Pattullo: A question for Andrew Wilkinson

From the CBC:

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson questioned why the provincial government couldn’t get federal funding for the Pattullo Bridge replacement as well.

“Normally major infrastructure projects have a large component of federal financing. So we have to be concerned that B.C. rushed into this alone, and missed out on almost a half billion dollars of federal infrastructure funding,” he said.


Do tell us how much the federal government had committed to the Massey crossing when it was pulled out of the air by Premier Clark in 2013.  Or whether in subsequent years the Feds ever committed a loonie to its construction.

And while you’re at it, please explain:

  • What regional plan included the construction of Massey?
  • How many Metro mayors in the region supported it?
  • What provincial transportation plan prioritized it?
  • Why the previous transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, had rejected it as a pointless project?
  • Why the Liberals imposed a referendum requirement only for transit and not for Massey or any other major highway project?

Do tell.


Ride-Hailing Report – Critical Recommendation #13



Lots of coverage of the legislative committee’s report on ride-hailing:

But this recommendation shouldn’t be missed:

The Committee recommends to the Legislative Assembly that the provincial government:

13. Require transportation network companies to provide data to government for monitoring purposes, including but not limited to: wait times; trip lengths; trip start and end locations; trip start and end times; accessible vehicle trip statistics; trip refusals; trip fares; drivers’ hours and earnings; driver and passenger demographics; and consider extending this requirement to the taxi industry.


It is critical that this data-provision requirement be put in place before the arrival of ‘Transportation Network Companies’ like Uber.  They argue, after all, that they are not actually transportation companies, but instead the providers of apps, marketing, branding and information to independent contractors.  Their product is in fact their data.  Of course they would want to keep it proprietorial.

That in turn means power – power to control and manage part if not eventually all of the transportation system.  If the public sector does not establish who is actually running the show – and has the information it needs to do so – then the power shifts to the TNCs and we are entering a very different world.  And not a nice one.



The Future of Work in Canada

From SFU Public Square:

The Future of Work in Canada: Emerging Trends and Opportunities

On February 26, join us for our mini-conference, presented in partnership with Deloitte Canada, bringing together global business leaders in panel discussions and presentations.

Opening the day will be two future-proofed presentations by Stephen Harrington, Senior Manager, Talent Strategies, Human Capital of DeloitteCanada, and Sarah Doyle, Director of Policy and Research at Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This will be followed by a presentation from Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour.

Presentations will address how Canadians can succeed in the future of work, including recommendations for how business leaders and government can set Canada on a path to success, the potential – and subsequent effects – of automation on the labour force in Canada, as well as the intersection between entrepreneurship and innovation.


Addressing the Skills Gap: Enhancing Mobility From Post-Secondary Education to Employment and Entrepreneurship

This panel discussion, moderated by Sarah Lubik, Director of Entrepreneurship at SFU Beedie School of Business, will feature leading experts to discuss how we can better mobilize individuals into seamless transitions post-graduation. How can we set the next generation up for success and understand the critical role of entrepreneurship and youth-employment in the future of work?

Paulina Cameron, Director, Futurpreneur
Jake Hirsch-Allen, Higher Education Lead, LinkedIn
Kim Howson, Senior Manager of Youth Strategy & Relationship Management, RBC Future Launch


Embedding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Future of Work

Meaningful implementation of inclusive hiring practices into human resource policies and procedures plays a vital role in the success of an organization. How can organizations better integrate the policies to ensure the representation of diverse voices?

Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Patrick MacKenzie, CEO, Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia
Lesley MacDonald, Employee Engagement and HR Planning, BC Hydro


How Alternative Business Models Can Improve the Way We Work

What are some examples of alternative business models, and how are they improving the way we work? Elvy Del Bianco, Program Manager, Co-operative Partnerships at Vancity, will moderate this discussion on new opportunities afforded by innovative business models.

Eric Bulmash, Senior Consultant, Community Business and Investment, Vancity
Frisia Donders, SMart (E.U.)
Steve Rio, Founder & CEO, Briteweb


AI and Automation in the Workplace

How is automation truly changing the way we work? What are models of effectively utilizing AI in the workplace while still allowing for meaningful, well-paid employment? This presentation, including panelist James Maynard, President and CEO, Wavefront, will get you ready to anticipate, and work with (or combat), those robots. Stay tuned for further panelist announcements.


