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

What our planning system can learn from the CRA

Naama Blonder Residential Affordable Housing Toronto / GTA Jan. 4 2024

Are planning thresholds "magic" numbers? Why are rates and policies applied across the board for all developments as soon as the "magic" number is hit? Most importantly, is there a better way?

Dear future Toronto chief planner: Here are my boldest ideas

Naama Blonder Residential Design Toronto / GTA Dec. 4 2023

Allow me to share some ideas that could genuinely transform the future urban landscape of Toronto. I realize some of them might be less feasible than others, but hey, it's a hypothetical letter, so why not go big?

Good intentions, unintended planning policy outcomes

Naama Blonder Residential Urban National Oct. 2 2023

Almost every policy begins with good intentions, some of which are genuinely inspiring as they aim to substantially transform our cities. This task is no simple feat. Some are successful, some are not, and some simply become outdated.

PART II: 12 industry voices offer tips to fulfill Toronto mayor's quest for 25,000 more rental homes

Naama Blonder Residential Apartments National Sep. 7 2023

In light of an initiative by Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow to facilitate construction of 25,000 additional rental housing units in Toronto, I reached out to 12 leaders within the rental development sphere, spanning the private, governmental, professional and non-profit sectors.

Mayor Chow: 12 visionary voices offer tips to fulfill your quest for 25,000 rental homes in Toronto

Naama Blonder Residential Apartments Toronto / GTA Sep. 6 2023

Of all the new homes built during the past decade, only 11 per cent were rental units.  With hundreds of thousands of new Canadians aspiring to call Toronto ‘home’ by 2025, our housing affordability crisis seems to remain as severe as ever.

The future is urban, and it is tall, even for used-to-be small towns like Oakville

Naama Blonder Residential Densification Ontario Aug. 29 2023

We are expecting 1.5 million new Canadians by 2025. Almost half of them will settle in Ontario (approximately 42 per cent), but in Toronto less than 30,000 units were completed in the years 2020-2021 combined.

Double standards: Taking away balconies while protecting backyards

Naama Blonder Residential Apartments Toronto / GTA Aug. 10 2023

In a culture that sanctifies the backyard in the midst of a housing crisis, as if it is a must-have for everyone, can we truly sacrifice having balconies in multi-unit residential buildings to meet sustainability goals?

Toronto's King-Spadina Secondary Plan is one that realized its vision

Naama Blonder Commercial Downtown Toronto / GTA May. 30 2023

Toronto is a city of studies, guidelines and plans. Sometimes these plans don't come to fruition, while others are criticized for being too dominant or rigid, with negative effects. But not too often do you actually get to see some of these visions materialize in a short period of time, to brick and mortar.

Remote work won't kill the CBD, but it might kill the suburban office park

Naama Blonder Commercial Office National Apr. 25 2023

Will reduced demand for offices result in the death of the Central Business District (CBD) in our cities?

7 new housing legislations I look forward to seeing in 2023 

Naama Blonder Residential Affordable Housing Toronto / GTA Mar. 30 2023

Q1 2023 is over, here are seven housing-related initiatives we have three-quarters of the year to figure out.

Urbanizing the suburbs

Naama Blonder Residential Suburbs National Dec. 13 2022

The belief that the city is the wrong place to raise a family is well-cemented in Canadian culture; relocating to the suburbs upon having a child remains a common course of action for many.

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.

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