Growing Inwards

Growing Inwards

Student Author: 
Jonathan Clarke
May 2015
Mona El Khafif

In the world of property development there are two components in selecting properties. The first is a ‘numbers-game’ and it answers whether or not a certain property is feasible to build upon. The second, more interestingly, though less measurable, concerns the developer’s feel; is the property located in a place where people will want to live? The mixture of both statistical information and subjective estimation are two large parts of successful property development. To negate one or the either is to risk the rate of return.  The question of ‘where people will want to live?’ was the starting point for this GIS investigation.

This GIS investigation was conducted with the goal of exposing the individual’s preferences concerning where to reside. The optimal locations for different types of people (titled ‘perspectives’) were systematically mapped out. The maps initially are ‘clipped’ by residential, employment, and commercial zoned land according to the City of Toronto zoning by-law (excluded were Institutional land, Utility and Transport land, and land designated as Open Space).  The zoned areas were then associated with parameters, such as distance to transit or amount of child care in the neighbourhood, each of which are assigned a different weight depending on the ‘perspective’ of the individual (an assumption of what they are likely to value).  The types of perspectives investigated were as follows: the family perspective, the single’s perspective, the senior’s perspective, the couple’s perspective, the employee’s perspective, the city planner’s perspective, the architect’s perspective, and the developer’s perspective. Each perspective is associated with reasonably assumed values. These assumptions are not without flaws, but, at the very least, they produce geographical starting points for site selection and, at most, they show optimal locations from a stereotypical individual value standpoint. 

Each perspective and subsequent weighted trial produced its own, albeit related, map four of which were carried out for each perspective (see column titled ‘identified sites’).  These four maps were then concentrated to show areas of higher value.  This was done by excluding all but those sites valued in the top fifty percent. The next step was to take each perspective’s map and overlay it upon one another. This resulted in ‘master maps’ of the sites that each perspective valued the highest; the darker the area the more it was valued.

Next, each ‘perspective master diagrams’ was overlayed upon one another with the intention of identifying the optimal location and highest values for all markets.  This resulted in the ‘all-perspectives master diagram’. This map, from the author’s point of view, generates a primal understanding of where people may want to live. What is perhaps more interesting about this map is those sites that break the mold: the sites that, without this map, would be identified as ‘any other place’. It is these sites that show potential for future growth and this methodology. These sites, otherwise by-passed as ordinary, have potential for future growth that may deserve a second look. The identified sites, whether expected or not, show, at least preliminary, optimal places where the City of Toronto could grow to.