Housing
February 18, 2019

How to Fund Affordable Housing

From Michael Alexander:

First sunny day above freezing, and the newish playground next to Science World is packed as usual, with long lines for every ride including the zip line.

If the city charged $1 a kid (“C’mon Mom, it’s only a loonie!), in a year we could build enough affordable housing to meet demand*.

 

 

* Ed – First rule of affordable housing: demand is never met.

 

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Digital Democracy 101:
Understanding the Attention Economy

MONDAY, MARCH 4 | 6:00 – 7:30 PM
FREE EVENT Registration is Required
SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre, Room 1400
515 West Hastings St.

Many Canadians actively use digital platforms without fully understanding the technology behind them and, crucially, how new technologies are altering Canadian political culture. The competition for our time and attention by digital platforms, which can often skew what we see and from whom, may leave us without the trusted information we need to make a confident decision in an election.

In this free lecture, Carl Miller, Research Director at Demos, will explain how the ‘attention economy’ can harm democracy. Following the lecture, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, SFU’s Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media in the School of Communication, will join Miller in conversation before moderating an audience Q&A.

Register Today

 

The Rise of the Misinformation Society

TUESDAY, MARCH 5 | 7:00 PM
FREE EVENT Registration is Required
SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre, Room 2245
515 West Hastings St.

From Facebook’s unaccountable monopoly power to the demise of reliable journalism, a misinformation ecosystem has taken root. This is particularly true in the United States where entire regions and issues lack media coverage at a time when robust reporting is desperately needed. These growing “news deserts” are disproportionately harming specific groups and areas, especially communities of color, rural districts, and lower socio-economic neighborhoods.

Join SFU’s School of Communication for the Dallas Smythe Memorial Lecture Series with Dr. Victor Pickard and engage in conversations about the ongoing collapse of commercial journalism and the policies necessary for establishing public alternatives.

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Addressing the popular myth that people migrate to warmer places to be homeless, this article in the Los Angeles Times  by Gale Holland outlines that five homeless individuals died from causes that included hypothermia in Los Angeles last year.

By comparison, two homeless people in New York City and two in San Francisco died of hypothermia in the same period.

“Hypothermia has led to more deaths in L.A. than in colder regions because 39,000 homeless people here live outdoors — by far the most of any metropolitan area in the country. L.A.’s generally moderate Mediterranean climate is no shield, because hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 50 degrees, experts say.”

A 2007 report from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council suggests that going without a hat can “drain up to half of a person’s body heat, and wet clothing can intensify heat loss twentyfold.” 

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Here are three interesting items that are linked to sustainability and surprisingly  involve the province of Alberta. As noted on Twitter by @TheGentYYC some extraordinary initiatives are moving that province in a greener direction. First off,  that Canadian oil stalwart, Petro Canada is building a network of Electric Vehicle (EV) fast charging stations across Canada.

Petro Canada says “Keeping people moving is what we do, and we know that Canadians needs are evolving. We want to help you along your journey, which is why we are building a cross-Canada network of EV fast charge stations. To keep you moving toward what matters most to you.”

As @TheGentYYC points out Petro Canada is owned by Suncor, the world’s largest producer of bitumen. Suncor had a revenue of over 29 billion dollars in 2015 and owns the oils sands plant near Fort McMurray.  For Suncor to sponsor electric vehicle charging stations is a “tectonic event” and suggestive of a major policy shift in “corporate climate leadership”.

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In a rite of passage, ‘liminal’ refers to the transition point that is neither here nor there; a threshold that can result in multiple interpretations or outcomes, and thus (often) confusion. In this episode, Wes Regan, Social Planner responsible for Community Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Initiatives with the City of Vancouver, aptly uses this word to describe his work space at the downtown Woodward’s Building and, by extension, the city’s current approach to community economic development (CED).

One could say the true liminal space is the Downtown Eastside itself, a threshold between competing realities that the city has worked hard to define, and reconcile, in the almost two decades since the signing of the Vancouver Agreement. As “A Program of Strategic Actions for the Downtown Eastside“, the Vancouver Agreement was formulated to address poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, crime and injustice, all of which have afflicted the DTES for a generation.

Regan has been a part of a number of organizations and initiatives contributing to understanding that uneasy but critical dynamic — between economic development and gentrification,  top-down social programs and self-determination, and civic integration and maintaining the integrity of community culture and the collective lived experience.

