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Michael Kluckner, artist, writer, historian, and lover of all things Vancouver has written a very evocative essay on planning decisions and  planner “experts” versus non “expert” citizens.

Michael spoke on this big-ticket question at a very well attended Urbanarium Cities Debate at the Vancouver Museum. The debate video can be viewed here.  He has also written this article in the Tyee outlining the history and syntax of citizen and “planner” related city making decisions. He argued that citizens need and should be more involved in decisions left to city planners.

Michael draws a strong parallel in the worlds of  the non-planner (Jane Jacobs) and the passions of architects for crisp mega projects, from Le Corbusier’s work to Brasilia, all lines, flowing, and really not about scale or humans.

He also talked about the Davis Family, who in the Jane Jacobs tradition of social and community common sense and just smart savvy  lovingly restored the “Davis” block of Victorian houses in the 100 block of West 10th Avenue. The Davis family fought pressure to turn their houses into a cash crop of three-story walk-ups  on their street, and proudly display a plaque indicating that their restoration work was done with no governmental grants or assistance.

You will always find one of the Davis family sweeping a sidewalk, gardening, or engaging with neighbours on the street. They are the picture of what Jane Jacobs describes as the varied talent of good community, focused on creating the neighbourhood we all want to live in.

licorice-house

The Davis family quite simply embody those people who have made a social contract with their community. They  restored instead of rebuilding to maximum density. Their work is the basis for the RT-6 zoning in this area of Mount Pleasant, which Michael  also mentions in the Tyee article.

The Davis family  are also very principled-I received a call at City Hall  from BC Hydro years ago when the company attempted to crotch drop the large boulevard trees in front of the Davis houses to provide clearance for the hydro lines.  Mrs. Davis senior allegedly “halted” the work. Contrite, BC Hydro compromised  with the city to raise the hydro lines going through the boulevard trees to avoid crotch dropping the trees, and another scolding from Mrs. Davis. This created a new precedent welcomed by other communities wary of BC Hydro tree pruning. The Davis Family do the right thing instead of doing the thing right. They are as close as we can get to the embodiment of a  Vancouver “Jane Jacobs” clan.

Michael  Kluckner sees planners as being part of “changing fashions” and cites as an example how corner grocery stores have been chased out of the neighbourhoods and onto arterials (and mentions how we all want those grocery stores back.)  Planners work to codify concepts like shelter, space and streets and have their own “language” with the job of regulating and also approving development. Planners are addicted to change, as are their taskmasters.  As Michael states:

Fixing things that aren’t broken is a way of destroying the natural evoluti0n of cities. Without the check-and-balance of empowered citizens you get a situation like the 1950’s and 1960’s which is happening again. It’s called “green” now; it looked exactly the same but was called “progress” then.

Do you agree? Should citizens be given the same status as planners in making decisions about the city and its form? Read Michael’s article with his historical perspective of planning  and form your own opinion.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Vancouver is known for rejecting a freeway in the 60-70s. This is one of the biggest liveability decision made. And, it is touted world wide when planners come to visit and study our city.

    But, wasn’t it the planners who were putting in the freeway and the citizens protested and blocked them? Do they teach that part to young planning students?

    1. If you protest everything, you’re bound to get something right.

      It looks as if I have a different definition of what “Big Plans” are. Housing prices are astronomical because we don’t have a “big” plan for the City – that answers its needs. A plan that goes way beyond the scope of a few square miles at a time, such as Marpole, where in the end we’re left with a few token blocks of row-house, precisely because the City gave in to the demands of the neighbourhood. It’s clear to me who’s making the decisions.

      1. However p911, that is precisely how the One Big Plan supporters will be susceptible to being railroaded by Big Mouth groups and individuals with a form/philosophy to impose over all functions. It’s not the One Plan Fits All, it’s the process that leads to it that has to be very carefully constructed into multiple workshops where one group cannot dominate all, and where the city can impose density based on intelligent consultation and analysis.

