How Growing Sustainably Creates Jobs….

In business, it is the best practice to keep money moving. If you own a store and inventory sits on the shelves, you are not making money. If you make widgets and they sit in a warehouse, you are not making money. The same principle applies to developers. If a developer wins a bid to develop a property, the faster the money goes through the project, the quicker another project can be started and the happier the banks and investor will be. If the project is successful, the faster the profits are returned to the investors in the project. There is nothing wrong with making money. The key to sustainable development is acknowledging that a profits-over-quality approach is not desirable.
The quickest way for a developer to get a return on investment is to get a big flat piece of land, bring in some dozers, excavators, and trucks, and get the land ready to build. Rebars are placed, forums are built, concrete is poured, and buildings are erected. This is very efficient and does add some great value, not only to our city, but to the surrounding area. Does this create jobs? Absolutely. It also relies on machinery that is not built in HRM. While machinery makes work easier, the purchase and operation of machinery exports wealth. Do I think we need to get rid of machinery? No. But we can grow by limiting its use. Many of the companies that do this development are also not located in HRM, so the profits are also exported wealth.
I used an example of the downtown modelled section at Dartmouth Crossing. This was built from a forested area by North American Development Group, an Ontario-based company. Say it cost $1 to build and 1 day to build. What if we, as a city, decided to have that $1 investment made on Portland Street in downtown Dartmouth. Since buildings already exist, machinery and concrete would not be the primary methods of construction. More carpenters, electricians, metal workers, and brick workers would be needed to upgrade these buildings. Since all these workers are local trade workers, more of the wealth generated from these projects would stay in the local community. Is there a cost? Yes, it would take 2 days to spend the $1 investment. Money would not be moving as quickly, and it would take longer to get a return on investment.
While sustainable, slower development creates more jobs and generates more wealth for the local community, developers shy away from this type of job because at the end of the day it is not as quickly profitable as building car-based power centres. We need to find and encourage developers that want to help our community grow in a sustainable way.