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Idea Sharing: Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy

April 24, 2014

From the City of Vancouver:

This morning we launched our “Talk Healthy City for All” engagement process for the Healthy City Strategy. Please share your bold and innovative ideas for reaching the Strategy’s targets over the next decade – on our online forum, through social media, at in-person ideas labs, or by hosting your own event.


Healthy City


Visit for more details – watch the video, check out the goals and targets, sign up for a SoapBox account and start posting your best and boldest ideas (and vote, comment and add to others). City staff and the Healthy City for All Leadership Table will be listening.

Plus, you could win a chance to discuss your idea with local and global social innovators at the Social Innovation Exchange Ideas Festival on May 30, or learn additional skills to turn your idea into action with a scholarship to attend the THNK Creative Leadership workshop hosted by FUEL on May 30!

Any questions? Contact us at


Next Generation Transportation: The BAU/ST Dichotomy

April 24, 2014

Never heard of the BAU/ST Dichotomy?

That’s probably because we just coined the term.  And by “we” I mean the participants* in the SFU City Program’s new online course on ‘Next Generation Transportation.”  (There’s an information session on Apr 30 for the next opening, see below).

So what is it?  Technically, it’s the split or conflict between ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) and ‘Sustainable Transportation’ (ST) in the development of our urban environment and transportation systems – as described by Preston Schiller, Eric Bruun and Jeff Kenworthy in “A Highly Mobile Planet and Its Challenges: Auto Dependence, Equity, and Inequity.”

Many of the participants in the course have personal experience of the dichotomy in action when describing the situation in their respective cities:

  • The City talks a good game … (but)  is having a hard time progressing toward ST.
  • There is a huge disconnect between policy (which is very ST focused) and provision (still far too much BAU).
  • The concepts of Sustainable Transportation are frequently cited as objectives for the city and other local governments but the reality is much more business as usual.
  • The planners and staff understand and believe in the concepts of sustainable transportation, but the majority of politicians and the public do not.
  • I also see a disconnect between the increasing implementation of ST in the city core but very much continuing BAU on the periphery.

Here’s an example from Auckland, where the City on one hand is making a significant commitment to ‘Shared Streets’ in the core:



While in more suburban parts of the City, it’s BAU on a big scale:



And of course that’s true in the Vancouver region – perhaps even more dramatically here than in other places.  For instance, the City of Vancouver is making (often controversial) progress towards complete streets:



While out in the region, the Province is shaping Motordom by Default with its multi-billion-dollar commitments to the Gateway Projects:

DSC04171 .

One of the participants provides an example from Calgary of the difference when expressed financially:

In Calgary, like many places, there is a gap between policy and practice. The Municipal Development Plan and the Calgary Transportation Plan clearly state that “sustainable modes of transportation should be emphasized where they can provide convenient and realistic travel choices”.

At the same time, the magnitude of debate surrounding the potential approval of a $11 million pilot for the Centre City Cycle Track Network while the completion of the Southwest Ring Road will cost an additional $5 billion is a testament to the how difficult it can be to shift to Sustainable Transportation in a city that has been (mostly) developing in a Business as Usual manner for decades.

The BAU/ST Dichotomy may be the major challenge facing those who see the need to shift resources to fulfil the commitments stated in the plans - but not in the budgets.

If PT readers have their own examples, send them in, preferably with images or links.  The more contrasty, the better.  And if you think you have a better word or phrase to describe the BSD, let us know.


* In particular, Canisius Chan, who came up with the phrase.


SFU City Program: Information Sessions – Apr 30

April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 30: Information Session – SFU’s Next-Generation Transportation Certificate

Time: 6-8pm Place: Rm. 2200, Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St. Cost: Free, register

Looking at today’s needs as well as five years into the future, next-generation transportation aims for solutions that, by working across disciplines, support community resilience in the face of uncertainty and change. Our new online certificate program, consisting of four courses, is designed to help mid-career professionals use next-generation transportation strategies to advance livable and sustainable cities of the future. Attend the info session to learn more.



Thursday, April 30: Information Session – SFU’s Urban Design and Sustainable Community Development

Time: 6-8pm Place: Rm. 1520, Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St. Cost: Free, register

Taught by renowned practitioners and industry leaders, these programs will equip mid-career professionals with the right tools to create positive changes in their communities.  Our hands-on programs feature eight two- and three-day intensive courses. Participants work through the courses over 10-18 months with a group of peers—a cohort—sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas in a multidisciplinary context.

