From the Richmond News the City of Richmond has decided to create a bylaw restricting the size of houses built on the ALR (the Agricultural Land Reserve) in that municipality. A couple of things-if you purchase farm land you do not have to pay the 15 per cent foreign owner tax. And if you can crop blueberries or have a calf born on the property you can claim you are a farmer and have the land taxed as agricultural instead of as a large house executive estate.
“Last year, a Globe and Mail investigation found wealthy investors bought farmland in Richmond without any intention of farming and took advantage of tax incentives to pay meagre property taxes while, in some cases, operating illegal hotels. The investigation found local and foreign buyers enjoy large tax breaks meant to encourage farming. Last week, Richmond councillors voted to ban short-term rentals such as Airbnb.”
One of the City Councillors Harold Steves said “so-called monster homes built in 2015 on the ALR surged in size to an average of 12,087 square feet, compared with 7,329 square feet in 2010.” In a report expected to create a lot of controversy staff will be regulating house size and set backs as well as the size of other buildings on the properties contained in the ALR. The Province and the Agricultural Commission do not provide regulations across the province, instead assuming that each municipality will limit the size of estate houses on ALR farmland.
Consultation meetings will be held in March. Options include limiting floor area to 5,382 square feet for a principal residence based upon provincial guidelines, or using Delta’s zoning guidelines restricting building size to 3,552 square feet on lots smaller than 20 acres. Given the importance of maintaining the richest agricultural lands in Canada, Richmond will work to “minimize residential development on agricultural lands and increase farm viability” . Kudos to the City of Richmond for doing the right thing.
Smart Growth America has just released their 2016 edition of Dangerous By Design which examines the epidemic of pedestrians that are killed by cars. Imagine-in the United States between 2005 and 2014 over 46,000 people were killed by being struck by cars. That is the population of Cornwall Ontario or Brandon Manitoba.
Unlike the Canadian Automobile Association that has just released a study breathlessly listing the worst traffic bottlenecks inconveniencing drivers in Canada, Smart Growth USA gets it right-this is not about the inconvenience of vehicular traffic being throttled down by road capacity and so-called “waiting time lost” but about the fact that we are killing off innocent people, whose only crime was to be walking on a sidewalk or a street when their life was snuffed out. But no one is talking about the eleven Vancouver pedestrians that were killed on city streets, or the hundreds maimed, many legally walking with the right of way when crossing in a marked intersection. We had 11 murders in the City of Vancouver in 2016. Please double that number and recognize the people who were also snuffed out by road violence. Where’s the concerned commentary of the Mayor and Council? Per capita, pedestrians are dying at TWICE the rate of pedestrians in Toronto. And no one in authority is addressing this epidemic.
As Smart Growth America states: “In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, 4,884 people were killed by a car while walking—105 people more than in 2013. On average, 13 people were struck and killed by a car while walking every day in 2014. And between 2005 and 2014, Americans were 7.2 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than from a natural disaster. Each one of those people was a child, parent, friend, classmate, or neighbor. And these tragedies are occurring across the country—in small towns and big cities, in communities on the coast and in the heartland.”
Smart Growth America has a webinar yesterday to report their findings. They have partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as seniors are fifty per cent more likely than younger people to be hit and killed by a car while walking. People in lower income neighbourhoods and different ethnic backgrounds where also disproportionately at higher risk to be killed walking even after controlling for the relative higher walking rates associated in these communities.
Street design, speeding vehicles and poor pedestrian infrastructure also need to be addressed. British Columbia’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall notes that vulnerable road users-those without the enclosure of a steel vehicle-were 31.7 per cent of vehicle fatalities in 2009 and are now 34.9 per cent in 2013, the last year there are statistics.In total 280 people are killed annually in collisions in this province, with 79,000 people seriously injured. In a place where the government covers health care, you’d think our politicians would be advocating changes in driver education and behaviour, slower speeds, and road design that makes vehicles slow down. What is it going to take?
