York Urbanist

Archive for November, 2012

GTA West Corridor Study

November 21st, 2012
Urban Design, Urban Places to Detest

Before you know it, another limited access highway will be passing through King City and Caledon connecting Highway 400 to Highway 407/403/401.

This is on the heels of York Urbanist’s “Urban Places to Detest” http://yorkurbanist.com/category/urban-design/urban-places-to-detest/ where the number one detestable “urban” places in York Region is the uncrossable Highway 427. The provincial government and its transportation planners will push this study to validate yet another multi-lane highway that will further expand the realm of suburbia. In isolation from Places to Grow and intensification, this newest highway will slice through the depleting array of fertile lands that feed cities.

I take issue with the planning that follows the American model of circumferential auto routes rather than the European take on intensification.  Intensification will make people think more about the location they live vis-a-vis their place of employment. Indeed, there is a profound change in the number of work-from-home situations that would be encouraged to increase if it was not so easy to romp on the next ring of asphalt.  Such studies have the effect of freezing lands from creative change and appropriate agricultural use. The land is frozen by the speculators then hungry developers who sit on lands for 20 years, only to indulge in another rubber stamped single family group of edifices that lack clarity of place.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) spent on this study would be better spent understanding and nurturing the new urban shift.

Following Team Keon – The Dominion

November 20th, 2012
Recreation, Sports
We are deep into curling season and a national championship is upon us.

Team Ontario - Jordan Keon; Curtis Samoy; Trevor Talbott; Michael Keon

Team Keon became Team Ontario at the national Dominion Championships. They won their first game. Expect great things from this Richmond Hill Team.
See more curling at http://yorkurbanist.com/curling/ and http://www.curling.ca/thedominioncurls/about/
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team Nova Scotia for second win.
UPDATE: Team Newfoundland defeats Team Ontario 5-1 after taking commanding 4-0 lead in second end.
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team Quebec 8-4; three undefeated teams ahead – MB, AB, SK – nothing else to do than curl on the Prairies.
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team PEI 9-1, More potatoes for dinner! Red dirt trails seen leaving Scarborough GC&C; Prairie lads can’t lose (do they not play each other?)
UPDATE: Team Saskatchewan prairie rolls over Team Ontario 7-4 proving that the westerners are more comfortable on flat surfaces.
UPDATE: Team Ontario wins tiebreaker against Newfoundland. 9-4; Islanders Rocked in the second with a five-ender. Blue-noses next
UPDATE: The road ended in Nova Scotia for the Team Ontario – 8-4, having given up a trey in the 8th.

Ottawa Trails

November 15th, 2012

Just back from Ottawa.
As Toronto closes the Jarvis Street bike lanes to much fanfare, City of Ottawa is constructing more lanes on Rideau Street. The bright green bike lane crossings in Ottawa announce that “We understand bike safety”. Everywhere in the downtown there were bicyclists, bixie bikes, walkers and dedicated crossings. How refreshing, coming from Vaughan where pedestrianization and cycling are a future prospect.

GO Concord – Suburban Kiss 'n Ride?

November 8th, 2012
Urban Design

I attended the GO Concord Secondary Plan Area public meeting November 7, 2012, hosted by the City of Vaughan, supported by planningAlliance. The workshop format was good. Sitting with three area residents, their issues of pollution (air, water, noise) came to light. Despite little experience with planning, they understood the need for ease of pedestrianization that they sorely lack in this mostly industrial district of Vaughan. One of them said he had to drive less than a kilometer, just to get to a safe locale for walking and cycling. They live at the location marked with an ‘A’ on the google map, herein.
This secondary plan location will be the confluence of Metrolynx, GO and York Region Transit. In typical suburban fashion, the concept plans shown at the meeting, demonstrate a station platform surrounded by parking. And that is what those residents are objecting to…the pollution created by the cars! The residents were less concerned by possibility of tall buildings. They wanted government to consider burying the transit lines to increase saleable, usable land. Those non-planner residents were talking about underground parking with retail and residential mixes framed by green corridors of the branches of the Don River. They get “Intensification”. The GO station and Metrolynx are unlikely to be constructed for up to 30 years.  Urbanization is changing, and rapidly Vaughan needs to accept it! Perhaps suburban Vaughan as a concept is a past fantasy.
This future transit hub is an opportunity for Vaughan and York Region to create a seamless interaction between transit modes. It may be a longshot, but walkability could be a word in the lexicon of the planning of this GO station area.
GO itself does not generate a nodal urban place. There is proof in its two other stations in Vaughan, at Rutherford Road and Major Mackenzie Drive. Unlike its TTC counterpart stations, GO stations generate travelers only during two times a day, outside of typical working hours. Retail and government uses would not enjoy day-long activity at these locations. But they could if the approach of the planners was that these stations were to become destinations rather than suburban kiss ‘n rides. planningAlliance has a history of innovation. Could they consider more for this area than a repeat of yet another GO station that creates early morning and evening traffic strife? Vaughan can be more than Suburbia. Here is an opportunity.

Trails – Mobility Devices

November 1st, 2012
Trails, Uncategorized

Recent discussion on LinkedIn has prompted me to include this dialogue on Mobility Devices. When can we allow Segways, or golf carts, or health related mobility devices? Here is a link: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm#wheelchairs
Advances in technology have given rise to new power-driven devices that are not necessarily designed for people with disabilities, but are being used by some people with disabilities for mobility. The term “other power-driven mobility devices” is used in the revised ADA regulations to refer to any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines, whether or not they are designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion. Such devices include Segways®, golf cars, and other devices designed to operate in non-pedestrian areas. Public accommodations must allow individuals who use these devices to enter their premises unless the business can demonstrate that the particular type of device cannot be accommodated because of legitimate safety requirements. Such safety requirements must be based on actual risks, not on speculation or stereotypes about a particular class of devices or how they will be operated by individuals using them.
Remember: It is not permissible to ask individuals about their disabilities, when asking about their mobility devices.

See http://yorkurbanist.com/trails/trails-mobility-devices/ for more information and pictures.