Thursday, January 03, 2008

Yesterday's Suburbs?

We have always viewed suburbs as neighbourhoods with parked SUVs, quiet residential subdivisions and dead evenings! Perhaps it's time to look again. Some suburban regions have changed dramatically.

Around the corner from my parents' house in Richmond Hill there is a 24-hr grocery/drug/liquor store. In the same plaza, there is a hardware store, a Starbucks coffee shop, a Time Horton's coffee shop, a Pizza Hut, 2 banks and an all-day breakfast cafe. People walk to the grocery store at odd hours, and they don't need a SUV to pick up a cup of coffee in the morning. Five minutes down the road there are 2 daycare centres, 2 high schools and several car repair shops. Take the bus that runs every 11 minutes, and at the first intersection you can find a movie theatre, several hair salons and restaurants.

You want more proof that today's suburbs are going "Urban"? Just look at the voting pattern. Areas that were dominantly conservative are half liberal now, and areas that were mixed, voted 70-80% liberal provincially and I predict the same pattern federally as well.

This is what I found on Richard Florida's blog, written by Madeline Johnson in Financial Times:

Today the world's urban population is greater than its rural one, which - statistically speaking - must mean that most of us have chosen to be city mice. But our home towns are no longer what planners call the "traditional" or "medieval" city - the clump of spires and towers where that mouse fable took place, neatly separated from the surrounding countryside and from the trim suburbs of television and film. Like the economic and communications networks that now dominate our lives, our new cities are now polycentric and "multi-nodal" or "fractal" - bunches of units with patterns repeated on every scale. (Think of florets on the head of a cauliflower.) They look more like land-eating Los Angeles than hemmed-in Hong Kong, with blended centres and peripheries and ragged boundaries between the natural world and built space. Any economic or moral divide between the "urban" commercial, political and social institutions and the "suburban" or "rural" residential world has disappeared and the resulting scatter of areas for living, work and pleasure creates complex and unpredictable traffic patterns. ...

As a result, it would seem that we no longer have to make that big decision - whether to be suburban or urban, country mice or city mice. In these micropoli, aerotropoli, city-regions and zwischenstadt , we can have it both ways and eat our cakes and ale in peace.


At 11:36 a.m., Blogger Jackal said...

that i call a requiem for your urban dreamland ;)

At 12:10 p.m., Blogger The City Gal said...

What are you talking about? You live in small town Scotland!

At 5:33 a.m., Blogger Jackal said...

it's not very small though, got over a quarter a million population, 2 universities, one international airport with direct business only flight to Houston, Texas (how exhillirating), and i suppose the highest rate of engineers per head (read heed) in the world. And we're proud (read prood)of it ;)

At 8:34 a.m., Blogger The City Gal said...

a quarter million is what we call small town here! :D

The town I am moving to, has about the same population.


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