David Crombie talks Jane Jacobs

However glorious the myths of our rural past, today most Canadians live in metropolitan areas. Our future success depends on making our cities work well.

Livable and vibrant cities will spur economic growth, promote social peace, reduce ecological impact, and ease integration of our growing immigrant populations.

No one knows that better than The Honourable David Crombie. As mayor of Toronto during a key phase in the city’s development in the 1970s, Crombie helped implement changes in policy and practice affecting housing, transportation, and land use that have made the city a more humane place.

Jane Jacobs

Crombie’s efforts were in part informed by the work of the late Jane Jacobs, legendary urban activist and author of the hugely influential book The Death and Life of American Cities.

Jacobs had moved to Toronto in 1968 after helping spur efforts to save Manhattan neighbourhoods from The Lower Manhattan Expressway. She helped save neighbourhoods in Toronto too – notably from the proposed Spadina Expressway – but perhaps more importantly, provided a rigorous intellectual framework for those, like Crombie, who were fighting to improve urban life based on gut instinct and political passion.

David Crombie remains passionate about the dialogue he believes is at the heart of continual urban revitalization. He hopes that a new book, What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs will reinvigorate that dialogue in Canadian cities.

David Crombie authored a passage in that book, titled “Jane Jacobs: The Toronto Experience

We chatted with The Honourable David Crombie about Jane Jacobs, Toronto, and sidewalk culture in David Crombie Park in downtown Toronto, surrounded by co-op housing he helped put in place.

Jane Jacobs photo credit: Linda Fox, Toronto Sun. Videography by Andy Frank

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