Actually, sprawl never really went away. Despite the ambitious plan Queen's Park issued last year, experts say development is as unchecked as ever
Jun 23, 2007 04:30 AM
"Talking about controlling urban sprawl get governments elected. Doing something about it gets them unelected."
Tony Coombes, Neptis Foundation
Which brings us to Places to Grow.
The strategy, announced by Queen's Park a year ago, is the latest attempt to curb rampant and destructive development in the Toronto region.
Several times in the past half-century, municipal governments or the province have proposed visionary plans. The result: A relentless march of subdivisions, malls and asphalt across what is now known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Will the outcome be any different this time?
Not likely, according to a new report: "We are in the presence of a yawning gap between ... reality and planning goals," states Pierre Filion, a planning expert at the University of Waterloo.
What's happening on the ground is completely at odds with what's needed, Filion says in the report, commissioned by Neptis – which conducts and publishes research on urban regions.
Places to Growcalls for concentration, while the real world is shaped by powerful centrifugal forces – land speculation and development –¸and producing worse sprawl than ever. The heart of the government's scheme is the creation of 25 "urban growth centres" to handle the region's projected population growth by 4 million over the next 25 years. These would be relatively small pockets of dense development, with homes, stores and offices mixed together – like smaller versions of downtown Toronto.
That's generally the goal of planners: A place set up so people can use public transit, a bicycle or their legs to get from home to where they work, shop, eat or play. That means: small houses and lots, with many high-rises; compact retail and office development; interesting, safe and lively pedestrian routes; frequent and reliable public transit.
Create a bunch of these centres, or nodes, throughout the Horseshoe, and link them with densely developed transit corridors and, the plan assumes, good things happen: Precious farmland and natural areas are saved; congestion eases; greenhouse gas emissions drop; perhaps most important, people lead better, less stressed, lives.
Read the whole article here.
Don't be fooled by the Toronto Star's "pro-green" reporting of late because they are not serious about it. The Toronto Star talks a good game when it comes to environmental concerns but the paper refuses to address the greatest threat to Canada's green spaces especially those of the southern Ontario region: mass immigration.
Southern Ontario is home to some of the richest farmland in all of Canada and you do not have to travel very far north from Toronto to see the first sightings of the Canadian Shield. Here is a picture of it care of wiki. Note the blue area. That is the Canadian Shield and, according to wiki, it "is a large shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American craton. It has a deep, common, joined bedrock region in eastern and central Canada and stretches North from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean, covering half the country." To put it bluntly it is mostly rock and not very good for farming.
One of the arguments for mass immigration is that Canada is a large uninhabited land mass and therefore it has lots of room to accommodate large influxes of people but the environmental argument speaks otherwise. This argument, obviously, ignores the portion of Canada that is uninhabitable. Like Australia, Canada may be a large and uninhabited land mass but few areas of it are accommodating to human life. The Canadian Shield and the Artic Tundra, which is considered a desert, occupy a sizeable chunk of the Canadian geography and are not very well suited to human activity like the outback of Australia. Few areas are agreeable to human existence and these areas are environmentally fragile, rich farmland. Canada cannot accommodate large influxes of people without some detrimental effect to its environment. Roughly 40-50% of all immigrants to Canada settle in the southern Ontario region and urban sprawl is the result of it. Tracts of farm land have been paved over and are now lost forever so that we can accommodate a mass influx of people many of whom should not be here. More cars are on the road in Toronto and southern Ontario increasing traffic congestion, grid locks, and idling cars thus depositing more pollutants in the air for southern Ontarians to breath. Trees are a good combatant for pollution yet it seems we here in Canada prefer multiculturalism and mass immigration to cleaner air.
The Oak Ridges Moraine is "a landform unique to southern Ontario." It is located directly above Toronto and within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and it will be destroyed unless urban sprawl is placed under control. The Ontario government has dedicated tracts of land in the moraine for protection but the whole moraine should be protected. Land developers and speculators bank on mass immigration and this is pushing sprawl further and further north into the moraine and towards the Canadian Shield thus destroying the natural heritage of this country that we currently enjoy but will be denied to future generations of Canadians. Where is the justice in advancing the rights of an imported people and bankrolling the lifestyles of land developers at the expense of the rights of unborn generations of Canadians to enjoy the natural beauty that is Canada?
You cannot be serious about protecting the natural beauty of Canada without addressing the effects of mass immigration on the environment. You cannot rapidly import masses of people into the country and expect to protect the environment at the same time. The most immediate and cost effective way to protect Canada's environment is to reduce our immigration intake.
The above Toronto Star piece is typical of the paper. It presents superficial solutions to distract its readers from considering the roots of the problem. The Star’s solutions to protect the environment are to promote ineffective legislation (which takes time and money), fantasy land development schemes such as the ones cited in the above article (which take time and money and have no guarantees of being effective), and to influence the behaviour of the public to reduce waste and car use that is inevitably negated, if at all successfully practiced, because a greater number of people have been imported into the region thus bringing us back to square one. Never does the Toronto Star ever suggest that maybe less immigrant numbers might be the most cost effective way and have the most immediate and positive effect on the environment because the Toronto Star, as a business, has no interest in decreasing its potential future reader numbers. The Toronto Star, like most businesses, is more interested in the bottom line than it is in the environment.
To prove my point I recall the instance when Ontario Environment Commissioner, Gordon Miller, released an annual report in 2005 in which he cited rapid population growth fuelled primarily by mass immigration threatened the environment and the quality of life for southern Ontarians. The Toronto Star attacked him in an editorial and essentially said that population growth is coming whether you like it or not. In another editorial, about a year later, the Toronto Star hypocritically attacked Durham region council for not acting to protect green spaces it slated to pave over to deal with population growth. When it comes to the environment the Star editorial staff doesn't know whether it is coming or going but that’s not the point. It wants to appear to be environmentally conscious while promoting the mass importation of future readers by ensuring that Canadian attitudes are soft on mass immigration via the steady promotion of discredited assumptions and immigrant puff pieces. To accommodate these people the Canadian natural landscape is altered forever and the environment is destroyed but what does the Star care? After years of stagnant stock prices the environment is a small price the Star is willing to pay to make its share holders happy. A business is a business after all.