[August 2008 followup]:
In a City of Surrey open forum on future city planning about a year ago, people were asked how they see their city a hundred years from now. There were some good responses, from retaining the valuable pockets of nature where we can still explore, to a vibrant downtown easily accessible by rapid transit.
From listening to some of these responses, and considering other variables in what would make a great and vibrant city, with a high quality of life, and still be able to feel like a "City of Parks" full of natural greenscapes (not fake landscaped lawn-parks) or a suburban family neighbourhood; I envision a City, not with just one city centre core, but with Multiple 'Community' Centres.
Part of being sustainable and reducing urban sprawl is to NOT to build out further onto undeveloped land, but to take what is already consumed and make better use of it. What does this mean? This means higher-density. Not just higher-density overall, but in specific areas (this is a key point in my idea). A city like Surrey, already has it's different neighbourhood/community regions. In each of these communities, there already exists a logical area that is the central hub of the neighbourhood (from existing commercial or transit infrastructure). In the main communities, the central core areas should be allowed to develop into vibrant, higher-density, mixed-use urban areas. The life of each neighbourhood will be allowed to centre around this Community Centre.
Establishment of Centres should include some of the following , but not necessarily all:
+Rapid transit to the Centres and between the Centres
+Retail shopping & commercial businesses
+Commercial office spaces
+Entertainment, such as a cinema
+Recreation, such as a Community Rec Centre / gym / ice rink
+Educational Space (this is an important one) - Libraries, Post-Secondary Institutions, even Secondary Schools (such as in Coquitlam)
Of course there will still be a main Downtown Centre. There will always be one that is larger and more popular than the others - and that would become main representative core of the City.
Outside of the centres, a much different scene can be maintained. This is where we have our Option of Urbanism. Just a few minutes away from a busy vibrant Centre, we have a calm beautiful sub-urban setting - it feels as if we were still in the country-side, yet still in the City. A hundred years in the future and the beautiful residential neighbourhoods are still there, but with better amenities nearby (and better transit, so less cars). ... creeks ... woods ... not artificial landscaped parks ... bike riding and explore these woods creeks and gulley's
Simply higher density doest mean better, having larger home or homes with multiple suites is not an effective solution. for the most part, this just increases the number of cars per house. and this is NOT what we want, this is some of the worst parts of urban sprawl we are trying to negate.