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density

MOVments: Design Futures

Re-designing from the bottom up: The City of Vancouver unveiled its new sign design for rezoning and development projects last week. The new simplified design is a response to the previous hard-to-read and overly technical signs. Meanwhile in other parts of the city, glitz and glamour are being favoured over simple design, with multi-million dollar homes and surreal hotels marking the horizon. And in Grandview-Woodland we have a radical new plan for redesign and redevelopment. This week we explore Vancouver's stylistic tendencies, ranging from the flashy and ornate, the clean and (not quite so) simple, to the contentious and complicated.

Luxury Living. The Vancouver Observer gives us a tongue-in-cheek take on the fanciest (and most expensive) houses in the city. And yes, those are home cinemas and private bowling alleys that you're seeing. In other multi-million dollar news, Trump Tower is coming to downtown Vancouver. The $360-million Georgia Street development will include a hotel complete with champagne lounge, spa, and banquet and conference centre. It's expected to be finished in summer 2016.

Clean Slate. On the other end of Georgia, removing the viaducts and streamlining the area between Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Downtown Eastside, is beginning to seem like a better, and better idea to many, including Mayor Gregor Robertson. As a recent report remarks, "In every city's evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps to advance the city's goals and livability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both."

Riding in Style. And for something that is perhaps neither simple or flashy, TransLink is shopping around various options for funding future upgrades to Metro Vancouver's transit system. One idea is road pricing, which could mean anything from bridge tolls to charges for drivers based on time of day or location. Could road pricing be the simplest, most elegant means of funding future transportation infrastructure or is it a complicated solution to an equally complicated problem? Your thoughts?

Decision-Making Style. It looks like Grandview-Woodland will be going through a drastic redesign. As Charles Campbell explains for The Tyee, "The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a radical remake of the area around the Broadway SkyTrain station: a possible 36-storey building on the Safeway site behind the station, towers up to 22 storeys in "transitional" zones including the area between 11th and 12th avenues near Commercial Drive, and more high-rises up to 26 storeys between Broadway and 7th towards Woodland." But for Campbell (and many others), the question remains: Who decides?

At the MOVeum:

June 26 - Upcycled Urbanism Volunteer Orientation night
July 6 - Curator’s Talk & Tour Foncie's Fotos w/ Joan Seidl
July 13 - Upcycled Urbanism: A Design+Build Project for Everyone - Granville Street Build Day

[Image: Expo 86 Georgia Viaduct and Saskatchewan pavilion, 2001. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.517]

MOVments: Meatless Mondays, Honouring Advocacy, and Highrise Woes

This week we explore traditions in the city: one that is just emerging, one that marks an end of an era, and one that is only just now being imagined. From a new annual tradition centered around not eating meat, to the legacy left behind by homeless advocate Judy Graves, to the potential impact and influence of high-rises at Oakridge, we're taking a step back for a broader view of a few current issues and events.
 
M.M. 2013. Vegetarians, you have a new holiday: the City has announced that June 10th will be Meatless Monday this year. But why go meat-free? As the Vancouver Food Policy Council explains, the day is connected to the city's commitment to its Greenest City Action Plan. By promoting a more moderate intake of meat the initiative is helping to advocate "for food systems that protect global resources and contribute to planetary health."
 
Judy Graves Honoured. There is no doubt that recently-retired advocate for the homeless, Judy Graves, left her mark on the minds and hearts of those who she worked for and with. Co-workers, politicians, and activists alike shared kind words and sweet memories at her recent retirement party. However, it is unclear whether Graves' legacy will continue with the hiring of a new homeless advocate by the City. 
 
Density Comes to Oakridge? Perhaps in the form of a 45-storey building? Some are all for it, arguing that the proposed rezoning and redevelopment of Oakridge Centre will revitalize the area. Others are wary of the lasting legacy of high-rises in their 'hood. Read this Georgia Straight piece for a fuller picture. 
 
Environmental Legacies. And finally, does BC's official opposition to the Enbridge pipeline mean that we can expect continued commitment to high environmental standards in the future? We sure hope so.  
 
At the MOVeum:


June 5 - Foncie's Fotos Opening Reception (for an in-depth look at the exhibit check out our post on VIA)

June 5 - MOV Annual General Meeting 

June 6 - Foncie's Fotos: Curator Talk & Tour w/Joan Seidl

June 19 - From Here to There: Stories of Food, Energy, and Transitioning to Resilient Communities 

 
[Image: Apartment buildings in Oakridge, 1978. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 780-276]

MOVments: Knowing Your Neighbourhood

This new series from Inside Vancouver inventorying Vancouver neighbourhoods got us thinking about what it means to live in a city with distinct, geographically and socially defined communities. But as this week's stories reveal, our neighbourhoods are also fluid, permeable, shared spaces. Read on for a look at close-quarter living in Surrey's new micro-lofts, the new neighbours being brought together at the revitalized Chinatown Night Market, and a potentially major shift to a very central neighbourhood: the VAG's possible move from Robson to Cambie. 
 
