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Author Topic: New urbanism/Fighting sprawl
lagatta
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posted 29 January 2003 05:08 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Have there been any concerted attempts to fight sprawl where you live, be it in a large city like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver (or larger cities abroad) a smaller city, or a small town? I've seen plenty of sprawl in small towns in Quebec and Ontario, with the old central shopping street practically abandoned, you know, the "Walmart effect" ... Have you observed any schemes based on "new urbanism", with a higher-density than suburban sprawl, but more pleasant than forests of high-rises?

And what measures do you think could be implemented to fight sprawl, foster urbanity and community (large or small) and preserve farmlands?


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 29 January 2003 07:09 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The problem with Saskatchewan (southern, anyway, which is where the cities of much size tend to be) is that there is land as far as the eye can see (even in the middle of downtown, you can see miles and miles of open farmland), and farming doesn't pay these days.

So sprawl continues unabated, new, homogenous suburbs continue to be built. We, and many people we know, have decided to stay in central neighborhoods with nearby conveniences, but I see so many, many "for lease" signs in the commercial downtown core, where one mall and a number of gov't offices are located. There are attempts to revitalize the "market square" area, but most of the new stores and businesses are being built out in the southeast end.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 29 January 2003 08:53 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Broken record Tommy here, but I think this goes all the way back to campaign finance reform-- this time for Municipalities.

The developers have always been fond supporters of the "democratic process" as they say, and their munificance has been returned to them by the politicians, in terms of allowing developers to do pretty much as they please.

This carte blanc approach to developers is why London has clogged roads and a surfiet of retail space, little or no urban renewal, depressed real estate prices for used homes, and aesthetic abominations like "White Oaks."

White Oaks in London: It's like Mississagua, only without the soul.

And no, since develpment began with the felling of the very first white Oak in south central London no White Oaks can in fact be found in "White Oaks."

Just like in the north, in "Fiddler's Green". There's no Fiddler and no Green.

The Fiddle is at city hall, and the developers have all the "green".

[ 29 January 2003: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jingles
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posted 29 January 2003 09:49 PM      Profile for Jingles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Urban sprawl? Why here in Edmonton, our mayor Bill Smith (who drives around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with gold "MAYOR" written on the side) says there is none! He says only American cities have that.

Apparently, unchecked development on some of the best and rarest farmland is progress. Allowing a new suburd for 15,000 people on the south fringes of the city will be good for everyone.

The good news is one day, glaciation will return to grind it all into rock flour.


quote:
What measures do you think could be implemented to fight sprawl, foster urbanity and community (large or small) and preserve farmlands?

Nothing less than a complete remaking of the way we think, act, and live. People don't think of alternative. They don't know there are alternatives. All they know is that when they grow up, they get a job and a car, marry, then move to the suburbs, and breed to start the cycle anew. Funny thing is, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who liked this way of life, but they all do it. Just a little frustrating.

[ 29 January 2003: Message edited by: Jingles ]


From: At the Delta of the Alpha and the Omega | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tommy Shanks
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posted 30 January 2003 11:07 AM      Profile for Tommy Shanks     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The keys to fighting sprawl are pretty simple.

1. Increase densities by infill housing, apartment, and condo construction, especially along arterial roads and at major intersections. This gets rid of the biggest eyesore a city can possess, surface parking in populated areas. Its somewhat successful in Toronto, but Nimbyism creeps up all too frequently. Even towers at Young and Eglington have been opposed.

2. Effective public transit. You have this, you have no need for a car. Suburbs simply do not have the density to make public transit work. Too many single family homes spaced too far apart too far away from basic services such as corner and grocery stores. Of course many Canadians see the type of home and neighbourhood we live in (13'wide, 3'1 from the neighbours, no yard, right downtown, no car) and are agast. They WANT Markham, or Calgary Southwest, or Pointe Claire.

3. Stop building highways and expressways.
Make it so difficult (and costly, through tolls, increased taxes for suburban residents, and service fees) to commute that people will look for homes in the cities, thus achieving the required densities. Try crossing the Lions Gate bridge in rush hour or drive to Dorval. make it even harder and people won't be clamouring to live there.

Another proposal is to charge a fee based on the amount of frontage your property has. A sururban 50' lot would pay taxes at 4 times the rate I would. It would also affect the rate at which services were installed, such as water needing 4 times the amount of infrastructure for a suburban verses city property. A market value assessment system does not take this into account.

The main thing is to stop seeling the Canadian Dream of a house in the suburbs away from all the crime, dirt, and excess of the city. Make apartment and condo dwelling attractive. Stop thinking that living in a two story walk-up above a store means poverty or something you grow out of.


