Escape from suburbia

Ottawa Citizen

There have been quite a few interesting articles on suburbia recently.  It looks like Ottawa, or Kanata more specifically, could have one of the worst suburban communities within it’s municipal borders.

How in the world do you have a community of 20,000 people without essential daily services?

And why are Bridlewood residents hostage to their cars? One reason is that there is no place that they can walk or cycle to, or that they’d want to walk or cycle to. As Mr. Denley points out, the community is the size of a small city — 20,000 people — but there’s no library, hockey arena, swimming pool or even a high school. There are few businesses.

That just sounds shocking to me that a community of such a large size is spread out over single-family homes and has no access to important community facilities.  I lived in a small community in the south of Edmonton for a few weeks during an externship of mine.  I was faced with similar issues.  I had to drive everywhere to get anything done.  The closest shop was the Esso convenience store near the entrance to the subdivision.  There were no other stores in site. The “Y” was just around the corner from the gas station, but it looked like everyone drove there.  I didn’t look specifically for schools in that subdivision, but I don’t remember seeing any.  My cousin went to a French immersion school that was a 5 to 10 minute drive away.  Don’t forget that a 5-10 minute drive can be a pretty long walk, though. 

The only thing I liked about living there was that it was close to many trails and ravines that one could explore in the long Edmonton evenings of the spring and summer.  I must say that I had never seen so much wildlife close to homes as when I lived in that Edmonton subdivision.

Mind you, not all suburbs are like Bridlewood.  Many inner suburbs in metropolitan areas are actually very urban in form and feel, like parts of Burnaby and New Westminster in Metro Vancouver, and like North York within Toronto’s city limits.  If the plans for Surrey Central ever come to fruition, the Whalley area of Surrey will be more walkable with smaller blocks and more activity at the street level instead of behind all those massive parking lots.

Suburban subdivisions definitely have their good points in terms of peace, quiet, and your own yard.  The commuting and driving everywhere, I can do without.


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