COVID Place making
September 17, 2020

How do we start limiting congestion NOW?

A challenge question for PT readers:

How should we start to limit congestion before it becomes unacceptable?

There’s a real-life experiment unfolding on our streets – one that will fundamentally affect our future – discussed here in “Our Real World Experiment in Traffic Congestion. “

As people switch from transit to cars, it won’t take much to fill up available road space.  It may only take a 10-15 percent to reach a level of inefficiency and frustration where we reverse the gains we’ve made in this region, notably with transit, in the last half century.   Without response, something has to break, even if we don’t yet know what that level is.  Waiting until we get to a breaking point seems kinda stupid knowing how much more difficult it is to reverse something if instead we can limit it before it happens.

Knowing we will have to slow, stop and reverse a move to post-Covid motordom worse than pre-March, what steps should we take now?

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Sometimes change happens when you least expect it~as Natalie Obiko Pearson  and Divya Balji write in the Vancouver Sun Jimmy Pattison who built a multi-billion dollar  “empire from a single, loss-making Vancouver car dealership” acquired in 1961 has done the impossible.

Looking at how to invest and protect money in the post-Covid world, this billionaire is now focussing on the environment. As Mr. Pattison stated “We have got to focus on the environment, the environment, the environment. Anything that is negative, in my opinion, to do with the environment is going out of business sooner or later.”

To back that claim, Mr. Pattison took a hydrogen fuelled car around southwestern British Columbia on a weekend and declared that he was surprised at the experience.
“All I’ve driven is engines all my life and so when you get something that’s this smooth and fast and goes like a dart and quiet. Boy, I never drove anything nicer.”

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Join John Bela, Founder of Park(ing) Day to discuss the event’s creation and evolution into what we are now all experiencing with COVID.

Park(ing) Day began in 2005 as a temporary, one-day experiment in rethinking how we use streets as public space in our communities. Since then, the movement has matured and expanded into the field of tactical urbanism and participatory placemaking. Park(ing) Day has evolved and been formalized as City led Parklet programs expand across the world.

As part of a response to Covid-19, temporary use of streets and rights-of-way have exploded. What is the future of these temporary spaces? Will these short-term changes have long-term impacts on the design and planning of our streets and public spaces? Join John Bela, partner, and director at Gehl San Francisco for a presentation and discussion.
Attendees will receive Zoom Webinar Invite prior to Friday’s Webinar.

Date: Friday September 18, 2020

Time: 12 noon Pacific Time

For further information and to register please click here.

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Yesterday Vancouver’s City Manager, Sadhu Johnston resigned from the City. This is a very big thing.

The job of the City Manager is all encompassing. The position manages the city budget, manages city personnel, and reviews staff reports going to Council. The manager sets the tone in terms of city policy, direction, and interpretation. It is in many ways a thankless job with endless meetings, tight schedules, and long hours.

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As we enter the era of the New Abnormal  – much faster than most of us expected – where will people go “when there is no longer any other choice”?  Abrahm Lustgarten explores the prospects of American migration, greater than any movement in its history, in this New York Times Magazine article:

Here are the paragraphs directly relevant to us:

The millions of people moving north will mostly head to the cities of the Northeast and Northwest, which will see their populations grow by roughly 10 percent, according to one model.

Once-chilly places like Minnesota and Michigan and Vermont will become more temperate, verdant and inviting. Vast regions will prosper; just as Hsiang’s research forecast that Southern counties could see a tenth of their economy dry up, he projects that others as far as North Dakota and Minnesota will enjoy a corresponding expansion. Cities like Detroit, Rochester, Buffalo and Milwaukee will see a renaissance, with their excess capacity in infrastructure, water supplies and highways once again put to good use.

One day, it’s possible that a high-speed rail line could race across the Dakotas, through Idaho’s up-and-coming wine country and the country’s new breadbasket along the Canadian border, to the megalopolis of Seattle, which by then has nearly merged with Vancouver to its north.

