Programs

city planning

MOVments: gathered for change

#occupyvancouver dominates the news this week. Thousands of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Occupy Vancouver's first General Assembly on Saturday. Many people are prepared to camp out for some time, though the ban on staking tents to the ground and cooking with propane makes this more difficult.

The Tyee asks people why they have chosen to take to the streets.

We Day. Meanwhile, another gathering for change: as 18,000 youth participate in We Day, where Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers presented on the value of community service and youth engagement.

The Missing Women Inquiry is off to a rocky start with protests as several groups have chosen to not participate. Many groups are concerned that the lack of funding provided to advocacy groups for legal assistance for is a serious impediment to having their voices heard, and without their support for the process, it is uncertain whether the Inquiry will acheive its purpose.

Powwow. A huge powwow took place in the Downtown Eastside to honour First Nations elders.

Evelyn Lau was named Vancouver's next poet laureate in advance of the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference later this week.

Re:CONNECT challenges Vancouverites to reinvision the city's eastern core and viaducts as a vibrant space.

No more pictures. Jeff Wall laments the loss of photogenic buildings in Vancouver.

Local food. A few months after being featured in MOV's Home Grown exhibit, the Home Grow-In Grocery closed suddenly, taking customers' deposits with it. Now the store has reopened with new owners, who are trying to regain the trust of their customers while building our local food infrastructure.

Ethnic enclaves. Is it time for Vancouver to have a Pinoytown?

Image: Ariane Colenbrander

MOVments

Rethinking libraries. Surrey is leading the charge in the trend toward building libraries as places for gathering and education, rather than as stacks of books. In addition to this, the Surrey Public Library is launching a 'living books' service, where patrons will be able to take experts on a variety of subjects out for coffee and pick their brains.

Rising oceans. Cities generally prohibit the construction of buildings in areas that are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, but a new map of Vancouver shows that by 2100 many more areas will be at risk. The entire map can be found here.

Slowing down. A local non-profit shares a perspective from the Downtown Eastside about traffic calming along Hastings Street.

Making Vancouver better. Just ahead of the Design Thinking UnConference, urbanist and architecture critic Trevor Boddy shared some thoughts about making Vancouver a better place. Some issues he cites as areas for concern: the relative lack of office space and business activity in the downtown core, the segregation of social problems into areas such as the Downtown Eastside and the lack of debate over public space in the media.

Coach houses. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is looking for examples of old laneway houses to show that the idea is not entirely new to Vancouver.

Urban bees. Vancouver Magazine visits the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront where the director of housekeeping maintains six hives of honey bees.

Rubber sidewalk. The city engineering department has installed Vancouver's first rubber sidewalk. It's made from recycled materials and easier to walk on.

Car-free Robson. The Vancouver Public Space Network has launched a petition calling for Robson Square to be maintained as a pedestrian-only space.

Public art. Two public art projects at transit shelters aim to encourage people interact more with public space. Adorno and Nose encourages transit riders to whistle or sing while they're waiting for the bus and A Sign for the City dedicates each firing of the Nine O'clock Gun to a cultural event or historical figure.

Image: squeakymarmot via flickr.

MOVments

Hockey. The Vancouver Archives posted a neat photoset of historical hockey photos and Vancouver’s previous team to win the Stanley Cup: the Millionaires.

Public celebrations. Vancouver suburbs are experiencing challenges finding and creating public spaces for celebrating Stanley Cup games. With an eye to public space, are championship runs good for urbanism?

Online voting. The provincial government has denied the City of Vancouver’s request to allow online voting in this year’s municipal election.

FOI. A recent response to a freedom of information request reveals some negative attitudes towards journalists requests. Frances Bula weighs in with her experience contacting City staff.

Residential conversions. The real-estate market is so hot it’s pricing a lot of businesses and jobs out of Vancouver as land is converted to residential development. The latest losses - Avalon Dairy and the Hollywood Theatre and more industrial land.

Housing affordability. Here is the data that Bob Rennie was relying upon when last week he claimed that housing is not unaffordable in Vancouver, so you can draw your own conclusions.

