For the past week, I’ve had ample opportunities to sit in the car and listen to the radio as I am commute to work. There are a lot of talk about how green downtown living is and the benefits of having a less suburban, more cohesive community of people as your neighbours. However, I have to satisfy myself with a more critical examination of these claims. It’s true that I live just outside of downtown and I have to commute to my work, but I endeavour to limit my car use to only that part of life. If the main thrust by developers and real estate firms to rejuvenate the downtown core by building condominiums is not met with increased places of employment and leisure, then what are we doing really other than creating rush hour traffic going the other way? I feel in the absent of this improvement, the close proximity of your grocery store, café and gym to your condo is meaningless.
No, I don’t have the silver bullet. However, as I have said in a previous article, there are a lot of reasons to warrant a closer look at Sustainable Neighbourhoods where the need to travel between different “cells” is minimized. As long as there are good densities of work, leisure and social services options in each cell, people can be living green and environmentally responsible. Otherwise, we are lying to ourselves about the real reason of downtown living – so you can get your shawarma and your Starbucks, while you take your tiny dog out for a walk on a Saturday.