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LETTER: Cities should ‘conserve’; ‘live beside' green spaces

Letter writer says southern Ontario is struggling to 'maintain, conserve and yet live beside or within their green spaces'
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BradfordToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication).
"They took all the trees and put them in a museum
and charged a buck or two to see em.
Don't it always seem to go,
that you don't know what you got until its gone.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

(Joni Mitchell)

Many of us are concerned that opportunistic, politically motivated policies are being enacted by those presently in power. Fear of the wholesale sell-off of publicly owned lands and green spaces, in particular near our urban centres, led many of us to the conclusion that if a long-term policy protecting what we have is not enacted, we will lose it forever.

Most North American urban centres are trying to deal with this challenge. The challenge of how to maintain, conserve and yet live beside or within their green spaces. Southern Ontario is a prime example. While the Green Party fights to preserve every inch of Greater Toronto's green space, the Conservative administration of Doug Ford is attempting to open up both the Ontario economy and build over a million housing spaces over the next few years. Liberal and New Democrats supporting their ideological fellows in the Green Party stand against the conservative efforts. Housing, yes, but not at the cost of green areas that once were used are forever gone. 

Southern Ontario's transportation network has proven to be weak and unimaginative in its scope. At a time when rail and mass transportation using new technologies should be expected, they are relying upon outdated and worn equipment. Most transportation expansion is happening in central Toronto, the most expensive area in Canada. No one except the rich and famous could possibly live in the area, so municipal and provincial efforts ignore the working demographic, concentrating on the Toronto Elites and corporate needs within urban areas. Small to medium-town Ontario suffers the statement "we simply do not have the necessary funds to assist your needs at this time". So, driving to and from continues daily. 

Could the allied governments of this and every region in Canada not concentrate on workable, well-planned efforts such as these?

  1. Municipal and provincial governments that hold ownership of their lands within the green belt maintain that ownership. Do not sell to developers, but simply offer these lands for well-planned development with government regulation and full governmental ownership. Dictate developments design, materials and transportation/infrastructure as partnerships with developers. 
  2. Truly affordable housing must be allotted, with upward building plans (apartments and affordable tall condos) leaving the single-house stream to subdivisions outside of Greater Toronto's green belt. Land is scarce, so no longer can the city and province afford large-scale single-dwelling homes, especially greater than 3,500 sq ft.
  3. Plans developed where housing can be situated naturally within green spaces. Green space, nature and community involvement in it are paramount to the plan. Bylaws and provincial edicts need to protect these areas in perpetuity.
  4. Green transportation within southern Ontario must be invested in immediately. Using the highest affordable and available technological means to mass transport the population within and outside of urban centres. Transportation hubs need to be developed with limits to large transport into the city centre. The warehouse accepts products outside of the city centre and delivers items during the evening and night schedule.
  5. The public needs to be invited to invest in their city and community through associated public funds, bonds and shares. Revenue will be raised in this fashion while bringing the public into a personal relationship with the city and green spaces. People care about those items they have a personal investment in. community banking and community fund investments are welcomed into the city's developments.
  6.  The green space will have senior living communities injected throughout. Seniors can live, enjoy and protect these natural green communities and environments. Dementia studies and community centres can also be placed in these green spaces.
  7.  A large assortment of these dwellings will be non-profit, and financially affordable. Apartment dwellings are designed with livability and durability (highest quality) in mind. Prefabricated homes, both townhomes and apartments, can be designed and erected affordably and provided by local Canadian manufacturers (Woodbridge). 
  8.  Affordable housing and a livable environment must be ensured within the Ontario and Canadian Constitutions. Over 300,000 migrants have come to Ontario and Canada. Where are they going to live?
  9. If a peaceful and prosperous community is to develop, where the right to employment, a home, safe healthcare and future opportunities abound, we must seriously protect, maintain and grow our green community, its green spaces for future generations.
  10.  Strict use of these green spaces should be limited to planned residential, community living, entertainment, sporting and recreational uses. Industry must not be allowed within this area. Neither should any land be sold to enterprises and developers. Residences and buildings are all to be leased with city or provincial approval. Revenues should flow to the ownership of these lands, buildings and investments... The city and province.

North American urban centres must institute five-10-20-year plans. Never done before, this planning will be fluid while never forgetting its prime and central purpose, maintaining a livable community space within the urban centre's precious green spaces. If we give, then surely our community will receive in return.

Steven Kaszab