From the establishment of the Portland Hotel Society in 1993, to the Woodwards Squat in ’02, to the eventual successes of social enterprises like EMBERS and Potluck Café & Catering, city staff have learned to embrace this ambiguity. It resulted, in Regan’s estimation, in a collapse of the traditional economic development hierarchy of formal, social and informal economies, into a “livelihoods continuum”. The development and implementation of the city’s Healthy City Strategy and new Community Benefits Agreement policy are just two expressions of policy innovation on the new continuum.

In this discussion with host Colin Stein, Regan talks about his almost two decades living and working in and around the DTES, and some of the practical implications of this new approach to CED.

 

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Simon Fraser University’s City Program is offering this two-day intensive course on how to develop the principles and strategies needed to plan healthy communities.

Building on recent work and new research on the relationship between urban design and public health, your instructors will introduce you to the Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Linkages Toolkit and provide guidance on how to develop a health impact assessment.

The course will be interactive, with guest speakers from the Metro Vancouver public health community, but also grounded in the practical demands of local government policy development, design and implementation.

Instructors and Guest Speakers

Neal LaMontagne, adjunct professor, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning

Claire Gram, Population Health Policy and Project Lead, Vancouver Coastal Health

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health

Charito Gailling, Project Manager, BC Centre for Disease Control

Lianne Carley, Vancouver Coastal Health Population Health Team

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February 14, 2019

Lost Lagoon after a few days of freezing weather.

So what do the ice patterns tell us?  Where the underwater currents flow, producing a frozen map of streams and ponds?  Temperature gradients? Or something else – if we have eyes to see.

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The Third Annual Bell Urban Forum

 

Vancouverism in a World of Cities

 

Nearly twenty years ago, ‘Vancouverism’ began to circulate as an internationally-recognized label for a distinctive set of practices of building, representing, and marketing the virtues of urban life. From planning, development, and architecture to cinema, transnational social movements, and increasingly cosmopolitan currents of migration, the Vancouver city-region has become a reference point for new configurations of density, diversity, and new relations between humans and the natural world.

At the same time, Vancouver has become the second or third most expensive housing market on the planet, and it’s all built on the unceded indigenous lands and communities that long predate British North America and Canada. Vancouver provides a unique vantage point from which to view the transformations of space and time — of past, present, and future — in an urban world.

Where have concepts of Vancouverism traveled? How have the images and narratives of Vancouverism evolved? How have these trends co-evolved with changes in the material lived realities of society and nature in the Vancouver region?

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Vancouver Sun’s Dan Fumano talks about an interesting perception with the work of the current Vancouver City Council.  Dan was referring to  the council report on the “court house block” of  800 block of Robson Street and the potential decision to approve over five million dollars to create a permanent plaza at this location. You can read the report to Council on this here.

This has been a long talked about initiative and even the architect for the Robson Square court house Arthur Erickson had discussed the closure of this portion of street in the 1970’s. It is not a new idea and it is not something that the previous Vision party  dominated city council dreamed up.  But somehow in the last decade there is a sea change in the way that Vancouverites perceive that work initiated by the City is the “vision” of the ruling party, and not the result of careful reasoned work undertaken over the years by  city staff, who also embark upon extensive public processes to review and comment upon potential plans and projects.

The last Vision party dominated Council contributed to the perception of council as project mavericks by having Council members talk about projects instead of having experienced City staff explain elements of the projects they would have painstaking detail and knowledge of.

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As the new Vancouver Council rolls forward with regular meetings, committee meetings, and public hearings (available for public viewing via the city’s streamed broadcast), I’m struck by the performance of various levels of staff at the podium.

Some pretty impressive people in streets, waste, planning, engineering, licensing, social and cultural programs have been presenting and answering questions — sometimes technically complex or strategically nuanced, but often both — the past few months, and giving their elected representatives their first few impressions of the calibre of the people who really run the city.

It’s also the first time for members of the public — a few dozen in attendance at City Hall and apparently not many more online — to recognize and parse out this dynamic. In other words, even as I work, I get to watch them work. A lot of hoop jumping, and careful performances. It’s not to be envied, and it prompts a lot of questions about the staff-council dynamic.

Are they understanding each other? Is there mutual respect? Do they agree with, or even like, one another?

My impression is that these questions are less important to answer than the other question that’s often raised about city staff — why are they costing us so much?

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