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What Are The Benefits Of Mixed-Use Developments?

With the population on the rise, Canada is at the forefront of a socio-cultural shift. This is paving the way for more mixed-use developments in an effort to stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life within more densely populated areas. In order to accommodate the shifting urban landscape, developers are focusing on integrating residential, commercial and office spaces with the intent to deliver scalable solutions, efficient land use, and more “livable communities” where residents can work, live and play.




During the earlier part of the 20th century, city growth and zoning regulations forced developers to build outwards from the centre. As a result, suburban residential neighbourhoods started to form, creating car-dependant commuter towns and leaving residents miles away from amenities. However, in recent years, trends have been showing that more and more Canadians are looking to live in communities that blend work, shops, transportation and services – and this growing trend is valuable for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the highlighted benefits of mixed-use development below.


ECONOMIC VITALITY


Many studies have highlighted a strong correlation between walkable environments and economic vitality. According to a report by the CEO for Cities, “The resurgent interest in downtowns and in promoting mixed-use developments throughout metropolitan areas is, in part, driven by a recognition of the value of walkability.” Mixed-use buildings are found to increase foot traffic as local residents can pop out to a restaurant on their lunch break, or get their groceries only a few steps from home. This promotes more business and revitalized neighbourhoods.

Having a community that incorporates residences, office, and retail space also has the power to create more jobs while providing immediate access to necessary services and amenities for those in the surrounding area.


POSITIVE IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT


Single-use developments require massive amounts of municipal infrastructure and energy sources. They also encourage greater car usage and traffic congestion. Alternatively, smart growth practices with mixed-use development allow developers to utilize resources more efficiently, while reducing the negative impacts on the environment, like air pollution.

Vertical stacking can also save big on infrastructure costs like water, wastewater, electricity, and telecommunications. And, since mixed-use developments accommodate a greater number of people in the same area, it can help to reduce municipal costs, such as garbage and emergency services. It’s a win-win situation for developers, the government and residents alike.




PROMOTES HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES


There’s no surprise that your health can be significantly influenced by where you live. Since suburban communities have a greater dependability on vehicles, it means that many residents spend very little time walking or getting much movement at all beyond entering and exiting their vehicle. Studies have shown that a lack of walkable environments has a greater tendency to promote inactive lifestyles, which can lead to a greater occurrence of chronic obesity and other diseases.


But thanks to more strategic, future-forward development and planning, mix-use, pedestrian-friendly designs can help create communities that encourage healthier, active lifestyles, which in turn, benefits the economy and the country as a whole.


SHARED COMMUNITY SPACES


These modern smart-growth practices are also transforming our communities and neighbourhoods by creating more shared spaces that are convenient, that encourage our social interaction with others, and that even improve our mental health.


West Block Glenora in Edmonton is a prime example of how shared spaces are transforming the way we live, work and play. With their 3.5-acre redevelopment project located in the picturesque Glenora area, residents can find everything they need right downstairs or within walking distance – parks, shared outdoor spaces, retail and offices, and entertainment areas that allow people to connect and interact. This creates a safer, tight-knit community for residents and surrounding neighbours to enjoy.


EFFICIENT LAND USE


Another key benefit of mixed-use developments can be seen in their ability to accommodate greater densities in desirable locations. According to a study by Delaware State Housing Authority, compact growth uses 20 to 45 percent less land than overspill development. Residents can get access to all the things they want and need without developers having to build horizontally. In turn, this promotes more efficient land use that can conserve valuable land resources and create amenity-rich neighbourhoods, along with less urban sprawl.


As the benefits of mixed-use developments gain recognition, they are becoming a welcomed trend in the modern, future planning of cities in Canada and around the world. With smart growth initiatives, you get more efficient land-use, more vibrant community spaces and neighbourhoods that can support and encourage healthy growth.


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