Nature & Public Spaces
March 11, 2020

Canada Goose Zamboni Adaptation Outstanding in the Field

There’s nothing more Canadian than a Canada Goose, perhaps with the exception of a Zamboni. The Zamboni is a rideable machine that shaves the top of rink ice surfaces, and actually washes and wipes down the ice. It was developed in California in 1947, but is synonymous with indoor skating and hockey rinks everywhere in Canada.

We of course also have the best day of the month of February when the Toronto Maple Leaf’s Zamboni driver was pressed into goalie action as an emergency fill in for the Carolina Hurricanes and halted eight shots on the net, becoming the first emergency goalie-and Zamboni driver~in National Hockey League history to be credited with a win.

Which brings us to Mike Hicks who is the  director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area on Vancouver Island.

As anyone playing sports on grass knows, Canada Geese seem to like the same dry level places that many sports are played on, leaving ubiquitous pebbled bird feces  everywhere. Mr. Hicks responded with what he calls a “poop zamboni”, a machine originally developed in New Zealand where it scours fields scooping up horse manure. As CBC’s Sheena Goodyear reports, with typical Canadian ingenuity, Mr. Hicks bought the machine as “recreational equipment” and was able to use the Federal Gas Tax Credit given to municipalities for infrastructure and recreation expenditures.

With two kids in field sports, Mr. Hicks knew that the two soccer fields in his town of Sooke were covered in Canada Goose poop constantly. He thinks each goose eliminates 1.4 kilograms or 3 pounds of poop daily.

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We are posting this on the weekend because it’s a chance to work with some pretty creative and innovative people and we think you might be one of them.

The City of Vancouver is hiring a School Active Travel Planner in the Transportation Planning Branch of Engineering . This position will be realizing

the shared goals of the City of Vancouver (COV) and the Vancouver School Board (VSB) in supporting and promoting active travel to school, providing consistent annual walking and cycling promotion and training to students meets the shared goals of the City of Vancouver (COV) and the Vancouver School Board (VSB) for sustainable travel.”

The School Active Travel Planner develops and oversees the delivery of the School Active Travel Initiative, an active transportation education, encouragement, promotion, and monitoring program throughout all Vancouver elementary and high schools. The position also provides transportation planning support to the Branch Manager related to the strategic efficiency of the Branch.”

The deadline to apply is Sunday March 15. You can find out more about this position and how to apply for this post by clicking this link.


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It all started as someone’s very good idea, dealing with the cold and wet conditions that seem to dominate any infrastructure situated next to Lake Ontario. Google’s designers hired for Toronto’s Sidewalk Labs may have been stretching the truth when they said that walking along that section of the  Lake was manageable only 30 percent of the year. That really translates into three summer months.

However the concept that the Toronto shoreline is inhospitable brought a “raincoat covering the sidewalk “design solution that juts from existing buildings and was intended to protect the sidewalks from weather.  This was breathlessly supported for Google’s Toronto Quayside project, and was basically a mylar like plastic film that was anchored into the public sidewalk. Surprisingly there was even a prototype installed. But as in so many things, a good 360 degree review had not been done on this sidewalk cover, and no one had talked to the City of Toronto’s team at Waterfront Toronto or to the City’s  accessibility experts.

If you are in Toronto you can see the prototype which is installed at Sidewalk Lab’s headquarters at 307 Lakeshore Drive. You can also look at the angles, how it is anchored, and see why this was a nonstarter right from the beginning.

As Toronto Star’s Donovan Vincent  reports, Toronto’s head of Waterfront Toronto was not happy, nor had  the design been  vetted through that tri-governmental agency in advance of the prototype being installed. As lead planner Chris Glaisek noted:

“Generally public sidewalks you try to keep free of obstructions so that pedestrians can move freely. Those structures on any sidewalk in Toronto potentially constrict pedestrian flow — and the angled structural brackets (that fasten to the sidewalks) also pose challenges to the visually impaired.

But Sidewalk Labs were thinking less of pedestrian safety and comfort as much as the mechanics of how their new tarp raincoat design would work on sidewalks. They even had sensors developed to open and close the canopies to allow for rain and snow.

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In the “You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up” department, writer Carleton Reid reports that out of 140 countries attending the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, only one country refused to sign the Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety. That country? The United States.

I have already written about the Stockholm Declaration and the nine recommendations. These have now been adopted by 140 countries  and changes the paradigm of road speed to focus on speed management by better enforcement, and by “mandating a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix.”

Better still, the lower speeds will mean reduced automobile emissions and are already being enacted in the Netherlands, where speed has been rolled back on highways to 100 km/h.

