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HIST 3209 (11)
B.S.Elliot (11)
Lecture 3

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HIST 3209

Week 3 Lecture 2: The Property Development Process since 1945 th Jan 29 2014 Role of federal government in rise of corporate suburbs • What most people consider to be suburbs are sitcom suburbs of the early 1960s/70s; middle-class communities who are automobile dependent and built by large development companies • This is still how we perceive suburbs, but there are other types of suburbs that developed • There’s an assumption of independent suburban municipalities – basically has its own city government (i.e. Nepean and Gloucester) o This was common in the States – the richer move out to the periphery and take their tax dollars o This middle-class that moved out were known as white flight – the African Americans who couldn’t afford to do so stayed in the core o The tax dollars can’t support the infrastructure in the core and it begins to collapse (i.e. Detroit) o Canada hasn’t had this problem to the same degree • Suburbs can be dense and fairly working-class and composed of rental units rather than owner- occupied houses o (i.e. older suburbs in Montreal) • The only constant of the definition of a suburb is that it’s located outside a city • Harris argues that there’s been a general shift toward this middle-class, low density development o Over time, there’s a tendency towards suburbs to become more similar to fit this model o Says it’s because eof government involvement • Four different types of suburbs: Elite enclave, Unplanned suburbs, industrial, middle-class • Elite Enclave: o Large lots, attractive layouts, lots of greenspace, landscape architects involved, often have full infrastructure put into place during development, development controls o Upper-middle class • Unplanned Suburb: o Issue since suburbs were planned – had subdivisions drawn out o Unplanned would really be piecemeal – i.e. they decide to put in shops after another institution has been put into place o He really means an unregulated suburb or a basic suburb (better term) o The simple grid pattern subdivision where servicing is minimal – not very attractive to speculative builders because there’s nothing to attract tem so people just buy their vacant lots and build houses themselves • Industrial Suburb: o Basically ones that grow up near factories o Because they’re near a major employment center, the lots sell reasonably well o A speculative builder may be interested in building a couple houses at a time o Can also result from the factory owner who decides to build factory worker housing themselves – they then rent this out • Middle-Class Suburb: o Over time, subdivisions become low-density middle class places • Finances o One of the limitations is that banks weren’t allowed to make mortgage loans o Goes back to the 1870s property boom – that speculative bubble was so dramatic and had such a huge over-investment in premature subdivisions that the government banned banks from making mortage loans o They were not allowed to make loans for real estate and this stayed till post war years o Private lenders or insurance companies ended up funding these instead o Many widows invested into mortgages – among the list of private lenders o Insurance companies reluctant to loan for middle-class housing and for outskirt developments o Financing more difficult in Canada than U.S.  self-building your house was one way of saving money o English immigrants came in and often purchased a lot beyond the streetcar lines and would build their own houses  They would dig out a basement and live there until they could build up o Lawren Harris’ painting of the limits of Toronto ‘Spring Thaw, Edge of Town’ o Down payment reduced from 25$ to 10$, and provided lumber for people – on Hilson Ave. o Larry Mckan? Was not happy with Richard Harris’ ‘Creeping Conformity’, because he did a lto fo research on proprety development in the west  Points out that Harris is writing about Toronto and Hamilton, which were two large industrial cities  The West has differences: • While cities are constitutionally the creatures of the provinces – the province decide the rules under which cities opeate, Harris doesn’t talk about provincial planning but only focuses on federal planning • McKan says you find more evience of large coporate development in the West, and this is because of the role fo the railways and laying out townsites along the new railway line • An example of a railway townsite is the Rideau Townsite in Nepean – during the big property boom, this huge thousand-acre townsite was laid out o There was a large industry in the center and homesites around the center • This was before the investment bubble burst and actually never developed • Shows how ambitious people became before the pre WWI land boom • There was more of this along the west • Mckan points out that ther are more corporate railway suburbs, but less industrial ones – this is because a number of cities int eh west put restrictions on where industries can locate o i.e. Winnipeg refused to put in water services because they didn’t want industries to go out the municipality th  Harris also says that the early 20 century has subdivisons that are four different types, but every single one is pretty homogenous internally • Mckan says that the West has more of a combination of different classes of housing within a particular subdivision • Often, the developers out west realize that they could try to maximize their long-term income by providing within their subdivision lots of different sizes marketed to different social classes • They hoped that when there was a housing downturn, they still may sell some • Internal diversity was a conscious strategy to retain some income  Mckan: While land speculation before WWI was really impressive in Eastern Canada, it was nothing of short in the prairies • Calgary – well located on the edge of the Alberta foothills, but the extension of the railway and the planning of new fast-growing wheat, brought the wheat and cattle companies together • There are slaughterhouses, flour milling, etc – Calgary becomes an important place • This growth from almost nothing in a dozen years before WWI is often commented • In 1909 Calgary, there were 63 Real Estate agents, in 1912, there were 2 000 o 1 out of 40 people was making a living selling lots to people all over the country o Huge hype  Calgary and Edmonton, with population fo 50 000, subdivided the same amount of land as Toronto did, but Toronto’s population was 10 times larger • Once the boom bursts, people are stuck with these lots that they bought to make money off of, but not to build on • They can’t seek any prospect of selling them soon – many just walk away from them • 1920s –City of Calgary took over 73 000 lots because people wouldn’t pay the taxes on them • After WWII, when the property market revives, the city actually owns large amounts of land – could make property cheap for people to buy and could exercise a lot of control over development o Unlike Eastern Canada • Calgary became involved in regulating development – bouht up light company, street-paving company, bought waterworks, set a planning commission • Similar cases in Vancouver and Winnipeg • McKan’s point is that the cities in the West are more pro-active than cities in the East • Debate in Eastern Canada of whether or not municipal is better than private infrastructure  Edmonton, premature suburbs in the West: 1912 • Huge investment dollars during the boom to invest in suburban development  Becase of this huge boom and tremendous default of unpaid taxes on property, there was a much greater civic involvement in regulation and development in the west  Some corporate suburbs do exist in Eastern Canada  Some large construction companies develop in Eastern Canada – Rhodes Curry becomes a large construction company in Nova Scotia for example  Lesson – be careful of generalizing when talking about property development • Both regional and local variations o Pre WWII period – after WWI, after that property crash in 1913, new developments become a bit thin on the ground  All these subdivisions are aldi out but unpopulated and many of these are outside city limits  The problem is that many of these out in the townships aren’t serviced  So sparsely populated that its difficult ot make this happen  Cities become reluctant to annex new suburbs into city limits  In the 20s, they have to find a way to service these subdivisions out in the townships as they gradually populate • Local improvement act doesn’t apply outside city  Police village – if there are people in a subdivision that want services, they can get togheter and apply to the township government to the police village • A way to get the services paid for only by the people who it will benefit • Problem – clumsy solution because it gives a half level of government • 1922 – Ontario comes up with a better solution by passing an act to allow
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