From Price Tags commentator Alex Botta:
From Price Tags commentator Alex Botta:
Last Friday noted journalist Daphne Bramham wrote in the Vancouver Sun a very cogent article offering a simple solution to pedestrians trying to navigate across streets in our low light and rainy winters-don’t wear black. A lot of responders to her article bristled at the fact that Daphne was brave enough to state the obvious-vehicle operators often cannot see pedestrians.
We live in a province where 280 people are killed annually and 79,000 people maimed in car crashes. This is a big number and serious enough that the Provincial Medical Officer wrote his yearly report on car crashes. What causes them? Dr. Perry Kendall surmised that speed (36%), distraction (29%) and impairment (20%) were largely responsible. Rates of crashes resulting in serious injuries have risen from 38 per cent in 2007 to 46 per cent in 2009. Road design, distraction and speed are major contributors. I’d add visibility as well.
In October 2016, twice as many pedestrians died as were killed in the last six years. The Coroners Service of B.C. lists that from 2010 to October 2016, 396 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in British Columbia. In B.C., Vancouver is the pedestrian death capital of Canada-it has more pedestrian deaths than any other city, and twice those of Toronto per capita. Sixteen per cent or 64 of those deaths were in Vancouver. Thirteen per cent or 50 deaths were in Surrey. Abbotsford, Richmond and Burnaby also had high percentages of pedestrians killed. Of those dying, 57 per cent were male. One third of those dying were 70 years or older. Forty per cent of pedestrian deaths happened at intersections in Metro Vancouver, with two-thirds crossing while the light was green.
But here is the statistic I found remarkable-61 per cent of all the pedestrians killed in British Columbia were over 50 years of age. That is a huge number and a worrying one. While we have focused our attention on road safety to school children, this suggests we also need to address the older part of the population who may not be as nimble or cognitively attune to the fact they are vulnerable. Of course there needs to be a sea change in driver behaviour and education, slower speeds, and municipalities that will redesign intersections to stop the carnage of their citizens. We as citizens also must get angry and insist that politicians pay attention to this road violence needlessly yanking out lives.
In Finland every child going to school must wear three pieces of reflective items on their clothes and backpack. The safety reflector was developed in Finland in the 1960’s and it is the law that walkers wear reflective items in the dark. Wearing reflectors and reflective clothing is completely accepted as daily wear in Scandinavia which also has the lowest incidence of pedestrian accidents. A similar program in Great Britain reduced children’s pedestrian deaths by 51 per cent.
Studies show that reflectors increase the visibility of pedestrians from 25 meters to 140 meters, increasing the reaction time from 2 seconds to 10 seconds for a car being driven at 50 kilometers per hour. That’s eight seconds more for a driver to react, and a pedestrian to survive. We can’t pretend that this is not the wild west for road violence-it is, and in Metro Vancouver we are in the leaders of carnage in Canada. Wearing reflective wear is quite simply the right thing to do, along with lobbying for slower speeds, more campaigns on driver behaviour, and redesigning street intersections as if walkers really mattered.
Gladys We starts what could obviously be an ongoing series:
I was looking at the front facade of this huge house in Richmond, and all I could focus on were the pillars.
At the front door — some kind of square Ionic column. And upstairs on the deck, something that came from Serpentine Bridge, Hyde Park, London. So, Greece to England, plus or minus a few centuries and miles, separated by 15 feet of wall.
I’m also not an expert in city planning, but isn’t someone at City Hall supposed to review those kinds of details?
Or was Fantasy Gardens something that was a harbinger of the future as far as Richmond is concerned?
On Thursday, March 24, Brian Wakelin, architect and co-founder of Vancouver-based PUBLIC Architecture + Communication (recent winner of the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture), will present samples of his work that respond to Greater Vancouver’s lack of significant public gathering spaces. Preceding his talk will be a short performance by emerging poet and musician, Sam Herle.
On Thursday, April 21, Michael Rohd, founder of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (Evanston, IL) will discuss how art can be a potent tool for public impact and collaboration. Preceding his presentation will be a short performance by First Nations hip hop/spoken word artist, JB the First Lady.
