Urban Growth Boundaries, Lauren Pritchard

2 11 2008

Class: Thursday October 30th

Today’s class period was divided in half by two guest speakers. The first an engineer, talked to us about decision making, and some pressing issues relating to development. The secound speaker spoke to us about city planning, he informed us about different sustainable projects in Europe as well as some projects in development right here in Canada. Something I took from this lecture was his mention of Urban Growth Boundaries. UGB’S are regional boundaries set in place to prevent urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is prevented by allowing the areas within regional boundaries to build up creating a high density space. Outside of the regional boundaries is where forest and farm land is sustained. We need to realize urban sprawl continues to spin out of control because as a city we lack a concrete plan on how to deal with future growth. We as designers and residents of Winnipeg need to realise that building out is not the answer.   Winnipeg’s topography lacks natural barriers such as mountains, oceans, etc. This lack of natural development limitations allows Urban Planners to sprawl as much as they wish.   Winnipeg is vast land of prairie, we are not limited by the natural barriers therefore we have the ability to spread to development far and wide. However just because Winnipeg is not limited by its site, does not mean that urban sprawl is a sustainable design practice for Winnipeg. Urban Sprawl is simply an inefficient way to design the urban environment. Urban sprawl is an inefficient use of our land. The creation of GrowthBoundaries in Winnipeg, would ensure that we preserve our forest and farm land. There is no reason why we should be building out, we should be encouraging development with boundaries to create a denser urban environment. “Winnipeg’s land area increased by 373% between 1971 and 1991, yet its population only doubled.” (http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=86). This proves there has been inefficient use of land in Winnipeg.

Economically speaking, sprawl is far more expensive in its its initial development, because new roads and electrical lines are required to connect developments. Sprawl is also more expensive for residents living outside the regional boundaries due to transportation. “Sprawl is a problem because a widely dispersed city requires more expenditure on sewer and water lines, roads and protection services. These higher infrastructure costs all translate into higher property taxes” (http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=86).

In addition to the environmental, and economic downfalls of urban sprawl is perhaps our greatest concern, the compromise residents quality of life.  Quality of Life experienced in the sprawled environment is threatened both social and physically. Sprawl places less importance on community, the social fibers of the city are weekend because of little emphasis placed on the social environment. Physically speaking sprawl forces people to rely on automobiles, which not only is environmental damaging but also takes residents of the streets, again threatening the social realm of the city. Sprawl makes alternative transportation’s such as biking, walking, and public transportation unrealistic, leaving residents with no other option but to use a car to get around.

Incorporating UGBS is the future for sustainable development in Winnipeg. Designers have the ability to alter the quality of life in Winnipeg through design. By incorporating UGB’s into our city planning and development  we can begin to make the most of our land, pocketbooks. All while enhancing the quality of life experienced in Winnipeg.

Sources:

“Winnipeg Must Pay More Attention to Good City Planning Principles”: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/Manitoba_Pubs/2008/FastFacts_Aug20_08_City_Planning.pdf

“Fixing Winnipeg’s Urban Sprawl”:                                          http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=86

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