Density. How do we go about densifying development around transit hubs? If we use the intersection at Broadway and Commercial as an example, it turns out there are lots of barriers.

Planning. What if we choose not to plan our urban spaces, let nature take it’s course and crowdsource solutions?

On Broadway. Stephen Rees provides a good overview of SFU City Programme’s Designing Broadway dialogue on May 30.

Safe injection. Another point in favour of Insite: a study shows that a similar facility in Montreal has not had any adverse effects on the neighbourhood it’s located in.

This week’s image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

MOVments

How the internet kills great neighbourhoods. More on the demise of Videomatica and other businesses that give our city character.

Viaducts. re:place continues it’s series about the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, focusing this week on the present condition of the structure and a photoessay.

Housing. Vancouver’s real estate is now more expensive than New York and London. A new wave of foreign investment and speculation is driving prices up again, and some fear that there aren’t enough high-paying jobs to support the prices.

Industrial Land. We’ve all heard about protecting farmland and the ALR but demand for housing has put industrial land and the jobs that go with it under threat too.

Olympic Village. The deficiencies are being worked on and the units are finally selling. The City has received it’s first payment from condo sales since taking over the project.

Urban gardens. The Vancouver Sun looks at a couple urban gardens and green spaces around Vancouver.

Urban dance. An SFU student is the recipient of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau scholarship for her interdisciplinary work studying the effects of public dance performance in urban spaces.

Tolls on local roads? It’s under consideration.

A pool at Pigeon Park?

Image: Eryne Donahue and Neil Fletcher via the Vancouver Observer.

MOVments

Expo 86 began this time 25 years ago. The Dependent remembers it’s first day.

Online voting. Vancouver city council approved a motion to allow online voting in the upcoming municipal elections. If approved by the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Vancouver will be the first municipality to allow online voting.

Videomatica. The Venerable film rental store, Videomatica will be closing shortly. Since 1983 the store has offered the widest selection of titles in Vancouver but has been suffering from competition from internet downloads. The owners are looking at finding a way to keep their collection available to the public in the future.

Ardea Books and Art is the latest indie bookstore to close.

Goodbye, W2 Storyeum. The Vancouver Film School has replaced W2 Community Arts as the tenants of the Storyeum building. During W2’s tenure the space hosted many arts and cultural events and will be missed in the local arts and culture community. W2 has now moved into it’s space in the Woodwards Building.

The last post. Derek Miller, author of the blog Penmachine succumbed to cancer this week. News of his passing reverberated across the blogosphere and his last post, aptly named “The last post” has had 8 million hits. He will be missed.

Architecture awards. Two buildings by the late Arthur Erickson have been awarded the prestigious Prix du XXe Siècle Award for ‘enduring excellence in Canadian architecture’.

Cambie Corridor. Stephen Rees looks at the difficult considerations surrounding increasing density around Canada Line stations while the Canada Line is already near capacity.

Image: gmcmullen via flickr

MOVments

 

City of glass. Sometimes loved, sometimes maligned, glass towers are cheap to build and make up most of the landscape in Vancouver. However, new building codes and concerns about energy efficiency and aesthetics are driving the evolution of these buildings.

No-fun city. Mark Lakeman from Portland’s City Repair Project says that risk-adverse planning is stifling free expression and citizen engagement.

Protest. Council passed a new bylaw regulating public protest this week, legislation that some argue will not stand up in court.

Ransack the toolbox. In search of solutions to the growing affordable housing problem in Vancouver.

No casino. After much public debate, the proposed Edgewater Casino expansion was voted down by Vancouver council, stating that a larger casino would not fit Vancouver’s brand.

Taller buildings in Chinatown. Council has approved height increases for buildings in Chinatown but some are still concerned about the potential for gentrification and real estate speculation to drive out low-income residents.

Aww, it’s a mini Vancouver Special!

Image: conceptDawg via flickr

Moving Through (Redux): 3 Locations, 3 Architects, 3 Planners.

On a bright and sunny Saturday morning in February, 75 Moving Through participants embarked on one of three architectural walking tours organized by MOV, as part of a multidisciplinary exploration of Vancouver's built environment, called "This is Not an Architectural Speaker's Series".  As some of you know, the groups were completely full, so not everyone was able to join.  The good news is, we recorded each walk, and the podcasts are now available for listening and download!

