Creating Community: Finding Meaning in the Place We Live

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The case studies show how liveability is different in different communities, which is expected because it is highly dependent on what the residents view and value as a liveable community. I think by focusing on building residential developments in the downtown Vancouver took an important and essential first step. The downtown tends to be the heart of the community and with people living in the downtown they are more likely to care for it, which will often be apparent in the feel of the area. In addition with more people around safety is increased.

In my community residential developments in the downtown are limited and because of this the downtown is not the most desirable or safest area; it lacks vibrancy. From what I understand about liveability, I think a liveable community should include the following: a focus on the residents and quality of life; it should be walkable — some essential services within walking distance of your home, including transit service if it is available in the community ; it should have inviting public spaces; mixed use buildings; and it should be safe for people of all ages.

When I look at these factors it becomes quite obvious how sustainability and liveability are linked. Also, the case study mentions that is it very difficult or impossible to retrofit liveability. I understand how it would be difficult and this really emphasizes how important it is to incorporate these features in the planning stage. I am wondering if any communities been successful in retrofitting liveability? I picked this case study because urban liveability is of great interest to me.

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Vancouver is my favourite Canadian city and Okotoks lies just south of my hometown Calgary. While the topic of liveability and sustainability is relevant and important, I found this case study was a very high level theoretical look at what liveability is and how to implement those theories in the planning stages. It provided little concrete examples of what liveability looks like at the ground level. Despite good intentions and purposeful planning, from what I can see as a frequent visitor to both cities, is an unqualified failure on both accounts.

If people have to drive into the city to enjoy the attributes of liveability, how can this be sustainable? This problem is directly addressed in the case study, but no realistic alternatives are suggested. Okotoks is a bedroom community 50 kilometers south of Calgary.

The community has stated that they want to limit the size of the town to 30, residents.


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After discussing this topic with a local developer, it seems that this target will be surpassed, as Okotoks is growing rapidly, suffering from insufficient planning, greedy developers and the unquentionable demand for low-density housing. The town needs the ever-increasing tax base from expansion to fund infrastructure. Add the quandary of a limited supply of fresh water and the circle tightens. The term liveability remains undefined. There is a reference to sustainable development through reduced car transportation, increases in greenspace and opportunities for social capital, but these are all vague notions with little substance in proactive solutions for urban planners or city residents that are desperately seeking liveable cities.

Clint brings up an interesting question about liveable community.

First, everyone in the world has a different definition of what would make a liveable community. Many of the towns today in Canada struggle with the lack of transportation. I currently live in Edmonton, and unless you are in the downtown sector, public transportation is not very economical or practical.

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And like most other cities I think more and more people want to live in 'suburbs' as they see it safer for their children, quieter and maybe a slower way of life. I can see why it is hard for a community like Okotoks that use to be a sleepy community to keep up with the demand for space and growth.


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  • I think a lot of people are looking for the sleep community feel with all the amenities. For me personally I also like the idea of quieter community and looking into the possibilities of moving to a smaller community. However after looking at my ecological footprint, moving to smaller community will lead to an increase in my footprint instead of reduction. In some ways it is easier for a community to long term plan for a liveable and sustainable place.

    A town can put in strategies to plan for the future, i. Also it is easier to implement green spaces which highly makes a community liveable before development comes in, then after. Mature green spaces are more appealing than the new areas. All this however is easier said then done, as many places will never be able to determine the growth of the community and at what scale. After reading this article, the concept of liveability will surely stick with me.

    For many reasons, this municipality doesn't have a downtown and it has just dawned on me that this negatively affects my opinion of how liveable this town is. It lacks that critical communal gathering space and is exploding with big box stores instead, and it feels as though the community has no history which is untrue. It also feels like certain age groups are completely absent from the community, which again reduces the liveability. Economic dynamism, social space, and mono-functional planning zones And the notion that municipalities are starting to look at ecosystem services - fabulous!

    I think that this case study presents a perspective on communities that I had previously given minimal thought to. I think that the population cap is a very interesting concept and I will be sure to keep an eye on how that goes over the next few years as they get closer and closer to capacity. The concept of liveability is a great overarching term that I will be sure to incorporate into my work much more frequently. And I will be certain to make a point to stop and explore Okotoks a little more closely instead of just passing through as I have done for years.

    This article just gave me a different perspective into an area of sustainability that I haven't paid much attention to, so thank you to Chris, Jim and Kathy for opening my eyes just a little bit wider! I think it is wonderful that Vancouver and Okotoks have injected livability into their municipal development plans, but I am unsure of the degree to which either city has achieved livability. I suppose that like sustainable development, livability is a process rather than an end point Robinson, and that by engaging in that process in a thoughtful manner, both cities may get further along than other cities in the process toward enhancing livability and, perhaps as a side benefit, sustainability.

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    Certainly, both cities will have made strides towards livability because they have looked at their planning policies through the lens of livability. By contrasting Okotoks to Vancouver, the point that jumped out at me and is addressed in different ways in the case study is that livability is entirely subjective and very exclusionary. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about Canadian cities lately as my husband and I debated which one to pick for our upcoming relocation.

    One of many considerations was that the cost of living is so high that we may have been pushed further away from the city core, which would have increased our commute — a deal-breaker for us.

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    If we had a couple million of dollars to spend on a house, Vancouver would probably be for us the most livable city in the country. But without those deep pockets, the equation changes significantly. The case study brought this topic up — and it was written in ! As we all know, the economic story in Vancouver has changed quite a bit since then. As you mentioned, Clint, Okotoks serves as a bedroom community to Calgary. For many myself included that is not a marker of a livable community.

    Robinson, J. Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development. Ecological Economics 48 4 , Good stuff Jim. I think that Ann Dale's on-line poll is attempting to collect this type of data. You can not group everyone together as wanting the same things, which is why a livable city should have the ability to offer many different choices. I think this is a creative and interesting tool for looking at the needs of different people living in a city.

    I think that if this tool were to be used on a practical level, again accessibility must be considered. How do we make sure to include people who speak a different language, people who are mentally unwell, people who do not have a set "home" so that their needs and perspectives are not forgotten? My liveable city is one made up of little communities where people feel connected. These nodes are comprised of housing areas with families, students as long as they don't party to all hours of the night and respect their neighbours and seniors living in proximity to each other.

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    These nodes need places or events where people can congregate and meet. Streets are small and safe I find traffic noise stressful.


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    • Green space is required, it does not need to be an expansive forest but it does need to be more than a grassed soccor feild. And lieability also means being able to exit the city in a reasonable amount of time, to get into the country.

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      In Hfx I can be floating among the costal island in 20 minutes and I live downtown. Active transportation opportunities is imperative in my liveable city. New developments just outside the city are absolutely car-centric, very depressing. So how do we get people buying from local suppliers?

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