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Martin Laplante

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Sat, 17 Jun 2006

Ontario has it wrong - Places to Grow

Ontario's latest version of the Places to Grow plan for the Golden Horseshoe area around Toronto was just released. It has several good points, but it falls down badly when it comes to density, where it relies on dogma rather than actual knowledge.

It gets it generally right when it comes to higher densities for greenfield development, bringing it up to transit-supporting density and creating complete communities with a mix of uses.

When Ontario has it all wrong is in the growth targets for Urban Growth Centres. It is planning to have extremely high residential densities in and near the downtowns of all major cities. This part of the plan will fuel sprawl and increase GHG emissions.

The cities with the densest centres have the greatest sprawl. The highest densities are achieved at the expense of existing heritage neighbourhoods where families live, and these dnesities do a fine job of isolating people and segregating people by demographic and income factors. This fuels a flight to the suburbs.

Statistics are quite clear on this: apartment dwellers do not drive any less by living in higher density. House dwellers do. By replacing the house dwellers near downtown with apartment dwellers, you are taking the segment of the population that drives the least and transforming them into the segment that drives the most.

Too bad, Ontario.

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