The “inevitable” master plan

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Jaquelyn Robertson said :

"We live in a country made of spare parts where the master plan has been lost."

It sure feels that way about Canada's immigration strategy as a whole, and Ontario's "Places to grow" act more specifically.

Here's some history on the "Places to grow" from back in 2004:
http://newurbanist.blogspot.com/2004/12/ontarios-growth-management-challenge.html

Ontario's Places to Grow legislation will give the Provincial government a significant amount of power to enforce growth boundaries and demand municipalities develop in a way that comports to provincial interests.

One point of controversy is the Provincial desire to encourage high-density development rather than the low density sprawl that is indicative of the exurban fringe of Ontario's urban areas.

This article goes on to expose that Ontario's population will increase by an staggering number of 4 million people over the next 25 years:  http://www.penopticon.com/2007/03/to-in-2050/

It is continued in this article: http://www.penopticon.com/2006/06/a-reaction-to-ontarios-places-to-grow-growth-plan/

To accommodate this growth, the plan calls for a series of connected areas of high-density housing and commercial activity.

So the obvious questions are now being thrown around, just how dense is too dense? how high is too high?

Architecture Week had a great piece on this very question titled: High density? Everybody loves good neighbors but not that much :
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/3350813/High-density-Everybody-loves-good-neighbours-but-not-that-much.html

Richard Simmons offered this bit of wisdom:  ''While it's important to measure density, the worry for us with a national minimum is that developers start building high-density projects in low-density areas, and completely change their character. Existing schools have got no capacity to cope with new demand. There are not enough roads, and so on.''

The Globe & Mail wrote a great peace on where RichmondHill fits into this puzzle, it is titled "On the front lines of the development debate: The move to higher density is prompting some soul searching" : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/article177014.ece

The Toronto star had a great regarding a full-page ad in a Markham newspaper warning about the dangers of unbridled intensification:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/753056–developer-denies-ties-to-controversial-markham-ad

Apparently High-Density is too high for some cities here in Ontario.  Brampton City Council Opposes Proposed High-Density Development:  http://www.brampton.ca/en/City-Hall/News/Documents/Media%20Releases/2009/Brampton%20City%20Council%20Opposes%20Proposed%20High-Density%20Development%20-%2009-033.pdf

Markham compiled proceedings from a conference in 2003 and published them as : "Putting the Urban in Suburban:The Modern Art and Business of Placemaking" : http://www.canurb.com/media/pdf/Placemaking_Conference_Proceedings.pdf

What I found interesting was the following assertion:

Public consultation doesn’t end when a plan is adopted
Residents must be involved throughout the development process. In addition, public education is required to
ensure that residents understand the benefits associated with new forms of development.

Urban environments need to be managed after they are built
It is not enough to build urban spaces. The finished product must be maintained and supported. In some
cases, what has to be managed is the success itself. Urban spaces are characterized by bustle and activity,
whereas the suburbs are typically associated with peace and quiet. The most successful urban spaces attract
people from other municipalities, creating noise, traffic jams, and parking problems for the locals who then
complain. Good management must balance competing expectations and demands.

Here in Aurora as we are facing a draft of our town plan this couldn't be any clearer.

Council seems to be planning for an inevitability instead of questioning how to best situate oneself in and around it.

A community has to have the capacity to envision a future they want, and not just the one they are likely to get.

Edward T. McMahon added the following thought: "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how"

Our forthcoming town plan would have to be an epic body of work developed by the brightest minds from several fields working night and day for the last 5 years straight.  What we will be most likely met with is a loosely compiled stack of papers filled with consultants and developers visions of netting the most money out of our town with no intent of participating or living in the community they create.  To them community is a by-product.

David Mohney once said "The most important task of the urbanist is controlling size".
To which I would say the most important task of the citizen is controlling the urbanists.

We need to be asking where is the planning to save our heritage?  Where is the planning to sustain a town that can actually claim that living in Aurora in 2030 citizens will continue to be "in good company"?  Or will Aurora be forced to change its slogan?

Edward Abbey a writer, essayist & novelist once said:
 
"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

The diagnosis will be in shortly and if it's what I think it is, Aurora deserves better.

Aurora deserves a cure.

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