From: Toronto | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 30 January 2003 04:56 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was told that the problem with sprawl around here in Brampton Ontari-ario, had less to do with a spineless municipality or government as opposed to the way home construction is financed. At least according to our mayor, which I had the opportunity to talk too a year or two back. She says the banks require a high percentage of the development to be sold first before they'd give the money to developers. As such, the developers won't build rental housing (obviously) and stick to what sells, the extremely profitable strip housing.

Heck, it was only in the last month that the city decided to force developers to install the attendant infrastructure before housing goes up (schools and the like).

Besides, apparently there are only a handful or developers within the city of Toronto. They are a formidable group to try and impose something on. I would think it would take a change in the provincial government before sprawl can be addressed around here.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 30 January 2003 05:09 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Urban sprawl? Why here in Edmonton, our mayor Bill Smith (who drives around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with gold "MAYOR" written on the side) says there is none! He says only American cities have that.

Curious. So says our mayor here in Calgary, His Worship Mayor Dave Bronconnier! (I don't think he has the fancy-ass Cherokee, though).

I was startled to hear him say this on the radio, and waited for him to say more. His basis for making this (rather remarkable) claim? "In new developments, the days of single-family homes on half-acre or one-acre lots are over," he says. "Look at any new development, and you'll see the lots are no bigger than in the city, even in outlying communities."

So there you have it, Hizzoner's definition of sprawl. Patently fucking ridiculous, of course. Defined that way, there's practically no urban sprawl anywhere in the country.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 30 January 2003 06:46 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Another proposal is to charge a fee based on the amount of frontage your property has

In talking to elderly Londoners, I found out that this was done many, many years ago, and was objected to because houses on street corners became impossible to sell. They paid double the frontage.

The problem with manipulating people onto public transit, or into city cores is that, well, you have to manipulate them-- and people are funny about being manipulated. Usually, they'll tell you to, well, screw off.

Surely the avenue of approach is to find ways to make people WANT to do those kinds of things.

It was -25º this morning here in London. NOBODY is going to want to take public transit on days like that, and it's these few days that stick out in people's minds.


I do believe that new residential development should reflect the make up of the city. If 5% of the population is on fixed income, then housing in the new development has to reflect that reality. And, developers have to be responsible for the complete infrastructure needs of the development-- including road widening of arteries, etc.

In London, the move right now is to use open space along arterial roads for strip malls-- in spite of a huge retail vacancy rate in core areas of the city.

As far as grocery stores locating close to people, that's an important issue. One thing that hurts is a common restraint of trade practice. Traditionally, when a grocery or pharmacy moves out of an old nieghborhood, they require the purchaser of the building to agree not to use that building as a grocery store or pharmacy for extended periods of time. This hurts communities in so many ways that the practice should be made illegal.

Whatever the approach one takes, and no matter where we might diverge in the details, I think none of it can come to fruition until the undemocratic and corrupt relationship between municiple administrators, politicians and developers is, if not eliminated, at least put on a short leash.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 30 January 2003 07:06 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Funny, in Montreal, no doubt because of the métro but on buses too, I find MORE people take public transport when it is -25. Don't know whether they find it hard to start their cars (no garages here) or what...
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
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posted 30 January 2003 07:22 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Legatta I imagine Montreal's mass transit is very much like Toronto's. Fairly dependable.

If either of our transit systems functioned like London Ont's there would definitely be blood in the streets.

Here in Toronto we're planning on combating urban sprawl by jamming another million people into the core. That's not as ludicrous as it sounds, but it will take a huge change in the way the city works.


From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
angela N
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posted 30 January 2003 07:32 PM      Profile for angela N   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's really hard to determine what is best as a whole though. What's good for one community is really bad for another. The developer wants to make a buck, city council wants to walk the line but the public - they're all over the place.

That development at Yonge + Eglinton in TO was an outrage to the very wealthy community that reside there. Suddenly, their massive backyards were going to be marred by the existence of these towers (the most beautiful piece of Architecture I have seen in current history). They are pissed.

2000 more people are going to be moving into this community and some people (storeowners among others) are loving it.

Can't please all of the people, somethings gotta give. Why not make intelligent decisions that benefit the majority? - even if you want to call it manipulation, it still has to be done - someone is going to feel manipulated no matter what you do.


From: The city of Townsville | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
angela N
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posted 30 January 2003 07:39 PM      Profile for angela N   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Legatta I imagine Montreal's mass transit is very much like Toronto's. Fairly dependable.

Montreal metro makes TO look like a little pissant town in outer Kunut-uck. Bloody shameful excuse for a transit system.


From: The city of Townsville | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
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posted 30 January 2003 10:30 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Never been there, but I have heard similar.