On Thursday, May 19, visual artist, Norie Sato, (Seattle, WA) will describe her creative process developing site-specific works for public places. Preceding this talk will a brief performance by 16-year old professional yoyo competitor, Harrison Lee.
For one week — beginning Monday August 24 — staff, volunteers, and supporters of the Richmond Food Security Society (RFSS) will only be eating produce grown on our island, meat raised by our farmers, and seafood caught by local fishermen.
This challenge is an exciting new initiative to raise awareness about local food and promote food security. It’s also an important fundraiser for the Richmond Food Security Society.
All funds raise through #RichmondEats will support the Richmond Food Security Society’s core activities aimed at fighting hunger in our community and building a nutritious, safe, secure, and affordable food system.
Donations can be made here.
Metropolis magazine rates the world’s cities. No. 1?
Why? In part, because …
Transit remains a huge issue. Toronto has not kept up with demand, but that’s changing in a flurry of projects that will extend the subway to suburban municipalities north of the city. There’s also the Eglinton Crosstown, a 12-mile light-rail line now under construction that will provide 100 million rides annually when it’s completed in 2023. Meanwhile, the long-awaited express train connecting downtown Toronto to Pearson International Airport began operation in early June.
Meanwhile, we’re in denial. Or at least in Richmond:
Last year, according to ICBC data, the city added roughly 10,000 registered passenger vehicles to its roads.
In 2013, the city had about 100,000 passenger vehicles and by the end of 2014 that number ballooned to 110,000, as a result of development and a growing population.
Of all Metro Vancouver municipalities, Richmond’s numbers spiked the most (Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver saw no change).
In the wake of regional transit funding hitting a concrete barrier — due to the failed TransLink plebiscite — the direction in which Richmond’s transit plan is heading should be a concern for residents, according to retired transportation planner and former Richmond resident Stephen Rees. …
The problem for Richmond is that TransLink is reducing services to bus lines that are not frequently used, Rees said. …
Spokesperson Ted Townsend downplayed the impact of the failed plebiscite.
“The recent plebiscite results may indicate slower pace of investments in transit improvements for the time being but the City believes it will not affect our ultimate goal and strategy over the longer term,” said Townsend.
People really can’t believe that Vancouver turned down transit. (Try telling a No voter that and watch the reaction.) Perhaps a drop in our ranking on various livability lists might bring reality home.
UPDATE: Jean Chong recommends reading this: “The Tories on big-city transit: Buy support now, pay later.”
And Doug Clarke recommends this: “Governors of Transit-Dependent States Don’t Seem to Get It.”
From David Godin:
I live in the walkable, moderately dense area of Richmond just beside its downtown and within easy walking distance of SkyTrain. I like to describe it as being the ‘West End of Richmond’ and it’s working pretty well for me for the time being. I also work in Richmond in an office building in a business park area of the city where pedestrians were simply not considered when it was developed and the roads conveyed to the City. It’s a jarring transition to make each day.
By my office, the roads lack sidewalks and most are straight and stop-sign and traffic-signal-free to promote sustained speed, and the curves are forgiving enough to maintain that speed. Despite the business park being home to the RCMP HQ for Richmond, traffic enforcement is seemingly non-existent for the endemic running of stop signs, blatant speeding, and even driving the wrong way down one-way couplets. In this environment, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is an utter failure to yield to pedestrians at intersections, even by RCMP vehicles!
When the roads are designed for sustained speed, and when landscaping comes straight to the curb with no sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic signals, or pedestrian lighting, and there are only a handful of stop signs that can be rolled through with impunity, it’s not surprising at all that pedestrians are ignored. This is landscape made for vehicles, full stop.
But what does one do here if they don’t want to walk on the landscaped grass medians that slope and drain poorly, making for a frequently slippery and muddy environment, or in the muddy, tree debris-clogged gutters with large continuous pools of standing water? What if one needs a level surface because they have mobility challenges and use a wheelchair? They must use the road, and this morning I snapped a photo from my office window of exactly that. I think this is disgraceful.
