More respite from the uniform green and grey.
Beaver Lake, Stanley Park
Out for a walk after dinner.
An article published by Vancouver Sun’s Kelly Sinoski talks about what we all know-finding an affordable detached home is pretty impossible. You have a handful of options including moving to the suburbs, buying a condo, or trying to find ground-oriented town or row houses.
The Urban Land Institute which does research on population and land-use states that in the 1990’s their studies indicated that Metro Vancouver would have a housing shortage “by 2021 unless it built 21,000 units annually-with 13,400 of those being ground-oriented,and 7,700 of them apartments”. The ULI was suggesting that for every apartment built, there needed to be 2 ground oriented townhouses or rowhouses.
Why? Because there was a common assumption that the baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 would be downsizing into those row houses. Trouble is those boomers didn’t move from their single family houses, which may have been a good thing because ground oriented townhouses and rowhouses were never built in a ratio of 2 for every one apartment, and there is little stock.
Census Canada for 2011 information shows that between 2006 and 2011, Metro Vancouver added 38,340 ground oriented dwellings, and 35,870 apartment units. This is half the amount of housing that the ULI suggested. In five decades, ground-oriented dwellings have dropped from 85 per cent in 1961 to 60 per cent in 2011. While the laneway house has been another housing form that has been adopted, I have wondered whether better economies of scale and better pricing might happen if stacked townhouses and rowhouses were more ubiquitous.
How do we move forward for people who want to live in ground-oriented housing? With little ground-oriented townhouses and rowhouses in those west side neighbourhoods, its hard to convince those baby boomers to downsize from their single family castles to a more compact alternative. Is it too late to catch up?
We have made an update to the look and feel of Price Tags.
Many people have assisted us with this, but any blunders are certain to be mine. Please pass them on to me.
The major work is done, and I’ll be adding customization over the the next while.
Price Tags, while lively and busy, was looking stale to us. Plus, the “theme” was outdated and no longer supported. It did not provide access to new features, none of them huge, but all useful, which I will be adding.
Hope you like the new look.
The bike-share program in Vancouver is moving along.
Introducing Mobi, bikes we share (City of Vancouver)
“At its most literal, Mobi stands for ‘more bikes’,” says Jerry Dobrovolny, general manager, engineering services. “But the spirit of Mobi reflects mobility, motion and momentum – everything that makes cycling in Vancouver an exhilarating experience.”
“Our tagline, ‘bikes we share’, really reflects the community-based nature of the program,” says Mia Kohout, general manager at Vancouver Bike Share Inc. (a subsidiary of CycleHop), the firm contracted by us to operate the program. “It’s about sharing bikes, sharing the space, and sharing our city,” she adds.
You can sign up as a Founding Member HERE. You get goodies when you do, plus a bit of cachet. Opportunity ends June 30, 2016
And you can sign up for a newsletter via “Stay In-touch” on THIS PAGE.
There is still time to suggest a station location, or to grab a sponsorship opportunity.
We are getting down to short days, the pressure is on, and the promised $370M in immediate Federal transit funding is at stake. The Feds have committed this $370M (50%), contingent upon a matching local $370M (50%) for a total of $740M. The Feds’ portion is a generous increase from their historical share in the traditional 33/33/33 formula from each level of government.
The source of the as-yet undecided $370M (50%) portion is under intense discussion between the Province of BC and the Metro Mayors. The deadline seems like the end of June.
The Province, so far, has remained steadfast on providing 33% (~ $244M). This leaves the Mayors with 17% (~ $126M) to find somewhere.
And much larger amounts to raise when the projects start to hit construction phase. Presumably, any funding formula agreed-upon in this phase between the Mayors and the Province would carry on into the remainder of the phases.
According to Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail, Minister Fassbender has said:
“We know that, by the end of next month, we need to be very clear on how to move forward and what the province is prepared to do,” Peter Fassbender said.
“We recognize there is a need to move quickly. I’m looking hard at what the province is prepared to do.”
The Mayors, it seems, are pushing hard. But they are not the only people pushing.
Says Bula : TransLink’s mayors’ council leaders, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, have said cities shouldn’t be putting in more than 10 per cent, since that’s about the proportion of tax dollars they collect compared with other levels of government.
Jenni Shephard reports in VanCityBuzz on an open letter to Premier Clark from 32 people, including business and other organizations, who advocate for action and funding within a regional approach. Just like last time.
To quote from the letter:
Expansion of transit services — especially when they’re electrified — is crucial for Metro Vancouver to improve air quality and health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic development and job growth.
