| Mar 16, 2006

March 16, 2006

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March 16, 2006

Smart growth - what is that?

Commentary by GrayMerriam

Smart Growth is a social jargon term that was coined in Oregon and has spread to Ontario . It concerns the issue of urban growth that results in sprawl. Ontario ’s population is 91% urban and expected to grow by 33.4 % to 3.8 million in the next 30 years. Sprawl cab affect all settlements, not just big urban areas.Smart Growth refers to a set of ideas that can accommodate population growth without settlements spreading out to destroy good farmland and any other green, natural areas in the paths of subdivision builders. By following these guidelines, Portland , Oregon ’s population grew by 31 % between 1990 and 2000 but the area within the urban boundary expanded by only 3 %.


Smart Growth advocates several ‘tools’, such as those used by Portland to avoid sprawl and the resultant loss of green farmland and natural areas. Guidelines include: preserve greenspace, do planning across whole counties and beyond to integrate landuse and transportation regionally, fully use existing urban land and infrastructure, mix homes, businesses and services in the same neighbourhood, focus on public transit but provide alternatives, innovate in compact building design, offer a range of housing alternatives, making walking and cycling workable, foster distinct communities with a sense of place, direct development toward existing urban communities, encourage community collaboration in development decisions.

Clearly, Smart Growth ideas are directed at urban areas but what about our local settlements. Could Kingston preserve green nature paths throughout their city and curb the sprawl that covers the city outskirts? Could any of these ideas apply to Perth ? Perth has made significant gains in renewing the high values of its downtown core. There also are important greenspaces and waterways preserved right in the Perth core. Sharbot Lake , thanks to its Villages Beautiful volunteers, has already made greenspaces and walkways available to its residents and visitors. Many of the Smart Growth ideas are already working here. Waterloo has not only followed many Smart Growth ideas but their municipality has revamped their budget to support those ideas.

If you are interested in learning more about Smart Growth and planning land use, there will be a workshop sponsored by Ontario Nature, in the Perth Legion on April 1st, from 1:30 to 3:30 and the presenter will be Linda Pim, senior author of ‘A Smart Growth for Ontario”, published by Ontario Nature. To pre-register, at no cost, call Tracy Moore at 613 331 3905 or email Tracy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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