Get Tickets


Check out our website for the full 2018 Community Summit lineup!



Ride Share On its Way in British Columbia?



It has been a bumpy road for ride hailing  which was originally promised by the Provincial government for the end of 2017. But as reported in Metro News the all-party committee of the legislature looking at ride hailing unanimously supported going forward with the online services, making 32 recommendations for ensuring “fairness, consumer protection and workers rights”.

The committee recommended updating legislation that regulates the taxi industry to “allow for equitable and fair competition.””Protecting specific types of business for the traditional taxi industry, such as street-hailing and taxi stands, should also be considered.”  Regulations will be established that will examine “pricing, insurance, licensing, and public safety” 

And what about insurance for ride-hailing cars and their customers? The committee has recommended that ICBC  (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) develop specific insurance packages with appropriate liability  levels that reflect the fact that rideshare  vehicles are being used for personal and commercial purposes. Drivers will be required to have medical exams and criminal background checks, and vehicles will have to undergo mandatory inspections based upon mileage driven.

There is a rideshare coalition with Lyft, Uber,  Vancouver Board of Trade, B.C. Business Council, Vancouver Economic Commission, B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Urban Development Institute, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Finger Food Studios and the B.C. Restaurant and Food services Association.The Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena says the new legislation will be introduced in the Fall of 2018.

You can read the whole report produced by the committee of the legislature here.


Vancouver Civic Election: A Candidate’s Statement – Adrian Crook

Price Tags will post candidate’s statements* – who they are, what they’ll do – for the upcoming civic election.  Here’s the first one:


I’m Adrian Crook and I’m seeking a NPA City Council nomination for this Fall’s election.

I’m a business owner, director of two non-profits, and a single father of five who rents an apartment in downtown Vancouver.

Over the last two years since I co-founded Abundant Housing Vancouver (AHV), a non-partisan advocacy group, the conversation around our city’s housing crisis has dramatically intensified. Renters face a historically low vacancy rate and every day potential purchasers lose out to multiple higher bids. Some Vancouver communities are feeling besieged by development, while at the same time other neighbourhoods are declining in population.

For years I’ve written and spoken on the benefits of raising kids in our city, via 5 Kids 1 Condo.

Housing and transit advocacy naturally followed 5K1C, when I co-founded AHV in 2016 and later Abundant Transit BC. As a Director of AHV, we’ve successfully advocated for over 3,000 new homes, including Temporary Modular Housing for our homeless residents, social housing and affordable rentals.

As a City Councillor, I’ll support:

  • Citywide pre-zoning to bring certainty to neighbourhood planning.
  • Create meaningful housing choices for homeowners and renters alike.
  • Restore affordability for young people and families.
  • Capping building permit wait times for homeowners and property developers, making it possible to bring an emergency addition of middle class and social housing to Vancouver.

I want a Vancouver that my kids – and those less privileged – can not just afford, but thrive in.

That’s why I decided to put my name forward for City Council this Fall.

To get involved, visit:  


*At this point, ‘candidates’ are those running for the nomination of a party, or planning to run as an independent.  


CIBC backflips on “student mortgages”


Via Jak King, a blow to those students wanting to buy multi-million dollar west-side Vancouver houses, via

Foreign buyers just got one of the most aggressive hurdles when buying Canadian real estate. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) quietly notified its mortgage advisors the “Foreign Income Program” has ended. The program was replaced on February 1, 2018, with a new program designed to ensure compliance with B-20 guidelines from OSFI. This change will have a drastic impact on those that use foreign income to qualify for a mortgage, from one of Canada’s largest banks.

… The improved income verification does introduce two new downside pressures for real estate prices. First, it’ll be more expensive for non-residents dodging local taxes to buy a house. Second, the amount they can borrow will be stress tested against the declared income.

Lots of detail in the article itself.

Free Public Transit for Germany?