A growing number of studies confirm that congestion costs our region more than $1 billion each year due to lost productivity, increased operating costs and lost business revenue and regional GDP. It has been estimated that investment in transit could save the health care system at least $115 million annually, and likely considerably more if the benefits of increased physical activity were also included as part of the cost-savings analysis. . . .
. . . we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of using newly available federal funds to implement the full set of regional transportation improvements outlined in the Mayors’ Council Transportation and Transit Plan rather than a few projects here and there. A regional approach to transportation investments will ensure that Metro Vancouver residents and businesses throughout the region will benefit.
These two top challenges conclude a quite detailed economic picture of Greater Vancouver:
Challenge 1 Lack of investment in public transit and roads
Long commute times are adding to Greater Vancouver’s difficulties in attracting high-end talent. . . . Therefore, cementing Greater Vancouver’s status as a Canadian economic leader requires a commitment to invest in its public transit and road infrastructure. . . . In this regard, the Mayors’ Council 10-year Vision for Metro Vancouver and the provincial government’s 10-year B.C. on the Move plan are steps in the right direction. But a funding solution for these critical plans remains elusive.
Challenge 2 Housing Affordability
[Ed. Enough said.]
Photograph taken this Monday afternoon, with the poster in the foreground likely put up by The Chinatown Youth Coalition during their SAVE CHINATOWN Block Party held that same afternoon. The event aimed to oppose the third attempt by Beedie Development Group to rezone 105 Keefer and 544 Columbia Street.
The following is a media release from the Coalition:
May 12, 2016
Chinatown youth leaders oppose 105 Keefer rezoning application; Call for halt – and checks and balances – to new development through social impact study
Vancouver, B.C. – The Chinatown Youth Coalition is calling for temporary halt to all new market development project applications in Chinatown – including the current revised rezoning application for 105 Keefer – until a social impact study is conducted. The Coalition believes the current level of unchecked development is destabilizing the neighbourhood by threatening the viability of small ethnic businesses and affordable housing options for vulnerable Chinese and other residents, especially seniors.
The full media release can be read here.
It was curious to see the debate about Jane Jacobs and her philosophy on the anniversary of her birth one hundred years ago. I am reminded that debate is healthy and good, and I should listen to debate more. I am also reminded that we also still work with giants in our midst. For me one of those giants is the remarkable landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.
If you have met Cornelia, attended her lectures, or read her books, you know that she is focused, knows her plants inside out, and is passionate about doing the right work. She also completely practices what she preaches- Cornelia does “invisible mending”, restoring and building in landscapes around buildings in such an extraordinary way that you never knew the landscape did not exist before the building was built.
Cornelia had a famous partnership with Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson among many other world-wide consultancies and commissions.
Cornelia’s landscapes are legendary. My favourite is at the Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia where she has designed a curved river and a pebble beach to the north of the longhouses. The view is designed so you can imagine canoes hidden in the curve of your sight line paddling up to the beach. It’s a great public space.
I have been out at the Museum of Anthropology in winter and found Cornelia with her gum boots on in the middle of the pond she created, ostensibly taking photos for a Christmas card. I know she was actually checking the water filtration system. Douglas Coupland the author and artist walked by the pond at that moment and smiled at Cornelia. It does not get any more Canadian than this.
Cornelia has just received the first award of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture. It is “the highest honour bestowed upon a landscape architect by the Canadian Society of Landscape Architecture” celebrating lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession.
Congratulations to Cornelia who has always championed Canadian flora and sustainability in her designs. She has been an unfailing mentor to students and to practitioners. We are just now catching up with what she has been teaching us for decades.
No, its not for more cars. The good folks at NACTO-The National Association of City Transportation Officials have come out with a new Transit Street Guide and provided this self explanatory graphic of how many vehicles, transit users, cyclists and walkers can be accommodated in different transportation modes.
I like the fact that NACTO is measuring a two-way “protected” bikeway, and found it fascinating that the difference between accommodating cyclists (7,500 an hour on a two way protected bikeway) is only 1,500 shy of how many pedestrians can be accommodated.
Should we be moving to protected two-way bike lanes throughout the city?
See how many ways you can find to make sure your next panel excludes half the human race. It’s fun; it’s easy; it’s stood the tests of time. Don’t be left out. A winner every time!!
Thanks to Tanya Paz and Tim Papandreou (@tpap_) for the links.
