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New design guidelines for multi-residential developments aim to support Hamilton’s waste diversion efforts

The city hopes updated design guidelines will increase waste diversion within high-rises and other multi-residential buildings in Hamilton. Don Mitchell / Global News

An effort is underway to increase waste diversion within high rises and other multi-residential buildings in Hamilton.

Updated design guidelines for developments have been given preliminary approval by the city’s public works committee and will include a three-chute system for garbage, organics and recyclables, as well as storage areas designed to handle bulk items and eight days of waste.

Developments already in the approvals process will be exempted from the new design guidelines, which will also require turnaround areas for waste collection vehicles, and a building’s eligibility for private waste collection will be decided by the city, not the developer.

City council must still give final approval to the changes when it meets next week.

Read more: Garbage collection rule changes in Hamilton are focused on employee safety

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“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said.

He said the city is stuck at 50 per cent waste diversion from landfill, “and we regularly get told by city staff that the single-family homeowner is doing a great job. It’s the multi-residential that is the problem.”

Ferguson said he is disappointed certain developments that are underway in the downtown core will be exempted from the new guidelines.

“It’s a terrible shame,” said Ferguson, “to miss the opportunity to increase our diversion rate on these multiple new towers that are going up in the city, that have got rezoning done but have not got site plan approvals.”

“Right now, I think we have 70 to 75 rezoning projects on the go, all of those would be grandfathered,” said Steve Robichaud, Hamilton’s chief planner.

Robichaud said he’s hopeful many of those architects will meet the new guidelines, even though they are exempted, “because the customers and clients are looking at sustainability and the long-term operating costs of these buildings and how do they function.”

He adds that the city will be using “a little bit of moral persuasion and encouragement.”

Read more: Hamilton, Ont. to endure $3M increase in waste collection costs

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Representatives for the development industry appeared before the committee, arguing that the new design guidelines will result in fewer units within multi-residential buildings.

“The city is forcing a choice with these policies,” said Mike Collins-Williams, executive director of the West End Home Builder’s Association. He said the choice is between prioritizing intensification or waste management opportunities.

Robichaud dismisses that concern, telling councillors that the objectives can be balanced “through a bit of creativity and innovation in terms of the layout of the units.”

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead said, “I’m not here to build more profits for developers.”

“I’m here to make sure that we have a vision and principles that we follow,” said Whitehead, “because we know that the carbon footprint is important to us.”

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