February 27, 2020

Mark Sakai on Building For a Warming Future, the Grand Bargain, and Housing Affordability

Director of government relations for the Homebuilders Association Vancouver and 4th generation Japanese-Canadian Mark Sakai talks internment, immigration, growing up in Steveston and housing.

Housing. What’s important? Mark asks: can you find the housing you want at your stage of life? Single family housing? Spoiler, it still dominates, but you’re probably going to look in Maple Ridge or Abbotsford, or Brandon, Manitoba for that matter, unless your pockets have depth and breadth. Two-thirds of the residential land in Metro Vancouver is primarily reserved for a “certain type of housing” that is unaffordable to most people. Is it time to re-think the grand bargain?

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In the “You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up” department, Forbes.com writer Carleton Reid reports that out of 140 countries attending the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, only one country refused to sign the Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety. That country? The United States.

I have already written about the Stockholm Declaration and the nine recommendations. These have now been adopted by 140 countries  and changes the paradigm of road speed to focus on speed management by better enforcement, and by “mandating a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix.”

Better still, the lower speeds will mean reduced automobile emissions and are already being enacted in the Netherlands, where speed has been rolled back on highways to 100 km/h.

There is of course precedent with the United States refusing to sign the Paris Accord on  global climate change in 2017. And there is already doom and gloom spin on what slowing traffic to 30 km/h or 20 mph in neighbourhoods will do to vehicular traffic. (Hint~absolutely nothing, vehicles can still circulate on arterial roads around the designated 30 km/h areas. ) Slower speeds in neighbourhoods  lower carbon emissions and lower the chance of serious vehicular crashes, enhance livability and mitigate noise.

But look at the numbers~annually 1.3 million people are killed in crashes. Fifty million people are badly hurt. Globally these crashes are the leading cause death for people aged five to twenty-nine years.

In the United States,  more than 7,000 cyclists and pedestrians died in 2018, the biggest increase since 1990. Between 2013 to 2017 the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs (sport utility vehicles) increased by 50 percent, while those killed by small cars increased by 30 percent. Even though the cost of crashes cost the United States economy 240 billion dollars a year, the vehicular lobby is still king.

In British Columbia it was Councillor Pete Fry with the City of Vancouver that advocated for a UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) resolution asking the Province to give municipal approval for 30 km/h  zones.  That would  allow the edges of the areas to be signed as 30 km/h, and  not have  every internal residential street signed as 30 km/h which would be costly.

To everyone’s shock, the Province refused to grant the cities the right to control the areas as 30 km/h. This proves once again that coming towards an election year more conservative inclinations are being exhibited by the Province to the detriment of the communities it serves.

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The Delta Police Department  with its motto “No Call Too Small” is famous in Metro Vancouver for their witty and direct approach to traffic management in their city. I have already written about their innovative use of social media to help manage safety and vehicular speed— with the ultimate goal of mitigating crashes — in their municipality.

The Delta Police Traffic Unit  directly asks the public via Twitter where speed enforcement is required. The results have been laudable with police officers attending the offending locations to enforce bylaws. They even monitor marked crosswalks to ensure that drivers yield to pedestrians.

The department has further adapted its unique communication/enforcement approach, by also giving the public a “heads up” about potential enforcement areas, also at its @DPDTraffic Twitter account. And that’s not all~they even advertise their “ticket events” at the entrances of the areas they are enforcing.

Surprisingly, drivers don’t appear to read these large reader boards.

The results have been real, and measurable, especially in high crash locations. Police say they have seen vehicular speeds slow almost to posted levels on Highway 17, as well as on streets in the city’s commercial areas.

As Delta Police Staff Sergeant Ryan Hall stated“Although Delta police and other forces occasionally publicize enforcement efforts, we don’t think any other police force in B.C. has committed to giving the public a heads up on a regular basis.” 

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If you have stayed in London for any amount of time or lived there, you may have experienced what Londoners call “London throat”, which includes mucus in the nose and illness. It turns out that vanadium, found in brake dust and in diesel exhaust contributes to “London throat” and also has an adverse impact on immunity.

The metal particles in the dust from worn-out brake pads on vehicles can be just as harmful as diesel emissions. Called BAD for Brake Dust Abrasion, studies done by King’s College London found that the metallic  dust from brake pads cause lung inflammation and “reduce immunity, increasing the risk of respiratory infections.”

As reported in the BBC the head researcher Dr. Liza Selley stated “Worryingly, this means that brake dust could be contributing to what I call ‘London throat’ – the constant froggy feeling and string of coughs and colds that city dwellers endure.”

In her research Dr. Selley found that 55% of traffic pollution is from non-exhaust particles, and 20% of that is brake dust. The dust is caused by the friction of the brake rotor grinding on the brake pads when a vehicle is braked, and the dust becomes airborne. Her research shows that the impact of this dust is just as severe as that of diesel particles. You can read Dr. Selley’s complete study here.

