Book

The shape of the suburbs: Understanding Toronto’s sprawl

Authors:

Abstract

It is now impossible to understand major North American cities without considering the seemingly never-ending and ever-growing sprawl of their surrounding suburbs. InThe Shape of the Suburbs, activist, urban affairs columnist, and former Toronto mayor John Sewell examines the relationship between the development of suburbs, water and sewage systems, highways, and the decision-making of Toronto-area governments to show how the suburbs spread, and how they have in turn shaped the city. Using his wealth of knowledge of the city of Toronto and new information gathered from municipal archives, Sewell describes the major movements and forces that allowed for rapid development of the suburbs, while considering the options that were available to planners at the time. Discussing proposals to curb suburban sprawl from the 1960s to the recently adopted plan for the Greater Toronto area, Sewell combines insightful and accessible commentary with rigorous research on the debate between urban and suburban. Concerned not only with sprawl, The Shape of the Suburbsalso demonstrates the ways in which suburban political, economic, and cultural influences have impacted the older, central city, culminating in the forced Megacity amalgamation of 1998. Rich in detail and full of useful visual illustrations, The Shape of the Suburbsis a lively look at the construction of the suburban era.
... Engaging with the Canadian context is instructive as it contains elements of both European and American experiences and traditions of regionalism (Boudreau et al., 2007). During the immediate post-war period metropolitan governance in Toronto – through the innovative political architecture of Metropolitan Toronto – formed an integral component of " the city that works, " leading the city to avoid the fate of comparable American " rustbelt " cities. Toronto's Fordist-Keynesian regime proved (largely) adept at tackling urban growth and collective consumption issues (including transportation) at the metropolitan scale through a two-tiered regional government (Frisken, 2007; Sewell, 2009). However, as the post-war metropolitan dynamic stopped working, Toronto developed an " actively neoliberalized governance apparatus, which pushes into the urban region and aggressively involves state, business, and civil society actors in building a new regional consensus around growth, " which Boudreau et al. suggest strongly conforms to the RCSR model (2007, p. 50). ...
... In this light, the transportation crisis highlights two important dynamics shaping (regional) governance and state spatial strategies in the GTA. Firstly, although the division is somewhat arbitrary, the pull to invest in global transportation infrastructures (aimed at attracting and concentrating people, goods, capital, investments etc. in the region) and local investments (which move them thorugh the city-region once they are here) engender 5 The conflict between the densely populated City of Toronto and its dispersed suburban municipalities present a very real political obstacle in the establishment of both a regional approach to transportation in southern Ontario, and any movement away from automobile driven development (see Sewell, 2009). As Soberman put it in 1999, public transit beyond the Toronto's city limits – where most of the major job growth and commuting pressure is concentrating – is " a lost cause... We're tilting at windmills if we think we are going to get these guys on public transportation " c.f. Barber, J., and Rusk, J. (1999, April 5). ...
... Firstly, the RGS is argued to be the " negative copy " of transit plans in the regions surrounding the City of Toronto which " model their policies on specific linear needs between two distinct points rather than on comprehensive coverage based on urban density " (TTC, 2003, p. 15). Secondly, the TTC's RGS is clearly linked to the municipal expansion, in opposition to urban commentators wishing the TTC to focus investment in high density areas in the urban core (Sewell, 2009; Soloman, 2007). While it does not make explicit connection to global competitiveness, the RGS is argued to be a " regional niche strategy " building on the competitive advantage of public transit in dense urban areas (and in attracting increased levels of density surrounding transit hubs) for both ridership and cost recovery. ...
Article
Transportation governance in Toronto is at a crossroads. In 2006, the Government of Ontario passed the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act, ushering into being Metrolinx, a regional governmental body charged with transportation planning and management (including mass transit) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). With the release of The Big Move, Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan (RTP), Chairman Rob MacIssac claimed “for the very first time, like so many of our global competitors, we are thinking like a single region”. However, despite an apparent synergy between levels of government regarding the need for regional transportation planning, political fissures have appeared within the GTA. An institutional paralysis now threatens to derail infrastructural investments, usurp planning frameworks and undermine regional competitiveness. In order to understand both the problems and potential of regional transportation governance in the GTA, this paper (1) analyses the key rationales guiding Metrolinx’s RTP; and (2) examines the key political questions regarding the scaling of transit and transportation governance. In particular, I engage (a) the position of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in the wider region; and (b) the relationship of the City of Toronto’s Transit City LRT plan to the RTP. I argue that the future direction of regional transportation the GTA will depend on the outcome of key political contests (significantly the 2010 Toronto mayoral election) which themselves are embedded within the region’s contingent response to crisis-induced restructuring. I conclude by drawing some lessons and policy recommendations for the Chicago region as it faces its own transportation crisis.
