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Absolutely fascinating article in the New York Times abut the demolition of inner city areas throughout the States. The figures for population exodus are staggering. It reminds me of Drapeau`s slum clearance programme here. . What is it now? 50 years later? And we still have great swaths of abandoned land along Rene Levesque ouest. Our urban challenges seem fairly minor compared to some.

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Good article, but the phenomenon has been known for quite some time. I shall continue by establishing a distinction between two sets of cases: 1) Metro area is still growing, and 2) Metro area is shrinking. In case 1), large scale demolition can be motivated by a combination of social imbalances (crime, etc) and an availability of large swaths of "developable" land outside city center; in the latter case, there is no doubt that freeways ("autoroutes" in Quebec) contributed substantially to that possibility; by implication, a reduction of developable land, for example through green or agricultural zoning, will dampen this "pull", and make empty central city lots more attractive for redevelopment; road congestion will have a similar effect. Note however that there are drawbacks to this approach, as the scarcity of land will push up the price of what remains available, thus increasing housing costs; total cost however must also take into consideration potential savings from avoiding building new infrastructures. As far as I can see, the verdict if off on whether sprawl or concentration is preferable; but note that the tenets of either positions have pretty strong views as to the validity of their own. In case 2) (Metro area is shrinking), I believe that practicality must prevail (over sentiments); to me what matters most are the people, not the buildings; those people who will be staying in the preserved neighboroughs need to benefit, not suffer, from the transformation; for one thing, savings in the costs of providing municipal services (accruing from demolition) should in no small part be passed on in the form of improved services for the "those who stay"; furthermore, large scale demolition should not result in profits for underserving speculators: if and when in the future the barren lands welcome new developments, the city should be the major beneficiary, for the common good.

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