Policy & Planning
August 17, 2018

Data Overload: Housing Vancouver Strategy Data Book 2018

You want data on housing?  The City has data on housing – 150 pages worth.

And hence the problem.  Who is going to skim that amount of information, much less take the time to find the specific data they need if it’s not searchable on something other than a dense pdf document?  For that matter, for a topic on everyone’s tongue, how many people even know there is a “Housing Vancouver Strategy”, much less what it aims to achieve?

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John Atkin lives in the architectural and heritage weeds.  As an historian and city insider, he knows the details on how this city has changed.  Here, for instance, is an excerpt by John (with Elana Zysblat, James Burton and Denise Cook) from the West End Heritage Context Statement for the West End plan. 

This section provides a summary of zoning changes in the West End as new forms of development emerged, particularly the highrise tower, and how the city planners both encouraged and responded to redevelopment.  (I’ve added the illustrations.)

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Dianna took a close look at this graphic on a utility box when at the Mt Pleasant Mural Fest:

“Where’s the crow?” she asked.  How could a “Birds of Vancouver” not have a crow (especially when it looks like one may become the popular ambassador of this city, as reported by CBC)?

Then when out cycling, she noticed something else.  “We rode the Arbutus today and I made a discovery. Apparently the scarecrows (for the community gardens) have a strong labor union because they’ve taken off for the summer. Or maybe they were in a dressing room changing their clothes?”

Very suspicious.




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Another conversation with a savvy insider on the civic election – one who deserves the moniker of ‘pundit’ (in the best sense) – and who had a most provocative insight: “Vision will win a majority on council.”

How?  With their data base.  Vision continued to renew their already-extensive and targeted contact list between elections.  Unlike the new parties or independents, Vision knows who their supporters are and how to reach them.

Because of the new financing rules, it’s even more of a challenge for others to create such a list or find an expensive substitute.  Pundit thinks Hector Bremner may have some data, but it’s likely out of date.  There’s also a rumour that the NPA may have been in danger of losing what they had because of an in-house conflict.  Regardless, says pundit, the old guard that’s left, after Bremner blew it apart, doesn’t know much about contemporary political organizing.

But has Vision, I asked,  such a damaged brand that, regardless of their data, they won’t pull in the needed vote?

Pundit thinks that even with a 15 to 20 percent drop in support, their core vote won’t be bewildered by a ballot with 70-plus councillor candidates and nine for mayor (at last count).  And if they fear that the progressive policies of Vision they do like, regardless of a failure on the housing file, might be threatened, they’ll be sufficiently motivated to support the party.  Vision will know their names.  Then it’s the job of the volunteers to get them out.

Sounds like old-fashioned political organizing to me.

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Another Metrotown tower to highlight – for its highlighting.  Glass panels in translucent blues and greens seem to be there for decorative effect, and are used even more effectively on the townhouses below:

Simple and effective.

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By late summer, we’re in shape.

Good weather, longer days, more trips on bikes, more running, more hiking, more walking.

Younger people are literally using the city as a gym.   On the bike routes, cyclists are stronger, moving faster, more in control – and showing off their bodies.  Ironically, even as the air quality worsens, the city is feeling healthier.

And looking good.

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Smoke and filtered light.

The haze softens the city with a yellow flush.   It’s just on this side of other-worldly.  It’s another indicator that the early stages of climate change are already consequential, regardless of how they are disregarded, dismissed or denied among the decision-makers.  Philip Dick: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Summer hazes may go away, but the reason they’re here will not.


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Vancouver’s Mobility Future: Automating Policy into Sustainable Results

As the City prepares beyond the Transportation 2040 Plan, it is strategically transitioning to be ready for the full realm of automated, connected, electric, shared vehicles (ACES) while embracing road space reallocation to sustainable transportation modes, more rapid transit and a high speed rail to Seattle.  As a Smart City Challenge finalist within Canada, the City is preparing for the future of mobility through innovation and partnerships as it continues its journey to move more people by walking, cycling and transit while eliminating fatalities and serious injuries.

Speaker: Dale Bracewell, Manager of Transportation Planning for the City of Vancouver

Learn more

Friday, August 24

1–2:30 p.m. (PDT)

Free webinar, but reservations are required. Reserve on Eventbrite

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Not much is going on.  It’s August; no one seems to care about an election in October.  Not at least until after Labour Day.

I’m calling up people whose job it is to care – the campaign managers and supporters around the candidates, the savvy ones – and asking them for their take on what’s happening.

The first one I contacted affirms that, yup, it’s too quiet – and too confusing.  The fear: so many parties, too many candidates, so that a lot of people may decide early on that it’s too much work to keep track.  They aren’t going to pay attention even as the election approaches, and in the end they simply won’t vote.

It’s therefore possible, goes the concern, that a very few percent of voters – 33 percent or less – will end up choosing a mayor and council that, if other places are a precedent, will result in a dysfunctional council.  Example elsewhere: Nanaimo.

It also means that some mayoral candidate with a simple message, aiming to rile up a  base, can run on an outlandish, divisive platform and end up in power.  Example elsewhere: well, you know who.

Wai Young, for instance, might be that outsider in Vancouver with a simple message (damn bike lanes), especially with an attraction to Cantonese speakers.  But she likely wouldn’t have a supportive council.  Hence, dysfunction.

My contact just raised that theory.  Doesn’t yet have an answer as to how to respond.  The question is whether a credible candidate, aiming for a broad base, can get enough profile and support to prevail on a fractured ballot with a low turnout.


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