US Politics

Obama: Sprawl Days Are Over

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 12, 2009

After years of smug Canadian superiority, I'm feeling some serious Obama envy right now. In a town hall meeting in Ft Myers, Florida, US President Barack Obama pointed out that crises are also opportunities, and then proceeded to sketch out a future of robust public transit and coherent neighbourhoods:

That's why I'd like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That's why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that's energy efficient and I think people are a lot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure.

The days where we're just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that's not a smart way to build communities. [emphasis added]

Bear in mind that he wasn't saying this to a friendly audience of Northeastern urbanites. This is Florida - if not the actual epicentre of sprawl development in America, then at least one of its principal adherents.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 08:44:30

Wow. I never thought I'd see anyone in his position talk like this. No wonder the usual cast of Big Oil/ Big Food etc.... were supporting McCain.

The best part is, if he gets the government on board, they can actually do this since it's massive government subsidy that had made sprawl possible in the first place.

Let's hope some of this rubs off on Harper when he visits.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:48:29

I'm definitely becoming more and more of a fan of Obama with every one of his announcements. I never thought I would be, I thought he was just in this to change the history books. He's definitely got a vision that we haven't seen for quite a long time. I really wish the goons in charge of our country thought the same.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 23:19:18

I was watching that as it happened and did a double take.

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By MohawkMike (anonymous) | Posted February 17, 2009 at 14:18:55

I certainly hope some of this rubs off here in Hamilton.. We have the tools / let's use them. So far our city bureaucrats have not seen the light. Intensification is coming down the track. We can embrace less sprawl or our future generations will pay the price and then blame us for not doing the right thing

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