Development charges and misleading headlines

Today’s Citizen has a story on development charges. The headline, picture,  and first part of the story emphasizes how much of the development charges will pay for transit.

Buried deeper in the story, and not all that easy to spot, is this bit:

But in general, fees for new roads are far and away the biggest chunk of any of the charges: for a new house inside the Greenbelt,You can read the whole story here:

Do you notice that the headline doesn’t read “rampant road construction boosts housing costs?”  There is no picture of Terry Fox extension or other intersections growing like tumours on the urban body.

Why does the Citizen emphasize transit costs but not road costs? Why is transit responsible for unaffordable housing but low density sprawl isn’t? Is it just a cheap pandering to controversy, to conflict, a hook to get the reader, by driving wedges and promoting grievances between different parts of the population?

Because it sure doesn’t put education and enlightenment first.

8 thoughts on “Development charges and misleading headlines

  1. I read that article yesterday and I also was confused by it. They really ought to have presented it in a table format of what the charges previously were and what they are now. I still don’t think I know the story.

  2. Two quick thougths on why they focused on transit:

    1) The story says that the fees for transit are increasing, but implies that the fees for road construction are static. It’s valid to consider the increase more newsworthy than the status quo.

    2) And I’m guessing here – the road construction fees might have a closer link to use by the homeowners (a new development pretty much has to have roads), but the fees for transit development aren’t necessarily linked (not all areas get the same service). Further, there’s probably going to be less use of transit than of roads by the owners of the new homes. As well, there’s no other mechanism but government levies to pay for roads (as things stand now). If these were all going to be toll roads, there might be a greater objection.

  3. The story emphasizes transit costs because, well, it’s a story about a major element in the funding plan for the city’s transit wish-list, not an explainer about development charges generally.

    The funding plan involves a boost that would pretty definitely make transit the biggest component of development charges in the years to come — potentially a 40-per-cent boost in the transit component of those charges every five years for 20 years. That’d be a major philosophical change, as Marian Simulik says (very arguably for the better), and it’s what makes it a news story.

    Seriously: I wrote the story (not the headline, though I think the headline is fair). I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been accused of having it in for transit, or of happily letting transit be a casualty as I idly sow discord on major public issues.

    dfg: The development charges have not now changed; they’re next up for review in 2014, by which time the city should have a better idea which of the mitigating measures the story describes are going to be usable and which aren’t.

  4. Jonathan – I don’t think it’s nearly that complicated. There’s a simple reason the Citizen focused on the development fees-transit link and ignored how much more is spent on roads: because the newspaper’s editors & reporters, like the vast majority of City councillors, staff & ordinary residents continue to lead such car-centric lives that the thought would never occur to question how much money we continue to shovel into our bottomless-pit road budget.

  5. Having attended development meetings, I’ve learned from residents worried about their property values that roads don’t cost them anything!
    The same people who ask for new development to go on the outskirts of town so as to preserve their views and sun and property values and traffic-free streets (a crock), will also ask for the city to purchase land from the developer to keep vacant, which would imply the city would then service and build roads out to new urban land with two-storey homes on it.
    These people will then ask for their taxes not to be raised.
    Yes, transit is such a drain and so unnecessary – a small price to pay for a world in which nothing changes….in my neighbourhood.

  6. Reevely’s not the problem – if you want a laundry list of point on how to build the most backwards, unsustainable city on earth, just tune in to his colleague Ken Grey, who makes Andy Haydon look like Jules Verne.

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