On a recent trip to the Farmer’s Market at Brewer Park, I had occasion to walk the streets of Sunnyside, a lovely neighbourhood that I never really see very much. That day I was walking down Aylmer Avenue, and I happened to notice protest signs on two houses next to each other. Both signs decried the scourge of “overdevelopment” in “our neighbourhood”.
Interestingly, on my walk, I saw very little development at all. There were some renovations, and clearly there had been some infills in the past few decades, but, for the most part, it all fit with the rest of the neighbourhood size-wise, if not aesthetically. There was very little mixed-use development and barely any commercial enterprises (and those that existed are well-established as part of the neighbourhood).
Sure, there were a couple of sets of row houses and a retirement residence, but if this is what was considered “overdevelopment”, then the word has ceased to have much meaning at all.
I assume, of course, that it these signs were an oblique reference to the development at Lansdowne, which is certainly an expansive interpretation of the concept of neighbourhood (but good for them for wanting to be in community with so many other city residents!).
But the question remains, is the Lansdowne project actually overdevelopment? For years, the stadium has been falling down; the land has been of little use; and even when it was in use, it was often little more than a parking lot. Lansdowne’s recent history has been a testament to underdevelopment. Perhaps having this asphalt pit in the midst of a growing urban neighbourhood has skewed people’s views as to what overdevelopment actually is.*
Interestingly, the two houses that had these signs were rather large houses. They weren’t on especially large lots, but they were certainly large homes in a rather dense, urban locale. That, I would argue, is its own from of overdevelopment.
*Note: I’m arguing that Lansdowne isn’t really an example of overdevelopment… at least, not an egregious example. That doesn’t mean that it is appropriate development, just that it’s more in line with the appropriate use of the land than the stadium-turned-demolition site was.