Larry Bell Urban Forum / Smart Cities Challenge – Mar 1


The Second Annual Larry Bell Urban Forum: where Vancouverites will have the chance to exchange thoughts on the Canada Smart Cities Challenge.

Technocity: Equity, Innovation, and the Rush of Smartness

Across the planet, cities are turning toward sensors and algorithmic technologies to mitigate and curtail social and environmental risk, to produce efficiencies, security, and economic potential in everyday life. In 2018, the City of Vancouver will join the Canada Smart Cities Challenge, a competition for $50 million to use “data and connected technology” to produce “meaningful outcomes for residents.”

In this Larry Bell Urban Forum, Vancouverites will have an opportunity to discuss this competition and general calls for urban innovation. The forum will be composed of a panel of distinguished guests, including those with direct experience in implementing urban technology solutions as well as urban scholars and commentators.

Opening comments:
Matthew W. Wilson, associate professor of geography, University of Kentucky
Jessie Adcock, Chief Technology Officer, City of Vancouver
Sean Simpson, IT director, City of Surrey

Jessie Adcock, Chief Technology Officer, City of Vancouver
Colleen Hardwick, CEO of PlaceSpeak
Shannon Mattern, associate professor of Media Studies, The New School
Gillian Rose, professor of human geography, University of Oxford
Sean Simpson, IT director, City of Surrey
Elvin Wyly, professor of Geography, University of British Columbia
Andy Yan, director, SFU City Program


Thursday, March 1

7-10 pm

SFU Harbour Centre 

Regular Admission: $5. Buy tickets on Eventbrite. Students are free with valid student ID but must reserve seats on Eventbrite

Webcast: Free but reservations required. Reserve seats on Eventbrite

The Emergence of the TSP: Uber makes it evident


Gordon: I’ve been predicting the emergence of the ‘Transportation Service Provider’ – an agent that will endeavour to acquire as many modes of transportation (with the potential for cash flow) as possible, in order to package and market a service much like telecommunications.  For a single price through a single provider, the consumer would have access to multiple means of travel (bike- and car-share and transit, in particular), coverage for associated costs (parking, tolls, information, insurance) as well as servicing and technological upgrades.  The provider would have the cash flows, the data, and ultimately control of the transportation network.

Perhaps we’d see a company like Uber or Google move aggressively to get in early, acquire as many public and private assets as possible in order to establish market dominance, if not effective monopoly.

Well, guess what.

“I want to run the bus systems for a city,” (Uber CEO Dara) Khosrowshahi said. “I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway — if the trains are running on time, you’ve got real-time data — get in the subway, get out and have an Uber waiting for you for right now. Or know that there’s a bike right there for you that gets you where you’re going in the fastest manner.”

  • from Planetizen


Panel: Brave New Work – Mar 5

From SFU Public Square:


Creating a Diverse & Resilient Economy in Metro Vancouver

This panel conversation event will focus on the future of employment in Metro Vancouver, and planning for the employment lands that support the regional economy. What are the trends and issues related to employment in various sectors in Metro Vancouver, and how does land use planning, regulation, and market demand affect the future of work regionally? How will we thrive in this changing regional economy?


The speakers

  • Opening remarks: Heather McNell, Director of Regional Planning, Metro Vancouver & Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability, City of Vancouver
  • Moderator: Gordon Price, Former Director of SFU City Program and Former Vancouver City Councillor


  • Peter HallProfessor & Director of SFU Urban Studies Program
  • Shachi KurlExecutive Director, Angus Reid Institute
  • Andrew PetrozziPrincipal & Vice-Principal, Research, Avison Young
  • Bryan BuggeyDirector, Strategic Initiatives & Sector Development, Vancouver Economic Commission


March 5
8 – 10:30 am
SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre, Room 1420-1430, 515 West Hastings

Why There are No Roads In London, But Lots of Streets



There are no roads in London. Take a look~there are Streets, Squares and Alleys, but “traditionally” not one single road. As The Londonist observes the word “road” was not developed until the late 1500’s, and by that time all the major streets in London had already been named. Even the historic Square Mile, which includes “Bleeding Heart Yard” had no Roads until 1994. At that time half of Goswell Road  went under the City’s jurisdiction, while the other half stayed in the Borough of Islington.


The word “road’ is used only once in the King James bible and at that time it meant a “raid”. Shakespeare used the word road to mean a type of street only three times, the other thirteen uses meant a trip or foray. The word comes from the old Anglo-Saxon “rad”, for a journey on horseback. And the word “street”? That is from Latin meaning a way paved with stone, and developed with a more urban connotation than the more rural usage of “road”.

Back to London. Purists still insist that there is technically no “road” in the City of London as the Borough only owns half of Goswell Road, not the full Road.




Washington State~Where Beaches and Shores Are Not Public-But They Probably Are Anyway



Its hard to believe but in the United States there are several states that historically privatized their shores and tidelands, creating a hodge podge of regulation and uncertainty about availability and access to what should be a public right~the access to beaches and shorelines. Washington State is among several that sold its tidelands and beaches 120 years ago on private titles, ending the practice in 1971. By that time 60 to 70 per cent of all Washington’s tidelands were privately owned with only 30 per cent of the shorelines accessible to the public.