Ben Spurr of the Toronto Star reports on the City of Toronto’s response to the fact that 37 of the 43 pedestrians killed in Toronto in 2016-a staggering 86 per cent-were seniors over 55 years. Mayor John Tory stated: It was the deadliest year for pedestrians in more than a decade, and also the worst year for older pedestrian deaths over that time. We must do more to prevent these deaths and to protect residents across the city. The number of people killed on our roads, pedestrians, every year, should be zero.”
That is great to hear as Toronto’s “Vision Zero” for pedestrian deaths originally meant a 20 per cent reduction in the next five years. It seems that Toronto wasn’t aware of what Vision Zero meant-as stated by the Swedish Vision Zero Initiative, “The Vision Zero is the Swedish approach to road safety thinking. It can be summarized in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.”
Road deaths in Stockholm are now at low levels not seen since the 1950’s.
Toronto’s approach has been to create what they are calling “senior zones”on 12 intersections where seniors have been maimed and killed. Speed limits are being reduced 10 km/h to 40 km/h, “seniors safety signage” will tell drivers to slow down, pavement markings and longer pedestrian crossing times will be programmed. Red light cameras will also be installed.
Lowering the speed fractionally for a street as opposed to a slower speed for a larger area and not changing the design of the street to physically slow cars seem to be pretty conservative changes.The City is installing its first ever road safety program after a horrifying loss of life. Time will tell if the baby steps of signage and police regulation will be enough to mitigate the speed and driver behaviour killing and maiming older walking Torontonians. Road design changes for visibility and slower speeds as well as massive behavioural change for vehicle drivers may be necessary. Here’s hoping their approach works.
A compelling video from 2014 (quoting 2014 budget prices) is narrated by Vancouver architect Peter Cardew about how the current Vancouver Art Gallery could be renewed and expanded. Peter Cardew was commissioned to look at the gallery spaces a decade earlier, and his take is very similar to that of the late architect Bing Thom’s-the current location of the art gallery is the centre of pedestrian traffic and importance in the downtown. Bing Thom Architects developed a “post-gallery” plan below the building’s North Plaza.
Like many Vancouverites, the late Bing Thom architect extraordinaire loved the current site of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Hornby which is the place to sit, to people watch and functions as the navel of the city. Bing proposed a remarkable redo of the old gallery once vacated to include a light-filled entrance to a 1,950 seat underground concert hall, a multi-use theatre and retail stores. Importantly he also proposed reopening the Georgia Street entrance of the building and focusing a new plaza on Georgia Street as the City’s primary public space and square.
Peter Cardew thought the Vancouver Art Gallery should stay on this site. In this article Peter Cardew thought “ as much as 176,000 square feet of additional space can be added to the historic courthouse building by creating additional underground spaces underneath the outdoor plaza facing West Georgia Street. It includes an underground “Grand Hall” measuring approximately 300 feet long and 70 feet high that incorporates a glass ceiling from the plaza to allow natural light to stream in. The vision also proposes to renovate the existing gallery spaces and repurpose UBC Robson Square into added space for the museum.”
At that time in 2014 dollars, Peter Cardew estimated that the cost of changes would be $100 million less than the proposed $300 million dollar Larwill Park site on Cambie Street across from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. And there are precedents-both the Louvre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London expanded their facilities at existing galleries.
“I don’t know any gallery in the world that has such a prime site as the Vancouver Art Gallery does. If it were a vacant site that is where the Vancouver Art Gallery would be.” -Peter Cardew
Stanley Q. Woodvine writes eloquently in the Georgia Straight about a tiny woman named Linda carrying a very large sign advertising the dispersal of an American Apparel store.Mr. Woodvine notes “Partly it was simply the ridiculous disparity of scale. Here was this petite young woman with bright auburn hair, tromping around in oversized gumboots and gripping in big yellow work gloves a garish plywood and corrugated plastic assemblage that towered over her comparatively diminutive frame—that was a striking enough sight by itself.”
