Planning for a resilient city – Byron Miller’s opinion piece on Plan It

June 18th, 2009. Byron Miller’s opinion piece at the Calgary Herald:

When it comes to planning cities, we frequently act as if the future will simply be “deja vu all over again,” to borrow a phrase from the great social analyst Yogi Berra. In many ways it would be nice if it were so. The future would be clear and we could keep doing the same old things that worked pretty well in the past.

But, as Berra also insightfully observed, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Turn the clock back 60 years and the future was large families with lots of kids, fuelling the growth of the suburbs.

By contrast, today the average Calgary household has about two-and-a-half people and that number is dropping. Six decades ago marked the beginning of our largest demographic cohort, the baby boom generation. Now baby boomers are nearing retirement and looking to downsize their housing.

Sixty years ago we didn’t think about the environmental effects of our lifestyles. Now we know our greenhouse gas emissions threaten the integrity of the planet’s life-support systems. And sixty years ago we thought cheap fossil fuel would go on forever. Now we know expensive energy is right around the corner. No, the future is not what it used to be.

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