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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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 City of Surrey is ready to “speed up traffic”, reports the Surrey Now-Leader, in transportation news from the second-most populous city in Metro Vancouver (and the province).

Going into a civic election in October this year, Surrey council has decided that congestion is a noteworthy issue, and that the city can build its way out of congestion by widening roads and improving bridge interchanges. It’s called the Congestion Relief Strategy (2019 – 2023).

To be fair, there is mention of “complete streets” and bike lanes. But it comes along with potential widening of the roads that parallel the light rail lines, to maintain capacity on them.

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From the Next-Generation Transportation Webinar Series:

“What gets measured gets managed”, conventional wisdom dictates. In the case of quantifying the benefits of walking, this has often been a reactive and piecemeal process, if done at all.

Join us August 3rd for a deep dive into the business case for walking as Auckland Council’s Darren Davis demonstrates how the city was able to reduce barriers to walkability by choosing the right KPIs.

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Back to the south side of the Fraser River where Mayor Lois Jackson and senior City of Delta staff are just back from a taxpayer-funded $40,000 junket to Ottawa to talk to those politicians about Delta’s demands for the Massey Bridge. Price Tags is sure that the mayor did not tell the Ottawa politicians that all the other Mayors of Metro Vancouver voted against a ten lane, overbuilt bridge at this site, which is in the wrong place and would further industrialize the Fraser River, which is also where the best farmland soils in Canada are also located.

There was no surprise when Mayor Jackson announced to the Delta Optimist that there “was hope for the bridge” and all that was needed was finding the funding that could  pony up the estimated 3.5 billion dollars for the bridge’s construction. And in reference to all those other naysayer Mayors within Metro Vancouver not wanting this behemoth in this location, it turns out that Delta represented that a “political situation” had stalled the bridge from being built.

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This past weekend, I decided to take a quick ride over to Jericho from the West End, just to see what was happening with the Folk Festival.

Along the way, I found several long-standing examples of the City of Vancouver’s Park Board indifference to cycling.  (I know the commissioners would disagree, but the lack of action over so many years, regardless of all the plans, consultations and rhetoric, speak otherwise.)

For instance the path pictured above, just to the west of the Aquatic Centre, connecting Beach Avenue with the Seaside Greenway —narrow asphalt and worn grass — is ambiguous, inadequate and unsafe.  If it were under the jurisdiction of the City’s engineering department, it would likely have been rectified by now (it’s been this way for decades).

But it’s Park Board territory — and another example of their attitude: #wedontcare.

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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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We’re seeing more and more examples of cities and neighbourhood groups just getting it done on streets with cans of good latex paint.

There is absolutely no doubt that paint is the most inexpensive way to change the nature of the street, expand pedestrian refuge areas, and make crosswalks more visible for pedestrians and vehicles alike.

In her groundbreaking book Streetfight, Janette Sadik-Khan points out that making infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists makes good economic sense, contributing to the street life in the city. She also argues that everything New York City needed in order to create 60 pedestrian plazas, 180 acres of new public space and 400 miles of bike lanes was all in the city yards — paint, bollards, and cement planters.

That’s why it’s wonderful to see NYC’s examples of paint-and-planters replicated elsewhere.

In Bukchon-Ro in Seoul, a traffic circle was painted in the middle of the street, separating this historic area from a commercial district. Simply painting this image caused vehicles to proceed more slowly and enabled the many pedestrians — visiting local galleries, tea houses and cafes — to cross more safely. Paint established “pedestrian priority streets”, and has helped make the streets more walkable and lively.

The town of Mandan, North Dakota, with a population of 22,000 and located just across the Missouri river from the state capitol of Bismarck, is doing the same thing. City planner John van Dyke got it right by installing three temporary painted traffic circles at intersections, calling it a “demonstration project”, and inviting public response to the changes.

Mandan also added temporary curb extensions using bollards to make a shorter crosswalk distance for pedestrians, with a planned evaluation of the project at the end of August. You can see the reporting of the local news station on the temporary traffic circles here.

images-sandy james & pininterest.com

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An irresistible article from The Guardian:

Too often, cities think they’re unique and repeat the blunders that others have made before them. Here are three of the worst ideas that keep getting recycled …

Build a big mall to ‘revitalise’ the city

The gigantic out-of-town complex Centro was the centrepiece of Oberhausen’s efforts to halt economic decline and turn the German city toward post-industrial success. …. As much of the retail and service activity in the city gravitated to the new mall, many mom-and-pop businesses downtown couldn’t stay afloat. The once-vibrant streets of the city centre were gradually taken over by discount stores, empty shop fronts and visible decay.

Bury’ cars to improve the downtown core

The “Five Star” development strategy of the city of Tampere involves adding new housing and jobs, a new tram system, and prioritising pedestrians and cyclists. In order to achieve this deluxe downtown experience, the city is building underground parking facilities and a tunnel to clear the roads of cars. A clear and effective concept, one might think.

But congestion in the city wasn’t even an issue before the city completed two costly Five Star projects: a 1,000-space parking garage, and a tunneled highway section. The effect has been to increase the number of cars the city centre can accommodate – and the number of cars has duly increased.

Build a highway on the waterfront

In 2015, despite lengthy community campaigns for tearing it down and plans for high-quality waterfront urbanist interventions, Toronto decided to keep the Gardiner Expressway in place, cutting the city’s waterfront off from the rest of its downtown. …

The Estonian capital of Tallinn has decided to invest in a brand-new downtown highway, in order to grant easier harbor access to trucks. In the process, it will pave over one of the city’s only seaside parks. As a kind of absurd flourish, the city has promised to build a shiny promenade and public space in the only narrow stretch of land that now remains between the sea and multiple lanes of traffic.

Full article here.

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Thanks to John Graham, architect with Graham Sherwin Studio, for this recommendation of Along for the Ride, a new blog on self-driving cars and urbanization by Sarah Barnes:

I’m pretty sure some Price Tags people will want to know about this…written by an urbanist friend in London (ex-UBC urban geography, ex-London School of Economics Urban Planning Masters program).

It’s a fantastic weekly summary of all things vehicular, particularly automated. She’s a delightful writer too.

Barnes was until recently in automated vehicle policy and planning at Siemens, and is now with Beryl, a London-based urban cycling technology company developing lighting products and systems.

Subscribe to Along for the Ride here.

Image courtesy of Siemens PLM Software.

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