  2. Planners are addicted to redevelopment. They have turned Vancouver into a never ending construction zone when they could have proposed new cities designed and built according to the best practices of today.

  3. . . . and lover of all things Vancouver . . .” Ummmmm, not so fast.

    A purveyor of rampant nostalgia is not a lover of Vancouver: if anything it shows contempt for attempts to transcend the past which was not always as beautiful as Michael would like you to believe!

    How well I remember the ’50’s: no Michael, I was there, you were not: not nearly as pretty as you would like us to believe.

    1. Roger! Read the article! I’m neither a fan of the 1950s nor of the planning decisions made then here or elsewhere in wonderful North America.

  4. Missing in this debate is SCALE. Namely the unprecedented number of people moving here, the unprecedented amount of capital available, and the unprecedented number of people on the move worldwide to move their money, their kids and themselves to better, greener, healthier, friendlier, safer, prettier locale. i.e. the SCALE of PEOPLE and MONEY that needs to be accommodated in a fairly small space.

    Some things or processes work when a few things get changed. They fall apart when a lot of things change all at once: low interest rates, billions of $s, millions of people moving, trillions being inherited by aging baby boomers .. all that has an impact on planning and (formerly) social cohesion.

  5. When I read Michael’s article in The Tyee last week I was cheered by it. Many earnest planners and urbanists seem to imagine that Jacobs advocated dense tight designed blocks. No she didn’t. Yes she was perhaps the primary force in stopping a freeway cutting a swarth across vibrant, yet old, neighbourhoods but she definitely believed in the organic evolution of neighbourhoods, less than the technocratic design of them, which Micheal correctly sees and derides in our Olympic Village.

    When Micheal further wrote of Vancouver I was particularly interested in reading this, twice: “Planners see themselves as visionaries, just as architects like to see themselves as artists, but they are in reality the code makers and regulators — a necessary adjunct to the nanny state that enforces the building code and declares that my porch railing is illegal because it’s too low, that my staircase is illegal because it’s too steep or narrow, that my doorknobs need to be replaced by handles. The building code has moved a long way from its initial concern with sensible life-saving issues into a prescriptive form of social engineering.”

    Give someone a uniform or an important title and they will wield their perceived power.

    The debate needs to be undertaken since the planners and the planners bosses these days, as we’ve been advised here by some other local commentators, are perhaps overstepping what the people want. There are too many areas where changes have been hatched prior to public consultations. And those consultations are merely for citizens to vent.

    1. “There are too many areas where changes have been hatched prior to public consultations. And those consultations are merely for citizens to vent.” — Yes, Eric. This is the reality, so there is not much point arguing for the obviously cooperative approach of urgently necessary citizen participation in planning when it is overtly opposed by our current City government, which directs planners and engineers to pay lip service to residents but denies citizen involvement in the decision-making despite residents’ obvious expert knowledge of immediate areas and their needs. It is a travesty that planning has been permitted to occur by the current City Council in on-going direct defiance of citizens’ input and its own stated mandates. It is time for citizens to take back their City.

      1. It used to be that intolerance seemed to be a nasty right wing trait. There was a general feeling that liberals and lefties were open to debate and to considering the ideas of others. It’s easy to consider that city hall is rife with conceit. We allow smugness in the young. They must strut their stuff as animals in the wild do. Not so much in our city administration. It is not an appealing vanity and it will probably be the cause of their downfall.

  6. Just curious: how many people live in this wonderfully preserved home?

    How many could have lived on that site with the dreaded three-story walkups (keeping open the possibility that greater density doesn’t necessarily mean garbage design.)

    1. It’s the church’s administrative and chapel space, containing one person (usually called the priest). St Francis of Assisi on Napier Street…

    2. The Davis properties ARE 3-storey rental units with multiple tenants in each home over many decades; they have housed hundreds of people over that period and continue to do so. Indeed, they were contributing to densification well before it became the current trend; yet, they take pride in ownership and heritage, maintaining their properties as if they were single-family dwellings. They exemplify the fact that density does not have to mean garbage design, but this appears to be the case only with well-preserved heritage homes of character as opposed to cookie-cutter, poor quality new construction.

