Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Politics of Toronto's Lower Don Lands

image:: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (MVVA)/Behnisch Architects/Greenberg Consultants/Great Eastern Ecology master plan for Lower Don Lands {2007}, bricoleurbanism

I've been interested in the Toronto waterfront lately, particularly east of Yonge, as well as the fate of the elevated Gardiner Expressway, which I blogged about yesterday. The Star ran a story over a month ago about how the city wants to put a regional sporting complex in the Lower Don Lands. The original mixed-use plans focused on the use of mass transit, cycling, and walking—the sports facility would include parking and a car-centric approach. Inserting the complex could upset the balance of the planning already done, as the development acts like an interdependent system.

I tend to agree with the Stars Hume on the matter::
"What governments don’t seem to grasp is that business as usual leads to more of the same, not innovation. Ends and means are inseparable. 
When Waterfront Toronto was established in 2001, its mandate was to deliver a revitalized waterfront based on progressive planning principles, not the same old, same old.  Waterfront Toronto was set up by the three levels of government to do what they couldn’t, so it only makes sense that they should recognize its primacy. In addition to that, Waterfront Toronto has proved itself adept at leveraging its assets and attracting private capital. This, of course, is the key to the waterfront enterprise: The public sector builds the infrastructure; the private sector does the rest. The lineup of developers looking for a piece of the action underlines the success of this approach."
Here's a video overview of the sustainable development approach of Waterfront Toronto with respect to the Lower Don Lands::

I'm hoping that there's increased sustainable development in places like the Lower Don Lands and the West Don Lands, but I also have concerns that these developments will follow a certain planning orthodoxy that has no soul and isn't geared towards how people actually live. I came across a great site, Free Leslieville, which is a great site about one of my favourite areas in Toronto. I'll be blogging about Leslieville in the future.

Song:: The Jam-'Planner's Dream Goes Wrong'

Twitterversion::  Lower Don Lands plans in #Toronto embrace mixed use sustainable development, but city wants to tinker like so much Sim City. @Prof_K

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