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September 21 and 22
2 days, 2 disciplines, 2 ways to participate – defining our professional roles and uniting to build more equitable, accessible and inspired communities.
Gentle incremental intensification of existing low-density areas is one of the simplest solutions to generate more housing without the eradication of greenfield. Supported by existing infrastructure, our suburban neighbourhoods could feature a wider variety of housing forms and more sustainable density, providing a reasonable base for effective public transit, more amenities within walking distances, and more energy-efficient communities. We could adjust density to support transportation and local services and decrease energy consumption. We could allow for a variety of housing types and for a wide range of uses. We could eliminate much of the extreme over-regulation found in current zoning by-laws. We could permit parking on streets, use money from infill development to fund infrastructure revitalization and provide more amenities for the neighbourhoods. We could create stronger and more resilient communities.
Unfortunately, the opposite is still our reality. More and more controls to protect the high-cost low-density neighbourhoods are employed by our cities. Change in our neighbourhood is perceived as a threat to the dream of stability — the danger of losing something tangible anchoring us in this fast-moving world. Ours might be the only profession in which the experts ask untrained non-professionals to participate in decision making on complex matters which will affect many others, today and in the future. If we want to keep public engagement as a crucial component of planning, we need to engage more people in a more meaningful way. We also need to develop much wider educational campaigns with more engaging communication techniques. Most importantly, we need to start asking better questions.
Let’s work together to find ways to change the conversation and find out what our neighbourhoods could become if we allow them to grow.