CONNECTING SUBURBIA - Part 2: UPHEAVAL
".....we prosper only when cities have the capacity to reinvent themselves - quickly and constantly" *
Connecting Suburbia - Part 2: Upheaval delves further into the topic of how to make best use of the land that will become available when big-box supercentres succumb to the reality that mega stores are no longer viable in today's economy. An opportunity will exist to 'adopt a bold food strategy'** by creating multiple small urban farms on land that was once blighted with big-box stores and vast parking lots. Integrating small-scale agriculture into the community facilitates interaction between residents and farmers. Essentially, they become partners with a vested interest in the success of the farm. As Nick Saul, president of Community Food Centres Canada says: "We need to move away from the idea of being consumers of food, to being citizens of food."
The retail behemoth Walmart, has a nasty habit of abandoning under-performing stores so it seemed justified in Connecting Suburbia - Part 2: Upheaval to lay waste to it by unleashing (in this case un-zoning) its residential equivalent - the cul-de-sac; another anachronism of the car-culture era.
Many of the large retail chains have seen the writing on the wall, especially those that serve low to middle income earners. There is an exception to that - here in Canada at least - where high-end retailers are experiencing growth primarily attributed to the top 2% of the population and occurring in established retail 'destinations' such as Yorkdale and Sherway Gardens. The big picture however, reveals there's no avoiding the fact that e-commerce is here and will continue to drive the direction of retail. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, a distinction (if you want to call it that) that came at great cost to small independent local stores is leading the charge to reduce its footprint in order to capitalize on the huge migration of people to urban centres. By re-branding and infiltrating city centres with its newest incarnations 'Walmart Express' and the euphemistically named 'Neighbourhood Markets', Walmart has made huge inroads in American cities and the company's new small-scale stores are actively looking to gain a foothold here in Toronto's urban core. But a Walmart by any other name is still a Walmart and neighbourhood associations will need to be vigilant and limit the number of these stores to reduce their smothering impact on independent businesses.
* Christopher Hume, Toronto Star, June 28, 2014
** The Top Ten Big Ideas, Toronto Star, 2014
Upheaval took 5 months to make. This one minute video provides a time lapse overview of its construction.
1/2: multiple small-scale urban farms integrated into the community
2/2: new communities take shape on land once occupied by big-box retail
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