Ken Greenberg, an independent, renowned urban planner, is a visionary and consultant to cities and towns all over the world. He came to Port Hope, found lots he liked but he also recognized an imminent danger. That is, the threat to our quality of life posed by suburb-styled, car-dependent residential development.
Without a sustainable development strategy, Port Hope risks losing the cultural and environmental heritage that are central to the vibrancy and livability of our community.
- Port Hope’s “unique environment has the very characteristics that cities and towns of every size are now trying to achieve” with older, walkable neighborhoods, with a vital tree canopy,
complementing the downtown core with “desirable sociable characteristics.”
- Our Strategic Plan speaks of a “complete community” through sustainable infrastructure, intentional growth, multi-generational communities, and affordable housing.
- We are not doing good community-building, what we do is regressive, not inclusive and unsustainable.
- We’re blindly following an outdated pattern of development that will extend auto-dependent suburbs along the 401 eastward.
- The real warning sign: The Mason Homes residential development, “out of out of sync with current development best practices”, and a commuter-centred plan that threatens Penryn Forest.
Where do we go from here?
A sustainable and livable community for us all!
Port Hope has a special natural setting on the shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Ganaraska River. Neighbourhoods on hills and wooded ravines in the urban area lead to downtown cultural heritage assets and valued public space.
We have enviable strengths: a vibrant heritage downtown, walkability, a lively cultural life, mixed use older neighbourhoods, and social infrastructure. We are shifting from a commuter culture back to a connected community where families “Live, work and play”.
Investment in our renowned public assets - parks, river and beach access, public buildings, trees, streets and sidewalks - continues to attract private investment. Connectivity to parks and downtown spaces should be required in development proposals.
4. Broaden the mix of uses.
Shared commercial and residential uses are Port Hope’s heritage. Mixed use buildings (walk-ups, mid-rise apartments, upper floor conversions, home businesses etc.) contribute to density targets and affordability while rows of single-family homes do not.
5. Improve connectivity.
Public transit, sidewalks and cycle routes are the future of community living as is access to nature (such as Penryn Woods) proven valuable to spiritual/mental health. Overcoming the 401 barrier and access public spaces should be enhanced in new developments.
Our Strategic Plan calls for calls for environmental responsibility including conservation of heritage structures and cultural landscapes Adherence to these principles should be required in all development proposals including Mason Homes subdivision plans.
The topography of urban Port Hope has forced settlement around its natural environment. When the PHAI is complete, restoration of our connected ecology will be needed. Added destruction of our ecology in heedless development plans can not be permitted.
Built heritage has always been a Port Hope priority and adaptive reuse encouraged. Protection, preservation and enhancement of our ecological heritage is the future for Port Hope and a world facing climate change.
9. Provide a balanced network for movement.
Walkers and cyclists should be accommodated, and non-motorized movement encouraged. Public transit can be expanded to connect all-age-groups and specialized needs. Street-side access, not automobile parking, should be required in new plans.
10. Foster public safety and well-being.
By enhancing connectivity, neighbourhoods will feel safer for all ages. By protecting our tree canopy and natural heritage, so to do we protect our mental and physical health. The well-being of citizens should be prioritized in all development plans.
Climate Action Plan for Port Hope
This is our chance to inform the process and ensure it reflects this vision of sustainability.
To this end, we have drafted and shared proposed Terms of Reference for this process which we hope Council will adopt.