      1. At one historic point the Davis Block was all single family detached homes. The only difference is that they now have had suites installed, and the backyards are amalgamated.

        With respect to heritage, they are very finely crafted and the Davis’s have been and continue to be praised for their work and their commitment to the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. It was a pleasure living a couple of blocks away and walking by admiring their houses several times a week, and to exchange greetings with both the elder and younger Davis who spent enormous amounts of time tending to the upkeep and puttering about on the street.

  7. The article seems scattered to me, saying many agreeable things but failing to really make hard choices or come to a sharp point. My comment is quick and equally scattered.

    The rational knowledge of experts and the contextual experience of residents are complementary. It is simply foolish to rely on only one or the other, but very difficult to reconcile their ways of seeing and thinking.

    He draws a hard distinction between engineering, with “a kind of absolute truth,” and planning, which is susceptible to fashion. This is wrong. Engineers reconfigured our lives with what seemed to them like a rational truth: that the purpose of streets is to maximize the flow of vehicles, stripping away the role of streets as places. Rationality is the cloak that conceals fashion or orthodoxy.

    He contrasts planning orthodoxy with public sentiment. Which orthodoxy, he asks. He should also ask, Which public. He speaks for a public who are “essentially skeptical and conservative.” I think this does reflect a dominant attitude, but it ignores tensions between groups (privileging homeowners in particular). Just as engineering rationality reduces streets to a single purpose, he is reducing “the public” to a single dynamic (amazing in the context of current price appreciation).

    His implication that change might be stopped is problematic, for the same reason that the word “planning” is worrisome. It suggests work towards some end goal (graphically illustrated in aerial photos of geometric postwar suburbs). But a city is never done; it is always in flux. We never live in some imaginary end product; instead we each experience a portion of a change that extends before us and after us. I mean this as a criticism of stasis, not of intentional action. The city is never really ours. We only live here.

    I agree with his big picture argument that citizens must be involved in planning. But not for practical reasons – not because it is “necessary,” or because it tempers planning fashions, or even because locals know things that planners don’t. We don’t engage citizens because of the decisions they make; we engage them because that is what it means to be (and become) a citizen.

    1. As an engineer, I’m always amused by how the planners try to put the blame on engineers for the changes wrought in our cities. It wasn’t the engineers who made the decisions (or make them now). It’s the planners. The engineers work with what’s given to them, and make the most efficient designs they can, according to the direction provided by the planners. Planners want fast, efficient transportation through the city – engineers figure it out and give it to them. Planners want bike lanes – engineers figure out how to do that, and you get bike lanes.

      The city looks the way it does because of decisions made by planning departments and enforced by politicians. Currently planners are into cool green and bicycles. In 50 years when they’re into something else, you all will be blaming engineers for all the bicycle lanes restricting transit and district energy systems preventing home-owners from making their own energy from banana peel reactors.

      1. Yes, but engineers love to “value engineer” out many of the things that would have made the original plans more human, palatable, and acceptable to the public…

      2. bob, I’m not a planner. But I’ve written a lot of software and I don’t buy the just-giving-em-what-they-ask-for justification. Technical designs are always drenched in choices and values not determined by technical requirements. The comment I made the other day about the racial bias in film illustrates this clearly.

        So does your comment. “Planners want fast, efficient transportation through the city – engineers figure it out and give it to them.”

        If that’s what planners actually asked for, what did engineers give them? What is “efficient”? Most person-trips per Joule? Most person-trips per net dollar? Most trips per public dollar? Most trips per square meter of dedicated right-of-way?

        Should it be person-trips? Or person-miles? Or people per hour? Or time spent in transit? The first maximizes trips, but they may not be the trips people want to make; the second undervalues short trips; the third undervalues slow trips; and so forth. I believe the actual choice was none of these: vehicles per hour, which in terms of other criteria is just about the worst efficiency metric possible.

