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Thread: Canals

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Canals

    As a lifelong Midwesterner, I've always wondered why so many developments in the south have canals built around or through them. The answer can not simply be "because people want them". Is there a historical reason for this? How do cities deal with these and do cities (as in the government side of things) even want them?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    People want them. They allow easy access to their boats. The East Side of Detroit has a neighborhood with lots of canals. These lead to the River or Lake St. Clair. One of the most interesting cases I've seen was of an old trailer park (now condemmed) that sat in the middle of a neighborhood park. It had Canals. It was basically used as a weekend party place for boaters. These folks would have $50,000 boats parked in front of trailers from the 1950's that could not be worth more than $1,500. Evenutally the City was able to get the property condemmed.

    The nice thing about the canals however is the neighborhoods that surround them are relatively dafe and well kept. Criminals do not want to be caught on a dead end street and since they have the canals they command a higher price.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Interesting. I wonder why we don't have them here then?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    Interesting. I wonder why we don't have them here then?
    In Iowa? Where you going to go with a canal???
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    In AZ we use canals to move water from far away places to Phoenix and Tucson and to irrigate crops that have no business being in the desert.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    In the south and east we have the Intra-Coastal Canal (Gulf Intra-Coastal Waterway) that runs inshore parallel to the gulf connecting ports in many states.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Intracoastal_Waterway

    It is a sheltered way to move along the coast without having to go into the Gulf.

    Many times a canal is a link between two navigable waterways that are not otherwise connected (Erie Canal). This allowed more water commerce opportunity.

    In Florida where ground is low and soft and relatively easy to reform, many developers create communities with waterfront lagoon property where everyone keeps their boat at their house. (Ft. Meyers and Ft. Lauderdale are notable examples.)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    stormwater management and nonpoint source pollution control

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The midwest does have a few industrial canals that often date back to pre-railroad times. The I & M canal connected Chicago and the Mississippi River via the Illinois River. A canal in Wisconsin connected the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, providing a water route between Green Bay and the Mississippi River. The Welland Canal bypassed Niagara Falls.

    What we do not often have is the recreational canal systems found in the southern states. I do not even see many on the Great Lakes, with the exception of Lake Erie. My grandparents had a home on Lake Erie with a boathouse on a canal. For most of the small lakes in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota (or the Okiboji area of Iowa), there does not seem to be much of a reason for canals. A boat can be docked at a private pier directly on the lake.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Perhaps canal was not the correct term I was thinking of. I'm thinking of the finger-shaped lakes developers build to make the houses have "water frontage". If you go to yahoo maps you can see what I mean if you type in "Parkland FL"

  10. #10
         
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    As a lifelong Midwesterner, I've always wondered why so many developments in the south have canals built around or through them. The answer can not simply be "because people want them". Is there a historical reason for this? How do cities deal with these and do cities (as in the government side of things) even want them?
    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    Perhaps canal was not the correct term I was thinking of. I'm thinking of the finger-shaped lakes developers build to make the houses have "water frontage". If you go to yahoo maps you can see what I mean if you type in "Parkland FL"
    There's your answer right there then. People do want water frontage.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    In my hometown on the western shores of Lake Huron, there is a subdivision that has canals. The canals then have direct access the Lake. It's pretty well occupied and has some decent houses.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Considering modern environmental regulations, how difficult would it be to build a development with canals on the Great Lakes now? I'm thinking it would be impossible.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Oshkosh, WI has a recreational canal system to Lake Winnebago. The housing prices on the canals are outrageous.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Much of the canal front coastal development in Florida was created out of marsh prior to regulations that now make such shenanagans impossible. The "canals" were as much a source of fill as they were to provide waterfront property. They would take a dragline and dig out on each side and pile the spoil up into a finger that then had a street down the middle and house lots on each side.

    The result was destruction of important habitat for many species of economicly important marine life. Plus we now have tens of thousands of people living where the first floor is less than 5 feet above mean high water. Not a good place to be in a tropical storm!

    As to water access...Google Earth for Cape Coral Florida. See a canal that has a road across it? Highly likely that above that street, access is restricted to the Gulf because the streets cross canals on culverts.

    On hot days many of the canals actually stink because they become septic bue to oxygen depletion. No circulation of water to freshen up.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Drainage mainly. Canals were dug to drain the Florida Everglades, once reviled as a worthless swamp, in order to make land suitable for sugar farming and new subdivisions in South Florida. In other parts of the state canals were used to mitigate for the loss of destroyed wetlands, although habitats were forever lost.

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Considering modern environmental regulations, how difficult would it be to build a development with canals on the Great Lakes now? I'm thinking it would be impossible.
    Probably. Did you learn that through your extensive watershed training workshops?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    In some places, such as parts of Virginia Beach, VA, the canals are actually borrow pits for fill that raises the building sites above the surrounding (low and wet) areas. They also serve as stormwater detention facilities, which is important in a relatively flat area such as VaBch.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    In Hernando County FL, a subdivision on the gulf coast that was initially approved in the '50's or '60's did not actually develop until the '80's. The initial approval permitted those fingerlike canals in from the gulf, but the rules had changed. The ultimate agreement between the developer, state of FL, and the Corps permitted the canals, but they were closed, with no connection to the gulf. The result: all the homeowners are on the water, sorta, but they have to take their boats to one location where a boat lift takes the boat over a strip of land, and deposits them in a pre-existing waterway connecting to the gulf.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    In Florida-

    canals=alligator habitat!

    since development took away their natural habitat
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Considering modern environmental regulations, how difficult would it be to build a development with canals on the Great Lakes now? I'm thinking it would be impossible.
    In the same vein, new canal estates have a blanket prohibition in New South Wales by virtue of state legislation.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Dan, not possible. I worked with a developer that tried. Even in Wisconsin - even under the new diversion law - Canada needs to OK the project.

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