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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 3:18 AM
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Urban vs Suburban - 2 styles enter, one style leaves!

OK kids, here it is. The ultimate "let's stop freeweed polluting the main construction thread" .. thread. Time to have a place solely dedicated to discussing the evil Hummer-driving suburbanites vs the evil communist concrete block urbanists. This way we can keep the main construction thread clean and ready for more re-posting of the same 12 pictures just to say "nice pics!".

Have at 'er.

Not sure if this is the best section but I'm sure the mods will move it before the inevitable locking.
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 7:25 AM
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I'd love better designed suburbs.

I love some aspects of urban living, but overall, it doesn't fit me, nor where I want to be. Of course, price is a huge factor as well, I can't afford to live in a more expensive place, and even if I could afford it, it wouldn't be the best use of my money. I don't really care to be closer to bars, restaurants, and trendy shopping. If I worked downtown, I'd probably want to live closer.

The thing I would like the most right now (other then a little bit more space, is a garage, a place where I could maintain my bike, build things, etc.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 12:06 PM
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It can be a satisfying existence all on its own, independent of other modes of living. Why do some of you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge this?
Although I am fine with providing you with the reassurance that it is okay for you to enjoy living the said lifestyle, before I do I would like to reiterate that I think it is completely irrelevant as single areas can contain people living different lifestyles who are enjoying their preferred lifestyle to its max. Alas, it is perfectly normal for someone to like, love, and thoroughly enjoy the 'suburbia' lifestyle.



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Originally Posted by You Need A Thneed View Post
I love some aspects of urban living, but overall, it doesn't fit me, nor where I want to be.
Not to single you out mate but this is what irritates me to no end. Urban living is not confined to dense inner city areas, it can be achieved in less dense outer city areas as well. For instance, last week I lived an amazingly urban lifestyle and I was staying in a 2 storey terraced house in an area that did not have a high-rise in sight.


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The thing I would like the most right now (other then a little bit more space, is a garage, a place where I could maintain my bike, build things, etc.
And you can have that in an urban neighbourhood.
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 5:58 PM
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I had two big reasons why we bought a house and not a condo/townhome. The first is that there is only a finite amount of land and it's the land that holds the value. In 30 years, the condo will be worth less (in most cases) or aging and needing updating, whereas my home will most likely be worth more as land values rise.

The second reason we bought a house is because I am in control of pretty much all that happens to it. I can change what I like, and being handy, I can fix what needs fixing. I had friends whose condo needed repairs when I lived in Vancouver. Balconies needed replacing and they were told to cough up $70k for it. They couldn't afford that so they sold and broke even. I have friends with similar stories about roofing that cost WAY too much. I didn't want to be told what I was paying, I'd prefer to be the one fixing it with my Dad and brothers who are all in trades.

I think in many cases people who prefer condos also prefer the lifestyle that comes with it. Many do not want to deal with landscaping or repairs. I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to start improving in my investment and I love fiddling and working with my hands.

I think that right now we have a one or the other thing happening in many cities where someone has to decide between the two lifestyles. That needs to be bridged, but be made affordable at the same time. I think many people want to have the amenities of living in an urban area, but also want the privacy and pride of ownership of a SFH. I know, I was one of them, so we bought in the inner city because we met the right circumstances: basement suite, low interest rates, house was $100k below value.

I think this argument is creating a chasm and forcing people into two extremes. I think in reality, most of us want something in that grey area. Whether that be a condo with some green space in the downtown or a SFH with amenities in walking distance. Some don't care about either, but I think they are the minority.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 6:34 PM
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The first is that there is only a finite amount of land and it's the land that holds the value. In 30 years, the condo will be worth less (in most cases) or aging and needing updating, whereas my home will most likely be worth more as land values rise.
While I might be a bit of a bear on this point, however I just don't see this argument. First off, we state there is a finite amount of land, when we geographically have have exhausted next to nothing of the land in a global scale. It is something like 2% of the world's land holds 90% of the global population. What I would argue is, while land is not as finite as we like to think, but rather land that has received vast social investment is finite. This is to say land with no investments in such things as roads,schools, rec centers and others. we can discuss what level of public investment should be allotted to create private profits regardless of if we are talking suburban,urban or rural setting.

