Future urban developments in Toronto should be "complete communities" where residents can walk, ride their bikes or take transit to work and most amenities are within walking distance, Toronto's chief planner said Monday.
Jennifer Keesmaat shared her vision of Canada's largest city at a gathering of city planners, operators of car-sharing programs and transit officials, organized by the Carsharing Association.
About 27 per cent of Toronto commuters travel more than 45 minutes to work everyday, Keesmaat said.
Building cities around cars is the "old paradigm, " she said, adding that car-oriented cities include "big box" buildings, pedestrian-unfriendly streets and long commutes.
"The greatest risk is the way that we've planned in the past," said Keesmaat.
In the "new paradigm," cities are designed around people, she said.
Congestion and its carbon footprint cost Toronto an estimated $6 billion annually.
In 15 years, that number is expected to double, Keesmaat said, and if the trend is not reversed new businesses will be deterred from coming to the city.
When people commute for longer periods of time, they no longer have time to do other community-building work and they lose the connectedness, she said.
"Our own quality of life is suffering. Our communities are suffering in part due to more time commuting and less time to volunteer."
Keesmaat singled out a development project on Sheppard Avenue West, which is next door to the Downsview subway station.
Over the next 50 years, the mid-rise community will change into a high-density "urban corridor" with affordable housing, light-rail access and close retail amenities, Keesmaat said.
"It is always within walking distance of a transit station."