A Manifesto for Compulsory Programs?

A Response from Kenneth P. Green, Senior Director, Natural Resource Studies, the Fraser Institute

This is an interesting Manifesto, and I agree with a great deal of it, particularly the intensification idea as well as the idea of divorcing the human economy/ecology from the planetary ecology. But then, I have chosen to live as close to an urban core as I can afford for about 20 years now, and gave up car ownership about 10 years ago. I now live about 1 mile south of an urban core: I walk to local markets, shops, and restaurants, and I take public transit to work, and use a car-share service (car2go) and taxis when I need to get around. For me, such a lifestyle is one of choice.

I do have concerns about the "how" of all this: I could easily see people invoking the Manifesto as justification for a whole raft of compulsory programs that I'd oppose. Smart growth advocates in particular will likely use the Manifesto to push for more growth boundaries, and more greenbelts, driving up the costs of living in exactly the way the Manifesto envisions. The same is likely to be true for transit advocates, who will invoke the Manifesto for ever-more restrictions on autonomous transportation, just as we're on the cusp of some really revolutionary transportation options in the sharing economy that might let people lead deep-urban lives while retaining their personal-transport autonomy.

It's one thing to find ways to ease some of the obstacles to having more and more cities grow tall and dense rather than low and suburban, and another thing to impose those preferences on people who might not choose (or be able to afford) such a lifestyle.

I'd like to see some kind of amendment to the Manifesto that makes it explicit that this is not a call for more central planning of cities, more central planning of economic activity, and more compulsory programs to force people to densify more quickly than they are simply through choice and demographic shifts.