Threats to City Living Overstated

April 2021

Toronto, and other urban centres, have faced bigger challenges than COVID.

Cities have been growing and thriving since ancient times when people sought protection and wealth behind protective walls.

Today our needs are less essential.  We migrate to cities to be near others.  We desire good food, entertainment, employment and shopping.  Growing cities were the impetus for the industrial revolution, law, modern sanitation, modern methods to grow and store food, and much more.  About 3 percent of the world population lived in cities in 1800.  In 2000, half the world’s population was urban.  In Canada, about 90 percent of our population is urban.

Our cities have survived plagues, pollution, congestion, wars and the mass targeting of civilians by terrorists.  COVID is a minor blip compared to all this.

The pandemic has changed our relationship with the city and this is bound to change things moving forward.  As you read this, planners are working to improve how our cities evolve.  The pace of change has increased as planners compare experiences and experiments around the world to identify what works best and is being embraced.  There is no magic solution.  Homelessness and affordability may never be fully resolved.