No to Expanding Urban Boundaries
On Monday, May 11th, there will be a special joint meeting of the Planning Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on our City’s growth management strategy. Up for discussion is whether the City should allow growth by expanding its current urban boundaries, only concentrate growth by intensification within the urban boundaries, or do some combination of both.
Regardless of what council’s ultimate decision will be, intensification is necessary to encourage residents to live close to transit and other amenities. Urban expansion costs dearly as the city is forced to build more roads, services, and other amenities. Development fees do not cover the ongoing costs to our city and the environment as dependency on cars increases the further people live outside the City’s urban core. The roads and infrastructure needed for new development beyond the city’s current boundaries increases the city’s maintenance costs for services such as snow removal.
The goal is to ensure that we build or refit our current communities into 15-minute neighbourhoods. This is defined as having necessities such as groceries along with transit within walking distance. This is a challenge, but many communities across the city have already achieved this goal and many more can achieve it with smart planning. Intensification without infrastructure renewal is not acceptable. Communities also need modernized community centres and parks as part of the 15-minute experience. Currently, Bay Ward does not have a community centre and its park field houses need major investments. Growth within the urban boundaries is not only about more housing, it should mean better municipal resources.
In the coming years, many changes are coming to Bay Ward including the implementation of Stage 2 LRT plus a bus lane along Carling Avenue. Our ward has wonderful well established neighbourhoods that will see growth through intensification in the form of infill housing, new developments in vacant spaces and low- and high-rise apartment buildings. All this development requires planning to ensure what comes in fits an overall vision of the community and the official plan. We must make every effort to preserve green spaces and especially our remaining tree canopy. My goal is to work with the community to improve our overall infrastructure to make Bay Ward an even better place to live, work and play.