If you know TO's system well, it will get you where your going but in a thouroughly unpleasant fashion.

If you don't like TO's Transit I can't imagine what you'd make of London Ont's.(Why don't they just change the name to Londonont?)


From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
TommyPaineatWork
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posted 31 January 2003 12:07 AM      Profile for TommyPaineatWork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd prefer "Antler River".

Or for that matter, "Whop-Bop-A-Loo-Bop".


From: London | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
angela N
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posted 31 January 2003 02:29 AM      Profile for angela N   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Isn't that a song? you can't name a town after a song. That's not right.

[ 31 January 2003: Message edited by: angela N ]


From: The city of Townsville | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
TommyPaineatWork
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posted 31 January 2003 02:45 AM      Profile for TommyPaineatWork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If Newfoundland can name a town after a sex toy.....
From: London | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 31 January 2003 09:22 AM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Speaking of shitty transit systems, here is local letter to the editor about our buses. For the last four years I've been avoiding our transit like the plague. I'd rather spend $50/wk on cabs or just walk and I live only two blocks away from one of the main hubs. I can vouch for the authenticity of this guy's complaint:

quote:
I take a Brampton Transit bus at 7:15 a.m. every day. I then transfer to another bus, or at least I try to. For some time now, the driver of the first bus has parked the bus for about five minutes. This layover causes myself and others to miss our connection and endure a more than 20-minute walk into work.

Common Transit complaint

Background filler: a missed transit connection is a big deal. You can't just wait for the next bus because a lot of the times it's a forty minute wait.

A fellow coworker seemed startled to find out I take transit. He told me he'd never step foot in a bus because he'd probably change colour. And that is one of the first things I noticed when I started riding the TTC. Guys in tailored suits talking about their latest deals sit opposite the teenager with his pants hanging over his ass. Anyone walking onto a Brampton bus immediate recognizes that it's a economic class thing.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 31 January 2003 09:39 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Funny how buses have a class stigma that the métro/subway/underground and light trains etc don't.

Westmount Square, an elegant black Mies Van de Rohe high-rise and shopping concourse, is not a low-rent project by any means. One of its main selling points is that it feeds directly into the metro.

Anyone take the light trains in Ottawa? I've seen them but not used them as it was bicycle season; they are very pretty but only use some existing tracks so they don't cover the routes they would have to.

[ 31 January 2003: Message edited by: lagatta ]


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 31 January 2003 10:55 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I grew up in the urban sprawl of Kingston - a little bedroom community 15 minutes away. Kingston has urban sprawl down to a science.

I never noticed buses having a stigma attached to them - but maybe things are different in Toronto, or I just never noticed.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy Shanks
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posted 31 January 2003 12:13 PM      Profile for Tommy Shanks     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
That development at Yonge + Eglinton in TO was an outrage to the very wealthy community that reside there. Suddenly, their massive backyards were going to be marred by the existence of these towers (the most beautiful piece of Architecture I have seen in current history). They are pissed.

2000 more people are going to be moving into this community and some people (storeowners among others) are loving it.


One of the most odious forms of NIMBYisn is when the greatest fuss over newcomers or new projects to a neighbourhood is made by those who have only just arrived themselves. As is the case in the turnover in homes (every 5 years over 60% of the homes are sold) around this Yonge/Eglington project.

Another example, the Sears Lofts at Church and Dundas have been bordered by a block long surface (uuurgh) parking lot, owned by Ryerson U. The original proposal was for a three storey acedemic building with a point tower on the south-west corner, beautifully designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Of course the newly arrived yuppie denizens of the Sears complex freaked, complaining, of course, that the tower (only the tower) blocked their view. Well for about 10% of the residents, about 5% of their field of view was potentially affected. One only had to swivel ones head though and as if looking at another building a 1/2 block away was torture......

One wonders how cities like NY, the ultimate in density and public trans. reliance ever get built.

Edited, of course, for spelling

[ 31 January 2003: Message edited by: Tommy Shanks ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tommy Shanks
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posted 31 January 2003 12:22 PM      Profile for Tommy Shanks     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry for the double post.

quote:
In talking to elderly Londoners, I found out that this was done many, many years ago, and was objected to because houses on street corners became impossible to sell. They paid double the frontage.

But thats the point, to accurate reflect what the property costs to supply and service.

To compare on a 500' long street, 20 typical suburban lots of 50'x80' will fit. Downtown lots of 20'x120' will result in 50 homes.

Both need the same amount of road, sidewalk, water service, electrical, cable, and other infrastructure. Why shouldn't the suburban types pay 2.5 times as much?

This is where MVA screws up.


From: Toronto | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged

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