... For example, in Western nations, walking school trips are expected to be more common in ''traditional'' urban areas, developed prior to World War Two (WW2), where development densities, land use mix, street connectivity, and the availability of pedestrian infrastructures combine to provide a built environment that is perceived to be comparably more walkable than what might be found in the typical post-war suburban context. At the scale of an urban region, particularly one like the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Canada, which has a lengthy development history ranging from the colonial period to present day, a range of urban forms is expected to be present (see Sewell, 2009; White, 2007). This mixture of forms may associate with a diverse range of walkability outcomes, creating a formidable challenge for regional planners who may be attempting to influence walking in the absence of data that adequately describe how outcomes associated with school travel mode choice decisions potentially vary from place to place, in space, and in time. ...
... A typology of urbanized spaces was created to facilitate the development of an understanding of variation in spatial clustering across the regional landscape. The classification process involved the conceptual and empirical allocation of TAZs to three broad urbanization categories that are largely similar within themselves with respect to the historical period of development, and urban design characteristics: (1) urban, (2) inner-suburban, and (3) outer-suburban (Fig. 1); this classification is widely used and understood within current discourse on urbanism in the study area (Sewell, 2009; White, 2007 for detail). The ''urban'' area follows the 1996 boundary for the Toronto census-subdivision (CSD), i.e., the boundary of the pre-1998 City of Toronto. ...
... This area contains the historic downtown, which is also the largest employment district within the GTA, as well as the neighborhoods constructed during the horse and electric streetcar eras, beginning in the mid-to-late 1800s. Most neighborhoods within this urban boundary were developed prior to WW2 (Sewell, 2009). Many of the neighborhoods (or parts of them) within this urban category have undergone major urban renewal and re-urbanization processes over time, where mid-to-high rise residential or mixed-use developments have replaced older commercial and/or residential buildings. ...
Article
Interest in utilitarian sources of physical activity, such as walking to school, has emerged in response to the increased prevalence of sedentary behavior in children and youth. Public health practitioners and urban planners need to be able to survey and monitor walking practices in space and time, with a view to developing appropriate interventions. This study explored the prevalence of walking to and from school of 11-13 year olds in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Canada. The Getis-Ord (G(i)(*)) local spatial statistic, Markov transition matrices, and logistic regressions were used to examine the spatial clustering of walking trips in the study area, and to document any temporal drift of places in and out of walking clusters. Findings demonstrate that walking tends to cluster within the urban and inner-suburban GTA, and in areas with low household income. Temporally persistent cluster membership was less likely within inner-suburban and outer-suburban places. The evidence suggests that interventions to increase active school transportation need to acknowledge spatial and temporal differences in walking behavior.
... Managing urban growth and containing sprawl has motivated planners for over a century [15]. Although the advent of widespread car ownership and mass-produced housing reduced suburban unit densities in the 20 th century, by the 1950s plans in the city of Toronto were calling for nodal growth [16] with a compact urban core and corridors to satellite cities [17]. By the 1970s, cities in many countries were interested in intensification [6], and plans in major Canadian cities advocated increased densities to promote efficiencies and protect central business areas [18][19][20]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The paper reports on research conducted in 2010-2012 in the project "Trends in the suburbs", funded by the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada.
... Especially in the suburbs, it was scattered in locales that provided limited public transit accessibility. Most disadvantaged in this regard were suburban clusters of public housing (Sewell 2009). Moreover, the private and public sector apartment tower invasion of lowrise neighbourhoods surrounding Downtown Toronto caused a political backlash on the part of incumbent residents. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper concentrates on changes in the balance of power between the market and planning reflecting the shift from Fordism to neoliberalism. The empirical substance originates from the Toronto metropolitan region, Canada’s largest and most economically globalised urban area. An investigation of sub-centres and the contrast between two waves of residential intensification tie limited planning capacity to shifting intensification outcomes. In one wave the affordability goal was attained but not accessibility and regional planning objectives, in the other wave these objectives were achieved but not affordability.