Micro Communities. Micro-suites that are being called "Canada's smallest ever condominums" are now up for sale in Surrey. The smallest units are 297 square feet and can include space-saving features such as murphy beds and built-in storage units for an extra cost. Speaking to the Province, Charan Sethi of Tien Sher developers, highlighted their shifting model for apartment living: "We have to start thinking about what the next generation wants...[They want] a pad of their own that they can call their home. They don’t entertain at home ... their dining room is actually restaurants.” Just how these tiny condos might affect the ways we interact with each other, inside and outside of them, remains to be seen.
 
Mixing it Up at the Night Market. Tannis Ling of Bao Bei restaurant and current managing director of the Chinatown Night Market has a new vision for the long-standing cultural institution. She hopes that by incorporating vintage clothing booths, Rain City Chronicle storytellers, hip hop karaoke, and other acts and vendors the summer market will attract a "wider demographic": “Chinatown is Chinese, but there’s so many different neighbourhoods in the area. There’s no reason why we should appeal to strictly a Chinese audience where there’s all those other kinds of people around.”
 
New Neighbours for the VAG? City Council is meeting with members of the public today regarding the potential move of the Vancouver Art Gallery to the corner of Cambie and Georgia, currently the site of a parking lot. There has been ongoing debate surrounding the move with critics skeptical of the gallery's ability to raise funds for the move and operation of the new building. For more information on the issue check out the complete recommendation report here. Whatever the outcome, using the site as anything other than a parking lot makes sense to us.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Chinatown Night Market, 2010. Photo by claydevoute via Flickr]

MOVments: Cohousing, Kingsgate Mall, and Predicting the Future

This week the Illustrated Vancouver blog posted an artist's vision of the Museum of Vancouver building from 1966. Of course when it actually opened in 1968, the museum looked just a little bit different. Unsurprisingly, Vancouver's landscape of shifting expectations is no less visible today. If we look around the city we can find plenty of predictions that haven't turned out quite as we'd anticipated. Read on for some contemporary adjustments to how we might be living, shopping, and doing business in the future.

 
Moving in Together. Chances are that most of us didn't expect to be living with roommates past our 20s (alright, maybe our early 30s). Even the word "roommate" can conjure up negative memories of messy bathrooms and passive aggressive notes. Well, Vancouver Cohousing is providing a different framework for shared living, one that incorporates values like sustainability, community building, and intergenerational bonding. As the Vancouver Courier reports, a cohousing fair last night (November 19) aimed to educate people about a living strategy which organizes separate units around a central shared space used as anything from a communal dining room to a playroom for children. There aren't any cohousing communities in Vancouver at the moment but it looks like we can definitely expect increased interest around the subject.
 
Kingsgate & The Class Divide. For years, what is arguably one of the weirdest malls in the city has provided an eclectic neighbourhood with an eclectic assortment of stores. Now with the new Rize development in the works across the street, Kingsgate Mall is set for redevelopment as a mixed use residential and commercial complex. It's clear that both developers and residents are anticipating a shift in the climate and culture of the neighbourhood, one very much connected to tricky issues of affordability and gentrification. For more on these contentious topics, The Atlantic Cities website recently put out a fascinating article exploring growing class division in the city. As the author Richard Florida suggests, our expectations of "Lotus Land" are quickly diverging from the lived reality: "Even the city widely recognized as the world’s "most livable" cannot escape the growing class polarization of our increasingly spiky and divided world."
 
Social Venture Award. Finally, two Vancouverites may be changing expectations around what it means to do business here. Carol Newell and Joel Solomon of Renewal Partners, a venture capital firm, have just been inducted into the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame. Newell and Solomon have invested in businesses like Happy Planet juices and the Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (SPUD) to fulfill their mandate of providing a seed fund for socially aware start-ups. Currently, their Renewal 2 Investment Fund is also giving out larger sums to companies like Seventh Generation, encouraging growth of already established businesses. Congrats, guys!
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Kingsgate Mall sign, 2007. Photo by Greg McMullen]

MOVments: Vancouver, All Shook Up

Ever since the ground literally moved under our feet this weekend, we, like the rest of the province, have been thinking about how we can prepare for potentially earth-shattering changes in the future. The earthquake off the coast of Haida Gwaii has had Vancouverites rushing out to get trained in emergency preparedness procedures but other potentially seismic changes also have city-dwellers stirred up. Read on for some examples of how we're gearing up for changes to our community gardens, the density of our neighbourhoods, and the availability of sustainable lumber products.
 
