Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto's Sprawl

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University of Toronto Press, Apr 25, 2009 - Political Science - 208 pages

It is now impossible to understand major North American cities without considering the seemingly never-ending and ever-growing sprawl of their surrounding suburbs. In The Shape of the Suburbs, activist, urban affairs columnist, and former Toronto mayor John Sewell examines the relationship between the development of suburbs, water and sewage systems, highways, and the decision-making of Toronto-area governments to show how the suburbs spread, and how they have in turn shaped the city.

Using his wealth of knowledge of the city of Toronto and new information gathered from municipal archives, Sewell describes the major movements and forces that allowed for rapid development of the suburbs, while considering the options that were available to planners at the time. Discussing proposals to curb suburban sprawl from the 1960s to the recently adopted plan for the Greater Toronto area, Sewell combines insightful and accessible commentary with rigorous research on the debate between urban and suburban. Concerned not only with sprawl, The Shape of the Suburbs also demonstrates the ways in which suburban political, economic, and cultural influences have impacted the older, central city, culminating in the forced Megacity amalgamation of 1998.

Rich in detail and full of useful visual illustrations, The Shape of the Suburbs is a lively look at the construction of the suburban era.


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About the author (2009)

John Sewell is a former city councillor and mayor of Toronto, has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, and Eye Weekly, and was the founder of Citizens for Local Democracy.

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