Just a very short distance from the Tradition village centre with its new urbanist nostalgia-infused vibe, we discovered the real reason for its high vacancy rate. A big box mall. Straight out of Nepean or Gloucester or Kanata, but with more landscaping in the parking lots:
There was the obligatory big box pet store, a large supermarket, department store, home furnishings store, etc. [remember now it is pronounced Tar-jay, in faux French to mock the higher design pretensions of Target]. Now to be fair it is rather difficult to fit these large format businesses into a walkable village centre. Loblaws in Westboro doesn’t exactly scale well with the rest of Richmond Road.
The Tradition commercial centre also had the usual collection of restaurants and semi-free-standing buildings scattered around the perimeter of the parking lot with Starbucks, McDonald’s (with the apostrophe), Subway, etc.
The commercial centre was separated from the residential areas by a buffer zone and wide access roads that didn’t exactly scream out “walkable” but rather adhered the formula usually seen here in Ottawa of design for motorists first, separation of land uses, and sidewalks that are accessories to roads rather than inviting pedestrian links that follow desire lines. The sort of environment that encourages one to drive to the fitness club shown in the pic above, to walk indoors on the treadmill.
At this point we stopped to have lunch. At Subway. In the big box mall. It just seemed so much more convenient. So natural.
The planners of Tradition are trying for a mixed use community. So there was a hotel. Whereas Celebration’s was right in the village core, contributing liveliness to the surrounding streets and restaurants and of unique architecture, here the hotel was a cookie-cutter traditional design used along freeways everywhere, and indeed, it did relate to its parking lot and adjacent freeway much more than it did to the new town:
There was also an
industrial park, sorry, office park sorry, high tech innovation centre in the same area. Surrounded by huge surface parking lots. Separated from the town by large buffer zones. Definitely the traditional separation of land uses, and no attempt to make a campus atmosphere. Drive in, put in your hours, drive out. Lunch? Drive to the mall.
I struggled to imagine how this might grow into a more urbanist landscape in the future. No, it didn’t look like an interim design, a necessary compromise on the path to a new urbanist future. It looked awfully permanent. Deliberate.
Somewhat discouraged, we set out to explore other neighbourhoods.
Wait, where did the new urbanism go? This was looking awfully … traditional: