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Zoning Matters

This is the first in a series of articles written by Seth, a new PlanningPool contributor, that will highlight land use challenges and explore innovative ideas on the cutting edge of zoning thinking and practice, in pursuit of sustainability, justice, and prosperity.

Yaroslavl General Plan (2006). Courtesy of ЦНИИП Градостроительства.

I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with zoning. Zoning’s an odd thing to love – intensely technical, opaque, and jargony. But the invisible logic of zoning – that language and maps (symbolic forms) could manage and transform the complex character of a city – drew me in. Zoning evokes the most boring, stodgy, and opaque subject imaginable, yet at this moment of urban and environmental transformation little could be more important.

The great challenge for urban planning … Continue Reading

CTRF 2010: Linking land use and transit

Transit service and land use patterns are inextricably linked. Thanks to Wylie Poon on Flickr for this Creative Commons photo showing a transit expansion in Toronto!

One of the session topics on the last day of the CTRF 2010 conference was Urban Transit, which for the transit planner at heart was a great way to close off the event! The first paper was presented by Sybil Derrible, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. The paper, prepared with Bilal Farooq, categorized four types of neighbourhoods based on the type of land use development and corresponding transit potential. The four styles were exemplified by Toronto-based developments, but can be applied to most North American settlement patterns. They are: urban sprawled, … 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

Edmonton’s new growth plan gets serious about food security

Hundreds of Edmontonians came out to City Hall last Monday to support the second reading of the new draft growth plan, The Way We Grow. Thanks to Mastermaq on flickr for the wonderful Creative Commons photo!

Thanks largely to a local alliance of citizen advocates, the City of Edmonton, Canada, is moving forward with a draft Growth Plan that gets serious about food security. The Greater Edmonton Alliance, composed mostly of churches and unions, has played a key role in shaping the draft plan, entitled The Way We Grow. (A giant PDF file lurks behind the link, but it is definitely worth a read.)

Edmonton is located at the northern edge of North America’s wheat belt and is surrounded by a wealth of productive farmland, … Continue Reading

Green is gold… nominally

The New York Times ran an article this week highlighting the “controversy” over the investments of eco-champion Al Gore.  Apparently, some perceive a conflict of interest between the Nobel Laureate’s environmental fervor and his wide-ranging financial stakes in green industry.  Conservative lawmakers have questioned Gore’s true intentions, citing his ties to Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, as well as his chairmanship of Generation Investment Management, both of which maintain significant holdings in green technology/clean energy (here’s a list of KPCB’s green investments).  Here’s a little video of an exchange between Gore and a Representative from his home state of Tennessee:

Gore’s strategy to transform markets by displaying the economic … Continue Reading

What is New Urbanism? CNU video competition winner

In case you’ve ever wondered what New Urbanism is, here’s an entertaining video, which won a contest sponsored by the Congress for the New Urbanism

The film, which was produced by First + Main Media from Julian, California, and Paget Films from Buffalo, New York, visually represents New Urbanist ideas and blames sprawl for the end of civilization. But, it’s a good introduction to New Urbanist ideas.

Congress for the New Urbanism created the film contest to promote its annual conference. This year’s conference, “CNU 17,”  will be held in Denver on June 10-14. Here’s a link to some of the other submissions to the contest. Via NRDC.org.