How to Make the Suburbs Livable

Peter Calthorpe is a man on a mission to make the suburbs of North America a place where people can live (seriously, you should see what books he’s written).
The car-dominated culture of the suburbs has produced a series of housing developments that pretends the environment and other people don’t exist, and in the 21st century this lifestyle is confronting reality. Recently, Calthrope has been asked to make a suburb of Toronto, Markham, into a modern city and Markham is moving ahead with the plan. The key component of the plan is to make a more urban setting that revolves around good transportation.

“We’ve had a 50-year experiment with sprawl,” Calthorpe argues. “Now it’s over. Everything’s changing. There’s a huge demographic shift happening. If you include externalities and eliminate subsidies, sprawl is not affordable. The key to unlocking the potential is transit.

But as Calthorpe also points out, successful transit is regional transit. That’s surely true at Langstaff. Cut off by hydro easements, highways, railway tracks and cemeteries, the missing connections to the external world can only be created through transit. Extending the Yonge subway to Hwy. 7 is critical to the project, as are the locations of the new stations.

“If you want to get people out of cars,” says Calthorpe, “you’ve got to get them close to transit. And transit must be there to support walkability, not the other way around. Destinations have to be nearby.”

One thought on “How to Make the Suburbs Livable

  1. They’re not really making the suburbs livable. Instead they’re turning Markham into its own city. The idea of a self-sustaining Markham where people don’t need the DVP or GO Transit to commute must have been mind-blowing to the town council!

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