Oh well then, you can bet that this will be interpreted by some to mean better wine, wealth and keeping the border closed.

ProPublica presents the climate changes graphically:

 

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A report from Global News reporter Nadia Stewart, with a headline that distorts the story:

The protest had three dozen people – surely worth a qualified ‘some’ when the headline starts “Vancouverites upset.”  But that quibble doesn’t matter when judged against the absence of data and other points of view (like, say, comments from passing cyclists).  Importantly, the video story was supplemented in the online print version, where reporter Simon Little provided important information:

Vancouver Park Board manager Dave Hutch says about 93 per cent of Stanley Park Drive is open to vehicles, and that about 70 per cent of parking in the park remains open.

He said after talks with the city’s disability advisory committee, the board also added 10 new handicapped parking spaces.

“We’re seeing that the park and parking is nowhere near capacity this year. The busiest day was in mid August, we had 63 per cent capacity. We would expect about 90 per cent in August,” he told Global News.

Still, impact-wise, the protesters had the visuals and screen time.  There have been demanding that Park Drive be restored to two lanes for cars and have all the parking returned – in other words, back to the standards of mid-century Motordom.  That’s what we did in the post-war decades, and the roads of Stanley Park were designed accordingly: a transportation system where cars are given most of the space, there are no separated bike lanes (cars and bikes fight it out for priority), parking is provided in excess, and the seawall has to accommodate the crowding of all active transport users.

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Mayor Robert Crowell (who is known by everyone there as Mayor Bob) passed away last week while serving his third term as Mayor of Carson City Nevada.  He was a lawyer who specialized in governmental relations, and a retired Navy captain. But he was also a Mayor that knew every member of Carson City’s staff by name, was very active in the community and single handedly steered his city to a remarkable change~he advocated and completely overhauled the town’s  main street, which was previously a commercial thoroughfare and a marked highway.

 

By stewarding a car centric downtown into a walkable, bikeable destination, Mayor Bob changed the culture and commerce of his community, and made the downtown a place residents flocked to and spend time in.

The state capital of Nevada is Carson City which has a population of 56,000 and is thirty miles south of Reno Nevada. Despite being a state capital, Carson City is a town that was  forgotten by development. There are  many Victorian era buildings in the downtown, a legacy of its 1858 settlement that serviced nearby ranchers.

Despite a downtown that contained a lot of important heritage buildings as well as the grounds for the state capitol, the  four lane highway barrelled through the main street, with  traffic proceeding at  speed requiring steel fencing to corral pedestrians along sidewalks. Even with the barriers, pedestrians were maimed and killed while trying to cross the street.

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Vancouver Heritage Foundation – Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow

 

FALL 2020 VIRTUAL LECTURES
VHF’s Evening Lecture series continues this fall in a new virtual format. Join us from the comfort of home to enjoy fascinating pieces of Vancouver’s history from a selection of speakers. If you are unable to attend the scheduled lecture time, you may register ahead of time and a link to access the recording will be sent to you. Please note the link is only active for a specific period of time.

Vancouver’s first and most prolific Chinese photographer, Yucho Chow, operated a commercial studio in the heart of Chinatown from 1907–1949. He chronicled life during a tumultuous and transformative time in Canadian history and captured the faces of early marginalized communities including South Asians, Black Canadians, Indigenous residents, mixed-race families and Eastern European immigrants. For some communities, he was the only photographer willing to take their portraits. Sadly, his negatives – and the individual stories and history they chronicled – were all discarded when his studio closed. Chinatown curator Catherine Clement spent over eight years uncovering Yucho Chow’s photographs – one family at a time, one photo at a time, one story at a time.

In 2019, Catherine mounted the first-ever solo exhibition of Chow’s work. That exhibit created a flood of new submissions which are now in a book. She will share the story of Yucho Chow and show some of these remarkable never-before-seen private photographs and stories of diverse, early communities. She will also explore what these images tell us about Vancouver’s history and the role Chinatown played in the lives of so many groups.

