Great presentation in Burlington tonight from Ken Greenberg, architect/urban planner/author. Some key thoughts that stood out for me (and members of the community have been saying many of these things, also) –
- on community collaboration: In his neighbourhood, the local councillor, residents, developers and planning staff develop a vision for the community, a neighbourhood checklist of what’s important, and then meet with developers when a development is just an idea, in order to achieve community consensus. It’s working. I will be examining this model to see what we can bring to Burlington.
- on development: Communities are best developed as a whole, instead of site by site, with consideration of jobs, services, housing, transit, and public spaces. We need to move beyond site by site planning, where each project is considered in isolation from the whole.
- on height: His observation: , and that is defined differently in each community: roughly 7-8 storeys, and in some communities where appropriate (like in his urban Toronto neighbourhood) 11-14 storeys.
- on setting a baseline for height: It’s best to pick a height and stick to it, otherwise land speculation occurs, and it becomes economically unfeasible to build more community-friendly mid-rise projects – you essentially lose a full range of development options.
- on transportation: Employment used to be built on transit lines, but is now built on highways, and congestion creates $6billion drag on the economy. We need to bring jobs closer to home, and that’s one of my key focus areas for downtown (plus, we can achieve our intensification targets through jobs – it doesn’t just have to be through housing).
- on Official Plan: When a community is envisioning its future, it’s important to use visuals, not just words, to give life to the vision.
- on walkability: New York City is the healthiest city in the US because it is the most walkable.
- on economy: Quality of life is an important economic driver; downtowns can’t always compete on price-per-square foot of office space, but have other assets to attract corporations – eg. walkability, mixed use, transit.
- on intensification: There is no “one-size fits all” approach to intensification. Each community must collaboratively decide what’s best for itself.
- on the waterfront: Our waterfront is a great leveraging opportunity for neighbourhood building: he envisions more parkspace and walking paths along the waterfront, but also greenspace connecting the waterfront to interior neighbourhoods.
- on arterial roads (like Fairview): Arterials are another great opportunity for redevelopment and repurposing, to turn single story buildings surrounded by parking into vibrant mixed used corridors that are more people and transit friendly.
- on heritage: The most successful neighbourhoods are a mix of the old and the new. Your heritage is your collective memory. When you lose heritage, you lose a piece of yourself.
We have been discussing many of these ideas in the community in recent months. Join the conversation by posting a comment, or emailing your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org Or, attend one of our Citizen Advisory Committee meetings the third Thursday of each month. The next one: Thurs. April 19, 7pm, Rm 247 City Hall.