Mr. Woodvine is a homeless writer and graphic artist. He saw the irony of a person making $12.50 an hour to carry a sign for what was a clothing store that tried to be fashion forward with shock advertising and high prices. “The woman’s name, as I’ve already mentioned, was Linda and the huge red, black, and yellow sign that she carried was for the American Apparel store, located just around the corner on Granville Street. It read like an ad for a closing out sale: “Entire store 70-90% off…Nothing held back. Everything must go!”
“More than anything else this was a sign of just how desperate things have gotten for the American Apparel clothing chain, with the U.S. parent company now having filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in a little over a year.But it also arguably signalled the difficult economic plight of all the 20- and 30-somethings who staff these low-paying retail store jobs—if they’re lucky.I’ve been given to understand that quite a large number of well-educated millennials spend their days scrambling between various retail jobs and even lower-paying blue- and white-collar casual-labour jobs—apparently one e-transfer and a college degree away from being evicted and having to live on a friend’s couch—if they’re lucky.”
Today is the final day of the Gordie Awards where the Editorial Committee of Price Tags ranks the good, the bad, the fun and the just plain puzzling Transportation and Planning stories of 2016.
Today’s Gordie Awards goes for “Moments of Courage”-when work occurs that is not what is normally anticipated or expected, but meets an unfulfilled need.
There were two winners in this category:
Moments of Courage
Housing Crisis Forum
A forum was held in November 2016 that was an inclusive discussion of ” The Housing Crisis is Global! Anti-Imperialist Perspectives on the Foreign Investor Myth in B.C.” This forumprovided a diverse discussion and was inclusive of the dispossession of First Nations peoples from their lands. While so much could have gone wrong at such a meeting, it didn’t . Here is the link to the meeting:: https://www.facebook.com/events/329547804095114/
Standouts about the meeting included translation in many languages, including simultaneous interpretation in Cantonese and Mandarin, the discussion of complex topics including race and housing with underexposed demographics, the meeting was held at a location that was not downtown, and lastly provided free child care.
There is nothing more important than protecting and assisting the most vulnerable of our citizens, and ensuring that appropriate care is given. This award is given to the City of Vancouver for responding to urgent need. A City tax increase was approved by Council for increased first responders as the death toll rises in an awful epidemic of death.
This concludes the Awarding of the 2016 Gordies for Transportation and Planning Stories of 2016. What will 2017 bring for inclusion in next year’s awards?
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.
As reported in Streetsblog the State of New York’s Court of Appeals has made a landmark ruling that may have implications across the U.S.-“New York City and other municipalities can be held liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of traffic injuries and reckless driving.”
The ruling arises from the consideration of a crash where a vehicle being driven over 50 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone crashed into a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle and the boy has been awarded 20 million dollars in damages. Here’s the interesting part –“The court held that departments of transportation (DOT) can be held liable for harm caused by speeding drivers, where the DOT fails to install traffic-calming measures even though it is aware of dangerous speeding, unless the DOT has specifically undertaken a study and determined that traffic calming is not required.”
It turns out that residents had asked the City several times to provide traffic calming measures on Gerritsen Street, which was locally known for speeding vehicles. DOT subsequently conducted studies at three intersections, according to court documents, and “notified police of the speeding problem after each study.” But DOT didn’t look at the incidence of speeding along Gerritsen Avenue as a whole, and failed to look at traffic calming measures to slow down vehicles.
The judge commented: It is known among traffic engineers that straight, wide roads with little interference from pedestrians and other vehicles, such as Gerritsen Avenue, encourage speeding because drivers feel more comfortable on roadways with those characteristics…traffic calming measures deter speeding because they cause drivers to be more cautious, and that such measures are known to reduce the overall speed on roadways.” The upshot? The jury could conclude that “negligence was a proximate cause of the accident”.
Such a ruling will mean that city budgets will include funding for street safety redesigns, and will mean that traffic safety improvements are no longer “subject to debate and contingent on unanimous local opinion.” It also means that in New York State when traffic calming is recommended in studies to reduce road violence,that the municipality is encumbered to install the infrastructure. This is truly a game changer.