Listen: Moving Through Podcasts

Three concurrent walks and groups set out from Stadium/Chinatown Skytrain, Commercial/6th, and King Edward Stations, and joined together for lunch and an all-group  Q&A and wrap-up session lead by Gordon Price at SFU Woodwards.  Our intrepid guides report:

Mini-Walk A: The Path(s) Not Taken: Viaducts, Expressways, and Almost Vancouvers.

(*Guides: Vancouver Public Space Network, Michael Green, mgb architecture)

Most Vancouverites rarely spend any time in the parking lot across from Rogers Arena, but standing there looking up at the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, it is easy to feel like you've been transported to the overpass wasteland more typical of LA or Detroit.

Demian Rueter and Brandon Yan, transportation coordinators from the Vancouver Public Space Network and Michael Green of mgb architecture have thought a lot about these overpasses and about what could have been if the downtown freeway started in the early 1970s had been completed. Walking through Gastown, it is easy to see what would have been lost. The European style streetscape that was jeered for so long as a tourist trap left behind by Expo 86 has become in recent years a dependably fun spot for a night out and home to some of the city's best restaurants. If the freeway had been built, not only would this be lost, but also large chunks of Strathcona and Chinatown. By passionately opposing this plan, the residents of these neighbourhoods prevented this plan from occurring. A widely forgotten casualty of the project was Hogan's Alley, the neighbourhood Vancouver's Black community called home.

When we start to think about these great neighbourhoods surrounding the viaducts, it's easy to imagine that parking lot becoming something really exciting if the viaducts were to come down.

Mini-Walk B: Speed and the Shape of the City: Vancouver’s Evolving Transitscapes

(*Guides: Andrew Curran/Translink & Graham McGarva, VIA Architecture)

Graham McCarva sees transit stations differently than most people. Graham was the lead architect behind Commercial/Broadway station, it is informative to walk with him through the station and surrounding neighbourhood. "A subway station is a place to buy flowers," he told us, a place where everyone should feel comfortable walking past at any hour. This idea informed the of this station, which responded to neighbourhood concerns of unsavoury characters commanding the intersection. Previously the location of the busiest pay phone in the region, it is now home to the busiest Shopper's Drug Mart. The main action on the Drive used to be north of 1st Ave, but since the station was renovated the neighbourhood has grown right down to 12th Ave.

Andrew Curran, senior planner at Translink, introduced the concept of Marchetti's Constant, and helped put the station into historical perspective, explaining that this, the highest traffic station in the system, serves the same function as did the former streetcar station (now a post office) at 6th and Commercial. Like the streetcar station before it, Commercial/Broadway Station connects two suburban lines to lines bound for Downtown (and UBC), moving thousands of people each day.

Andrew and Graham sparked many questions among the group, making the ride to SFU Woodwards a lively one. We were better able to see the role that transit has played in the development of the lower mainland, and puzzle over the role that the Canada Line and other future lines will play in the area's ongoing growth.

Mini-Walk C: Evolution in Station-Area Planning the Cambie Corridor

(*Guides: Jim Bailey, City of Vancouver & Peeroj Thakre, pH5 architecture & Urban Republic Arts Society)

Tucked beneath the streets at King Edward Skytrain station, Jim Bailey, senior planner for the City of Vancouver's Cambie Corridor Station Area Planning project, led us through an engaging discussion about this interesting, and perhaps under-discussed area of Vancouver. Ranging from the Cambie Village to Marine Drive, Bailey divides the area into 5 Precincts, suggesting each has room for development of a unique character and livelihood. However, while single family homes are currently at a market value of $1.5million near King Ed station, it is clear that increased density will be necessary for more affordable living situations. As we walked through the laneways surrounding the station, Peeroj and Jim discussed with the group, how optimizing transit, cycling, and walking opportunities, as well as increasing public amenities, and opportunities for community engagement will be key for the future of the Cambie Corridor.

See the Moving Through photoset here.

