In a time of rapid urban growth, how our cities grow matters. Growth occurs in one of two ways: the intensification of existing urban areas through infill and redevelopment, or conversion of "greenfield" countryside land into new urban areas. The appropriate division of growth between these two forms, as well as the nature and potential efficacy of intensification processes, has been discussed elsewhere (IBI Group 1990, 2002, 2003; Filion 2007; Neptis forthcoming). This report focuses on greenfield development: how suburbs have been built in the past, how existing urban areas perform in the present, and how future urban areas might be built to achieve policy objectives.
A great deal of research has been done on land use patterns, growth trends, and travel behaviour in the Toronto metropolitan region (GHK et al. 2002; IBI Group 1990, 2002; Malone Given Parsons 2004; Miller & Shalaby 2000; Mitra 2007; Riekko 2005). These studies are valuable, but by focusing on the whole they often obscure the unique characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the parts. This report aims to supplement macro-level research with a close examination of several recognizable districts that represent various combinations of physical and demographic attributes. This local-area analysis is situated within local and international professional and academic literature on land use and travel behaviour, as well as past and present planning policies. The resulting discussion is intended to provoke debate on what can be achieved through planning policy in the Toronto metropolitan region and elsewhere.