Affordability, Transit, And Housing: A Case Study Of Vivanext On Yonge Street In Richmond Hill And Newmarket
Mpaka, Goretti Maria
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The GTA has experienced population growth in the past decade, and the majority of this growth is attributed to immigration. As municipalities push for more sustainable ways to travel, it is crucial that it is done in a just and equitable manner that caters to the diversity in cities. This includes cost effective means of travel for children, the elderly, families, low income communities, people with disabilities, and also the working population. There are many overlaps in these groups and they should not be considered as separate groups, for instance a working woman may have low income or high income. To fully harness the benefits of transit systems, walkable, compact and mixed use developments in proximity to transit stations have been suggested in the form of Transit-oriented Development (TOD). Transit and housing are big indicators of affordable neighborhoods. TOD has added to the equation of affordability in YR because of the low numbers of affordable housing along major transit corridors and Stations. York Region is becoming highly unaffordable, especially for low and moderate income earner. Policy solutions should not only cater for low income families but also alleviate the challenges of moderate income earners who spend more than 50% of their household income on housing. Affordability affects overall livelihood of families especially those with high risk of homelessness. Through a case study of the environmental justice implications of Vivanext bus rapid transit Yonge Street - Richmond Hill and Newmarket in York Region, it is evident that there is a connection between transit, housing and poverty, a connection that does not get much attention in urban planning in Canada. Environmental Justice (EJ) offers a framework to analyse the current transportation planning practices. Environmental justice incorporated in planning for transit is usually applied to communities with low income or those with minorities, but is it applicable in the mostly affluent York Region? The paper explores the tenets of power in urban planning and unconventional avenues for negotiating power and the sources of power. The Right to the City framework uses "rights" to fight injustices that are usually dictated by minority elite. Claiming one's right in place making creates avenues to challenge power, contest decisions and realizing the right to the city. All these frameworks are insufficient independently but can inform one another to understand and challenge current power relations that claim invincibility.