Chronic Unaffordability — An Unintended Marvel of Mixed Use Planning?

Downtown - Toronto, ON photo by Michael Muraz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Downtown Toronto, Ontario. Dense, mixed, yes. Happy? Affordable? Questions worth asking.

Those city planners! Give them a bee to put in in their bonnet and they’ll ride into the sunset, happily swatting their hat.

The latest mainstream planning ‘bee’ is the notion that a successful modern city demands dense residential and commercial mixed development. But does this bee (currently being made manifest everywhere) actually satisfy the most important needs of its citizens?

If the most important need is transportation convenience, then yes, modern cities with dense, mixed, downtown cores allow some citizens at least to eat, sleep, shop and party within steps of their offices.

But suppose their most important needs are not short, breezy commutes on foot as the wind howls from all directions between the high rises?

Suppose the greatest need is, say . . . happiness? Or . . . affordability? Well, now, the jury has suddenly stepped out of the courtroom again. It seems the mixed use bee may well have suffered one to many swats under the city planner’s hat.

Read considerably more detailed and sober analysis (without the over-extended metaphors) of the success of dense mixed-use development in the Financial Post: Haider-Moranis Bulletin: Why mixed-use developments get mixed reviews