Suburban Sprawl Costs Us All

Sure, a house in the suburbs might have a lower initial price tag. But affordability isn’t just about the purchase price, it’s about a household’s ability to afford basic necessities: food, clothing, shelter, transportation and healthcare.

Take transport. The farther away you are from core services, the more you spend on transport — a lot more. Sprawl requires most people to own a personal vehicle, and families often require several. But it’s not just the upfront car cost that makes a suburban commute expensive. The more and longer you drive, the more you spend in maintenance and fuel. At a time when gas prices are record-high, people are literally priced out of activities because they simply can’t afford to get there.

You’re subsidizing their infrastructure, too.

Sprawl also costs municipalities more in infrastructure costs. And those costs are passed on to all taxpayers.

A 2021 City of Ottawa study found that servicing new low-density homes costs a staggering $465 per person more than what they get from property taxes and water bills, and this sends property taxes higher to make up for it. The local Ontario taxpayer winds up subsidizing the municipal costs to these homes, as systems like water and sewage are evenly distributed across regions.

We all pay for sprawl, even if we don't live there.

Growth by sprawl.

The current growth model in Ontario relies on sprawling developments and highways to connect them all — the same approach that’s driven up land and infrastructure costs.

At a time when our healthcare system is in crisis, education funding is being cut, and food security grows more unstable every day, the government is investing our tax dollars into multi-billion dollar highways to feed this sprawl.

More sprawl means:
Higher transportation costs
Higher infrastructure costs
Higher tax rates
Higher traffic fatality rates
Higher rates of obesity and associated health problems
Higher environmental costs

Sprawl costs us all. Will you help us stop it?

We are fighting. And winning.

The good news is that there are alternatives to continuous sprawl.

Recently, the Hamilton City Council and Halton Regional Council voted to focus development within urban boundaries, choosing to invest in their existing communities. In doing so, they will save thousands of acres of Ontario farmland and green space.