There is of course precedent with the United States refusing to sign the Paris Accord on  global climate change in 2017. And there is already doom and gloom spin on what slowing traffic to 30 km/h or 20 mph in neighbourhoods will do to vehicular traffic. (Hint~absolutely nothing, vehicles can still circulate on arterial roads around the designated 30 km/h areas. ) Slower speeds in neighbourhoods  lower carbon emissions and lower the chance of serious vehicular crashes, enhance livability and mitigate noise.

But look at the numbers~annually 1.3 million people are killed in crashes. Fifty million people are badly hurt. Globally these crashes are the leading cause death for people aged five to twenty-nine years.

In the United States,  more than 7,000 cyclists and pedestrians died in 2018, the biggest increase since 1990. Between 2013 to 2017 the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs (sport utility vehicles) increased by 50 percent, while those killed by small cars increased by 30 percent. Even though the cost of crashes cost the United States economy 240 billion dollars a year, the vehicular lobby is still king.

In British Columbia it was Councillor Pete Fry with the City of Vancouver that advocated for a UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) resolution asking the Province to give municipal approval for 30 km/h  zones.  That would  allow the edges of the areas to be signed as 30 km/h, and  not have  every internal residential street signed as 30 km/h which would be costly.

To everyone’s shock, the Province refused to grant the cities the right to control the areas as 30 km/h. This proves once again that coming towards an election year more conservative inclinations are being exhibited by the Province to the detriment of the communities it serves.

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Writer and blogger Stanley Woodvine @sqwabb  has posted this photo of  a construction site in the 1400 block of Broadway that swallowed an entire sidewalk as its own. You can see in the photos that there is no guidance or safe way to get around  as a sidewalk user,  able bodied or disabled.

City sidewalks are never to be blocked, and if they are impeded there is supposed to be signage and an alternative route offered, which can include a coned area in the parking lane adjacent to the sidewalk.

The City offers guidance for the use of the street and sidewalk for business and other activities. You will note that there are guidelines to reserve parking spaces and parking meters, but none to block sidewalks. 

In the case of a construction area that has a sidewalk  blocked, there has to be signage and an alternative place to safely walk, with a clear Traffic Management Plan approved by the City that are set to the Province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure standards. Such a plan also must comply with the Motor Vehicle Act.

If you encounter a blocked sidewalk, let the City know the block and street through the VanConnect app or call 311. If you have a contact in the Engineering Department, call them and ask them to follow up.

Some ideas of  how sidewalk traffic diversions can be handled are in the photos below. These photos were taken in Knightsbridge in London England.

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Last November, PT did a series on the development of Brentwood station area (Burnaby Builds a City, starting here) – including a shot of the redesign of Lougheed Highway adjacent to ‘Amazing Brentwood’ at Willingdon:

While searching for images of new towns in Singapore, I came across this rendering for the proposed redevelopment of Pasir Ris, a residential town in the northeast corner of the island nation:

From the shape of the elevated MRT station to the design of the landscaping, from the separation of the paths to the location of the coffee bar, the similarities are so exact that it’s hard to believe this is all coincidental.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of a global similarity in high-density station-area design, with an emphasis on walkability and mixed-use.

While Amazing Brentwood is practically finished, Pasir Ris station and adjacent mall still looks like this:

Brentwood, on the other hand, used to look like this:


Vancouver is a settler city that has been influenced by the culture of the West – the ultimate movement of European DNA to the coast of the Pacific.  Today, of course, it is a hybrid city, as migration from the other side of the Pacific is shaping our new reality.  (It’s what the ‘West Pacific’ series of images attempts to reveal.)

While Singapore and other Asian cities have looked to us for examples of city-building and urban design, the exchange, as revealed above, seems to be mutual.  So logically we should be looking to what is happening in the dynamic cities of the eastern Pacific Rim, notably places like Singapore, for our inspiration as much as we do from the European and American antecedents we have typically turned to.  The origins of who “we” are is ‘both sides now.’

(Michael Gordon, a retired Vancouver City planner and PT contributor, just took a trip to Singapore, as it happens, and in upcoming posts he’ll be reporting back on what he saw.)


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Finally the SUV (sport utility vehicle)  epidemic which is killing pedestrians and responsible for an alarming uptake in automobile emissions is getting  national press attention.  I have been writing about the fact that SUVs are the second largest contributor to the global increase in CO2 emissions in the last ten years. The power industry is the biggest contributor. Other industries such as cement, iron and steel production and trucks and aviation lag behind the emissions produced by these vehicles.

The SUV is the automobile manufacturer’s cash cow, getting around the usual standard safety regulations required for cars because it is built on a truck platform. These SUVs are not built for city driving where they are now recognized as killing machines. Trucks and SUVs suck up 60 percent of all vehicular sales, and the SUV is solely responsible for a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths. A pedestrian is twice as likely to die being hit by the higher front end of an SUV.  Statistics show that drivers in these massive rolling living rooms are 11 percent more likely to die driving one.

