Vancouver Deputy Mayor Heather Deal has a number of portfolios – usually all the ways to make sure our City is becoming delightful – including Arts & Culture. She is passionate about the topic and a Councillor Liaison to the Arts & Culture Policy Council so I asked her to tell me more. She shared stories about her conversations with Vancouverites on public art. 1. Poodle on a Stick

Poodle (no official name) by Gisele Amantea got negative media when someone from the area complained that Main Street isn’t a poodle neighbourhood. Which is awesome because public art got people talking about the identity of their neighbourhood.

There were also complaints about cost and it not being a local artist (both based on inaccurate reporting).

(TP note: How many of our public art pieces have their own Twitter account? Follow @MainStPoodle)

When people complain to me about the poodle, I ask them what piece of public art they do like.

2. A-mazing Laughter

9/10 answer: A-mazing Laughter at English Bay – a Vancouver Biennale piece. So I ask them 3 questions about it:

Does it reflect the West End?

How much did cost?

Where is the artist from?

No one can answer that. Not one person to date.

(TP: I was able to answer all 3 – including who negotiated the counteroffer and donated it.)

3. The Third Piece

Then I ask for opinions about a third piece of public art. Very few can name one. Some come up with Myfanwy MacLeod’s The Birds in Olympic Village.

Some can name Giants by OSGEMEOS on Granville Island – another biennale piece from an international artist team.

4. I love it when people talk about our city.

Art is a great place to start that conversation. Learn about the hundreds of pieces of public art in Vancouver at the City’s website here.

5. Notice art.

Think about whether you like it or don’t. Look it up and learn about the artist and their inspiration.

Did you know that the poodle was made by an artist living in the region at the time and that it was inspired by the antique shops on Main Street? (TP: I had no idea.)

We also want to encourage people to think about what they like and want in public spaces such as art (murals, pieces, etc.) and what type of programmed space, festivals, and unprogrammed squares or plazas they’d like.

Ask yourself: Do you want to be entertained? Amused? Challenged?

Reminded of something in our history, negative or positive?

Awed? Do you want to be able to interact with it?

Does it compel you to take a selfie with it?

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Jane Jacobs, urbanist and author, believed in walkable neighbourhoods, urban literacy, and cities planned by and for everybody.

We celebrate Jane’s birthday every year by leading and tagging along on Jane’s Walks. You create a walking tour of an area you’d like to talk about or celebrate and people sign up for it. It’s less of a lecture and more of a walking conversation. Leaders share their knowledge, but also encourage discussion and participation among the walkers. The whole thing is free.
It could also be a jogging tour or a bicycling tour or a skateboarding tour…
The one hour orientation session is Monday April 25 from 5:30-6:30pm at the Mount Pleasant Community Library.
Jane’s Walks, now in its 9th year, are held Friday-Sunday, May 6, 7, or 8 in 2016.

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Well, that didn’t take long.

Just over a month ago – in a post titled How Motordom Works: Promoting the Next Big Project – I predicted that the next stage of Motordom (the commitment to car-dependent urban planning and transportation) would be the construction of another multi-billion-dollar bridge over the Fraser at No. 8 Road, connecting to Boundary Road.

However, when the Premier announced the go-ahead of the Massey Bridge, she ruled out such an alternative structure.  My comment: Motordom doesn’t give up easily.

Less than a fortnight later, from the Georgia Straight:

Delta’s real-estate market could be set to boom

With a new bridge, Delta could be the next prime real-estate location, says an industry analyst. …

Delta realtor Dean Bauck’s credentials include a diploma in urban land economics. Because of his interest in urban planning, he’s a little disappointed about the decision to build only one bridge.

Bauck explained that this measure will just pour more traffic toward Vancouver’s Oak Street Bridge.

He said he would have preferred dispersing the stream. This would involve twinning the Alex Fraser Bridge and building two new bridges connecting Richmond to Vancouver. One of these would go to Boundary Road, a thoroughfare shared by Vancouver and Burnaby; the other would connect to Main Street in Vancouver.

According to Bauck, shorter commute times translate to savings in gas, time, and opportunity costs. As a result, potential buyers will be prepared to pay more for houses in Delta.

At least they’re upfront about it.  Clearly, it’s fair to say that the regional vision is under threat.

Since the 1950s there have been four elements to every plan collectively agreed on by the local leaders of Metro Vancouver and its predecessors:

  • A compact region
  • ‘Complete’ communities (or town centres)
  • More transportation choices (particularly rapid transit)
  • The green zone (largely the ALR, or Agricultural Land Reserve)

Sustainability, both environmental and economic, has subsequently been added.

Each of these foundations could well crumble in the next few years.

  • The ALR is under review.
  • The transit referendum is likely to put transit expansion at risk.
  • With the announcement of the Massey Bridge, there is a further commitment to massive road infrastructure, resulting in more vehicle-dependence of the fast-growing parts of the region – with more to come (see above) – and the extension of post-war-style sprawl (see Tsawwassen Mills).
  • Sustainability is being replaced with a ‘carbon-transmission’ economic strategy – oil, coal, bitumen and LNG – accompanied by a de-facto  abandonment of goals for greenhouse-gas reductions.

If it all happens, the regional plan is irrelevant and the vision is as good as dead.

This is potentially as dramatic a turning point for Metro Vancouver as any in its history – greater, indeed, than the freeway fight.  And if the worst unfolds, this generation would be responsible for losing the greatest legacy of the previous generation of local leaders: one hopeful place on the planet where foresight and planning had seemed to make a difference.

The fight to save that vision, however, is just beginning.

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Vancouver historian Chuck Davis attended that last “Paradise Makers” – the SFU City Program interview series with decision-makers from the past – and was impressed enough to document the evening.  Here’s his report, which he’ll also post on his website,

There was no more significant year for Vancouver than 1972, says Gordon Price. That was confirmed on Friday, September 5, at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University when we heard, among other things, that “Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick changed the direction of the city.”

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