Originally Posted by M.R.Victor
But perhaps I'm wrong. Are there any suburban downtowns that function very much like traditional downtowns? Good mixed use, small and large retail, tightly packed housing, a good mix of jobs and residents, good transit connections? I certainly can't come up with any.
Depends if you are looking for downtowns "from scratch", or the historic cores of cities that have been swallowed by the suburbs. If it's the former then I'm not so sure - the latter, definitely, with varying degrees of success.
I'm only really familiar with the GTA but I would say that downtown Burlington is one of the better examples. Oakville is good as well, but can be a bit too upscale to be considered fully functional (it does have jobs though). The only problem with these is they function as nice downtowns of places with maybe ~50,000, not 150,000.
Port Credit and Whitby also come to mind as ok examples, though they may be lacking in the jobs and transit department. I'm hesitant to include Oshawa as it's closer to a stand-alone city, and the rest of the older downtowns are more or less relegated to retail uses. Also not counting North York or Toronto's other centres as I think they are a different beast entirely.
Of the "new" downtowns I have mixed feelings about Mississauga City Centre. It has potential but the original built form was awful and the long-term plans have to accommodate this. I'm interested to see what happens with downtown Markham in the next decade or so. This was truly from scratch and on paper looks a lot better, but so far it's a bit monotonous.