Here’s the math: currently 25 percent of global oil is for vehicular consumption and related CO2 emissions. SUVs are responsible for an  emission increase by .55 Gt CO2 to 0.7 Gt CO2, as they require 25% more energy than the average mid-sized vehicle. Even with more “efficient” SUVs, this form of vehicle is the reason that there is a 3.3. million oil barrels a day of growth in the last eight years. That’s 3.3. million barrels a day of oil so that people can ferry themselves and family around in an overbuilt, oversized den-like vehicle.

The International Energy Agency has a big warning that the enchantment with SUV’s will undo the progressive shift to electric cars, by requiring an additional two million barrels a day of global oil by 2040, directly offsetting the carbon emission savings from nearly 150 million electric cars.

As Naomi Buck in the Globe and Mail states: Savvy marketing persuades buyers that SUVs are safe, comfortable and prestigious. And even if the ads show them carving through magnificent outdoor landscapes or parked next to glinting oceans, that’s not what these vehicles are really about. To quote Mercedes-Benz’s promotion of its latest G-class SUV: “More spacious. More special. Welcome to the great indoors.”

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Councillor Tony Vallente sends in this post from the City of North Vancouver, in anticipation of the new RapidBus service to Moodyville and through CNV.  Click title for helpful illustration  

As previously suggested in Dan Ross’s post More than Enough in Moodyville, a multi-year transformation is underway in the North Vancouver.  The arrival of the Marine Drive RapidBus delayed from Spring 2019 to early 2020 is very much underway.

A complete street is taking place on East 3rd Avenue in the City of North Vancouver, with space allocated for walking on sidewalks, a Mobility Lane, a dedicated bus lane (currently used as parking, all hail Shoup!), and a lane for cars.

A Mobility Lane is CNV lingo for a space that serves bikes, electric mobility devices, e-scooters, and probably other stuff we do not know will exist in the near future. (Councillors McIlroy and I passed a motion in July asking staff to prioritize segments of the City’s AAA cycling network as Mobility Lanes.)

The City of North Vancouver has been very diligent about attaining adequate space along the East 3rd corridor for years and that vision is now coming to fruition as the new Moodyville will be well served by RapidBus and also have space for alternate modes.

If the change in Moodyville to complete streets seems insufficient, look at Chesterfield at 3rd Street where a new development included a segment of off road. This is the new standard for bike routes in the City.  As more people use them with an increasingly diverse number of transportation devices, we can expect the outcry for a more complete transportation network to grow.

Transportation options in North Vancouver are beginning to be plentiful.

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Last year I wrote about  the  University of British Columbia study that identified Halloween night as having a 43 per cent higher risk of pedestrian deaths than any other night close to that date. Using available traffic data from the United States, the researchers looked at 608 pedestrian deaths that occurred on 42 previous Halloween nights, and found similar findings to that of a study done 20 years ago.

The graphs below show the spike in deaths of children occuring on Halloween. The second graph is more shocking, showing that 25 percent of those deaths occurred around 6:00 p.m.(at dusk)  with the other 75 percent being evenly distributed between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

As the Vancouver Sun  wrote, even though vehicles  are equipped with better safety systems and lights, “car-pedestrian accidents kill four more people on average on Halloween than on other days…Kids aged 4 to 8 faced the highest risks…” 

I have previously written about the University of Iowa study that found that  children between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age were not able to judge the speed, distance, and  safe crossing time in moving traffic. The study found they could not  recognize gaps in traffic, and that skill was not fully developed until the child was around 14 years of age. Even a 12 year old crossing experienced a “fail” two percent of the time in the study.

Couple that with the current SUV obsession. SUVs (sports utility vehicles) are responsible for a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths and serious injury. Because of their high front ends, pedestrians are twice as likely to die if they are hit by one. Drivers of SUVs are also 11 percent more likely to be killed driving one, as the size and bulk encourages more reckless driving behaviour.

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Via the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects Tara Culham comes this gem from SAAQ, the Societe de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec. The province’s automobile insurer protects all Quebecers for injuries that happen in a traffic accident anywhere in the world regardless if they are at fault or not.

With no fault coverage individuals and companies cannot commence legal proceedings in an accident. Avoiding accidents and prompting better driver behaviour has been a hallmark of the SAAQ. They produce videos that get their point across, as does this video which has now gone viral. This video literally flips the courtesy stop at a crosswalk in favour of pedestrians and has over one million views.


Another of my favourites from the SAAQ is this short video reminding drivers to drive as if every pedestrian could be their mom. Released earlier this month, the video already has over 100,000 views.

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