As part of his “State of the City” address, Fredericton mayor Brad Woodside announced “Sustainability. By Design.” which appears to be a buzzy term for updating the municipal plan. That plan was created in 1991, last updated in 2002 and amended several times later whenever a proposal didn’t fit the plan. The biggest problem with that plan is that it isn’t very green. It encourages sprawl, has no ties with transit and focuses on heritage preservation over density.

This is exactly the same thing that Halifax did a few years ago in their HRMbyDesign process. Saint John is doing it too with PlanSJ. Municipal plans do need to be updated every few years as demographics and focus change so this isn’t an unexpected process.

Here are a few points to consider when thinking about urban planning:

  • Don’t use this as a venue to bash other people’s lifestyles. (Yes, I’ve said that before)
  • There will have to be several versions of the document, depending on the outcome of Alward’s promise for municipal reform.
  • The cost of transportation will go up significantly in the next few years. Public transit won’t just be for students and poor people, it will need to be included in the municipal planning process.
  • Active transportation and walkability will be a greater consideration when designing neighbourhoods.
  • Existing neighbourhoods will need be retrofitted to conform to the new standards. This will be a difficult process, but it must be done as “obsolete” neighbourhoods will become the slums of tomorrow.
  • Heritage will have to take a back seat to sustainability. Heritage buildings won’t necessarily be torn down, but heritage “look and feel” zones will be less important than density.

In the end, it will have to be a big compromise for all of the involved stakeholders. Here’s hoping that all parties involved get a chance to voice their opinion and that cooler heads prevail.