I’ve also attached a couple of photos taken a few steps away from my office where of the City of Richmond recently built a level, paved bus stop to serve the RCMP HQ, replacing the muddy ditch that was there before. Of course, it does not connect to any on-street sidewalks, which remain muddy lines of worn grass, but it does serve the new fenced-off sidewalk that leads to the police station.
Across the street, the small interior sidewalk on the former ICBC claim centre gives way to a very well-worn patch of earth and then grass medians in lieu of sidewalks. Despite the bus stop, I cannot see the City investing in the wholesale creation of pedestrian infrastructure around here, even with the fairly large number of people who work here and the presence of transit and the trip generator of stores and services in the vast Ironwood shopping centre adjacent to the business park. (Interesting quick point of trivia: Ironwood was Westbank’s first major project.)
Narrow muddy footpaths (a depressingly common sight in Richmond) illustrate that demand for sidewalks most certainly exists and I’ll also note that this is a mid-block point where the sidewalks end and one must backtrack and divert to the next adjacent east-west street a block north to find a sidewalk or cut through Lansdowne Mall parking lot. Faced with those options, of course people are going to walk through the landscaping or press against the fence beside fast-moving traffic and walk the last hundred metres to Number 3 Road.
I took it for granted living in the City of Vancouver and Toronto that there would always be a sidewalk. Richmond does a pretty good job in general, but it’s jarring to suddenly find a sidewalk end in a central ‘downtown’ part of the city or to encounter an entire employment district where pedestrians were never considered and are unlikely to be for a very long time.
In an otherwise uneventful civic election in Richmond, a first-time candidate – Carol Day – got elected. When it came to the most controversial issues of housing and development, here was her platform:
Housing And Development Action Plan
RITE Richmond is taking the lead on affordable housing and development and city council candidates Carol Day and Michael Wolfe will push for action on this.
Under our leadership, new developments will go through an improved civic engagement process. We will ensure a fair process for local citizens to accept any changes (i.e. scale and pace) that will affect their neighbourhoods. The Day-Wolfe team will:
Insist on better communication with existing home owners, by broadening the area required for consultation, and mailing out letters written in simple language that clearly explain the process and opportunities to challenge a rezoning application.
Inform how a citizen can access information through regular channels and through the freedom of information act
Work with developers to create more affordable options for first time buyers, and develop special zoning for homes that are built with more modest finishes, smaller size and simpler designs. This back-to-basics approach could include houses under 1,000 sq ft on smaller lots and potentially duplex or four-plex options.
Offer zoning concessions for developers who build smaller homes, and sell to buyers that are certified to be lower income. These homes should accommodate families, seniors and people with disabilities.
Communicate meaningfully with community groups that band together to oppose a development, and be willing to consider alternatives and revisions to the application to the rezoning application. We will hold special meetings with grass roots groups prior to committee meetings and council meetings
Create new rezoning opportunities not available in Richmond; an example could be “down-zoning”, which allows for a specific area in a neighbourhood to limit the size of new homes to maintain the character of a mini-neighbourhood. The model could be the down-zoning option available in the Corporation of Delta. Residents can request down-zoning through a series of procedures that ensure fairness and proper protocol.
Work with developers to create new opportunities that enhance the existing neighbourhoods.
Work alongside developers to hear their creative options that could allow for new kinds of density that could have less impact on existing neighbourhoods.
Encourage staff to listen to new ideas from developers, and think outside the box. When necessary, change zoning to allow for projects that will enhance existing neighbourhoods.
Work with YVR to encourage them to allow for low interest loans to homeowners in Burkeville to support the residents that wish to alleviate noise due to airport operations, by making home improvements that could include soundproofing. The loans could cover triple glazed windows, attic and wall insulation and other improvements.
Invite councillors to attend meetings with the public that involve changes to property zoning or road changes. Examples could be construction of new fire halls, changes in road rerouting, and new infrastructures.
Instruct staff to study the benefits vs. cost of a Vacancy tax for homes that remain empty for more than 6 months. Study whether such a tax could be used towards infrastructure.
