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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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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Google ‘Tumlin NIMBY’ or ‘Tumlin Santa Monica’, and you can see a little bit of the story arc.

An effective stage-setting for a dialogue earlier this month, in front of a small gathering at Gord’s West End apartment, with Jeff Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy for Nelson Nygaard.

One in a long-running series of Price Tags Soirées, and our first live audience recording, the chat included a Q&A with a few special guests well-known to #vanpoli followers.

Tumlin, raised in LA and happily transplanted to San Francisco via Stanford university in the late 1980’s, survived the recession of the early ’90s by (essentially) growing a branch of the transportation demand management tree — he was able to, over time, convert Stanford’s campus-wide parking into more money to support the implementation of a multi-modal transportation strategy.

Parking = $$$, and he turned it into a generous bankroll for university, and a career for himself with one of North America’s most-respected transportation consulting firms. He’s become an expert in helping communities move from discord to agreement about the future of transportation, and in the conversation you can hear he loves the challenge.  Calling inequity and privilege for what it is and, in the fight for public space, using compassion and humour to move forward.

True, he tacitly acknowledges, sometimes it doesn’t work, as with Santa Monica. But eventually his clients seem to get there, one way or another.

** Spoiler alert: North Shore policy and politics do indeed come up. Why do you think he was in town?

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It’s not a park, and, at least for buses, not very royal.  Nor for their riders, waiting in the rain:

 

This is the stop for all West Van buses heading east, north and south.  It’s really a slightly enlarged bus stop serving as a transit exchange, except without sidewalk capacity, real-time signage, adequate seating and overhead protection.  Forget any prospect of a washroom.

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In much of the commentary over the West Van B-line, there’s an oft-repeated assumption, articulated by our very own Thomas:

You obviously do not know many folks in NVan or WVan. Many would never take the bus (or a bike for that matter). That is why there is so much opposition to it.

Embedded in that assumption is this: North Shore residents live primarily in large single-family houses, on steep slopes, that were designed (and still are) car-dependent.  So pervasive is that narrative (and the argument that then follows: no need or desire for transit) that it requires a significant and wilful blindess to ignore all this:

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To appreciate West Vancouver, it helps to understand this map:

This is the region’s streetcar and interurban system at its peak around 1940.

 

Take a closer look at the North Shore portion:

 

Notice where the No 3 streetcar stops: at the Capilano River, the border with West Vancouver.  At that point, if you were heading further west, you’d switch to a Blue Bus, separately owned and operated by the district municipality since 1912 – reputed to be the first bus-only transit system in North America.  And though contracted with TransLink today, it still maintains a distinct identity.

Why isn’t it fully part of TransLink, you ask, given that routes and fares are otherwise integrated?  Frances Bula speculates: “I’d suggest that it’s attractive politically, as it reinforces the image of West Van as a place that’s a little special, set apart, and with superior municipal services.”  Frances is right: Blue Buses for blue bloods.

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