From the Washington Post:

Germany’s latest, and more radical, plans are similarly supposed to solve the lingering problem of air pollution in German cities, which recently prompted the threat of major E.U. fines. …

“We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three German government ministers wrote in their recent letter to the E.U., according to AFP. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany.”

Those plans would be costly, as many German transport companies currently finance about 50 percent or more of their earnings through ticket sales. Instead, under the new scheme, the government would be expected to help shoulder the burden, which would ultimately make public transport an almost fully tax-funded system. The free public transport plans would be complemented by other measures, such as car-sharing schemes or expanded low-emissions zones within cities.

In Germany — a nation where cars drive on autobahns without a speed limit — the move might persuade many vehicle owners to take the subway instead, the government hopes. But it could also overburden public transport networks in major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, which are already bustling during rush hours. The plans, some fear, would result in an exponential rise in associated costs because of costly network expansions.


Register for Vancouver Design Week – May 7-13


Programming Registration Now Open

  • You work in a unique design studio with a team that deserves to be recognized.
  • You’re associated with a forward-looking building that is rarely open to the public.
  • You create food and beverage experiences that put design front and centre.
  • You’ve always wanted to produce your own tour or talk on a design niche that others overlook.
  • You have an established design-related event, and want to partner with Vancouver Design Week.


We are now taking registrations for our community-driven event lineup. 


The theme for 2018 is IMPACT as the problem solving capabilities of designers are needed to shape a better world.

“Kale in the Smoothies”~Duke of Data Andy Yan Interviewed on Who is Buying Vancouver Real Estate



What a difference a few years makes. Duke of Data Andy Yan was working with Bing Thom Architects in 2015 when he released his research on who was buying real estate in Vancouver. Andy researched the land titles and tracked the  purchasers who had “non-Anglicised Chinese names”. Tracking for a six month period from September 2014 to March 2015, Andy found that 75 per cent of all property transactions involved buyers with these non-Anglicised names, suggesting that those individuals  may be foreign buyers.

At the time, as Terry Glavin’s article in Macleans Magazine notes, this urban planner from East Vancouver was vilified as his work “broke a taboo that was enforced so absurdly that Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson resorted to dismissing Yan’s research as racist.”  Problem was that Andy Yan was right.  Banks were also complicit in the “manipulation of clandestine back channels around China’s currency control regulations—the same routes that well-connected Chinese multi-millionaires have been using to shift up to a trillion dollars’ worth of yuan out of China every year.” And a lot of these new home owners didn’t really have occupations, other than being  a homemaker.

Andy is also disarmingly in the moment and has an interesting way of using words. As he says “So you had these whispers about racism being used to shut down a dialogue about affordability and the kind of city we want to build here. It’s a kind of moral signalling to camouflage immoral actions. It’s opportunism, and it’s a cover for the tremendous injustices that are emerging in the City of Vancouver and across the region. It’s a weird Vancouver thing. It’s very annoying. It’s kale in the smoothies or something…I’m always careful about using biomedical analogies but what was like a little skin ailment, if you will, over the last 10 or 15 years, has become a full-fledged cancer… The top two expenditures of any Canadian household is shelter and transportation. God help you if you factor in child care.”

With Transparency International estimating that half of Vancouver’s most costly properties are owned by shell companies or trusts, another 20,000 homes sit vacant. Andy Yan also worries about Air BnB which takes up rental housing and is now going to be required to pay sales and municipal taxes.“That’s like taxing cigarettes to pay for lung cancer treatments.”

You can read the whole article here that also discusses the municipal and provincial involvement of real estate companies and property developers who benefited in the rise of real estate prices. Andy does make some recommendations such as taxes to stop property flipping and closing the bare trust loopholes that allow properties to be hidden in numbered companies, something Ontario squelched over thirty years ago. Now the Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, Andy Yan observes ““We need to go back to civic virtues.We need to talk about the sacrifices we are willing and we need to make for the greater good of the community. We need to have a discussion about what the public good is, and what we are willing to sacrifice to make it happen.”

picAndy Yan image



Bike Helmet Fixation and Unfettered Automobility

From streetsblog:


In the United States, official bicycle safety messaging heavily emphasizes helmet use. In a way, it’s worked: American rates of helmet usage are high. But by almost any quantifiable safety metric, the helmet fixation has failed. People bike at low rates in the U.S. compared to international peers, and suffer higher injury and fatality rates per mile of cycling.