        “Efficient” is a red flag. It’s a dangerous word that implies rationality while actually indicating an unstated value choice. Operationalizing efficiency is something that engineers must do every day. Surely they must bear some responsibility for making that choice, for advising planners (or whoever) on the consequences, or for failing to consider the implications.

        Of course in the real world we know very well that engineers, like other experts (even scientists, as Kuhn taught us), get caught up in orthodoxies. I’m sure there’s plenty of responsibility to spread around among planners, engineers, politicians and so forth. The difference is that technical professions try to deny it, hiding behind the myth of their own rationality.

        1. My amusement holds. Our cities look the way they do because of decisions made by urban planning departments in the 50s and 60s and so on through the 90s and 2000s. Not engineers who decided to bulldoze massive streets and highways everywhere. Or who decided to put in bike lanes, or make Canada Line skytrain stations too small for the load they’ll have to carry. There are plenty of crappily engineered things to blame on engineers (Compass card, anyone), but not the way the city is planned.

          It doesn’t inspire any confidence in me that the planning profession prefers to accuse engineers rather than face up to their own mistakes and fallibility. Again, the way this works is that in 50 years the planners of the future will be blaming the civil engineering profession for the fact that all condo towers look the same and many of them are just plunked down in the middle of SFH neighbourhoods with no connection to the surroundings.

      3. Bar, I think you are confusing both the abject and latent power the traffic engineers have had on our cities since WWII. Yes, there was and still is a subset of traffic planning (now called transportation planning, but still heavily invested ideologically toward roads), but the advent of advocacy for better urbanism (Andres Duany, Peter Calthorpe, Richard Florida et al) as influenced the planning profession and city decision making. We’re not there yet, but ever since the clarion voice of Jane Jacobs, cities have been placed on the examination table and the void in space devoted to human beings has been duly noted.

        In Canada, the fact that provinces are responsible for cities under the Constitution has been a profound mistake, at least as far as BC is concerned. Jane may well have illustrated comic books as far as our current government is concerned.

      4. ” Currently planners are into cool green and bicycles.”

        My experience is that the Planning Dept. is very weak on cycling. I believe that a combination of council direction, city policy, and transportation planning is why we have bike lanes. I am sure that if it were up to the Planning Dept., we would have very few bike lanes in Vancouver.

      5. The godfather of comprehensive planning in North America, including Vancouver, is Harland Bartholomew. He was trained as a … civil engineer. He laid out the bones of the LA freeway system, for example, as well as Vancouver’s major road network and our zoning structure. He also helped foster the demise of our rail streetcar system in favour of electric rubber tire trolleys and buses. If you like much of Vancouver, thank Bartholomew. If not, blame him.

        By any objective measure, it is unquestionably true that the Robert Moses engineering-oriented freeway-building and urban renewal ideology has had vastly more impact on post-WWII metropolitan development – and neighbourhood cohesion – than any lowly Jane Jacobs oriented city planner.

        In any event, there is plenty of blame to share in both camps if that is what one is interested in.

  8. There seems to be a misconception about what a bottom-up evolutionary process is, especially as it relates to cities and neighborhoods. The suggestion is that city created plans are top down, and that in order to have a bottom-up evolutionary process you instead ask the citizens what the codes, requirements, and restrictions should be. But that is not a bottom-up process, those are just top-down policies coming from a different group.

    Restaurants are a good example that can be used to think about bottom-up and top-down processes. Imagine plans enacted by the city said “at this location we will have a fine-dining Italian restaurant, at this location we will have a Japanese restaurant… etc.” Now the citizens say “We are sick of this top down planning process, why should the restaurant experts at the city choose our restaurant for us?” and suggest, “we know better than the city does about what restaurant should be in our neighborhood, so we will work together to create our own plan for what goes where.” What I am trying to highlight is that neither of these are the bottom-up evolutionary approach that actually happens with restaurants.

