Urban Planning

Toronto's Traffic Department Couldn't Be More Wrong About Lane Widths

Murtaza Haider | Posted 11.26.2014 | Canada
Murtaza Haider

While the City's traffic department sounds confident in its assertions, its recommended guidelines on lane widths are in stark contradiction to what we know from traffic engineering and safety studies. Narrower lane widths by default have higher accident rates. Even more disconcerting is the City's backgrounder on lane width guidelines, which states that traffic "throughput is independent of speed." Nothing could be more wrong about traffic flow than this statement.

The Affordable Housing Gap Is Only Getting Wider

Murtaza Haider | Posted 10.24.2014 | Canada Politics
Murtaza Haider

Housing affordability will continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the rapidly urbanizing world. Canadian cities will not be exempt from this challenge.

The TTC Isn't Pulling its Weight

Murtaza Haider | Posted 12.09.2014 | Canada
Murtaza Haider

The Yonge-University-Spadina (YUS) subway line carries 34 per cent fewer passengers during rush hour than its design capacity. Whereas the decision to...

Politicians Should Leave Transit Planning to the Experts

Murtaza Haider | Posted 12.03.2014 | Canada Politics
Murtaza Haider

Unlike the past, when professionals led transport planning in Toronto, transport planning today has become the exclusive purview of poorly informed politicians. To have any chance of addressing gridlock, transit planning has to start with professionals who actually understand real needs and alternative solutions before political choices are made.

In Praise Of The Upright Bike

Brent Toderian | Posted 11.16.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

There are many other policy implications that come with the spread of slower, safer city bikes -- here in B.C., a big one is around mandatory helmet laws. Many such laws were passed at a time when fast, forward-leaning cycling was the norm, and safe bike infrastructure was virtually non-existent. When drifting along at a walking pace, in an upright position, on a dedicated cycle track, the notion of legally requiring head protection certainly changes.

Detroit: A City Revolution Built to Last

Adam Moscoe | Posted 08.31.2014 | Canada Impact
Adam Moscoe

I was thrilled to participate in my first ever 'live' event as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum. But after hearing endless stories about the glamour of Davos, I certainly never expected that my involvement with the Shapers would bring me to Detroit.

The Hard Truths About Public Transit in Canada

Murtaza Haider | Posted 08.30.2014 | Canada Politics
Murtaza Haider

Some transit experts argue that commute times by high-speed rail transit are shorter. It is true for individual trips, but not for the entire communities. Commuters in transit-dependent communities, with ready access to subways, can take faster transit to their destinations, however shorter duration trips are enjoyed only by those whose trip lengths are shorter. With $29 billion in transport infrastructure spending already earmarked for Ontario, Steven Del Duca and Kathleen Wynne, will receive tons of unsolicited advice. They should, however, base their investment decisions on sound analysis rather than conjecture.

You Don't Hate Your Commute, You Hate Your Job!

Murtaza Haider | Posted 07.24.2014 | Canada Business
Murtaza Haider

You don't hate your commute, it's your job. A Statistics Canada survey revealed that workers who disliked their jobs were much more likely to hate their commutes than those who liked their jobs. Our hatred of the morning commute may be driven by our unsatisfactory jobs. Extensive surveys of workers in Canada have revealed that our love-hate relationship with daily commutes is much more nuanced than what we had believed it to be.

This One Simple Change Can Reduce Urban Crime

Jon Packer | Posted 05.14.2014 | Canada Living
Jon Packer

The perceived broken window theory is that poorly maintained areas lead to vandalism and increasingly more serious crimes. Creating well-lit, walkable communities that encourage pedestrian traffic and neighbourly interaction, as well as cycle path safety are critical in building a civic pride culture that will reduce crime.

It's Time To Stop Paying Extra For Inconvenience

Gordon Harris | Posted 03.24.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Gordon Harris

Today, close to 70 per cent of all Canadians live in suburbs. Most bought homes early in their adult life. Most raised families. And many are now living alone or with an aging spouse in houses designed for four to six people. The kids have grown and left, so nearby schools are unsupportable, too. Even the strip malls are failing as old neighbourhoods hollow out -- as young buyers head to ever-more distant points in search of the latest "cheap" development.

Landscape First, Then Buildings Later

Ashley Willard Bauman | Posted 03.16.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Ashley Willard Bauman

It's rare for a community's landscape to be built before any of its homes or buildings are in place. But that's exactly how Wesbrook Village on the University of British Columbia's Vancouver campus got its remarkable start.

What Garages Have To Do With Speeding In Your 'Hood

Brent Toderian | Posted 03.05.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

What do garages have to do with speeding? In suburbs all over North America, front garages are causing ripple effects that change the design and nature of our neighbourhoods in many ways that we don't initially realize.

