Comment 117141

By RobF (registered) | Posted March 22, 2016 at 13:36:05 in reply to Comment 117086

There is compact built form and then there is density. The two are linked, but not as tightly as most people think. The "old" city of Toronto has added a lot of housing units since the 1970s, but not a lot of actual people. In fact, until the 2011 census, in which the impact waterfront condo boom finally registered, the old city had yet to surpass its postwar high in terms of population (just over 700k).

We also need to disconnect the notion of "revitalization" or walkable, vibrant neighbourhood streets from density. Built-form or urban design matters, but a wide range of densities can be walkable, vibrant, and transit-supportive. Toronto has lots of high-density suburban neighbourhoods that aren't walkable and aren't likely to become so.

Finally "revitalization" is normally accompanied by population decline (if we are really talking about gentrification), not increases (except where brownfield regeneration takes place). The pattern is generally de-conversions of rental units in low-rise housing stock and a general fall in household sizes.

Retail analysts will tell you its not about density of people, but density of money. What matters in terms of the resurgence of urban street retail districts is trade area improvement ... i.e. increased disposable income and a consumer preference to spend more of it at independent shops rather than at shopping centres and supermarkets. It's lifestyle preference not density that fuels café culture, foodie restaurants, artisan shops, and so on.

Comment edited by RobF on 2016-03-22 13:40:34

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