Film Festival: Projecting Change – Apr 24-27

April 24, 2014

Projecting Change Film Festival 2014

April 24-27
Time: Various times
Place: Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings St.
Cost: Various costs, details

The Projecting Change Film Festival (PCFF) is a forum for Docs and Dialogue that has sparks curiosity, inspires conversation, and develops ambassadors for change within our communities. The festival was launched in 2007 and features eye-opening and often award-winning films from around the globe. A dynamic speaker or panel discussion follows each film. The unique festival format is a platform for audience engagement, with all proceeds donated back to local initiatives

Full schedule can be found here.

Recommended – Apr 26:

WatermarkWatermark is a feature documentary from multiple-award winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, marking their second collaboration after Manufactured Landscapes in 2006. The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use.  …  Shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows water as a terraforming element, as well as the magnitude of our need and use. In Watermark, the viewer is immersed in a magnificent force of nature that we all too often take for granted- until it’s gone.

Winner of Best Canadian Documentary at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards

Click to watch the Watermark Trailer

Vancouver Diary: ‘Ah, Spring’ public service announcement

April 24, 2014

From my seawall-riding observer, Dianna:


Heads up on the seawall, riders! It’s spring, which means everyone in Vancouver it seems has knocked the cobwebs off their bikes and they’re all on the seawall. It’s their first two wheeled outing since last fall, so they’re a bit wobbly, and too busy remembering how to shift and brake to ride predictably.

Not to mention after many months of cold rain the glorious pink cherry blossoms and yellow whatever-they-are bushes compete for attention so there’s much unexpected stopping and starting.

Plus, it seems like lots of folks have recently fallen in love and when they ride together can only look at each other, not where they’re going.



Not to worry. All this chaos will settle down in a few months when we’re a bit more experienced and sunny days are the norm. But in the meantime, heads up, friends! And use your bell.


???????????????????????????????Update: On the seawall today I have good reason for hope. Two little ones, maybe six and her younger brother, had ridden ahead of mom with two other youngsters. What did they do while they waited for the other? They pulled off the cycle track onto the grass.

That’s right. Someone has clearly invested time in training these tiny riders.

Subject to Interpretation: The Environment Minister’s Earth Day Statement

April 23, 2014

Neil Salmond picked up on this: Environment Minister Mary Polak’s Earth Day Statement - with, he says, the sneaky rhetoric (in bold).

Earth Day is a time to not only reflect on and appreciate British Columbia’s natural splendour, but to also consider the role we want our province to take in the global climate challenge.

British Columbia has a deserved reputation as a climate action leader. Our revenue-neutral carbon tax and our status as a carbon-neutral government are just two of our well-documented climate achievements. In terms of government action, those accomplishments were ground breaking and have since been emulated by other jurisdictions.

But, though only less than a decade old, they were also conceived in a different time – in a time before the worst economic recession in generations touched the entire world, and in a time before we could imagine how clean natural gas could revolutionize the global fight against climate change.

Is this “buttering up readers for the end of the carbon tax”?

Neil is not alone:

It was renewables lawyer Warren Brazier that spotted it first – here. And UBC’s George Hoberg - here – and Edmonton Energy Economist Andrew Leach - here - agreed.


The optimist’s counterpoint points to the Pacific Coast Collaborative at the end of last year – here – and this trumpeting in March - here.


One thing for sure, it’s another example of doublespeak: We will address climate change by burning more fossil fuels.

Our proven track record of climate leadership and our unwavering commitment to sustainable economic growth will also guide the development of B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry. Climate change is a global issue. By exporting our abundant natural gas, B.C. will supply growing markets with the cleanest burning fossil fuel from the world’s cleanest LNG plants.

It’s certainly an example of how “sustainable” becomes a totally co-opted word when used next to “economic growth.”

Sam Sullivan’s 19th Public Salon – May 14

April 23, 2014

Sam Sullivan’s 19th Public Salon is at the Vancouver Playhouse next month: Eight remarkable people from your community have seven minutes each to challenge the way you think. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Vancouver Playhouse

9:00 to 10:00 pm please join the presenters for a Post-Salon Reception

Purchase Your Tickets Online
  • Omer Arbel, designer of the Olympic 2010 medals is pioneering a new relationship between designer and object.
  • Jack Austin, Former Senator and Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on the next frontier.
  • Christopher Gaze, founder of Bard on the Beach makes Shakespeare relevant to the modern age.
  • Tasha Guenther turns her frightening experience with eating disorder into a greater understanding of society.
  • Shimi Kang a Harvard educated mother and author challenges the myth of the tiger mom.
  • Sarah Maitland gets disadvantaged youth excited about literacy.
  • Lauren Mote wants more people to know that Vancouver is a world centre for cocktails.
  • Ben Sparrow a young inventor is leading Vancouver into the new economy.

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