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A question of infrastructure

One of the main reasons why I hear people oppose certain development projects is because of a lack of infrastructure. Whether it’s roads, transit or something else, the concern is that what we have is inadequate to service what we’re about to build.

Now, I understand that we can’t completely overburden the city, but I still have fundamental concerns with this line of thought. 

The population of the Greater Toronto Area is expected to grow by 2.5 million people over the next 20 some years, to almost 9 million people by 2036. What this means is that growth is happening and it doesn’t really care whether or not we have the “right” infrastructure in place. It’s coming and we need to figure out how best to house these people while at the same time building the most livable and prosperous city on the planet.

And I’m not sure most people appreciate that if we don’t build up (intensification) it means we’re going to be building out (sprawl). Again, the growth isn’t going to stop. And this represents an even greater strain on our region’s infrastructure (both built and natural) because it puts people into less intense land use and into cars.

So what I’m going to suggest is that instead of asking if our current infrastructure will handle the future, we ask why the future hasn’t been built into our current infrastructure? It’s a question of being proactive, rather than reactive.

We should be demanding better infrastructure instead of holding back progress because of our inability to properly city build. We should be demanding the best as opposed to knocking everything else down to the lowest common denominator.

A perfect example of this is transit.

I strongly believe that transit is one of, if not the, biggest issue facing our region today. Decades of disinvestment are really showing my friends. And if we don’t get our act together, the impact on our quality of life, our environment, and our economic productivity is only going to worsen.

We need to be asking the right questions: Is the development the problem or is the real problem our infrastructure deficit?

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