Mississauga Plans Shorter Blocks

By Ben Bull
Published January 28, 2008

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs espoused four main critera for creating good neighbourhoods. The second of these was:

Most blocks must be short; that is, opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.

The Toronto Star highlighted this theory in its Condo section this week. In surmising that healthy neighbourhoods need to go "beyond density", the Star compares downtown street street layouts around the world to a typical Mississuaga grid.

Street layouts around the world. Which one do you think is Mississauga? (Click the image to view larger)
Street layouts around the world. Which one do you think is Mississauga? (Click the image to view larger)

The article quotes Ed Sajecki, the City of Mississauga's planning and building department commissioner:

Sajecki likes to say the "great cities have good bones," and he has put on presentations that include slides showing how central Mississauga's loose grid differs dramatically from the tight webs of streets common to cities where people like to walk.

"We're looking at what New York, Rome, Barcelona, Toronto, even Portland Ore., are doing," he says. "Our blocks are too long; we know that."

Mississauga is planning to bring short blocks to its downtown, specifically to its new Parkside "urban village" complex across from Square One.

For sure, Mississauga will have to go a lot further to bring vibrancy into their urban landscape, but it's nice to see that, for this development at least, the city's planning department seems to be getting it right.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By beancounter (registered) | Posted January 29, 2008 at 16:00:09

This is good news.

I have spent a fair amount of time walking around Mississauga when I took public transit there from Hamilton.

Waiting for a bus in Mississauga is not a fun experience, especially in the winter with that frigid wind blowing through all the wide-open spaces.

When you get to the industrial area (finally) you have to walk the rest of the way on streets without sidewalks, because the city was obviously planned for car transportation only.

I wonder what Parisians would think of a weed-filled field less than a kilometre from the city centre. You can view this from the buses heading north from the Square One terminal near Hurontario Street.

I hope that this is just the first step in the right direction.

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