Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Times they are a changin' (I wish)

I am tired of being pessimistic about the future when it comes to city planning and sustainability. We know as a society that we need to live in vibrant communities that include our workplace, our commerce, our schools and our recreation, in order to live in an environmentally-friendly way. But we don't have the political will to make it happen. Instead, I have to work out a way to lessen my own environmental impact in a region that hasn't planned itself well at all.

The first step was to move out of a completely car-dependent city, to one that actually had a public transit system that works. Then we had to find a neighbourhood that let us walk to get daily shopping and recreation etc done. The trade off was living in a city that priced us out of owning our own detached home. It's a decision I can live with, as is the decision to remain a one car family. Now that we are looking to get a slightly larger place, I have to find a location with similar requirements but try to include a proximity to a new workplace that I haven't yet found. Try looking for gainful employment that lets you work in your own neighbourhood or is a bike ride away or ideally work from home... and get an inkling of how frustrated I am. Sure I can find a McJob anywhere in any neighbourhood, but it doesn't mean 'gainful employment'. And it certainly doesn't help with the larger home affordability.

But stepping away from the environmentalism idea altogether, why wouldn't our population be clamouring for better neighbourhoods in general? A truly vibrant community would mean less crime, better community involvement, nicer places to live and play, more localized business, thus a more thriving local economy. It would feed off itself in so many ways beyond a smaller environmental impact. Why does that kind of place have to be a pipe dream? I hate seeing more and more housing developments being built all around the Lower Mainland without any community planning done simultaneously. All it means is more car-dependent pockets of suburbia where people hide from their neighbours. Hate it hate it hate it.

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