Building in, building well

Building in, building well
Image from BuildingIN

On Monday I watched a presentation by a group of housing experts on the benefits of pre-fab infill as one of the key solutions both to the housing crisis and also that little climate emergency thing.

The BuildingIN program is two-fold: It includes a new simulation tool to test the potential impact of infill on neighbourhoods, and a catalogue of pre-fabricated lowrise designs ready to slot into mature areas. 

You know me, I was already convinced before watching the thing. Building out father into the suburbs is economically and environmentally suicidal and we’ve done altogether way too much of it already. We don’t need to have our city be so spread out as to require two times zones. We need to insist on gentle density (not towers) close to the core.

Last weekend I took Eldest to Bowmanville for a frisbee tournament and on our way to stuff our faces full of McD after a long day chasing after a little round disc we drove from Baseline to Highway 2 on Green Rd and saw rows upon rows of newly-constructed town homes that are exactly the sort of thing we don’t build in Ottawa. They have just enough density to be sustainable, they look great and they help people who need something affordable to call home a shot at home ownership that would otherwise be out of reach. (My athlete was way too hungry for a photoshoot but I hope to be back to the area next month and if so I’ll update the visuals.)

My mind went back to what I saw and wrote about last summer in Surrey, B.C., where instead of building town homes they have large homes divided into several private residences, all with the feel of single-family homes.

Here we tend to have a large-scale NIMBY freakout every single time someone wants to replace a decrepit single family home with a duplex or triplex, especially in fancier neighbourhoods like the Westboro in which I dwell. Still, I insist, we ought to remain hopeful.

When it was announced that two separate investors had teamed up to buy Carlingwood Mall, I jumped at the chance to get ahead of that story by making strong suggestions as to what should replace the ageing mall entirely surrounded by asphalt.

The story was posted a few hours ago and already on the twit machine it’s generating a fun and productive discussion on the pros and cons of various amenities and what should be done to ensure the site serves the community not just developers. I really do look forward to consultations on this one.