... 1. Suburbanization has become more diverse in every respect. For example, ethnic diversity shaped suburbs and urban peripheries in Toronto and GTA (Sewell, 2009;Hulchanski, 2010;Cucca, 2013), paving the way also for the concentration of immigrant populations in some newer "boomburbs" (Lang & LeFurgy, 2007) and "exoburbs" (Soja, 1992). 2. The neoliberalization (Peck, 2011(Peck, , 2015 and "splintering" (Graham & Marvin, 2001) of suburban development have led to a reorientation of metropolitan politics, institutional arrangements as well as geographic boundaries. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In a world of planetary urbanization, processes of spatial development are under endless changes and threatened by the constant strengthening of neoliberal policy-making at all spatial scales. At the same time, the existence of worldwide urban growth shows us that the urban morphology is no longer readable through core/periphery dualisms which strengthened a centralist bias on urban theory. Today, both urban growth and change are better understood if we take into account tendencies towards urban expansion, de-centralization and suburbanization (Keil, 2017a), to explore the relations between agglomeration processes and their multi-scalar operational landscapes. By addressing the uneven spatial development of urban areas, the paper grounds its reflection in the governance processes of suburban areas, embracing two perspectives to bridge an analysis between Canada and Europe. On the one hand, it grounds the reflection on “suburban governance”, by looking at the so-called “suburbanisms”, i.e. the growing prevalence of distinctive ways of life in the suburban areas. On the other hand, the paper looks at the city-region perspective to address the governance of the multifaceted expansion of urban agglomerations in European and Canadian contexts. Furthermore, the paper provides an overview of suburbanization in Canada, as a territorial mass halfway between the American and the European models of suburbanization. A noteworthy literature has been produced to study the suburban ways of living in Canada, and in this respect, the contribution enhances the strengths of the “Atlas of Suburbanisms”, pointing out the interesting theoretical approach adopted by Canadian academia. Finally, the paper posits that urban changes not only imply transformations in built environment, but they also call for new governance agendas able to deal with societal, inter-institutional and infrastructural issues in a time of uneven suburbanization within city-regions.
... For example, in Toronto, the then Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board encouraged highrise rental apartment buildings by enforcing minimum density requirements in order to reduce infrastructure costs and address housing shortages (Filion, 2012;White, 2007). With the dismissal of the Metro Toronto Planning Board in the 1980s, the suburban high-rise diminished in importance, replaced by largely sprawling development spilling out into surrounding municipalities (Sewell, 2009;White, 2007). When the suburban highrise re-emerged in the 1990s, however, it was no longer monetized through rental stock, but sold as condominiums and marketed as affordable and amenity-rich for a new class of homebuyers (Lehrer et al., 2010;Rosen & Walks, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
While North American suburbs remain largely dispersed and auto-dependent, they are also increasingly heterogeneous. Although some suburbs have long been punctuated with high-rise developments, for instance rental apartments in the Canadian context, there are now a growing number of new high-rise condominium developments in suburban settings in both the US and Canada. While much is known about downtown high-rise condominium developments, there has of yet been little to no analysis of this trend in the suburbs. We offer such an analysis using Statistics Canada census data from 2016 in the Toronto metropolitan area. We focus on commuting patterns as an indicator of auto-dependence to test whether suburbs with larger shares of new high-rise condominium apartments (high-rise condo clusters) exhibit lower shares of auto commuting. The focus on auto-dependence is important because development and land use plans commonly use environmental concerns arising from heavy automobile use as a rationale for high-rise development. Our findings suggest that in Toronto suburban high-rise condo clusters offer a less auto-intensive way of living in the suburbs than traditionally has been the case in the suburban ownership market. However, this seems to be limited to particular demographic groups, such as smaller households; and suburban high-rise condos are not an evident sign of a broader transition toward suburban sustainability among the population as a whole in the Toronto case. The potential for transitions toward suburban sustainability could be enhanced with greater investments in transit infrastructure and building higher density mid-rise and ground-oriented dwellings that accommodate larger households still commonly found in low-density, auto-dependent suburbs.