Second point is more directed at the notion of increased value. The problem that we face this time that we have never faced before is the demographic shift that will take place over the next 35 years. While Canada's population is to set to increase, the top age cohorts in the age-sex structure will also be increasing. This is where I do not see any real growth in the housing prices over the long term, particularly of the single family detached home. Case in point, according to various government agencies, private think tanks there are a rather large portion of Canadians who have failed to save enough for their retirement. This is further burdened by a increase in life expectancy. This naturally will lead to more downsizing as those who are nearing retirement are banking on the increased equity in their residence over the past decade or so.

Where I do see growth is in building forms that we rarely see in Calgary. Such as row housing, and townhouses. These provide stuff such as the backyard, and many of the similarities of a SFD, while tending to be more cost advantageous and naturally less maintence for the homeowner.

Some Examples from my hometown:

Quebec St

Superior St
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 7:18 PM
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I don't disagree with most of that. I guess my point is that a desirable location will most likely become more desirable in the future, ie. inner city homes, or locations that have limited growth capability where people want to live, etc. Will my inner city house (land) become more valuable with time? Yes. Will a home in Copperfield? Maybe. So I feel that my investment is better placed than in a condo or a home on the outskirts of the city. But, I'm also biased because I prefer everything that goes with owning a SFH. [though I guess this would be a TFH since two couples live here due to my suite] One day when I'm older, I'll most likely prefer to have a condo in a central location as I won't want to deal with the extra work and would like to leave my home for a few months to travel or live elsewhere.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 9:48 PM
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Not to single you out mate but this is what irritates me to no end. Urban living is not confined to dense inner city areas, it can be achieved in less dense outer city areas as well. For instance, last week I lived an amazingly urban lifestyle and I was staying in a 2 storey terraced house in an area that did not have a high-rise in sight.




And you can have that in an urban neighbourhood.
Oh, I realize that, that's why I said that i wished that suburbs were designed better. I don't mind the more urban areas with SFH, but I can't afford to live there.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 11:28 PM
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IMHO, all future suburban neighborhoods of the city should use Garrison Woods as a benchmark or model to follow, which would make them more "walkable"/pedestrian friendly and less reliant on automobiles. Calgary developers have to stop the endless loop de loop-cul-de-sacs and subdivisions with only 1 or 2 entrances. Unless there's big f%$#ing gates and a security guard(s) watching over 5,000+ sq ft homes, your subdivision isn't really that "exclusive" and should have numerous cross streets, entry/exit points and connections to neighboring subdivisions. Bring back the traditional street grid, or slight modifications of it!
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 11:32 PM
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While some places designed neighbourhoods like this for the reasons you describe, most limited access neighbourhoods are designed like this these days for traffic purposes. The "arterial road" idea, etc. Gridded streets make a complete mess of having express/freeways anywhere.

The City of Calgary did not close down Rocky Ridge Rd because neighbours asked for even fewer accesses into the community.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 3:42 AM
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Speaking of Rocky Ridge, whatever has become of that eco community that was to be built in the north end of Rocky Ridge? I haven't been up that way for yonks so have no idea at what stage it is in construction or if it's even gotten underway.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 3:57 AM
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Hmm, I have to admit I have no idea what you're talking about (or it's been so long that I've completely forgotten). Was this something to replace the few remaining acreage holdouts?
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 3:59 AM
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It's called Eco Haven.

Edit: And I just answered my own question by googling it: http://www.echohaven.ca
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 4:24 AM
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I'd like to know how most forumers define "urban" living.

I live in South Calgary which is most definitely "inner-city", but I would be hard pressed to call it very "urban". I can walk to the heart of Marda Loop in less than 5 minutes, but I rarely do, as the the retail mix just isn't that interesting to me. So, despite my inner-city location, I still often drive for my day-to-day needs and general recreation. Other than being a shorter and cheaper cab ride when I'm out on weekends, I don't see how living where I currently do is all that much different than living in some far-flung suburb.

As I see it, the only truly urban living available in Calgary is the Beltline and Kensington. Everything is merely inner-city. To the urbanists on this forum, am I one of you? Is it based on location only?
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  #14  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 5:09 AM
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It's called Eco Haven.

Edit: And I just answered my own question by googling it: http://www.echohaven.ca
Wow, I couldn't think of a less dense way to build new suburbs. Well, I guess they could give each house 3 acres of land...

