2006 Fowler Election Platform – Sprawl

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London’s population continues to grow, year after year, and that poses a danger of urban sprawl (see: HERE and HERE and HERE).

“Sprawl” is defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as “poorly planned, low-density, auto-oriented development that spreads out from the center of communities.” It creates that doughnut effect in some cities where acrylic and asphalt suburban shopping malls form a ring around the dead center, where the old downtown sits decaying. [5]

Unchecked development is a bad deal—for commuters, for taxpayers, for the environment.

USGS.

Without careful planning and compact development, we will lose more land than is necessary. Over the 20-year period from 1970-1990, the 100 largest U.S. Urbanized Areas sprawled out over an additional 14,545 square miles. That was more than 9 million acres of natural habitats, farmland and other rural space that were covered over by the asphalt, buildings and sub-divisions of suburbia. [6]

Uncontrolled growth poses a serious threat to the natural environment, our foodland and energy resources, and to human health and quality of life. [1]

Land use and urban sprawl are major environmental concerns affecting us in a variety of ways. [8]

Sprawl spreads development out over large amounts of land; puts long distances between homes, stores, and job centers; and makes people more and more dependent on driving in their daily lives. [3]

Sprawl pollutes our air and water. As reliance on cars and pavement of more and more roads increases, so does smog and pollution from water runoff. Today, more than half all Americans live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe. Sprawl destroys more than two million acres of parks, farms and open space each year. [3]

Sprawl increases traffic on our neighborhood streets and highways. Sprawl lengthens trips and forces us to drive everywhere. The average American driver currently spends the equivalent of 55 eight-hour workdays behind the wheel every year. [3]

Sprawl wastes tax money. It pulls economic resources away from existing communities and spreads them out over sparse developments far away from the core. Taxes subsidize millions of dollars worth of new roads, new water and sewer lines, new schools and increased police and fire protection at the expense of the needs of the core communities. This leads to degradation of our older towns and cities and higher taxes. [3]

“Sprawling communities are a major contributor to climate change and air pollution, in part because they require so much automotive transportation, which is heavily dependent on energy consumption from fossil fuels, the biggest source of greenhouse gases. In addition to burning gasoline, sprawling communities have to pump water in and waste out over long distances, deliver natural gas and electricity over long distribution networks, and provide solid waste, recycling pick-up and other services over a much wider area. Each of these services uses more energy and therefore produces more greenhouse gases than providing similar services to denser communities.” [7]

Population growth and greater wealth do not have to be based on an environment of parking lots, traffic and pollution. Instead we need to create 21st century cities that are liveable, prosperous and in harmony with nature.”

Since European settlement, about 80 percent of Ontario’s wetlands south of the Canadian Shield have been lost to development. [1]

59% of all of the land in Canada that was converted to urban uses between 1981-1986 was prime agricultural land. [1]

Managing urban growth properly is essential for:

  • protecting significant natural areas (wetlands, forests, waterways);
  • conserving valuable resources (in particular Canada’s prime agricultural farmland and fossil fuels);
  • protecting essential ecological processes (such as groundwater recharge and stream flows);
  • preventing pollution (especially smog, climate change and hazardous wastes). [1]
  • Runaway growth is not inevitable — we can have cleaner air and water, more choices in transportation modes
    and places to live, and better-protected parks, farms and open spaces. Hundreds of urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods are using smart-growth solutions to address the problems caused by sprawl. [3]

    Examples of smart-growth solutions include:

  • Making significantly greater investments in clean public transportation, including modern commuter trains and clean buses.
  • Planning pedestrian-friendly developments where people have transportation choices, such as trains and bus service; providing good walking and bicycling facilities around shopping and parks; and implementing traffic calming measures.
  • Promoting regional and statewide planning that combines the transportation, land-use and environmental planning efforts.
  • Building more affordable housing close to transit and jobs.
  • Supporting greater public involvement in the transportation and land-use planning processes.
  • Funding innovative, incentive based programs for encouraging alternative transportation use, such as tax credits for public transit, walking or biking, and parking cash out and parking fees.
  • Requiring developers to pay impact fees to cover the costs of new roads, schools, water and sewer lines, and requiring property-tax impact studies on new developments. [3]
  • Smart growth not only improves air and water quality and protects open space, but it also redirects investments
    to our existing towns and cities. [3]

    Smart Growth communities are those that increase transportation choices, reduce air and water pollution, and protect our natural places. [2]

    New roads open up more land for development, and car-dependent suburbs need bigger highways to move people around. [1]

    Planners evaluate and define urbanism with diverse criteria: vehicle-miles traveled, density, transit viability, jobs-housing balance, etc. But ultimately urbanism is about life. It’s about the vitality and opportunities possible when people live together in neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities. [4]

    Sources.
    [1] http://www.greenontario.org/strategy/sprawl.html
    [2] http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/
    [3] http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/overview/
    [4] http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/community/transformations/index.asp
    [5] http://www.sprawl-busters.com/caseagainstsprawl.html
    [6] http://www.sprawlcity.org/hbis/index.html
    [7] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/Climate_Change/Sprawl.asp
    [8] http://www.cwac.net/landuse/index.html

  • ©Gregory Fowler 2006 Municipal Election Campaign
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