Michael Alexander adds to the post below on Seattle:

We really should pay more attention to local government in San Francisco; they’re dealing with so many of the same issuesAnd they have a city council structure which many would cringe at as a replacement.

San Francisco is almost exactly our size (47 square miles vs. our 44.4 sq. mi). Since 1996, its governing 11- member Board of Supervisions has been elected by district. (The Mayor is elected separately, at large.)

Today, San Francisco has some of the highest rental prices in North America, though they’re down a bit from two years ago. According to the rental site Zumper, the median cost for a one-bedroom apartment (in Canadian dollars) is $4,480!

Here’s the median cost for one bedroom by district, in U.S. dollars (add 30% to get Vancouver equivalents). Note that most of the outlying areas are almost exclusively single family.

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We really should pay more attention to local government in Seattle; they’re dealing with so many of the same issues.  And they have a city council structure which many would advocate for us as a replacement for our ten-member council (plus mayor), all elected at large.

The Council consists of nine members serving four-year terms, seven of which are elected by electoral districts and two of which are elected in citywide at-large positions; all elections are non-partisan.

It will surprise you not at all that their major issue is housing affordability, and that they too are struggling with the question of how much of the city should be rezoned for higher density – and whether neighbourhoods should be treated differently with respect to density and affordability.  Here’s the latest from the Seattle Times:

Some potential battle lines were drawn Friday as Seattle City Council members debated trimming a plan to allow denser construction in the hearts of 27 neighborhoods while imposing affordable-housing requirements on developers.

Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena González, who represent the city at large, spoke out against attempts by certain district-based council members to reduce upzones proposed for some blocks of single-family houses. …

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In the current PriceTalks episode with Christine Boyle, we reference ‘Clouds of Change’ – the 1990 report and recommendations from what was maybe the first task force to address climate change at the municipal level.

Here it is:


As the councillor who initiated the process, I continue to be impressed by its prescience.  It helped change the way City Hall thought about the related issues of greenhouse gases, energy, transportation and land use.  It led to good things – like sustainability pioneering at the Olympic Village; it reinforced a lot of good things – cycling, energy conservation, recycling.

And while its targets for greenhouse-gas reductions were ambitious (and not achieved), it underestimated what can happen when there is global determination – like the targets for ozone-depleting-gas reduction (which were achieved.)

So conscious were we of the danger to the ozone layer that a related response was prioritized as recommendation #5.

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Tom Durning picked up on news from the Valley:

I didn’t see this important meeting covered in the Vancouver-centric MSM nor much in the electronic media. Yet the mayors of the Fraser Valley had a meeting recently to discuss development out that way, ably reported by experienced Black Press reporter Matthew Claxton:

  • Read how Langley Township Mayor recognizes that widening Highway 1 is not the answer to transportation problems
  • See them discuss ride-sharing without resorting to the negativity from the slanted reporting by Mike Smyth

Unless there is a gangland killing in Surrey or Chilliwack, a major pile-up on Hwy 1 in Langley or a barn fire in Mission, these municipalities don’t get the coverage they deserve.

From the Langley Times:

The Urban Development Institute Fraser Valley hosted mayors and councillors from the Langleys, Abbotsford, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, and Mission for a discussion at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday. …

Every city in the valley is dealing with massive growth, with Mayor Pam Alexis of Mission noting her city was expected to double in size in the coming years. …

Abbotsford has about 1,600 housing units under construction, and 3,600 in the stream to being approved and built. …

On transportation, each community is wrestling with more traffic and expects even more issues in the future as density increases.

“Almost 70 per cent of Mission leaves every day,” noted Alexis.

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Peter Berkeley passed this item along from Snopes:

A 14 August 1912 article from a New Zealand newspaper contained a brief story about how burning coal might produce future warming by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.

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The theme of ‘Heritage: The Tie that Binds’ highlights the power of cultural heritage to bring people together and create a sense of belonging.


Wednesday, Feb 20: Places That Matter: Community Celebration

Hear the stories of Places That Matter sites from the people and organizations who brought their history forward.This free celebration includes refreshments and displays related to Places That Matter sites and local history, a short program of inspirational stories featuring our Master of Ceremonies, Author, Musician and Historian Aaron Chapman, as well as live music from the Vancouver Chamber Players Wind Trio.

Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. 6pm – 8:30pm, FREE


Saturday, Feb 23: Tea at Chinatown House

Visit Chinatown House, an innovative new hub in a converted building that is providing space for co-working and cultural programming. Hear about the project from Leslie Shieh, co-founder of Tomo Spaces and learn about the intangible cultural heritage of the area from Helen Lee, a planner with the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Transformation Team. Cantonese instructor and certified tea master, Christine Wong, will serve tea and discuss its relevance in Chinese traditions and everyday practices.

Chinatown House, 188 E Pender St. 1:30pm – 3pm, $20


Sunday, Feb 24: Oakridge Community History Walking Tour

In the post-war period, the Oakridge area was the hub of Vancouver’s Jewish community, home to many families and community organizations. Join Michael Schwartz, Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC for a tour of this neighbourhood. Visit architectural landmarks including the Jewish Community Centre, King David High School, modernist homes, and Temple Sholom synagogue, and learn how these spaces provided the foundations for a vibrant community.

Oakridge Neighbourhood. 10am – 12pm, $20


To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org or call 604 264 9642.


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From Slate:

Unlike every other major North American metro area, the Vancouver region doesn’t allow ride-hailing. That makes Vancouver a unique example of what happens when a thriving North American city politely—this is Canada—passes on the ride-hail bandwagon. The result: Vancouver’s public transit system is adding riders even as usage drops in many other cities. Bike commuting is growing, and car-share services like Car2Go are booming. …

So how have Vancouverites handled the lack of ride-hailing?

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