Hot on Holborn’s heels (at Little Mountain), here are two more fancy-schmancy bike facilities in new buildings.
First, from Portland, where news of Vancouver’s surge in bike riding is making their presumed N.A. cycling mode share supremacy a point of debate.
Michael Anderson at BikePortland.org tells us about the Lloyd Circle Station in the Lloyd 700 Building, which will be open to anyone who ponies up the fee. Open 24 hours, with 600 bike parking spaces, mechanics, lockers, showers, repair stands, bike wash, and a short-term valet parking service, it’s solid bragging rights competition to the upcoming Holborn facility.
Portland’s biggest, baddest bike parking facility is about to open
Though the Cycle Station obviously won’t be for everyone, it’s worth taking a moment to savor this milestone: one of the country’s best bike parking facilities is opening to the public in Portland and operating more or less as a business, planning to make money by giving hundreds of people a place to park their bicycles.
Governments can mandate bike lanes, bike parking and even bike programming. But when private businesses get in on the bike game, biking isn’t just an aspiration or an ideology. It’s a reality.
It looks as though an entire Portland district (Lloyd) is behind this kind of offering, through a unique transportation-focussed organization called “Go Lloyd“. Biking is only one of the modes they support.
Go Lloyd was founded in 1994 as the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association (TMA). TMAs are public/private partnerships formed so that employers, developers, building owners, and government entities can work collectively to establish policies, programs, and services to address local transportation issues and foster economic development. TMAs are established within a limited geographic area to address the specific needs of their members. . . .
. . . . Go Lloyd creates a thriving environment for business and community by building partnerships, delivering targeted transportation programs, and fostering economic vitality.
Next, from Fastcoexist, news of an office tower in Oslo, Norway, designed by Code Architecture. The building, scheduled for 2020 completion, will have 8,300 sq. m. of solar panels, and significant attention paid to sustainability. See this PDF for more detail than normal.
The building (Oslo Solar) will feature a large ramp for people on bikes to get to a spiffy parking facility. Note the cool cargo bike in the illustration. But car parking is limited to a few electric car charging stations.
When it’s completed, Oslo Solar will produce more energy than it uses—and possibly more than any other building in Europe. . .
. . . The design is meant to encourage anyone coming to the building to get there on a bike instead of driving. “There are several trends pointing in that direction,” says Anders Solaas, executive vice president for letting and development at Entra, the building’s developer. “The political leadership in Oslo is crystal clear on [its] large ambitions for increased use of bicycles. Employees are making commuting their daily workout through cycling.” [Ed. The site is apparently surrounded by public transport, and a major bike route]
Many thanks to Ron Richings and Tom Trottier for the links.
You know this location-this garden is north of City Hall, on the west side of the former East Wing Annex located on Yukon Street in Vancouver.
From the 1970’s to 2013 most of the city departments were nestled in two buildings-the tall Art Deco/Moderne transitional style building built in 1937 by Townley and Matheson, and the annex-sometimes called the “box City Hall came in” an oblong concrete confection located at 2675 Yukon. The annex opened by Prince Philip in 1969. (The annex was declared an earthquake hazard and decommissioned in 2013. The top floors will be demolished this year. They have a permit. I checked.)
There is an internal pathway at ground level between the two buildings, and a huge concrete planter box outside of the annex on the pathway. This had been cheerfully filled with rhododendrons and other shrubs in the 1970’s and had completely overgrown to the point that no “bones” of a garden were visible. Even though this was a major pathway used to access Vancouver City Hall east of Cambie Street, it was not very walkable, or inviting to visitors or staff.
The concrete “planter box” outside of the City Hall Annex before photo
To celebrate the eighty years of diplomacy between Canada and Japan, the city’s protocol officer Sven Buemann wanted to transform this space into a Japanese garden celebrating the relationship between these two countries. Mindful landscaping of this concrete box could become a focal point at City Hall, and also provide citizens and city staffers with an introduction to classical Japanese gardening. I worked as a team leader with master Japanese gardeners from the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association (VJGA), and experienced Engineering Works Yards staff to create a new public space to walk to, enjoy and view for all Vancouver citizens and visitors.
These professional gardeners from the VJGA who were already working six days a week volunteered their time and talent to design and create a most extraordinary space. In the design, there are two rivers of stone, one symbolizing Canada, surrounded by plants native to Canada, and one symbolizing Japan, surrounded by traditional elements including a stone fountain and a black pine. The two rivers meet in the front of the design, symbolizing harmony and peace. The Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association website still features an image of the gardeners standing in front of the stone lantern at the city hall Japanese Garden.
