Design & Development
June 25, 2019

SFU City Conversation: On Vancouverism – Jul 18

Planner Larry Beasley’s book Vancouverism, about our city’s transformation, has just been published. What does it say about Vancouver’s design, its planning framework and concepts, its worldwide admiration and emulation, the things we got right and the things we missed? What lessons might it have for our upcoming Citywide Plan?

Please join us at Lot 19, the small park at the foot of Hornby Street at W. Hastings Street, with our presenters Larry Beasley and former co-Director of Planning Ann McAfee (who sometimes has a different perspective on their accomplishments).

Thursday, July 18

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Lot 19 at 855 West Hastings Street

Free event

Register Now

Read more »

Vancouver’s man with numbers Mario Canseco has his finger on the pulse of Vancouver and his latest survey in Business in Vancouver suggests we are moving towards inclusive ways to house and age in place in neighbourhoods, and that we still value neighbourhood character.

Firstly around modular housing~74 percent of people surveyed were in favour of building more housing for the homeless. From Provincial sources there is now  data showing that despite the fears  of some residents modular housing placed in Marpole has the “lowest number of emergency services of all the modular housing buildings in the city”  and no calls for overdoses.

Secondly, survey respondents value older heritage housing, which provides a grounding between the past and present of Vancouver. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed wanted heritage buildings maintained even if it meant less rental housing construction.

Lastly when asked whether duplexes, fourplexes, townhouses and three-to four-storey apartment buildings should be allowed in our “single-family” zones, 71 percent were in agreement with densifying that way, with only 22% disagreeing with that. The majority of those against the diversity of housing in single-family zones were over 55 years of age.

The discussion of what should or should not be in “single family housing areas” has also been picked up by CityLab.

Read more »

Can’t make the Price Talks event next Wednesday?

On Tuesday, June 25th, a coalition of five North Shore community agencies are hosting a panel discussion on possible solutions for North Shore seniors experiencing the impacts of the housing crunch.

Solutions to be discussed include the proposed affordable housing development on the site of North Shore Neighbourhood House, and the proposed Seniors Roommate Registry which, according to Hollyburn Family Services Society, is already attracting interest.

This event will be a ‘community conversation’, including brief presentations from the panel, engagement with representatives from the three North Shore municipalities, and audience participation.

Creative Housing Options for North Shore Seniors

Tuesday, June 25 • 10 am-noon
Delbrook Community Recreation Centre
851 W Queens Rd, North Vancouver District

Panel:

  • Bunny Brown, President, Special Services Society, and a home-sharer for 10 years
  • Michael Geller, housing property developer, on municipal zoning, bylaws, and options for heritage home owners
  • Joy Hayden, Hollyburn Family Services Society, on the North Shore Seniors Roommate Registry

Presented by:

  • Lionsview Seniors Planning Society
  • Capilano Seniors Action Table
  • Capilano Community Services Society
  • Hollyburn Family Services Society
  • North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Committee

To register, call 604-985-3852, email Lionsview, or just show up — the public is welcome.

Read more »

There is a  loophole enabling developers not to pay the full cost of property tax on undeveloped property in Vancouver. A developer can purchase a piece of land in the city and instead of immediately establishing a timetable for development can leave the land fallow for temporary community gardens or parks.  As Dan Fumano in this article dryly observes, the taxation on these temporary developer owned community gardens have been a “perennial” issue.

This loophole has been flying below the radar for quite some time. In 2017 Kerry Gold in BCBusiness  noted that  15 properties were converted from class 6, or commercial, to class 8—community garden or public park use. While developers cite the high value of holding land and the length of time it takes to get development permits as reasons to allow the low tax rate for community gardens, Simon Fraser University’s  Duke of Data Andy Yan has another take.

We are rewarding land hoarding and subsidizing it through these community gardens. We are losing tax money to subsidize this thing that looks good—and all we’re getting in return are really expensive taxpayer-subsidized tomatoes. They are the most expensive tomatoes in North America.”

Read more »

The ‘golden age’ of active transportation development in Vancouver continues, with ongoing expansion of the downtown bike network now reaching Drake Street.

Despite what you may hear elsewhere, Drake isn’t very sexy, or even that interesting. But as the City suggests, Drake is actually essential to the concept of a complete network, because it connects where people are coming from, to where they want to go.

A fair number of people cycle beyond the protected cycling facilities on Drake Street, indicating…strong desire.

Currently, cycling volumes on Drake Street are highest between Burrard Street and Hornby Street, the only section with dedicated cycling facilities.

That “strong desire” is based on evidence of an average of 500 daily midweek bike trips in the summer, about 40% of the volume at the separated portion.