Amazon's Micro-Drones Are a Good Thing

Jon Packer | Posted 02.02.2014 | Canada Business
Jon Packer

The newly announced Amazon PrimeAir drone concept is essentially a mini-flying airplane that will deliver small purchases to your door in about half an hour. The commercialization of drones continues a micro-trend that is changing how we live and interact with the world around us for the better.

Canada's Success is Tied to All its Cities, Not Just the Thriving Ones

Matthew Kellway | Posted 01.23.2014 | Canada Politics
Matthew Kellway

For 40 years or so, the economic forces of this global economy have reshaped, physically and socially, too, cities around the world and even delivered some, once mighty, into bankruptcy. Witness Detroit. Here in Toronto, vast expanses of our car-oriented post-war suburbs have become food, transit and social service deserts with scarce opportunity for employment,

Great Public Transit Makes for a Great City

David Suzuki | Posted 08.05.2013 | Canada
David Suzuki

When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.

Why Vancouver's Digital Strategy Falls Short

Nikolas Badminton | Posted 06.08.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Nikolas Badminton

The City of Vancouver has ignored how quickly digital moves in terms of technology, trends, opportunities for citizen empowerment and needs for infrastructure. For the digitally advanced, Vancouver will continue to be behind the times. For the average citizen, very little change will be seen or felt.

The Most Important Urban Design Decision Vancouver Ever Made?

Brent Toderian | Posted 05.10.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

Last weekend at a book launch party, our host began the evening by asking each party-goer to answer a fun and provocative question: "Tell us an urban design decision that you love." For a group of city-making wonks like us, it was an even better icebreaker than the wine.

Re-defining the D-Word: 'Density Done Well' in Vancouver

Brent Toderian | Posted 04.25.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

Density can be the most controversial aspect of how cities and communities are planned. But smart and successful cities worldwide are now tackling "the D-Word" head on, and looking to model cities who have learned how to do density well, often with the scars to show for it. Vancouver is such a city.

How Your New Year's Resolutions Can Make Your City Better

Brent Toderian | Posted 03.05.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

At this time of year, most of us are thinking hard about New Year's resolutions to make our personal, family and professional lives better. But before we finalize the list of losing weight, balancing our household finances, or cleaning out that back closet, what if we picked a few that could improve our lives, while ALSO improving our cities, towns and communities?

Frightful Winter Weather Doesn't Scare Walkable Cities

Brent Toderian | Posted 02.23.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

What last week illustrated is that even Vancouver — not really a winter city in the common use of that title — needs to think more about our ability to handle tougher winter conditions. With the weather being less predictable, and frequency and intensity of storm events getting worse with the consequences of climate change, anticipating and designing for unusual weather conditions is going to be the new normal for all of us.

Why Canadian Cities Should Look to Phoenix

Steve Lafleur | Posted 12.28.2012 | Canada Politics
Steve Lafleur

Municipal politicians are in positions in which they may abuse the public trust. These controversies should be a launching point for a broad discussion of how to improve municipal governance. Canadian cities need a new model, and for accountability, transparency, and efficiency, there is no better governance model than that in Phoenix, Arizona.

Does Your Neighbourhood Pass 'Trick-Or-Treat' Test?

Brent Toderian | Posted 10.07.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

On top of loving to dress up each year, Halloween is my favourite holiday because it's the most dependent on how we design and build our communities. In city planning and design, there's an old saying about the "Trick-or-Treat Test." It's often brought up in the context in suburban home design: Can kids easily find the front door to your house, or must they poke behind the huge multi-car garage, past the parking asphalt, to ring your bell?

Want Families Downtown? Design for Them!

Brent Toderian | Posted 11.07.2012 | Canada British Columbia
Brent Toderian

The truth is that many downtowns are currently not great places to raise families, because they aren't designed to be. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. A city and building industry gives up on kids downtown, so no one designs and plans for them. No schools. Little daycare. No playgrounds, facilities or basic public environment to make downtown kid or teenager-friendly. Most importantly, no homes built to actually fit a family. Perhaps a couple, but as soon as baby comes, they start planning the move. This perpetuates the myth that families would never want to live downtown.

Sorry Yuppies, Toronto Will Not Be Gentrified

Brennan Aguanno and Anna Kemp | Posted 09.12.2012 | Canada Business
Brennan Aguanno and Anna Kemp

Buying a property in a neighbourhood that is in the early stages of such a process is generally considered one of the best ways to build equity in terms of real estate investments. The media constantly runs stories along these lines. Unfortunately however, they couldn't possibly be further from the truth.

Newfoundland's Newfound Pride Outweighs that of Ontario

Andreas Souvaliotis | Posted 07.07.2012 | Canada
Andreas Souvaliotis

Tightly shared heritage, values, and pride can obviously drive a solid sense of alignment, and common identity in a community. And those types of cohesive civic societies can be dynamic, creative, and very powerful sources of leadership, and innovation for our world.