Michael Speaks out No.6

According to researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in the City of Toronto, rates of diabetes in the Region of Peel are amongst the highest in the Province of Ontario.  This they attribute to two significant factors; including: neighbourhood design that discourages walking and the ethnicity of the population which has a pre-disposition to diabetes.

Since 1990, I have been continuously engaged in the design of urban environments, including Secondary Plans, Block Plans, Draft Plans of Subdivision and Site Plans.  My clients and I strive to work with the general parameters embodied within municipally approved Official Plans and Zoning By-laws.  From time-to-time, we have proposed      higher density residential and commercial projects.  Much to our chagrin, occasionally we have been met with strict opposition from ratepayers; presumably some of the same people who are or will suffer from diabetes.  How ironic.   

Ratepayers who oppose higher density residential and commercial projects, usually opine that the offending proposals are simply too dense, too tall, and will result in traffic chaos.  Often if the ratepayers live in predominately single-detached dwellings, they will state that they don’t want any townhouses or apartment buildings in their neighbourhood. 

When it comes to commercial projects many existing Zoning By-laws dictate that parking lots be designed to the ‘worst case’ scenario.  This results in expansive parking lots, which for most of the year sit empty; Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas being the exceptions to the rule. 

Fortunately, progressive municipal planners and enlightened politicians are choosing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with conscientious builders and developers.  If as a society, we hope to create healthier urban environments, we are going to have to make a concerted effort to resist the temptation to acquiesce to that small segment of our population which is driven by an embarrassingly high level of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard).   

In addition to embracing higher density residential and commercial projects, we as a people need to take more responsibility for our own health.  We have to exercise more and eat healthier foods.      

That’s it for now.  Remember… “the only way you may succeed is if you try” (Yoda).

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Read contributions by Michael Gagnon, Managing Principal Planner of Gagnon Walker Domes Ltd. (GWD) click here

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