Community Gardens Threatened. The possible demolition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts may mean that Cottonwood and Strathcona community gardens could be displaced. This fascinating piece from The Mainlander looks at the history and social significance of the community gardens in the area and raises the issue of "eco-gentrification." As the article points out, condominiums co-opting the "language of sustainability" have begun creating their own community gardens. However, they often do so without offering the same socio-economic benefits that come from more democratic, grass-root projects.
 
Dense Districts. Two areas in the city are looking at major changes in the near future: Little Mountain and Grandview-Boundary. While highrises are being proposed for one section of the soon to be redeveloped Little Mountain area, residents in the area adjacent to the site are consulting about what new "ground-level townhomes and multi-family units" will look like in their neighbourhood. Meanwhile, city officials are looking for ways to fund infrastructure for a new high-density commercial zone at Grandview-Boundary. The former industrial area is in need of improved sewer systems, sidewalks, and bike lanes to serve residents living and working in an area that has attracted big businesses such as Bell and HSBC.
 
UBC Prof Makes Good (Wood). Like most of you, we here at MOVments had no idea what Lauan was (or why it's so bad) before reading this recent Globe and Mail article. It turns out that the wood used to make the majority of movie sets in North America does huge environmental damage in places like Southeast Asia. But UBC professor Garvin Eddy is helping to change that. He has had a hand in developing Oregan-produced ScenicPly which is sourced from sustainable forestry projects. Although it costs more, Eddy is confident that it will provide a viable and environmentally-responsible alternative: "It’s never going to be as cheap as Lauan. [But] if you’re going to use Lauan, why don’t you just go and hire a bunch of 10-year-old kids to work in the studios? Because it’s the same thing."
 
First World Car Problems. Oh, and this happened in Richmond recently. Sigh.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
[Image: Old Georgia Street viaduct, 1939. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 371-2242]

MOVments: Hipsters, Homelessness, and Hard Cash

This week we take a look at two prominent socio-economic groups in Vancouver, hipsters and the homeless, as well as the hubbub around the future of a downtown heritage site and an entrepreneurial experiment in Chinatown. What links these seemingly disparate stories together? Well, for one thing: money. Whether it takes the form of jobs/joblessness, government funding, the real estate market, or investment capital, cash (or lack thereof) is at the heart of MOVments this week. 
 
Get a Job (You Dirty Hipster). So by now you've probably seen or heard about the BC government's new, and by most accounts, misguided, "Hipster is not a full-time job campaign." The ads, which attempt to use humour to encourage young people to seek employment, have backfired according to a representative at the Canadian Federation of Students in B.C.: “It shows how this government is disconnected from reality when they insist there’s no money to invest in post-secondary and then they spend money telling us it’s all our fault.” The price tag for the campaign: a whopping $604,000. 
 
Public Perceptions of Homelessness. You've also probably heard about the Angus Reid survey that was published on October 4, which gauged the city's understanding of issues around homelessness. Notably, the survey revealed that one in four Vancouverites personally knows someone who is, or has been homeless. As well, more than half of the respondents viewed homelessness as a "major problem" in the city. However, when it came to stepping up with solutions in their own neighbourhoods, survey takers were a bit more evasive. The Globe and Mail chalks it up to our tendency towards NIMBYism. To get an idea of the complexity of the issues and what kind of activities took place during Homelessness Action Week, check out more of the media coverage here and here
 
"Taj Mahal with Elevators." The Canada Post building property is under threat of becoming the next site of “high-density, mixed-use residential development” downtown. The building, which Heritage Vancouver has put on its current "endangered sites" list, is valued by heritage advocates as a modernist landmark. However, as a recent report from the property broker states, "This site is one of the few remaining development properties that can accommodate large format retailers seeking locations in Vancouver’s downtown peninsula,” thus making it particularly attractive to developers. 
 
Big Innovation in Little China. Meanwhile, over in Chinatown, a new small business accelerator is helping local startups develop their products, marketing strategies, and well, just plain experiment. Devon from the Chinatown Experiment sums it up like this,"It’s a space for entrepreneurs to test run their ideas in a low cost/low risk environment. This manifests itself in the shape of retail pop ups, micro tradeshows and creative events. We are located at 434 Columbia St." As the Vancity Buzz piece explains, this little experiment is providing a real service in a city where high rents and cost of living can have prohibitive effects on small businesses. 
 
