Understanding Sprawl: A Citizen's Guide cover

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Understanding Sprawl is a guide for decision-makers and citizens who want to create a healthy, affordable and sustainable urban future. It is not an architectural blueprint but an exploration of the forces that shape cities and what people can do about them. It probes the history of city and suburban development, which is critical for understanding current urban patterns. It reviews the nature of the city and outlines the social and economic costs incurred by recent development.

Most Canadians do not personally build the houses, streets, schools, parks or water lines that make cities possible. However, an informed citizenry can set the rules for building sustainable cities and help make the plans that determine how we get to work, school and shopping; how much time we spend in cars, trains or on foot; where the open spaces are; and the quality of the air we breathe. Many people feel uneasy about the way our cities are developing, but as citizens of a democracy, we should not feel helpless. Population growth and greater wealth do not have to be based on an environment of parking lots, traffic and pollution. Instead we need to create 21st century cities that are liveable, prosperous and in harmony with nature.

Understanding Sprawl: a Citizen's Guide is part of Driven to Action: Stopping Sprawl in Your Community, a community organizer's toolkit aimed at empowering local residents. This guide complements a collection of five pamphlets that can help citizens protect their communities from sprawling development.

Driven to Action: Stopping Sprawl in Your Community