By focusing on the rest of Drake, one can infer that, not only is the ultimate goal to provide safe passage for those venturing between Burrard/Hornby and Richards, Homer, or to destinations like David Lam Park, but that more people could be drawn into downtown by bike in the first place, if only these connecting bits (like Drake) had dedicated facilities.

Here’s where the City needs your input — they’re seeking feedback on two different design options, plus ideas on how to support the activities of local businesses, organizations, and residents.

Read more »

There are two stories here. One is told by Lloyd Alter in Tree Hugger that young people are just not into cars, and carmakers haven’t figured out how to get that group interested. Even an analyst for the J.D. Power research firm detailed the problem:

“Gen Z buyers’ participation in the new-car space is declining year after year. We expect to see them get their first job and buy a car. But we’re not seeing this.”

In the United States in 1983 46 percent of 16 year olds had drivers licences; in 2016 that figure was 26 percent. As Lloyd Alter observes “young people just might care more about the air they and their kids are breathing  than they do about the conveniences in cars.” He also points out that this socially responsible tech-savvy cohort chooses to live in places where they don’t have to drive.

The other story and it is Big News is that anyone 18 years or younger living in the City of Victoria will get a free transit bus pass, no matter what school they are going to. The 6,000 passes will cost $850,000, and will be covered by the City’s Sunday downtown parking fees. This is a great way for students to use the transit system and become accustomed to public transit, of course also meaning that there will be less vehicles on the road.

That was echoed by Susan Brice, chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission:  “Anytime we can get more kids riding the bus and making bus riding a part of their life and a habit, that’s good for all of us.” 

Read more »

 

There has been a lot of discussion in Parksville on Vancouver Island regarding Orca Place a nearly $7 million housing project for 52 homeless or at risk of being homeless residents which is currently under construction. The facility will be staffed with two employees at the facility at any time, and have over twenty people on the payroll. Support workers “will be responsible for maintaining security and safety within the building, and to maintain a good neighbour relationship with the surrounding neighbourhood.”

Despite these assurances a $52 million dollar seniors residence planned to be across from The Orca housing complex has been cancelled, with the seniors’ home founder placing the reason directly on the planned homeless residence.

It’s a huge disappointment — we were looking forward to it,” said Berwick founder Gordon Denford in an interview. “The last thing we wanted is where we are at today. But the risk is too great to our seniors, our future residents and our employees.”Denford stated that the placement of  Orca Place “is totally incompatible with a large residence that is home to approximately 250 vulnerable seniors, along with approximately 150 full- and part-time employees and a daycare for 30 of their preschool children.”

Nearly 150 jobs, tax revenue and development cost charges of more than $2.5 million, to be split with the regional district will also be lost.

Read more »

It really is astounding at how we can so easily erase the need for basic pedestrian amenity when new technology rolls around. Even the people at Amazon did not see the obvious usurping of the sidewalk by their six wheeled  sidewalk delivery robot as being a problem. You can see in the video below as “Scout” (yes they named him) dutifully takes up most of the sidewalk as he rolls on his route. There is no space left over for a pedestrian, a baby buggy or a user of any mobility device.

But now Amazon as reported in the Business Insider wants pedestrians to know that not only do they need to give way for these robots on narrow sidewalks, but “that the public should treat these robots in the same way that they would pedestrians.”. 

Yes you heard that right. The sidewalk delivery robots want to have the same rights and the same rules of the road as do pedestrians, and also will use the road only if a pedestrian would do the same with a level of comfort.

Sean Scott of Amazon states “If you feel safe walking on that road, that’s where we want to be. We want to be viewed as a pedestrian and treated as a pedestrian.”

Read more »

Take a look at Norway where the capital city Oslo has removed over 700 parking spaces in the downtown and replaced those spaces with benches, bike racks and public spaces.The City has 50 parking spaces left, mainly for disabled persons in vehicles and for deliveries to local businesses.

i have been writing about European cities going for slower streets, and finding that residents are happy with the slower vehicular speeds. The Economist observes that many European cities are going for outright vehicular reduction in their downtowns.  London and Stockholm have congestion charges, and I have written about London’s new ultra low emissions zone.

Paris has tried to limit vehicular use on certain days. But Oslo’s approach of closing off the downtown to private cars, and changing streets to limit traffic flow in one direction is the closest to a “downtown car ban” . While opponents to the ban have complained about limited access to the downtown, there are still vehicles in the downtown, just fewer places to park. Downtown Oslo business owners worried that “fewer cars could mean fewer customers”. While those statistics are not in yet, pedestrian traffic has increased in the downtown by 10%, and the experience in London showed that spending increased by 40% with people that walked, cycled or took public transit to downtown shopping areas.

Read more »

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.

Read more »