Billed as Ontario’s largest environmentallyfriendly community, the plans for Seaton in North Pickering embrace a new housing trend. With ample green space and plenty of bike paths, Seaton boasts housing designs that prominently feature gardens and porches where designers traditionally erect garages. The idea is to create an interactive community where neighbours will leisurely converse while enjoying the green spaces and eco-resources of the planned suburb. Seaton will be friendly, green, and giant, accommodating 70 000 people.1 Construction is supposed to start in five years.
Driving west on Highway 401 into the “Big Smoke,” to the core of Toronto you’ll find another planned community thought to be innovative in its day. Regent Park is Canada’s largest public-housing project with over 7,000 residents. Built in the 1950s, Regent Park is showing its age and reflects the reality that 67 per cent of households live below the low-income cut-off (LICO). With disproportionately more children than the rest of Toronto, 56 per cent of families are headed by a lone parent.2 Physically worn and socially troubled, Regent Park is undergoing a planned revitalization that began in February 2006, one residents hope will change the face of the community.
The minds behind the Seaton development and the Regent Park revitalization know that the physical space we occupy contributes to our quality of life. High-poverty neighbourhoods, like Regent Park, pose challenges for families: Children are more likely to grow up without two married parents than their middle-income counterparts. The question is: Can the physical revitalization and redesign of a neighbourhood strengthen families?
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