Nordstroms, Friday afternoon. What do you think, Guest, will hands-on sneaker construction pull them in?
Nordstroms, Friday afternoon. What do you think, Guest, will hands-on sneaker construction pull them in?
In partnership with RAIC-Architecture Canada, the Museum of Vancouver explores how housing for the “missing middle” can contribute to community building and resiliency.
Moderated by Gloria Venczel from RAIC-Architecture Canada, and featuring guest speaker Gordon Price (SFU Centre for Dialogue) as well as housing experts Graham McGarva (Founder, VIA Architecture), Darren Kitchen (Cooperative Housing Federation of BC), Robert Brown (Catalyst Community Development Society), Colleen Hardwick (PlaceSpeak), Danny Oleksiuk and Rachel Selinger (Abundant Housing Vancouver), these professionals will be present to answer your questions in this break out workshop session.
Thursday, Feb 1
Museum of Vancouver
$17 – Adults
$15 – Seniors and Students
$10 – RAIC Members and MOV Members
Changing Vancouver just posted a particularly graphic example of possibly the worst transition from good to bad architectural and urban design in the city’s history. It happened in the West End after the zoning changes of 1956.
Here’s a house in 1956, the year before it was redeveloped. The building that replaced it is an 80 unit rental building designed by Peter Kaffka, called Barracca Court when it was built in 1957.
The home was the work of Parr and Fee, seemingly the architects to the upper middle class in the city who favoured that Queen Anne elegance in their wooden ‘mansions.’ And then, in the decade after the ’56 rezoning, it and hundreds of others would be bulldozed for the concrete towers, of which Kaffka was the architect of many – essentially simple concrete boxes with punched windows, surrounded by parking lots, a bit of grass and minimal landscaping. Modernism used to justify the least design and the highest return.
The real mansions, of course, would be built in Shaughnessy, to where the rich fled from the West End after 1909, after which their homes would be transformed into boarding houses.
… by 1940 it was listed … as ‘rooms’, a role it retained until it was demolished. … in 1956 it was known as The Pillars, split into 7 apartments.
Here, of course, is the irony. The houses of the rich became the homes of the poor, providing critical accommodation during the Depression and War, after which the concrete highrises provided accommodation for the new class of service and corporate workers in the post-war boom. Today, the West End is still home for lower-middle-class renters, despite the rising pressures of affordability.
That wouldn’t have happened if it had been declared a heritage neighbourhood, its original housing stock preserved and renovated, and its population kept to a fraction of the 40,000 it now accommodates.
Staff said fewer vehicles use the bridge today than 20 years ago, and that modelling studies have shown it has enough capacity to handle projected road traffic even after the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are torn down.
The number of vehicles has dropped not only on the Cambie Bridge but into the core of the city and into the city itself.
And people don’t believe it, deny it or simply ignore it.
Why is that? Probably because it defies ‘common sense’ and personal experience. As well, every few months there is another story on worsening congestion in metro Vancouver. And, likely, because it makes it more difficult to argue that bike lanes cause congestion – even though there’s lots of anecdotal and statistical evidence that it doesn’t happen.
Remember, for instance, all the media stories after the Dunsmuir, Hornby, Point Grey and Burrard Bridge changes were made: the worsening congestion, the longer back-ups, the angry motorists, the apologies from engineering staff for their mistaken projections …?
What, you don’t remember those stories? Probably because they didn’t happen.
If there had been even modest increases in congestion that anyone actually noticed, the media would have been there with cameras roaring. But they don’t report stories of bad things that didn’t happen.
We go through this cycle (pun certainly intended) every time: the City announces some bike infrastructure committed in plans publicly vetted and council approved, the media do their ‘another bike lane in face of public disapproval’ stories, the shock jocks yell ‘Carmageddon,’ the NPA says it’s too much too fast, the lanes get built, nothing bad happens, bike traffic improves and the traffic flows (sometimes better) – and then we start the cycle all over again with the next project.
