Posted on July 19, 2012 (updated: July 19, 2012)

Policy changes can improve quality of life in urban Ontario and reduce sprawl: study

TORONTO — A comprehensive study released today outlines key policies that would help improve the livability of Ontario’s communities, reduce sprawl and traffic congestion, and enable people to live where they work, go and play every day.

Live Where You Go: encouraging location-efficient development in Ontario recommends five new tools to make it easier and more affordable for developers to build in locations where homebuyers prefer to live. The proposed changes also would address many of the downsides of urban sprawl, such as traffic congestion and long commute times.

“It’s not about downtown versus the suburbs,” said Cherise Burda, Ontario policy director at the Pembina Institute and lead author of the study. “It’s about building more affordable, family-friendly homes in mixed-use, walkable communities with good access to rapid transit throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.”

A survey released earlier this week indicated that more than 80 per cent of residents in the Greater Toronto Area would give up a large house and yard to live in a neighbourhood where they could have the option to take rapid transit or walk to work and other destinations. However, the survey found many people can’t afford to live in these preferred locations.

“Our recommendations would help increase the supply of affordable homes in location efficient neighbourhoods, places our research suggests many Ontarians want to live,” explains co-author Travis Allan, a partner at Zizzo Allan Climate Law LLP.

Location-efficient development means making it possible for people to live near workplaces, amenities and commercial hubs that are accessible by walking, biking or rapid transit. Research indicates that location-efficient communities can be cheaper to service, more affordable to live and do business in, and offer residents a higher quality of life and more environmental benefits than the current model of sprawling suburban development.

“Ontarians want to live in location-efficient homes once they realize it helps them save money and pollute less, and frees up time to spend with their families instead of sitting in traffic,” adds co-author Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

“As Ontario’s population continues to grow, we are facing a unique opportunity to re-think urban sprawl and make policy changes today that will allow us to design and build communities where Ontarians really want to live, work and play,” explains co-author Dr. Anastasia Lintner, economist and staff lawyer with Ecojustice.



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