Fighting Canadian Sprawl with TDRs
Written by Sumeet Gulati, an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, this article argues that Canadian cities can learn from the successful use of TDRs in the U.S.
"There is one policy instrument that raises the cost of suburban development without hurting local landowners: Transferable Development Rights (TDR's). This instrument has been successfully tried in the U.S. and our governments could improve on their experience. TDR's allow the sale of development rights from a protected area to areas suitable for densification.
In 1998, Chesterfield, N.J., located about 55 kilometres from Philadelphia, adopted a TDR program to protect its rural character. The aim was to divert new development into a dense new site away from prime farmland and the historic city centre. The township required builders to buy TDR's in order to build in a planned mixed-use site close to the New Jersey Turnpike. Owners could sell 1 development right per 10 acres of farmland. As of April 2007, approximately 91 per cent of the units proposed for the mixed-used development were contracted, and 3,200 acres of farmland had been preserved. The price for a one TDR in the last auction, held in 2004, was $50,000."