It’s not a coincidence that bicycling remains dangerous in our helmet-obsessed safety culture, according to University of Heidelberg professor Gregg Culver. Emphasizing helmets as a singular solution to bike safety — rather than designing streets for safer car speeds or better bike infrastructure — upholds a political structure that favors “unfettered automobility,” Culver argues in an article published this month in the journal Applied Mobilities. …

Why such emphasis on helmets? Culver says it’s a reflection of the dominant car culture. “The helmet fixation redirects attention away from the overarching problem of vehicular violence, assisting in its denial.”

“It redistributes blame,” he writes. “By constantly reinforcing the need for cyclists to feel responsible for their own safety (akin to the manner in which jaywalking was invented in the early 20th century), this helmet fixation serves to redistribute blame back onto the victim of vehicular violence.”




All-Purpose Platform: A candidate’s statement

Fill in the blank:

The people of ___________ are rightly worried that we are losing what makes our city special, livable and progressive.

  • We have an affordable housing crisis that is pushing people out of neighborhoods we always saw as the beating heart of our community.
  • We are failing to confront the issues of inclusion and opportunity for every part of our community.
  • We are searching for bold new leadership that will bring energy, vision and integrity to City Hall.


In this case, it comes from Portland, Oregon, on behalf of Andrea Valderrama  – but it could be cut-and-paste for almost every candidate in Vancouver (and other west-coast cities.)

However, we will be offering PT space for all the council candidates running in our upcoming election on why they’re doing so, and what they’d do.

Concrete Pipe as Public Housing in Hong Kong



From the Duke of Data and Director of the City program at Simon Fraser University Andy Yan comes this article on the innovative adaptive use of the classic concrete sewer pipe. Hong Kong architect James Law is building these “micro-homes” in a severe housing shortage in the city.

These “O” pods are 100 square feet or half the size of a typical one car garage, and contain a pull out sleeper sofa, shelves, a bathroom with a shower and a small fridge and microwave. With a diameter of just over eight feet, each “tube” costs 15,000 dollars to build compared to the average price of an abode in Hong Kong which is 1.8 million  dollars for a 600 square foot unit. Architect Law sees these 22 ton pipes being stacked temporarily between buildings, vacant lots and under highway overpasses.

He is currently trying to get city permits to commence building units, and observes “In Hong Kong, many people live in squalid conditions or in partition dwellings, as there are extremely high rents, housing costs, and inadequate public housing .The OPod is an inexpensive alternative.”


jameslawcybertecture_e5be11b83e368b14763438697c680277db508b7cImages: James Law, Cybertecture

Why Can’t We Have Washrooms at Vancouver’s Public Transit Stations?



There are two things that users of TransLink services would appreciate~across the board free internet that is not just at certain stations or tied to having a plan with a certain provider, and having washrooms. Yes, there are no washrooms at SkyTrain station or at major bus loops despite the fact that there is a universal need for such facilities. Price Tags Vancouver has already written about the fact that in Metro Vancouver you can use public transit, or you can use a washroom, but you can’t do both on the TransLink system. This lack of facilities drew the ire of the Raging Grannies when they took public transit into Vancouver for a protest. They were so annoyed at the fact that TransLink did not provide washrooms that they wrote a song about it, and  followed up with the Vancouver Seniors’ Advisory Committee who also asked TransLink to get washrooms.

TransLink has had lots of reasons for not providing something everyone needs to use. The renovated SkyTrain stations along the Expo line even have space that has been prepped with plumbing for washrooms. TransLink has “issues” such as maintenance security and sanitation. But as Price Tags Vancouver has discussed before~ if Edmonton, Toronto and Paris can provide washroom facilities at some stations, surely Vancouver can as well.  You can take a look at this older copy of The Buzzer that provides a chart of which transit systems have washrooms.

