conversation21

   14 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

I took the 26W to Mississauga yesterday. Mississauga is a strange city. Unlike most cities, where the city centre is tight and quite walkable, Mississauga’s is sparse and sprawling. I got off at the Square One bus terminal, and started walking to the mall. The terminal and the mall aren’t connected; I had to trek through some parking lots. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then left the mall to go to the Living Arts Centre. It all felt like a real journey. I’m not a big fan of Mississauga. It’s all sub-divisions or office parks separated by 6 lane roads. If you don’t have a car it’s not a very friendly city to be in. I try and avoid the city when I can.

Shima and I were there last night as part of the conversation21 lecture series. Shima wanted to hear Jan Gehl speak. He talked about how modern cities, those that came to life after the 50s, are designed at a 60km/h scale: they are meant to be lived in while zooming around in a car. You have big billboards, big buildings, big everything, scattered through out a sprawling city. The city becomes a series of private venues connected by roads. Real interaction between people gets lost in such a city. He had some great aerial shots of some cities that were totally devoid of people: it was just buildings and cars. Gehl advocates designing at the 5km/h scale, which is a more human scale. Cities should be designed to bring people together. I’m probably not doing his talk justice. He is an excellent speaker.

There is apparently some serious interest in the city of Mississauga to make the city more livable. I’m not sure it’s possible to accomplish such a goal, but the city certainly seems enthusiastic about trying. Toronto really does seem old and busted in comparison. I can’t recall the last time I heard something — anything really — positive coming from city hall.

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Comments

  1. It almost seems like it’s too late. How do you rework all that sprawl short of razing it? They didn’t even bother with sidewalks on a lot of residential streets.

    I’m glad they’re making an effort, though. Step one really should be improving Mississauga Transit, it’s too barebones a transit system.

  2. If I recall, Mississauga has the highest number of pedestrians being hit by cars. Now that I’m a resident here, I fully understand why. It’s a car city, which makes it a bit faceless as well.

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