About Denis:

Profile: Denis is currently completing his final year of an undergraduate planning degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. He entered planning with an eye to make our cities more livable and less carbon intensive. His current interests include the relationship between transportation and land use; parking; innovative capital project funding tools; and such obscure things as regulation of the Ontario intercity bus industry. Denis grew up in the Ottawa bedroom community of Russell, Ontario, and spent some time at the University of Guelph, where he learned what urban planning actually was. That discovery brought him to the center of the universe (we all end up there at some point in our lives, don't we?) but thankfully, he loves it.

Contact: dagar@ryerson.ca

Posts by Denis:

Couchsurfing is a planner’s best friend.

The Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, NY, a place I never would have seen if not for a fantastic tour from a fantastic Couchsurfing host.

I admit it – I thought it was strange and dangerous at first. But then one of my less-intimidating female friends tried it,  and not only did she survive; she had a fantastic time. I no longer had an excuse – I had to plunge forward and try Couchsurfing. Once I did, my eyes were opened to a completely new way of travelling. I realized that there are over a million people around the world willing to open their homes to me and show me around their city. Not only does it make travelling cheaper and more interesting, but … Continue Reading

The plight of modern heritage

The old New York Penn Station was demolished in 1963, sparking a new consciousness of heritage value and preservation. This 1962 photo is in the public domain.

In Canada, we’re fairly new to this whole heritage business. It’s taken some time, but we’re finally beginning to understand the intrinsic value of heritage buildings. If a building is in good repair and it “looks old”, it stands a good chance of being protected, at least in the major cities.

But what about the buildings that don’t look old? Across the country, stories have popped up of communities rallying around historic buildings constructed as recently as the 1960s. This begs the question: where does “old” stop and “new” begin?

These days, buildings from the 1950s and 60s don’t get very much … Continue Reading

WIN Week – “When hell freezes over” or “The day Ontario said no to sprawl”

Typical Greater Toronto sprawl that Ontario is trying to prevent. Thanks to Carnotzet on Flickr for the great Creative Commons photo!

In Ontario, as in many other parts of North America, the gulf between what we know about city building and how we actually build our cities is pretty wide. Despite the province’s numerous attempts to eliminate sprawl, the same old car-oriented subdivisions keep springing up around the edges of the Greater Toronto Area. Last month, however, a glimmer of hope burst through the doors of the provincial legislature. After spending over half a year reviewing Durham Region’s Growth Plan, The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing sent it back to the drawing board, claiming that there are “fundamental issues” with the document.

Why is … Continue Reading

Five of the most unwalkable places in the world

For this final instalment of FAIL Week, we take a look at a few places that you would never want to set foot in. These cities and neighbourhoods are meant to be experienced in a bucket seat, and it shows!

1. Eagle Bend, Jacksonville, Florida (The entrance has no sidewalk.)

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According to Walkscore.com, this is the least walkable neighbourhood in the least walkable major city in America, which I think is saying quite a bit. They rank areas based on proximity to services, stores and transit –  all of which are next to non-existent in Eagle Bend, earning them a flat zero. Based on the Google Map view, it isn’t difficult to see why. The gated community is adjacent to a river but not any … Continue Reading

Why finding the right price for parking could change the world, Part 2

Getting the price of parking right can be more important than you think, and in Part 2 of this two-part series, we see how San Francisco has been trying to perfect their parking price, and how it can make the city more liveable.

Why finding the right price for parking could change the world, Part 1

Most people see a low price as an opportunity. But economists see prices as a way of relaying important information about the product. Find out why we may be sending the wrong information with parking rates, and why getting it right could change everything.

Vancouver’s New Year’s Resolution to encourage transit use

On a day when millions of people around the world were making New Years resolutions about shrinking their waistlines, Vancouver quietly saw a policy enter into action that may end up seriously shrinking the city’s carbon footprint. Effective January 1st, gasoline taxes will rise in Greater Vancouver by three cents, and the parking sales tax will rise by 300%. While the taxes come amid fiscal turmoil at the region’s transportation agency Translink, they are good policies that will help build a better city. If only Vancouverites knew how lucky they truly are. . .

A walk through Canada’s densest neighbourhood

This fence is known as a bicycle graveyard due to high chance of theft. St. James Town has terrible bike facilities.

This fence is known as a bicycle graveyard due to high chance of theft. St. James Town has terrible bike facilities.

A few months ago, I wrote about Jane’s Walks, a yearly weekend of walking tours in cities all over the world. Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in one of these walks, held especially for the Creative Places + Spaces conference. It took place in one of the most curious neighbourhoods in Toronto – St. James Town. After a major zoning change in the 1950s, maximum heights were raised drastically, and developers quickly bought up the Victorian homes in their way. In … Continue Reading

Arlington, Texas, This is Why You’re Fat.

Thanks to Christian Cable for this delightfully artery-hardening Creative Commons photo.

Thanks to Christian Cable for this delightfully artery-hardening Creative Commons photo.

If you are not yet familiar with the website ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com, it might just be time to check it out. They serve up a never-ending photostream of revoltingly fatty foods, including a donut bun hamburger and deep fried bologna. While for some the site might be secretly mouthwatering (ahem. . .) the urban planning equivalent -unmitigated auto dependence- has few upsides.

Last week, the Dallas Morning News published a great analysis of the transportation options serving the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas (pop. 371,000). Before this stadium, perhaps Arlington’s biggest claim to fame was it’s steadfast refusal to provide any kind of transit service. The city … Continue Reading

Rotterdam: The city that does sleep – quite early!

Travelling around Europe is a joy for anyone interested in urbanism. It offers a completely different model of development, and for some, maybe the inspiration to try and bring that model home with them. Surprisingly, it also inspired me to acknowledge some of the positives of our North American way of life. Or at least, reconsider what is positive.

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