Residents of a block of 19 post-war apartment buildings in Toronto are working to create a residential apartment commercial (RAC) zone in their neighborhood, as part of a Tower Renewal project. The residents hope to bring needed small-scale retail and community services to the area.
The Tower Renewal project is the city’s long-term plan to revitalize high-rise areas. The RAC zone would bring businesses, health-care services and temporary outdoor markets and food trucks to the towers’ ground floors and surrounding areas.
The lack of nearby shops and services has produced a negative effect on the well-being of the residents, who have higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases, according to Toronto Public Health.
“These tower clusters, which were built between the 1950s and 1980s for middle-income residents, were seen originally as the preferred alternative to downtown living,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Surrounded by an expanse of green space, these “towers in park” were just a short drive away from shops and amenities. But as the city’s demographics shifted, apartment high-rises became the de facto source of affordable housing, especially for recent immigrants, many of whom do not own cars.”
“The idea of segregated uses doesn’t work any more,” Graeme Stewart, an associate at ERA Architects (one of the firms involved with Tower Renewal) and a co-author of a recent Toronto public health report, told the newspaper. “The irony is that thousands of people live in apartment neighbourhoods but when you go there, often they feel like ghost towns.”