Op-Ed: The Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion (SCUBE) - Why Is It Taking So Long?

Posted On Friday, 28 October 2022 20:56

Stoney Creek is a beautiful community within the City of Hamilton, Ontario. It was its own municipality prior to the amalgamation of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton and Wentworth into the City of Hamilton. 

Hamilton is facing a housing crisis spurred on by the lack of housing development that could provide the housing options and affordability desperately needed to satisfy demand. Although promises have been made that more housing will be provided, municipalities are frustrating the decision-making process. Hamilton is a prime example of the lack of leadership to support a predictable and sufficient supply of housing to meet demand -- and the community is paying a price. 

In 2021, the community had an impassioned response when the city proposed an expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundary. City staff recommended that 1,340 hectares of additional settlement area lands were required to meet population growth forecasts to 2051, as the City’s population is expected to increase by more than a quarter million over the next three decades, according to globalnews.ca

Mike Collins-Williams of the West End Homebuilders Association said that additional settlement land is necessary to address the lack of land supply and housing unaffordability and the Council must make a decision. 

“Will we ensure enough housing of the right type is built for a growing population in our City? Or will we continue down the path of unaffordable housing and an exodus of young families from our community?” he said. 

While there remains resistance from some individuals, housing affordability in the area continues to be an issue. So much so, that college students are now having greater difficulty focusing on school, as affordability is forcing them to work more

Stoney Creek factors into the equation as a prime example of the City Council’s inability to favourably act on the housing crisis, and this issue is long-standing. In fact, unnaturally so. 

An important question to ask: If Hamilton and Stoney Creek are in such desperate need of housing, why has there been nearly two decades of delay in providing additional housing supply in the area?


The Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion (otherwise known as SCUBE) contains an area of 504 hectares, between Fruitland Rd and Winona. This also includes 155 hectares of lands protected by the Greenbelt that cannot be developed. 

On October 23, 2003, the City of Hamilton adopted what is known as the Regional Official Plan Amendment 14(ROPA 14) and the Stoney Creek Official Plan Amendment 99 (OPA 99). These amendments approved the expansion of the area in lower Stoney Creek and accommodate anticipated population growth in the area. 

Two appeals were filed against the urban boundary expansion, delaying the process for 2 years. By November of 2005, the Ontario Municipal Board finally made a decision on the appeals, approving the additional settlement area lands, This kicked off the process to prepare transportation, water, wastewater, and stormwater studies and plans to support future development. Upon the conclusion of these studies, the City could then proceed with developing more comprehensive plans for the area. 

This process did not begin until 2007, it would take a full 11 more years before development applications could be submitted. 

The thing holding back the development of this expansion? Municipal infrastructure and a lack of leadership initiative. 

The SCUBE area is intended to accommodate an estimated population of approximately 15,400 people. Yet,the forecasted population of Hamilton is expected to be 820,000 by 2051. 

To date, the Secondary Plan has only allowed for one approval (288 Glover Road), providing only 185 homes. Currently, there are two other development applications still awaiting approval. If granted, these applications could have the potential to provide homes for 2,080 residents. 

It’s become well-known that Hamilton is one of the least affordable cities to live in North America, driving many families to find alternative living situations. The housing crisis continues to evolve, all while there appears to be a lack of urgency in addressing this issue. 

The City of Hamilton has severely neglected to provide a proper strategy to assist in the development of much-needed housing to support growth. SCUBE’s history is a prime example of an unnecessary amount of time being wasted by municipal leaders unwilling to support development. It’s unreasonable for a project to run on for over a decade - with minimal movement - while the city and its communities only continue to outgrow its existing infrastructure. If growth is not permitted in the area, families may feel forced to leave the City, and perhaps the Province, in order to find affordable housing options. 

Is this what the City Council wants? 

According to an article by storeys.ca, a survey conducted found that affordability is a growing issue for the people of Ontario, with 32 per cent of residents planning to move within the next year, just to afford a home. The housing crisis within the Province, and within the City, is virtually pushing out its own residents, who feel they have no other option but to leave a community unwilling to accommodate them and their families. 

Councillors need to take responsibility for this unreasonable amount of time being wasted to develop their lands and provide residents with affordable housing. Before it’s too late. 

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