Opinion: When Transit-Oriented Suburban Mega-Projects Go Too Far

The architecture critic for the Globe and Mail finds fault with two massive development proposals in the Toronto suburbs.

2 minute read

February 2, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Row after row after row of single-family residences, with the high rises of the city of Toronto looming far in the background.

liran finzi sokolovski / Shutterstock

Alex Bozikovic, architecture critic for the Globe and Mail, writes about what he calls "a bit of Hong Kong in the 905"—the conceptual renderings for two new 'transit-oriented communities' in the Toronto suburbs of Richmond Hill and Markham.

"Drawings show forests of shimmering, skinny towers dropped into a flat suburban landscape," according to Bozikovic (see the renderings at the source article), and some local residents see a 'wasteland.'

While acknowledging the decidedly NIMBYesque flavor of the local opposition, Bozikovic writes "But in this rare instance, they’re right."

Bozikovic offers that frank assessment while also acknowledging the sound logic behind the proposal: "Put people near transit, and they will take transit rather than drive. And when you put enough people together, they can support retail and other amenities within walking distance."

So what goes wrong with the current proposal? According to Bozikovic the plan stretches that logic "to absurdity."

The High-Tech site would include 33 towers with 21,000 homes, plus retail and enough offices for about 7,000 jobs. One single block there would include three towers of 60 storeys and three of 80 storeys. The Bridge plan is comparable. Parks are thin. There are no schools. This would be one of the densest clusters of development in the entire region.

Bozikovic wrote an article in February 2020 that repeats similarities on the theme of how challenging it can be to build an urban suburb from scratch—and there are examples in the Toronto region, in Bozikovic's opinion, of failed attempts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 in The Globe and Mail

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