July 9, 2019

A Night on the North Shore: A Conversation with Residents

The Price Talks team hosted its first public podcast recording, held in front of a live library audience in the District of North Vancouver on June 26, 2019.

We’ve lobbed quite a bit of criticism at the North Shore generally over the past eight months, regarding recent decisions about housing, transportation and the public realm, but felt it was time to actually hear from residents.

Joining Gord for the discussion were:

  • Dominica Babicki, formerly Energy Manager with the District, currently completing her PhD in geography focusing on issues related to related to energy, buildings and climate change. A lifelong resident of the Edgemont neighbourhood, mother of teens, and part-time caregiver to both parents.
  • Justin Scott was born and raised in Deep Cove, went to Cap U, and is starting a new career in marketing. He currently lives in an apartment in West Vancouver, and is considering his long-term housing situation.
  • Victor Schwartzman is a Brooklyn native who came to Vancouver via a decades-long stop in Winnipeg. He currently serves on DNV’s Community Services Advisory Committee, hosts and produces Soapbox Radio and World Poetry Cafe on Coop Radio 100.5 FM, and in renting in a social housing complex in Parkgate.

Special thanks to Lynn Valley Town Centre resident, and community planner and facilitator, Steven Petersson for MC’ing and providing invaluable support throughout the evening.

Our sincere gratitude to everyone who attended the evening — a diverse and attentive crowd, with lots of participation and free-flowing discussion. We hope to do this again.

Last but not least, thank you to Meghan and her team at the Lynn Valley Branch of North Vancouver District Public Library. What a perfect facility, in a beautiful community — paradise tucked into the side of a mountain.

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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


  • 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.

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Do you live or work on the North Shore? Are you a fan of Price Talks, the podcast? Want to hear — and be part of — a discussion about decisions on housing, transportation, and public spaces in West and North Vancouver?

Join Gord and a panel of local residents and pundits in a public chat, and a live recording of Price Talks:

Wednesday, June 26
Doors @ 6:30pm | Recording @ 7:00pm

North Vancouver District Public Library – Lynn Valley Branch
1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver

Register here — tickets are free.

After the recording, the conversation will continue next door at Brown’s Social House.

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 From North Shore News: 
North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite (has) drawn up a proposal including hypothetical transit map featuring a SkyTrain connection over the Second Narrows with stops across the North Shore, from Cates Park to Dundarave. And she’s started consulting with local MPs and the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. …

Thornthwaite said she was inspired to lobby for a North Shore rail link because constituents in North Vancouver-Seymour have very little coming to them in terms of transit improvements. …
Funding is in place currently for a new SeaBus, which will allow 10-minute service during rush hour, a 30 per cent increase in regular bus service and new B-Line buses for the North Shore.
Thornthwaite said she hasn’t done any back-of-the-envelope calculations on what such a plan would cost although she conceded it would be in the billions.
“But the only way we can get an assessment going and the interest from the decision-makers like TransLink and the mayors’ council is to start talking about it. That’s what I’m trying to do. Everybody I’ve talked to thinks it’s a good idea.”
Such a rail line could even be connected to Squamish and Whistler over the longer term, Thornthwaite added.
Gordon Price, fellow with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue and former head of the university’s city program, said it’s refreshing to see the discussion of a fabled “third crossing” return but centred around mass transit for a change.
“It’s certainly doable and it could certainly be doable faster than what dreamers might think at this point. That’s a political and financial commitment,” he said.
But before North Vancouver and West Vancouver can pursue a rail link with any seriousness, they have to be able to answer some existential questions about the kind of communities they aspire to be. To justify a SkyTrain, our urban planning would have to become much more centred around transit over the long term than it currently is.
“If you’re going to be looking at something like SkyTrain rapid transit, and you should, it’s a long-term solution. We’re talking over 100 years. And it means a fundamental change in the scale, and for some parts of your community, a fundamental change in character. You’re building transit-oriented, concentrated communities with both work and play and all the rest of it,” he said. “Because otherwise, why build rapid transit?”
Park Royal would have to look more like Burnaby’s Brentwood neighbourhood, Price used as an example.
“North Van and West Vancouver would have to commit themselves to having a different kind of long-term vision for themselves, and I’m not sure that the population is yet ready for that,” he said.
But, Price noted, if the hope is that a North Shore SkyTrain would be the silver bullet to solving the bridge congestion problem, there are much cheaper and faster options within reach, namely mobility pricing. The technology to track usage of the roads and transit system in real time exists in most anyone’s smartphone, meaning it would not be difficult to charge tolls based on usage. That would be the most effective incentive for getting people and cars off the road, and speeding up the daily commutes, Price said.
“That’s going to be so much easier to do in the world we’re moving into. We’re not quite there yet but it’s happening,” he said.  “The politics of that? Brutal. But it could be done.”

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From Barry Rueger, a member of the District of North Vancouver’s Transportation Consultation Committee for three years.  

Bicycles are not a North Shore Panacea, Transit Might Be.

