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  #21  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 5:30 PM
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Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
Yeah, I was going to point this out - I agree with kool on nearly everything in his post but that is the nuance I was going to bring up in defense of places like Phoenix.

Millions of people in the same area, even if it's all suburban in form, means you have things reasonably close that you wouldn't have otherwise - i.e. from St. John's you might have to go to Montreal or Boston (or Phoenix), from Strasburg you might have to go to Paris (or Phoenix).

So, numbers generally don't matter that much - most of us here know that - but they still do matter a bit as they determine what kind of big city stuff will be available in the area.
I'd also add that millions of people (including many sophisticated ones, BTW) don't really care if Phoenix has a substandard degree of urbanity and that they have to drive everywhere through allegedly ugly suburbia.

Or at least, it's not a deal-breaker for them.

It's also hard to believe for SSPers but there are tons of non-rubish people for whom suburbia (even commercial strips) is more appealling than dense inner cities. It's not just the practical aspect of being to park easily in front of your destination, they just think it looks nicer than a dense inner city. They like the space and such.

Not all suburban strips are as extremely horrid as what people post in the Ugly Canada thread. It may be bad urbanism, but lots of people actually like this:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@46.76568...7i13312!8i6656
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  #22  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 6:06 PM
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I'd also add that millions of people (including many sophisticated ones, BTW) don't really care if Phoenix has a substandard degree of urbanity and that they have to drive everywhere through allegedly ugly suburbia.

Or at least, it's not a deal-breaker for them.
By and large, people tend to favor more space. Not everybody, but certainly the majority.

Urbanism is fine, but most people will tend to use a large backyard more regularly (especially families!) than all the boutique shops and amenities that 'big city' urban environments have to offer.

The suburbs offer most things people need most of the time. I've met people who have lived in Markham and go to downtown Toronto once a year, which may be about the same number of times people who live hundreds of kilometers away go there. Everything they need is close to where they live, so unless there's a specific reason to go, why bother with the hassle? Sure, maybe for a night out or something, you'd make the trip.

As long as people can make their own choice on the matter, live and let live.
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  #23  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:14 PM
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I always found the "Urban" neighborhoods in Calgary to be so fake and hipster for the sake of being hipster, with Kensignton being the worst and the Beltline being the best.

The Beltline feels organic and exactly how an urban area in Calgary would develop, it's not just over priced boutiques and over priced food. Yes you have that element but you also have normal stores and the area itself doesn't have this pretentious feeling about it.

The opposite is true for Kensington. It literally feels like a playground for the 22 year old who is obsessed with Avocado and Bubble tea while they live in a 400 square foot apartment that mom and dad are paying the $1800 a month rent for.

In the end most of these neighbourhoods still get their business on the weekends from the people who live in the suburbs and come hangout on a sunny day and promptly return home and complain about the smell of piss and all of the homeless people they just had to put up with.
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  #24  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:15 PM
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The suburbs offer most things people need most of the time.
Such as? The only thing they offer you won't find in an urban setting are big box stores. The suburbs offer car dependency for things people in the city can walk to or have much more variety off.

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I've met people who have lived in Markham and go to downtown Toronto once a year, which may be about the same number of times people who live hundreds of kilometers away go there.
I know many people who live in Toronto who have never been to Markham. I grew up in that sprawling wasteland back when it was actually a little better and the town ended at 16th and 9th. I haven't been back in about 7 years. It has nothing to offer me.

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  #25  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:17 PM
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I know many people who live in Toronto who have never been to Markham. I grew up in that sprawling wasteland back when it was actually a little better and the town ended at 16th and 9th. I haven't been back in about 7 years. It has nothing to offer me.
Well, it does have the best Chinese food in Canada, so there's that. We often make the trip there from two hours outside the city.

You can forgive a lot of crappy suburban ambience and traffic jams for great Chinese food.
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  #26  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:18 PM
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Well, it does have the best Chinese food in Canada, so the odd trip up there wouldn't be a bad thing. I do it myself from two hours outside the city.


Oh wait I lie, yes I do go a few times for Chinese food but I never venture far from the 404. Richmond hill as well.
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  #27  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:33 PM
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Such as? The only thing they offer you won't find in an urban setting are big box stores. The suburbs offer car dependency for things people in the city can walk to or have much more variety off.
The suburbs offer a lot of amenities that the core doesn't and the reverse is not true. All you're missing out on downtown are food options and expensive boutique stores. Even festivals aren't always downtown. For most people with a career and responsibilities, these are not high priority concerns, especially if you're looking at a long term purchase with a family in mind.