I can't believe the city would allow this. Mind you, it makes my "sprawl" look like inner city London so I guess now I can call myself an urbanist.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 5:35 AM
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Originally Posted by WIGS View Post
IMHO, all future suburban neighborhoods of the city should use Garrison Woods as a benchmark or model to follow, which would make them more "walkable"/pedestrian friendly and less reliant on automobiles. Calgary developers have to stop the endless loop de loop-cul-de-sacs and subdivisions with only 1 or 2 entrances. Unless there's big f%$#ing gates and a security guard(s) watching over 5,000+ sq ft homes, your subdivision isn't really that "exclusive" and should have numerous cross streets, entry/exit points and connections to neighboring subdivisions. Bring back the traditional street grid, or slight modifications of it!
It's funny - on one hand, the side thats for urban dev, argues for a street grid - but on the other hand comes in and starts arguing for "traffic calming" where such neighborhoods exist.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 6:13 AM
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It's funny - on one hand, the side thats for urban dev, argues for a street grid - but on the other hand comes in and starts arguing for "traffic calming" where such neighborhoods exist.
Yeah, there's some irony here. I see a lot of calls for "fixing" 11th/12th Ave in terms of traffic calming. Gridded streets are exactly what cause this problem in the first place. Unless of course we make all streets so unfriendly to vehicles that traffic just crawls or entirely avoids them.

Calgary's residential areas don't have anywhere near the sheer amount of grid that I grew up with in Winnipeg, and boy howdy do people there ever scream for ever more traffic lights, speed humps, and other mechanisms. The streets end up unfriendly to both pedestrians AND vehicular traffic. A real lose-lose.

As much as I think we've gone waaaaaaay overboard with the whole cul-de-sac model, curvilinear design (and limited access neighbourhoods) originated as an attempt to make roads much more pedestrian friendly. It's funny now that some people think they're the least walkable.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 7:05 AM
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This is sort of off topic (haha!) but not completely. I've noticed that other cities just seem to have lots of dedicated bike lines on city streets, actually demarcated lanes, not 'suggestions', yet here sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get this sorts of things established. It occured to me that could our unicity be the issue? The pro being that we don't lose suburban tax dollars, but in many other cities the suburbs are not actually in the city, so the city proper is pretty much all urban, possibly paving the way for urban amenities to appear with little opposition. Curious if there might be any validity to that.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 7:06 AM
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As much as I think we've gone waaaaaaay overboard with the whole cul-de-sac model, curvilinear design (and limited access neighbourhoods) originated as an attempt to make roads much more pedestrian friendly. It's funny now that some people think they're the least walkable.
I think curvilinear is fine if it has pedestrian cut-throughs.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 8:15 AM
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My sense is that there will always be both as opposed to an either/or scenario. If you are a construction worker your workplace is always going to be moving, if you work in the financial services in downtown Calgary not so much...

I know some are fans of driving; my personal preference would be either to be either spending time with my family or at work making money. I find time spent travelling between places to be not as productive, so in my situation we had estimated a cost to living far away from where we work at over $10G annually. Of a lesser consideration was parking ($5G) and even less than that was the cost of fuel.

The biggest factor being that there were time-reduced options available to us, and that we think there is more value in living close to where it's convenient for the both of us relative to the incremental cost for living in a more central location. We had calculated a NPV at a 5% discount rate to estimate what the perceived value is of living close to where you work so had estimated that value as being about $300G.

I like that there are more venues from arts to more restraunt choices, but I overall found that as a nice to have, versus a need to have for a shorter commuting time.

My preference is to build fitness into my daily routine by bicycling instead of driving. I found when I lived in the suburbs in Citadel, it was very hard to make time to exercise because it was hard to find a gym with full facilities that was conveniently located.

I like going out on a recreational trip to places like Auburn Bay for a tour this weekend, or the AVX screens at Cross-Iron Mills. I think one of the reasons why cities are great places to live is the diversity and specialization that happens.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 12:20 PM
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Yeah, there's some irony here.

[...]

As much as I think we've gone waaaaaaay overboard with the whole cul-de-sac model, curvilinear design (and limited access neighbourhoods) originated as an attempt to make roads much more pedestrian friendly. It's funny now that some people think they're the least walkable.
Wouldn't curvilinear streets be just as ironic then? Although they tried to slow down traffic in order to provide a better and safer environment for pedestrians, they reduced connectivity and made walking impractical. Neither curvilinear nor grid-iron streets are perfect ideas on their own and need to be part of a multi-step solution. In the case of the former, there needs to be cut-through paths as Dizzy mentioned. In the case of the later, the streets need to be calmed and there needs to be a restriction on how many intersections with main roads will be junctions.
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