And this garden is to be viewed from the public pathway, not walked in. That is the way it has been designed.
It was a very exciting thing to work with these Japanese professional gardeners. The design of the outline of the garden was roughly drawn up. The concept and the layout of the garden included coring out a section of the concrete planter box wall, so that viewers could “see” into the mingling parts of the river bed. The site preparation was done by City crews, who came in on the weekend to do the work. The Japanese gardeners took over the ordering of all the materials, including tons of basalt rock. The basalt rock included “one man” “two man” and “three man” basalt uprights that were installed by the gardeners with the assistance of the City crews and a hoist. The gardeners travelled up to Huckleberry Quarry near Squamish and hand picked each and every piece of basalt for its shape, size and function. Using the hoist, the Japanese Gardeners carefully placed every rock, with an inner vision so profound that no rock needed to be readjusted or placed differently. The Japanese gardeners’ experience and knowledge of Japanese Garden technique translated into this innate ability to “see” the rocks placed just once, every time seated correctly in the designated position.
There is a section of bamboo that has been carefully knotted as a screen behind the water fountain. The craftsman that worked on this screen spent days getting the meticulous pattern of knots just right. The fountain basin that is in the back of the garden was designed by one of the few people in North America that has this skill.
The plants and trees in this garden are placed with similar care and attention. There is a Black Pine bonsai that bows over the dry river-this is a gift to the City, and was grown by one of the Japanese Gardeners from seeds he carried to Canada in his pocket when he immigrated nearly fifty years ago. It is an enduring gift of kindness and tribute to this country.
The City of Vancouver Japanese Garden was opened in 2009 by the Mayor and Council in concert with the Japanese Ambassador to Canada and the Vancouver Japanese Consul. The photos below are of the members of the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association who designed and built the garden, with City of Vancouver Engineering staff from the Yards.
These are my favourite images of this remarkable undertaking.
The garden is now maintained by the City and will be kept in perpetuity, celebrating the unique and enduring relationship between Japan and Canada.
Taiko Drummers opened the ceremony held in the Fall of 2009.
Members of the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association stand with the Vancouver Japanese Consul and Consul Assistant at the dedication.
San Grewall in the Toronto Star writes about an announcement by the Province of Ontario of impending legislation intended to curtail sprawl and its inherently crippling cost.
With 3.5 million people set to move into the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the next 25 years, the province is promising sweeping changes to manage smart growth and curb urban sprawl that’s crippling the region.
“There are challenges that have been before us for the last number of years,” said Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who was joined by three other ministers at an announcement in Mississauga to outline broad new measures the province is taking to properly manage future growth. “It was neglected for far too long in previous regimes.” . .
- Requiring “pre-zoning” along transit corridors to guarantee dense development if cities want to get future transit funding.
- Ensuring that at least 60 per cent of all new residential developments in municipalities are in existing “built-up” areas.
- Substantially increasing employment density so greenfield spaces within cities can’t be eaten up by things such as sprawling warehouses.
Let the pearl-clutching begin, as a precedent for density increase city-wide looks like it has been set in Ontario.
Of particular interest to me is Ontario’s tie-in between transit planning, land use and infrastructure investments, given the narrow transit funding tussle now in play in Metro Vancouver. Not to mention Ontario’s Greenbelt protection, in the light of BC’s apparent intention to enable good ol’ sprawl onto our ALR and elsewhere with a 1950’s debate-free program of building freeways and massive bridges. BC may have some sort of plan, but I’m not sure what it is.
A broader look at the Ontario Gov’t material is HERE, and it pertains to shaping land use in the entire “Greater Golden Horseshoe” around Toronto. Driven, it seems, by Ontario Prov gov’t plans for some $31.5 B in transit investments, this represents steps towards a green and livable region, while making best use of the money.
Building Complete Communities
Whether they are urban, suburban or rural, complete communities share many common characteristics. They are places where homes, jobs, schools, community services, parks and recreation facilities are easily accessible. Complete communities encourage active transportation, like walking or biking, support public transit, and provide opportunities for people to connect with one another.
Complete communities are more compact, occupy less land, reduce the costs of infrastructure and offer access to healthy local food. They also provide a range of employment opportunities and a mix of housing that offers a range of affordability. With all of these characteristics, complete communities contribute significantly to a high quality of life.
Frequent contributor Ian sends us this photo, stylized by Google Photos.