Boundary lines on shores vary dependent on when a parcel was sold~if it was before 1911 the title extends to the mean low tide line, but parcels sold to 1971 extended to lowest low tide. There is public access available on any public road that ‘abuts’ a shoreline. That road has been interpreted by law as a legal public beach access.  And despite the fact that the beach is in “private ownership” the public trust doctrine states that anyone has the legal right to walk across private tidelands to reach public ones. This has not been challenged in court, and when it does, many in the legal profession suggest the “privatizing of beaches” will be over in Washington State.

As one visitor’s bureau states “Under the doctrine, many of the signs that say, ‘private tidelands and beach,’ go beyond their authority. However, the doctrine is an interpretation of state law and has yet to be challenged in court…Things could be different if the state were to put a higher priority on the preservation of public access by funding projects that help resolve questions of property ownership.”







Revitalizing the ALR – Survey and Submissions


The ALR has been in place for 45 years.  Now the provincial Minister’s Advisory Committee is seeking your views to deliver recommendations for a strong and robust Agricultural Land Reserve.


Share your ideas for revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

Please read the discussion paper the committee has prepared before completing the online survey.

The survey focuses on collecting British Columbians opinions and views on these common themes:

  • A defensible and defended ALR
  • ALR resilience
  • Stable governance
  • Efficacy of zones 1 and 2
  • Interpretation and implementation of the Act and regulation
  • Food security and B.C.’s agricultural contribution
  • Residential uses in the ALR
  • Farm processing and sales in the ALR
  • Unauthorized uses
  • Non-Farm uses and resource extraction in the ALR

Here is the link to the process, discussion paper and ways to participate.

If you require further info, see the ALC website and good reference material in the library (especially the archived section).  

Write something long or submit something short with key ideas/shifts or objectives. The advisory committee will see all of the submissions.

Tales From the West End – Feb 20


“Tales From the West End” is an evening of story-telling where we explore and experience our community through stories about our common past.

Tonight’s featured storyteller is educator and historian Isaac Vanderhorst who will intrigue us with his stories about the Industrial area of the West End.


Tuesday, February 20

5:30 to 7 pm, story telling from 5:45-6:45

JJBean Coffee Shop, 1209 Bidwell @ Davie

Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJBean



Surprise! Spending still up on Toronto’s King Street with the Streetcar Line Project!



The City of Toronto is deep in the throes of motordom even when the King Street Streetcar demonstration project is appearing to be a success.  This one year pilot is restricting vehicular traffic on King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets to give priority for streetcar movement.  As reported in Price Tags Vancouver a simple investment of 1.5 million dollars on a demonstration project to move streetcars more efficiently  has resulted in faster trips into and out of the downtown core. Vehicular traffic has been routed off the main street, and streetcar pickup and drop off locations have been made safer and easier to use.

Motordom advocates railed against the temporary changes which made street car traffic more efficient on King Street, and which relegated vehicular traffic to adjacent streets. But this has been a success for the merchants on King Street too. As Toronto Star’s Ben Spurr reports, “Figures released Friday indicate that spending in the project area rose by 21 per cent between October and December 2017, a trend in line with seasonal spending patterns in previous years.” 

The City of Toronto’s data shows streetcar ridership up 16 per cent, transit moving more efficiently, and that fact that there has been minimal negative impact on car traffic.  “The spending numbers, which were compiled using point-of-sale data from credit and debit processor Moneris Solutions, don’t support claims made by local business owners who have blamed the pilot for what they describe as deep financial losses.”

Streetcar service is also more consistent with a four-minute interval 80 per cent of the time between streetcars. And in response to local business owners fearing the trial would impact them, the city of Toronto has provided city owned free parking spaces int the surrounding neighbourhood.  Mayor John Tory stated  “There are many, many positive indications about moving transit passengers faster, increased transit ridership, and traffic that is moving at a pace that is very similar to what it was before the King St. pilot.”

Removing congestion by putting more transit passengers on street cars does that.

When the Mountain View Needs To be Trimmed~City Says Three Overheight Towers ARE the View



Mike Howell at the Vancouver Courier has written an an evocative column on why the City says it is  “ok”to build three over height towers (one 18 storeys above the established view corridors) and erase out the natural views of the north shore mountains from Cambie and Broadway. Price Tags Vancouver has quotations from  Mike’s article here.

Well you may or may not have heard the view will change sometime within the next 20 years—likely a lot sooner once and if council approves rezoning applications from provincial Crown corporation PavCo and private developer Concord Pacific.
The developers want to build three really tall residential towers—Concord two and PavCo one—that will partially obstruct your view of the mountains from that spot at 10th and Cambie, which is what the city refers to as a view corridor.”

