Friday, August 15, 2008

Chateaux of Caledon plan has lots of foes in the public eye - Caledon Citizen

Every so often, a newspaper article gets published that suggests to me that the attitudes of the general public towards sustainability, better development and transportation indicate that society is doomed.

Case in point, this article published in the Caledon Citizen yesterday.

According to a petition against the development, a proposal to build 500 homes in Caledon East was called "an excessive and unsustainable growth for the Caledon East community." I feel bad for the concept of sustainability here, as it is being taken out of context. Building low density sprawl is unsustainable. Building more units on less land is sustainable from both an environmental perspective (as it uses less land), and from a financial perspective (as a higher tax base in a small area means more revenue and less infrastructure). While this development would still be less dense than regular sprawl-type housing, it is intensification by Caledon's standards.

Of course, safety is also an issue. From the article:
One woman reflected on how Mclean's magazine had stated Caledon was the safest place in Canada earlier this year, and she feared that would change if the subdivision goes in.

"Do we need such a condensed housing development?" she asked, fearing such densities would attract crime and drugs to the area.

She also pointed out two schools are in the neighbourhood. "Innocent children and teens need protection," she said.

The woman also pointed out there are lots of activities available for kids in the village now, but adding more young people will create waiting lists, meaning some of them might have nothing else to do.

"Once it is done, and crime moves in, we cannot reverse it," she remarked.
This argument is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous, mildly offensive, and contradicts itself in the process. Bolton (another village in Caledon) is much more dense than this proposed development, and has several public housing developments. Is it overun by drugs and crime? NO. Is Caledon still the safest municipality in Canada even with all this supposed evil? YES.

Also from the article:
In addition, she didn't have much faith in the concept of Caledon East being a live/work/play community. It's a commuter community, she asserted, adding the part of the plan that calls for four-storey townhouses, "simply does not fit in this community."


The idea of the live/work units was a concern to one woman, who said she had visited a similar development in Mississauga. People there told her of problems with high turnovers, parking, deliveries, lack of storage area and snow-clearing.

"I fully believe we're making a great big mistake here," she said. "I think it's a pie-in-the-sky idea that professionals would want to live there."
Clearly, these residents feel the idea of two houses touching are just icky. Stacked townhouses are, in my opinion, an excellent way of building non-intrusive density into a project, and fit will in many places, including historic communities like downtown Woodbridge. While a 10 storey apartment building would clearly not fit in a place like that, stacked townhouses have been used very successfully to blend into the community and maintain its charm. Besides, its not the type of house that defines how well it fits into the community - it's the urban design.

Linking that comment back to the one above it, we can see another contradiction. Residents fear that a lack of businesses and services for kids will lead to crime, but don't support live/work units, which might fill the void in opportunities. While similar attempts to build live/work units have not been very successful, this doesn't mean we shouldn't try. It will provide opportunities for residents to access services within the community, instead of having to drive 30 minutes to Brampton or Bolton.

In addition, if it's a pie-in-the-sky idea that professionals would want to live in Caledon East, doesn't that imply that Caledon East is a bad place to live?

This article underlines the opinions of what might be a minority of people, but it's a vocal minority of people who tend to have a lot of influence in the 905. Change will come, but it will have to run against the grain and the agents of change have to be persistent.

Of course, its very difficult when the mayor calls Caledon East a walkable community. Having sidewalks doesn't make a community walkable, Madame Mayor. I will give you credit though... Caledon East does have a grocery store.

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At 8/16/2008 2:23 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the children? Won't somebody please think about the children?!


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