I just finished reading The London Plan last night. It’s a good read, albeit much longer than I anticipated. I know the rationale for the length (it’s explained in the document), but it does make parsing the what, why, and how a bit more difficult. The video provides the highlights on precisely why The London Plan promotes what it does, and is worth watching. These are the things I jotted down as I went through the plan.
- Focus on intensification — continuing to grow outwards is going to cost every citizen far more money in property taxes and user fees; it’s unsustainable.
- Focus on more cost effective development (from a servicing perspective) — hybrid or compact growth model must be the focus
- This does not, however, mean that new suburbs and single-detached homes will not be built. It means that a smaller percentage will be built than normal, and the focus will be on infill, intensification, and redevelopment of existing sites and built-up areas.
- “Emphasis on neighbourhoods” — direct quote from the plan
- Encouraging street grids; fewer courts and crescents, both of which greatly hinder efficient traffic flows
- “Complete” neighbourhoods — the ability to age in place, have necessary amenities in your neighbourhood, etc.
- Primary Transit Areas
- “Growth pays for growth”
- That means ensuring development charges actually cover the City’s costs of those developments; something the current City Council can’t seem to come to grips with.
- Applications are only approved if they’re consistent with the Official Plan (this is probably true now).
- Mandated(?) secure bike parking for multi-unit residential, commercial, institutional, retail, and recreational buildings.
- Emphasis underground and structured parking, instead of surface parking.
- Structured parking would be enhanced to look nice through the use of architecture, screens, etc.
- Downtown transit hub to help more easily connect riders – Kitchener has a very good model for this.
- Park and ride system; a boon for visitors to the City, and also for commuters. This would be my preferred method for getting around London.
- Community housing strategy – a big win to help ensure an ample stock of affordable housing.
- Greenhouses in civic gardens
- Why not install these in local parks? Another way to meet neighbours.
- No mention of building out high speed network infrastructure – The London Plan still leaves this completely in hands of the private sector, and that has not worked for London thus far. There are large swaths of the City where you cannot obtain fast, reliable, high speed Internet access. Internet connectivity is now the backbone for many businesses. It is now a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
- There is nothing in The London Plan about reducing visual noise pollution; signs, signs, everywhere signs! I feel London needs a São Paulo, Brazil-like approach to reduce visual noise pollution and help beautify the city.
- Did Toronto’s City Structure, or Official, Plan spur all the new condos downtown? If not, what did? Toronto’s condo market has been booming for several years now, and London is going to need something like this boom to build up the areas around the proposed rapid transit routes.
- Point #933; home occupation – does this mean telecommuting 100% of the time (a.k.a. work-from-home arrangement like mine) won’t be allowed?
If The London Plan is executed through to completion by 2035, I think London and the region stand to benefit in a huge way. Property taxes will stay lower thanks to reduced servicing costs (you will actually get more for less), an even more cost-effective transit system with more ridership, good investment in your communities/neighbourhoods, and a plan/vision that will attract businesses and new residents alike. Now you need to elect the people that will ensure it starts getting executed in October.