A plan for the housing we need

The proposed Official Plan’s focus on 15-minute neighbourhoods is wonderful. Walkable neighbourhoods can help us overcome our housing crisis and combat the climate crisis. But the draft does not include a plan for existing neighbourhoods to transition into walkable neighbourhoods, or a plan for small shops and services to be built at walking distance from homes. It also lacks a plan for existing and new neighbourhoods to become “complete” with parks, trees and social services to match the population and help residents choose to walk instead of drive.

  1. We need simple, collaborative, neighbourhood-level planning workshops to guide new zoning. The people affected need to establish desirable forms and features for missing-middle, multi-unit infill housing, build support for neighbourhood transition, and locate new walkable shopping destinations and other key features for the transition to walkability.
  2. We need simple, collaborative, neighbourhood-level planning workshops to guide municipal investments and upgrades in neighbourhoods. Intensification can be balanced with costed plans for upgrades to soft infrastructure and amenities (trees and greenspace, walking/ biking pathways, recreational facilities, etc.) so that our neighbourhoods are complete, functioning communities.
  3. We want the City to use modeling as an analytical tool. Modeling can help visualize and test ways to ensure our neighbourhood plans are robust and achievable, and that proposed regulatory changes will allow us to meet all our housing and environmental targets. Modeling can provide a numerical projection of anticipated new housing (resulting from proposed regulations) including projections of unit sizes/types/tenures, small business development at walking distance from homes, active vs car-centric lifestyles, resulting emissions reductions, tree canopy, net City costs or savings, and comparisons with targets. Data modeling should be complemented with 3D graphics to illustrate the implications of proposed built form, and support community engagement.
  4. We want the Official Plan to enable intensification without significant change to neighbourhood building height. Keep 2.5 storey neighbourhoods at 2.5 storeys and 3.5 storey neighbourhoods at 3.5 storeys. Allow future walking shopping destinations to be a half storey taller, limit building heights on major corridors to 6 storeys or no higher than the right of way unless specified in a local plan.

Our city can meet intensification targets with these changes by applying them across the city. Our neighbourhoods can transition to become walkable, which is the most affordable way to reduce GHG emissions. New homes can be built to meet housing need and would enrich the characteristics valued by communities. With a clearly modeled and tested plan for new zoning, municipal investments and low-rise neighbourhoods can move forward in confidence.