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Suburban designs - Discussion on what can be done to make them more sustainable

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  • Suburban designs - Discussion on what can be done to make them more sustainable

    I thought I would create a thread to discuss our suburbs, where 90% of the population of this city lives.

    The design of our suburban neighborhoods has changed a lot and many times since Post WWII, but the need for them isn't going away.

    -What can/should we do different?
    -How can we improve what already exists outside of bulldozing them and starting over?
    -What are we doing right, or starting to do right?
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  • #2
    I think its a serious issue, that "creeps" out from the center and follows the aging populations. Its not just inner city, its going to creep into areas like Castledowns, Millwoods, etc.

    I think:

    - Keep schools (bus in kids from new areas if parents decide to buy on the outskirts, essentially making mature suburbs more attractive)
    - Loosen zoning (I think this is being done), to encourage more infill
    - Restrict new greenfield to improve the economics of recycling mature versus buying new.

    Also maybe look at tax breaks to promite higher density. For example, if someone replaces a sideways post war bungalow with two skinny homes, or a duplex, keep the tax rate the same as pre the development, for a period.

    Comment


    • #3
      I want to see us try out a hybrid, or "fused-grid" street pattern.






      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fused_grid

      Benefits:

      - Maintain quiet, private appeal with single family detached among similar uses.
      - Mix in higher density housing types without disrupting character of community.
      - Central boulevards offer commercial uses that are spread across area rather than concentrated in car-centric development.
      - Commercial, residential, park, institutional space all within close walking distance of all homes.
      - Maintain maximized use of space for developers that you get in Radburn-style developments.
      - Fused-grid street pattern proven as better for traffic safety in several studies.
      - Natural routes for public transit created within walking distance of all uses.
      - More environmentally sustainable given higher density, opportunity for low impermeable surface cover.
      - Much cheaper to service than radburn style (studies show 46% cheaper for municipality to service).
      - Opportunity for placemaking along commercial boulevards.

      Note that high density as pictured need not exist. The picture actually is not even what I would consider ideal. Rather, I would love to see a medium-density where a "core" boulevard looks like whyte avenue.
      Last edited by Jaerdo; 02-11-2015, 10:15 AM.

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      • #4
        Go back to square grid and numbered streets. Thats entirely up to the city.
        Make buyers sign an agreement stating they have reviewed and understand the current and future land use in the area.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would just be happy with straight streets, a main road for buses to go down and bike paths along that road.

          Throw in some mixed use on the main road and we are golden.

          Wishes: treed Boulevard to put the snow in winter son all streets.
          be offended! figure out why later...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by richardW View Post
            I would just be happy with straight streets, a main road for buses to go down and bike paths along that road.

            Throw in some mixed use on the main road and we are golden.

            Wishes: treed Boulevard to put the snow in winter son all streets.
            I like the cul-de-sacs because the houses on the outside corners have small frontages and large backyards.

            I agree on boulevards to hold snow and think that they should also have parking lots or empty lots that could handle snow as well rather than the city hauling if for miles. I'd consider a plan where neighbourhood residents could be hired for snow clearing, hauling and dumping of snow within the neighbourhood. (Clearing could thus be performed more rapidly and hopefully it would reduce the need for adding chemicals on streets.)

            Schools and community league structures and facilities should be combined into one structure to reduce land use and redundancies.

            I'd consider more one-way streets within neighbourhoods in order to narrow down the streets and reduce the use of asphalt, etc.

            Strip malls should al have several stories of housing on top.

            Apartments, condos, co-ops should be present in every neighbourhood to vastly improve the long-term survivability of schools as neighbourhood detached housing experiences aging and empty-nesting. Homebuyers should also recognize the increased value such diverse neighbourhoods bring to future house prices. Those chasing pure detached home neighbourhoods need to realize that their neighbourhoods are at a much higher risk of loosing their schools over time and thus casing their home value to decline relative to neighbourhoods with more dispersed demographics.
            Last edited by KC; 02-11-2015, 02:05 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Schools and community league structures and facilities should be combined into one structure to reduce land use and redundancies.
              If you're wondering why generational developments like hundred million dollar community rec centres aren't combined properly with schools, look at the province.

