Friday, June 06, 2008

Downtown's Core Values

Since the City of Ottawa amalgamated in 2001, planners, politicians, academics and even a few garden-variety residents have said the new municipality presents an opportunity to mold the shape of the urban area.

In other words, stop wasteful sprawl and intensify development in the core. Not that the city actually did that. It just seemed like a good idea.

While the municipality drew the urban boundary around the community beyond which development could not pass, it still allowed monotonous tract housing, unimaginative big-box stores with even bigger parking lots around them, and new, long roads. Pedestrians were but an after thought.

Good words from the city. Good intentions. Little follow-through.

The emerging good urban movement is less the city's doing than plain old human need. People are moving into condos and small homes downtown due to increasing gas prices and the attraction of downtown living. You could probably add that boomers are becoming empty-nesters and many are sick of fixing leaks in the basement and other maintenance.

Living in the core means not having to build new roads, new sewers, new watermains, new electricity lines, and new curbs and sidewalks. The city can use the ones it already has downtown. And core living means less driving, fewer greenhouse gases, less pollution and lower transportation costs.


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