Archive for the Category ◊ Urban Planning ◊

• Tuesday, August 05th, 2014

Source: Camila Duarte

Sustainable TranportationFrom June 2 to 6, Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment is seeing to address these developments with One City: One Week, a two-part workshop about transportation infrastructure and the changing face of sustainable transportation in Montreal.

Zachary Patterson, an assistant professor in the department, explains that the conference aims “to better integrate planning for different modes of eco-friendly transport in order to improve them and increase their use.”

To that end, the first part — “Bike Lab Montréal 2014,” co-organized by Vélo Québec — examines the realities of urban cycling. On June 2 and 3, experts from the organization, as well as Quebec’s transport ministry and Polytechnique Montréal, are leading a series of presentations, discussions and workshops on the city’s bicycle infrastructure. 

“‘Bike Lab Montréal 2014’ will really be out in the field,” Patterson says. “They’ll be going to different intersections, counting cyclists, assessing areas and looking at particular locations that it may be possible to improve.”

The second half of the conference, the “Canada-Germany Hands-On Sustainable Urban Mobility Workshop” from June 4 to 6, is an applied research event aimed at researchers, students and transportation planners.

Over the course of three days, academics from institutions as diverse as the University of Waterloo, Portland State University and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences will discuss the latest findings on sustainable urban mobility. 

Patterson expects to learn a lot from his European colleagues. 

“Germany is really far ahead in terms of its integration of transport infrastructure, including its cycling infrastructure, and the systems it has.”

Check out the complete One City: One Week program.

• Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Electric Charging Stations for cars

Electric Charging Station for Cars

Source:  Hybrid Cars

The City of Montréal announced its intention to join Québec’s The Electric Circuit.

Montréal, the provinces’ metropolis, will roll-out public charging stations for electric vehicles on its territory in 2013.

“This project is another step in reaching our target to reduce Montrealers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, based on 1990 levels” said Alan De Sousa, Vice-President of the City of Montréal’s Executive Committee and responsible for sustainable development, the environment and parks. “The network of charging stations will be rolled-out gradually, in close collaboration with interested boroughs, and will encourage Montrealers to seriously consider electric vehicles.”

Through The Electric Circuit, the City of Montréal will offer its boroughs the possibility of purchasing and installing charging stations. The City and interested boroughs intend on choosing the locations with the greatest potential to ensure the best possible geographical distribution. According to The Electric Circuit, more than ten boroughs have already expressed their interest.

In addition to these charging stations, a pilot project for the installation of curbside charging stations will be implemented downtown Montréal.

This project will help determine the nature and scope curbside public charging needs. It will be a first in Québec and Canada.

• Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Hallo Folks,

Just to say I am from England and traveling in North America for 3 months. I am in Montreal  between  15th and 18th Sept. and offering folks a free talk on Leamington Transition Town and the Transition town movement.

This is sharing experiences and ideas with other transition towns and hopefully me learning about your transition town and taking this information back to England. Leamington Transition town wants to make connections! If you wish me to talk please e mail me at:


Best Wishes

Chris Philpott

• Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

cohousing in MontrealThis is the future, especially for empty-nesters and young adults, who seek social bonds but without children in the picture.

For more information on local co-housing opportunities, see: CoHabitat Montreal. They are looking to build a 40 unit cohousing facility.

Source: Yes! Magazine

The yearning to live in community is not a new one. Human beings evolved sharing common space, resources, and neighborly support, not only for physical survival but also for a sense of belonging and togetherness. 

But modern society values autonomy, often at the cost of the social connection offered by traditional communities. Cohousing, an idea that originated in Denmark in the 1960s, has been increasingly filling the gap. Each household in cohousing has an individual residence but takes part in the design process, consensus-based decision-making, shared meals, and socializing…

…“The common space is a key feature of cohousing, where people eat together,” says cohousing advocate Neil Planchon, one of the original members who helped get Swan’s Market off the ground. While each unit has its own kitchen, residents share three meals a week, with rotating cooks and opt-in attendance. Planchon points out the importance of setting up a good system of organizing communal meals and activities.

“We have a really good structure to support the sign-up system. The cooks post the menu four days ahead of time, and closing for sign-up is two days before. We’ve also got a good system with the money—a meal ends up being between three and four bucks per person.”

