Some months ago, John Sewell gave a series of talks about the origins of suburbia. Among the fascinating background materials were several maps showing the expressway network in what we now call the GTA and beyond.
Some of these maps are now 70 years old, but they clearly show the precursors of many of the 400 series highways. Many decisions about future land use and development turned on alignments that Ontario identified and protected years before they were needed. Long term planning has benefits, but it can also be an invisible hand directing the future.
Three long-lived transportation projects in Toronto come to mind. All shared two common factors:
- property development interests played a role in advocacy for these projects, and
- all of the projects were “too expensive”, but they stayed on the books
One project is already built albeit in shortened form, one is in early days of construction, and one refuses to die even though it’s little more than a billboard and a perfunctory website. Continue reading