By Ryan McGreal
Published February 07, 2012
Why is "mixed-use" such a difficult concept for some people?
A neighbourhood that mixes a variety of uses - people living, working, socializing in the same places - is a neighbourhood that is alive and active at all hours of the day.
It's a neighbourhood in which the flows of traffic are mixed instead of monolithic.
It's a neighbourhood in which there are always other people around, keeping an eye on the street and improving public safety.
It's a neighbourhood that makes more productive use of public infrastructure - roads, sidewalks, water lines, sewers - and extracts more property tax value per unit.
So why do we continue to build monolithic single-use developments in urban neighbourhoods literally decades after we learned unambiguously how harmful it is to economic, environmental and community vitality?
Today's Spectator features an article about a secret deal being struck between CN and the City over a disputed land use on the Barton-Tiffany site:
The railroad objected to the city's plan to convert the industrial Barton-Tiffany neighbourhood into a new residential enclave, arguing it was too close to the waterfront rail yard.
More than six years later, council will be asked to approve a settlement proposal at its Wednesday meeting - but not in public.
Residents won't hear what planning concessions are proposed until council approves them, said Shawn Selway, a member of the North End Neighbours group involved in the OMB appeal.
"It's frustrating because I would like to talk about it, but the settlement process is not public," Selway said. "All I can say is we aren't particularly happy about (the settlement)."
In the face of CN opposition, the city backed off last year on the original plan to allow hundreds of new homes in the area bordered by Barton, Bay, Queen and Stuart streets.
The absolute last thing this city needs is still more community-affecting decisions being made through in camera decisions under pressure from interested parties that do not have the public interest at heart.
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