And car traffic continues to drop.
And most people don’t believe it.
Thanks to the new world of podcasting and online media – like Roundhouse Radio – it’s possible to have what journalists call ‘long-form’ coverage: extended, more in-depth discussion of complex issues.
Here’s an example: me, on our transportation future, including the arrival of ‘Transportation Service Providers’.
Join the interview at about 12:48.
The Vancouver City Planning Commission is pleased to present Milestones 2017 on February 5, 2018. Our third annual Year in Review public forum, it’s a look back that invariably turns into a dialogue about the future of the city.
Four leading urban thinkers and achievers will discuss 2017 decisions and events in planning and development that have been identified as possibly having a transformative influence on the evolution of Vancouver. The panellists will also offer their own ideas on proposed milestones of 2017 and respond to suggestions from the audience.
The emerging milestones of 2017 will be added to the online Chronology of Planning and Development in Vancouver.
Monday, February 5
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts – 149 West Hastings Street
Ian: Good solution for Vancouver. Instead of just putting community gardens on vacant lots, let’s put some actual communities there.
As Austin’s housing prices continue to climb, developers are tapping into the trend of building tiny homes. ….
Kasita was started in 2015 by Jeff Wilson, an Austin college professor who gained notoriety when he spent a year living in a dumpster. Wilson wanted to challenge himself to live small while furthering the conversation on sustainable living.
At a model home in the Community First! Village in East Austin, the kitchen and bathroom are built on a platform above the living room. A built-in sofa can be rolled out from under the kitchen floor to become a queen-size bed.
In general, the city considers anything between 100 and 400 square feet to be a tiny home. Those homes can be placed on any parcel of land zoned for residential use, Rusthoven says.
On a single-family lot, tiny homes have to meet many of the same standards as larger houses, things like minimum lot size and the number of units allowed on the property. Multiple tiny homes can be placed on land that’s zoned for a multifamily residence, and any tiny home that’s placed on a foundation has to meet the standards of the International Residential Code.
In 2014, the Austin City Council asked staff to explore the rules governing tiny homes to find ways to make them easier to build. That effort didn’t lead to changes for tiny homes in the zoning code, but it did identify one specific constraint.
“If they are on wheels and they have a license plate attached to them, then they’re considered to be a vehicle and not considered to be a home,” Rusthoven says.
Here’s the view from Kieryn Matthews – (tiny) homeless in Vancouver:
So what exactly is a tiny home and why aren’t they allowed in Vancouver? A tiny home is typically less than 400 sq./ft on wheels and has all amenities to live in permanently. They are completely customizable and can be built for as little as $10,000 in comparison to a minimum of $400,000 for a new apartment.
The problem surrounding tiny homes in Vancouver is there are no laws or regulations specific to building and living in them. City bylaws pertaining to laneway homes and recreational vehicles are used to prohibit people from living in them. Bylaws state a house must be a minimum of 398 sq./ft, with a few zoning exceptions downtown for social housing. The other problem is a house on wheels is considered an RV or trailer which you are not allowed to park and live in permanently. …
The B.C. Tiny House Collective is an organization working on engagement, research and pilot projects surrounding the tiny house movement and they have some great resources. Tiny homes are not for everyone and on their own are not going to solve Vancouver’s housing crisis but we need to talk about incorporating them into our city legally
Ian: I certainly don’t think tiny is the answer to affordable, there are a whole host of equity issues surrounding any assumptions that they work for more than a small subset of the population.
But… We are so far from equitable now that I think opposing the tiny house is making the perfect the enemy of the good. In a greater sense they are the wrong answer to many problems, but in an immediate sense they are a very real answer to a very real problem.
There are so many empty lots receiving tax credit for planting gardens, I fail to see how planting a temporary garden of tiny houses is in any way a bad thing on these same lots.
