Posted by: energyblogwalter | October 23, 2006

Re: City’s fear of tall buildings is the height of silliness :: Toronto Star, October 23, 2006

City’s fear of tall buildings is the height of silliness

Hello Mr Hume,

Thank you for your article. Reading it I’m reminded of my own feelings on the matter prior to viewing End of Suburbia documentary about the effects of Peak Oil.

At the time, growing up in the Eglinton and Avenue Rd area of Toronto, seeing friends at the built-up street of Erskine and anything near a subway station always seemed to work out and provide for much needed services. Theatres to walk to, everything down the street and around the corner. When the OHIP building was destroyed to put up the Minto building I was neither surprised nor could understand the complaints. When the site was flat, all around it were also other highrise buildings. For a neighbourhood house to see the new building would have to fight against the shadows that already exist over several blocks, thus making the Minto building complaints pointless. I was for a build up Toronto. I enjoy the crowds. It went hand in hand with subway expansion. A highrise just didn’t go up anywhere and at an intersection was always the ideal.

Now since seeing End of Suburbia I realized that an end to cheap abundant energy puts all that on its head. I’m reminded of paintings of old Paris not showing a building over 7 stories. Old maps showing roads leading to former marketplaces within a 15 minute walk or so. Or even the buildings on the shoreline of Sweden. Even our own old buildings are low stories, Old City Hall, the facade of The Bay, and others. Granted, this was due to building techniques and materials of the age, but the high-enough style made for buildings where elevators were not necessary.

When elevators are necessary and they’re more blackouts, what then?

Thus, coming soon, to a city near you, as talk of the end of cheap abundant energy and the Oil Depletion Protocol oozes up from the media-ignored geologists and scientists, (ASPO Boston Conference Oct 27-28 coming up) any comparison to the livability of a highrise or a lowrise now no longer favours energy spenders. The realization that a highrise was only a novelty of this time will wear off pretty quickly in the new age. People will just want a place to live.

As such, all the NIMBY’s that I couldn’t understand will be in fact vindicated, if mistakenly so. Toronto has always been a city of ironies for me. Reducing our carrying capacity to a lowrise walkable city will be a great challenge, unthinkable today, but one the lower half of the city can achieve while the north cannot without help.

The towns within Toronto will return inevitably so, it’s just now the issue of how do we get there from here?

Cheers
Walter

resources:

http://www.aspousa.org/fall2006/index.cfm (Boston Conference Oct 27-28)
http://endofsuburbia.com/
http://peakoil.net
http://energybulletin.net/primer.php

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