Architecture
August 13, 2018

Vancouver Development – the Really Big and Spiffy New Oakridge

A bold-looking mixed-use Oakridge Centre is rising in the city, on 28 acres, at the site of a Canada Line transit station. Henriquez Partners Architects have designed something that is billed as the largest development in Vancouver’s history. Completion date looks to be 2025, costs somewhere around $5B, with 2,548 new residential units, and two 40+ storey towers among 12 other buildings. And it’s right in the middle of a predominantly single-family residential area, with rising density nearby.

Part of the design rationale is, however, specifically to generate density at an important transit hub.  Mission accomplished, it seems to me.

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In the City Fix  three researchers from WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities have been examining what cities need to do to adopt TDM (Transport Demand Management) systems. And they have come up with some compelling points.

In 2002, the average London driver spent half their travel time sitting in traffic, and road transport accounted for 95 percent of fine particle pollution in the city center. To combat these problems, Greater London’s first mayor, Ken Livingstone, turned to congestion charging…. Unlike in Stockholm, where prices differ during peak and off-peak hours and tolls charge drivers every time they pass a control point, London drivers face a simple, one-time charge of £11.50 ($15.90) to enter the zone, measuring 13 square miles (21 kilometers).

Since the congestion charge introduction in 2003,  pedestrian space has increased and  car usage has declined. This is due to three factors~ a “centralized institutional structure and strong political will, extensive public communication and consultation, and improved public transport and fare integration.”

With 33 boroughs in London the establishment of Transport for London by Mayor Ken Livingstone established a framework to implement congestion charging. The Mayor framed less congestion as improving “economic competitiveness and livability”.

Public outreach on congestion charges was assisted with a network of people who understood the policy and supported it, and public information was readily available.  “The team initiated an intensive program of advertisements, using TfL’s website, newspapers, public radio and television to educate the public about how it worked and what it would mean for residents and commuters. They addressed questions like, what is the congestion charging, how much is it, and how do you pay.”  They also integrated many of the suggestions from public outreach into the design and roll out of the congestion charges.

Lastly, knowing that “the more you invest in roads, the more congestion you create” Transport for London added 300 new buses on the day the congestion charges began, rolled out the “Oyster” transit cards, and made it easy to pay fares through different applications.  “The strategy was to engage both the supply and demand sides of transport simultaneously.”

Revenue from the congestion charging which is estimated to be approximately 2.5 billion in the first 15 years has been “strictly reinvested in London’s transport improvements, especially for public and non-motorized transport.”

In the first year of implementation of congestion charges private car usage fell by 30 per cent and bus usage increased by 20 per cent.  Low transit fares meant a 40 per cent increase in rush hour passengers entering the congestion charge area by bus. Cycling use increased by 230 per cent since 2000. Crashes involving cyclists decreased, and carbon emissions decreased by 20 per cent.

The benefits to the city are evident. “One estimate suggests the net economic benefits of congestion charging in London’s first year of implementation reached £50 million ($78 million in 2004). 

While services like Uber and delivery vans are new transport challenges, enhanced pedestrian areas and protected bike lanes claim space previously used by cars. London is now considering expanding the congestion charging zone city-wide and expanding electronic tolls to charge motorists on time of day and amount of mileage.

The newly released Mayor’s Transport Strategy  now strives for  an 80 per cent modal split of walkers, cyclists and transport users by 2041. In fifteen years London has demonstrated the effectiveness of congestion charges in achieving a greener, healthier city with a policy understood and embraced by its residents.

The takeaway? The need for Metro Vancouver to be strongly supported by all municipalities in congestion pricing strategies, the necessity for good public outreach, and the ramping up of better and more consistent transit service.  London has shown that their road pricing model works.

 

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TransLink, UBC and City of Vancouver engineers and planners have told us what they think about the technology for the Broadway to UBC rapid transit line.  There’s no room for more busses on this monster corridor, and LRT has too-low capacity.

