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A radical vision for reinventing the suburbs

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Outside Toronto, in a field surrounded by farmland, the seeds of a seemingly implausible high-density, transit-oriented community are taking root.

The community is the Orbit, a futuristic-sounding name for a new district on the edge of the town of Innisfil, Ontario, a commuter city about a half-hour drive north of Toronto. The plan for the Orbit is a grid of streets radiating around a dense central district, with proposed mid-rise towers, plentiful open spaces, and a mix of residential, commercial, and civic buildings. The center point of the plan is a commuter rail station that links Innisfil and other suburban communities to Toronto.

[Image: courtesy Partisans /Innisfil, Ontario]Innisfil is one of a number of growing communities in the region, with a population of about 40,000, that’s expected to double within the next 30 years. “Growth management is one of our key challenges as a community, from a planning perspective but from all kinds of other perspectives as well,” says Oliver Jerschow, the town’s chief administrative officer. He points to a range of issues such growth would stress, including infrastructure, finances, and providing city services like public safety and parks to residents. “What I think the Orbit is trying to capture is how can we do that differently.”

The town is hoping to avoid repeating the patterns of other suburbs in the region. “Strip malls, subdivisions, big-box stores, all that stuff we see all over North........

© Fast Company

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