All communities are built for living. But life is complicated. Today, many urban centres face obstacles in their development, and struggle to offer sustainable solutions as they grow. Yet others are flourishing in response to modern challenges. Markham, a diverse and vibrant city within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is one such community.
It began by accepting a challenge.
While the GTA of the early 1990s was trying to cope with a rapidly growing population, an overstressed public transit system and outdated highways, Markham embraced an emerging development movement: New Urbanism
Making that vision a reality required city planners, engineers and developers to interact in a completely different way, says Mary Frances Turner, Markham's city planner in the early 1990s, who has more than 30 years' experience in urban planning. "Rather than being siloed professional disciplines, they began working together in matrix teams to create a whole different community and environment."
Between 1990 and 1995, city planners identified a new growth opportunity around existing infrastructure. And they realized spreading into the suburbs the old way was not going to work.
The collective vision was to create complete communities with alternative forms of housing - Stephen Upton, Tridel Developments, BILD Member
This wasn't only about where to develop. It was about how to develop. Beyond simply looking north of the GTA to expand on available real estate, this movement was – and is – about making better use of that land.