Opportunities to pool labor and resources present themselves in every aspect of cohousing. For example, the community decided they wanted shared laundry facilities, so nobody has a washer or dryer in their home. “We save a lot of space, time, and money that way,” says Planchon. They also built a guest bedroom as a sweat equity project and decided to only have two hot water tanks for the whole community, one for the heating system and the other for hot water. “It’s a radical concept,” Planchon smiles. “Even the architect said, ‘Are you guys crazy?’ But it honored the whole concept of sustainability, of having more space in our homes and reducing natural gas consumption. And it’s working just fine.”

• Monday, June 25th, 2012

Walkable Neighborhoods more ValuableThis isn’t really news to Montrealers, but it is still good to see the validation from the States.

Source: Smart Growth America

The most valuable real estate today is in walkable urban locations – and that’s a stark change from only a decade ago.

That is one of the principal findings of a new report from the Brookings Institution. Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. is an economic analysis of the neighborhoods in and surrounding our nation’s capital.

“Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places,” the report explains, noting that consumer preferences have shifted and that demand for walkable housing is outpacing supply, thus contributing to higher property values.

“A Life of Walking vs. Driving,” via the New York Times.

These popular neighborhoods are also economic powerhouses. Walkable neighborhoods perform better economically, perform better commercially, have higher housing values and had lower capitalization rates during the recent recession than their suburban counterparts, according to the report.


• Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Montreal needs an EcoDistrict, or 5.

EcoDistrictsSource: Huffington Post

Leaders from Austin, Bellingham, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Guadalajara (Mexico), Mountain View, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Vancouver gathered in Portland, Ore. for the first-ever EcoDistricts Institute, a meeting where they examined neighborhood-scale development projects in each of their cities.

The leaders at the institute are developing what are called EcoDistricts, which are also known as “green neighborhoods” or “green districts.” EcoDistricts integrate green buildings and smart infrastructure (energy, water, waste, recycling, transportation, etc.) with community action and civic entrepreneurism. EcoDistricts can be established within brownfield redevelopment areas, campuses or existing neighborhoods.

For the participants in the institute — which was funded by generous grants from the Blackstone Ranch Institute and Ecoworks Foundation — being on the forefront of a new era of urban innovation isn’t enough. They want to go faster, and that’s why they came to Portland. Each had an interesting story to tell:

  • Austin is redeveloping a former industrial parcel on the southwest edge of downtown into a mixed-use neighborhood with affordable (dense) housing, a new central library, improved transit and preservation of a historic art deco power plant.
  • Bellingham is designing a new waterfront neighborhood on the site of an old paper mill.
  • Boston’s newly-minted “Boston Innovation District” is looking to reinvent itself as a center of advanced manufacturing and knowledge companies mixed with community amenities and housing.
  • Charlotte’s South End EcoDistrict is an emerging mixed-use neighborhood filled with innovative small businesses and housing in repurposed industrial buildings.
  • In Cleveland — a tale of two neighborhoods. On the west side, a tired inner-city neighborhood is in the need of new energy and investment, while on the east side, a new urban agriculture innovation zone is slated for farm incubation and related enterprises.
  • Guadalajara’s residents of the Vallarta Sur neighborhood rejected a proposed elevated highway that would split their neighborhood, and instead are transforming their railroad right of way into a “civic park” that will spur revitalization and the creation of a digital business center.
  • Mountain View — a Silicon Valley community endowed with a vibrant downtown and progressive technology companies — is poised to lead the way in sustainable corporate campus development that supports local businesses and a need for new housing.
  • Philadelphia’s South of South Neighborhood is an existing mixed-income, seeing new growth due to its proximity to the center city.
  • San Francisco’s Central Corridor area is advantageously positioned for dense growth, new transit, district infrastructure and high-tech industry.
  • The University of British Columbia is redeveloping a portion of its abundant land holdings to create new mixed-use neighborhoods. The newest hub is Acadia, planned to accommodate dense housing, amenities, shops and services.

Ten cities, ten stories. The reason for these projects in North America — and dozens more like around the world — is more apparent than ever: Municipal and business leaders must find effective ways to repurpose neighborhoods to take advantage of the growing trends in urbanization (millions of people coming to a city near you in the coming decade) and the changing economy that places a premium on knowledge and innovation. According to leading economists like Joe Cortright and organizations such as Preservation Green Lab and ArtPlace, the cities that focus on rehabilitating and building vibrant, green and diverse neighborhoods have the best chance of thriving in the future.

