well, here is another entry into my blog about the ever so popular subject of sustainability (because if without it, we all die.)
I grew up in small town southern ontario, never really living in a town, let alone a city. but over the past few years since i've moved away from home i've found myself living in burnaby, BC in the off-season (some of april, and sept/oct), which for those who arn't firmiliar with the place is the main suburb of Vancouver. I think there is something seriously wrong with how cities are designed, but sadly, I can't think of anything to better the system, so where does that put me?
As far as urban planning goes, the GVA is relativly good. there is rapid transit that goes from downtown right into the heart of surrey, with all the main business's/shopping centers/apartment complex's within a few blocks of the transit line. throughout the rest of burnaby/surrey is suburban style houses with someone adiquate bus services. This system works well for accesabilty, but there are holes everywhere. I will use this evening as an example. my girlfriend has a field hockey practice tonight in vancouver, but it will take a bus, skytrain ride, then two more bus's (a total of almost two hours) to get to her practice, when in all actually the practice isn't that far away. I will not be going, but will be needing something to eat this evening for dinner, but there isn't very much food in the house. Now, I'm in the middle of the city, so you would think there would be somewhere nearby I could go and grap something quick, but the closest place to buy food is a 30min walk down the road, or a 15min bus ride into metrotown (the core of burnaby), am I the only one who thinks that's a bit odd. Because of these inconveniences, people who live in the city feel as though they are forced into having a car just to get around and do everyday stuff.
That was looking at the GVA, now take a city like Toronto and the GTA and look at how it has been planned out. The rapid transit doesn't even make it out of Toronto, places like Missasauga (which should have part of the subway long ago) are still reliant on bus's to get into the city of Toronto. And if anyone has been to Toronto you know how insane the freeway system is (there is one section of the 401 that is 18 lanes wide, and is almost always full of cars going nowhere. Of all the polutants in the world, I would think that a traffic jam in the city - every city - may be worse then the industry world and their factories.
Another major problem with cities is waste. I don't know what it is, but there is something about living in a city that automaticly desencitizes a person to how much they waste in day to day life. This summer while working on a fishing lodge, we burned all of our garbage at the lodge, so every day I saw first hand how much garbage 70 people produce, and the immediate effect it has to the environment. times that by the millions of people that live in a city, and how much more they waste in a daily basis and it's scary. not only the amount they waste, but also the fact that the average city dweller doesn't think twice about throwing out recyclable goods, throwing away perfectly fine food because they arn't hungry anymore, littering on the streets and in parks, leaving their cars idiling while they go wait in a 5-10min line at the bank.
By the time that the 2010 Olympics role into Vancouver, phase 1 of a sustanable city in china will be oporational on an island on one of their rivers. if it goes to plan it will be completely sustanable, the first of it's kind anywhere in the world. Although it is a big step in the right direction, it will take more then creating new sustanable cities, the biggest challange we face will be taking the cities we already have and making them work. We need better (and cleaner) mass transit, recycling has to be enforced, and those that don't follow need to be fined. Strict laws agains ideling cars, size regulations on cars within the city, and probably the number one thing we need to chang is to stop expanding suburbia out into the farmland when there are houses available to buy within the city.