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April 1, 2011

Toronto 2011 to 2061

by mark mclean

A few weeks ago, I devoured an amazing book called The Next Hundred Years, by George Friedman. In it, the author hypothesizes on, among other things, which country will be the next super power and who will establish the first settlement on the moon and why. I’m not going to tell you here. You will have to read it to find out, but the answers will surprise you. It’s an interesting book but some of his ideas require you to take a leap of faith. When you are projecting 100 years in the future, it is a pretty big leap. Or is it? If you told someone 20 years ago that something called the Internet would allow you to get information on practically anything while sitting on a beach and typing on a device no bigger than your wallet, people would think you were crazy. Check out this cool video that was done by Hans Rosling for BBC. In it he shows, in 4 minutes, how the world evolved over 200 years. 

Books like this, challenge you to wonder about life in the future and while I am, of course, interested in the world picture, I am also curious about what our city will look like how we will live in it. Consider the many factors about to land heavily on our shoulders. First, our population is declining and our workforce is getting older.  Second, it is about to get pretty crowded out there. Real Net reports that there could be another million condominium units in the GTA within 20 years. How many condos will there be in 50 years? How will that congestion affect our daily lives? Third, we are stressing out our infrastructure. Do we have the capability to supply energy and water to more people?  Perhaps we should be speeding up our investment in alternative energy sources and water savings. Fourth, it is getting more and more expensive to build. We are short on skilled labour, land is getting more expensive. We may have to adapt to living in smaller homes in denser communities.

It is a topic that absolutely fascinates me because any way you look at it, life in the big city is going to change. I think it is better to have an understanding now on where it could go so that we can prepare ourselves, rather than wake up 20 years from now and have to stick the proverbial band-aid on problems we should have solved earlier.

If you have any comments I would love to hear them.

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