More Public Space
In North America we have several social issues that can be mitigated with urban planning – obesity, crime, unemployment, poverty, loneliness…. I personally would like to walk more but there is nowhere to walk to! It takes me about 25 minutes to walk to the Meadowvale Town Center and the whole walk is uninteresting as there is nothing but fences to walk past on Winston Churchill Blvd.
I recently visited Paris France and stayed in a suburb called Malakoff. The suburb has a town square with a municipal building , theatre, market hall, shops and café’s surrounding the square with residential low rise above the shops and surrounding streets. There is social activity at all hours of the day, neighbors hanging out together while kids play and bike and skate in the center. There is a flea market in the square and food market in the hall 3 days a week that attracts customers from all over Paris. There are pedestrian streets leading to the square and bicycle rentals –see pic on right. Also there are 2 subway stations and one commuter train station within walking distance of this square.
In Meadowvale we can easily build a good community if we use examples of what is working around the world. Some ideas:
• Bike paths separate from roads that are connected to each other around the whole community
• More public space (not just parks) – developers can be made to donate the ground floor of their buildings to the community. It could be used to promote a vibrant social life in the community, economic activity and better streetscapes with pedestrian zones. Low rent commercial space on the ground floor could be managed by the community and distributed to local people to start businesses – art galleries, bakeries, day cares…
• The area around the Go stations would be ideal for some public infrastructure and higher density