MOVments

The changing face of commercial space. Across North America, developers and planners are taking aim at shopping malls, tearing up parking lots to build housing, big box stores are moving downtown and suburban shopping centres are urbanizing. An article in the Globe and Mail looks at some current redevelopment proposals for shopping centres around Vancouver.

In Whalley, the strip malls are coming down and being replaced with highrises and municipal buildings as Surrey tries to build a new city centreRichmond is densifying too.

Casino. Paragon is seeking changes to legislations that place limits on the amount of money that can be carried into BC casinos without a Canadian bank account. They would like the province to allow casino patrons to be able to wire money directly from foreign bank accounts. But there are concerns about money laundering.

Other municipalities are concerned that a larger downtown casino will pull patrons away from the suburban casinos they rely upon for tax revenue.

The public hearing is tonight at City Hall. Should be interesting, because there are so many people signed up to speak.

Traffic. A couple weeks ago it was announced that the traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge was far less trafficked than TransLink had hoped, and was losing money as a result. Now it seems like traffic is falling short of what was predicted all down the coast. So what does that mean for new infrastructure projects like the Port Mann?

Vancouver, do you know where your children are? Census data says they’re not downtown.

Tent city returns. Housing activists are setting up again to protest the City’s lack of commitment to social housing at the Olympic Village.

The elms of East 6th may be coming down soon. They’re getting old and difficult to maintain, and the park board wants to replace them with smaller trees. Doing so will permanently alter the streetscape, something that some residents really don’t want to see.

Komagata Maru. Coming soon, a new monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru, a ship of Punjabi immigrants that was forced to return to India in 1914.
 

Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.

MOVments

 

Homes and books. Housing advocates are urging the city to consider including social housing in a new library branch that is to be constructed on East Hastings.

Opsal Steel. Two towers are planned for the Opsal Steel site south of False Creek. The 90 year old building is one of the best remaining examples of west coast early industrial architecture. The plan calls for portions of the original building to be saved. The building was listed as one of Heritage Vancouver’s Top Ten Endangered Sites in 2001 and 2002.
Viaducts. Anthony Perl, director of urban studies at SFU, wants to tear down Vancouver’s viaducts. He says the land is better suited for social housing and other projects and represents a huge unmet potential.

Bike lanes. City Caucus looks at why separated bike lanes are so controversial in Vancouver and elsewhere.

Salmon. Scientists now believe that the unusually large salmon run this year was caused by the eruption of the Katsatochi Volcano in 2008, which led to a greater amount of phytoplankton in the water for the fish to feed on.

Meanwhile, the Cohen commission is still looking for answers as to why last year’s salmon run was so small and debate continues regarding how best to promote biodiversity without harming the fishing industry.

Local food infrastructure. In their ongoing series searching for solutions for fostering a local sustainable food system, The Tyee looks at Mennonite produce cooperatives and auction houses in Ontario.

Image credit: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier

“Vancouverism”: the concept, the export and now, the MOV cycling tour

This Saturday, the Museum begins an eight-week run of cycling tours that examine the term “Vancouverism”—that mixture of urban design, architecture, and city planning that this city has become known for globally. Vancouverism encompasses everything from the architectural vision of the late Arthur Erickson, to green-glass towers that dot the north shore of False Creek, to developer-funded public parks and schools.

Where did the term originate? Best guesses indicate it came from architects and city planners who visited Vancouver in the 1990s and were inspired by its success luring people back downtown. A decade or so later, Vancouverism has become a political ideology, a lifestyle, and an export (see Dubai, San Diego, Toronto, and Seattle). It has also become a success story: Vancouver has more than doubled its downtown population in the past two decades, bucking the trend of many other cities.

The MOV tours deconstruct “Vancouverism” by looking at the term in practice, and the people behind the major examples. It starts at the Museum, crosses over the Burrard Street Bridge into the West End, then wraps around False Creek to Yaletown, Southeast False Creek (the site of Vancouverism 2.0), False Creek South, and back to the Museum. Our Velo-City exhibit is a fitting conclusion, exploring similar themes of livability and progressive city planning.

We hope you can join the conversation. Click here to register.

Image credit: Kenny Louie

Subscribe to city planning