Vancouver has been a creative hotbed for environmentalism, urban design, art and social policies – but is that coming to a halt due to high prices and other factors?
Arguing the PRO side are Sandy Garossino and Caitlin Jones:
Sandy Garossino is Associate Editor at the National Observer, as well as public commentator and arts advocate. A former independent book publisher, Garossino has nurtured and promoted independent street artists and cultural diversity. By coincidence, four of her adult children have careers in film and music outside Vancouver.
Currently Executive Director of the Western Front Society in Vancouver, Caitlin has worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Rhizome.org, in NYC. She writes extensively about contemporary art and most recently the impact of Vancouver’s real estate market on art and artists.
Arguing the CON side are Mark Busse and Jane Cox:
Mark Busse is Director of Creativity and Engagement at HCMA Architecture + Design, helping lead their interdisciplinary design team and TILT Curiosity Labs initiative which explores creativity, design, and engagement in all its forms, including an artist in residence program and community initiatives such as Likemind Vancouver, CreativeMornings/Vancouver, and Interesting Vancouver.
Jane Cox is the Director and Founder of Cause+Affect, a strategic brand consultancy. She is a recognized leader in culture building, social entrepreneurship and civic engagement. Cox’s clients benefit from her extensive experience and insight into transforming detailed business plans and strategic objectives into active and compelling brands that inspire, connect and drive impact.
And no, we are not talking about any current holiday trend, but the group of Asian ladies of a certain age who have divvied up the “turf” of single-family housing areas in Vancouver. They collect bottles and redeemable containers from blue box recycling containers on recycle collection days. Some are pleasant, and respectful, and know all the neighbours. Others are more demanding, going onto properties and in garages to retrieve their booty. One local bottle lady tucks her treasures in a late-model car. But what is the life of these women, how do they divide their territories and how does it all work?
Marcus Gee of the Globe and Mail also wondered how these ladies operate in Toronto, and armed with a translator approached them. Marcus notes: “Big, complex cities such as Toronto contain worlds within worlds, many of them unknown to each other. The world of the bottle ladies is one of the city’s most obscure. Social agencies that track downtown poverty and work with the Chinese community admit they don’t know much about who they are or what drives them, although they think some may have dementia or hoarding issues.”
“Despite their old clothes and their willingness to trudge the streets for a few dollars, most are not homeless or desperately poor. Many have families. Quite a few have a government pension or other income. Many live with a son or daughter and spend the daytime caring for grandchildren. They insist they never take money from anyone. The last thing they want is charity or pity.”
“They go out collecting, they say, to bring in a little spending money and to keep active in their later years. That’s not unusual in China, where garbage picking has been refined into an art. Even in prosperous Hong Kong, wizened, bent women can be seen pushing carts piled high with scrap cardboard down busy city streets. Many bottle ladies, it turns out, come from neighbouring parts of southern China, especially Taishan, in the Pearl River Delta.”
Marcus also found that one bottle lady actually leaves gifts and tokens for customers who left bottles out for her, and collected to stay active. “The phrase she used to describe herself is “ngaii duk,” a Cantonese term to describe someone who can endure hardship with fortitude.”
An article in the South China Post published in 2014 found that nearly 70 per cent of vulnerable Hong Kong seniors collected recycling to pay for basic housing and food costs. It is also a part of Vancouver life dominated by one cohort of ladies who have wholeheartedly embraced the bottle collecting task. The Globe and Mail article gives a glimpse into the reasons why.
Another article on our doomed Chinatown by Kerry Gold in the Globe and Mail:
Gentrification isn’t just nibbling at Chinatown’s edges. Thanks to rezoning changes, it’s taking major bites out of the neighbourhood. … Class inversion is happening in cities throughout North America. Urban cores used to be the domain of low-income groups, while the wealthier demographic lived in the suburbs. In recent years, wealthier groups are choosing urban living and pushing low-income groups to the outskirts, or further.