TransLink is now saying that they are going to consider washrooms at SkyTrain stations and perhaps at bus loops according to the Daily Hive. Right now washrooms are for staff only and the only available washrooms for the public are at the SeaBus terminal. TransLink’s spokesperson is still repeating the same mantra saying “Transit systems in North America that provide washrooms often struggle with safety and cleanliness concerns of customers and the high cost of maintenance for the transit agency.”  

In the 21st century we should be providing for the comfort and convenience of passengers and making public transit an effortless alternative to using an automobile. That includes providing for the basic necessities of people using the system, and that means providing washrooms  that are universally accessible for all system users. Quite simply, public transportation customers on the go need to go. And providing universal access to free internet would be helpful too.




Quebec Figures Out the True Cost of Driving



Via former City of Vancouver Councillor  and founder of Business in Vancouver magazine Peter Ladner is this CTV news article that researched an important question~what is the true cost of vehicle driving in a Canadian province?  The study undertaken by Trajectoire Quebec ” determined that even non-drivers spend an average of $1000 each year in costs related to the province’s roads.”

What was interesting is that while government spending on highways and roads has been increasing, it does not mean that the infrastructure is getting better or more multi-modal. The study found that public spending for roads from the Federal, Provincial and municipal governments had increased by 70 per cent in twenty years. In the Province of Quebec, that means that 43 billion dollars is paid each year for roads. Imagine~that amount is more than monetary inflation, and is much larger than any population increase in the province. The study found that the average family of four
contributes about $7,000 per year to government services related to automotive transport – everything from road repairs, to health care costs and policing – even if they don’t own a car.” 

And if you own a car, you are spending $13,000 more, meaning that Quebec households are spending over 20 per cent of their disposable income on transportation. That’s higher than the percentage spent on food or on education. Drivers are actually paying for using cars and car networks, and the study shows that public transit is less subsidized than private vehicles.

The report concludes that Quebec needs a sustainable mobility policy and that user-fees are needed to equitably pay for infrastructure used by private cars. Suburban developments also mean more sprawl and more reliance on the car, and the link needs to be made with politicians for “collective transportation” to move people. As the head of the Trajectoire Quebec organization noted  Copenhagen Denmark had a referendum successfully pass  to implement toll roads. “People having seen the way it was before, and the way it was after, and after there was a lot less congestion, so the people voted in favor of tolls.” 



Promo for the Perfect Toronto Tenant



What to do when you live in a city with a low vacancy rate and need a place to rent?

That was what Huy Do faced in Toronto when tired of living in a house with four room mates, he decided to try to obtain the perfect place at the perfect price. He set the bar high~he wanted a one bedroom apartment in Toronto near the downtown for $1,300.

He is also a real film buff and created his own movie poster, and marketed himself on Facebook, Reddit and Kijiji.“One man, one dream, one bedroom near the core of Toronto,” the poster proclaims, adding rave reviews about Do such as “never parties” and “very likeable” as well as “employed full time” and “can pay by any method.”

Unbelievably his approach worked~he is signing a lease today for a one bedroom in his price range. “While Do is happy that his effort seems to have paid off, he recognizes not every tenant has the creativity, time or Photoshop skills to mount such a search.“I don’t think what I did could be scalable, or even repeatable,” he said. “Hopefully it shines a light to kind of different story as well, that it’s just a tough market out there.”



1968 “Lazy Louts Loitering” with Mayor Tom Campbell



Time for a voyage back fifty years ago to another time and and another Mayor. Called “Tom Terrific” (and that was not always a  positive term) Mayor Tom Campbell is described in wikipedia as “brash, confrontational, and controversial. During his term, the City held a referendum which authorized the then-controversial development of an underground shopping mall and office towers, now known as Pacific Centre, Vancouver’s largest development… Campbell took an assertively pro-development stance, advocating a freeway that would cut through a large part of the downtown east side, the demolition of the historic Carnegie Centre, and the construction of a luxury hotel at the entrance of Stanley Park (the Bayshore Inn) and another at the north foot of Burrard in which it turned out the mayor had invested (it is now an apartment building and never became a hotel).”

