Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Smart Growth Network webinar, December 4th: Perfect City: Lessons, Challenges and Pitfalls of the World’s Greatest Cities

-- "Smart Growth Network webpage on the Joe Berridge webinar

One of the many books in my stack for reading and review is Joe Berridge's Perfect City: Lessons, Challenges and Pitfalls of the World’s Greatest Cities.

Coming across his work a few years ago in some writings by Royson Green of the Toronto Star, his approach definitely influenced the concept that I now call "Transformational Projects Action Planning."

He was even kind enough to send me a pdf copy of the original proposal paper referenced by the Toronto Star.

From "(Big Hairy) Projects Action Plan(s) as an element of Comprehensive/Master Plans":

Toronto as a world city.  Last fall, reading about Toronto planner Joe Berridge, in two articles by Toronto Star columnist Royson James ("Toronto needs to take one last step to reach civic greatness," "Toronto needs a new wave of world-scale projects"), I was struck by how many of the big projects outlined by Mr. Berridge came to be.  From the first article:
... what Toronto needs is a greater push toward the next transformational wave of civic improvements. Double down. Find the money that’s obviously there. Invest and grow or slip back to the tier of cities occupied by Houston, San Francisco, Manchester.
From the second article:
Berridge’s 1999 seminal report, “Reinvesting in Toronto: What the Competition is Doing” gave wings to the movement that prodded governments and civic philanthropists to invest in fixing up Toronto’s derelict waterfront, remake and rebrand its cultural attractions, and think big...

Berridge says it is the city’s “moral obligation” to use its taxing power, its wealth, its status as Canada’s only global city and the historical advantages of public education, public health and public services to propel Toronto into super city status.
From the first article:
Coming out of the SARS crisis, Toronto was in woeful shape. Civic advocacy — much of it centred on a platform erected in the pages of the Star and its campaign for a New Deal for Cities — resulted in a cultural renaissance.

Six new major cultural buildings popped on the architectural horizon and created a buzz that reverberated beyond our shores. Luminato arrived, as did the MaRS project. Waterfront revitalization started. The ROM, Art Gallery of Ontario, opera house and OCAD University are a testament to that time.
According to James, Toronto's trajectory was significantly reset as a result of the city and stakeholders coming together to build a set of new and expanded institutions that were transformative.

These days there is a lot of lament on Toronto and the lack of vision by the current Mayor, on  the various ways that the Provincial Government is screwing the city, and the screwing up of transit expansion planning.

While there are some new strides forward like the Bentway and the prioritization of transit on King Street and arguably, Google's Sidewalk Labs project on the waterfront, while there are a number of proposals for new projects, they haven't been codified into an actionable program.  are aimed at getting Toronto's elected officials to think more broadly but also get much more focused and realistic (about funding) to achieve new transit investments, big park proposals, and other projects.

Also see:

-- "Toronto’s OCAD University may boast another city landmark" Toronto Globe and Mail
-- "Toronto's rail deck park proposal a 'golden opportunity,' experts say," Toronto Star
-- "This man wants to build a cable car in the Don Valley. Can he sell it," Toronto Globe and Mail
-- "Mayor on transit: Keeping Toronto on the move," Toronto Sun

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