Business & Economy
January 12, 2021

Main Street Pandemic Purchases? Here’s How British & Canadian Main Streets Are Doing

Great Britain’s “High” or main streets are seeing  purchases for things other than food drop by 24 percent in shopping areas, with an overall decline in sales being the worst since record keeping started in 1995.

As The Guardian’s Richard Partington writes closing down “non-essential” shops never recovered from the online spending takeovers.Total retail sales increased 1.8 percent from November to December and surprisingly food and drink sales were the highest recorded for holiday spending. Credit card company Barclaycard saw online retail spending increase over 50 percent in December.

Canada has not had as many strict pandemic closures as in Great Britain but this study undertaken by  Vancity, Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), and the Canadian Urban Institute shows that from September to December visits to main street businesses decreased 35 to 70 percent compared to 2019, with nearly 60 percent of businesses making less money, some garnering half of the revenue made pre-pandemic.

Retail Insider’s  Mario Toneguzzi  reports that the interim President of Vancity says it clearly~

Local businesses form the backbone of the Canadian economy and they have shown determination and resilience during the pandemic. Given the extraordinary measures and investment they have made to continue operating, they are now counting on us to get behind them.”

Concentrating on main streets in communities in Ontario and British Columbia, research shows that small businesses directly attached to the local community performed better. Up to one quarter of all businesses were doing more business online. Sadly in Victoria and in Vancouver (the survey was conducted in Vancouver’s Strathcona) the majority of business owners reported increased safety issues in their location as keeping customers away.

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It’s not looking good in New York:

In Manhattan alone, new car registrations rose 76% and in Brooklyn, registrations climbed 45%.

D’autre part:

Then came the coronavirus and a national lockdown. With practically no traffic, even non-urbanists like me suddenly realized how much space we’d given over to cars, and we envisioned these same streets as quieter, cleaner public spaces that could contain something else.

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Curbs are being poured along Beach Avenue from Stanley Park to Hornby Street.

The City approved this permanent change from cones to concrete after a few months of consultation – albeit a ‘temporary’ permanent change, subject to the English Bay master plan currently under design by PFS Studio and Snøhetta.

 

These interventions also deal with some of the confusion and conflict resulting from this fast pandemic response in the spring when bikes were removed from the seawall.  Cyclists tended to ignore stop signals primarily designed for vehicle traffic – so now the crossings provide clarity, safety and a slowing down of two-wheelers.  (Hopefully eye-level signals for bikes will be installed where necessary.)

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Global TV News rolls out the stats on Covid most nights, number by number:

They talk about the curve – but they don’t show us the curve.  Presumably we’re supposed to remember the case figures from previous days if we want perspective and the specifics of said curve.  For some reason, they’re adverse to using a simple chart to indicate the trend.

They use all kinds of charts and graphics for the weather.  Why not for a pandemic?

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It’s all out in public now:

Updated Interim Design: Room to Move- Beach Avenue

Work starts soon on new features along Beach Avenue to improve access for people walking, taking transit and driving while maintaining the two-way protected bike path and increased walking space.

  • Improved pedestrian crossings at key locations
  • Eastbound travel restored for vehicles and transit between Denman St and Jervis St. following completion of other project elements
  • Replacing traffic cones with sturdier and harder-to-move concrete barriers
  • Working with the Park Board to provide accessible parking in the waterfront parking lot near Bute St
  • Retention of the two-way protected bike path

Construction starts in December.

Notice the difference between the City and the Park Board.  No theatrics.  Interim but satisfactory.  Another step forward.

Jeff Leigh went to take a look:

Very happy to see the confirmation that it will remain to Park Lane, with one way westbound vehicles, so the rat running through Park Drive from the causeway will not dump onto Beach.

Inspected the site work today, and the widths look reasonable.  Not always as wide as it is now, but not cramped down – except at some crossings, where the median islands (safer crossings for those walking) mean potential pinch points for people cycle.  We will watch that one as they proceed.

 

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What happened in the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic regarding mask wearing regulation?

In the first wave of the epidemic in Vancouver, Dr. F. Underhill and the Mayor of Vancouver advocated for “veils” or masks, made out of gauze. An article in the Daily Province on October 28, 1918 noted that the Japanese community in Vancouver was already wearing gauze veils “under the advice of their three Japanese physicians who have been successfully fighting the epidemic in the Japanese colony.” 

“Rooming house people” and shop keepers were universally wearing flu masks in the Japanese community and Dr. Underhill advised the public to “realize the necessity” of wearing a cheesecloth or gauze veil or a double strip of gause fastened around the nose and mouth. He also said the gauze could be medicated with a good antiseptic, and the cost was small for such veils and masks.

Elsewhere San Francisco had a mask order in October of 1918, which was dismissed in November and then reinstated in the second wave of the flu in January 1919. Fines for not wearing a mask ranged from 5 to 10 dollars, along with a ten day prison sentence.

Becky Little on History.com notes that at the time mandatory mask regulations came to cities, people that did not mask up could receive prison time, fines, or risk “having their names published in the paper, revealing that they were a “mask slacker”.

