August 2, 2007

Transportation and EcoDensity: the Video

Just out:

Between March and May 2007 the City of Vanocuver invited luminaries from across North America to participate in the EcoDensity Speaker Series. See what the experts have to say about our future and EcoDensity:
March 3: Avi Friedman, Director of Affordable Housing Program, McGill University (video)
March 22: John Helliwell, UBC Professor (video)
March 22: Bill Rees, UBC Professor (video)

There’s also a summary video just up on the EcoDensity website, including excerpts from the above speakers along with UBC prof Larry Frank, here.

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From the Sightline Institute: 

Three Seattle uber-hackers, Jesse Kocher, Matt Lerner, and Mike Mathieu, built this addicting new website. It maps the closest grocery store, restaurant, and several other businesses you might walk to from any address in the United States or Canada. It also gives each location a “Walk Score.” (You can even watch the site tally up the score. It’s awesome!)
Walk Score … calculates the distance to the closest business in each of a list of commonly used categories such as grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. It assigns points based on the distance to these amenities, then averages the score. This simpler strategy works well and generates great maps.

Naturally, first thing, I checked out my score:

83, not bad.  Would have been better if they included the schools closest to me. 
But try for yourself – here.

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Good news for the City of North Vancouver – and for the region – last week.

The City of North Vancouver is one step closer to building a new National Maritime Centre, thanks to $560,000 in combined funding from Canada’s New Government and the Province of British Columbia. This funding will develop a detailed business plan for a new world-class maritime centre.

The plan will outline a public-private partnership that would see the Centre being built on the North Vancouver’s waterfront, making it a focal point for the west coast maritime community. The Centre would combine learning, trade show and conference facilities with maritime exhibits and amenities such as restaurants and retail shops … and would be self-sustaining through revenues generated from its retail outlets and rental fees.
It would also help to develop a skilled workforce to support the Asia Pacific Gateway Initiative industries through the Centre’s industry training and resource centre.

While it still has some way to go, the idea of the centre has been around for years. And you won’t be surprised to hear that it has had strong support, both personal and political, from local representatives, particularly Councillor Bob Fearnley (above), Mayor Darrell Mussatto (above left) and MLA Katherine Whittred.
There already is, of course, a Martime Museum, located on Vanier Point in the City of Vancouver. And that’s been part of the problem: how to relocate a museum in the wrong place with no hope of expansion, underfunded and underappreciated, to another jurisdiction. Finally things are coming together (currently being stick-handled by Jennifer Clarke, a previous City of Vancouver councillor.)
Why is this just such a good idea? Aside from the obvious – locating a maritime centre in a place with maritime history and a working port, with easy transit access by SeaBus, next to a thriving market and town centre, incorporating job training and showcasing our martime industries – this is also a major step in regionalizing ‘culture.’
The problem, you see, is that almost all the significant cultural institutions in the region are concentrated in Vancouver, and the city, which owns the buildings, is also expected to fund the operations and organizations which use them. From the Art Gallery to the Opera, the load is being carried by only a quarter of the people in the region. The other 20 municipalities fund their own small facilities, and contribute some loose change to a GVRD fund, but otherwise are very happy to take advantage of Vancouver’s largesse without having to tax their own citizens.
More than that, the region never speaks with one voice on its cultural priorities. As a result, provincial and federal governments make no major contributions either, able to show up with a small cheque every so often in individual ridings, and instead devote disproportionate amounts of money to those who have their act together in Ontario and Quebec. We bitch, of course, but do little about it at our end.
The National Maritme Centre moves a major cultural facility out of Vancouver, to a place with a higher profile and a mechanism for ongoing funding. North Van City is more likely to be an ally with Vancouver for a regional approach to planning and promoting our cultural institutions.

Now we have to move the Vancouver Museum off Vanier Point, too. How about Surrey City Centre for a new regional facility, with a presence in downtown Vancouver?

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In Coquitlam, at the corner of Pinetree and Guildford Ways – perhaps one of the widest intersections in the region – they’re building a bench.  But it’s not for pedestrians who’ve managed the trek across the road.  It’s for skateboarders, on their way to the bowl behind the arts centre.  Nice.

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By, in this instance, the Washington Post:

Vancouver’s Olympic Challenge
City Faces Pressure to Fulfill Social Pledges That Helped It Win 2010 Winter Games
By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 23, 2007; A11

VANCOUVER — Rob Skish is looking forward to the 2010 Winter Olympics. A “binner” who plumbs garbage containers to fill his shopping cart with food for his stomach and cans for the recycler, Skish figures that when the Olympic crowds come to town, the pickings in the bins will be good.
“They’ll be full,” said Skish, 40. “But there will be a lot more people picking. They will come from all over the world.”
Skish’s prediction is the stuff of bad dreams for Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.
When the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver, visitors will find one of the most alluring cities in North America, a green and vibrant port to Asia brimming with diversity, skyscrapers and West Coast cool. But if they take a wrong turn, they will enter Downtown Eastside, a 16-block area teeming with drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and panhandlers.
The side alleys are open markets for crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine. The streets reek of urine. Rates of AIDS and hepatitis C are at Third World levels. Those who don’t have rooms in some shabby flophouse sleep on the pavement. A U.N. report last month called the area “the trouble in paradise.”
To win the Games, Vancouver and the provincial and federal governments made some of the boldest promises of any Olympic bid. They promised to add 800 new housing units a year for four years. They promised to cut homelessness and to ensure that people living on welfare and disability checks aren’t ousted from their hotels for higher-paying guests.
The city had already seen that happen once. Thousands of low-income residents were dislocated for the 1986 world’s fair, Expo 86. Olaf Solheim, an 88-year-old former logger with a long white beard, starved to death, disoriented and confused, after being evicted from his home of more than 40 years at the Patricia Hotel in Downtown Eastside. A welfare housing block is now named after him.
“I believe the Downtown Eastside will be the legacy of this Olympics. It will be a lot different,” the mayor said in an interview at City Hall. “We want every investment we make to leave a legacy that is needed by the city.”
Full article here.

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What with the Second Beach pool closed due to the strike, I strike off for West Van.  They have a very nice pool at 21st and Marine. 
But to get there on bicycle, you have to forge your own route.  As I’ve mentioned many times before, West Vancouver sends out a very clear message to cyclists: we don’t care about you.  At least not enough to sign a path from Lions Gate through Ambleside that tells you where you should go, much less actually build a route for you.
West Vancouverites mainly move around their municipality by car and foot.  To go walking, they typically drive somewhere, particularly to the beaches and waterfront, and given their age and class, they don’t want to be confronted by errant cyclists.  And they certainly don’t want to give up space for the car to the bicycle.  Hence not even a cycling lane on Marine Drive, where there is sufficient width to do so.  If Vancouver can do it on Georgia, West Van could do it on parts of Marine.
The good news is: things are changing, according to recent reports.  But so far, nothing has.
Not to end on a sour note, I would like to draw attention to something I just discovered today – a fine piece of public art where a stream flows through Ambleside under the BC Rail tracks.

This work celebrates the return of salmon to Lawson Creek.  It’s big, it’s striking, and it contrasts nicely with its setting: over the creek and beside an electrical substation.

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I’m back – but my head is still on vacation.  So while I’m sorting several thousand digital images, I’ll post a sampling from the last several weeks – even if they don’t make much sense.  (You can add your own commentary.)

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