Instruct staff to research the possibility of a foreign ownership tax and see if this would be a federal-only or provincial-only option. Once this information is available to the City, decide whether lobbying the provincial or federal government for changes would be prudent.
See more here.
Can any PT readers in Richmond report on the impact of Carol Day’s election and the results so far – Nos. 4, 6 and 12 in particular?
Megahouses, vacant homes, speculation and affordability aren’t just issues for Vancouver. Reporter Graeme Wood in the Richmond News has been writing about the transformation of Richmond. Here’s an excerpt.
New homes in single-family home neighbourhoods are pushing the boundaries of floor space ratio, by uprooting lawns, and height restrictions, by adding a third level. It’s a result of increased land values and housing demand that has seen this resurgence of the megahome in Richmond. …
On Spires Road, one of the last bastions of “Old Richmond” is about to get a major makeover; Yamamoto Architecture Inc. has applied to develop seven market rental homes into 60 townhomes for purchase. The densification of the City Centre neighbourhood (one quarter of a major city block) is planned under the city’s Official Community Plan. But with a rental crunch in Richmond, renter Don Watters, who has lived on Spires for 25 years, doesn’t see the justification. “Where can we go and it be affordable?” …
Roland Hoegler, left, and longtime friend Don Watters have seen their Spires Road neighbourhood vanish with the densification plans of the City of Richmond. …
“The question is, who is benefitting from this change?” asks Hoegler.
His answer? The developers and real estate agents, who have incessantly harassed his “holdout” father to sell his home.
“Seven down, 60 up, you do the math,” he says.
“Who’s benefitting? It’s not the people like Don,” says Hoegler, pointing to high rises looming over Spires he says are mostly empty.
Richmond’s OCP states between 2011 and 2041 about 80,000 more people will move here.
“That number comes from an expectation of what portion of the projected growth of the region will go to Richmond,” notes Peter Hall, associate professor of urban studies at Simon Fraser University. The decision is inherently political, notes Hall, but Richmond has taken on about seven per cent of the 1.2 million more people projected by regional planners to live here.
New housing demand comes from three sources: inregion, out of province and out of country. Over the last 10 years, roughly nine out of 10 new residents (326,000) of Metro Vancouver were immigrants, according to population data. Richmond plans to accommodate about 55,000 of its newcomers in the City Centre and preserve single-family neighbourhoods by building townhouses along arterial roads.
According to Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, densifying the City Centre is a “relief mechanism” for singlefamily neighbourhoods; by building up housing stock, it gives the market more options. …
Price and Hall say land speculation and demand are raising the value of land in Metro Vancouver. So, essentially, it becomes a waiting game between the speculators/developers and the homeowner. “One way or another that land is going to be redeveloped to reflect the value of it,” says Hall.
Hall notes the slumlord mentality on Spires is a result of “planning blight.”
“When land is not rezoned for how desirable it is, what sometimes happens is the landlord will say, “I’ll wait out the municipal government and I’m not going to fix up this house. I’ll let the municipality get so upset and frustrated until they allow me to rezone it,” says Hall.
Starchuk notes many old homes are abandoned. The city has noted there are currently 36. …
The problem, Starchuk sees, is that not only is the land being heavily speculated on, many of the homes sit empty, resulting in the erosion of community.
There is no data to back up her assertions, however Price and Hall support the theory that foreign homeownership is a big part of it.
“There is no doubt huge amounts of land and apartment complexes are turning into safe deposit boxes,” says Price.
Residents of Richmond have gotten used to living in shameless messes due to construction of
Like so many other problems in Richmond, Starchuk says a discussion on restricting foreign homeownership — an idea floated in recent civic elections and common in other G8 countries— has never taken place.
That discussion should include provincial and federal politicians, who form immigration laws and affordable However, Price challenges the likes of Starchuk and Hoegler by asking: “Are these people willing to have their land values plummet if the governments intervene?
Starchuk says she would welcome an adjustment to the market.
“Money is not the whole answer and I think we’re putting greed before need,” says Starchuk.
