How to Develop Sustainable Communities
I have campaigned on a platform of environmental preservation, clean air, clean water, better planning of our communities, safe healthy neighbourhoods.
The neighbourhoods that we see developing south of Main Street are not sustainable into the far future. Good examples of Urban Sprawl. There are no affordable houses, no amenities within walking distances, and the developments are car dependant. Town houses are being built and sold as affordable houses. These are not accessible friendly homes and have been proven to be unaffordable.
Here is how we do this:
- No expansion of development into the Greenbelt. This is a must. The Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Act have been in place for more than 20 years. We cannot set precedence here by opening up this area to development of any kind.
- Compact sustainable communities. This means that planning has to see all amenities and housing be brought to the neighbourhood level. A mix of multi story apartments, no taller than 6 stories and up to 100 condominiums or rental apartments in every building. This will provide affordable housing for both first time home buyers or for those who are looking to down size in their more senior years and still live in Whitchurch-Stouffville. The bottom floors should be kept along neighbouring streets for access of retail or commercial businesses to provide goods and services to the immediate neighbourhood. Currently, municipalities can take 5% of all development for Parkland. Let’s do the same, if not more (10%), and build affordable apartments. These multi story building will be mixed in with all housing sizes. Let’s not segregate our communities by income.
These building will be built using the most modern energy efficient technologies along with green roofs, green balconies, enhanced community gardens, areas for our children to play and learn. Multistory building can be the center point of our communities.
- Greenspace built around the hub of the neighbourhoods. I am a firm believer in the 3-30-300 Rule. You should be able to see 3 trees from your window, there should be a 30% canopy cover within each neighbourhood and you should be no further than 300 meters from any significant high-quality greenspace.
- There will be a balanced mix of single, semi and town house development within these communities. Population densities will be higher, but more walking and cycling opportunities will be built in so traffic on the neighbourhood roads can be minimized.
- Roads need to be kept to minimum widths with proper traffic calming measures where they are needed. The current width of our roads only invite excessive speeds and safety is compromised. We need to build neighbourhood streets, not throughways for alternative traffic routes.
- Suggested increased densities of our neighbourhoods can be achieved when planning is part of building healthy communities. If you can build 100 homes in the same space as ten single detached houses, this will allow for more greenspaces within our neighbourhoods. Urban sprawl is not sustainable and will increase taxes and more services that will be needed in larger areas of development. I am not against development, I am against poor planning.
Imagine walking down your neighbourhood road seeing tree lined boulevards, smaller areas of asphalt, more areas to walk and bike. Yes, more green space, community gardens cleaner air and seeing more of your neighbours to make lifelong friends. Building densities does not mean we lose the character of our neighbourhoods. There may be a series of low-rise affordable apartments or condos, but these can be blended in with mature trees and ample greenspace, they will just be part of the neighbourhood. We have just built up, rather than out.
The attached picture is an artist concept for smaller low-rise buildings within new development areas.