... Flemingdon Park emerged amid significant political and demographic change in metropolitan Toronto, two of which are important to highlight here. First, the population of the city of Toronto and the surrounding townships were growing at an unprecedented rate (Sewell 2009). So much so that the township of North York, where Flemingdon Park was built, would expand from 85,000 in 1951 to over 500,000 in 1971 (Sewell 1993). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article calls for a detailed examination of the links between suburbia and the mobilisation of policy knowledge. With suburbanisation taking place across the world and the expanding literature on policy mobilities having little to say about the suburbs, this article begins to address this important gap in our collective understanding. It does this through a case study of Vällingby, a Stockholm suburb that captured the imagination of many planners and architects outside of Sweden during the 1950s and 1960s. Here the article considers the variegated ways in which planners and architects in North America engaged with Vällingby and used lessons learnt from Vällingby in their working practices. It focuses on the encounters with Vällingby by the New York-based architect Clarence Stein as well as those involved in the planning of the metropolitan Toronto suburb of Flemingdon Park. In so doing, the article demonstrates that suburbs are important sites within the circulation of policy knowledge and that audiences elsewhere engage with such sites in a multiplicity of ways. It also challenges a perception of the USA as an exporter and not importer of suburban ideas and models.
... Land-use is of particular concern: notably, some of the best Canadian farmland has been converted to lowdensity housing on the outskirts of cites (Blais, 2011;Gordon & Shirokoff, 2014;Kunstler, 1994;Sewell, 2009). Perversely, at the same time, the costs of imported food will rise with energy prices and local-to-global climate change-related weather interruptions, making local farming essential (Ballamingie, cited in Harrison, 2016). ...
Article
This paper’s unique contribution is a dialectical approach to housing and climate change looking specifically at the case study of the City of Ottawa, Canada. The housing industry must mitigate and prepare for a changing climate in the form of increasing severity of heat waves, flooding and ice storms. Risks to Ottawa’s housing industry due to climate change include stricter regulation, producer liability, disrupted production, interrupted supply chains and changing consumer preferences. The paper makes the business case for change to an industry and regulatory regimes that are over-invested in traditional assumptions and economies and underinvested in innovation. It then investigates some barriers to change and the different perceptions of the problem between the housing industry and the state, arguing that action to reduce and protect communities from climate change has been slow, disjointed and incremental. The authors finally offer solutions.
... They sought to retain some autonomy by creating Metropolitan Toronto, known as Metro, in 1954 (ibid.). Since 1950, Toronto's urbanized area has tripled in size (Sewell, 2009), spurred on by the Official Plan of 1959. Development continued throughout the 1960s, doubling the population by 1966 with the inclusion of inner-city suburbs like Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough in Metro Toronto (White, 2016). ...
... Canadian studies have also linked life cycle e ects with housing, showing that family composition-especially the presence of children-is associated with housing type (CMHC 1996;Krishnan and Krotki 1993). Canadian suburban histories (Harris 1996;Solomon 2007) and studies of community practices (Blais 2010;Sewell 2009) revealed a legacy and idealization of detached homeownership for nuclear families-similar in many ways to the American (Perin 1977) and New Zealand (Fincher and Gooder 2007) experience. In the post-war period various processes-such as declining household size and growing housing unit size-began reducing population densities in Canadian cities as fewer people occupied ever larger houses. ...
Article
Full-text available
With the aim of creating more efficient and attractive communities, Canadian planning policy since the 1970s has been advocating compact form, mixed-use, higher densities, and a range of housing to suit divergent household needs. This paper examines contemporary planning practice in rapidly growing cities in three provinces to explore how policy texts and practitioner discourses construct the relationship between housing types and household needs. While planning policies advocate "complete communities," planning and development practice encounters and reproduces suburban aspirations for conventional homeownership: The Canadian dream of the detached house. In the context of rapidly increasing housing costs in some communities, those producing new suburban developments are seeking to rewrite expectations about the relationship between housing type, household stage, and urban living. Rather than a residential environment committing people to place, housing is socially constructed as a consumer good to be replaced as households reach (re)productive milestones.
