Big cities have a big problem, and the only way to fix it is to move on up


If you asked people to name Canada’s two biggest economic challenges, many would list stratospheric home prices and plodding growth. Perhaps, then, it’s time to consider an idea that takes aim at both problems.

The notion is simple enough: Do away with single-family zoning restrictions in big cities. Bid goodbye to the two-storey family house surrounded by a moat of lawn. Say hello to much denser development, centred on three- to six-storey townhouses, condos and rental apartments.

This is not a radical concept. It is, however, remarkably contentious. Proposals for densification are met with howls of pain from homeowners in the leafiest neighbourhoods of central Toronto and Vancouver. They don’t want to see their quaint neighbourhoods become more cluttered and urban.

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