How to make cities happier, healthier and better equipped to fight climate change

According to a Vancouver-based author and urbanist, between climate change, poverty and inequity, "we are in an age of converging crises" and need to address these problems by planning our cities differently. 

'The happier city and the more inclusive city is also the city that helps us fight greenhouse gas emissions'

Charles Montgomery is a Vancouver-based author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design. (Submitted by Charles Montgomery)

According to a Vancouver-based author and urbanist, the issues of climate change, poverty and inequity have positioned humans "in an age of converging crises" where such problems need to be addressed by planning cities differently. 

"If we design our cities differently and we live in our cities differently, we can address these crises while at the same time getting healthier and happier and making our cities more inclusive for everyone," said Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.

Montgomery presented a free public lecture Tuesday night at Caesars Windsor. It was focused on making life better for people in urban areas, while highlighting how improving urban life can subsequently help meet the challenges of climate change.

"The happier city and the more inclusive city is also the city that helps us fight greenhouse gas emissions," he said. 

Montgomery added it's important to stop building cities in ways that make people feel disconnected. 

"All over Ontario right now, cities are building new subdivisions, completely car-dependent neighbourhoods where people can't walk to shops or services, children can't walk to school and families need to own sometimes two cars just to survive," he said. 

"Sometimes, city cores like the one we see here in Windsor are struggling in their vitality."

Affordable housing adds another layer to these issues, he explained. 

"What we can do is allow more housing in walk-able connected city centres."

He said that needs to be further complimented with making walking and cycling the easiest, safest ways to get around cities.

In order to address some of these issues, Montgomery said cities need to reinvest in their urban cores, to allow for people to live closer to where they live, work, and play — all of which combined will ultimately make people happier and healthier.

With files from Afternoon Drive


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