... Often caricaturized as a conflict between the 416 and 905 telephone areas, that older territorial logic had some grounding in the realities of distinctly different ideological, political and cultural preferences of its inhabitants and political decision-making apparatuses. In short, the contrast was between the dense, urbanity of the metropolitan core and the sprawling suburbanity that lay beyond (Sewell, 2009). The differences between those territorial realities were stark and real but they also tended to lead to ungovernable and unproductive oppositions between regional actors. ...
Article
Through reflection on the practical post-apartheid (re)alignment of competing rationalities across the Greater Durban urban region, this essay teases out the interface between traditional and modern settlement management systems, and explores how governance cleavages are being renegotiated and mediated. It is suggested that, in building an integrated method of operating across the fragmented city-regional scale and navigating the competing interests involved, the practice of African urbanism is being defined. Without making any claims for what may or may not be uniquely African city-regional dynamics at the boundaries of tradition and modernity, what is clear from the Durban case is that both conventional city-regional literature and new city-regional ideas have glossed over the complexity of finding solutions to tensions between poor communities, urban managers, elected local authorities and the traditional rural elites of the functional city-regions of Africa.
... Often caricaturized as a conflict between the 416 (inner) and 905 (outer) telephone areas, that older territorial logic had some grounding in the realities of distinctly different ideological, political and cultural preferences of its inhabitants and political decisionmaking apparatuses. In short, the contrast was between the dense urbanity of the metropolitan core and the sprawling suburbanity that lay beyond (Sewell, 2009). The differences between those territorial realities were stark and real, but they also tended to lead to ungovernable and unproductive oppositions between regional actors. ...
Article
In this paper, we propose the notion of real existing “lived” regionalism as a rejoinder to the normative and ideological debates around new regionalism. Regional forms have shown little convergence in this age of globalized regionalization. Instead of an ideational construct or set of predictable practices, we argue regionalism is a contested product of discourses (talk), territorial relationships (territory) and technologies (material and of power). The concept of real existing regionalism confronts the tensions between the discursive constructions and normative interventions that characterize much current regionalist debate and the territorial politics and technologies which reflect, generate and direct new state spatial strategic choices. The paper demonstrates the utility of the real existing regionalism framework through an analysis of the greenbelt, transportation planning and post-suburbanization in Southern Ontario. We argue regulatory institutions capture the Toronto region in a mix of rhetorical and technological change that complies to neither pre-conceived notions of regionalization nor with the pessimism of total regional dysfunctionality. Rather, the lived experience of regionalization illuminates the emergent assemblages, multiplicity of everyday flows, and on-going, multiscalar negotiations of diverse communities that produce the real existing region.
... Toronto therefore provides an important case of a rapidly growing, primarily post-World War II era city that has achieved many aspects of smarter growth. This claim that the Toronto region has consistently developed suburbs in compact, concurrent, and contiguous patterns is at odds with the now-dominant interpretation of Toronto's growth as typical "suburban sprawl," with vast amounts of low-density residential development over an extensive and ever-expanding urban frontier (Blais, 1995(Blais, , 2000Filion, 2000Filion, , 2010Sewell, 1993Sewell, , 2009Solomon, 2007;Winfield, 2003). For example, John Sewell's 2009 book is titled The Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto's Sprawl, while Pamela Blais (2010) titles her book that draws on the Toronto case Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we use parcel-based land-use data to analyze 50years of residential development in the Toronto region. We test two hypotheses: (1) Toronto's form does not conform to conventional definitions of suburban sprawl and (2) Toronto's suburban development shows high levels of continuity over time with relatively high densities and mixed housing types. Contrary to recent research suggesting a convergence of urban forms among North American metropolitan regions, Ontario's robust planning system has created a distinctive, highly consistent pattern of residential development that has, for half a century, achieved many of the core goals of smart growth including relatively compact, contiguous, and concurrent development. This form continues to be automobile dependent, however, and is not producing many of the benefits ascribed to smart growth. Rather than continuing to adopt United States-inspired smart growth policies, a more ambitious set of initiatives will be required to address current regional challenges.
... As suburban land developments push into the areas around cities (Sewell 2009) and provincial and national parks are created near urban zones, not only does the boundary between city and nature blur, but there are changes in the work of conservation officers. Conservation officers now work in several Canadian cities, where provincial or national parks run through municipalities. ...