The suburbs offer schools, easier access to health care, better sanitation and less sketchy people (whether it be drunk people partying to drug addicts in the streets), big box chains of every variety, more families for kids to play with, easier transportation for kids activities, lakes, parks, playgrounds and the good ones still have great food and drink options, just less of them.

The only thing that I would consider an advantage of living downtown is the short commute IF YOU WORK THERE. That's the key. I am absolutely floored at the prices people pay for this privilege when in most cases there is ZERO guarantee that you will work downtown the entire duration that you live in that place. In my short career I've had 4 office jobs, only one of them was out of DT.

I'm sorry but to me it is insane that people are willing to pay double the price of comparable suburban homes just to live in the inner city.

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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
I know many people who live in Toronto who have never been to Markham. I grew up in that sprawling wasteland back when it was actually a little better and the town ended at 16th and 9th. I haven't been back in about 7 years. It has nothing to offer me.
Are restaurants and bars the only thing of value to you? I guess the problem in cities like Toronto is that the suburbs are so far from DT. So I guess that would be a disadvantage of city size. In Calgary I live on the edge of the city and a trip Downtown is a $40 Uber usually split between friends. I could see myself wanting to live closer to DT if it cost more to get there, but not really for much longer. I'm 27, how much longer am I going to be concerned about how much my Uber to go out costs? I have two bars within 1 minute of walking from my condo in the suburbs, I'm sure that those will suffice as I get older.

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  #28  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:49 PM
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Such as? The only thing they offer you won't find in an urban setting are big box stores. The suburbs offer car dependency for things people in the city can walk to or have much more variety off.
Well, he did say that the suburbs offer most of what most people need. He didn't say that the city didn't offer that too.

I am not sure you necessarily have access to more variety and choices living in the city car-free vs. living in the suburbs with a car. The innermost city is reasonably auto-accessible, and even the inner ring that is fairly dense and urbanized is quite easy to access to by car.

I'm not really that big a fan of driving - especially not in metro areas. Just being logical.

Also, the definition of "needs" is totally skewed these days. But the suburbs of any major Canadian city offer almost anything that one could qualify as a true "need". And by this I am not just talking about eating fast food all the time and dressing in muscle shirts and flip flops.

I might also add that a lot of Canadian inner city dwellers I know (in fact, most of them) occasionally complain loudly about having to go to the suburbs for certain things now. Now, this might be a sign of a failing in terms of how we build cities, but it also is a sign that people's views on the nothingness of the suburbs are tainted by their biases.
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  #29  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 8:52 PM
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Originally Posted by patm View Post
I'm sorry but to me it is insane that people are willing to pay double the price for comparable places just to live in the inner city.
That's because you live in Calgary. Toronto is a completely different class of urban animal. People purposely make the choice to live in central Toronto because they believe it's worth it.
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  #30  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 9:10 PM
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That's because you live in Calgary. Toronto is a completely different class of urban animal. People purposely make the choice to live in central Toronto because they believe it's worth it.
True, but in all honesty Toronto isn't NYC, Paris or London. In that much of the central city (even within the old city of Toronto limits) still offers single-family housing or townhouse living that isn't really that different in terms of indoor and outdoor living space than what a lot of the new developments in places like Markham offer.

For people with the money to do that (or who got "in" before prices went sky-high), they're having their cake and eating too.

If you can afford it you're not compromising much living in a 1500 sq ft two story house with a small backyard and a single-lane driveway in Parkdale compared to living in a 1500 sq ft two story house with a small backyard and a single-lane driveway in Markham.

In most large cities around the world that trade-off doesn't even exist.
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  #31  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 9:14 PM
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Those inner-city Toronto houses have been huge money makers in the bubbly housing market of the past few years. Maybe they entail financial sacrifice for some but for others they are cash cows. The party seems to be winding down now, however.

It's the same here in Vancouver. The flippers, speculators, and money launderers are a bigger group than those who just love these inner city detached housing neighbourhoods (which aren't that urban anyway).
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  #32  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 9:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
True, but in all honesty Toronto isn't NYC, Paris or London. In that much of the central city (even within the old city of Toronto limits) still offers single-family housing or townhouse living that isn't really that different in terms of indoor and outdoor living space than what a lot of the new developments in places like Markham offer.