“You have to ask, ‘Where is this coming from? Who are you serving?’” asks Kevin Huang, executive director of the Hua Foundation, a non-profit for young Chinese-Canadians. Mr. Huang is also committed to supporting the people who form the tight-knit Chinatown community, and who are now under threat of displacement. …
“With this rezoning, I think this is a battle for the soul of Chinatown, and what does it mean for us as a city in terms of diversity and inclusion,” Mr. Huang says. …
“We seem to be treating Chinatown as a development site instead of a community,” civic historian John Atkin says.
The old mom-and-pop shops are already hurting, faced with mounting property taxes and aging ownership. The educated next generation doesn’t always want to take over the old business. And those new corporate retailers wouldn’t be able to buy from within the neighbourhood or from small local farms the way current businesses have for a century. The old local economy of Chinatown – a model of sustainability before it became a buzzword – would be destroyed….
Melody Ma, a self-professed “policy wonk,” grew up attending dance classes in Chinatown. Both Ms. Ma and Mr. Huang see the city’s failure to prioritize people, with their histories and traditions and lives, as the problem. Other cities have adopted culture as an integral part of their urban planning, including New Westminster and Montreal, so they’ve asked Vancouver City to consider doing the same. …
“That means developers will have to make sure they consider the needs of the community prior to even talking to city hall – that we’re recognizing the culture and history and the aspirations of the people who live there,” she says.
It’s more than the buildings. Unless the culture is preserved, the place becomes commodified and soulless, she says. To thwart displacement, the city offers up bigger building potential in exchange for a few units of social housing. But what good is social housing if a community is wiped out? …
Small businesses such as Mr. Mah’s face deeper challenges if the city doesn’t craft policies to protect them. …
But pressure on the community will only intensify because the area is in the crosshairs of future densification. A couple of blocks away, the viaducts will come down and the new St. Paul’s Hospital will transform the historic area into a hub of high-tech medical care.
Ms. Ma says “it was a mountain to climb” just getting council to agree to consider culture as a priority.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘How do we place a culture or community first – rather than just follow finance?’”
I am a loss to understand what is wanted for Chinatown – or what is even possible.
Should it be a goal to “prioritize people, with their histories and traditions and lives,” if it means we’re intending to preserve a cultural product that was a consequence of one of the most racist periods in our history. Chinatown was a ghetto in the worst sense of the word.
Is the desire to exclude anything that doesn’t reflect that era?
And even if there was an inherent racism in that assumption of exclusion, how can a zoning code preserve or even encourage businesses no longer wanted, no longer viable?
The forces of time and change mean there is essentially no hope to maintain the cultural moment of Chinatown. Surrounding development forces, the removal of the Viaducts, a new St. Paul’s and changing demographics guarantee that.
Why would we set ourselves up for failure?
Shaping urban form and use is the purpose of zoning and development bylaws. Saving a culture is not. And that’s as true for the gay village on Davie and the Punjabi Village on Main as it is for Chinatown on Main.
Durning: Be interesting to see your reader’s take on this short piece by David Ley, UBC Professor of Geography (whose early analysis seemed to have little impact when first presented in 2010, but gets more prescient as time goes by. This is from 2015.)
Global China and the making of Vancouver’s residential property market – Conclusion
Structural defects in the BC economy exposed by a severe recession led three levels of government to develop networks with the growth region of Asia Pacific from the early 1980s. The objectives, to augment trade and investment, were aided by neo-liberal tools that included open borders, deregulation, a place-boosting world’s fair, liberalised immigration policies, and a development-ready province pushing back the gains of labour and the welfare state.
An innovation that gained significant take-up was the Business Immigration Programme, with Vancouver, the closest major city to East Asia and with a high quality of life, the most popular destination especially for the wealthiest investor newcomers. Although the BIP was open to affluent residents of all nations, in the past 35 years, 80%–85% of investor class immigrants originated in Greater China.