Price also notes that the preservation of singlefamily neighbourhoods is “classist. He says it’s the lower income families who are relegated to the townhouses on the main arterials, buffering the elitists residing behind them from noise and air pollution.
Preserving singlefamily homes is “defensible code (for classism). It’s the place to raise kids, the Canadian dream. It’s what every society wants.”
Price notes these homes are preserved under the current market conditions and zoning, Richmond may very well simply end up like West Vancouver — multimillion dollar homes side by side (although Richmond’s won’t have any lawns or trees, for that matter).
Noted Price: “Vancouver is splitting up into class according to housing value.”
What can council do?
Coun. Bill McNulty has consistently pledged to maintain singlefamily home neighbourhoods outside of the City Centre. McNulty disagrees with Price’s “classist” argument, but he acknowledges there are problems with housing in the city. He acknowledges the city has a rental crunch and that developers have not filled that void in decades.
New multimillion dollar gated homes are often unlived in for long periods of time in Richmond. When occupants do arrive, they’re sheltered from the rest of the neighbourhood.
He is also aware of the way homes are being built and how it affects neighbourhoods. He says provincial height restrictions via landuse contracts have allowed builders to build higher than what the city normally allows. He hopes to fix that.
He’s also put in a referral to planners to look at banning gated driveways. “It tells me you don’t want me in, and you don’t want to come out,” says McNulty.
When asked if the city could postpone development in areas like Spires, where market rental units still exist, he said it’s possible, even with the OCP.
Coun. Carol Day was recently elected on a platform of slowing the rate of development in the city, often criticizing McNulty and his partners’ record over the past 20 years. Day has proposed to work with developers to make rebuilds smaller (floor size) and perhaps allow for lots to be subdivided to discourage megahomes.
“Just because we have done this, doesn’t mean we have to keep on doing it,” Day said at a recent planning committee meeting where she’s already become a lone voice of opposition to applications.
But as Price noted: “Restrict the square footage and that would result in a drop in land value. Ask (homeowners) how they would feel about that.”
Life in Metro Vancouver is expensive. Consistently ranked one of the world’s most unaffordable housing markets, it can be challenging for individuals, couples, and families to find housing suitable for their needs. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, there are trade-offs for every decision you make. If you want the urban lifestyle – and can afford it – space comes at a premium. If you choose the suburbs for the cost savings, size of residence, or “small town” feel, long commutes or alternative work arrangements may be required. How might your family, career, health, and quality of life be affected by where you live? And how is the issue of cost affecting the demographics of our cities and suburbs?
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 6:30 – 9:00 pm
Program begins at 6:30 pm with a reception to follow.
UBC Boathouse 7277 River Road Richmond, BC
This event is free of charge, but advance registration is required.
Matthew Lazin-Ryder – Producer, CBC Radio One’s On the Coast
Lawrence Frank – Professor in Sustainable Transportation and Health, UBC
Michael Geller – President, The Geller Group; Affiliate, UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA)
Christine McLaren – Freelance Journalist
Tsur Somerville – Associate Professor, UBC’s Sauder School of Business; Director, UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate
Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Questions? Please contact Berkley Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-827-5831.
No muncipality is converting more quickly from strip suburban to transit-oriented urban than Richmond – particularly that part of No. 3 Road adjacent to the Canada Line. (For previous posts on the “AOL Triangle,” start here.)
With an expected population equivalent to Vancouver’s Downtown Peninsula within walking distance of five rapid-transit stations (left), Richmond’s core will have the density. As importantly, it will have the urban character and amenities. Though constrained by the height limits because of flight paths to the airport (and on a flood plain, surrounded by dikes), the irresistible effect of YVR has trumped seismic concerns that previously kept this area from being designated a regional town centre.
Also given Richmond’s appeal to Asian immigrants, the question was not whether dramatic growth would occur but how it would be shaped.
You can already get a good feel of the scale and character of this new city centre in blocks near Aberdeen Mall:
In the Alderbridge & Westminster Highway area north of City Hall:
And of course, in the area around the Olympic Oval, where River Green has already been well promoted. But Brian Jackson, Richmond’s Director of Development, says this is just the beginning:
The area that you’re speaking of (the AOL Triangle) is actually part of three “villages” as set out in our new City Centre Area Plan (CCAP) adopted September 14, 2009.
