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December 27, 2015

Walk/Bike/Place Conference Call for Proposals


 
The  Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place Conference is coming to Vancouver in October 2016 in concert with the folks at People for Public Spaces in NYC and local sponsors.  The conference theme is “Moving towards a Healthier World”.
More information on the conference and the conference call below:
http://www.pps.org/blog/now-accepting-proposals-for-pro-walkpro-bikepro-place-2016-moving-towards-a-healthier-world/
 

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One of the more curious elements of 2015 was the December burst of information about the Province’s new crossing of the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta. This not yet named bridge is being referred to as the Massey Bridge, after the tunnel this link will be replacing.
Whatever the reason for the new bridge-linking the  Roberts Bank and B.C. ferry terminals, allowing more industrial/residential development on the sensitive river delta, or simply relieving the four lane tunnel congestion with a ten lane superbridge-there is a lot of diverse comment in terms of regional  growth, assessed need and local impact.
But what of the view on the south side of the Fraser River?
The Mayors of Richmond, Vancouver and Surrey have questioned the project, with the Mayor of Surrey hoping that any  funding could go towards more transit oriented initiatives.
Mayor of Delta Lois Jackson weighs in through the Delta Optimist that it is Delta’s turn for a new transportation link to Vancouver, noting that 64 per cent of trips through the tunnel are destined for Richmond, not Vancouver.
http://www.delta-optimist.com/jackson-defends-bridge-amid-criticisms-from-region-s-mayors-1.2135936
This viewpoint  is reinforced in this editorial from the Delta Optimist on the December 23rd:
http://www.delta-optimist.com/opinion/stone-sure-beats-coal-1.2138998
The December released provincial  Massey Tunnel Replacement Project Definition Report outlines the rationale for the bridge and and pinpoints opportunities for the public to  participate in their formalized process:
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/masseytunnel/files/2015/12/GMT-Project-Definition-Report-Dec-2015.pdf

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Peter Ladner has always been ahead of his time. I remember when as a Councillor at City Hall  he gave up his parking spot for a bike rack, way way before biking was popular.
In Business in Vancouver Peter weighs in at the end of  the year on an uncomfortable and very major  issue for Metro Vancouver mayors, communities and residents-how we obtain a regional transit and transportation plan, and how we get that paid.
Titled “2015 Unfinished Business-Mayors’ Transportation Plan” Peter says the following:
“Without TransLink reform or a new referendum, the premier’s most reasonable course of action is to waive the one-third regional funding requirement, as the feds have hinted they would. Having the province pick up the difference would be costly, but it could bring in timely federal funding that would otherwise go elsewhere. In Greater Toronto, the province is picking up 87% of its $12.3 billion total bill for transit improvements. The region is paying 4% with the feds covering the rest.
According to a recent article by Nathan Woods of Unifor and Tom Sigurdson of the BC Building Trades Council, none of the other urban competitors for the federal money – including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary – require one-third local funding.
Interestingly, B.C.’s two ministers went to Ottawa with the new, $3 billion Massey Bridge on their wish list, along with the bridge and transit projects from the Mayors’ Plan. Perhaps a federal contribution to the Massey Tunnel replacement could free up provincial money to fill the regional transit-funding gap?”
Read Peter’s full column below.
https://www.biv.com/article/2015/12/2015s-unfinished-city-business-mayors-transportati/?platform=hootsuite

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First opened in June 2015 on the grounds of the Vancouver Airport Authority, the  McArthurGlen shops owned by a London based company exceeded their footfall projections by 66 per cent in the first 90 days.
But is it a mall? The current retail manager does not use the “m” word, noting the fifty stores and 240,000 square feet of retailing has a resort feel akin to Whistler Village, or UBC’s Wesbrook Mall shopping area. The CEO of the McArthurGlen group states “we are thrilled by the reaction we’ve seen from our shoppers there and their positive response to our European day-out shopping concept”.
 

The consumer response has been positive, with several retailers who expected to have 5 million dollars in sales reporting sales of 10 million dollars. With 2,000 parking spaces and 30 per cent of trips by public transit (Templeton Canada Line Station)  or bike, McArthurGlen says that 60 per cent of their shoppers are local.  The company  expects to break ground on phase 2  with an additional 140,000 square feet of retail space in the new year.
Stories from the Vancouver Sun and Business in Vancouver are referenced below.
http://www.mcarthurglengroup.com/news/vancouver-wins-mapic-awards.aspx
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/richmond+outlet+centre+takes/11605504/story.html?__lsa=22b4-35da

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It is the end of the year, a time to reminisce and the time for a new category of awards, that in honour of Gordon Price I would like to call “The Gordies”.
The Gordies are  awards for the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain memorable Metro Vancouver planning and transportation moments of 2015.
Gordon Price is a champion of open discussion on all things urban and moving in Metro Vancouver on Price Tags. Price Tags has documented an eventful year with  the defeat of the Transportation Referendum, the unveiling of the  new Vancouver Art Gallery Design, the Massey Bridge, and many other stories. What has most inspired and what has most dismayed you in 2015 in Metro Vancouver?
 

