Open Letter
Date: 07.10.2017
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Hi Richard,

My name is Alex. My wife is currently taking an online course that you recorded, titled “The City and You”. She shared some of the course readings and recordings and I found it quite interesting.

There are many things in the content of the course that I agree with, and some that I have my own opinions on, but there was one point, referenced in a Globe and Mail column piece from 2014 that I wanted to write to you about.

The first point from the “10 rules for ‘quality of place’ “ is build up, not out. I am not sure if you had a chance to watch “The Human Scale” by Andreas M. Dalsgaard. It is a great short piece on city building, and really the point he is making there is that the higher you build/live, the more disconnected you become from life on the street, and the more lonely they eventually start feeling as they lose the human connection to their community.

When you live on the 3rd floor and you are facing the street, you listen to people’s conversations, and you become part of it – you almost want to reach out and touch these people, and be part of what is happening. The higher you are, the more difficult it becomes to walk out to the store to get groceries, to meet friends in other buildings, and we are not even mentioning the ridiculous size of these little cells called apartments.

I also believe that countries like Germany, with clear city-building policies, should be looked at as models for Canada, and you as an influencer should present these to those whose ears are close to you. In Germany, there are limits to how many people and businesses can be in a city. This leads to the development of new city centers in their own right, and that is why you have developed cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, etc.

If we had a policy like this, at least in Ontario – we would have seen cities like Thunder Bay, London, and Windsor become potent cities, but right now we have just Toronto, and it is not a livable city at all.

Living small and “ecologically friendly” in my opinion is the greatest successful Canadian scam – nowhere in the world are condos as popular as in Toronto…well, maybe in Tokyo. While it benefits developers, property management companies, the real estate industry, and individual city’s coffers to have high-rise developments, it is not human, and humans cannot be fooled forever.

I also suggest you take a look at Christchurch, New Zealand, and the model that was adopted there. A city should be life-sized.

 

Happy to chat over coffee.

Alex

 

Alex Goldstein

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