Seek Newsletter – Volume 005

Monday, June 20th, 2011

While not something that most people consider on a daily basis, the ways that we move around our city have a tremendous influence on quality of life. Transportation is part of a larger public infrastructure that makes places livable. It also includes roads, parks, open spaces, the natural environment, services and amenities. A great city embodies the synergy between all of these components, and as such can be a hub of energy, activity and innovation.

Public infrastructure represents the backbone and strength of living within an urban/ suburban city. It provides common ground that contributes to the quality of life that is shared by all residents. The collective benefits associated with quality public infrastructure not only make sense economically, but also improve health, the environment and quality of life. Our competitiveness depends on the ability to attract and retain new residents and businesses throughout HRM. Patterns of growth, land use and access to natural spaces all influence how vibrant and successful a city can be.

Transportation is a major component of this broader picture of public infrastructure. This shared infrastructure determines how we can and should move around, where people live, where houses are built and where businesses locate. The city’s buses, sidewalks, paths, bike lanes, roads and bridges are all critical and must be seen as part of an interconnected whole.

Many different plans, projects, priorities and decisions about transportation are being made by various municipal and provincial staff and politicians. Each line item in a budget represents a value decision about the future of our city. In this spirit, there is a need for more public awareness, debate and involvement in thinking collectively and comprehensively about the investments that could create the kind of place we want to live in the long-term. As our community embarks on the five-year review of the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy this year, the importance of thinking holistically about land use, public infrastructure and transportation is magnified.

SEEK is the newsletter for the Planning & Design Centre. This fifth issue is dedicated to transportation projects at various scales and locations throughout HRM, being developed by many different departments, to raise awareness of the potential for public infrastructure. These projects highlight some of the many initiatives underway related to roads, bicycles, buses and people.

The PDC is dedicated to the idea that planning and design need to be more visible, and that we all should have a hand in shaping the future of our region. We hope that even this partial view of current transportation projects will form the basis for more discussion, and inform choices we need to make as a community about what we value.

The Planning & Design Centre is dedicated to three simple principles:
1. Access to information is of primary importance. To increase awareness and improve the quality of design, information about projects and plans needs to be current, in one place and highly visible.
2. An ongoing forum for public discussion and exhibitions is key to raising expectations, overcoming established polarized views, establishing a design culture and shaping our own future.
3. Developing high quality, sustainable infrastructure requires leadership, innovation and an advocate.

Click here to read SEEK 005.