Article
Conservation officers have been neglected in policing studies literature due to a bias toward municipal and public police. The work of conservation officers and that of conventional public police overlap in ways that have not been explored. This article examines National Capital Commission (NCC) conservation officers' involvement in policing networks in Ottawa and, more specifically, NCC regulation of the Occupy movement in Canada's capital city. Having pitched tents in Ottawa's Confederation Park, Occupy participants fell under NCC jurisdictional authority. Contributing to emerging literature on policing of the Occupy movement and literature on policing networks, we analyse conservation officer occurrence reports on Occupy Ottawa obtained through federal level access to information requests and results of interviews with NCC officers. We demonstrate how NCC officers participate in campaigns for urban order, nuisance removal, and protest policing in a network including municipal and federal public police, private contract security, and federal intelligence agencies.
... Further, density is not only just a feature in edge cities, but also in European banlieues, Asian new towns and Canadian suburbs. For instance, there are important socioeconomic distinctions between suburbs and the central city that may construct diametrically opposed value systems affecting democracy, justice and sustainability (SEWELL, 2009;COWEN, 2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
EKERS M., HAMEL P. and KEIL R. Governing suburbia: modalities and mechanisms of suburban governance, Regional Studies. This paper traces the major modalities of suburban governance through a review of the extant literature on the matter. Based on the existing debate on suburban governance it appears that three modalities can be differentiated: the state, capital accumulation and private authoritarianism. A case is made for each and how they function and interrelate is developed. What are the universal and particular forces shaping suburbanization processes in different urban-regions? It is also argued that governance itself needs to be used in critical sense by extending its meaning towards issues of suburbanism, not just the process merely of suburbanization.
Article
Too often, totalizing discourses about the nature of the global metropole attempt to control its social and political story and render it an idealized object rather than a space of discrete subjects and perspectives. Walking the city is an act of social experience that allows the urban wanderer to see what has previously been hidden or inaccessible. Urban rambling reveals the ways in which racial and ethnic minorities have been colonized and marginalized, and how their communities have been rendered invisible as well. This paper examines how the metrolingual and metro-cultural practices of cosmopolitanism combined with the micro-strategies of decolonization serve to provide a counter-place to the dominant space of the Toronto city landscape. I frame this investigation with Dionne Brand’s novel, What We All Long For, as a narrative background, complemented by my own experience of aleatory urbanism through several Toronto neighbourhoods to explore the ways in which individual communities resist and re-negotiate the hegemony of settler-colonial municipal and linguistic practices.
Chapter
Full-text available
The comparatively brief period when clearance-based urban renewal was in full spate left both an enormous impact on the contemporary city on both sides of the Atlantic and an important legacy, both positive and negative, for thinking about urban regeneration. Adopting a historiographic perspective, this Chapter argues that conventional interpretations of the progress and reappraisal of 'urban renewal' essentially derive from the two metanarratives that have guided historians' accounts of the rise and fall of architectural modernism. In considering that contention, this Chapter's four main sections supply, in turn, contextual introduction, discussion
Article
Place-making is often seen as a more community-friendly means of developing urban space, as opposed to market-oriented, property-led forms of urban development. However, broadly perceived as the adjustment of spaces in line with the needs of people, place-making is criticised as being ill-defined and failing to consider the wider context in which any place-making effort is inevitably embedded. This paper establishes a connection between wider structuring forces, particularly those connected to neoliberal shifts in spatial planning and governance, and looks at “place-making” from a governance point of view. Efforts that combine social and spatial elements to address the needs of diverse communities in two areas in Toronto are showcased: one commercially viable for and one unattractive to private property development. The comparative analysis reveals the opportunities and limitations of these efforts, particularly in terms of their ability to transform existing spatial governance arrangements and the connected capacity to influence beyond the micro-scale.
Article
The paper transposes aspects of the histography of Fernand Braudel to the exploration of planning. It explores the extent to which different time scales, dominated by a longue durée perspective, reveal different facets of the history of planning and of how it operates. Lesser time scales focus on specific events while long perspectives bring to light durable aspects of planning, such as those relating to its embeddedness within fundamental relations between the state and the market economy. The paper contends that planning history and theory are largely shaped by a middle-scale histography, focussed on the succession of periods in the evolution of planning and on how they mark its progression. It proposes to counterbalance this historical perspective with a long-term historical lens highlighting persistent dimensions of planning, many referring to the fundamentals of its political economy. The paper argues that a full understanding of planning requires a consideration of different historical scales. The object of study is Downtown Toronto planning and development since 1945. A medium time scale identifies three distinct phases in Downtown Toronto history over this period, while a long-term perspective reveals how this district evolved with remarkable consistency into an expanded and diversified downtown during these years.