For three years I’ve been part of the District of North Vancouver’s Transportation Consultation Committee. Few things have enjoyed more discussion than cycling infrastructure.
The cycling community, including HUB, have done a tremendous job of lobbying local governments for better bike paths and lanes, and for the inclusion of bike specific amenities in major developments.
Good though that is, it isn’t about to solve the problems of the daily traffic jams on the Upper Levels highway.
The North Shore has a significant problem caused by the volume of automobiles trying to get to and from the North Shore via the two bridges.
When these discussions happen, bicycles are almost immediately proposed as the solution to traffic jams.
The problem is that our most avid cyclists don’t seem to understand the motivation of all of the thousands of people driving to and from their destinations.
The people who are driving to and from work each day don’t generally enjoy it, and they don’t like what it costs them. No one chooses to sit for an hour in stop and go traffic, or to pay more and more for gas and insurance for the privilege.
Just raising gas prices, eliminating parking, or laying on guilt trips won’t change this. You can probably make commuting by car twice as expensive and see little decrease in traffic volume – unless you can offer drivers a real and practical alternative.
Or more to the point, offer drivers an alternative that they see as reasonable and attractive.
I have neighbours who cycle from Lynn Valley to downtown Vancouver and UBC respectively, but they are part of a very, very small minority. The number of North Shore residents who will be prepared to cycle or walk to jobs in Vancouver or Surrey is marginal at best. For the vast majority of commuters the only possible options are private automobiles or public transit.
Despite the apocryphal stories about cyclists whizzing by slow moving cars on Lions Gate Bridge, the majority of drivers believe that, all things being equal, driving will get them to their destination faster than cycling.
For the vast majority of drivers that’s entirely true.
Travelling long distances by bike, over hilly terrain, at the same speed as driving, requires a high level of fitness, and probably a bike costing at least thousand dollars. Plus an employer who either doesn’t mind wet, smelly employees, or has shower and change facilitates at the office. The cyclists who have all of these things available really do represent a pretty elite group.
As an elite, they leave out the people who are physically unable to ride a bike. The people who are moving three or four children to various activities each day, as well as shopping and medical appointments. People moving appliances and parcels. People who carry the tools of their trade to work each day, or who work in different places and at different times. People who can’t afford the bike, and clothing, and helmet, and the extra time to travel by bike.
And, of course, people who simply don’t want to ride bicycles.
For the North Shore, a solution that relies solely or mostly on cycling is not reasonable.
Lecturing commuters about the “real costs” of driving (either in terms of infrastructure or in terms of the environment) won’t move more than a marginal number of people out of their cars.
The factors that keep people driving are entirely different.
The person who is commuting by car will ask a few specific questions about any transportation option you offer them.
They’ll ask how long it takes to get to and from their job. If they can’t get to work on time, or if they are forced leave home a half hour early just to be sure, they’ll stay in their car. If they arrive home an hour later, and miss their kid’s soccer game, they’ll stay in their car. If their commute includes a transfer in the middle – or two – and those connections are unreliable, they’ll stay in their car.
They’ll ask how close the transit start point is from their home,

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It’s good to see a stimulating discussion on the question of ‘What’s causing traffic congestion on the North Shore.’
Predictably, someone raises the idea of a Third Crossing (in addition to the Lions Gate and Second Narrows Bridges; SeaBus is not counted as a ‘crossing’ – which says a lot.)

M: … the long-term solution must be revisiting a Third Crossing option, which itself can probably only be rapid transit under the inlet. (A looping B-Line around the two bridges might be a stopgap but won’t get most people out of their cars.)

Let’s rule out the prospect of a transit-only Third Crossing.  As Frank Ducote noted: “West Van residents are wealthy and have clout. They will demand more than a bus.”  A bridge or tunnel will almost certainly carry traffic.
So here’s the First Rule when the discussion gets serious:
Any proponent of a Third Crossing must specify the closest major intersections for the entrances and exits of a bridge or tunnel and its associated works.
For instance, if the bridge or tunnel disgorges traffic at Main Street on the Vancouver side, will the affected intersection be Main and Terminal?  Or will there be a flyover or underpass at that intersection – in which case is the next major intersection Main and East 2nd?
And what happens then?
An unobstructed freeway-style lane can deliver up to 2,000 cars per hour.  Having to specify the next place in a corridor where several new lanes of traffic will begin to pile up makes the question of unavoidable congestion, well, unavoidable.  (Notice how MOTI never comes to grips with the impact of a massively expanded Massey crossing and widened Highway 99 on Oak Street.  They want to avoid that question at all costs by pretending it won’t happen – until they’re ready to propose the next major works to solve that problem.)
Back to the Third Crossing: eventually the idea evolves to proposing an unobstructed corridor through Vancouver – essentially the freeway proposals of the late 1960s, of which the Third Crossing was a critical component.  Indeed, much of the advocacy for those public works came from political representatives on the North Shore, like Jack Davis – the kind of people who could never understand why people like them and their constituents should be stuck in traffic trying to get to or through Vancouver.
That hasn’t changed.  Which is why any conversation with North Shore advocates requires that they specify where their crossing proposal will land in Vancouver and what will happen then.

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