 
To get started, I am attaching from Curb.com the New York City Annual Curbed Awards, handed out to the “most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighbourhood universes of New York City”.
 
http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/12/21/nyc_urban_planning_in_2015_the_good_the_bad_
Please send your nominations for the Gordies in the following Greater Vancouver categories:
The Good: Best Metro Vancouver architecture/planning/transportation story of the year with a happy ending.
The Bad: Metro Vancouver architecture/planning/transportation story of the year on the not so happy spectrum.
The Ugly  or Most Puzzling: Most overrated  or questionable architecture/planning/transportation story of the year.
Please comment below or send your missives to PT.Guested@gmail.com

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Yes it is the second take on this housing form-rather plain bread to look at, but with lots of space and quite adaptable in the interior. The Vancouver Special was the “big box” of its time, providing the maximum allowable square footage of housing space on a lot.
 
Bob Ransford in the Vancouver Sun picked up the story previously published in November in Price Tags. The synopsis-Michael Mortensen suggests melding two  or three 33 by 120  foot lots together to create four 1500 square foot units on three levels in the front structure, and a two story dwelling in the back, that could house a 1,000 square foot unit and two 500 square foot studios.
 
Of course under current zoning restrictions, this cannot be done. But what Michael suggests in his original proposal was the advocacy of a pilot program and the release of design licences with pre-approved development permits for a number of  two or three lot configurations in any single family housing  zone.  As a  pilot project  these developments could connect to  existing water, sewer and electrical lines. The form and its success could then be monitored and evaluated.
 
Michael notes that 1000 of these developments could yield 6,000 to 7,000 units. While the City is doing some good work on stacked form, its always refreshing to get an outsider’s perspective.
 
And I am reminded how in the late 1980’s it was almost impossible to have a legal basement suite in a single family house . A decade ago a legal laneway house behind a single family house would be out of the question. The City is densifying and we need to find smart ways to house a growing population.
 
Perhaps this idea is not too far off. Would this work as a demonstration project? Can this fit into single family areas? Do we still need to think of parking spaces for every unit in a single family zone?
 
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Reviving+Vancouver+Special/11599901/story.html?__lsa=22b4-35da

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London is a city of 8.6 million people with a huge problem-residents are spending half their income on rent, and there is a huge exodus of people in their thirties looking for work and accommodation-those important factors of livability-elsewhere. What to do?  This article featured in The Archinect written by Robert Urquhart explores London’s particular housing crisis where 80 per cent of the housing is available to only 20 per cent of the people. Vancouver gets a  mention too, citing the city’s  housing density and well thought out downtown buildings achievable through strong  area policy and form guidelines. The photo above is that of Charles Dickens’ house in Kent, where he did NOT write  Great Expectations. Perhaps that is apropos. Thanks to Ian Robertson for the article. http://archinect.com/features/article/143145697/london-s-bleak-housing Read more »

 
 

In 2010 I was interviewed by DWELL Magazine about the future for parks and public spaces. I was delighted to be interviewed along with Janette Sadik-Khan from NYC  and Richard Haag from Seattle.
http://www.dwell.com/future/article/green-between-lines
At that time, I said “…designing green spaces to walk to and through is key to maintaining physical activity and medical and mental health. We need to stop thinking of nature as places in our parks and legibly spill those ecological components into our city streets and spaces to create usable walkable park environments in everyday places.”
And sure enough, just five years later, Gladys We of SFU passed on this article written by Alissa Walker describing the potential greening of forty blocks of Broadway in New York City, creating a living green spine on one of the major arteries of that city.  In 2010 Janette Sadik-Khan, the former commissioner of transportation for New York City saw the transformation of streets into the “living rooms” of New York City. She was right.
This “green line” concept is an idea of Perkins Eastman architects to make the 40 blocks from Central Park to Union Square into a car-free public space. This green link would give more park space, link Manhattan’s pedestrian plazas, infiltrate water in bioswales and provide a place for water runoff. Such a  link would also equitably distribute access to green space to lower income city areas. The article notes that when streets in Times Square were closed for pedestrian conversion, vehicular congestion improved-and of course Broadway could become a bikeway haven.  Could such a plan be feasible? And could we incorporate these ideas into making “green lines” in Vancouver? Is this the future of our present greenway and bikeway system, in a densifying city that will be short of park space?
The full article is here.
http://gizmodo.com/a-totally-feasible-plan-to-turn-manhattans-busiest-stre-1747951630
Sandy James
 
 

 
 

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