Almost as soon as I published my post about the plans for rapid transit along Broadway in Vancouver, city staff made a presentation to council stating their position that an underground Skytrain line is the only solution that will meet the demand. I share this position, but I feel that west of Arbutus Street – where the first phase of the subway would end – the development patterns and ridership levels change such that a subway is not the only technology which can handle the ridership. Since construction would likely stop there anyway, we have to ask if the change of mode from subway to something else should be permanent or temporary.
In my opinion, the following criteria should be used to decide if a permanent change of mode is a wise decision: Continue reading →
As you may have heard, the Mr. Christie cookie plant in Etobicoke – a landmark for anyone heading downtown via the Gardiner or the Lakeshore West line – will be closing next year. There are rumours that the landowners will apply to rezone the land for residential, but as of the time of writing no application has been submitted. One of the lessons I learned while studying planning is the importance of preserving employment lands and building mixed-use communities where people can live, work and play in close proximity. According to those teachings, rezoning the land would be a bad idea. But, other important lessons learned were that land should be developed to its highest and best use for its context, and that certain types of land uses do not work well in close proximity. Given that the factory is surrounded on nearly all sides by high-rise residential land uses, is continuing to manufacture on that site really the highest and best use? Continue reading →
According to an article in the Brampton Guardian, the provincial government will soon announce a review of the Ontario Municipal Board – the quasi-judicial body best knowns for hearing appeals of planning and development-related decisions made by municipalities. Most commonly, a land-owner will appeal the rejection of a development permit application to the board, but there have been instances where citizens have appealed an approval. Over the years, the board has gained a reputation of overriding the official plans of municipalities and allowing unwanted development. Until I entered planning school, this negative perception was one that I shared. But, as I learned more about the planning process, my opinion changed to something that will make most of my neighbours see red. Continue reading →
After my last post on the Six Points interchange, a friend of mine who studied planning in Sweden wondered if the area can truly become pedestrian friendly. We both seemed to agree that fixing the interchange will improve the situation for pedestrians, but his point that wide suburban arteries present a barrier to true pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods is a very good one. In an ideal world we would narrow the street the make it easier to cross and slow down traffic, but since such a suggestion would not be well received in this political climate, we must look for ways of turning wide suburban avenues into pedestrian-friendly streets without removing lanes. I believe it is possible, but we need to look across the ocean for inspiration. Continue reading →