I would love to see a day when tinyhouse aren’t needed as an answer to Vancouver’s issues of affordability. Until that day, I think they should be allowed here also.
I’ve been predicting for some time that we will see the rise of the Transportation Service Provider: a single company or agency that will integrate every conceivable mode of transportation that has the potential of a cash flow, and then package them in the way that telecommunications is offered – a range of services, all integrated, never separately charged, accessed with, likely, your phone, and billed monthly and almost invisibly through your credit or bank account.
Well, here we go.
From Geekwire, via Peter Berkeley:
… Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, is convinced it can also be part of the solution — if we bridge the digital-urbanist divide.
Earlier this month Sidewalk Labs secured a massive workshop to test its theory on the Toronto waterfront. The project is a partnership between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto — an organization created by the local government to represent the public’s interests. …
(Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff) used transportation as an example of a system that could be more affordable with improved technology. He envisions a network of self-driving cars, bike paths, and smart mass transit that are packaged and sold as a single service. He predicts it would save the average Canadian family $6,000 per year.
Now is the time for government to think about how this service is going to emerge and be regulated. This should not come as an Uber-like surprise. In particular, who will control the data? How will these services be charged for the use of public infrastructure? How will they (or consumers) be taxed?
If the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission’s mandate was expanded and extended, these would be useful questions to address. Road pricing is just one the issues related to TSPs, and secondary to the jursidictional ones.
The commission, for example, should as a recommendation establish the principle that TSPs, or any company like Uber, must as a condition of operating provide the public managers and regulators with their data – just as New York has. Data is power, and without it, we’d be ceding one of the critical functions of cities to the private sector – and the behemoths like Google.
In a few short years, Metro Vancouver drivers could be charged a fee to pass through bustling city centres, access busy roads or — of course — cross bridges.
These so-called “congestion point charges” are one of two options the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is considering to ease overcrowding on the region’s roads and produce revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure.
The independent commission is tasked with recommending options for mobility pricing to TransLink and the Mayors’ Council overseeing Lower Mainland transportation services.
“It’s about charging just enough to get a small number of people to think about choosing a different route or choosing a different mode or driving at a different time,” the commission’s executive director Daniel Firth told reporters during a technical briefing Monday
My guess is that the years are not going to be few or short.
This is a civic election year. Anyone you know wish to run on a platform of instituting road tolls?
The NDP, having arguably formed the government as a consequence of removing tolls from the Port Mann Bridge, would be slaughtered if they then proposed returning them. They have effectively ruled out anything that sounds, smells or is in the neighbourhood of ‘road tolls.’
There are so many contentious issues*, it’s not reasonable (or expected) that the commission will address them in the time available
In the meantime, decisions must be made on the fiscal hole the NDP created with the removal of tolls. Pattullo Bridge was expected to be financed with them. Won’t happen. The regional portion of the 10-year plan and matching funding for major transit projects must be addressed – and soon.
Mobility pricing isn’t going to be a solution for any of that. And once (or if) the tough decisions are made, there will be little appetite for returning to yet another funding mechanism if no other deadline looms.
Meanwhile, there will be so much to study, so many conversations to have, so much consultation to undertake.
The commission’s final report is due in April. Before then, the plan is to conduct public meetings and hold stakeholder workshops, and the commission’s website will open to online comments next month.
*Contentious issues like …
Privacy and trust. What happens to the data? Will the charges be visible in real time? Will you know how much you’re paying as you’re driving? (People say they like transparency, but in reality they hate visible charges. Ask the federal Conservatives about the wisdom of making the GST a separate item on every bill.)
Implementation. Remember Compass. Or Phoenix. Or almost any health-records technology.
Fairness. Please define. Will lower-income people be punished for driving further to affordable housing? Will Vancouver, where traffic is dropping, be punished with a congestion charge while the suburbs effectively get subsidized? Will the North Shore be punished because there are no other options than bridges? Will someone else be paying less than me?
