In the end, the taxpayer is the bearer of the cost of sprawl.

Sprawl is Expensive

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Studies show that servicing for new infrastructure costs communities more than they typically earn. This means that the new growth is unsustainable and drains government coffers rather than adds to it long term.

Like Halifax and London, ON, many communities have come to recognize that building around areas that take advantage of existing infrastructure rather than build new infrastructure to accommodate is cost saving over the long term.

 

Headlines Depict Costs

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From well known newspapers such as the Toronto Star and Ottawa Sun. All of these headlines outline the main problem with sprawl – long term it costs more than it earns. This puts communities in financial jeopardy. Some larger sprawl communities such as Mississauga and Brampton, have come to the end of the easy revenue that sprawl provides and now recognize that they have more infrastructure and services that they can sustain.

 

Revenue Has to Come From Somewhere

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As the development charges that come with the new houses gets spent, the community recognizes that a large part of their revenue is depleting. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario estimated that local governments rely on development charges for 15-35% of their budgets. When this revenue source dries up, it leaves the community with no choice -more growth, higher taxes or cuts.

 

Sprawl Costs

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If sprawl was financially beneficial, then larger communities should bear the lowest debt and lowest taxes. As we can see here, it’s the exact opposite. The more sprawl, the more long term costs. The money needs to come from somewhere and eventually comes down to the taxpayer whether it be introducing service fees, higher property taxes, fewer services for their money or less greenspace.