This week in MOVments we celebrate the season of colds, flus, and general respiratory discomfort with a selection of news related to that ever-annoying winter symptom: congestion. Whether implementing tools to relieve overcrowded transit systems, promoting creative congregations in public space, or consolidating civic institutions the issues are the same; the city is challenging itself to bring people together while facilitating their fast and efficient movement through space.
Port Mann Progress. Landmark progress has been made in speedy inter-urban travel with the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge on Saturday, December 1. But while the eight new lanes look like they're providing faster commute times for many, ongoing construction on the westside of the bridge continues to cause considerable delays for others. Another minor glitch? An express bus, the first public transit to cross the bridge in over two decades, currently only has stops in Langley and New Westminster, leaving Surrey out of the loop. This understandably has some Surrey residents bent out of shape, not the least of whom is Mayor Dianne Watts who is pushing for a Surrey stop in place of upgrades to an existing exchange hub.
Billion Dollar Ride on Broadway. In other transit news, the city has unveiled a proposal for a subway system along what is currently the busiest bus route in North America, the 99 B-Line. As the Vancouver Sun reports, the seemingly endless line ups associated with the 99 could be a thing of the past if funding can be found for the 2.8 billion dollar project. With the memory of the Canada Line construction in mind, city officials are hoping that by running the proposed system underground problems such as restrictions on turning and loss of trees and parking along the corridor could be effectively avoided.
Block 51 Revisited. Last week we were lamenting the proposed reopening of Block 51 to traffic and with it, the loss of a dynamic, innovative place for Vancouverites to congregate in the downtown core. As the Vancouver Public Space Network reported recently, Vancouver City Council has confirmed that it will allow traffic through the block again until a more comprehensive plan can be made. As the article points out, it's hard to ignore the results of a recent survey that showed tremendous public support for a permanent public square in area. The city seems to be committed to conducting research on the best solutions to traffic problems related to permanently closing the block, with city staff agreeing to report back to Council with findings before summer 2013. Fingers crossed.
Number Crunching. For any of you who wanted detailed numbers on how many staff the city employs (or for that matter, how many old mattresses city garbage workers picked up last year), you've finally got your chance. The city has just released a 177-page budget that offers a wealth of information regarding services, income, and expenditures. Notable for the heritage-minded, the document contains a money-saving proposal for consolidating the historical photographs in the City Archives and Vancouver Public Library's collections into one location. As Frances Bula reports, "The city is reviewing the overlap between the two collections and looking at whether some or all of the archives, possibly the photographs, could be moved to the central [library] branch."
At the MOVeum:
[Image: UBC bus stop. Photo courtesy of Tony Chang]
The way we envision, project, and ultimately imagine a community into being is immensely powerful (just ask Benedict Anderson). This week we're looking at how Vancouver is being shaped by our imaginings and ideas (or in some cases lack thereof) around streetscapes, public space, transit routes, and Aboriginal education.
Civic Bling. Have you ever tried to imagine what East Hastings might look like with more bike racks, trees, and street furniture? With Blockee, a new web-based app, you can redesign it completely using images taken from Google Street View. It's a pretty fun little project put out by Code for America, but as OpenFile reports, there are more serious applications. For example: with 150,000 more trees to be planted in Vancouver over the next eight years, OpenFile produced a greened up, and blinged out, vision for Hastings between Dunlevy and Gore, an area which has long been conspicuously free of greenery.
Reimagining Public Space. GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab have announced the winners of their 2012 Transform a Public Place competition. With over 120 submissions proposing innovative ways of making public space more comfortable, Vancouver's own Rodrigo Caula was awarded one of the top five spots. His team's Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project converted a 205-year-old fallen tree into a public bench that is currently being displayed on Granville Island. As he says, "...Our intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources." Woot! Go Vancouver!
