From the town that ditched public transit for Uber, a new smart community in rural Innisfil Ontario called Orbit has been launched. The designers envision the Orbit as a hybrid between urban and rural living, dispersing higher-density built form across open green spaces intersected with nature trails and street grids. The plan is seen as an extension of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City movement of the early-20th century, merging contemporary urban ideals with the plan of a complete community surrounded by and integrated with nature.

The master plan targets the tech industry as the main driver of the workforce, and also touches upon implementing a smart city, making reference to “a fast, secure fibre-optic network woven throughout the community’s sidewalks, streets, buildings and more, designed to support innovation from local community members and entrepreneurs, while being governed by the appropriate privacy protection policies”.

It also proposes implementing dynamic zoning throughout the neighbourhood as a way to plan for future density. Dynamic zoning is a relatively new idea that proposes to automatically up-zone an entire area when a specific developmental condition is met. The condition illustrated in the document shows that when an area is 70% built out, the allowable density and building heights are automatically increased across the board in order to incrementally allow greater and greater density as the city grows. It also avoids rezoning individual properties when a density increase is warranted, instead updating the zoning concurrently as development progresses. This process repeats itself indefinitely unless a maximum limit on heights and densities is set by the local planning authority.

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