Smart growth in Canada: Implementation of a planning concept
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Recently, a broad consensus has emerged concerning the growth and development of Canadian cities: our cities, as they have grown over the last 60 years, are contributing significantly to global and regional environmental problems, government deficits, and social inequity. In order to be sustainable, cities should alter their development patterns so as to be more compact, diverse in their land uses, with more defined urban boundaries and internal structures. The broad-based movement that is advocating such changes in the way our cities grow is called “Smart Growth”. Smart Growth refers to land use and development practices that limit costly urban sprawl, use tax dollars more efficiently and create more livable communities. Although “Smart Growth” as a term is relatively new, the concept behind the rubric is not. In fact, the idea of managing urban growth to reduce environmental impacts, make cities more socially inclusive and more efficient to build and maintain is almost as old as urban planning itself. The assumption behind this study is that Canadian experience with growth management over the last two or three decades could help guide implementation of the Smart Growth concept. More specifically, answers were sought to the following questions: • Which cities in Canada have made genuine efforts to manage growth so as to alter their development patterns in a fundamental way? • What successes have these cities experienced and where have they failed? • What are the reasons behind both successes and failures? • And what are the lessons we can draw for the viability of Smart Growth in the Canadian context?