The Vancouver City Planning Commission presents Milestones 2017 on February 5 – a look back that invariably turns into a dialogue about the future of the city.
Four leading urban thinkers and achievers will discuss 2017 decisions and events in planning and development that have been identified as possibly having a transformative influence on the evolution of Vancouver.
The emerging milestones of 2017 will be added to the online Chronology of Planning and Development in Vancouver.
Monday, February 5
6:45 – 9 pm
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings
FREE. RSVP Requested
The plan, called LIVE Denver, is aimed at workers earning between 40% and 80% of average area incomes …
Part of the cost of the program is being met by local companies and foundations. The city plans to subsidize about 400 units in all over two years, with about a quarter of those on the books already. It will keep tabs on landlords to make sure they don’t simply raise rents to reflect the extra subsidies available.
The interesting question will be if the city simply ends up propping up the high-end of the market, perversely offering incentives to developers to build new unaffordable homes.
Price Tags: The Georgia Straight helpfully provided the full text of Attorney-General David Eby’s speech: “Housing and trans-national money laundering: an update on what I’ve been doing as AG to address the housing crisis in BC”.
It is clear, in my opinion, that the previous administration was aware we had a serious and growing reputational issue. It is also clear to me that they evaluated the costs of cracking down on white collar crime, on fraud, on money laundering, and determined that the benefits of inaction outweighed the costs of action. …It is hard for me not to speculate that some may gone further and seen a lax approach to money laundering, fraud, corporate transparency, land title registry transparency, as a competitive advantage, or a budgetary advantage, for the province.
But, of course, nobody wrote this down. I’m just speculating.
If anyone did see a lax approach to white collar crime, tax evasion and money laundering as a net benefit to B.C., they were dead wrong. The chickens have now come home to roost, and our international reputation is on the line.
I do not make this assessment lightly. …
I was sat down by members of B.C.’s Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch. One of the members of the public service said, “Get ready. I think we are going to blow your mind.”
He was right. …
In response to this startling report from the police about the need to increase enforcement, the Province of B.C., under the oversight of then minister Responsible Rich Coleman, defunded the policing team, shutting it down. …
This was not the first report received by the then finance minister on the problem, there were countless red flags from regulators, just the most explicit. It is important to note that this same period was a period of exceptional growth in the province’s gaming revenues.
Although the activity behind the scenes in government was remarkable, in the legislature, you would never have guessed there was a problem.
A month after receiving that report about the significant increase in the legitimization of proceeds of crime through B.C.’s gaming facilities, the former finance minister (Mike de Jong) told the legislature, on April 4, 2016, quote “I can tell you this. We take very seriously the obligation that we have to British Columbians to ensure that the activities that take place within regulated and lawful gaming establishments are being conducted with proceeds that are not—I repeat not—the result of criminal activity.” …
The previous administration’s lax attitude towards this issue means British Columbia has apparently developed its own, internationally recognized, model of money laundering.
This has a major and serious consequence for our international reputation, and also for the encouragement of whatever illegal activity might be generating these proceeds of crime. …
Why criminal organizations might consider locating in B.C.
…. with fewer than two percent of penalties and fines collected, and limited criminal charges going ahead, the message is obvious to those who might wish to participate in white collar crime.
You’ll have a better chance to get away with it in B.C.
… A final and more notorious benefit to an individual or corporation seeking to avoid the law and accountability in British Columbia is the fact that you can put your money into housing here without having to give up your name or identity.
There is a growing outrage among people in the lower mainland that their housing market has transitioned from one that is rationally connected to local incomes, to one that has no connection to local wages. …
The question that flows from this economic reality is quite simple. Where is the money coming from? …
Others have pointed out that for luxury and commercial properties, transfer taxes are avoided through a non-transparent transfer of trust benefit rather than a sale of the property itself. Such a transfer results in no change in ownership being registered in the public registry. …
But the previous administration was well aware of these issues. … And the consequences of not acting are very apparent now.
