Sandy James’s post on Cornelia Oberlander – “the First Lady of Canadian Landscape Design” – is so apropos at this time of year, when her legacy, particularly Robson Square, literally blossoms.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the look of Vancouver is captured in her works.

She’s still active, still provocative.  In the film “City Dreamers” in which she’s featured, she says she’s not in favour of daylighting streams that have been previously culverted – as is proposed, for instance, for Brewery Creek through False Creek Flats.  Too many unexpected consequences, says the voice of experience.

Read more »

TransLink was recently asking Vancouverites for suggestions on the best seating design for new SkyTrain cars.  Hopefully they saw this video from Cheddar on a study done for New York’s transit system:

Are the cars the MTA uses currently the best for the way we ride the subway? In 2013, researchers from Operations Planning Group at NYCT submitted their improved design to the Transportation Research Board.

(Click headline of post to show video.)

Yeah, it’s fodder for ELMTOTs*, but it also an exploration of human behaviour in confined spaces and how design affects us.

 

* Urban Dictionary: “Stands for Expo Line Memes for TransLink Oriented Teens. It’s a Facebook group for over 1300 kids-with-no-life to share memes of Vancouver.”

And doesn’t that screen capture above look like Vancouver?  It’s probably Long Island City, as the East River shoreline transforms into False Creek.

Read more »

Seattle’s Crosscut columnist Knute Berger thinks it might be – in this piece: Is Seattle freeing itself from the automobile age?

In South Lake Union, you see folks zipping along on monowheels, hoverboards and electric bikes and scooters. These electronic gadgets seem less intrusive and more versatile than, say, a Segway, and some can be carried by hand or in a backpack.

Other innovations are in the works. Boeing is testing a pilot-less “autonomous” air taxi — a kind of flying Uber. Is the era of the flying car, as envisioned on The Jetsons, finally at hand? In Snohomish County, Amazon is testing a small delivery bot, named Scout, that can bring Amazon Prime customers their order. It looks like a robotic cooler on six wheels. It could someday be more efficient than fleets of street-clogging delivery cars and trucks.

The quest for car-free city living is speeding up, not slowing down. Seattle was reshaped and improved by a technology that arrived as a circus toy. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the driverless novelties that might be flying overhead or rolling along the sidewalk to deliver goodies in your neighborhood.

Of course, ‘careful what you wish for.’

Read more »

While the focus on cycling infrastructure is, as it should be, on expanding the network (#ungapthemap) or on the latest controversy, continual progress is being made on existing routes, typically in conjunction with new development – like here:

This small stretch of the Central Valley Greenway is adjacent to 339 East 1st Avenue on the False Creek Flats, where there is a proposal for a four-building complex, including a small hotel.

There’s another project near completion at the east end of this stretch on the Emily Carr campus, to provide cyclists and greenway users (more electric scooters noticeable now) with a necessary fuel: coffee.

And at the west end: beer.

So Mount Pleasant: bikes, beer, art and industry.

Read more »

Michael Alexander sends highlights from the recent Urbanarium discussion, provocatively titled “The Single-Family Zone Is Dead. What Next?”

 

Planner/developer Michael Mortensen gave every audience member a T4 tax receipt with their “income” shown – in proportion to income levels in Metro B.C.

He had the audience stand and, as he read off each income from low to high, those people sat down. At $200,000, the remaining few left standing represented the fewer than eight percent of Vancouverites who could qualify for a single-family home purchase, if they spent 40% of their gross household income on shelter.

If your gross income is $85,000 a year, you can afford a home costing $647,619. A typical Vancouver single family house costs $1.3 million. Double your income, and you’re still priced out.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, member and past Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee, worrisomely noted that while the metro region has an urban containment boundary, “many new councillors haven’t bought in” to the concept. He said that councillors in neighbouring Port Moody recently disapproved a 400-unit townhouse project next to a transit station. 

(Port Moody isn’t alone. The District of West Vancouver voted down, 5-2, affordable housing and a senior daycare centre on city-owned land, and essentially gave the planning decision back to the land’s neighbours.)

Read more »

This year’s annual Warren Gill Lecture series will be presented by Mary Rowe who will speak on Canada’s Enduring Two Solitudes: Can we bridge the urban-rural divide?

Modern political movements increasingly pit city dwellers against rural residents, and downtowners against suburbanites, suggesting our differences are irreconcilable. Can we construct a new narrative that binds us together, and new approaches to governance and public decision-making that recognize the particularities of place?

Mary Rowe’s current roles include empowering Canada’s largest cities to be economically vibrant, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable as senior advisor to Evergreen and Future Cities Canada and as co-executive lead for the National Urban Project .

 

Thursday, May 16

7 – 9 pm

Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

This is a free event, but as seating is limited, reservations are required. Reserve your ticket on Eventbrite.

Read more »

TransLink is hosting regional conversations on Transport 2050, the latest version of its strategic plan.  Last week at a packed Robson Square theatre, it began with “The Future of Mobility” – lots of thought nuggets from TL’s strategic planner, Andrew McCurran and a panel of those in what we used to call alternative transport (not any longer) – ride-hailing, car-sharing, bike-sharing, electric mobility, and scooters!

.

Here are a few tasty items:

Say good-bye to the ‘bike lane’;  hail the ‘mobility lane.’  Since it’s illegal for electric scooters to use the sidewalk (yeah, right) and it’s obvious already that electrification is leading to new kinds of vehicles faster than self-powered two-wheelers, they will all use the bike lanes or demand their own right-of-way.  Expect conflict.

(By the way, in cities with both bike- and scooter-share, the latter outperforms the former.)

Will there be space available on a reconfigured road as the number of traditional vehicles (you know, cars) diminishes?  Assuming, of course, that the number of cars really does drop.  Data from the use of Uber and Lyft in American cities indicates just the opposite: more cars and more congestion.

Read more »

Now that Google’s Streetview has been in operation for a decade, and conveniently provides its available archive with each image, it’s possible to do what Guest suggests in the post below:

You could take a similar pic – but in reverse and with a future transition – of the former Granville 7 Theatre on Granville Steet.

i.e. bustling pic of the movie crowds in the 1990s, boarded up with chain link fence and homeless camped out for the past few years after the theatre closed, and in a few more years (hopefully) bustling again as a Cineplex Rec Room.

Here’s the result so far:

2007:

2011:

2018:

The current street scene, at least in these shots, is not as dramatic as it can be, when there are rough shelters under the canopies.  Whereas the difference in New York from the 1980s to now – in this case, the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bushwick – is unmissable.  Almost inconceivable.

Read more »