"Density does not demand high-rises. Skyscrapers are a dime a dozen in today’s world. Once a low- or mid-rise city or town succumbs to high-rise mania, many more towers will follow, until the city becomes a carbon-copy of every other city in a
“geography of nowhere.”
-- Brent Toderian
The South Junction Triangle has been evaluated as a transit hub because of the area's proximity to Dundas West and Lansdowne subway stations, as well as the Dundas West and College streetcar routes. With that, large corporate developers have taken advantage by proposing massive-scale highrises within our small land footprint, despite a lack of infrastructure and community services, poor transit supports, and overcrowding of our local schools. Future and current residents should demand a long-term cumulative impact study -- the question is "What will the South Junction Triangle look like in 10 years after these developments are built?"
Read a city 2020 report, "Bloor Perth-Sterling Community Services and Facilities Study" about our area's lack of community infrastructure. We need to hold our Ward's councilor accountable for this report and future development plans.
More to Density than Highrises
Smart growth, vertical sprawl, the missing middle are ideas that offer alternatives to thinking about how to create density in cities.
This is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates on growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. It advocates for a compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use that includes neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. Terms like "compact city", "urban densification" or "urban intensification" are also used to describe similar concepts.
Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its sustainable development goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health.*
Smart density favours:
compact building designs
varied housing choices
green, open spaces
a variety of transportation choices, walk-able or bike-able streets, transit usage
development decisions are sustainable, fair, and cost-effective
Economic growth with local small businesses
creates a sense of community
The city of Toronto projects an estimated population growth to almost 3,500,000 by 2030. Understandably, the city needs to think ahead about housing more people in limited spaces.
However, we need to push our government officials to think more creatively about housing options, depending on the specific and unique areas of Toronto.
Uncontrollable density is short term gain for long-term problems:*
Vertical sprawl entrenches poor quality, high-density buildings built too close together with little or no regard to public open green spaces
property developers seeking to maximize their yield from the high-value land usually means profits over people
Consume more water and energy consumption because they are made from energy-intensive materials like steel
Creates wind tunnels between structures
Creates a heat island effect
Creates shadows over shorter homes
The rise in commercial rents pushing out smaller local business owners
“By vertical sprawl I mean the poor-quality, high-density buildings that are increasingly compacting our cities,” says Professor Gleeson, the Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. “They are poorly designed, poorly orientated and are being built too close together with little or no regard for urban and green spaces.” *
The Heat Island Effect
The term “heat island” describes urban areas where there is a concentration of highrises. These areas are hotter than nearby rural areas. For example, the air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings, while in the evening, there can be a difference as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing peak energy demand during the summer months, raise air conditioning costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Those residents without the privilege of air conditioning can succumb to heat-related illnesses and mortality.
Most people who are against tall buildings usually complain about shadows covering their homes and parks, when actually they should be objecting to the heat island effect in their communities. This may be a stronger argument against the clustering of tall buildings in a small area.
The Missing Middle
This is a term that considers a range of house-scale buildings with multiple units—compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes—located in a walkable neighborhood. *
Evergreen.ca published an article in 2018 that already discussed Toronto's need for affordable housing in a variety of options. For example, laneway suites. When one looks at Sterling Road, in front of Ruttan, one wonders if laneway suites are a more reasonable option for our area?
"On July 16, 2019, City Council directed City Planning to report on options to increase "missing middle" housing options in areas of Toronto designated as Neighbourhoods in the City’s Official Plan...The work program consists of short, medium, and longer term options to consider changes to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-laws and focuses on six categories of action: engage, enable, facilitate, study, pilot and monitor. The work program prioritizes consideration of actions to increase housing options that fit with the scale of Toronto’s residential neighborhoods and includes: allowing new types of housing such as garden suites; increasing housing types permitted within Neighbourhoods on Major Streets; and allowing duplexes and triplexes where they are currently not permitted."
During community meetings with the developers presenting their design proposals, why was not the city engaging our area in missing middle housing alternatives?
Questions to Keep in Mind
Does density always require highrises?
Are historic areas adequately protected from incompatible new construction?
What’s more important, the ability of tall buildings to make an architectural statement or the need for buildings to fit into a walkable mixed-use neighborhood?