Posts Tagged ‘Live-work-play’

Why “TOD” is great news for all of us

Monday, August 16th, 2010
A rendering of transit-oriented development in Markham

A rendering of transit-oriented development at the future Markham Centre

Recently, I wrote about transit and the role it has in shaping communities, in particular, the development that tends to spring up along transit routes and around stations. This time, I want to talk more about what we mean by “transit-oriented-development” ( TOD for short), and why this kind of development will be good news for people in York Region—whether or not they are transit users themselves.

Most people get around York Region by car – possibly because they want to – but also because some people find it challenging to do all the things they need to do in a day by transit. That’s not surprising in a region like this one; in communities where development has been shaped by a long-standing car culture, destinations are more likely to be spread out, with greater distances between live-work-play destinations. Even the design of buildings may be shaped by car usage, with large parking lots separating buildings from roads.

The idea behind TOD is that people using transit are also likely to be pedestrians at some point during their journey – either at the beginning, or the end (or both). Studies have shown that people are willing to walk about 5 minutes to or from transit, which is somewhere between 400 and 600 metres. So TOD uses the approach of creating a complete community within walking distance of transit – including workplaces, homes, shopping, recreation and services. The thinking is that if new developments are designed to be conveniently compact and appealing to pedestrians, people are more likely to leave their car at home for at least one of their trips. Obviously, the good news is that more people taking transit means fewer cars on the road, less pollution, and less gridlock.

So York Region planners have linked the plans for the vivaNext rapidways to land use policies that will result in more TOD along Viva routes and near vivastations. These policies will likely mean that much of the new development built around vivastations will be compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation, all within a walkable distance of transit. Developments will also include more welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping, and other amenities so that people enjoy being out and about.

How will this affect you? In a pre-TOD scenario, a typical day could start with a drive to work, then a drive to a restaurant for dinner, ending with a drive to a movie or concert before driving back home. With more TOD, you would have the choice of taking transit to work, then walking around the corner from the office to dinner, then strolling across the street for a show before grabbing a coffee and getting home again by transit. Same day, two different ways of getting around.

The point is that transit and TOD don’t have to change the way people live in York Region, but it will give us all more choices – in what we do, where we do it, and how we get there. We think that’s good news for everyone.

Colouring Viva blue – and green

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

70-cars-before-and-after

The vivaNext rapidways being built across York Region are good news for the environment.  More people taking transit means less pollution. One Viva vehicle can replace up to 70 cars on the road – that represents a huge reduction in carbon emissions. With fewer cars on the road, gridlock, fuel use and air pollution caused by idling cars are all reduced.

There is also a direct connection between how our communities are developed, and the impact we have on our environment. Sprawling communities mean that people tend to travel farther between work, home and play. The more spread out a community is, the harder it is to provide efficient public transit. So, people become increasingly dependent on cars, and the developments that get built are more likely to be car-oriented. The more that happens, the less convenient it is for people to take transit. Eventually, entire communities become dependent on cars, and are less likely to use transit, cycle or walk to get around. More cars mean more gridlock, more pollution and more carbon emissions.

On the other hand, communities that are developed around great transit are more likely to include compact, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods.  Mixed-use developments and shorter distances between work-live-play destinations make it easier to get around and make transit a more appealing and convenient choice for a greater number of people.

The result: more people out and about, enjoying their energetic and dynamic local neighbourhood, and walking in the fresh air to ride in a comfortable, low-emission Viva vehicle.

And for people who continue to drive, their trips will be shorter due to the compact, mixed-use developments that have sprung up around transit – so once again, car usage will be reduced, resulting in less pollution and fuel consumption.

All of this is good news for the environment, for our health, and for our lifestyle.

Independent report identifies Richmond Hill as one of Canada’s greatest cities!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Richmond Hill Main Street

Richmond Hill Main Street

As Richmond Hill’s 162,704 residents already know, they live in a great city. This was recently confirmed in an independent 120-page report, entitled City Magnets, released by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, which analyzed what attracts skilled workers and mobile populations to Canadian cities, ranked 41 different societal indicators including health, economy, environment, education, innovation and housing.

Richmond Hill was statistically identified as a great place to live, work and play because of its solid economic performance, diverse and well-educated workforce, low crime rates and attractive quality of life.

When completed, vivaNextYork Region’s plan for the next generation of rapid transit – will make Richmond Hill an even better place to live. In addition to making it faster and easier to travel to, from and within the Region, vivaNext will inspire urban transformation as new residents come to live, work, shop and play in close proximity to great transit service.

In total, only six Canadian cities received a grade ‘A’ in the report. Along with Richmond Hill, they include Ottawa, Waterloo, Calgary, St. John’s and Vancouver.

Richmond Hill, congratulations!