It’s nothing new that hot house prices are spreading well beyond the blazing Toronto market.

Hamilton has been booming for several years thanks to an influx of Torontonians priced out of their city. Barrie, Guelph and much of the Durham Region have been feeling the heat, too.

But Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data released this week showed that the radius of Toronto’s impact is spreading even further to places such as Kitchener, Peterborough and St. Catharines.

There are positives to this. Certainly, Hamilton’s revitalization has been amplified by the arrival of urban-focused newcomers who have embraced what the city has to offer and are finding ways to contribute in every sector.

But the negatives far outweigh the benefits.

Stretching out commuting times only means workers sitting in cars longer, and doing less of the things that are good for them – spending time with family, exercising, volunteering, enjoying hobbies, learning something new. No one ever went to the grave saying they wished they had spent more time in traffic.

It’s just bad for you. I gave up my newspaper job in 2015 because I couldn’t handle the three-hour-a-day (on a good day) slog to and from work any longer. I felt like it was literally and figuratively stealing my life. The 401 is not for the faint of heart.

And it’s bad for communities when more people face long commutes. People who just lay their heads in one place, only to spend the vast majority of their time and energy somewhere else, are much less engaged in their neighbourhoods. There is only so much time in the day and if you spend 10, 12, 14 hours away from home every day, that leaves little or no time to make your community a better place to live.

And then there is the dollar and cents of it all. It’s going to mean enormous costs to get people to work over longer and longer distances. It will mean adding congestion to GTA roads and transit already bursting at the seams. It means more pollution, too.

It is critical to create diversified, vibrant local economies in all southern Ontario communities. In fact, it’s the only answer. When cities and towns around a metropolis are only bedroom communities, infrastructure suffers because the tax base is skewed to residential, which can’t carry the load.

Governments at all levels must work together to incentivize investment and job creation outside the GTA to guard against seeing the Golden Horseshoe become a bedroom community for the GTA.

It’s detrimental for workers and communities and will hurt the province as a whole.

-Meredith MacLeod