Short-term suburban thinking

Since I became aware of urban issues and characteristics, I never really liked the suburb next to where I grew up. That suburb is Durham Region, an area east of Toronto. Recently, it has been plagued with politicians who tend to argue against transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, sustainable planning (with one notable exception). I have argued before that Durham Region Transit is the worst transit system in the GTA (they rely heavily on GO Transit buses to form the back bone of their system).

This can be defined generally as short-term thinking. A stunning example of this is the recent report (PDF) by activist group Environmental Defence which s criticizes Durham Region for “completely disregarding the Places To Grow Act.” According to the group, Durham planners have inflated employment numbers for planned development to 25 000 more than what was previously agreed upon by provincial and regional planners. How much of this is political interference? The staunch ideology of some of the politicians makes one wonder.

In a more historical example of short-term thinking in the Region, news came recently that Durham taxpayers may be on the hook for $100M in repairs to plastic water pipes installed three decades ago. Predictably, the pipes have become brittle and are prone to popping leaks, some which have been repaired already. However, the engineering department has come to the realization that total replacement is in order. With other suburban jurisdictions suffering a similar disposition, one cannot help but think that perhaps short-term thinking is par for the course in the suburbs.

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