Smart Growth is another way of saying healthy, livable communities.
It provides an alternative vision to sprawling low density living and recognizes that we need to make smart choices as our cities grow. As our population increases and more people move to cities, we need to grow smarter. Smart growth is a way of planning our communities that addresses challenges such as where to live, how to move around, and how to protect the resources that sustains us.
Smart, complete communities have services and shops nearby to reduce gridlock. They also include:
- Fewer single-use buildings, with a mix of retail shops, housing and businesses together to make better use of land and infrastructure. This would be the opposite of big box stores.
- Options for people to move around via cycling, walking and public transit. Investing in a variety of transportation options is important.
- An emphasis on living near public transit, with low-rise buildings (2 to 3 storeys) in small towns, mid-rise buildings (4 to 8 storeys) near a Go Train station or a bus lane in a mid-sized town, and 8 to 12 storeys near subways or rapid transit in a city.
- A variety of places where people can live and work, with more housing choices (rental, basement apartments, condos and co-op housing and single family homes) to accommodate people of different incomes, needs, and ages.
- Hard urban boundaries to preserve open space, farmland, nature, forests and wetlands.
- Directing development towards already built-up areas to make better use of existing urban services like schools, sewer and water pipes.
- Reducing debt from infrastructure and energy usage as more compact growth creates 3 times less GHG emissions than low density development.
- Fostering distinctive communities that are vibrant, fun and have a unique sense of place.
- Better decision making that is fair and transparent. Planning decisions should include public involvement and the disclosure of the cost of pipes, roads, and services.
- Essential services and shops nearby to reduce drive times.