Development needs to serve the interests of the community that is hosting that new project. City Council needs to harness the power of major development to help build community, not destroy it. Affordable Housing, Schools, Community Centres, Green Space, affordable food and clean affordable energy are among the potential benefits of inspired direction and regulation of major development.
The city doesn't need to turn a blind eye to the destruction of local heritage, low income residences, schools, local small businesses or green space. Council can require developers to preserve, even promote local heritage. The city could negotiate with developers to include local amenities in their site plan. Inspiration and a will to get things done might bring many things to a community without substantive government investment. Councillors, staff, need to roll up their sleeves and work with developers to find out what is within their ability and also serves local communities.
What if all new towers where required to double the number of 2 & 3 bedroom units. This would mean more accommodation options for families and for groups of singles seeking affordable accommodation. Why doesn't the city take into account that families and seniors prefer residences on the lower floors, while groups of singles might be happier on higher floors and consider both when re-defining what is an acceptable development.
Can new towers be harnessed to generate clean, affordable energy to reduce the cost of, perhaps even provide free, power to residents and businesses? Can towers be required to incorporate solar and/or wind energy into their design? Toronto sits over a network of streams. Can any of them be used to generate local hydro for structures built over them?
Can the city find ways to facilitate the emergence of a culture of urban food production? Toronto might mandate every new residence have access to potential growing space, a balcony, roof, or some other location on the property? The city could specifically seek to attract a Vertical Farming Business to our city. Initiatives like these would help to provide affordable foods to residents, reducing the need of long distance transport, helping to address Climate Change.
Communities are most vital, develop distinct character and provide support to one another when neighbours regularly cross paths while engaged in their daily routines. That means a community that is designed to permit residents to live, work, shop, play and go to school within walking distance are better communities. It also means familiar landmarks, a sense of shared heritage and something similar to a village square are all worth considering when approving new developments.
I don't see any reason why a tower can't reach as high as modern technology will allow, safely. That doesn't mean that the city can't mandate a more human scale at grade, perhaps no more than 5 storeys, no tower to the clouds that is not set back, at least 10 metres from a wide, tree lined sidewalk with cafes, markets and other local small businesses or perhaps townhouses, in the case of a non-commercial street. It might be better, at least in some cases, for those 5 storey facades to be designed in style, with materials used, in such a way as NOT to clash with buildings in the immediate area!
Toronto's downtown has suffered dramatic changes, not necessarily good changes, because of a City Hall that seems indifferent to our communities. They view them merely as bedrooms, built on thoroughfares, a design that serves a larger region. We are more than a place to sleep or to drive through. We are distinct communities where people live. The city needs to respect that reality and OUR representative needs to be vigilant in making that point to government and to colleagues!
Toronto City Council, Candidate - Toronto Centre