For people with the money to do that (or who got "in" before prices went sky-high), they're having their cake and eating too.

If you can afford it you're not compromising much living in a 1500 sq ft two story house with a small backyard and a single-lane driveway in Parkdale compared to living in a 1500 sq ft two story house with a small backyard and a single-lane driveway in Markham.

In most large cities around the world that trade-off doesn't even exist.
Uh, the non-multimillionaires choosing to live in downtown Toronto are renting shoeboxes in the sky, not buying $3 million townhouses in Cabbagetown. There's no "trade-off" in Toronto, either.
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  #33  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 10:01 PM
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Such as? The only thing they offer you won't find in an urban setting are big box stores. The suburbs offer car dependency for things people in the city can walk to or have much more variety off.

I know many people who live in Toronto who have never been to Markham. I grew up in that sprawling wasteland back when it was actually a little better and the town ended at 16th and 9th. I haven't been back in about 7 years. It has nothing to offer me.
I'm not crapping on the city. I've lived in a downtown area in a decent sized city before in my life. I'm well aware of the advantages. Didn't need a car too much. Could walk to the grocery store (to be fair, I still can). All the entertainment options your heart could desire.

However, I am quite aware of the limitations too. I didn't really visit a lot of the stores, as most of them were of the 'boutique' type. There was the unique individuals who would rifle through my recycling box for empty bottles. My back yard was a concrete slab that also served as a parking spot. The prices of homes could be referred to in exponential notation. I ended up working in the suburbs, which ironically made my commute somewhat long.

For those who are single and/or young, hell yes, live in the city. Enjoy the experiences.

Life changes though. You meet someone and a family happens. Suddenly, all that disposable income and time you had disappears. The idea of dragging kids onto public transit fills me with the about the same enthusiasm as getting a prostate exam. Sometimes, just letting kids play in the back yard beats having to drag them to a park, as a bonus, I can BBQ while watching them.

Like I said, live and let live.
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  #34  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:26 PM
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The realities in North America also explain why people think you need a metropolitan area of 5 million people to have anything interesting. You do if you only ever see 5% of those people. But that only works out to 250,000. Conversely it turns out that our North American standards are kind of low and an urban core with an effective population of 250,000 people counts as relatively large. So it's not surprising that somewhere in the world we can find mid-sized cities of 500,000 or 1,000,000 that function like large urban areas in North America.

I don't really want to get into it but there's some variety in North America too, though much less than what is found in the rest of the world. We have our 2% cities and our 20% cities. That's still a factor of 10 difference. So it's wrong to assume in general that the 2 million person North American city must have more going on than the 1 million person North American city.
The % of people who engage in daily activities in the core is probably the strongest arbiter of whether a city is "urban" or not.

I would add another dimension to it, and that is the time that that % of people spend doing activities - not just the amount of time, but the time of day, since we tend to associate evening and night-time activities with big cities.

For example, Seville has a nightlife (i.e. activity on the street late at night) on par with New York City. It's better than Toronto or Montreal from my experience in all 3 cities. But it's not because Sevillians are "cooler" than Torontonians or Montrealers, it's because the typical daily schedule of Spaniards is completely different, with dinner at 10pm, and with an emphasis on eating out of the house. It's not uncommon to see families with small children or senior citizens finishing up their meals at 11pm, while that large segment of the North American population would be firmly at home, in bed.

Another point I remember someone on the City Discussions forum once mentioned was that European cities seem more busy, if not only for their built form, but because Europeans have a much narrower window of time and places to go shopping. While North Americans are accustomed to driving to the nearest mall or big box store to shop on Sundays until 6, a continental European has to hurry up and get downtown on Saturday unless he wants to be shut out of buying anything until Monday.
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  #35  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:33 PM
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Even the most sprawling decentralized North American metro areas tend to have almost all of the "stuff" that the admired European cities have. Often they actually have more "stuff"... this is part of their appeal as places to live in spite of their urbanistic shortcomings. In many cities you have fine dining restaurants but they're often in car-dependent sprawl or at least deficient urban environments with ugly surface parking, or surrounded by Walmarts and Pep Boys. Or both.