    This article raises some questions on what it means to let a city evolve. Let’s say somebody put up a dense 6 FSR apartment building in a neighborhood where those currently didn’t exist, like the example from the 1920s, and it quickly filled with people who were looking for this type of facility. Is this a builder responding to the social needs of citizens? Or is it a developer plopping this project into an established neighborhood only for its profit making potential. If this type of building was recently allowed by a new plan, is that because the planners who are addicted to change are fixing things that aren’t broken? Or is that the natural evolution of cities, which was being prevented by earlier “expert” planners. If this didn’t meet the zoning rules do we celebrate it for taking matters into its own hands, saying we don’t need the code makers and regulators and their prescriptive forms of social engineering? Or do we deride it because the planners weren’t able to influence any part of it, and our personal taste wasn’t pleased by the outcomes.

  9. Michael Kluckner is a respected artist, consultant and opinion-maker on heritage, and he elucidates some key questions about planning and planners in this piece. But he needs to be challenged on his absolutist statements, which are probably better posed as questions on process.

    Planners both advise and take instruction from politicians who have a best before date that expires every four years. The political cycle influences process more than he may be aware of, and he should have noted how Vision almost lost their mandate over development in established neighbourhoods. If he faults them that, then he should critique the resulting Grandview Woodlands citizen’s assembly process where residents had a deeper involvement in planning their neighbourhood than perhaps any other process short of taking over the Hall with pitchforks.

    Because planning is a generalist profession that carries a lot of weight in policy making, it is one of the more handsomely paid in the public sector. This is quite odd because getting a masters in planning is not half as difficult as obtaining a degree in leading design professions where you have to have to develop an intimate, technical understanding of how to actually build stuff and how urban systems interrelate. Cities are far more than buildings, heritage or not. Maybe one in ten planners have the skills to design and construct the things they have an insatiable need to control, have a mastery of how the divisions between current and long range planning tend to crossover, or have made the long effort to understand them. These talented individuals really stand out and are worth the Planner 2 or 3 (or management exempt) scale they are paid. The others tend to let technicians pick up the slack at half the pay and twice the stress, or get very quiet when real designers a couple of rungs lower on the pay level outpace them, or, in some cases, take over and rescue projects from planner’s failures.

    This begs the question, Is Kluckner alluding more to urban design than the more broad stroke planning functions? His comments on the OV say a lot. He seemingly dismissed the entire thing on doorknobs, window mullions and shrubs, not on the urban scale, raising the profile of pedestrians by diminishing the role of the car, its proximity to public amenities, its connectivity to the rest of the city and its exemplary treatment of the waterfront.

    On critiquing planners, Kluckner needs to inform his readers how he would deal with the next million people, the vast majority of who will invariably not be able to live in Edwardian neighbourhoods. We’re talking about nuts and bolts as well as philosophy. Will that not require a modicum of planning?

    1. The discussion as it goes sounds like this;

      Where will we put the next million people?

      The answer is always the same; we will densify.

      This means there goes the neighbourhood.

      The public does not have a chance in this ask the experts set up.

      One needs to question the assertion “the next million people”, really?

      Isn’t this the flip side of “build it and they will come?”

      And doesn’t it then follow that if we don’t build it they won’t come?

      1. Allow room for it to be built. As they come it gets built. If they don’t come then it doesn’t get built.

      2. Less will come if we set the barriers higher. Our barriers are far too low. We do not monetize the Vancouver, BC or Canada brand enough. Some countries, say Switzerland or Japan or Norway allow almost no immigration.

        I think Canada let’s in too many, or too many unscreened or too many into too few areas. We also have very poor tax enforcement mechanisms, widely exploited by immigrants with lower moral values or that are used to evade the tax man. Many also have lost the idea of “home” as they have 4 or 5, or maybe only 2, and thus, arrange their monetary affairs such that they pay the least taxes, by for example not paying income taxes here yet claiming they are residents and take in free healthcare, ESL and education. Canada’s generosity is widely and systemically exploited !

