TORONTO, the ugly ducking in this trio, is – nonetheless – a leader when it comes to densification. Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders writes: “In September, I returned to Canada after living abroad for almost a decade, and was struck by the disappearance of those acres of cement emptiness (i.e. surface parking lots). TORONTO’s waterfront had become a wall of elegant glass housing towers, their tens of thousands of residents turning this former lonely wasteland into a thriving human community.”VANCOUVER has succeeded in preserving its liveability while rebuilding itself into a “thickly vertical city jammed with people and activity. Its combination of high population density in cozy downtown neighbourhoods, intimate street life and popular public transit has become one of Canada’s leading exports.” This city has become so successful that “Vancouverism” is now a synonym for rebuilding and intensifying city cores, as a way of fighting urban sprawl.
MELBOURNE, one of the planet’s most desirable places to live, has just released a report recommending more Vancouverism in suburbia as a way to improve liveability. A parliamentary committee visited Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, London and Zurich, before recommending “a marketing campaign to encourage people to live near infrastructure, and financial incentives to spur on the building of higher-density housing in areas that are currently low-density.” All three cities have compact, pricey, vertical centres with good public transport. In some parts of the suburbs, it’s a different story.