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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Toronto - A Liveable City?

Tuesday I went with my friend Paul to hear Ken Greenburg, an award-winning urban architect, on rejuvenating cities. It was part of the Community Biking Network speaker series, and it was a great talk

Greenburg presented work he's been involved with in rebuilding neighbourhood in St. Paul (now officially renamed St. Paul on the Mississippi) and Boston in the aftermath of the Big Dig, specifically on creating mixed-use, liveable areas that serve to connect regions of the city previously segregated from each other.

It's notable that the best thing he could say about Toronto was that it has "great potential" but local politics was so decimated following amalgamation that it's almost impossible to push project thru, unless of course the property developers are behind them, a feeling echoed a lot in the Q&A session that followed. He's been working on a proposal to renovate Regent Park, but it's been jammed up in council, largely because the Fire Chief wants street widths in the entire amalgamated city to be standardized to the width used in the suburbs, a standard almost no street in Toronto proper meets, and one which puts paid to bike lanes and pedestrian malls.

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Wait, isn't poor vehicle access one of Regent Park's problems? Or am I thinking of "The Jungle" near Yorkdale?

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