Events
June 13, 2019

A Night on the North Shore: Live Recording of the Price Talks Podcast

Do you live or work on the North Shore? Are you a fan of Price Talks, the podcast? Want to hear — and be part of — a discussion about decisions on housing, transportation, and public spaces in West and North Vancouver?

Join Gord and a panel of local residents and pundits in a public chat, and a live recording of Price Talks:

Wednesday, June 26
Doors @ 6:30pm | Recording @ 7:00pm

North Vancouver District Public Library – Lynn Valley Branch
1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver

Register here — tickets are free.

After the recording, the conversation will continue next door at Brown’s Social House.

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What’s the big deal about District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little’s decision to step off the Metro Vancouver Board?

Perhaps nothing, except that the only other local governments not represented by their top elected officials are Lions Bay and Bowen Island, representing 5,000 of the region’s 2.5 million. (Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov, currently on a paid leave of absence related to a sexual assault charge and pending court date, is still listed as a Metro Vancouver Board member.)

One could say the opportunity to serve on the Metro Vancouver Board is not just an honour, but a responsibility of some significance, perhaps moreso than most municipal committees.

Metro Vancouver is a federation of 23 municipal bodies responsible for the planning and delivery of regional services like drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid waste management, and for regulating air quality, as well as plans for urban growth, including affordable housing. Its Board of Directors governs this mandate, and consists of elected officials from each local government, proportional to their size.

And thus the number of Directors appointed to the Board depends on the population of the municipality (or electoral area, or First Nation). Furthermore, directors are allowed one vote for every 20,000 people in their jurisdiction, up to a total of five votes.

That means, the more populous you are, the more directors and voting power you have on the Metro Vancouver Board.

Does it make sense that the District of North Vancouver, in the midst of broad public scrutiny into its actions (or inactions) to address development and housing pressures, has just one representative on the MV Board for its 88,000 people, and that this representative is NOT the municipality’s elected leader?

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At 7pm this evening, award-winning landscape designer and author Margie Ruddick presents the third of the Inspire Jericho Talks public lecture series, “Creating Great Neighbourhoods – Respect the Land“, hosted by Canada Lands Company, the MST Partnership, and the City of Vancouver. (Details and registration links follow.)

Ruddick is a New York-based landscape architect and author of Wild by Design, and winner of the National Design Award in 2013 for her pioneering, environmental approach to urban landscape design, “forging a design language that integrates ecology, urban planning, and culture”.

Her reputation for realizing the idea of nature in the city once actually resulted in a court fine for bringing a bit too much nature to her own backyard.

As the landscape design mind behind some of the east coast’s most treasured, natural public spaces, Ruddick is perhaps the perfect choice to talk about strategies for creating life-enhancing landscapes that combine ecological function with design, reflecting the aim of Inspire Jericho Talks — to share inspiration, spark ideas, and explore possibilities for the future of the Jericho Lands.

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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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While there has been lots of finger pointing about how real estate prices in Vancouver could be so celestial that local people could not afford to purchase here, a panel has estimated that $5 billion dollars in “dirty money” went through the housing market last year.

Overall in the Province it is estimated that real estate prices increased by five percent due to this tinkering, but remember that will be more in some places (like in Metro Vancouver) than others. And surprise! As reported by Global News most of these questionable transactions  examined took place in Vancouver.

The report just  released  discusses B.C. Lawyers and B.C. Realtors  being part of the challenge. While there are rules in places for lawyers there is no need for external reporting of large amount transactions and no oversight of monies in a lawyer’s trust account.

The report also asked that only verifiable funds be used for purchasing real estate and that only verifiable funds be allowed in all transactions. It also recommended that mandatory courses be required for all real estate industry people to understand what money laundering is and how to deal with it.

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TransLink sums it all up in two conveniently tweet-able sentences:

Public engagement is a key component of rapid transit planning. We value your feedback and want to hear what you think about the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain, and rapid transit options for the 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard corridors.

They do indeed, but apart from the project team’s appearance at tomorrow’s Vaisakhi Day Parade in Surrey, opportunities to have your say in person are over.