Date:Tuesday, October 27th
Time: 7pm – 8:30pm
Registration charge: $16 / $10 (incl. tax)

Please note: This lecture will be offered online. Information on how to attend will be emailed to registrants.

To register, click here for further information.

Images: YuchoChow

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Peter Ladner reports:

The Stanley Park Hill Klimb (SPHK) now exists. It’s a thing. (The K is for one kilometre long but I challenge someone to prove me wrong.)

It has a Start Line and a Finish Line and piece of chalk at the top to write down if you’ve made a new record time.

So far I have the record time: 3:52. Timing for other people begins now.

Tell your friends. Do the SPHK loop in your costume on your way to the Beach Avenue Bikefest #beachavebikefest Sunday 3-4 pm, where you can win a costume prize! Share your time with your friends. Dare them to beat it, or to just come out and enjoy the ride. Remember: five-yr-old-kids can ride up it.

Be the first to set up the SPHK on Strava.

Do with it what you want. Maybe come and add some of your own art (sidewalk chalk is sold at most dollar stores). This story could just be getting started.

This will wash away in a few weeks, but perhaps some visions will be permanently chalked in.

Here’s part of a longer story by Peter Ladner on how the Stanley Park Hill Klimb has the potential to be an accessible in-town Grouse Grind. It was written as a friendly open letter to Prospect Point Cafe owner Nancy Stibbard:

__________________________

 

Dianna reports on the need for safe space and respect:

(Note: unconfirmed incident.  Update welcome.)

I just picked this off the Escape Velocity bike club Facebook page. Happened a couple of days ago apparently. Sounds like a hit and run.

Does anyone have news on the condition of the group of roadies that were slammed into by the BMW SUV when descending Prospect Point last week?

My friend was riding his MTB back home at the same time and got wiped out to with major road rash and broken bones on his right hand. I hope no one suffered any worse.

The account I heard was at a group of roadies were descending and, in the absence of vehicles, moved over into the left lane to safely overtake a family of four. The BMW laid on his horn and accelerated up to the group. Group moved back once past the family and the driver drove through the cones into the bike lane and the group!

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Let’s begin in Osoyoos, the southern-most town of the Okanagan:

The shot above was taken on August 27, 2020.

Here’s the equivalent from the lookout on Anarchist Mountain in 1977:

Beautiful BC magazine via BC Archives

Compare urban development in the two shots.  Notice how almost nothing has changed except some development on the middle right along the lakefront, a large white complex in the lower centre and what is probably an industrial strip in the upper left.

In a world where values rise when land is flat, easily serviced, near major roads and close to an urban core, how can this be?  Especially in the Okanagan, where the liaison between real-estate interests and local politicians has been, shall we say, often intimate.

The answer is the yellow line in the map below:

Water Science Series, BC Government

The line, almost block by block, is the boundary of the Agricultural Land Reserve, originally established in the early 1970s.  (To considerable opposition by many who owned the land within it.)

In an economy based on tourism and retirement, it’s extraordinary that there is anything green between the white municipal boundary and the yellow ALR.  Today, that economy of wine and fruit and tourism based on the appeal of a natural landscape was made possible by the vision of the NDP government in 1972 to establish the ALR (which paid for it in the loss of 1975) and the reluctance of successive Social Credit and Liberal governments to pay the political price to undo it.  (Not that there haven’t been nibbles of alienation – like golf courses as illustrated in the above report – but there hasn’t been huge bites of removal.)

Osoyoos may be a particularly graphic example of the juxtaposition of urban and agicultural, where vineyards come with a kilometre of the city centre.  But the same is true for much of the Okanagan (and arguably even Vancouver, hello Southlands), with one particularly egregious counter-example.  We’ll get there soon.

 

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