You cannot build a strong home for British Columbians on a foundation of illegitimate activity. Thanks to the work of many of the people in this room, we have the policy tools and information we need to give us a head start to check some big items off the list. …
Price Tags: The most politically devastating comment is this: “(the previous Liberal administration) evaluated the costs of cracking down on white collar crime, on fraud, on money laundering, and determined that the benefits of inaction outweighed the costs of action. …”
My guess is that the Liberals assumed the consequences would be minor and not result in consequential issues, not be connected in local reporting to, say, the costs of housing – or in any event be political tolerable if the negative results only impacted high-end housing in parts of Metro Vancouver, from which they were getting hundreds of millions in property transfer taxes in any event.
Those Liberal politicians are still around. Some like Coleman are in the Legislature; others are running for leadership. Let’s hear from them. What were they were thinking, why did they decide not to act, what will they do now?
Not as seriously but analogously, it is like the previous Transportation minister Todd Stone (now running for leadership) not really acknowledging or apologizing for the impact of the imposed referendum on regional transportation funding in Metro. It divided us, it delayed us, it was unnecessary – and the Liberals figured it would be politically inconsequential if it was only Metro they screwed over. They had no plan for the future.
Again, will they acknowledge this record (some have) – and what will they do now? Have they learned anything, and how will they demonstrate both contrition and a constructive approach to Metro issues: housing costs; white-collar crime and transparency; transportation, funding and governance.
They will have abundant opportunities in the Legislature and in their leadership campaign. Let’s see what they have to say – because they had better have something serious, specific and constructive.
Given the programming priorities of nightly TV news, (look, a car crash, a fire, a bear), political interviews don’t get the time they need to get in-depth. Global ran an excerpt of this interview with Mayor Gregor Robertson, and then referred viewers to their website.
We’re making it easier for you to access it here, given the importance of this moment at the end of Robertson’s mayoral career (at 10 years, the second longest serving mayor, next to L.D. Taylor who, intermittently between 1910 and 1934, served for 11.)
Vancouver’s recent denial of a development permit for Beedie Living’s 105 Keefer project has reinvigorated conversations about Chinatown’s future, and particularly the adjacent and important public space surrounding the intersection of Keefer and Columbia. That’s where the Chinatown Memorial Plaza, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Chinese Cultural Centre and the northeast corner of the new False Creek park (in design) come together. Many see it as a future entry to Chinatown.
But whose Chinatown? Preservationists and a new generation of Chinese Canadians want to protect Chinatown’s unique character and history.
Could Keefer and Columbia be Chinatown’s future? What might it look like, and who gets to decide? Our presenters, guiding us through this complex tangle are Helen Lee, Chair of the city’s Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee; Gordon Price, former Vancouver Councillor; and we’ve invited one other.
Then it’s time for your questions, observations and opinions. Please join us, and feel free to bring your lunch. It’s a conversation!
Thursday, January 18
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Room 7000, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre
While wandering around on Google maps, the online traveller can find all kinds of intriguing things – like the sheer amount of overhead wiring that seems to characterize Thai cities. Much more than places I’ve seen in, say, Central ad South America. Here’s an example in the beach town of Pattaya.
In the age of satellite dishes, cellular technology and wireless gadgets, how come?
There’s a little-noticed and remarkable fact about American energy use that helps explain some of the bitter policy fights we’re seeing right now: The United States actually uses less electricity today than it did back in 2007, even as the population keeps growing.
There are a few reasons for that: American homes have gotten far more energy-efficient with the spread of LED light bulbs and energy-saving appliances. And industrial electricity use fell significantly after the financial crisis and hasn’t fully rebounded.
Why does this matter? If electricity consumption is flat, then all the different sources of energy we use — coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind — are locked in zero-sum competition with one another. If a new natural gas plant or wind farm goes up, something else has to get pushed off the grid.
