One of the world’s most iconic vans is making a comeback…

But this time, it’s electric. Slated for production by 2022, the “electric microbus” is one of five new electric models in Volkswagen’s ID. series — a family of 100% electric vehicles, which includes a crossover, a compact, a sedan, and of course, the van.

Just like the classic VW van, there will be room for up to seven people with an adjustable interior that includes a table and movable seats. Volkswagen also intends on enabling all ID. series models with a fully autonomous feature option.

Distance, a major concern of many when it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, is no longer an issue. The van will have an electric range of 400 to 600 km, comparable to pretty much any gas-powered vehicle. Further, Volkswagen has partnered with Electrify Canada (partnership formed by Electrify America in cooperation with Volkswagen Canada) to build ultra-fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure to give Canadians the reliability they need to confidently make the switch to electric. Planning and deployment are well underway, including network routes — you can check out the Vancouver to Calgary route here.

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This topic is under the radar which is probably why most people are not more indignant that in a city that prides itself on being green, sustainable, bikeable and smart we have a very very dirty secret~we don’t separate out our liquid garbage.

Think of it~we separate green waste from garbage, we compost what we can, and we are all educated on what to put in the blue recycling box. But few  people know  what the implications of a combined storm and sanitary sewer are to the environment. It just sounds like something that is mundane and boringly municipal. But what it really means is that when a combined sewer overflows, it is spilling untreated excrement into Vancouver’s surrounding water sources.

When I worked as the health planner for Dr. John Blatherwick the City’s Medical Health Officer, the separation of the combined sewer system was the first thing to be further delayed in any civic budget process.  Back in the 1980’s it was assumed that the entire city would be under a separated sewer program by 2020. But in checking on the city’s website that goal has been pushed back thirty years with  “We are working toward the Province of BC’s environmental goal to eliminate sewage overflows by 2050″.

When beaches are closed due to high coliform counts there is a public level of indignation that we need to do something to stop that. And there is-by finishing up the installation of a separated storm and wastewater sewage system that keeps getting delayed for other priorities.

While some of the city has separated storm and wastewater sewers, the parts that don’t have catchment water and liquid waste travel to the sewage treatment plant in one sewer. If there is a big rain event, stormwater can overwhelm that single pipe system, which means that untreated excrement overflows into water sources like False Creek.

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Trust The Tyee’s Chris Cheung who consistently finds the story in front of the headline, and his latest article does not disappoint. Douglas Coupland wrote a book on Vancouver called “City of Glass”  describing  Vancouver’s towerscape, which is tall, not particularly inviting to look at, and appears to have a whole lot of glass.

Chris Cheung  introduces Genta Ishiumura, a recent graduate in Architecture who looked at Vancouver’s glass landscape after taking a course on “window behaviourology” in Switzerland from Tokyo architect Momoyo Kaijima.

In a time when we are moving toward a more sustainable city, Ishimura notes that the floor to ceiling glass walls of towers are energy wasters, requiring a lot of energy to maintain ambient temperatures. The glass towers are also rather impersonal~in Vancouver it has not been about the close views, but the long range distant vistas. And focusing on the long range views adds “a lack of intimacy and creates a disconnection between occupants and the world outside”.

Ishimura suggests a two fold approach in his thesis work: firstly, create a new exoskeleton for existing towers to deal with the energy loss of huge windows. Secondly, use the opportunity provided by the exoskeleton to create new windows and balconies for more floor space with a flexible use.

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[Update: Do read Geoff’s comment at the end of this post.  Powerful and provocative.]

 

SFU Vancouver – the downtown campus – is now 30 years old since SFU came down from the mountain.  It’s what President Andrew Petter says helps make SFU the engaged university.

Engagement is the particular work of the Centre for Dialogue, Public Square, City Conversations and the City Program – all of which had events happening on Thursday, and two of which featured Mary Rowe, the speaker for this year’s Warren Gill Lecture.  They certainly engaged me, with more questions than I had a chance to ask.  Here are some.

INEQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

When considering the rural-urban divide in Canada, Mary began with two points that are pretty much taken as self-evident in academia: diversity is good, inequality is bad.  Policies for healthy cities should encourage the former and reduce the latter.

But what if inequality is a measure of diversity?

Since a diverse city is one in which there are many different kinds of people and pursuits, do those differences of equality become magnified with greater diversity? In fact, is increasing inequality how we know the city is more diverse?

Let’s say public policies were effective at reducing inequality by redistributing benefits, by building the infrastructure, physical and cultural, to build a stronger middle class.  Isn’t the result a more homogenous city, perhaps less likely to generate the cultural and economic energy we associate with places like New York in the 1970s, London in the 1800s, Florence in the 1500s?  Does equality mean boring and less diverse?

 

MAKING CHOICES IN A CLIMATE EMERGENCY

At noon, at City Conversations the topic was the climate emergency, with Councillor Christine Boyle (who introduced the climate emergency motion at council and is interviewed here on PriceTalks); Atiya Jaffar, digital campaigner for 350.org;  and New Westminster Councillor Nadine Nakagawa.

