Comment 122655

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 20, 2018 at 19:08:32 in reply to Comment 122647

Maybe I misunderstood the previous two articles, but they seemed to be recommending primarily Paris-style medium density development in most of the city, with some high-rise towers downtown. This doesn't sound like high-rise towers should be the default design downtown, or that we should automatically say yes to very tall high rises, which is what the articles about the Television City building seem to imply.

This was also the message from city staff during the design charrettes around LRT: that there are different ways to achieve significantly higher population densities besides high-rises and the City and its residents should be able to choose what they prefer according to the circumstances. Now we seem to be saying that high rises are the preferred design downtown. This is a significant change.

The brief article I referenced deliberately highlights Paris as an example we should follow to achieve increased densities, primarily without high-rises. Now this vision is explicitly dismissed as being completely unrealistic.

Some folks suggest that we should be more like Paris or Vienna with a 6-8 storey height throughout the city in order to achieve density without tall buildings. That is fine in theory, but it would require the purchase of all properties from Dundas to Stoney Creek, full demolition, and a total rebuild on every block at 6-8 stories.

Jason himself suggested this! What changed?

This is really the DeSantis argument about needing a hundred 30 storey buildings, it's just that now we're saying we need dozens of 30+ storey buildings all downtown rather than spread throughout the City. We can achieve much higher densities without deciding that every new building downtown should be a very tall high-rise.

There is a place for high-rises, but the arguments in favour of Television City haven't properly addressed the downsides: the density is presented as (essentially) the beginning and end of the argument and anyone who has concerns is dismissed as a NIMBY.

I do agree that the argument that new developments need to "fit in" is largely bogus, but there is a lot more to the pros and cons of very tall buildings than that.

As RobF has said, the worrying thing is the precedent: will the city lose its ability to plan? Do we decide that we should just accept whatever a developer proposes provided it is big?

Have we thought carefully about the downsides as well as the upsides of primarily high-rise development downtown? Will we even be able to have the discussion?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2018-03-20 19:13:40

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