Brampton: Canada’s densest urban center

Written by By Dan Galperin, CNN Brampton, Ontario, Canada CNN

Brampton is one of the biggest municipalities in Canada with 542,000 residents. Located in the suburbs south of Toronto, the city is known for having the longest line of high-rise buildings stretching across its borders from Georgetown to Walkerton.

These towers aren’t known for their views, since many residents are actually more interested in views of their windows, says Hani Kasturian, senior planner for the City of Brampton

Before the 1990s, Brampton was very low density, with a lot of older towns, particularly hamlets, which had private homes. You would have roads and little open space. There’s an opportunity to look at the volume of land and thinking about where you want to grow your communities.

Hani Kasturian, senior planner, City of Brampton

There’s a bit of this brownfield opportunity. This city wasn’t developed, at least not in the way many suburbs were. The vision was that it would become a middle-class population, not as much as in Toronto, but more than in Durham, Mississauga, or Oshawa. And to a certain extent, it’s worked. Our income levels are more like Toronto, our population growth was similar to Toronto — it’s really one of the fastest growing suburbs of Toronto.

We also started to develop some of these new town centers, so they weren’t just planned communities filled with houses. We started to re-write our official plan for the city, to put some of those old communities back on the map. These residents wanted to retain some of that open space, so we’re able to put new things in, like parks and trails.

In the last 20 years, we’ve had a lot of new developments, so we’re trying to create more infrastructure, and I think we’ve succeeded. We’re creating a very walkable city now. And I think everyone expects this, especially in a place like Toronto, which is so inundated with all kinds of housing. You feel we live in a bubble, if we don’t have a walkable city, we don’t live a good life.

This might come as a shock to some, but the majority of this city is between 10 and 20 minutes from the nearest public transit. There’s a bus line which goes right through the middle of the city, so it’s the most accessible in the city. We have brand new light rail and streetcar lines. We have stops about 10 minutes from any of our buildings and just a 10-minute walk from all our destinations.

This is just the first generation of people living in Brampton’s new dense communities, so it’s going to take another generation of people to realize that there’s also a lifestyle change we need to go through, to make these communities all that desirable.

As part of the Design Matters series, explore Bizarre cities to discover design masterpieces and lesser-known gems.

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