A recent United Nations projection determined that, by 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. The tide of urbanization is inevitable, and that is why it is all the more important that it be used as a means to create strong, sustainable communities. To accomplish this, cities must ensure that housing reflects the needs of the population; that employment opportunities are ample and accessible; and that a collectivist approach is maintained with urban planning. With these measures comes a foundation for a city that is adaptable in an everchanging world, and that is resilient in the face of any economic hardship.

Don’t be misled to think otherwise: urbanization is key to growth in municipalities. The advantages of urbanization are enormous: the process can provide solutions for many of our modern problems, such as unemployment, pollution, social exclusion, and inefficient transport. Already, Hamilton has been reaping the benefits of urbanization in some of its now booming areas: Jamesville has become an artist’s mecca; our downtown core has never been more diverse or more robust; across the city, SoBi bikes are available for use; and soon, we will have Light Rail Transit, a major step forward for this city’s green transportation initiative.

As a real estate professional, it’s important to understand what drives the phenomenon of urbanization and how you can be part of the change in a positive way. In this article, I will shed light on how Hamilton is transitioning and offer suggestions as to why it’s a worthwhile investment.

Hamilton’s Changing Landscape

The Healthcare Sector

It should come as no surprise that the biggest employer in our city is Hamilton Health Sciences. We are proud of the number of competent nurses, doctors, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists, and therapists (among many other health–related professions) that this city produces. Our city also draws healthcare professionals from around the world. It’s easy to obtain these outsourced talents when the city puts great efforts into funding health infrastructure. This past November, both the province and the community contributed 86 million dollars to the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre, and the investments are still ongoing. Programs for autism, mental health, audiology, and prosthetic services will be funded with 5 million dollars. What’s more, the centre, which is strategically placed on Wellington St. N, improves access for the families residing in our urban core and is projected to see 700,000 patients within the year.

I got the chance to connect with a director and PhD at McMaster who insightfully answers the question “What is one major fact people should know about Hamilton’s health sector right now?”. He explains, “Hamilton is booming because of the healthcare sector and, as a result, is becoming Toronto’s ‘Brooklyn.’ We get lots of job inquiries because people from Toronto are interested in moving to Hamilton for lower cost of living, higher quality of life, and easy public transportation to the big city amenities when they want them.” Undoubtedly, this new venture provides great incentive for serious, well trained professionals to reside in Hamilton.

Relatively, with an influx of these professions comes a positive effect on the real estate market. The condominium market in particular is expected to increase significantly as more and more qualified workers seek gainful employment in the area. Commonly, recent trends also solidify this notion as single, urban, professionals in their middle adult years, demand big city condos priced in the $400,000 range. Within this ideal, these singles are searching for buildings in appealing neighborhoods, close to transit.

The Aging Population

Just as a hospital expansion benefits the soon to be “baby boomers”, Hamilton’s city core is preparing for them too. It’s important to keep in mind that these cohorts are set to move into their golden years over the next few decades. This can pose unique challenges, as tens of thousands of these older adults live in suburbs and can only access important amenities by car. In older years, the likelihood of seniors still being able to drive reduces significantly, which bars them otherwise from being able to obtain essential services. Luckily, Hamilton has already begun the process to revamp its infrastructure to accommodate for these changes. If it’s not our newly added LRT routes, it’s the Smart Streets which include Sobi bikes. In addition to our upcoming LRT changes, the city is in it’s primary stage of providing affordable housing in service–rich, dense neighbourhoods, i.e: closer to the core of the city, and farther away from the more sparsely populated outskirts. As a result of this, older adults can be connected to the services and goods that they need even if they no longer have access to a car.

So What does this Mean?

Hamilton’s property is now becoming very valuable. Whether you are an investor or builder, it is important to realize that the city will need to increase both commercial and lifestyle components to catch the eye of the new urban dwellers. With this comes opportunity for the unique bar you’ve been thinking of, or that fresh bakery with a twist. Especially if these establishments are a short distance from the condominiums in the downtown core. It’s also good to keep in mind that Hamilton is not yet densely populated so there is plenty room for growth.

Other factors to consider

Tax incentives – the trend of urbanization provides exciting possibilities for businesses to collaborate with the public sector. To do so, tax incentives work to entice investments in major urban centers as they become more attractive.

Sale of Land – Funding larger projects for the city has created new opportunity for investors to purchase land that otherwise would be harder to access. For instance, a momentum of sales recently occurred in Hamilton as to prepare for the new high school in the north end. Trustees voted to sell off $63 million in vacant and excess land in order to make up for a shortfall of funding. Technological Advantage – with the expected growth of the city, there’s more data to collect from citizens and thus “smart cities” are formed. This means

Technological Advantage – with the expected growth of the city, there’s more data to collect from citizens and thus “smart cities” are formed. This means potential to better research for your business and is relative to greater citizen involvement.

Undoubtedly, people are driven by connection to opportunity and Hamilton has one strong connection. It is called the ambitious city, and with good reason: perfectly situated in terms of geography, possessing an increasingly strong workforce and boasting a surprising natural beauty, it is poised to be the Canadian city of the 21st century. The process that is key to taking us to the next step is urbanization. Through this, Hamilton benefits not only its own citizens and begins bridging a divide, but also sets itself apart as a city unafraid to thrive in the modern world.

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