The state’s Asia Pacific outreach has proven successful in reaching its economic goals. In 2014, 37% of BC’s exports were Asia-bound. Piecing together various sources, and including secondary migration, I estimate wealth migration of 200,000 immigrants to Vancouver through the three streams of the BIP between 1980 and 2012, the equivalent of 8%–9% of the metropolitan population in 2011.
Massive amounts of capital moved across the Pacific; the estimated liquid capital available to business immigrants arriving in Greater Vancouver between 1988 and 1997 alone was $35–$40 billion. Some of this was surrendered to the provincial government as a requisite interest-free loan.
Newcomers moved quickly into homeownership in Canada’s most expensive city and their housing impact was elevated by their preference for property as an early site for further investment and rental income.
While real incomes have atrophied for several decades, the Greater Vancouver benchmark price for detached properties is now $1.2 million, and is once again on a tear, having risen by 20% in the past 12 months. Both provincial and municipal government revenues have benefitted from property-based taxation, and are reluctant to harm the goose that lays the golden egg.
Wealth generated in asset hotspots in a deregulated globalised economy can generate huge public revenues as well as private returns. The convergence, even without collusion, of private and public sector property interests in BC creates immense momentum that precludes meaningful policy responses to inequities that include excessive housing unaffordability, precarious mortgage indebtedness, and disillusioned out-migration.
The default housing policy position has become minimal response and the cultivation of ignorance concerning actual trends. In this neo-liberal policy environment, community costs assume the status of acceptable collateral damage.
“It took Gates seven years and $63 million to build his Medina, Washington, estate, named “Xanadu 2.0” after the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of “Citizen Kane.”At 66,000 square feet, the home is absolutely massive, and it’s loaded to the brim with high-tech details.
The property is worth $124.99 million as of this year. Gates purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988.Per public filings, he paid $1,080,443.17 in property taxes in 2016.
Half a million board-feet of lumber was needed to complete the project.The house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir trees, and 300 construction workers labored on the home — 100 of whom were electricians.
A high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor a room’s climate and lighting.When guests arrive, they’re given a pin that interacts with sensors located all over the house. Guests enter their temperature and lighting preferences so that the settings change as they move throughout the home. Speakers hidden behind wallpaper allow music to follow you from room to room.
The house uses its natural surroundings to reduce heat loss.You can change the artwork on the walls with just the touch of a button.Situated around the house are $80,000 worth of computer screens. Anyone can make the screens display their favorite paintings or photographs, which are stored on devices worth $150,000.
The pool also has its own underwater music system.The 60-foot pool is in its own separate, 3,900-square-foot building — the large brown building in the photo above. People in the pool could swim underneath a glass wall to come up to a terrace area on the outside.
The 2,100-square-foot library has a dome roof and two secret bookcases, including one that reveals a hidden bar. On the ceiling you’ll find a quote from “The Great Gatsby” that reads: “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
“Kuebiko was a Shinto deity of knowledge and agriculture, a scarecrow who couldn’t move but had complete awareness of events around him. He may be most known to the Western World through a wise scarecrow of his namesake that features in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”
“If you feel impotent, looking on at a string of events beyond your influence, then you may relate to ‘kuebiko’.”
Kuebiko may well represent how many “globalists” feel after watching Brexit and the results of the American election. Oh and by the way, if you were British and wanted to remain in the European Economic Union, you are a “remainer”. And if you are a Canadian? You may be experiencing Kuebiko. Here is how to pronounce it.
In what is a pretty well thought out and executed play, AirBnB has announced their latest venture. The upstart technology has made inroads in providing access to local rentals to their paying customers, often circumventing local by-laws on monthly rentals. But as The BBC reports they now have incentivized local knowledge by allowing locals to provide a kind of concierge service to those folks visiting AirBnB rentals.
As one of the founders Dan Chesky states“We decided to curate.” The process includes helping hosts design professional old-movie-style posters to advertise their experience, and to record nifty short trailer videos to share more information. Called “Trips” local hosts can then take those guests out on “experiences”.
