Urban renewal: What is a compact city?

Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only in the last three generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.1

Cities and towns are meant to strengthen human social connections, enhance economic efficiencies, and promote well-being and community. Communities thrive in cities where the built environment is designed with people in mind. Public spaces should be universally accessible and as safe and inclusive as possible. Roads are public spaces.

Promoting compact land use is a way to reduce the expense of constructing and maintaining roads, sewers, and other public works while also increasing property values in the community. Compact land use enhances the walkability of a community and fosters a stronger sense of place.

1 https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme/


Walking is the most democratic way to get around.

The truth is, however, that all of the infrastructure in Charlottetown is designed for motor vehicles. Cars have become such a pervasive presence that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people.  The result is that pedestrian connections cater to vehicles, because it is assumed that anyone who lives or visits here can drive. Over the past couple of decades, humans have become secondary to cars in urban planning and design.

A COMPACT CITY helps make a community walkable, decreases automobile dependence, and supports a socially vibrant public realm. It incorporates proximity, connectivity, mobility, accessibility, and nature in the urban built environment context.

  • Proximity is the degree of integration of businesses, homes, and recreation opportunities within walking distance of each other. This leads to:
  • Connectivity: As connectivity improves, travel distances decrease and walkable/cyclable route options increase. This encourages:
  • Mobility: The availability of potential destinations together makes walking and cycling a more competitive and attractive mode of travel to other options. Combine this with:
  • Public transportation: Public transit serves more people at a lower cost, lower land use, and greater benefits. This improves:
  • Accessibility: The current lack of environmental accessibility faced by people with disabilities presents a major challenge. “If you make things accessible for all, you automatically make things easier for everyone.” And every community has a right to:
  • Green Space/Nature: What is being done to protect the natural environment of the urban area? A city’s under appreciated green assets are quietly making oxygen, absorbing pollutants, sponging up storm water, and controlling erosion.  The economic benefits of protecting nature now outweigh those of exploiting it.

Could Charlottetown become a compact city?
Or is it one already?

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Author: New Charlottetown Project

Barbara Dylla has lived in Charlottetown since 2017. The aim of this blog is to inspire and encourage Charlottetowners to be more aware of municipal affairs, to participate as engaged citizens, to support an issue close to their heart, so that together we create a sense of the larger community we live in. And, along the way, become a united community passionate about making Charlottetown the best it can be.

One thought on “Urban renewal: What is a compact city?”

  1. Hi Barbara,

    I liked this article a lot. Wasn’t able to “like” it though on your blog page.
    Andrea

    Like

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