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November 2008
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Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the joint OTC/ITEconference on urban streetscaping. Most of the speakers were from the City of Toronto but the first presentation, one of the better ones, was from the City of Markham. The best presentation of the day was by Phil Weber of Ourston Roundabouts.

What is Streetscaping?

Streetscaping is any urban road design and how it affects the street users and nearby residents. More recently streetscaping has shifted its focus from automobiles and placed pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy, streets are after all where people are involved in a realm of activities including motor vehicle traffic. With pedestrians now at the top of the hierarchy streetscaping helps planners define a neighbourhoods aesthetic qualities, economic identity, health and  social cohesion NOT just its mobility.

Great so Toronto’s streets will see some beautification. Don’t get me wrong there are many beautiful intersections across Toronto but equally there are some pretty hideous ones too.

To support streetscaping the City of Toronto has a 20-year roll out plan for new garbage cans, transit shelters, newspaper boxes, and other signage and amenities to make our city more appeasing. The plan is to place over 20,000 new amenities across the city, most of which will be up in the next 5 years.


As I said above Roundabouts was the highlight of my day. Roundabouts are more efficient, safer, more aesthetically pleasing but not meant for retrofit in large cities. Although I was disappointed to hear this, it does make sense. Roundabouts take up more space than a signalized intersection, which would require cities to procure expensive lands.

Roundabouts will become more prevalent in rural and suburban design. Phil Weber of Ourston Roundabouts Canada  showed many great examples of roundabouts across American; Avon, Coloradowas his highlighted town. Again they are safer; they eliminate those horrifying ‘t-bone’ accidents because of their geometry. Overall they are quieter and they are more fuel efficient. And typically in our suburban and rural areas we have the land available to place these roundabouts.

I found yesterday very enlightening and look forward to the city beautiful movement across Toronto.


Comment from Carz
Time July 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I think Streetscaping is basically like the spam collection and control management in blogs. They better the systems of things.