Why YIMBY is actually NIMBY

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NIMBY refers, of course, to Not In My Back Yard, the label traditionally applied to people who fight development proposals (usually higher densities) in their neighbourhoods. These are the people who say “I don’t want that in my back yard” or, more precisely, “I don’t want that built near my property.”

It’s actually a pretty natural thing to prefer that the neighbourhood in which you may have lived comfortably for years or maybe decades not be redeveloped or changed in ways you won’t recognize. Sure, Bloor West Village is located on a TTC subway line and could support massive redevelopment including a dozen new high-rise residential towers, but it’s also an attractive, human-scale neighbourhood and Toronto would be worse off if it was turned into a forest of towers and chain stores.

But I don’t want to get into a discussion in this post about whether NIMBY is good or bad since everyone has a different opinion about it and the disagreements can be quite heated. Instead, I want to point out another way NIMBY can be interpreted and applied. I’m thinking in particular of those people who either don’t get involved in the future of their neighbourhoods to ensure the best possible development with the least negative impact, or these are the people who support development and redevelopment as long as if it’s not near their backyard. This second group is often labelled YIMBY for Yes In My Back Yard, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t thinking of sacrificing their backyards or their neighbourhoods to new development. I suspect most YIMBY supporters are conditional supporters only, and when it comes to their “backyards” they’re actually more likely to be NIMBY supporters.