A new ground breaking report from Strategic Regional Research says the
Region's planning follows an old industrial model that can't respond to
the changing needs of developers, employers or employees
TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - At a time when there is so much focus on
transit and congestion throughout the Greater Toronto Area, Strategic
Regional Research (SRR), an entity established to provide independent
research on regional issues of competitiveness, today released its
first in depth study. The 70 page report says that the key to solving
GTA transportation problems is a comprehensive planning vision that
links transportation and employment.
The study found that the GTA's serious levels of congestion can be
largely explained by complex commuting patterns. Today more than half a
million jobs in the GTA are located in isolated office parks beyond the
reach of the Region's transit networks. These office parks are built
on former industrial sites, set aside in the post war era, that were
never designed to accommodate such a large workforce. As these office
clusters continue to thrive and their workforce expands, even greater
stress is placed on these already congested employment areas and the
transportation systems that serve them.
Over the next 30 years, the GTA is expected to create another half
million office jobs, many of which will be housed in buildings that
have not yet been built. The quality of life for those half a million
workers will be dramatically impacted by where those buildings are
built and the transit and road improvement decisions made today. If we
continue to see jobs concentrated in locations that are not served by
transit, the continued attractiveness of these job clusters as places
to invest cannot be guaranteed.
The Report recommends bringing together planning, economic development
and infrastructure investment. This will be critical to preserving the
competitiveness of the Region and the quality of life for GTA
commuters. The Report details policy solutions and describes what needs
to occur to avoid making the same mistakes.
The report addresses three critical issues:
Provincial policy promotes a comprehensive vision for intensification
and connectivity, but there is a disconnect between regional and
municipal policies affecting the location and distribution of
Approximately 100M sq ft of office space - accounting for about half a
million jobs - is not connected to the Region's network of higher order
transit, and current plans do not propose how to address this problem.
Another half million jobs in office employment are expected over the
next 30 years, but there is no coherent strategy for where and how the
100M sq ft of office space needed to house these jobs will be located.
"At present, there are two starkly different choices for the Region's
workforce with dramatically different expectations for the quality of
working life," said Iain Dobson, a founding partner of Real Estate
Search Corporation (RESC), and one of the report's authors. "One is for
jobs located in mixed use, pedestrian friendly, well connected areas
like downtown Toronto and in locations adjacent to the subway; the
other is for jobs located in isolated, low amenity office clusters
beyond the reach of higher order public transit. Ways must be found to
bring the positive attributes of both areas to the other."
"The demands of the New Economy are challenging governments to be
increasingly creative in their approaches to city building, especially
in building new working environments" added Glenn Miller, a vice
president with the Canadian Urban Institute and a co-author of the SRR
report. "Employers and employees alike are now looking for places to
work where they have transportation options, lunch options and can run
errands during the day without getting in their cars. Creating high
quality, multi-functional and well connected working environments is
going to become even more important with the next generation of
employees showing less willingness to undertake long daily commutes."
"Our paper offers concrete examples of other cities that are responding
to these challenges by building regional transit systems that connect
with key employment nodes, have the support of the private sector and
are integrated with new developments. Our study also provides analysis
of three areas in the GTA where land use policy, economic development
and infrastructure improvements would benefit from better integration,"
The Report 'A Region in Transition' is available on the Canadian Urban Institute's website at: www.canurb.org
Strategic Regional Research or SRR has been established as an
independent entity to conduct high quality, independent research on the
competitiveness of the Greater Toronto Area. A diverse range of public
and private sector organizations support the SRR concept, to ensure
this collaboration can help shed some light on the important challenges
the Region faces in planning for growth.
SOURCE: Canadian Urban Institute
For further information:
Katherine Morton - firstname.lastname@example.org 416 365-0816 ext 280