    2. Jolson, neighbourhoods will not be going anywhere with appropriate and intelligent increases in density.

      On Sunday’s Vancouver Heritage Homes Tour there was a very nice if subdued mansion located on The Crescent in the heart of First Shaughnessy. If it wasn’t for the city’s extensive heritage codes and guidelines for FS, the mansion (and most of the others there) would have been obliterated and replaced with rickety chip board n’ glue condos plastered with a dog’s breakfast of cheap kitsch ‘heritage’ ornamentation. What evolved were three apartments in the main house, and a coach house out back, all with reasonably acceptable design detailing for a non-heritage registered interior. The exterior was retained. The upstairs apartment on the tour was ingeniously laid out, and I believe that’s where the architect’s hours were most wisely spent.

      Yes, it’s housing for the wealthy in a city with an affordability crisis, but this one replaced one huge home with four smaller ones within the lot lines, and the neighbourhood character wasn’t compromised one iota. Other homes on the tour over the years were very modest, but equally attractive due to the leaps of innovation by the architects. Two SF detached homes in Strathcona became five apartments with a common backyard in one memorable project, yet from the street they didn’t change anything but the façade colours. Another year saw several small shotgun cottages built on postage stamp lots with near zero front lot line clearance off Main Street. They could all fit on two standard 33 ft lots.

      It’s all about geometry, innovation and respect for the character of existing neighbourhoods, and about meeting demand.

  10. BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME or don’t build it and they will come anyway out bidding locals for existing housing stock in the process

  11. What an odd, sad question: should the citizenry be involved in planning their city? The fact that one has to ask the question is disturbing, and the fact that the obvious answer is moot because citizens are shunned by the current City government if they attempt to provide informed, first-hand knowledge and suggestions for planning renders the discussion, shockingly, an exercise in futility. The question, at this point, should be how many lawsuits against their government are citizens willing to pay for with their taxpayer dollars when the citizenry is not permitted to participate in planning, even when safety of citizens is at immediate risk. The issues of artistic preference, heritage preservation, removal of trees, and neighbourhood aesthetics are, at this point, idealistic luxuries of the past when even one family, such as the Davis’ brood, could take a stand, be heard and be supported by government for their common sense, site-specific layman expertise. For that democracy to be reinstated again, or even open for meaningful discussion, we need to clean house next election.

    1. Run for office, Susan. Or apply for a planning job at city hall. If elected or hired, you’ll start to realize how the city actually works.

      1. Precisely because City hall is working badly is the reason for change not complacent acceptance of failure.

  12. Raise your hand and shout really loud if you planned, designed, and built your own house or shop or office or school or community centre.

    [… silence …. ]

    We need the creativity and expertise of all – a BIG TENT that includes citizens, developers, architects, planners and politicians amongst others.

    1. I designed and built my own house! It was in a tree. It was the only place I could build a house free from the meddling of developers, architects, planners and politicians. My very own most affordable house. No BIG TENT for me.

      1. Since building the treehouse I have planned, designed, and built my own house or shop or office or school or community centre at one time or another. I have owned these places in my mind long before they became manifestations in the world and the greatest obstacles to their realizations were developers, architects, planners and politicians with add-on ideas.

  13. Everyone reading this, and the comments, should remember that this Tyee article is practically verbatim my debate text. The whole idea of a debate is to level a 12-gauge at one’s opponents, so indeed my opinions in it are “absolutist.” Because of the way the Urbanarium structured the debates, they weren’t going to be the standard consensus-seeking Canadian panel discussion.

  14. I’m not sure what “planners” some commenters are talking about, but the COV’s Engineering Department, who are responsible for the City’s movement system and infrastructure, is absolutely committed to promoting active transportation (walking, biking, even boarding) and public transit. More so, I’d dare to say, that any other city in North America, including NYC now that Janette Sadik-Kahn is no longer its Transportation Commissioner.