What this also means is that zero emission vehicles which have been vaunted as the environmental salvo to the internal combustion engines of  20th century vehicles are still going to contribute to brake dust. This speaks to doing more with less, by using public transit in cities as opposed to individual vehicles in high density areas that are subject to vehicular pollution.

It’s no surprise that the pro-automobile lobby has come out saying that all speed bumps should be removed from city streets to minimize brake dust, as reported in the Daily Telegraph.

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This is a lineup you won’t want to miss, with the City of Vancouver Director of Planning Gil Kelley in conversation with  the Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC, Heather Campbell, and the Director of  Simon Fraser University’s City Program,  Duke of Data Andy Yan.  Here’s one of the first times these three urban shape shifters have been on the same stage discussing what is going on in our place, and what policies are needed to move us towards a connected, housed, liveable city.

Moderator is Jen St. Denis, a local journalist that has been exploring the housing affordability issues in the region, and been on the pulse of business and politics surrounding city planning.

Called “Thinking Cities: Evidence in Policy, Knowledge in Action” this event takes place on Thursday March 5.

Date: Thursday, March 5, 2020, 7-9 pm (doors open at 6:30)

Place: SFU Segal Building, Room 1200
Admission: $5

You can follow this link to reserve your seat.Seating is limited, and appears to be selling out quickly.

You can read more about the presenters and the discussants below.

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Writer and blogger Stanley Woodvine @sqwabb  has posted this photo of  a construction site in the 1400 block of Broadway that swallowed an entire sidewalk as its own. You can see in the photos that there is no guidance or safe way to get around  as a sidewalk user,  able bodied or disabled.

City sidewalks are never to be blocked, and if they are impeded there is supposed to be signage and an alternative route offered, which can include a coned area in the parking lane adjacent to the sidewalk.

The City offers guidance for the use of the street and sidewalk for business and other activities. You will note that there are guidelines to reserve parking spaces and parking meters, but none to block sidewalks. 

In the case of a construction area that has a sidewalk  blocked, there has to be signage and an alternative place to safely walk, with a clear Traffic Management Plan approved by the City that are set to the Province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure standards. Such a plan also must comply with the Motor Vehicle Act.

If you encounter a blocked sidewalk, let the City know the block and street through the VanConnect app or call 311. If you have a contact in the Engineering Department, call them and ask them to follow up.

Some ideas of  how sidewalk traffic diversions can be handled are in the photos below. These photos were taken in Knightsbridge in London England.

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I received an advanced copy of “Planning on the Edge” which provides a reconciliation, social justice and sustainable development lens on the complex issues surrounding Metro Vancouver regional planning.  It’s a thoughtful and well documented book with chapters contributed by many well known urban thinkers.

There’s food and a panel with UBC’s Leonora Angeles, Bill Rees, Howard Grant from the Musqueam First Nation and Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan.

Host of the CBC program “B.C. Today” Michelle Eliott is the moderator.

This event is expected to reach capacity quickly. The tickets are free~please follow this link to RSVP .

When February 27th, 2020  5:30 PM   through   9:00 PM Location UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street
Room C300
Vancouver, BC
Canada Contact Phone: 604-822-3276
Email: sherli@mail.ubc.ca Read more »

Gord Price will be in Australia for the next month.  Follow his coverage here and on Instagram (gordonpriceyvr).

More evidence from the Sydney Morning Herald on how deeply unserious some decision-makers can be, even after declaring a climate emergency and living through a national trauma that validates the urgency.  It is the gap between lack of action and the desire for strategic change that makes this story extraordinary.

The world’s largest coal port wants to transition away from coal – but because of government policy, can’t do it.

 

The world’s largest coal port State deal blocking world’s largest coal port from fossil fuel exit

The head of the world’s largest coal port says it must transition away from the fossil fuel and diversify Newcastle’s economy before it’s too late, but controversial NSW government policy is stopping it.

As the government worked to improve its climate policy following a summer of drought and bushfires, Port of Newcastle chief executive Craig Carmody said $2 billion of private investment was waiting for the green light to develop a container terminal and move the Hunter away from coal.

However, a once-secret facet of the Baird government’s 2013-14 port privatisation deal – which would force Newcastle to compensate its competitors if it transported more than 30,000 containers a year – could keep the local economy tethered to coal for decades.

Mr Carmody said the port had about 15 years to transition away from the resource, which makes up more than 95 per cent of its exports. He added that a changing climate and struggling regional sector compounded the situation.

 

Here’s the kicker:

“It doesn’t really matter what governments in Australia want to believe, the money we need to do what we need to do have already made their decisions,” Mr Carmody told the Herald.

“There is a reason why businesses, particularly in the energy space in Australia, are saying, ‘Well, if the government won’t provide a policy direction, then we’re going to go off and do it ourselves’.”

 

 

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