At the MOVeum:
Vancouver vs. Vancouverism. Last week Bob Ransford asked Vancouver Sun readers to rethink the practicality of what is commonly known as Vancouverism architecture. He argues that the tendency toward building high-density, glass high-rises, actually prevents more innovative, people-based designs from springing up. As his interviewee, architect Gair Williamson, suggests, "The trouble with architecture in Vancouver is that many architects are failing to look at the substance of how people inhabit buildings. They’re looking at how buildings appear. It’s about style over substance." In this context, dear MOVers, what do you think of the new proposal for development of 2220 Kingsway by Henriquez Partners Architects? Does this represent the future of our neighborhood strips? Of Vancouverism? Is it more stylish than substantive? (5 points per question)
At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold
[Image: Brockton Point 18th Annual Inter High School Sports programme, c. 1929. From the MOV Collections H2008.23.437]
New years resolution? Maybe do go for that jog and get your bum muscles prepared for some cycle commuting. Seems BC transit wants to increase our already ridiculously high bus fare rates, while elsewhere, innovative small businesses are figuring out ways to implement a bike sharing system in Vancouver that is conducive to our mandatory helmet laws.
Or – you can just take your laughs while you still can, and ride around public transit with your pants off until they listen!
It might even help you swing some romance in the so-called ‘cruel’ dating world of Vancouver. A recent article in VanMag has facebook and twitter alight with cat vs. dog understandings of what it’s like to find love in the city of glass. Reminds me of those videos we made a few years back citing the MOV as the perfect place for a date. What are your thoughts?
Up North, BC First Nations in Kitimaat Village, Hartley Bay, The Dogwood Initiative, and other so called “radical environmentalists” (as named by the Tories this week), are standing up for the future of their communities and the environment by participating loudly in the Northern Gateway hearings.
Down to the lower mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health is strongly considering the addition of supervised injection services at a number of its clinics.
At the MOVeum: Come check out Neon Vancouver/ Ugly Vancouver!
(photo credit: B.C. Electric files at the Vancouver Archives.)
Bike lanes. A new study about the impact of the bike lanes on business finds that while there has been a decrease in business along the routes, losses are not as bad as the figure often cited. At the same time, ridership continues to grow. Gordon Price has a round-up of a lot of the commentary this week.
Housing. The City of Vancouver released an ambitious 10 year plan to end street homelessness, calling for the creation of 38,900 new housing units by 2021.
Viaducts. After much talk and proposals about what to do with the viaducts, the City is looking for public input.
Civic arts. Councillor Heather Deal wants to create a central committee to oversee the city's 2008 cultural plan. Currently there are multiple smaller committees working on different aspects related to culture but communication is an issue.
Clarifying transit. An Emily Carr grad has redesigned the Metro Vancouver transit map to make it clearer and easier on the eye and more like the London tube map.
Drinking and driving. With the tightening of drinking and driving laws, some are asking why Vancouver still requires bars to provide so much parking space. Could that space be used for something else?
Hidden floors. Scout looks at the so-called "cheater storeys" in Chinatown's architecture.
Fading history. Open File looks at efforts to document and preserve faded "ghost signs" in Vancouver and reveals that often nothing is done. So make sure you photograph your favourites!
Riot aftermath. WorkSafeBC is now receiving claims of post-traumatic stress from people working during the riots.
Gordon Price asks whether the City should be spending money to promote professional sports like hockey over other arts and cultural events, and who benefits.
The Bulkhead Project is an open, food-producing garden on False Creek.
Image: framestealer, via flickr
Cycling. Translink has released it's regional cycling strategy meant to encourage cycling and make it safer. Good thing, too, because safety is one of the major concerns that keep women in particular off the roads.
Evergreen line. Negotiations to build the Evergreen Line took a huge step forward when Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour of increasing the gas tax to pay for it. Spacing explores other sources of funds for a cash-strapped Translink.
Shoebox living. A new development under construction features 270 square foot condos. Is that even livable? Well, Gordon Price made it work in the 90s. But in spite of their size, these units aren't as affordable as you'd think.
Status quo. While the city develops around it, the West End has remained more or less the same.
Olympic Village. While many of the housing units at the Olympic Village are still empty, businesses are slowly starting to open.
The dark side of 100 mile. An exhibit on right now at W2 Media Cafe shows the unsavoury side of local food - the exploitation of new immigrants and temporary foreign workers who work on farms in the Fraser Valley. It's an issue also covered in our Bhangra.me exhibit on display right now at MOV. If you have the chance you should come down and check it out!
Public square. Gordon Price wants to get rid of the fountain in front of the art gallery to turn the space into a proper gathering area.
Crime. Did you know that Vancouver is the bank robbery capital of Canada?
Image: LastGreatRoadTrip, via flickr.
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.
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.