Originally Posted by someone123
Yes, this is the type of change that happens gradually, but it needs to happen quickly.
As an example, during the last few years something like 16% of new development has been urban infill. Good, realistic progress would mean bringing that up to 20% in a couple of years and 30% in 5-10 years. Halifax is not going to go from 16% infill to 90% infill on a dime but if it doesn't improve it will suffer from lots of problems.
For transportation, maybe transit's modal share is 10%. Getting that up to 15-20% would be huge. With urban infill you could also have more people walking and biking to work. Dropping car traffic by 20-30% means huge savings in terms of both time and infrastructure needed. There will still be cars and there will need to be new road capacity but there's a big range in how much car traffic will increase, depending on planning decisions made now.
Something like the Bayers Lake expansion is the prime example of a bad decision. We hear all kinds of complaining about sprawl and how it was poorly planned but then nothing changes -- Washmill is a planning disaster and another expansion is approved. My guess is that this happens because the city is poorly organized and doesn't have much direction. You might have some planners complain about sprawl but then some other department responsible for selling off land just chugs along based on their old mandate to make quick cash.
The biggest advantage of the shipbuilding contract is that it can be used as a strong reason to make more aggressive planning decisions. The "little old Halifax" excuse does not carry the same weight it did ten years ago, so maybe if people start talking about stuff like rapid transit it will be considered in a more positive light.
An ambitious rapid transit project would be extremely good for the city. Stuff like a stadium is nice but a light rail system is probably the #1 positive change the municipal government can reasonably implement. It would be great for commute times and it would naturally improve the planning situation. Shipbuilding also provides another natural destination for transit -- there are going to be thousands of workers who will need to get to the shipyard every day.
I follow your logic, and I completely agree with you on the issue of public (and fast) transportation. I simply don't believe we will have the available time for such an acclimation process.
The rising cost of everything shall force
us to urbanise, eventually. There will come a point where the HRM won't be able to commit to further sprawl--as it will realise it can't afford the sprawl it has.
There are going to be far too many important issues that society will have to deal with head-on, that I predict we will choose to stop subsidising our sprawl--and instead allocate funds to things such as ...food, water, electricity, etc.
As the world's population grows, as more of the planet's forests get eaten up by sprawled development and
by agriculture and
by climate change, the price of everything will continue to climb.
In this context, the sky isn't the limit--it's the solution.
Urbanisation is a key part of our sustainability.
But I guess we won't get more serious about such things until the reality of death makes us. We can see tens of millions of people starve in Africa during a severe drought, we can see tens of millions of people lose everything to a severe flood in Thailand, but this is all on television.
Perhaps after an increasing presence of Juan-type storms...