More than one million people live in almost two thousand high-rise apartment towers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe – the largest urban region in Canada. Tower Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is the first detailed examination of the greater Toronto region’s vertical communities. The report notes that most buildings are concentrated in areas of high social need, but often lack access to community services. Residents have among the lowest rates of car ownership, but are the least served by public transit. Restrictive zoning has left many towers isolated and detached. The buildings, some now 50 years old, have fallen into disrepair and are among the worst residential energy wasters. But there is also much room for opportunity. The combination of population density and poorly used space offer enormous potential for renewal and revitalization. Or, as the authors put it: “Tower neighbourhoods provide a large geography for action.”
There is no “one size fits all” solution – most of the buildings are privately owned, with some owned by municipal, non-profit or co-operative housing providers – but a variety of tools and funding, along with the active engagement of the residents, will make a big difference.
The new report notes that tower renewal can be linked to a variety of existing regional and provincial policies, including the the Big Move (Ontario’s transit and transportation plan through Metrolinx), the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy, Ontario’s Action Plan on Climate Change, and the provincial government’s Places to Grow growth plan.
The new report is the first major research / policy document from the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, a new non-profit group launched by ERA Architects and the planningAlliance.
Out My Window is a visually compelling and interactive set of portraits of live in global high-rise communities – including a Toronto building – through the lives of the residents, part of the HighRise initiative from NFB film-maker Kat Cizek.