Imagine that you had 4,000 acres of greenspace on which to build a community. You have two options: Create a modern, walkable, dynamic, and sustainable community? Or throw in a six-lane mega highway which invites more cars and trucks, more pollution, more congestion, and less greenspace. Which would you choose?
Well, the good folks in Brampton, who have the fortune to have access to this huge greenfield – 1/16th of Brampton’s total land area –, have been giving this a lot of thought. For over a decade, working with city staff and consulting with stakeholders, they have been breathing life into Heritage Heights, a new, dream community which most people would like to see spring from the drawing board.
They have taken a holistic approach to the Heritage Heights plan, considering:
- Economic Impacts
- Environment and Sustainability
- Cultural Heritage
- Hospital access
Choice 1: a six-lane mega highway which invites more cars and trucks, more pollution, more congestion, and less greenspace.
Choice 2: a boulevard with room for cars, cyclists and pedestrians that is part of a modern sustainable community
If built, Heritage Heights will be a community where you can:
- Live, learn, work, play & shop
- Walk to school
- Live without a car
- Start a business
- Hop on the GO or the ZUM
- Pick an apple
The concept plan calls for smart growth, more jobs, more housing, and most importantly, a complete community one where you can work, live and have fun within walking or cycling distance.
A boulevard which knits the community together vs Highway 413, a mega highway which divides the community and signals its death…. Those are the options.
A well-designed boulevard will carry cars, cyclists and pedestrians through the centre of the community.
Planting Highway 413, a four to six lane highway through the middle of the plan, as the province is insisting on doing, will limit east/west connectivity within the community and severely impede its ability to become a vibrant and complete community and promote unwanted suburban sprawl.
Lost will be the “20-minute neighbourhood.”
With a vision for a sustainable community in Heritage Heights, the citizens of Brampton, including city staff, politicians, local developers, key stakeholders like first responders, and the community at large are rejecting an outdated model of development based on highways and sprawl and replacing it with a sustainable model much needed for these times.
But nothing can be taken for granted. Despite the huge backing for the Heritage Heights Community Plan, it still must be approved by the Mayor and City Councillors. And significantly, money has not been allocated to push this development forward, leaving it vulnerable to being dead on arrival, due to pressure from developers who want Highway 413 and have little regard for complete communities. Instead, they want to build sprawl houses, big box stores and communities, reliant on more cars.
Everyone with an interest in this development should be contacting their local councillor and MPP, strongly urging them to approve and support the Heritage Heights concept, take the steps necessary to bring this vision to life, and reject the proposed Highway 413.
The vision for Heritage Heights is what all communities should be supporting. Adding more highways and sprawl is a dead-end vision which pushes us further back in our goal to leave our children with a healthy planet and a sustainable future.
This blog was written by Susan Reisler, who has a solid background as a journalist and a communications consultant. Most recently, she worked on a CBC Nature of Things documentary called Rebellion which focused on the efforts of young people around the world to get action on climate change.