As countries around the world make net-zero pledges in a bid to tackle climate change, many are phasing out coal as part of their green energy transition. This means that there’s an increasing need to find new uses for former or soon-to-retire coal plants. With that said, there are already a few examples of how we could do that, and one of them comes from Canada.
From coal plant to sustainable neighborhood
On the shore of Lake Ontario in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, a development project is transforming an area where a massive coal plant sat for more than four decades, by turning it into a 15-minute city. The government shut down the plant in 2005 and initially considered replacing it with a gas-fired power plant. But thanks to a determined push from campaigners, the authorities eventually decided to reimagine the area into something considerably more sustainable.
“There were a lot of grassroots community efforts that really resisted and had a more ambitious vision for what the waterfront could be here, toward a mixed-use, sustainable waterfront community,” said Brian Sutherland vice president of development at Argo Development Corporation, the firm responsible for the area’s redevelopment.
What is a 15-minute city?
The design of the new neighborhood, called Lakeview Village, focuses on the 15-minute city. The residential urban concept revolves around the idea that people should live within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from most of their daily necessities. As such, the streets in Lakeview Village are designed to prioritize walking and cycling, taking the traditional car-centric approach out of the equation.
According to the developers, the project will create 9,000 local jobs, meaning that many people living in the neighborhood’s 8,000 housing units will be only a few blocks away from their work. Residents will be able to do their shopping at local retailers. The property will also have a new park space which will sit next to a coastal conservation area built with concrete recycled from the former coal plant.
To take sustainability a step further, the designers are planning to use a district heating system that recycles waste heat from a neighboring wastewater treatment plant to provide heating and cooling without gas furnaces or air conditioners. On top of that, the designers plan to integrate an automated trash collection system that sucks recycling, compostables, and trash into an underground pipe that leads to a central facility, reports Fast Company.
UPDATE from 2022:
Lakeview Village Master Plan recently received an Award of Excellence for Sustainable Development from the 2022 National Urban Design Awards.