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Living Yonge

Yonge Street runs immediately west of our condo. "Our" stretch of Yonge Street - between College & Bloor - is under threat of major developments. Land is expensive, but tall glass condo monoliths seem to sell well. The city with the active help of the neighbourhoods either side of Yonge has developed a planning framework, and it has been translated into an Official Plan Amendment. That has been challenged before the Ontario Municipal Board, which has the power to overrule any municipal land use decisions.

I've developed a paper supporting that Official Plan Amendment. My document is called "Living Yonge" and is available for downloading (as a pdf file). This blog entry provides a gentle introduction to that more formal document.

London, England classifies its roads along two dimensions - living and moving. Most roads are used in part for living by pedestrians who use the road, and for moving by cars and truck driving on the road. The mix is different for each road. Based on raw number of users, "our" stretch of Yonge Street is more used for living than for moving - there are significantly more pedestrians than vehicles. The local Business Improvement Association had just published a major report called "Yonge Love". "Living Yonge" made sense as the title of a defense of the Yonge Street that should be.

It's about the importance of a defined street-wall that is to human scale - consistent within each block and no more than 14 meters of 4 storeys high. It's about the importance of places for informal interactions between those walking on the street. It's about the importance of fine-grained retail that features interesting and distinctive design elements, all at the 5 km/hr pedestrian speed. It's about the importance of recognizing and respecting the 19th century heritage that is so strongly present on the street. It's about preserving a reasonable sky-view.

If the city is allowed, by the OMB, to impose the reasonable rules of its recent Official Plan Amendment, there is every chance that a Great Yonge Street will emerge, between Dundas Square and Yorkville. That's a goal consistent with a street that should be more about living than moving, a "Living Yonge".