Paul Pinsker, now retired from the Engineering Department at Vancouver City Hall (his special focus was on parking standards), sent in some thoughts on the current situation we find ourselves in with respect to transportation planning.

What particularly came to my mind was all the years of planning we at the City of Vancouver did for the East Fraser Lands development with the aim of making it a transit-oriented community.

Recall the import of noted New Urbanist Andres Duany to mastermind the planning of this ground-breaking community.  Before I retired from CoV in January of this year, I worked on the planning team for EFL, including ensuring certain streets were designed for future bus routings and locating where a bus service could terminate or lay over.

TransLink reps were always cautious about committing to provide service from opening day, which was a commitment achieved in the 70’s when South False Creek’s progressive housing was conceived (with an average of one parking space per dwelling unit, though that later proved inadequate given the shortage of on-street parking such that 3 parkades were added).

Transit was in growth mode and Duany, along with staff, sought to limit the prevalence of autos for EFL through provision of a high level of transit access.  Given the lack of even a modest commitment by TransLink, EFL had to be planned (with ParkLane Development’s desire) for a greater level of private automobiles; the developer did share in the City’s aims in support of carsharing.

Now it appears that the flexibility in allowing greater parking was justified given the ebbing of the transit tide.  As the new residents move in they would have been hung out to dry if they were counting on the originally anticipated level of transit options, given their relatively isolated location within the city and the paucity of existing service.

What hope is there for subsequent community planning in absence of firm transit commitments?  Developers will be reluctant to gamble on this, as we already witness how sales are focused around rapid transit nodes (where the service is assured).