Article
This article examines the legal geography of municipal bylaws regulating rooming houses in the City of Toronto. Using a legal geography analysis of Toronto's rooming house licensing bylaw, I argue that this bylaw is a ghost jurisdiction that designates part of the city as illegal and has implications for governance of the inner suburbs. In so doing, I push the debate on legal geography forward by suggesting that we, as urban scholars, take the temporal seriously in our analysis of space. Drawing from semi-structured interviews, archival data and participant observation, I analyse seemingly mundane legal mechanisms through the case study of suburban rooming houses. Overall, in this article I make three contributions. First, I demonstrate how a temporal analysis is important to legal geography inquiries of uneven regulation and spaces of poverty. Second, I suggest that studies of legal governance are integral for redefining suburban governance amidst socio-economic decline in the inner suburbs. Third, I argue that studying urban legal mechanisms in the suburbs is essential for moving beyond downtown analytical frameworks and is needed to address how low-income suburban tenants, a large majority of whom are racialized newcomers, are unevenly regulated and unfairly governed by local government.
Article
In 2005, the Ontario government passed the Places to Grow Act and the Greenbelt Act, both major changes in land use policy designed to preserve greenspaces and combat urban sprawl in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Canada's largest conurbation. This article examines the actors, actor beliefs, and inter-actor alliances in the southern Ontario land use policy subsystem from the perspective of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF). Specifically, this paper undertakes an empirical examination of the ACF's Belief Homophily Hypothesis, which holds that inter-actor alliances form on the basis of shared policy-relevant beliefs, creating advocacy coalitions. The analysis finds strong evidence of three advocacy coalitions in the policy subsystem—an agricultural coalition, an environmentalist coalition, and a developers' coalition—as predicted by the hypothesis. However, it also finds equally strong evidence of a cross-coalition coordination network of peak organizations, something not predicted by the Belief Homophily Hypothesis, and in need of explanation within the ACF.
Article
Full-text available
Portney draws the reader's attention to how cities that have a relatively large creative class are cities where there is likely to be a greater push for sustainability initiatives. He also notes that local public officials are responsive to organized voices that advocate for environmental or sustainability initiatives; in reverse, if grassroots advocacy groups can be organized and contact public officials, those public officials are likely to push for sustainability programs. Throughout the text, Portney points out that the goal of his book is not to ascertain whether cities are actually achieving sustainability—whether the policies and programs in place are having an effect in creating more environmentally, economically, or socially just cities. He states repeatedly that such a goal would be premature. Rather, his text—and presumably , his Index of Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously— are a necessary foundation in setting up future work that may be able to answer that question. As a prelude to being able to ask whether sustainability programs are working, Portney's book asks what cities are doing to try to become more sustainable places. Overall, Portney's Index, his qualitative case studies, and his quantitative models are all of value to researchers in environmental policy and land use—as well as to would-be decision makers in policy. His Index in particular is a significant contribution to the existing scholarship on sustainability by providing a means of evaluating how seriously a city is taking sustainability and allowing a comparison among multiple cities.
Thesis
Full-text available
In an age of increasing urbanization, rural communities and agricultural lifestyles are quickly disappearing. Many local, pastoral histories have been buried under the new narratives of modern suburban development. Do such places, located along the rural-urban fringe, contain accounts worth memorializing? This thesis is a case study of the Ancaster Meadowlands—a growing neighbourhood within the City of Hamilton, Ontario. It explores the process of suburban growth and uncovers the local history of a landscape. As a narrative, the study traces land-use change over time, displaying the area’s evolution from a site of Neolithic settlement, to an important Loyalist village, and finally to a large suburban neighbourhood with commercial and residential components. Three principal methods are employed: resident interviewing, key informant interviewing, and archival research. Themes elicited in this study include land-use conflict, NIMBYism, real-estate volatility, and the interconnectedness of politicians and developers. Given that there are few case studies of contemporary suburban development, this study provides a rare illustration of the multi-faceted process of expansion around a Canadian city while also supplying a historical account of local importance.
