Day 6

Why COVID-19 could be an opportunity to rethink how cities work

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cities around the world have changed how pedestrians and cars interact. City planner Brent Toderian says cities should assess the benefits of these changes before rushing back to the way things were.

City planner says temporary changes can reveal a lot about permanent problems

Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce is among the first Montreal boroughs to extend sidewalks so people can keep a safe distance. Advocates challenge the city to the same in Montréal-Nord. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

As cities across the country make plans to start moving out of lockdowns and self-isolation, former Vancouver chief planner Brent Toderian says there's an opportunity to go back to something better than the way things were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to accommodate public distancing, cities in Canada and around the world have reduced some of the street space usually reserved for cars, and allocated them for pedestrians and cyclists.

Toderian, an urbanist and city planner, thinks some of those changes should become permanent. 

"What I do want is a really creative and not an ideological or dogmatic conversation about … what should stay," Toderian told Day 6, "instead of having a lazy assumption that everything goes back to normal, as if there is an obvious normal once this is all over."

New Brunswick began reopening some activities on April 24. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec will all start reopening activities on May 4.

Produced by Yamri Taddese. To hear more from Brent Toderian, download our podcast or click Listen above.