              The idea has been raised many, many times. The province just isn't capable of effectively planning out when and where they are going to build things. So municipalities have to move ahead with community facilities on their own. It looks ridiculous to have two buildings separate from each other at a higher cost and lower efficiency, but the province just doesn't plan well or work with other levels of government well.

              The best municipalities can do is plan out reserves with space for community centres, and build them there in the hope the province will design the school well enough to compliment it at some time down the road. Hence why modern "community campus" style like the Terwillegar rec centre are near the school, but not attached.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jaerdo View Post
                I want to see us try out a hybrid, or "fused-grid" street pattern.






                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fused_grid

                Benefits:

                - Maintain quiet, private appeal with single family detached among similar uses.
                - Mix in higher density housing types without disrupting character of community.
                - Central boulevards offer commercial uses that are spread across area rather than concentrated in car-centric development.
                - Commercial, residential, park, institutional space all within close walking distance of all homes.
                - Maintain maximized use of space for developers that you get in Radburn-style developments.
                - Fused-grid street pattern proven as better for traffic safety in several studies.
                - Natural routes for public transit created within walking distance of all uses.
                - More environmentally sustainable given higher density, opportunity for low impermeable surface cover.
                - Much cheaper to service than radburn style (studies show 46% cheaper for municipality to service).
                - Opportunity for placemaking along commercial boulevards.

                Note that high density as pictured need not exist. The picture actually is not even what I would consider ideal. Rather, I would love to see a medium-density where a "core" boulevard looks like whyte avenue.
                The example above is pretty pie-in-the-sky. I see no garages either front or back, no alleys, and no parking for the commercial and/or high density res buildings on the main roads. Not that I'm a car-first person at all, but I'm just saying it's easy to design an ideal system when you completely remove a major factor that contributes to the issues present in the current system.

                I would absolutely love more neighbourhood commercial along the main thoroughfares in new suburban builds though. Human scale commercial, much like what is present along Towne Centre Blvd in Terwillegar should be present in more new builds.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I assume that the high-density developments would have underground parking, and there appears to be room for parking nlon the streets. It's easy to imagine back alleys and rear garages on some of those blocks, which also don't have fences or rear landscaping to confirm that they are intended to NOT have rear parking.

                  A district made of neighbourhoods like that would be more transit friendly than what we have now, but that really wouldn't work for the first neighbourhood, or even the second.

                  It would have to have some other very special other features or amenities to make up for the inconvenience, but I would love to see a neighbourhood where parking other than a level or two under higher-density developments would be provided remotely. Not really far off, probably about the same 400m or so away from the farthest homes as bus routes are supposed to be. People would be able to stop in front of their home to unload groceries or whatever, but then they would have to drive out to a rented stall at the edge of the neighbourhood.

                  With only limited loading parking on the surface there would be room for very nicely designed neighbourhoods.

                  To make it work, though, you would need great transit and better walkability and bike ability to actual destinations and services than could ever be provided at the beginning in a suburban location, so a neighbourhood like that would never get off the ground no matter how great it might be when finished.

                  It could work, though, at blatchford or south campus.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Narrow streets don't need to be one-way, they just need to have low enough traffic volumes that drivers coming opposite directions can wait for each other to pass without causing queues. The blocks south of 107 near MacEwan are a good example. There's parking on both sides and just enough room for two smaller cars to pass eachother. In the winter when the street loses a couple feet, or when there's an oncoming larger vehicle you pull to the side and wait in the first 30 feet or so of the block where it's wide enough, or in the loading zone that exists in the middle of each block. It works despite significantly higher traffic than we would expect on a suburban street that's not a collector.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You just described almost every street in Terwillegar, and most streets in Windermere.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Really? I've only been down to terwilligar a couple times and while the streets are certainly narrower than any 70s-80s development and had more parked cars they were still wider than in QMP/Central Mac.

                        Certainly the equivalent streets I'm familiar with in the NE are wider than the ones south of 107.

                        It they're similar that's definitely a good thing.

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                        • #13
                          Pulling over to the side to let oncoming traffic past is an everyday occurrence on many roads in the SW. They may still be wider than some central areas though.

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                          • #14
                            You can easily include garages in a fused grid pattern.

                            That being said, this model is also extremely conducive to public transit and walking.

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                            • #15
                              I like my alley with rear-detached garage.
                              A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

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