Is our society ready for densified cities?

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New thread - maybe we are, maybe we aren't - pose the problems - discuss the solutions - just don't talk about bikes or electric cars.

Just a couple ideas off the top of my head.

From a dollar persective values of land in a more densified development will be considerably higher than sprawl.

Desirability and quality of life is nearly always ranked higher in more densified cities.

So I'd say society has already embraced densification. Our politicians need to understand that citizens want choices other than sprawl......change zoning bylaws, traffic systems, etc.

If youre looking for references check out the book Suburban Nation. Written by sociolgists, planners and developers together as a team. It is not a one-sided diatribe against sprawl.

ta ta


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "our society" (vancouver, north american, first world?) or "densified cities", but here's some stuff I found:

Vancouver ranks in the top-three for density in North America. Wikipedia says third, but this article says we're first:

So are we ready for density? On one hand, we're already there.

Is the average person ready to give up the American dream of their own plot of land, their own homestead on the range? Possibly not. But that's only feasible for individuals if they stay in rural areas, and more and more people are moving to urban areas. So I think the question of readiness is a bit moot: whether we are prepared or not, we're living with density now, and have to figure out how to make it work.

Another interesting article about New York vs. cities in Northwest:

Vancouver (proper) is probably quite dense, and the west end much more so still. However, considering the GVRD (goes out to Langley, PoMo, Delta, West Van), or the lower mainland, or even Vancouver and the immediate suburbs (Burnaby, Richmond, New West?) changes the stats enormously. I'd think that many of the topics that will come up in this thread will be more regional issues, so you will have to be very careful about what region "Vancouver" numbers refer to.

Here's an interesting look at Vancouver and the 3 biggest cities going South.

It deals only with the cities proper, not the regions.

i think desification is the way of the future particularly as fuel prices and the cost of commuting rises, i also prefer deser cities haveing lived in 3 during my life and one suburben city which i hated

as a sidenote anyone who says that vancouver is the densest has never been to mexico city

And anyone who thinks Mexico City is the densest has not been anywhere in Texas........

bada boom

I guess it will be a question of whether or not we will densify by building up, or by reducing our

requirements for space. As an example, five 2000 square foot homes stacked on each other, or

five homes totaling five thousand square feet total.

I worry less about where we'll live compared to where we'll grow our food. You can build on

non-fertile land, but it's hard to make land arable. Or so I understand.

On a very related note, this year Vancouver is hosting the United Nations World Urban Forum.


If I don't have a 4000 sf home where am I going to put all my stuff......

I agree with you that any arable land should be ALR'd and that the ALR should be policed very heavily - and not be in the hands of municipal politicians.

But density causes alot of problems too - I'd argue for population control policies before I argued for maximum lot sizes or dwelling unit sizes. As people have said in other posts procreation doesn't have to be an enshrined right.

Realistically this has to be the answer if we are to avoid the cataclysmic pandemics that you predict....even a 0.5 percent growth rate for the population has us at over 13 Billion by 2150....and that's only about half of the worlds current rate of growth. When you pack the people together too tightly then we just get more potential for the four horsemen to mount up and ride roughshod over the world. Density isn't part of the solution - it's part of the problem.

"I'd argue for population control policies before I argued for maximum lot sizes or dwelling unit sizes. As people have said in other posts procreation doesn't have to be an enshrined right."

It may not be a right, but we tread a slippery slope when we make it a privilege. Education (poor old underfunded education) is the only way to rein our rabbity ways when it comes to breeding. Unfortunately, the Papists seem to have sway over those places most in need of birth control supplies and education. There's a ticking time bomb of a statement I know, but it's pretty damn true IMO.

We already have 'monster house' and max lot size rules don't we?

Call China to see how they like having their procreation stifled.....I know it's not 'fair' in some senses but the world has changed and the large agrarian family is no longer a necessity in much of the 1st and 2nd worlds. I've read many a sci fi novel that tackles this issue none of them paint a pretty picture but as you said the time bomb is ticking and this issue is going to affect the planet faster than even the dwindling oil reserves.

As to lot size rules - they are sporadic and inconsistent at best, generally set to 'community standards' whatever they are. And even then you merely need to know the mayor to get a variance to build whatever you want. That said - thinking on the issue a little more I think what I really wanted to say was that you will have to at least grandfather any current lots/houses - that will create a 'value' associated with this larger lots/homes so that has repercussions as well....ahh the difficulty of making even the smallest change to how we live...

My biggest fear with pop. control is not that we say how many (like China) but we start deciding 'who' gets to reproduce. It seems like such a small step to take once we go down that road. I believe they used to call it eugenics (deciding who, not how many). I have no equitable solution to offer in this regard, esp. as it tends to be the people we want to reproduce who are intelligent enough to realize overpopulation is a problem and don't (reproduce), while those who are ignorant of the challenges we face keep popping out more mouths to feed.

Stump I'd have to disagree and say that the more likely reason that certain societies/income groups/cultures are more likely to pop out more kids has nothing to do with intelligence or a concern about overpopulation. I'd say its more about income, culture and religion.

There's a definite correlation betw. education and birthrate. One goes up the other goes down. Not intelligence per se, but knowledge. I should have said education rather than intelligence.

There was an interesting proposal made by Richmond City Counsellor Harold Steves about land withdrawals from the ALR. He proposed a mechanism to prevent windfall profits from ALR land conversions. That is any developer who wants to remove land from the ALR, nust pay a fee equal to the change in value of the land when it's converted. (EG farm land worth $40k/acre converted to residential zoned land worth $500k/acre, the developer pays $460K per acre to the city). His reasoning was that then land would only be removed when there was a real need for residential land, and not because the was quick profit available.

Interesting thought. However, how would they quantify the present value of the cost to future generations of lost green-space? To me, this is a good example of a market-based transaction that doesn't properly address important externalities. The livable region strategy isn't just about economics.

Citynews will be doing a story about this issue tonight at six. Cable 13

/on-topic shameless plug.