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Growing Pains

A new documentary that explores urban growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and its impact on the population.
Top image caption: A busy Toronto intersection. Photo: Mike Derblich

Published on October 06, 2016

Documentary film ‘Growing Pains’ tells the story of urbanization in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and opportunities to evolve and urbanize into the 21st century

A new documentary series premiered at the BMO Atrium at Evergreen Brick Works on October 6. Exploring urban growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Growing Pains explains how another two million residents are scheduled to arrive in the region over the next 20 years, and poses the question: As our population continues to grow, how will the region accommodate both present and future needs?An old map of the Leaside neighbourhood.A TTC streetcar service map from 1965.

In a look back at how a history of development shaped this region, Growing Pains explains how the streetcar network in Toronto formed the backbone for a network of dense, compact communities (Mimico and Leaside are examples that stand today as vibrant neighbourhoods in the broader city).

The streetcar network enabled people to live further from the city centre than before, and gave rise to a building boom of residential tower complexes through the 1960s and 70s. The tower construction was followed closely by the construction of the 400 series highways that we know today.A high-rise apartment building.

Today, the predominant growth model across the region is of single family detached homes, often built on greenfields and in car-dependent locations located far from transit. But as the Growing Pains examines the accelerating urbanization in the region, it unpacks tools and possibilities for realizing a future of growth, prosperity, and sustainable regional development.A birds-eye view of a suburban neighbourhood.

As stated by Toronto Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, “We know we need densities that support transit and walking, but at the end of the day transit only works if in fact it is embedded in a mixture of uses at densities that can support a level of service that will in turn be competitive with getting around in your car.” She continues by noting that “The only way that we can can continue to change in a sophisticated way is if we broaden the conversation. We bring in as many people into a conversation about the future of the city, and the future of the region, and we build understand around why change is required, and we continually build our own knowledge base around how best to change and evolve as a region.”Bicycles parked on a city street.
The Growing Pains screening was followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion with film director Gregory Greene, the Honourable David Crombie, Marcy Burchfield of the Neptis Foundation, and Jeff Gray from the Globe and Mail. Growing Pains was produced by Evergreen and PlanetGreene Productions in partnership with The Globe and Mail and Bell Fibe TV1, and in association with CityAge.