LRT 'opportunity of a lifetime' for housing diversity, says expert

The more diverse the housing options are along the LRT corridor, the more people will benefit and live along the line, says University of Waterloo urban planning professor Brian Doucet.

UW professor says LRT will reorder the physical and social geography of Waterloo region

Portrait of a man
Brian Doucet, professor in the school of planning at the University of Waterloo. (Brian Doucet/ Twitter)

The coming Ion LRT presents a golden opportunity for bringing housing diversity to Waterloo region, according to a Waterloo expert.

Brian Doucet, an urban planning professor at the University of Waterloo, said the development in the region is going to be increasingly focused along this corridor.

"These areas will become very attractive and desirable places to live," he told Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio, "They will become some of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the region."

While an infusion of new housing and commercial developments looks good on paper, Doucet said it still begs the question of the exact kinds of developments that will come up, and the people who will be able to access them. 

"There is a real danger that people who are currently living along the line [won't] have access to the housing that's going to come along this line in the years ahead," said Doucet.

Introducing diversity

Doucet said affordability and tenure of new developments along the LRT will be a major factor in determining who gets to live where.

In order to make it accessible to the widest portion of the population, developers need to consider options like co-op housing and social housing facilities.

"So not just building small condos that either appeal to young professionals or retirees," he said.

But, he added, the market itself won't create that equitable distribution of people who are able to live along the line, but policy changes are needed as well.

Doucet gave inclusionary zoning is one example, where a developer needs to have some percentage of non-market housing.

"I think it has to come from civic leaders [and] people saying what they want to be developed along the line," he said.