Public engagement is only open for one more week (through April 26) via online survey.

Before taking the survey, be sure to check out the engagement boards, describing the project and the various options considered for transit over the past few years, including this handy graphic comparing the different modes and technologies considered.

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Last Wednesday, the mayor addressed a full class at the Board of Trade, with a PowerPoint lecture that outlined the City’s progress on the housing crisis.

Not your grandfather’s BoT

With some helpful slides and a low-key professorial manner, he articulated some obvious but rarely made points:

  • We have in this society “a full-blown capitalist housing system” – 91 percent of housing developed by the private sector; 9 percent public.
  • Maps don’t end at Boundary Road.

  • The key to addressing labour supply needs and provide access to jobs is a good regional transit system.

Then, another chart:

Snap quiz: how many of us knew the City had almost reached its housing target for the shelterless?  In fact, except for minimum wage citizens, the results look pretty good.  Or so the mayor thought until he saw the media coverage.   Because good results, as the politician in the mayor noted, is not how data is portrayed.  But it is why the debate and discussion has shifted more and more to affordable rental.

The dilemma, as Kennedy stated, is this:

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Speed kills in cities, and in Great Britain many cities are considering lowering speed limits within their jurisdictions to save lives and reduce injuries under the banner “20 (miles per hour) is plenty”. Portland Oregon as part of its commitment to eliminate all road deaths by 2025 has adopted the Vision Zero approach, accepting no road deaths as acceptable on their street networks.

Last year the city of Portland Oregon lowered the speed limits on their municipal road system from a default speed of 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour, or 32 kilometers per hour. In one year, the results are starting to come in, with a death toll on the roads of 34 people in 2018, a reduction from the 45 lives lost in 2017 before the reduced speeds.

There is sea change in the United States regarding road safety. A University of Chicago  poll of 2,000 U.S. residents  showed that 60 percent were “were supportive of using speed and red-light cameras as an automated enforcement tool. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said they would support lowering a speed limit by 5 miles per hour if it was justified with crash data.”

Lowering road speeds in cities has a remarkable impact on crash survival rates for vulnerable road users~a pedestrian has a 20 percent survival rate being crashed into at 30 miles per hour. That increases to 70 percent at 25 miles per hour and to 90 percent at 20 miles per hour. In the United States municipal speed limits are set by each state or territory, with the default speed being 25 miles per hour or 40 kilometers per hour.

The cities of Portland and Eugene have been looking at the safety system and Vision Zero approach embraced by European countries like the Netherlands and Sweden in making their cities safer. A “context-sensitive approach that emphasizes safety for vulnerable road users will lead to safer outcomes on streets in urban areas” 

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From The Sun:

Judy Osburn (right), who owns a heritage house a block away from the Larch Street site (proposed for a five-storey rental building), is organizing neighbourhood opposition.

It’s in “the wrong place,” says Osburn, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 30 years. …

“The only way they can make (the project) work is to make it higher,” Osburn said. “Make the units smaller, and make the building higher. Well, that’s like the ghetto. You’re dropping the ghetto in Kitsilano …

 

From Global News:

Councillor Jean Swanson (left) said developers are not interested in building non-market rentals, and argued the city needs to rezone parts of Vancouver as rental-only.

“I can remember when there weren’t any condos. Rentals were all there was. It was fine, it was better than now,” said Swanson.

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If you’ve ever wanted to see changes in how City of Vancouver parks — the public spaces themselves, as well as their facilities and services — are managed and delivered to citizens, now’s the chance to have your say.

On Sunday, April 7 from 1-4pm, Park Board Commissioners and staff are holding an open house at CityLab (511 West Broadway) to gather public input for “Vancouver’s Playbook” (also called VanPlay), a new plan intended to guide the parks and recreation strategy through to 2045.

Vancouver is home to world-class parks and recreation, and our population is growing and changing.

It’s essential we look to the future to protect and improve parks and recreation across the city.

VanPlay is a year-long conversation with you, our staff, partners, stakeholders, and experts to make this the best plan it can be.

Of note – the Park Board wants to define “Strategic Big Moves for a More Equitable and Connected future”. What does that mean?

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