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The suburbs aren’t dead; they’re just growing up

At this point, it’s well established that more and more people are favouring downtown urban centres over suburbs. Eric Jaffe from Atlantic Cities, put it this way:

“Population growth is on the rise in city centers (though total population still favors suburbs), Millennials seem less keen to drive than their parents were, urban home values are increasing faster than suburban ones. The list can and does go on.”

As one Toronto columnist put it, generation Y is now keen to live in apartments the size of their childhood suburban bedrooms so that they can be closer to amenities.

So what does this mean for the suburbs?

Some believe that this means the suburbs are dead, or dying. But Leigh Gallagher, in her new book “The End of the Suburbs”, argues that it’s not the end of the suburbs. It’s simply the end of the suburbs, as we know them.

That is, the suburbs, which functioned arguably quite while for a period of time, have now become a victim of their own success. They’ve become too big, to the point where they now isolate people away from their social networks and places of employment.

Gallagher believes that the future will be “urban burbs.” Burbs that are more dense, walkable and transit friendly. And I would agree. But I would add that I don’t think all suburbs will make this transition successfully. Like with anything, there will be some that pull it off and some that fail.

The car had a devastating impact on our cities and it’s not going to be easy to reverse what has been done. But we’ll need to figure it out.

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