A blurring of the lines between the places we eat, work, live and play.

 

Written by Natalka Falcomer, Executive VP Corporate Development at Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage 

 

 

Travelling to Europe awakened me to the possibility that one doesn’t have to live, shop, play and work in completely separate parts of the city. Rather than zoning laws that strictly divide offices from homes from parks and from restaurants, the laws encourage overlap. Such overlap has had the effect of creating many cities within a district that are each equally strong as cultural, work and residential destinations. What is more, these fully independent communities reduce commute times to work (and therefore the city’s overall carbon imprint), encourages neighbours to form stronger bonds and creates a culinary and cultural destination. Toronto is finally catching up.

 

 

North America is notorious for having one city where people work (e.g. Toronto), another city where people live (e.g. Oakville) and yet another city where people play (e.g. Collingwood, Muskoka, Niagara etc). This has been a product of zoning laws and past generations coveting sprawling yards and big homes, as opposed to living in condos close to work and other cultural amenities. Such urban sprawl, however, has fallen out of fashion as traffic and fuel costs have increased. As the Parisian based architectural firm, Gottesman-Szmelcman Architecture SARL, claims, we are seeing demand for re-urbanization, but done well. This means a blurring between the places where we work, eat, live and play.

 

 

 

We’re finally seeing our own builders clue in. Take, for example, the Well, a successful effort by various retail and commercial developers coming together to create a truly integrated space to work, play and live. While our government could demand that more greenspace be included in such projects, relaxing the rules and speeding up the approval process would be an ever more important step in the right to reduce traffic, cut pollution and improve our communities.  

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