An Analysis Of Policy Levers For Increasing Sustainability Of The City Of Ottawa’s Urban Transportation System

2983 words - 12 pages


Cities are the epitome of regional, national and international hubs that represent the congregation of people, a healthy social vitality, and are the symbol of wealth. They are economic, social, and environmental metropolises that are the aim of smaller, striving municipalities. Nonetheless, most cities are plagued by urban unsustainability where the car is the focal point of transport, making traffic denser than numerous buildings and car ownership greater than the city’s population. The focus of the car as a means of transport and of social class can be greatly asserted to the notion of the “American Dream”, the notion of the white picket fenced home in peripheral suburbia where families reside with a sense of communal belonging. Urban sprawl became the North American city standard for locations of living. Urban sprawl is often described as having “a population that is widely dispersed in low density development, rigidly separated homes, a network of roads, and a lack of well-defined activity centres such as downtown” (Blais, 2010, p. 18). As such, urban sprawl made the car the means of transportation and roads the networks of traffic to and from the periphery and the downtown core. As Blais describes “the number of autos owned and vehicle-kilometres travelled increases systematically with distance from the city centre, while transit modal shares fall as densities decline” (Blais, 2010, p. 28). Increased dependence on the personal automobile is greatly linked to several externalities including increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related health problems, obesity due to lack of physical activity, and increased deaths due to car accidents. All of these parameters are evident in the City of Ottawa and residents’ dependence on the automobile for transportation.

The City of Ottawa has experienced urban sprawl over the past few decades. Suburban communities such as Barrhaven, Kanata and Orleans are resultant communities of the city’s urban sprawl into peripheral greenfields, areas that were once farmland. Thousands of individuals now have to rely mainly on personal automobiles to get to and from their workplaces which are predominantly located in the centre core. Consequently, individuals who commute from the periphery and those who live in the core must deal with public space converted into roads and parking, and traffic which “defines the modern city and pervades urban living so fully that in most places it’s almost impossible to imagine a day’s journey without it” (Turner, 2012, p. 216). However, several policy levers can be implemented to make the City of Ottawa’s transportation system more sustainable.

The policy levers that will be explored in this paper are vetted through three concepts: smart urban growth, reconquest, and Copenhagenization. Smart urban growth “invests time, attention, and resources in restoring community and vitality to centre cities by providing a variety of transportation choices and being transit...

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