    1. I agree. When I referred to the Planning Dept., I meant the group which does community planning and planning for large developments like Pearson Dogwood. Transportation planners and engineers are awesome!

    2. Frank,

      “Active Transportation” also includes motorist traffic, last time I checked, but little to nothing is being done by the City to make that form of transportation more “active”; indeed, our City’s engineers under the Vision Council are contributing to gridlock by reducing the number of car lanes in favour of bike lanes, and they are constructing unsafe transportation infrastructure by not adhering to Best Practices (as determined to be the case by independent transportation engineers). “Commitment” should never trump safety.

        1. So it would appear, Eric, even to the point of stooping to the censorship of truth, shocking.

      1. Or one could say that they’re reducing gridlock by reducing car lanes, making bike lanes, etc. and following best practises. Stuff like this can be a matter of opinion and perspective.

        The definition of Active Transportation does not include motor traffic (including buses) or any kind of transit. (Though if you walked to a bus stop that part counts.)

        While it doesn’t make headlines the City spends way more on providing for and maintaining things for motor traffic. Look at the work on Pacific and Burrard. While the project is multipurpose including sewer and water lines, the main beneficiaries are people when they drive. They’re getting two new turning bays as well as what had been a dangerously designed intersection being redesigned safer following best practises.
        The reason all this pro-motoring expense doesn’t make headlines is that spending on motor traffic accommodation isn’t new so it’s not news. It’s just taken for granted as something that should happen.
        I personally have no problem at all with continuing to subsidize motor traffic. All of us benefit either directly or indirectly by it. It’s just unfortunate that for a half century our cities got designed for a single mode. That doesn’t mean that the mode is bad. It does mean though that many became used to the idea of it being the only one to bother with. I’m glad we’re past that and motoring can be joined by other modes so that we all have multiple choices of transportation to choose from when deciding how we’re going to do a trip.

  15. Many thanks to you, Michael Kluckner, for your books on Vancouver. I liked your recent graphic novel too.

    I lived many years just off Wall St., and cycled/walked/drove every corner of your current neighbourhood; and the grotty areas near the rendering plant and chicken processing factory. Too bad that it’s no longer possible to go along the waterfront.

    I first got interested in architecture by reading Kalman; and in residential construction through Rex Roberts. Your contribution – by adding art, history, and anecdotes – adds dimension. It’s unfortunate that many value a nothing hockey player over what you have wrought.

    I doubt there’s a book on Vancouver I haven’t seen, and am bored by the commonality of images. Your Vancouver is the city I know.

    Might I suggest you read “Leaving China” – it is, ostensibly, a kid’s book. There’s a copy at Hastings Branch – walkable from your new neighbourhood.

    Re. the debate – whatever its content – was dismal to look at. A millennial, with knowledge of Go Pro cameras, should have been engaged. What’s the point of the participants wearing suits when the visual experience was so dark – dreadful.

  16. Jeff,

    Other than the trendy buzz term for non-motorized transport enthusiasts, like yourself, active transportation means other things to other people:

    “As well as being essential for keeping the over 50 economically active, cars also play a key role in keeping them socially active as well. The third most common reason for the over 60s to get behind the wheel is to visit friends and the biggest growing reason for travel for the over 50s is to go on a holiday or short trip.” (Saga, 2015 Report)

    Your narrow focus is palpable.

    1. Susan,

      Active transportation has a clear definition in this context. Google it and every hit will be about human powered transportation.

      This is not vilification of cars, it’s just not what it means. Contrary to what some think, not everything is a conspiracy against cars or drivers.

      It’s ok to admit you didn’t know.

    2. Good quote Susan. I see it is from Saga Motor Insurance in the UK. Saga is an insurance company focused on selling products to the over 50 set. They purchased the Automobile Association some time back. Sounds like a great, independent source. Nice job.

    3. Fortunately nobody is preventing seniors from being able to drive places and socialize. Are you suggesting that somebody is?
      If so… how?

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