Toward abolition of R1 zoning and the two-egress straitjacket?

Crowdsourcing popular perceptions of soft densification in the 'Yellow Belts' of Montréal and Toronto

This project will document popular perceptions of context-sensitive densification in the so-calle postsuburban 'Yellow Belts' of Toronto and Montréal, where struggles over innovative land practices continue apace (see Meslin ; cf Bunce). We target two restrictive land practices common in Anglo-American contexts : (a) protectionist 'R1' zoning regimes that limit huge swaths of (sub)urban land to 'single-family-detached' housing typologies and (b) the two-means-of-egress requirement in building codes. Such regulatory measures are self-perpetuating structures of permanence, both material (in the built environment) and immaterial (in legal and regulatory frameworks) in nature. These have been challenged in many U.S. jurisdictions where R1 zoning has been banned, such as Minneapolis-St Paul (see notably Hoyt and Manville et al.). Such reform is possible only when broad (popular) political support can be empirically demonstrated. Indeed, many proponents of 'gentle' or 'soft' densification argue that participatory (crowdsourcing) processes of urban design and planning can lead to the meaningful reform of existing regulatory regimes when coupled with robust performative design guidelines. Project A will do just this, exploring popular attitudes toward densification through a user-friendly set of visualisations of typical suburban fabrics through a simple web-based survey with optional deliberative online forum. Project B will be 'baked into' Project A in terms of physical configurations of dwellings shown in the hypothetical scenarios, but it will continue in parallel by preparing documentation for proposing a code change to the standing committee of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes for the next code review cycle (anticipated in 2024-25).

  • Innovating in Responsive Land Practices

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