This information came out at the July 28 Town Hall meeting mentioned recently in Price Tags along with significant background.

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The 90-acre Jericho Lands, a huge greenfield, sits in Vancouver’s West Point Grey neighbourhood. We all wonder what will rise there.

It’s mostly a former military garrison, now owned by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Development Corporation, and the Canada Lands Company. You’ll find it amid some of the priciest real estate in Canada, featuring very low density, and very expensive single-family homes. The Lands offer potentially spectacular view sites and nearby ocean-front parks. (Read some background  on this site HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Amid the enormous pressure inherent in shepherding an allocation of this multi-billion dollar site, it’s hard to get much of a sense of the possible, ultimate outcome; a veritable bonanza of opportunities to reshape an entire community. What’s to come — cheesy car-centric suburb? A forest of high rises, ripe for speculators? A complete community for average humans — what?

But maybe something beyond platitudes and vague statements is slowly emerging.

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Metro Vancouver campus commuters and transit-takers, here’s your chance to attend a “Town Hall” presentation and discussion on extending Vancouver’s Skytrain beyond Arbutus Street to UBC’s Point Grey campus.

The event will be hosted by Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra, with participation of representatives from TransLink, UBC, City of Vancouver and West Broadway Business Improvement Association.

Not sure whether to attend? Here’s some background, via an earlier Price Tags post.

If you go, remember — you get your say, you don’t get a veto.

Saturday, July 28, 2018
Registration 12:30 – 1:00 pm
Town Hall: 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Pacific Spirit Church, Memorial Hall (2195 45th Ave at Yew)
Light refreshments will be provided

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Two more responses to our last question, sent to mayor and council candidates in the City of Surrey, Township of Langley, and City of Langley.

For the portion of the Surrey-Langley rapid transit line running along Fraser Highway, do you believe LRT or Skytrain technology is best, and why?

Thanks to all candidates who responded, and to Price Tags contributors for your commentary. 

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“It was a coving Boomburb lacking ekistic viewsheds, but that terminating vista created by the setback on Sally’s abutter is going to help her PLVI.”

Architects, or anyone who lives with (or suffers through interminable patio discussions with) an architect in this day and age, has probably heard that a thousand times. But not everyone is hip to the latest lingo.

In the age of soaring land values, housing affordability issues and the politics of real estate, no doubt a few new words have entered your vocabulary. They populate your social media stream, masked as urban agitprop, but what do they mean? They sit there, marinating, waiting for you to Google them.

Relax — ArchDaily recently published 50 Planning Terms & Concepts All Architects Should Know to cut to the chase.

And if you’re a numtot, you might consider starting a similar list to curate.

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Forget your passport: here’s a better way to retain memories of cities visited around the world.

Keep the transit card (almost universal in any major city) that you used to get around. Not only is it likely to still have some stored value — and how much do transit agencies count on that ‘free’ money? — but it’s also a repository of stored memories. The trips you took, the sites you visited, and the people you met.

Match the cards below with these places: San Francisco, Rio, London, the Netherlands, Victoria Australia, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and of course Metro Vancouver.

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Our most recent question, sent to mayor and council candidates in the City of Surrey, Township of Langley, and City of Langley, was the following:

For the portion of the Surrey-Langley rapid transit line running along Fraser Highway, do you believe LRT or Skytrain technology is best, and why?

Here are early responses. We welcome commentary from all candidates; we will continue to publish submissions as they come in.

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Another sign (literally underfoot) of improved responsiveness and service from TransLink.

With approved plans and assured funding, TransLink has been fulfilling some of the promises made as far back as the ill-fated referendum. And that may be contributing to a more receptive response to the decisions made, as recently as last Thursday, to fill the funding gap required for Phase 2 of the $7.3 billion Ten-Year Plan.

It would have been unthinkable a year or so ago that regional politicians, months before an election, would approve the prospect of a gas-tax increase. And yet, most did, and (so far) the coverage has been balanced and blowback moderate.

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