Allen Road intensification
Highway and hydro corridors often have plenty of open land, allowing rapid transit to be built cheaply and easily. However, while these areas are usually close to densely populated areas, they rarely pass close enough to offer effective stop placement. The Mississauga busway, for example, has to divert off of the highway 403 corridor in order to serve the Square One terminal, which itself is still very far from the booming areas of Mississauga's City Centre. The Finch-Etobicoke transit city line could easily use the nearby hydro corridor, but doing so would miss key destinations along Finch Avenue. The highway 401 subway proposal of a few years ago is hindered by the fact that while people live and work close to the 401, fleets of buses would be needed to take people the few blocks to their final destinations.
The Spadina subway is an example of the final situation, where the stations are almost completely dependent on bus connections. Downsview has very little walk-in potential due to the vast undeveloped land surrounding the station. Wilson has very little in walking distance, and even if it did, it is in a pedestrian unfriendly environment. Yorkdale and Lawrence West both have malls nearby, but those malls are surrounded by low density developments. Glencairn is completely surrounded by low density housing. Without the high capacity bus routes serving many of those stations, there would be serious questions as to why some stations are kept open.
While Torontonians have often been opposed to intensification in low density areas, concepts like this take into account the existing neighbourhood and attempt to build a gradual transition between single family housing and apartment buildings. Most importantly, the concept is visually appealing, which, in my opinion, is the grounds that we should be opposing projects on. We shouldn't condemn a proposal because it is too tall or because it has too many units. We should oppose a proposal if it's visually unpleasant, or if it doesn't take steps to ease the transition between low density and high density.
I hope that projects like this are built in the near future, as they can help improve transit ridership, improve sustainability in the city, and set examples for other places in the suburbs to use in their plans to improve density and build good urban communities. And, most importantly, this concept is 10,500 housing units on a site in Toronto and not on the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Labels: urban design