At Monday’s meeting of the Chief Planner’s Roundtable, consultant Jane Farrow
announced to the 200 attendees that 60 per cent of the people living in eight so-called tower neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs do not have drivers' licenses.
This is big news.
These suburbs, built at a time when cars seemed the natural tools for urban expansion, are no longer inhabited by car people. They are, in fact, decreasingly suburbs at all, but rather less dense cities of their own, and as Vaughan
, among others, seek to redress the change in various ways, the Chief Planner’s Roundtable is looking into how people do, can and should move around.
"A tremendous number of them walk," Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat says, "even when walking conditions aren’t that good."
So one of the ways Keesmaat would like to address that is by studying how and where people are getting around now, and adapting the now outmoded infrastructure to accommodate them.
Some aspects of this could be relatively easy, like making sure paths are shoveled, taking down fences that obstruct natural routes, and keeping them well lit after dark. But there are more profound ways to address the issue as well.
"It's about how we can re-adapt very suburban, car-oriented environments," Keesmaat says, "by getting a much finer street network, and adding development parcels, recognizing the importance of land-use planning and infrastructure changes in order to increase the options."
In other words, as these suburbs expand, they expand with these more reasonable, responsive forms of transportation and mobility in mind.
By the end of the roundtable, which was open to the public but attended mostly by those in related professions, they came up with a list of seven things that, Keesmaat says, need to happen now, including improving the walking infrastructure where people walk already, ensuring walking and cycling infrastructure links up with transit, improving data collection so future decisions can be made on solid ground, improving signage, loosening land-use controls to allow for more organic change as it is warranted, develop to allow people to live closer to where they work, and encourage individual "champions" to get behind significant infrastructure investments in these suburbans and push them through.
Video records of this and previous roundtables are available on the chief planner’s website
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Keesmaat