That’s exactly what we’ve seen. The rise of fracking has made natural gas incredibly cheap. Solar and wind, already subsidized by Congress, have seen their costs drop dramatically. As a result, coal and nuclear power are losing market share fast.
Same in Canada? Does it matter in B.C.?
The Chinese Canadian Historical Society is hosting a public forum on the implications and benefits of earning the UNESCO World Heritage designation for Chinatown. Dr. Lee Ho Yin, University of Hong Kong, will share his expertise and experience in UNESCO-related heritage conversation and development projects.
Friday, January 19
4 – 5:30 pm
Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Price Tags: Now that Gregor Robertson has withdrawn from the race (and Andrea Reimer, Geoff Meggs and George Affleck – so far), who’s likely to be a candidate? Here are my thoughts (plus SFU political scienctist David Moscrop’s), as reported in the Sun. (BTW, I’m not a political scientist nor an urban planner – but thanks for the compliments).
Gordon Price, a political scientist and former director of Simon Fraser University’s city program, said he doesn’t know who Vision will run, but expects the mayoral race to attract candidates from senior levels of government.
“It would certainly be an opportunity for someone who has a sufficient degree of charisma — an overused word, but I think appropriate here,” he said.
“Can you get people’s attention in a highly fragmented world in order to establish an identity for the party that people will park their vote with?”
Price, an NPA councillor from 1986-2002, said when the NPA’s Hector Bremner won a council seat in the October byelection — and was trailed by independent Jean Swanson and the Green party’s Pete Fry, with Vision far behind — the electorate demonstrated it was willing to “entertain and understand substantial policy ideas,” particularly those related to housing.
With Robertson leaving, “all parties are now going to be confronted with a kind of existential change in Vancouver,” he said. He believes Vision recognizes its “best-by date” has come and gone.
“You just accumulate this baggage and no matter whether you have a good record, all your people are going to see are the stains or the inadequacies,” he said.
SFU political scientist David Moscrop said he’d long considered Vision councillors Reimer and Geoff Meggs to be the top contenders among its councillors. However, with Reimer not running and Meggs taking a position as Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff last year, that’s no longer the case.
“Of course, 10 months is a long time in politics,” Moscrop said. “Things could change.”
He also expects the race to attract federal and provincial politicians, along with high-profile businesspeople.
“Especially since not only is this a high-profile city — an important domestic and global city — cities are becoming increasingly important, where more and more people live,” he said. “They’re going to play a huge role in housing, transportation, climate change — even health.”
Moscrop believes Vision can survive without Robertson, buoyed by incumbency and in spite of its “battle scars” and the electorate’s frustration with other issues that “may or may not have been its fault.”
A further thought: This is a good time for a woman to run with impetus and credibility not present to the same degree in elections past. (Imagine if someone like May Brown, a remarkable alderman in the TEAM council of the 1970s, ran today.)
There is always some spillover of American trends in the Canadian scene (though often not transferable to our electoral system). But a woman who represents the new empowerment of the #MeToo movement while both retaining Vision’s progressive constituency and building support from enough of the NPA electorate could be well-positioned to become Vancouver’s first female mayor. It’s time.
Tim Pawsey thought this was interesting:
This small bridge over the Peelse Loop canal happens to be the first ever to be 3D-printed out of reinforced concrete.
The bridge, which opened in October, 2017, was created at the Eindhoven University of Technology, in conjunction with BAM Infra construction company. It involved printing about 800 layers of the concrete material, which was both reinforced and pre-stressed.
This building strategy has one main advantage over standard mold-based techniques: it uses far less concrete, which saves resources. With the success of the Germet bridge, the researchers now plan to build even larger 3D-printed structures.
The bridge’s designers say it can support up to 2.2 tons of weight, although it is meant to be used by bikers and pedestrians. In a country where there are more bikes than people, it’s expected hundreds of cyclists will ride over the bridge each day.