Introduction

I live in a city with a population far more concentrated than an old typical suburb. I live right downtown in a high-rise with no lawn to mow or snow to shovel. My city has long prided itself on being one of the best-run large cities in North America. Like all large urban areas it attracts a steady stream of new residents, placing its infrastructure, public services, amenities and governance under constant stress. Worse, its rate of growth appears to have outstripped its ability to respond to some of its most critical challenges – such as transport.

In 2008 our world passed a significant milestone. For the first time in history more than half the world’s population was living in urban areas. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050 almost three-quarters of the Earth’s population of 9.3 billion humans will live in cities. Hollywood has already churned out several movies with apocalyptic visions of this urbanized future.

I don’t think we need to be afraid of a big city future.