Hygiene changed at this time, especially in New York City where regulations were enforced to stop people spitting on the streets. There was advice to keep your face turned away from others on street cars, and to cover your mouth and nose when you coughed. Fresh air and exercise were advocated, as well as the tie-in that such good habits could also arrest other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

There is also a move from individualism to a more collective way of looking at health with citizens being urged to protect themselves and also protect others. One message at the time was a jingle stating

Obey the laws and wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws”.

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If ever there was a year that threw out most predictions, this is the one. On November 20, 2020, what do we know will happen by this time next year? We are asking readers to let us know.

We are all nine months into living differently and working from home. Everyone knows what a Zoom meeting is. We worry how public transit will survive, keep six feet apart from people we don’t know for physical distancing, and think about wearing masks and washing hands a lot.

Nine months in there are also some surprises. Even though there are less people that have secure salaries, and the borders are closed housing prices in Vancouver have still stayed constant, perhaps reflecting the last flurry of activity before mortgage rates and lending tighten up.

But what will things be like one year from now on 11.20.2021?

That was the subject of conversation at a physically distanced meal  at the legendary Pink Pearl restaurant on East Hastings with the Duke of Data, Simon Fraser University’s  Director of the City Program Andy Yan.

Take a look at the predictive predilections forecast over dim sum at the Pink Pearl Restaurant on East Hastings below.

Agree or disagree?

Now is the time to offer your own predictions in the comments section.

What changes do you perceive will happen by this time next year?

We will of course take a look at all the predictive  predilections, and invite you to a Dim Sum predilection party to discuss what was forecast/what  really happened to be held at the Pink Pearl restaurant in one year.

Here’s our 2020 Dim Sum Predilections for 2021:

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Planning for the Post-Pandemic City by Simon Fraser University Public Square

When Planning Vancouver Together started in November 2019, no one could’ve imagined what was just around the corner. While a global pandemic altered our relationship with our city, it also laid bare and amplified the pre-existing inequalities of our society. COVID-19 has tested the resiliency and adaptability of Vancouver’s social, economic and physical fabric. While certain parts of the city have weathered this pandemic, others have struggled.

What have we learned and experienced in the last eight months that might shape the next 30 years? How can the Vancouver Plan – a long-term strategic citywide plan – course-correct and continue to plan for a future city that is resilient to new and existing shocks and stressors, while striving for a city that truly works for all who live, work and play here?

Speakers
Gil Kelley (GM of Planning, City of Vancouver) Gil Kelley, FAICP, is an internationally recognized urban strategist and visionary, having served as Chief Planner for several West Coast cities and as an independent advisor to cities and governments across the globe. He currently serves as the General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. In the past, he has served as the Director of Citywide Planning for the City of San Francisco, the Director of Planning for the City of Portland, Oregon and the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Berkeley, California.

Lisa Cavicchia (Program Director, Canadian Urban Institute) Lisa is a Program Director and urban planner with more than 20 years of experience managing city-building initiatives for the Canadian Urban Institute. She is responsible for developing and implementing partnerships with cities and communities across Canada and in almost 20 countries and more than 100 cities across Europe, South-East Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean that connect individuals and organizations in cities to research, plan, fund and deliver initiatives that strengthen local economies, improve sustainable development outcomes, and create jobs for youth, women and men.

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The City of Cleveland is sponsoring this talk by Enrique Penalosa, the past mayor of Bogota, Colombia on Equity by Design – Sustainability, Mobility, and Building the Cities of the Future.
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Mr. Penalosa implemented a massive urban improvement plan for Bogota´s city center which included demolition and redevelopment of severely crime-ridden areas, the creation of a land bank for providing quality low income housing, and the establishment of an innovative urban project of the highest quality for more than 400 inhabitants.

Since leaving office, Mr. Peñalosa has worked as a consultant on urban strategy and leadership advising officials in cities all over the world on how to build quality, equitable and competitive cities that cannot only survive but thrive in the future. He was president of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a New York based NGO promoting sustainable and equitable transportation worldwide.

Join us for a conversation with Mr. Peñalosa on how he advanced equity for all residents through thoughtful transportation planning and urban design − and what we should all consider when building the smart cities of the future.

 

Date: Friday December 11, 2020

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time

To register please click here.

Here is Enrique Penalosa talking about the historic downtown area of Bogota where public spaces and streets were revitalized during his leadership.

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Cities are the fundamental building block of contemporary society, certainly in Canada where almost 90 per cent of our population lives in a community of 5,000 or more. COVID-19 – and the various measures governments have taken to cope with it – is having a dramatic impact on the future of urban life now, and will potentially alter fundamentally how we plan, design, manage, and govern cities in the future. The non-profit sector will play an important role in this process.

Join Mary W. Rowe, President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, and the host of CityTalkCanada, to consider five good ideas for the non-profit sector to build a city, now and in the wake of a global pandemic.

Mary is no stranger to how cities recover from disasters, having worked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and New York City during and following Hurricane Sandy. For several years she worked closely with Maytree Chair Alan Broadbent on Ideas that Matter, a convening and publishing program focused on the core areas of Jane Jacobs’ work: cities, economies, and values. Her work continues to be focused on how cities enable self-organization, cultivate innovation, and build social, economic, environmental, and cultural resilience.

Date: Dec 3, 2020

Time: 10:00 am Pacific Time

To sign up please click this link.

Images: MayTree,Arup

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