Mayor Tom Campbell was mayor from 1967 to 1972 and was not too happy with the “hippie” movement of the time. Dan McLeod of the Georgia Straight newspaper was beaten by City Police, and the Mayor stopped the 1970 Festival Express rock’n’roll tour from coming to Vancouver, saying he would shut down the festival with police intervention. He was also Mayor during the August 1971 Gastown Riot which resulted in 79 people being arrested, and 38 being charged with different offences. Stan Douglas’s art piece “The Gastown Riot” located in the Woodwards Building Atrium commemorates this event.



In 1968 Mayor Tom Campbell spoke to a CBC reporter at the Court House Steps, now the Vancouver Art Gallery about hippies, loitering, and why they were a scourge to society. At the end of the interview, one of the “hippies” quotes Shakespeare back to the reporter.

It is an interesting look back at what was considered heinous and unacceptable behaviour. And a reminder~these hippies are Vancouver’s senior citizens today.

Is it Time for ICBC Bicycle Insurance?



From the Richmond News bike rider Geordie McGillivray asks:

” I wish I could pay ICBC to insure my bike to ride on public roads. Every time someone says “If cyclists wants to be allowed to ride on the roads and have the same privileges as cars, they should have to have insurance” I tell them they are absolutely right. What? A cyclist saying yes, he should have to insure his bike? But I’m being serious. Please, let me pay to insure my bike, but with one condition: It must give me the same insurance benefits as a motorist.”

Currently, if I’m riding my bike on the road and hit a large pothole, lose control of the bike and crash injuring myself and damaging my bike, I am responsible for 100 per cent of the costs. Up to $3000 for a new bike and then paying for all rehabilitation costs. A motorcyclist who hits that pothole, crashes and gets injured will pay a $300 deductible and every other cost is paid for by ICBC. Win: Insured Motorist.

Currently, if my bike is locked up but stolen then I’m responsible for the entire cost of replacing my bike for $3000. If a motorcycle or scooter is stolen while insured then ICBC pays for the entire cost of a replacement. Win: Insured Motorist.

Currently, if I’m negligent and I crash into a car on the road, break my wheel and bars and damage the car, not only am I responsible for all the costs to repair my bike, let’s say $1000 in this case, but I then have to work with ICBC as well as police if they were called, and settle the repair costs to the vehicle. $2500 out of my pocket instead of a $300 deductible. Lose: Uninsured Cyclist.

Currently, if another cyclist runs into me, damaging my bike – but then that person rides away from the scene, I’m responsible for the full costs of the repair or replacement of my bike. Up to $3000. If a cyclist hits a car, damages it and then rides away then the motorist only has to pay a $300 deductible. Win: Insured Motorist.

How could I not want insurance like motorists have? Cyclists would then be saving thousands of dollars and passing it on to ICBC just like motorists do. ICBC would be paying out millions more every year in bike replacement and repair costs. I’d be so happy because just like motorists, I would rarely be out-of-pocket whether an accident is my fault or not. Then, we could cue all the complaints from people now saying cyclists should not be allowed to have insurance on their bikes. I’m sure of it.”

john-and-leo-huang-ridingPhotos: Richmond News

Street Level Toronto Film: The Honest Ed’s Site and “Why I Became a Planner”



The iconic Toronto “Honest Ed” site is being redeveloped by Westbank at Bloor and Bathurst in the Annex area. The City of Toronto has gone with a straight up tower form without the podium massing commonly used in Vancouver. The development will have 801 units in five thin towers, the highest tower being 29 storeys. And no, they did not keep the Honest Ed’s sign intact, it was demolished. Spacing Toronto had a draw for a few light bulbs from the sign, as well as part of the sign with the letter “O”.


The City of Toronto has also launched a film series called “Street Level” and in the first film “Senior Planner Graig Uens explains how the redevelopment plans for Mirvish Village evolved based on community feedback & the City’s own planning policies”.

It is a fascinating take on how Toronto sees itself, its policies (the bike lanes!) and its processes. Graig’s talk describes the public process to get to the 29 storey tower massing, and mentions some of the heritage facade retention. The short film has a feel like the City of Angels film where Nicholas Cage viewed Los Angeles from the roof tops.  Films on what city planners actually do are scarce~kudos to the City of Toronto for including their planner.

You can check it out here.

Urbanist Melody Ma, the Vancouver View Corridors, & Why They Are Important