Sandy James, planner, part-time Price Tags editor and author, speaks to TEDxCarsonCity.
The transformative power of walking: why walking is good for your bottom line.
Ken Ohrn: Lots of stuff coming our way today.
Starting with these two on the change and growth of bicycle culture in Vancouver:
Amy Logan writes in Vancouver Metro on the continuing rise of the cargo bike (or trike) as a business. There’s another story about personal cargo bikes (for another day).
“(Shift) was born out of a desire to improve conditions in the downtown core, to reduce pollution, and to find creative ways of using alternative transportation,” Wells said, adding that cargo trikes have a capacity of up to 500 pounds, similar to a medium-sized SUV. . . . Responding to increased demand, they are adding three more trikes to their fleet for a total of 10 by the end of May.
In their Little Mountain application, Holborn shows how they have included the bicycle in their plans. This level of inclusion is becoming more common, which in itself is noteworthy.
- No roadway exit/entrance onto Ontario, a busy bike route.
- Many bike exit/entrance points to Ontario
- Roadway exit/entrance onto 37th
- Bike rooms with runnels on the stairways
- 1910 class A & B bike parking places.
Based on City of Vancouver Parking Bylaw rates, 1,800 Class A (long-term storage) and 110 Class B (short term) bicycle parking spaces would be provided for the 1,350-1,450 units proposed in the development. Commercial uses would have 2 racks of six spaces each, provided in publicly accessible and visible locations. Holborn is exploring opportunities to exceed the City’s requirements, with the aim of encouraging bicycle use and promoting the site’s strategic location. . . .
. . . . The proponent will provide a “bike hub” room in each underground car park with a tool-equipped workshop – including a work bench and built-in air compressor – and may include a bike washing station, secured lockers for helmets and rain gear, and dedicated storage for bike tow trailers and tricycles for children. Each bike hub room would include seating and serve as a social meeting areas for cyclists, reinforcing the feeling of community among residents and supporting travel by bicycle by making repairs, etc., easier. Also, bike hub rooms will be equipped with an electrical outlet as per the City bylaw. Any stairways leading to and from Class-A spaces will incorporate bicycle stairway ramps along their sides to make access easy and comfortable for cyclists (Figure 6-12). Complementing the other proposed design approaches, Holborn will look to establish a collaborative relationship with HUB, a local nonprofit cycling advocacy group, to obtain assistance with the design as it relates to bicycle use, as well as advice on how to best promote cycling among residents with a component that focuses on younger and older age groups.
In the next three, motordom and its media pals have a mixed day in these articles:
Bob Mackin writes in Business In Vancouver:
For now, the Downtown Vancouver peninsula has only one gas station.
While the Chevron on West Georgia Street east of Denman is closed for renovations, the Esso on the southwest corner of Burrard and Davie streets is serving a population that was estimated at almost 55,000 in 2011.
Just when you thought this sort of thing had died out, over at the Postmedia outlet “The Province“, Gordon “Rile-em-up” Clark, the editorial pages editor, does a pretty good job of putting a record number of anti-bike and pro-motordom clichés into one article. Prominent by its absence is “war on the car”, except as repeatedly implied. Prominent by its inclusion is the opinion that everything Vision does to the roads is just plain wrong. Everything! Laughably, he claims to support bike lanes — just, I guess, not any that are actually put into operation.
At the same time, as an indicator of the popularity of Mr. Clark’s opinions, and their success at keeping the money flowing to PostMedia, here’s Terry Pedwell in the Canadian Press (via the CBC) on Postmedia’s Paul Godfrey and his desperate business plan — a non-bailout by Government. Mr. Godfrey asked the Feds for tax breaks and more Gov’t advertising, in contradiction to his editorial stance. More fundamentally, one wonders how this ask squares with free market philosophies championed repeatedly in Postmedia outlets. Isn’t the market speaking in a loud and clear voice? Or are all opinions and beliefs just situational?
The Liberals on the committee were quick to accuse Godfrey of contradicting himself. Postmedia has been among the strongest critics of government spending on advertising, said Liberal MP Adam Vaughan.
“There have been no fiercer critics of subsidies to the media than the Toronto Sun and the National Post,” Vaughan said of two of Postmedia’s flagship papers. “How do you square your editorial position with your corporate position?”
Godfrey responded by saying Postmedia columnists are given leeway to write articles that contradict their own company’s positions on political and other issues.
Vaughan also questioned why taxpayers would want to bail out a failing company that is owned in part by a U.S. investment group.