The video above demonstrates how communities can transition from an unhealthy, vehicle focused, urban design to a healthy pedestrian design. Regular readers of this site know that streets designed for people are better for communities by making cities healthier and economically more productive. Cars are an clunky way to move people in cities so much so Oslo is banning cars, and other cities are making similar efforts around improving transportation. We know what we need to do to reduce needless deaths at the hands of car drivers, all we need is the political will.
If you’re in Toronto today then you can meet at city hall at 5:45pm to call on local councillors to stop pedestrian deaths.
Got together with some neighbours and transformed a local intersection with chalk & leaves, revealing a surplus surface area of 2,000 square feet which could be re-designed as a parkette, new sidewalks, and much shorter/safer crossings. 🌳🚶🏽 More: https://t.co/SNYkMMo0Uipic.twitter.com/psv0MRTZXi
Dave Meslin got back to his roots by engaging in some very local activism. The Toronto-based activist, artists, and all around good person decided to change an intersection near his house. The intersection is not particular safe or well designed. By using just chalk and raked leaves he and his merry band of locals improved the intersection. It’s now safer and has revealed space that can be used to plant trees or a new park for people to relax in.
Using only sidewalk chalk and fallen leaves, Meslin and his neighbours temporarily “fixed” a dangerous intersection near Regal Road and Springmount, taking special care to maintain all existing road widths at a city-approved 28 feet.
“We revealed a surplus surface area of 2,000 square feet which could be transformed into a parkette, new sidewalks, and much shorter/safer crossings,” wrote Meslin in a Facebook post about the project.
The last month brought a lot of rain to the city of Toronto which has led to the Toronto islands being half submerged and a temporary (and lax) travel ban to be put into effect. The rest of the city has fared slightly better. The city has slowly been improving its water management over the years by implementing green roofs and providing more green space along ravines to absorb water. That’s not enough to deal with the increased rainfall from climate change. Over at the CBC they have an article looking at effective ways that Toronto is already using and what more can be done.
Of course, the techniques used in Toronto can be applied to many other cities.
The water that makes it past collection systems or soaks through green spaces ends up in Toronto’s sewer system.
In cases of a heavy downpour, that can send a mix of storm and sanitary water into Lake Ontario, due to the city’s combined sewer system.
While the city has dedicated reserves for storm water, it has no choice but to pump the mixed sewage and storm water into the lake during extreme rainfall.
A fantastic way to share stories and knowledge is through books and public library systems. Unfortunately too many indigenous reserves and communities in Canada don’t have access to a library, which is having a negative impact on knowledge sharing. The Toronto Public Library system will be extending their library services to indigenous communities as part of their Truth and Reconciliation process.
Library services are sparse on Ontario reserves. Of the province’s 207 reserves, only 46 have a library. The average annual budget for each is only $15,000.
Doucette explains that libraries are all about sharing, and this is an easy way for Toronto to do its part. “I think whenever possible we should step up to the plate,” she said.
This year, Toronto has become the hub for green roofs! Torontist took a look into what made this happen and why green roofs are perfect for cities.
There are approximately 500 green roofs, big and small, in Toronto. This is thanks to a 2010 bylaw [PDF] requiring all new developers to cover between 20 and 60 per cent of their buildings with vegetation. It’s the first (and, for now, only) regulation of its kind in North America, making Toronto uniquely positioned for environmental design.
The bylaw is why the 41-story RBC WaterPark Place [PDF] at Bay Street and Queens Quay has three green roofs that together could fill a NFL football field.
Developers can opt out of installing anything remotely grassy for a fee. But Jane Welsh, City Hall’s project manager for environmental planning, told Torontoist only five per cent of buildings choose to go sans-green roof.
Welsh also says municipally-owned buildings install a green roof anytime there’s a repair or replacement to the top of the building, when feasible.