The City of Calgary has established several locations as Transit Oriented Development (or TOD) sites. A TOD is generally a property located within 600m of a major transit site, such as an LRT station or other transit hub. These sites are often found in existing, mature neighbourhoods that are facing redevelopment of aging properties, although they can also be designated in brand new neighbourhoods as part of the master planning process. In a nutshell, a TOD is a development that maximizes the amount of residential, business (such as office and retail) and leisure space within walking distance of public transportation and reduces dependence on automobiles.
What are the benefits of TOD sites? Well, for starters they help encourage vibrant, multi-purpose communities. They create a more walkable environment, where there are opportunities to live, work, shop, and enjoy leisure/social activities without primarily depending on cars for transportation. This can reduce household driving and lower traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It also increases transit use, allowing for a more robust transit system to be developed and maintained, with better service (frequency, hours of operation) to community members. Frequently, TOD sites can attract and sustain a variety of new services to the area because of the increase in population density. That can mean more amenities, businesses and services like medical and dental offices for a community.
A TOD site can strengthen a neighbourhood’s economy. Improving local public transit can cut vehicle transportation costs and time spent on commuting. With reduced commuting times and costs, people will be able to spend their time and money at restaurants, shops, and attractions in their local area. A more compact community with a strong transit system can create jobs and also attract a younger professional demographic (which can be beneficial for an aging population as it helps to maintain area services). Local merchants and offices also can provide opportunities for employment for area residents that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
If you think of some of Calgary’s oldest, most interesting neighbourhoods such as Inglewood and Kensington, they were developed around key transit hubs and systems, close to 100 years ago (the CBC did a great article you can check out here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-tod-transit-development-1.3450724). Proximity to streetcar lines, the national railway and more recently rapid transit systems (LRT/BRT) have long been drivers behind how communities are developed and maintained in both inner city and suburban communities. Of course, transit oriented developments are not unique to Calgary and can be found in all Canadian cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal.
To learn more about TOD sites and Calgary’s strategy around them, visit te City of Calgary website here: http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Transit-oriented-development-tod/Transit-Oriented-Development-TOD.aspx
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