Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning for a New Toronto

Toronto Has Planning?
Link to City Website About Official Plan

"Toronto’s official plan is up for a mandated review in 2011, but it’s not yet clear whether the city plans to tweak the five-year-old document or pursue major changes....Some planning experts feel council should ditch the official plan and radically recast Toronto’s approach to growth. John Van Nostrand, founding principal with planning Alliance, says some of the world’s leading cities have abandoned “aspirational” OPs in favour of long-term strategic plans that identify major urban goals and lay out plans for achieving them."(Globe and Mail article from Feb 4:  What's Up With Toronto's Official Plan? )

Ford's Critical 100 Year Decisions Toronto Star article by Paul Bedford, former City of Toronto Chief Planner "Is progressive city planning possible under Mayor Rob Ford and the current Toronto City Council?"..."After decades of inaction, Toronto urgently needs to get on with building transit of all types. Ford and the new council will be making 100-year decisions that will shape our future. Now is not the time to get cynical; the future success of Toronto and the region is far too important."

More Gridlock ?
Census Move Hurts Toronto Planning (CBC) talks about how federal moves to kill long form census affects local urban planning. There are numerous tools available to planners now, thanks to technology, like satellite images from space that give instant up to the minute maps with great detail. That should mean planning would benefit. BUT - the biggest obstacle to good, sensible planning is still PEOPLE.: Political partisanship, short term focus, turf wars, personality conflicts.

What is needed from this current Toronto City Council is VISION and COOPERATION. The things that individual councillors decide today will affect us for generations to come. Particularly in the area of TRANSIT, this is a watershed moment in the life of our city. We desperately need calm, cool and logical discussions and debates. At least locally,  the election campaign is over and the time for blame game rhetoric is over.

Let's hope City Council takes this message to heart when discussing long term planning. Because...
. Toronto Deserves Better from its political leaders.


* Update: Ryerson Wants Developer to Join Project Yonge-Dundas-Gerrard "...steering clear of an ambitious effort by the local councillor (Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam ) to create a high-minded plan for a rundown retail strip where fire destroyed a landmark heritage building last month."

* Update: Is Dundas West Ready for Eight Stories?  "Maple Leaf Lumber, at Dundas and Manning Avenue have applied to the City of Toronto to rezone the site, knock down the venerable building supply yard and put up a 98-unit, eight-storey condo tower, with eight four-storey townhouses on the back end where the lumber warehouse now stands. The building would have 62 underground parking spots. A preliminary report on the rezoning comes to Toronto and East York Community Council on Wednesday."

* Update: The Bloordale Pantry in Ward 18 at Lansdowne and Bloor at 1285 Bloor Street West used to be an establishment with a very long history that provided low cost meals for low income people and a place for them to gether an talk. It has now been successfully "GENTRIFIED"  Now when you go there, you'll see it is very upscale with trendy youth filling the place for creative dishes and yuppie talk. No more 'smelly old low income people' (see the link for the rabid comments about how most people think its a good thing those types have been forced out). Here is a BlogTO article about the place.

Gentrification and urban gentrification are terms referring to the socio-cultural displacement that results when wealthier people acquire property in low income and working class communities. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community, which sometimes results in the eviction of lower-income residents because of increased rents, house prices, and property taxes. This type of population change reduces industrial land use when it is redeveloped for commerce and housing. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, tend to move into formerly blighted areas, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to less wealthy natives. (Source: Wikipedia )

Question: Should urban city official planning take into account poor people, or is it all about creating a rich environment that caters only to those that have money?

* Update Feb 16: Rob Ford Pitches Private Financing Plan for Sheppard Subway Expansion "Mr. Ford’s staff submitted the proposal to the regional transportation authority, Metrolinx, on Tuesday as part of ongoing efforts to craft a successor to Transit City, the light-rail network Mr. Ford declared “over” the day he took office." Estimate: $3.6 billion versus the Sheppard Transit City LRT $1.1 billion

* Update: Feb 17 Councillors Approve Controversial Ravine Development "A plea by Bussin’s successor — Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon — to have the city oppose the development of a six-storey Kingston Rd. condo building — located on the Glen Davis Ravine — was shot down 6-5....Councillor Gord Perks, chair of the community council, said the city would get the “best outcome” on the issue if city legal and planning officials went to the OMB in support of the development — as they’d recommended — along with a list of 43 conditions that must be met to significantly improve the building....Councillor Janet Davis agreed with Perks, saying the property owner has a “right to develop the site and it is going to be developed.”


* Update: Feb 17 Eye Weekly Hyping Condominiums in Toronto "Some 18,000 new condominium units were completed in the Greater Toronto Area last year, according to the market research firm Urbanation. Another 17,000 will pop up this year, and 20,000 will rise next year—meaning Toronto will have more condo units for sale than any other city on the continent"... Condominiums are most often marketted as the exclusive purview of the "Discriminating Few", for those with the right 'Lifestyle', glamorous and 'Exclusive'. In Mayor Rob Ford's Toronto business, they love that you can cram as many taxpayers vertically as possible.