Complete, Compact Communities
According to Smart Growth BC….compact, complete communities provide people with opportunities to live, work, learn and play in vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhoods. By creating compact communities, we can absorb new residents and jobs without sacrificing our quality of life, environment, or the fiscal health of our towns and cities.
Over the past 50 years, observes Smart Growth BC, most North American cities and towns have been developed in the same way:
- separating homes, jobs and shopping from each other
- connecting these uses by roads and parking lots
- building at low densities
Once, it made sense to separate homes from unpleasant industries. And when towns and cities are small and don’t have much traffic, driving everywhere feels like freedom. But more and more, communities are discovering the hard realities of a low-density, single-use pattern:
- traffic congestion and pollution
- few choices in getting around
- loss of working farmland and open spaces
- high housing costs and few housing choices
- towns and cities that can’t afford to maintain roads and infrastructure
- environmental damage from ever-expanding development
- increasing obesity, diabetes, asthma, and other health problems
Alternative Development Standards
Alternative development standards (ADS) allow for more flexible requirements for road widths, building specifications, zoning uses and densities, and rainwater management that support smart growth objectives.
Development standards are the regulations, requirements and by-laws by which developments must abide. Development standards are often antiquated, over-prescriptive and cost prohibitive.
Development patterns affect infrastructure and service costs, often resulting in pressure to increase taxes, find new revenue sources or cut services. Development can also have an undesirable impact on the environment and result in conflicts between community aspirations and traditional development.
In response, many communities are exploring different ways that municipal infrastructure can be designed, constructed and maintained. Alternative land development patterns can result in buildings, streets, neighbourhoods and entire communities that look and function much differently than in the past.
Alternative Development Standards (ADS), often called smart growth, complete communities and green development, are less expensive, less wasteful and more environmentally and socially sensitive than conventional practices. For more information, please click here.
For more information on Alternative Development Standards:
- Publications: Alternative Development Standards, by Patrick Condon (Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1999).
Posted July 2007