AirBnB has been criticized for taking rentals out of the local housing markets and driving rents up. While taking out ads where AirBnB hosts extol the value of the service to paying their mortgage or rent, the company has also started to play nice in major cities with housing shortages.
“In San Francisco we removed all people that had multiple listings. Thousands of homes. We agreed to a registration process which caps people being able to rent their homes for 90 days. You would never evict somebody, as far as I can tell, to rent your home only 90 days a year. We’ve agreed to restrictions. We definitely want to be part of the solution.”
So far the solution does not include agreements to not infiltrate markets that have near zero vacancy rates.
It is no news that it is difficult to find an affordable place to rent in Vancouver, and that has been further exacerbated as the housing market has become more and more expensive. This article says what we all know- we need to find a new way to provide affordable rental accommodation for all Vancouverites at all life stages.
As Global News reports Real estate developer Bob Rennie says “we’re not going to solve problems, unless we deal with new models. The old models aren’t working.” Rennie wants the city to create rental-only zones around major transit hubs. Land in those zones would be worth half that of other condo properties, allowing builders to charge lower rent.”
So think of it-a way to increase rental stock would be for consolidated areas around transit stations and hubs to be available at lower cost to developers who would then be required to pass on those savings to their eventual rental customers. Such an undertaking would require an amendment of the Vancouver City Charter and would also preclude local public process and buy-in, including from landowners who would not be making the same gains as they would on real property sold for single family or condo development
As Tom Davidoff from the Sauder School of Business at UBC states “I think what the province needs to do is step up, and revise the municipal charters and say, ‘Sure, you have power over zoning, but if the zoning you implement bans excludes 95 per cent of Canadian from owning a property in a neighbourhood that’s not going to stand a legal challenge.”
Vancouver has developed differently from any other city in North America in terms of its civic engagement, strong citizen identity and early adaptation to environmental concerns and social causes. Some of the events coming out of the 1970’s that profoundly changed Vancouver are in Kate Bird’s book Vancouver in the Seventies.
In the Youtube video below, local luminaries including Kate Bird, Shelley Fralic, Aaron Chapman and Michael Kluckner describe some of the key events in the 1970’s which have shaped Vancouver thought, culture and politics.
Kate Bird is also the guest curator of the Museum of Vancouver exhibit “Vancouver in the Seventies” which will be at the museum until February 26, 2017.
The City of Vancouver has information here on their proposed bikeway plan for Tenth Avenue between Oak and Cambie Streets which will take out one hundred parking spaces and which will install east and west bike lanes on this well-travelled street. The City calls this section of street the “Health” instead of the “Hospital” precinct, as one astute observer noted. While cyclists see this as a street to bike through, for many health consumers in the Province this location is close to their last stop.
Of course everyone should walk, take transit or bike to services. Yes there is off-street parking, but many of the institutions do not allow “general” parking unless you are going to that specific centre, which is often full. Most out of towners do need to come by car. Most are also health compromised and cannot walk too far. Most are ill, infirm, and will have perceptual conflicts crossing the street with bikes travelling on the new lanes. Those encumbered folks will not be able to respond quickly.
In many ways the current situation on Tenth Avenue makes vehicles, bikes and pedestrians slow down and take notice of everything happening in their surroundings. The street is heavily used by pedestrians. It has wonderful street trees. And that on-street parking provides a buffer for pedestrians from the travelled portion of the street. The impacts of losing one hundred on street parking spaces is not only challenging for hospital clients-its a big loss to the city too.
Tenth Avenue in this “Hospital” precinct has some of the highest parking meter turnover in the city-this is a metered “cash cow”. The current parking meter rate of $3.00 an hour for each meter makes approximately $9,000 a year for each meter or a total of $900,000 a year for all one hundred meters that are being taken out. (This does not include any revenue from parking enforcement).
Over a 20 year period, if parking meter rates rose at current annual interest rates (3% – 5%), the present value of the parking meter revenue would be $18 Million. If the current parking meter rates were to increase annually by just 2% more the present value of the revenue would be $27 Million. The City’s new meter policy approved this week is likely to increase the rates in this area by at least a dollar an hour, so you may have to add 33 per cent to these numbers.
