Canada is a car-dependent nation, with research showing that two thirds of Canadians live in car-oriented suburbs where the automobile is the primary mode of transportation.
While this has brought benefits, there are evident downsides as well, including long commutes through backlogged traffic, air pollution, social exclusion of residents who do not drive, expensive infrastructure costs, the paving over of natural habitats for urban uses, ill-health conditions, and traffic related accidents causing serious injury and death.
University of Toronto professors Matti Siemiatycki and Drew Fagan outline the need to build transit-oriented communities in their new Ontario360 policy paper Transit-Oriented Communities: Why We Need Them And How We Can Make Them Happen.
They recently sat down with Ontario360’s co-director (and The Hub’s editor at large) Sean Speer to discuss how Ontario can build more dynamic and livable communities centred around accessible transit.
“The ways that our cities are built are deeply influenced by the types of transportation that are in place, whether that is car-oriented, transit-oriented, or walking-oriented. Transit-oriented communities bring together people and activity within close proximity to transit stations. Transit is an attractor,” explains Siemiatycki.
Transit-oriented communities are made up of three key characteristics: density, diversity of uses, and high quality design so that the neighbourhoods are appealing and walkable. But while the merits of transit-oriented communities are evident it has still been a slow and quite difficult process to get them built in Ontario.
Seeking to remedy this, their policy recommendations include:
1. Create New Venues for Collaboration
2. Use all Available Policy Levers to Realize Social Value
3. Develop Community Hubs at the Heart of Transit-Oriented Communities
4. Engage Widely and Explore Innovative Models of Ownership and Governance
5. Seek Intermediate Uses and High-Quality Design
Watch the full discussion here: