GreenTOpia in Canadian Architect

By Ian Chodikoff
Canadian Architect
January 2008

GreenTOpia: Towards a Sustainable Toronto is the third volume in this locally popular uTOpia series. The books are comprised of short essays in which local architects, artists, planners and activists identify problems, describe solutions and present ideas -- both real and utopian -- about the ways in which the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) can improve the quality of its built environment.

GreenTOpia regales us with many possibilities for Toronto’s bicycle lanes, green corridors and park activists, but could easily be criticized by those who do not live in the GTA as a navel-gazing indulgence written by local urban thinkers. After reading through the book, detractors might come away with the belief that there is nothing Toronto can’t possibly achieve. However, it is more likely that anyone who reads this book -- whether they hail from the GTA or not -- will derive great insight into the myriad challenges, successes and possibilities leading to the improvement of the ecological standards of any city.

The variety of ways in which a city can reduce its ecological footprint is vast and this book eschews any kind of doctrinaire methodology. The 42 essays increase our awareness of Toronto’s watersheds, ravine systems, tree canopies, recycling propensities, food production, improvement of transit systems and environmental factors such as heat islands, noise and light pollution, intensification of land use and the protection of our built heritage.

Of notable importance is the 56-page directory of resources promoting sustainability throughout the GTA. Links to web pages, telephone numbers and a list of various organizations provide a useful guide as to what the GTA currently offers in terms of sustainable programs. An FAQ section provides the reader with answers that he or she may not even have considered, such as 'How can I get paid for going green?' and 'Where is my closest community garden?' Asking the right questions should be at the beginning of every responsible citizen’s list when considering how to improve the quality of life in his or her community. This book provides the necessary guidelines to help focus our resolve in increasing the sustainability quotient of our cities.

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