Budget Cuts to Coast Guard Stations. And finally, many are still mourning the closure of the Vancouver Coast Guard station. Proof? This poignant little film from The Tyee site.  
 
At the MOVeum:
 
[Image: View of the General Post Office at 349 West Georgia Street. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 780-56]

MOVments: Growing Up Fast

We here at the MOV just discovered that Vancouver has two of the 10 largest green roofs in the world. This article on the history and logistics of green rooftops got us thinking more broadly about our tendency towards stacking, extending, and expanding in the city. From condo culture to mall expansions, this week we're exploring the direction of growth in Vancouver, and more often than not, we're looking up, way up. 
 
Living in Isolation. It seems like we can hardly get through an instalment of MOVments without running up against the ever-present density debate. This week, Gordon Price's blog featured a fascinating segment of Walrus TV which compares contemporary condominium developments to what Northrope Frye described as the "garrison mentality" of isolated, early Canadian pioneer settlements. Necessary viewing for anyone interested in the cultural challenges of condo living. 
 
Rethinking Affordable Housing. The winners of the City's re:THINK Housing competition will be announced next week on July 30. The competition was designed to bring the general public together with architects, planners, and non-profits to discuss bold, creative, affordable housing solutions in Vancouver. With any luck, there will also be some ideas around how to combat the isolating effects of high-rise developments.
 
Growing Pains. There are some who think that crowd-sourcing won't be enough, and that Vancouver is at a planning turning point, in need of drastic (and de-politicized) change. Lance Berelowitz asks some tough but timely questions in this opinion piece about the direction of the City's planning strategies. As he says, "The city needs a forward-looking, comprehensive plan. We need to come to grips with what kind of city we want to be; with chronic housing unaffordability; with a city of increasing haves and have nots; with transit underfunding and transportation conflicts; with the challenges of intensifying our land uses and densifying our limited residential land base..." Definitely food for thought.
 
Mall City. Already one of the most successful shopping centres in Canada, Oakridge Mall at Cambie and 41st is set to expand upward and outward. A proposal has been made to develop the mall into a small city, complete with parks and community bike paths. Defying the trend of declining sales at American malls, Oakridge, with customers streaming in via the Canada Line, seems to be uniquely positioned to take on such a project. 
 
Stacking It. And finally, have you ever wondered about the story behind the towers of books and chaotic floor plan at MacLeod's Books? This profile on owner Don Stewart is a fantastic read. 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
[Image: Green Roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Photo by Harry2010]

MOVments: It's Complicated

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Kitsilano coast guard stationThis week MOVments gets messy. From dirty history to density wars, we've rounded up some of the complicated stories that make Vancouver so interesting. Read on for the nitty-gritty on Vancouver tourism, plywood protests, high-rise politics, and the logistics of bike sharing.

Vancouver's messy past. For many, Vancouver’s historical walking tours are how they come to know our city. Unsurprisingly, these tours often choose to focus on positive, uncomplicated aspects of Vancouver's past. Chances are if you take a city tour of Vancouver you won't be hearing much about the Komagata Maru or the 1907 Race Riots. In contrast, local tour guide, Jessica O'Neill, encourages tour-takers to tackle these difficult histories and argues that they make for more accurate, and ultimately more compelling tours.

The writing on the (plywood) wall(s). In a bit of synchronicity, plywood boards have recently gone up at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, just as MOV unveils its exhibit of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot boards. Scrawling comments like "Trading dollars for lives" on the plywood boards outside the Kitsilano office, locals have been expressing their outrage at the federal government's money-saving decision to close the search-and-rescue station.

Tower power. Are high-rise developments the solution to Vancouver's sky-rocketing real-estate prices? Harvard professor Edward Glaeser says yes. His main argument: building more high-density residences will ease the gentrification of middle-income neighbourhoods and decrease suburban sprawl. Sounds simple, but as we know, the reality is anything but. For more on this issue, read about former-mayor Sam Sullivan's new found respect for Vancouver's glass towers.

The politics of sharing. As we wait to hear who wins the bid to implement the city’s bike sharing system, Vancouverites are thinking about the dirty business of sharing bike helmets. In a city with a mandatory helmet law, some argue that the idea of sharing sweaty, germy helmets is what will doom the project to failure. Meanwhile over in Montreal, an independent helmet advocate is loaning and disinfecting helmets for free for BIXI users.

At the MOVeum:
June 15 - Is This Vancouver? Reflections on the 2011 Hockey Riot Boards
June 19 - Jane’s Walk Recap and Dialogue

[Image: Plywood boards outside the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Photo by Clive Camm]

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.

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