Two of the three villages are centred on two transit stations (Aberdeen and Lansdowne); and the other is centred on the Oval. … we are looking for the intensification and urbanization of this area with mixed use, including residential, redevelopment with the highest densities focused at the stations or closest to the oval.
We have several major development applications going through now that will help to realize that vision. Amongst the ones we have in are Wing Leung’s Quintet development at Number 3 Road and Firbridge (rendering below) that includes a new community centre of 33,000 sq. ft. and university (for Trinity Western) and ASPAC’s development, both east and west of the Oval that will accommodate over 2,500 residential units, a commercial village core east of the Oval, together with new parks and waterfront trail. In addition, we have two hotel applications near the Lansdowne Station, another high rise residential project from Onni, as well as several other developers poised to make other applications to intensify this area.
So, from a policy perspective, we’ve got everything in place for developers to move forward, when market conditions are right, to implement the vision set out in the plan.
Additionally, Richmond has also tried to address the loss of jobs-rich industrial lands that will be redeveloped to the west of No. 3 Road. Says Brian:
The CCAP addresses this issue by creating “industrial reserves” in other parts of the City Centre which used to be single family neighbourhoods that cannot be residential anymore because of the flight path/noise issues. In addition, as part of the OCP review, now underway, the policy section is doing an industrial analysis for all of Richmond to examine that very issue.
[The third of a series. Start here.]
It may be one-and-a-half times as long as the route from Lansdowne Station, but Olympic organizers will recommend to spectators heading for the speed-skating oval to get off at Aberdeen and walk the 1.5 kilometres along the Richmond River Walk.
To the north, the best features of Richmond: the Fraser, the mountains, life along the river.
To the south, the less appealing industrial landscape of the ALO Triangle along River Road.
The block from Cambie to Gilbert is possibly the longest in the Lower Mainland – an unbroken kilometre, without a sidewalk.
Not that the dyke itself was designed to handle a lot of people. Part way along, the Richmond Yacht Club leaves only a strip of gravel as a half-hearted bypass.
But that’s changing. Richmond has crews out working on what will obviously be a significant transformation of the river walk.
New construction promises to grandly welcome the pedestrian – and, I’m assuming, a separate path for bikes.
It’s a real turn-around for Richmond, where, even in its more recently developed parts, the gap between a true pedestrian- and transit-friendly cityscape and what’s on the ground is regrettably wide.
For instance, take the route – only half a block – from the south side of Aberdeen Centre to the Canada Line station:
At point 2:
At point 1:
Obviously the city is waiting for redevelopment to resolve these embarrassments. Here it will happen. But the ALO Triangle? Should another industrial zone be scrapped, even if in return we get a transit-oriented, pedestian-friendly, high-amenity neighbourhood?
That leads to one of the more critical planning issues – maybe the most difficult challenge of the upcoming regional plan. More later.
The ALO Triangle lies between the Aberdeen and Lansdowne Canada Line stations and the Olympic Oval – the territory to be traversed by many thousands of Olympic visitors. It’s only a kilometre from Lansdowne to the Olympic Oval – but it’s a dreary kilometre.
Here are a few of the enticing streetscapes along Lansdowne Road:
This is sure to impress the Europeans.
At least Lansdowne Road has sidewalks on a few blocks (though at Minoru Boulevard it turns into an industrial lane) and has been extended from Gilbert to Hollybridge. But try walking on Minoru Boulevard and you’ll find that there was never any intent to accommodate you – unless you’re making a trip from your car seat to a storefront, both placed as close together as possible.
It’s all too clear that the only critical urban design that went into the ALO Triangle at the time it was zoned for industrial (the 60s?) was done by the traffic engineers and the road builders. At that time, sidewalks were a needless expense. The only serious mode for good movements was truck – and so the roads were designed for them. They had no foresight of an alternative future, except for one of unlimited automotive travel.
Fortunately, for the Olympic visitor, there will be a choice. More Monday.