the development’s park plan was substandard, with a total of 94 parking spaces for 60 units. “I expect the applicant is unable to physically fit the required 120 parking spaces within the plan for the proposed 60 units, which actually demonstrates that the proposed 60 units is too much for this .6 hectare property.”

Oh, wow.

So now we have conflicting ideologies.

In Toronto, where 500-unit buildings are being constructed with 50-60 parking spaces in total, there’s a movement away from parking spaces in condos and toward cycling and transit.

In Stouffville, we’re insisting that there’s a 2-to-1 ratio for cars-to-units.  MUST HAVE two parking spaces for every unit.

So is this a real objection to the size and scale of the proposal, or just an inventive one?  God forbid somebody in a townhouse doesn’t drive two cars.

How about this:

“The integrity of our heritage should be respected in the build style of infill development and quite frankly we don’t understand the continual refusal to do so.”

So they want to dictate size and style.

But the Mayor is willing to die to keep this project from moving ahead:

“It’s our heritage district, which we just approved last term so we’re not throwing that out the window,” he said. “This will be the hill that I die on.”

Spoken like a true politician!

But this fight might be about something more.  It might not be about one development that residents don’t like but rather all developments down the line that residents won’t like:

With neighbouring Main Street properties up for sale, residents and council felt the added importance of getting the development right.

“You’re going to be the prime example for the rest of Main Street. What we do here will be important for the rest of these developments,” Ward 6 Coun. Sue Sherban said.

I just can’t get over that photo.

They’re so goddam proud of themselves.  It’s very unflattering.

Meanwhile, in Toronto:

Toronto City Council Approves Multiplexes To Address Growing Housing Crisis
CBC News

Approvals For For Toronto Multiplexes May Take Only Days
Toronto Star

Toronto City Council Approves Up To Four-Unit Multiplexes In All Neighbourhoods
Globe & Mail

Make Way For Multiplexes, Toronto
Toronto Sun

Goodbye Yellowbelt: Toronto Council Says Multiplexes Can Be Built Citywide
Toronto Star

It’s almost as though Stoufville is acting like the guy in the blue hoodie who just doesn’t want to do what everybody else is doing?

It’s no secret that there’s a housing shortage in the GTA.  It’s a housing “crisis.”

We have been talking about this on TRB for almost a decade and we seem to painfully watch the slow, plodding efforts of the three levels of government in addressing the lack of housing supply.

Legislation at all three levels has been enacted, with varying levels of merit, success, and overall impact.

And yet, nothing has been accomplished.

There are opinions on this everywhere.

“More Rent Control Isn’t Going to Fix Toronto’s Housing Affordability Problem,” writes Marcus Gee in the Globe & Mail.

“Trudeau’s Immigration Policy Worsening Housing Affordability Crisis,” says Bay Street economist, David Rosenberg.

There are criticisms everywhere, and yet we all know what could solve this problem: building more homes.

Some people are noting this.  And some are even calling out the NIMBY’ism in the same breath.

“The Housing Boom Is Back, Thanks To NIMBY’ism And Bad Zoning,” writes Sabrina Maddeaux of the National Post.

Ms. Maddeaux addressed the article I posted above, about the Stouffville NIMBY’s, and she did so in a more eloquent way that I did:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and now there’s the perfect photo to tell the story of hundreds of thousands of missing homes across Canada. It shows 13 members of the Stouffville Village Ratepayers association in Stouffville, Ont., most of them members of older generations who have long owned their homes, with their arms crossed and scowls on their faces.


A classic NIMBY stance is to ignore personal circumstances when evaluating what might benefit somebody else.

I didn’t want to point out that the average age of the “Stouffville 13” seems to be somewhat advanced, but it goes without saying that they are whole-heartedly thinking about themselves in this battle without ever considering “the greater good.”

I would like to think that, in many of my opinions, I do consider what’s best for this city.

I’ve mentioned many times how our largest investment in Toronto should be in public transit, and I’m somebody that will never use public transit again.  I would derive zero benefits from four more subway lines, and yet I argue for the idea at every opportunity.

This city, and the entire GTA, is destined for long-term failure if we can’t keep up with the need for new housing and infrastructure.

Those in Stouffville or other suburbs might argue, “There are millions of acres of land in Ontario, go build townhouses somewhere else!”  But they would be ignoring the need for density around existing and established infrastructure.

The idea of NIMBY’ism doesn’t surprise me anymore, even as the idealogy remains under attack and continues to dissipate with every passing day.

But the pride of NIMBY’ism as displayed in that photo above is downright shocking.

Wishing everybody a safe and happy Victoria Day Weekend, and see you back here on Tuesday!

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