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The 15-Minute City might be good in theory….

October 2023

The 15-Minute City might be a good idea in theory. The concept is a city design that enables residents to access most daily amenities within a 15 to 20-minute walk, bike or other mode of transportation from any point in a city, town or village regardless of size. However, the concept comes with some significant problems that would have to be overcome, some that I can relate to with personal experience.

I’ve lived in two different housing subdivisions in Barrie, both of which were supposed to have schools built within their boundaries.  The one that I used to liven was supposed to have both a public and a secondary elementary school, while where I currently live, was supposed to have just a public elementary school, one that was to be about a two-minute walk from my house.  None of these school were built and there are now houses on the lots.  Why?

What I was told was that the school board and the property developer must come to an agreement for the sale of the land, if there is to be a school built.  I has always been under the assumption that there needed to a school built according to a specific population density, but apparently that is incorrect.

My daughter has had to take around two-mile bus rides to both her elementary school, and now to her high school.

The other issue with the 15 Minute City is vital retail options, like grocery stores.  I grew up in the Aldershot area of Burlington in the 1970s.  Back then, there was a Longo’s Fruit Market about a two-minute walk from my house, and a Dominion Supermarket and a Towers Department Store, both around a mile away.  

The plaza’s where both were located, one which also had things like a library, barber, a Canadian Tire store and LCBO outlet, was demolished around 15 year ago and replaced with several condominium towers.  While there is some ground-floor retail, it’s mostly specialty and boutique shops, but not a full-service grocery store.  

Now, with all those new residences, you would think that this would be a prime spot for at least a grocery store, but the reason there isn’t one is quite shocking.

Despite repeated requests from the new and longtime residents of the area, all the major grocery retailers have declined to open a store because they don’t feel there is enough traffic to warrant opening one!  Really!  

There seemed to be enough traffic to support one over 15 years ago, ironically when the population of Aldershot was just a fraction of what it is today, and growing.  Aldershot is a designated intensification area, with several new condominium and townhouse developments having been built, or scheduled to be built.

Instead, my parents, who still live in the same 1964-era home, have to travel around a mile-and-a-half to the local Fortinos store, or around two miles to Longo’s.

Unless the government is prepared to get into the retail grocery business, something that would likely be a complete disaster, there is very little that politicians can do to make a private company invest in something that they don’t with to do.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-15-minute-city-might-be-good-in-theory/

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