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Design, Policy and Canadian Cities
Naama Blonder Architect, Urban Designer, Urban Planner | B.Arch, OAA, RPP, MCIP

Minister’s Zoning Orders vs. community engagement

Naama Blonder Residential Development Ontario Sep. 22 2022
Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs for short, have frequently appeared in the news in Ontario from 2019 to the present day, resulting in many controversies. Much of the criticism surrounding MZOs revolves around the lack of community engagement. In the

Urban Design Panel: What you should know before attending

Naama Blonder Residential Development National Aug. 23 2022
Design leaves a lasting impact on how cities look, shaping cities 50 or even 100 years into the future. Municipalities use several different methods to guide and shape the design of developments, from zoning to secondary plans and urban design

The Naked House: The future of housing affordability?

Naama Blonder Residential Market Trends National Jun. 6 2022
If you’ve ever shopped around for a house or condo, terms like “designer cabinetry” or “engineered hardwood” or “contemporary finishes” are probably familiar. While such phrases conjure up images of luxury, they can also come with big price tags. But

With secondary markets booming, there’s no better time for GO Expansion

Naama Blonder Residential Market Trends Ontario Apr. 26 2022
Something big is happening for transit in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), but you might not have heard much about it in the news. Metrolinx is transforming its GO Transit rail network and it’s going to make travelling across

Retail at grade: When does recipe for success become overbearing policy?

Naama Blonder Residential Development National Mar. 16 2022
If you look at any major development in any major city in Canada, you will almost always hear the term “mixed-use.” Mixed-use implies diversity and vibrancy and activity. It can mean any blend of residential, commercial, retail, institutional or office

Stop worrying about building height; start focusing on good design

Naama Blonder Residential Market Trends National Feb. 14 2022
Listen in on nearly any public meeting for a new development and I can almost guarantee that somebody will complain about height. Height concerns come up all the time. New tall buildings are cause for alarm among some community members,

Winter cities: Let’s embrace the cold in our public realms

Naama Blonder Residential Market Trends National Jan. 26 2022
Canada is known for many things, from manners to maple syrup, but it’s perhaps our cold and snowy winters that most define us. Cities across Canada experience up to six months of winter weather each year, which can make being

GO commuter lots can be the GTA’s next affordable housing solution

Naama Blonder Residential Affordable Housing Ontario Dec. 3 2021
CreateTO, the real estate arm of the City of Toronto, has identified parking lots adjacent to TTC stations as the best places for its affordable housing program, Housing NOW. Metrolinx should also take a closer look at its enormous surface

What does inclusionary zoning really mean for Toronto?

Naama Blonder Residential Development Toronto / GTA Nov. 4 2021
On Oct. 28, the City of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee recommended the approval of the controversial inclusionary zoning policy, which many planners and developers have butted heads over in the past. What is inclusionary zoning? To understand fully why

Issues which impact housing affordability, beyond supply and demand

Naama Blonder Residential Design Toronto / GTA Sep. 21 2021
When people think about the unaffordable housing prices of Toronto, they generally attribute it to the supply and demand of the housing market. While this is true, as supply and demand is a major factor dictating the cost of housing,

Let’s take a fresh look at developing Toronto’s employment lands

Naama Blonder Commercial Development Toronto / GTA Aug. 18 2021
The one-year Toronto city council-approved window to receive requests to convert lands designated Core Employment Areas or General Employment Areas for non-employment uses, pursuant to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2019) closed on Aug.

Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton: How 3 cities are tackling the missing middle

Naama Blonder Residential Affordable Housing Toronto / GTA Jul. 7 2021
In Toronto, we talk a lot about the “missing middle” – the concept that there is a lack of housing options falling somewhere in between detached homes and mid-rise and tall buildings. This is an issue in Toronto due in

11 years later: Have Toronto’s mid-rise guidelines stood the test of time?

Naama Blonder Residential Development Toronto / GTA Jun. 2 2021
It’s been just over a decade (May 2010) since the City of Toronto first published its design guidelines for mid-rise buildings on Avenues (an official term for some of the city’s main streets). Therefore, it seemed like the right time

Shadows vs. housing: This debate should be a no-contest

Naama Blonder Residential Development National Apr. 29 2021
Shadows are a recurring concern local communities and members of the public raise in any development project. Believe it or not, we also hear it in our “missing middle” projects that, by definition, are limited to no more than four

A compelling future housing vision – finding the Missing Middle

Naama Blonder Residential Sustainability Toronto / GTA Jan. 28 2021
Most new housing exists on either end of a polarized spectrum; either single, detached houses or high-rise condominiums. Even though demand for Missing Middle housing options exists, they have become difficult to find and even more challenging to build. Zoning

How Toronto’s CityPlace found its sense of place

Naama Blonder Residential Downtown Toronto / GTA Dec. 8 2020
The 45-acre master-planned CityPlace community in Toronto, with 30 residential towers and 18,000 residents, has been transformed from once-disused railway lands into a thriving community. It started as a uniform, bland and unimaginative residential community without any of the attributes

Family-friendly condos in Toronto: Pipe dream or missed opportunity?

Naama Blonder Residential Market Trends National Sep. 29 2020
In the past year, four of our friends started families – and moved to Hamilton from Toronto. Each of them moved from a condo rental unit in the core to a house in Hamilton. As with many others, they wouldn’t

If we want affordable housing, the numbers must work for everyone

Naama Blonder Residential Development Toronto / GTA Sep. 2 2020
Earlier this summer, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the locations for Housing Now’s Phase II sites. They are part of Toronto’s initiative to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing within mixed-income, transit-oriented communities on city-owned lands. “Housing Now”

Ottawa following tired path in expanding urban boundaries

Naama Blonder Residential Government Toronto / GTA May. 27 2020
(UPDATED with Ottawa council approval on May 27) Ottawa council has approved a plan to expand the city’s growth boundary by almost 1,300 hectares. The moves follows a 10-1 vote a week ago from a combined committee – (including both

There are no backyards in Paris, but you’d love to raise your kids there

Naama Blonder Residential Design National May. 20 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we introduce RENX’s newest column contributor, Toronto-based architect, urban designer and urban planner Naama Blonder. Naama is the co-founder of Smart Density, and via this new Design, Policy & Canadian Cities column will share her views and

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