The financial incentive is there to continue the use of these parking spaces. Is it worth $900,000 a year annual municipal revenue to come up with an inclusive design that includes these metered parking spaces in this hospital precinct?
The concept of the City State is associated with classical Athens. Athens was host to citizens who studied science, philosophy and history,and lived a life surrounded by arts, architecture and literature along with democratic governance.The return of the importance of the City state is occurring in the United States where cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have publicly stated that they will be sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants even if they lose federal funding under the new President Elect.
Klaus Kunzmann has written on the ramifications of planning in the Trumpian era. The Brexit vote in Great Britain divided the urban and the rural areas. A similar split has occurred in the Trumpian vote in America where “we can expect the cities, rather than national governments, increasingly to lead efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Of course it would be better if the national governments were helping, rather than undermining their efforts. However, the cities are crucial players and will become even more so. The challenge to their planners is to become more brave and creative, rather than retreating. Zero-energy districts, sustainable travel, closed systems for waste, brownfield renewal, roof gardens, urban agriculture, inclusive planning… the list of possibilities is long, though time could be short.”
Secondly, Kunzmann notes that marginalized cities and rural places need to have essential services and supports that are often lacking in order to maintain happy and prosperous populations. “We need to think about how to connect local identity, uniqueness, conservation, social enterprises, online learning, and youth entrepreneurship into new pathways to development. “
In many ways Vancouver’s Green City Action Plan to create a strong local economy, vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods and a city that will meet the needs of future generations provides guidance for American municipalities. Now more than ever it is important to think of resilience and equity and diversity. It will also be important for Metro Vancouver municipalities to listen and to share experiences as American City States go forward by themselves, against dissenting Federal policy. As Jane Jacobs said “The trouble with paternalists is that they want to make impossibly profound changes, and they choose impossibly superficial means for doing so.”
As reported in the Delta Optimist not only is Metro Vancouver’s Delta on the receiving end of a new Provincial ten lane bridge, a 1.2 million square foot regional mall and a 550,000 square foot local mall on First Nations territory and a Port expansion, it looks like they will be hosting a Casino too.
Delta is the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s “preferred host” for a new gambling centre. Delta was chosen because of strong market potential, community plans and transportation access. As part of the revamping of Surrey’s Newton Community Gaming Centre (read a bingo place) the lottery corporation asked Delta, the Tsawwassen First Nation and Surrey to submit expressions of interest. Surrey said no, and Delta submitted the Town and Country Hotel site owned by Ron Toigo and Shato Holdings (of White Spot and Tsawwassen Springs) on the east side of Highway 99 at the Massey Tunnel. The Tsawwassen First Nations does have an entertainment zoned area but requires an amendment to allow for casino inclusion in their by-law, and did not specify the location for their proposed casino.
There is good money in gambling, where the Province estimates a casino can create 25 to 50 million dollars in incremental revenues. The local host government get ten per cent of net gaming income-which would mean a handy annual income estimated to be about 1.5 to 3 milion dollars a year. Casinos do however have a negative impact on property values and surrounding property use. As reported in the Atlantic monthly a casino is an all absorbing business that does not release its customers until they have no money.
The lottery corporation felt that the Delta proposed location next to Highway 99 was too close to Richmond’s River Rock casino, and requires “a more suitable location that, combined with size and scope details, will form a gaming facility proposal for Delta’s consideration.” However in the Surrey Leader Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer observed “It’s isolated, it’s not near schools, it’s not in the communities [and] people won’t be driving there through communities. The area’s sited for upgrades with the new [bridge] coming in, so to us it’s a perfect site.”
Delta’s chosen casino site at the Town and Country Inn site may change. As Mayor Jackson states “We’re in a very middle-of-the-road position. We’ll go through the process and if something comes forward that looks amenable, obviously we would take that forward to council and go from there. Nothing is cast in stone in any way, shape or form…it would still all have to go to public hearing.”