Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Onward and upward

The area where I live is undergoing massive growth.  Within two blocks of my condo building there are at least nine new high rise buildings under construction or working towards that.  Yonge and Eglinton is on a massive growth spurt, no denying it.  The thing I find funny about that is how people react to growth so negatively.  We don't have a choice in the matter - people are moving to Toronto so we either have to drop more housing subdivisions into productive farmland outside the city and make our commuting problem even worse as well as increase our environmental footprint or we have to build upwards and fit those people into ever larger buildings.  

When I talk to people about this though they generally seem outraged at any new construction project.  It is almost a personal affront that someone would build a new building in an area they were perfectly content with.  Noise often comes up as the thing they are concerned about but there simply isn't any other choice.  If you want to live in a vibrant city that is happy and successful then you have to accept that other people will want to live there too and that means construction.  The only way to avoid construction is stagnation and I hear that Detroit isn't that great a place right now even if the construction noise is at an all time low.

There are always challenges of course.  The subway stop near my place is going to need to be expanded to accommodate a greater number of people and crowds in the stores nearby are going to be bigger.  It is totally reasonable to be concerned about those things but we all need to accept the reality that the status quo isn't an option.  The only way to keep people from coming in is to live in a place that other people don't want to be and Surprise! that isn't a very appealing option.  There is lots of land way up north where nobody will bother you by building things beside your home - any takers?

Generally people do want things to just stay the same.  Sometimes that is possible but generally it is far healthier and more realistic to expect that things will continuously change and this is absolutely true in cities.  That perfect balance where growth and decline cancel each other out is not something we can create but we can make choices that push us towards one or the other.  We don't get to pick between growth and stasis, rather we get to pick Toronto or Detroit, building or demolition, noise or silence.  Given those as our realistic choices I think we should be celebrating every new building that rises toward the sky - it is a sign that something is going right.

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