• Friday, June 01st, 2012

Source: The NDG Free Press

Action Communiterre members are promoting an upcoming NDG-based public consultation on urban agriculture as a citywide effort to integrate more community gardening space into the landscape continues to build steam…

The public consultation will be hosted on June 14 at the St. Raymond Community Centre (5600 Upper Lachine) from 7 to 10 pm. The consultation process was born from more than 25,000 signatures demanding a public consultation process be hosted by the city of Montreal, as more and more city dwellers turn their rooftops, backyards and public spaces into gardens.

“What we want to do, is have as many people as possible participate,” said Girard. “It’s a citizen initiative and the more people submit, the more they will take this initiative seriously. This is a call-out to the whole population so we can have, for example, edible landscapes, parks with more food growing, native plants to help bees, more bio-diversity and more land dedicated to urban agriculture.”

Gardening, said Girard, isn’t only about the food. It’s about a connection to soil, to nature and to each other and it’s important to localize food. Gardening, she concluded, is therapeutic and “good for the soul.”

For more information, visit:

For more information on public consultation meetings:

• Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Investments in bike paths and walk ways pay offSource:

If you ever doubted whether a small investment in biking and walking could have a large impact, here is your proof.

The last transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, provided four communities with four years of funding to build an infrastructure network for nonmotorized transportation (a fancy way of saying “sidewalks and bike paths”). It wasn’t a lot of money — $25 million each to Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

The program built 333 miles of on-street biking and walking routes, 23 of off-street facilities, and 5,727 bike parking spaces in the four municipalities — not to mention some outreach and education. Not bad, especially when you consider that $100 million would only buy about five miles of new four-lane highway in an urbanized area…

The FHWA report is full of data showing how a small down payment on active transportation can lead — quickly — to dramatic improvements in air quality, traffic levels, and public health.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a major supporter of the pilot program, called it a “raging success.”

“These are not all typical, bike-friendly cities,” said Marianne Fowler, RTC’s senior vice president of federal relations. ”These four communities represent a solid cross-section of America. Even in places like Sheboygan, which doesn’t have urban density, has cold winters, and has had almost no experience with biking and walking initiatives in the past, locals have rapidly become champions because they have seen the real-time effects, the actual benefits to their community.”

Fowler went on to say that with the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives must now recognize that continued investment in walking in biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers.

“The incongruous thing is that Congress, with a simple, low-cost solution to so many transportation problems right here in front of them, can’t see the people for the cars,” she said.

• Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

This is smart policy to plan for the obsolescence of individual fossil fueled vehicles in cities.

My question is: where is the money or planning for bike paths? Also, why will only 40% of new housing be built near public transit? Why not 60% or 80%?

STM Montreal BusSource: Montreal Gazette

The Quebec government has given the green light to a plan that will change the way the Montreal region develops over the next 20 years…

The plan calls for nearly half of all new housing to be built close to transit stations, boosting public transit use to 35 per cent by 2031, up from 25 per cent in 2008, as well as the protection of 17 per cent of the region as natural spaces…

The [plan]  requires 40 per cent of new housing to be built within a kilometre of métro or train stations and 500 metres of a rapid-bus station. To boost transit use, the CMM estimates $23 billion will be needed to create new tramways, rapid-bus lines and métro stations, and improve existing service. The government has already announced $12 billion in public-transit investment, and a CMM committee will study how to finance the other $11 billion…
• Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Source: Mother Nature Network

By the middle of this century, there will be as many people living in cities worldwide as there are alive on the planet today. Sustainability, then, is first and foremost an urban project, and I’m always a little surprised to find that there’s a lingering divide between hardcore cleantechies and urban design geeks. You still meet renewable energy obsessives who obsess over the next generation of solar technology but have never given much thought to mixed-use development, and there remain complete-street fans and bike-lane zealots unaware that solar power’s now vering on cost-competitive with coal and nuclear. (And don’t get me started on the hardcore climate activists who don’t pay any attention to cities and how they work at all.)

Anyway, for all these reasons and more, I understood immediately why the good folks at TED decided to award their TED Prize to “The City 2.0” – the first time ever the $100,000 award has gone an innovative concept rather than an innovator. “The City 2.0,” the announcement explains, “is the city of the future . . . a future in which more than ten billion people on planet Earth must somehow live sustainably.”