After I read Clive Doucet's latest screed on how we're all going to hell in a hand cart, it occurred to me that the problem is one of scale.

Specifically: human beings don't know how to organize themselves on a large scale.

Oh I'm sure that commentators such as Mr. Doucet would insist that they do in fact know how to organize human beings on a large scale -- but the fact of the matter is, if it was possible, it would have been done.

Long time readers of mine will know my favorite saw is direct, participatory democracy doesn't scale. This discussion that Mr. Doucet is having makes me wonder if in fact human city life doesn't scale, either.

The thing is, I don't think city organization using the model of the Gleib is sustainable either.

Mr. Doucet wonders:
Yet her town’s population has been growing vigorously. It’s twice the size it was when she and her husband were high school students there. I couldn’t help but ask – ‘what’s the point of growing if your quality of life services are declining? Who is it benefiting?’
Frankly, growth isn't something that you can stop. All those people who are living in the areas of new growth -- the equivalent of our Orleans, Kanata and Barhaven -- just where does Mr. Doucet expect we would be living if these subdivisions were not here?

In infill projects like Les Soeurs de la Visitation in Westboro? Well heck no, the neighbors don't want us there. (Specifically -- they don't want that many of us there.) Or perhaps this project which the neighbours liked, but the developer said wasn't really economically viable for them to pursue again?

The other question Mr. Doucet answers -- who benefits? Well primarily, the new residents benefit. Presumably there was some attraction which brought them there, and the current residents probably increase the population enough that at least some of the locals want to stay on to raise the next generation (see also the couple that Mr. Doucet was talking to).

Secondly the existing residents benefit. New residents means new jobs and new businesses and everyone can get on with the business of raising their families and enjoying life*.

The core problem is that if you have a nice area, more people want to live there. This usually pushes prices in that area up as well as creates an incentive for builders to build areas adjacent to that nice area. Throw in a large, stable employer like the Federal Government (because all those public servants, plus those of us who provide services for them all have to live somewhere) and you have a recipe for growth.

And once that happens, the market decides what actually happens.

If people actually wanted to live in infill projects, there would be more of them. If people didn't want to live in single family homes, there would be fewer of them.

Mr. Doucet may be enlightened, but the rest of us are merely human, and that's his burden.
* ...which Mr. Doucet doesn't approve of either, but frankly that's a different issue.