I had three ‘tough questions’, with the opportunity to ask only one – itself somewhat facetious:

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At this breakfast you will hear highlights from a recent report on how cities in Holland are embracing the circular economy because of its potential to move toward zero waste and optimal use of resources and energy while catalyzing new business opportunities.

And closer to home, you will hear how circular economy is being incorporated into Vancouver’s economic development activities, and the benefits of a local circular economy business on the urban environment.

  • Freek van Eijk, Director, Holland Circular Hotspot; Author of ‘Circular Cities – Accelerating the transition towards Circular Cities’
  • Bryan Buggey, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Sector Development, Vancouver Economic Commission
  • Laura van der Veer, Director of Community & Impact, ChopValue

Register here.

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It’s not over until it’s over and Peter Ladner has forwarded this article from Business in Vancouver reporting that GCT Canada Limited (that’s Global Container Terminals) wants the Federal Court to make a decision regarding plans to grow container cargo handling capacity at Deltaport.

As I have previously written “Environment and Climate Change Canada’s statement to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area…  finally, Environment Canada has come out with a definitive statement that should stop this project in its tracks.” 

That 2 to 3 billion dollar Terminal 2 would also mean creating a reclaimed paved over industrial island of 108 hectares (266 acres) west of the existing Deltaport, supposedly in water deep enough not to impact the sensitive migratory bird and intertidal habitat.

So the good news was that Global Container Terminal who leases the docks from Deltaport had stated that the Terminal 2 complex proposed at Roberts Bank was “outmoded and no longer viable.” But of course GCT has  now dropped their new manifesto, and you can kind of see where they are going in the following  words:

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In the Good News, Bad News department, Delta Optimist’s Sandor Gyarmati reports on the face-saving exercise being undertaken by Deltaport’s current container terminal operator Global Containers (GCT).  I have written about the Port of Vancouver’s  continued push for this terminal despite the fact that it is the resting grounds of hundreds of thousands of western sandpipers migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds. These birds feed solely on an algae that is only available on the Roberts Bank mudflats. That algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this important bird migration on the Pacific Flyway would be extinct with port expansion.

It was  Larry Pynn in The Province who pointed out that the written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area. Last year the Port of Vancouver said they wanted to work on these issues, but as a representative from B.C. Nature said “I’d say the … port has been holed below the water line. We clearly have an environment at Roberts Bank that is fragile, that cannot withstand any more port development, and, finally, Environment Canada has come out with a definitive statement that should stop this project in its tracks.”

But back to the Terminal operator’s and the Port of Vancouver’s spin on ditching the terminal expansion, and no it is not to save the migratory birds.

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On average, we buy three times more clothes than we did in the 80’s, and it is estimated that one garbage truck full of clothing is landfilled globally every second. Cheaper clothing, fast fashion trends, and an overall increase in consumption is resulting in more and more clothing waste. In Metro Vancouver we threw away 44 million pounds of clothing last year!

Join us to learn about Metro Vancouver’s new textiles waste reduction campaign that supports the transition of fashion to the circular economy.

  • Larina Lopez, Division Manager, Corporate Communications, Metro Vancouver
  • Sybille Kissling, Sales, Western Canada, KenDor Textiles Ltd.
  • Joy Lapka Mauro, Founder and Owner, Turnabout
  • Jill Fullan, Store Manager, Turnabout Granville

 

March 14

7:30 – 9 am – Presentations start at 7:30 am.  Continental breakfast available at 7:00 am

BCIT downtown campus, 8th Floor Atrium, 555 Seymour Street

Register Now

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We just have to go here because it is a recurring story about personal protectionism versus doing the right thing for the public, sustainability and leading the  change.

I have previously written about Mr. Trump’s Trump Tower in New York City which has a glitzy interior reflective of the 1980’s. But one thing Mr. Trump tried hard to do was to ensure that no public had access to seating as required in the development permit for the building. He was required to create an 8,000 square foot public area with moveable chairs and tables, and insure a 22 foot long  bench was available below the escalator for the public to sit on. The bench originally disappeared, then came back with plants covering it to ensure that no public could use it. Kudos to the City of New York for ensuring that the bench is now available for the public to use.

Mr. Trump also rallied against New York City’s proposal to require the retrofitting of sprinkler systems in all highrise buildings. I wrote about the man who died in a fire in his unit in New York City’s Trump Tower after Mr. Trump got a citywide exemption which meant that buildings like his, which were built before 1990, did not need to conform with the regulation.

And in Scotland Mr. Trump owns two golf courses, one being the Aberdeenshire golf resort which overlooks the site of an 11 turbine wind farm on the North Sea. Mr. Trump before he became President took the Scottish government to court to have the project halted. As the BBC News reported Mr. Trump had argued the wind farm development would spoil the view from his golf course.

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