In the area where I live we have a bunch of pâtisseries that wouldn't suffer a comparison with similar establishments on the Plateau Mont-Royal or even most places in Europe. But they're in strip malls.
Yup. I remember this from experience. In a big American sunbelt city of millions, you organize your life completely differently but you still have all the "stuff" you would get in any other city of comparable size.

Living in a place like Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta or even LA, you absolutely have to know where you're going before you make a decision such as to eat food, or buy interesting clothes. You can't just wind up in a neighbourhood and browse around to find something that might interest you.

You limit yourself to the 2 drinks that will allow you to drive home sober, so you're much more choosy about what you order.

The arrival of SmartPhones and Uber were game changers for younger people in those cities.
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  #36  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 12:57 AM
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...

Living in a place like Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta or even LA, you absolutely have to know where you're going before you make a decision such as to eat food, or buy interesting clothes. You can't just wind up in a neighbourhood and browse around to find something that might interest you.

...
But that element of choice and pedestrian browsing is part of the true urban experience that you can't get in those sprawly cities or in suburbs, and it is more limited in smaller cities.
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  #37  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 2:42 AM
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I'd also add that millions of people (including many sophisticated ones, BTW) don't really care if Phoenix has a substandard degree of urbanity and that they have to drive everywhere through allegedly ugly suburbia.

Or at least, it's not a deal-breaker for them.

It's also hard to believe for SSPers but there are tons of non-rubish people for whom suburbia (even commercial strips) is more appealling than dense inner cities. It's not just the practical aspect of being to park easily in front of your destination, they just think it looks nicer than a dense inner city. They like the space and such.

Not all suburban strips are as extremely horrid as what people post in the Ugly Canada thread. It may be bad urbanism, but lots of people actually like this:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@46.76568...7i13312!8i6656
Yep, and to me that's one of the biggest questions in planning today. Suburban growth will continue to occur in a lot of places. The important thing is making it more sustainable, while retaining the things that suburbanites like about it.
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  #38  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 2:50 AM
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Uh, the non-multimillionaires choosing to live in downtown Toronto are renting shoeboxes in the sky, not buying $3 million townhouses in Cabbagetown. There's no "trade-off" in Toronto, either.
Well, in a city like Paris, multi-millionaires don't have a choice of buying Cabbagetown or Parkdale-style homes with modest backyards because there aren't any at all in the départment 75 which makes up the city proper. That's also the case of the entire island of Manhattan I am pretty sure.
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  #39  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 3:05 AM
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Yup. I remember this from experience. In a big American sunbelt city of millions, you organize your life completely differently but you still have all the "stuff" you would get in any other city of comparable size.

Living in a place like Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta or even LA, you absolutely have to know where you're going before you make a decision such as to eat food, or buy interesting clothes. You can't just wind up in a neighbourhood and browse around to find something that might interest you.

.
Yup, but of course you don't have to live too live that long in these places in order to know where everything is. So it's not really a big issue for locals.

Of course it might explain why most of these places aren't big tourist destinations. Although the number one tourist destination in the world happens to be a place like this: Orlando.
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  #40  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 3:17 AM
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Living in a place like Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta or even LA, you absolutely have to know where you're going before you make a decision such as to eat food, or buy interesting clothes. You can't just wind up in a neighbourhood and browse around to find something that might interest you.

.
That's part of the appeal of truly urban cities, but I would say that in terms of amenities even in our best cities not even close to all of even the most urban neighbourhoods offer a full complement of what you "need" within walking distance, from a shoe repair shop to a liquor store. (Though quite a few of them do.)

Just thinking of a city like Ottawa, in dense, vibrant, affluent inner city neighbourhoods like New Edinburgh (Beechwood) or Old Ottawa South, which have strong main streets, there isn't anywhere to buy alcohol within walking distance, for example.

Even Toronto and Montreal have lots of inner neighbourhoods that while they are very good, still have these "amenity gaps". Just think of how many of them aren't even close to being served by rapid transit.

In large cities around the world in Europe and Asia etc you don't generally have as many of these "amenity gaps", and when you book a hotel in a central but non-downtown area you can be reasonably confident to have most of what you need or want.

Think about how many secondary or tertiary urban districts in major Canadian cities have a non-mall *department store*. There are virtually none in the entire country.
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