Article
Toronto's Tower Neighbourhood Renewal (TR) programme is a municipal government initiative tackling aging high-rise apartment building clusters in need of physical upgrades. One strategy for a more vibrant future for those clusters is densification or new infill housing. The main argument of the essay is that the unique urban structure of Toronto's inner suburbs challenges the implementation of TR's densification strategy. The proximity of many residents occupying privately owned single-family homes close to the tower neighbourhoods has implications for the governance of TR in Toronto. Having created place-frames firmly linked to their own identities as single-family homeowners, these residents reject an encroachment of the ‘urban' (through higher residential densities) and of the ‘Other' (through a potential increase in low-income, immigrant and visible minority tower renters). A 2011 design charrette in the Toronto neighbourhood of Weston serves as a case study, exemplifying the tensions between neighbourhood resident place-frames and the goals of the TR project. This essay is based on an analysis of public policy documents and public participation reports, as well as notes from direct observation during the Weston 2021 Design Charrette.
Article
This debate specifically focuses on densification as a particular dimension of (post-) suburbanization. In the introduction, we discuss densification, along with ‘compactness' and ‘intensification', conceptual terms that have become buzzwords within urban planning. Objectives associated with these tend to be presented in the literature within a normative framework, structured by a critique of the negative effects attributed to sprawl. The perspective here is different. It is not normative but critical, and articulated around the analysis of political and social issues, related to the transformation of wider metropolitan space. Three main themes are developed: (1) the politics of densification (the environmental arguments favouring densification are highly plastic, and are thus often used to defend projects or initiatives which are actually determined by other agendas); (2) why morphology matters (a similar number of houses or square metres can be established in many different ways, and those different ways have political and social meaning); (3) the diversity of suburban densification regimes (it is not only the landscapes of the suburbs that are diverse, but also the local bodies governing them—between the small residential municipalities of the Paris periurbs and the large inner suburbs of Toronto lies a broad spectrum).
Article
Professional and popular interest in active school transportation (walking and cycling) is matched by an emerging literature on this topic. This paper explores school travel behavior of 11-year old children in Toronto, Canada. In particular, the effects of the neighborhood environment and caregiver-child travel interactions on travel mode choice were studied. Results indicate that the built environment near both home and school locations was associated with the odds of walking. However, predicted built environment effects were less accurate in some neighborhoods. Availability of adults at the time of school travel likely encouraged driving. School transportation interventions that broadly consider school and neighborhood-oriented policies and enable independent mobility may increase walking rates. Presence of spatial autocorrelation in the prevalence of walking suggests that more research is required to understand inter-household similarities in behaviors that are spatially structured.
Article
Best practice is most often perceived as a powerful heuristic tool for the dissemination of innovation and knowledge. Hence, its formation and acceptance are seldom questioned. The unquestioned compliance with practices labelled as ‘best’, however, obscures the processes of typification that enable it—that is to say, the cultural struggles, tensions, conflicts, collaborations, alliances and personal/professional justifications that prefigure it. This paper uses the proliferation of New Urbanism in Toronto to unpack theoretically the typification of best practice in order to demonstrate how the universal abstraction of this principle-based movement is underpinned by deeper, highly situated, constructions of aligned interests and emergent socio-political rationalities.
Chapter
Full-text available
During the last 50 years the Toronto region has grown from a small city of 1.3 million in 1955 to a sprawling metropolitan region of about six million today. Although most of this growth took place as the use-segregated, automobile-oriented, suburban tract development often considered characteristic of suburbanization in North America, Toronto has a distinctive urban form, which is quite different from the U.S. model, and poses different sustainability challenges.
Article
Provides an informal history of the Queen Elizabeth Way - Canada's first 'superhighway'. It traces this history from the 1930s, the period of original design and construction to the present day. Examines the changing perception of the highway held by its designers and users, and its role as a key element in the development of the 'Golden Horseshoe'. Explores the demise of the Queen Elizabeth Way as a combined traffic-artery-cum-regional-public-space and its transformation into a utilitarian object.-Author