DEVELOPMENT & RE-DEVELOPMENT
Typically, new residential and commercial development is constructed without consideration of adequate transit services, the facilitation of community assembly and recreation opportunities, or basic commercial amenities. New residents are put at a distinct disadvantage, forced to travel by car for everything they need, from child care to groceries.
Often, with re-development and infill, there is poor community consultation and engagement, and a “one size fits all” building approach without consideration of the character and aesthetic of the existing community.
There is also currently an over-emphasis on infill and increasing density in established neighborhoods without considering the impact on those already living in the community.
There is more that can be done by the City to ensure that both development and re-development are done well and with successful outcomes in mind for the short and long term.
Planning & Design
All development needs to be done in balance. Density, building form, intended market sector (young families, young singles, growing families, seniors). As a civil engineer, employed in project management and design, I have considerable experience in evaluating what works and what doesn’t within the context of the immediate neighborhood.
Higher density neighborhoods need to be properly served with transit service. Our newest neighborhoods have the lowest service levels, forcing young families into ownership of two cars in neighborhoods with limited curbside parking. This turns new, dense neighborhoods into parking lots which not only causes frustration but creates visual blockages on sidewalks and crosswalks and poses a safety risk for residents.
There needs to be thoughtful design with commercial nodes that compliment neighbourhoods instead of compromising or constricting them. We don’t want to see any further poorly designed commercial districts that bottleneck movement into and out of residential areas in the community.
I will also encourage more mixed used development where appropriate which would allow for commercial / mercantile / service office development at street level with residential accommodation on higher levels.
Investment in the Community
Do not download the cost of additional initial infrastructure onto developers. This approach is counter-intuitive. It increases the borrowing costs of the developer, which is passed onto the home builder, which is then passed on to the home buyer who will have a larger mortgage to pay.
Three financial institutions have increased revenues for borrowing, all at the expense of the new home buyer. We need to find a way to invest those increased fees into the community instead.
We can do more to help families and the community thrive. In partnership with the province, school board and other stakeholders, let’s look at the research that’s already been done to date and enhance schools as community hubs. This can look different in different neighbourhoods. Health and wellness, childcare and other community-relevant services can be added to school sites that have the space or included as part of the initial development. Building community hubs will allow for assembly in the community, may jump-start the establishment of the community league, and take pressure off the roadway system. We could even consider building the “hub” before we build the school.
If you have an idea or concern not addressed here, or if you simply want to talk more about how we can build better communities, please let me know.