“If you followed the debate around the Northeast False Creek plan, you heard that one of city staff’s recommendations was to amend the “general policy for higher buildings” to allow for the consideration of three towers at what will be the new Georgia Street and Pacific Boulevard intersection.
That’s, of course, once the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are demolished and a new sloping grade is built to connect Georgia to Pacific. That intersection will be known as the “Georgia Gateway.”

“Green Party Councillor.Adriane Carr told me the other day that she and the rest of council received “hundreds” of emails in opposition to having tall towers at that intersection.
Carr voted against staff’s recommendation. So did NPA councillors George Affleck and Hector Bremner. What was Carr’s rationale?
It’s a real move down a slippery slope,” she said. “If you allow amendments to the higher buildings policy and the intrusion in to the view corridors once, it sets the ground for other exceptions —and there goes your view corridors.”
“Then, as the decades past, a forest of bland highrises grew up and around it, giving us the skyline we have today. Some would say that’s just the inevitable evolution of a city at work—that buildings get built, views get taken away.”

“We felt this was the best way and the place to achieve the density needed to achieve the financial objectives of the [Northeast False Creek] plan,” ( Chief Planner Gil)Kelley told council. “That is to say the cost of the infrastructure and amenities, parks and affordable housing that are being delivered as part of the plan.”He said “bunching the extra height at one point” delivers on three urban design objectives. One, he said, is it limits the incursion of the height to the least intrusive area of Northeast False Creek; second, is it creates “a more interesting skyline from that view, frankly, than a straight-line haircut would do.”
So there you go—no boring straight-line haircuts, we’re going to create magic celebratory moments in the sky and we continue to just say no to big bulky buildings.
Before I conclude, I should emphasize that council approving the plan Feb. 13 does not guarantee rezoning applications from PavCo and Concord will get the green light for increased height for the towers…But it was made clear the Northeast False Creek plan “is a guiding policy framework, but council always has to review rezoning applications with an open mind at public hearing.”
Until then, enjoy the view.

You can read Mike Howell’s full text here


Autonomous Vehicle Research & the use of Pedestrian Wrist Buzzers



It is really hard to believe that a group of researchers would be examining this issue, and even harder to fathom that Elsevier chooses to advance this through their social media and on-line presence.  But here it is~in this article by several French researchers at the aptly named “French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, Laboratory for Road Operations, Perception, Simulators and Simulations”  researchers in Versailles actually created a pedestrian dog collar.

Using vibrotactile technology on wristbands that vibrated on pedestrians’ arms when vehicles were approaching,  57 participants were asked to cross a two-way traffic street. Senior pedestrians  are overrepresented in fatal traffic incidents, with the researchers surmising that this was because older people have  “gap” challenges, unable to ascertain the speed of approaching traffic. This same inability to judge traffic speed when crossing a street was discussed in this Price Tags Vancouver post from last year, where researchers found that children under 14 years of age did not have the perceptual judgement or motor skills to safely cross the road.

While the researchers found that the percentage of pedestrians being crashed into by simulated cars decreased, “collisions did not fall to zero, and responses that were in accordance with the wristband advice went up to only 51.6% on average, for all participants. ”  

While the vibrating wristband was shunned by younger participants as something they would ever use, “behavioral intentions to buy and use such a device in the future were greater in both groups of older participants.” This device only reduced by fifty per cent the likelihood of pedestrians being crashed into by vehicles. But as the researchers conclude “This haptic device was able to partly compensate for some age-related gap-acceptance difficulties and reduce street-crossing risks for all users. These findings could be fruitfully applied to the design of devices allowing communication between vehicles, infrastructures, and pedestrians.”

New Zealand Civil Engineer and Phd Candidate Bridget Burdett  summed up this study and its proposed use with automated vehicles  below.




Cities of the Future

In science fiction, cities of the future have a common look: super-tall slender towers with angled crowns, all about the same age, rising in a cluster from a flat plain seen from an elevated distance.

Like this:

Or from Lions Gate Bridge:

That’s Metrotown on the centre right – Burnaby’s main regional town centre that started in the 1970s with its first highrises and is now going through another spate of growth, this time with sure-tall slender towers with angled crowns …

It may look like a cliche of the future but, of course, it’s rooted in the past – from the Livable Region Plan’s proposed town centres in 1975:

Metrotown is the largest of the seven designated centres, all of which (plus a few other SkyTrain station areas) seem to be going through explosive growth – even Lonsdale on the North Shore:

In addition to the sheer number of new towers, their impact on the skyline results from their elevated heights and, whether deliberate or not, a clustering effect where, as above, there is a supertall tower in the centre that serves as a peak towards which the other towers rise – duplicating the mountain range behind them.



Pattullo: A question for Andrew Wilkinson

From the CBC:

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson questioned why the provincial government couldn’t get federal funding for the Pattullo Bridge replacement as well.

“Normally major infrastructure projects have a large component of federal financing. So we have to be concerned that B.C. rushed into this alone, and missed out on almost a half billion dollars of federal infrastructure funding,” he said.


Do tell us how much the federal government had committed to the Massey crossing when it was pulled out of the air by Premier Clark in 2013.  Or whether in subsequent years the Feds ever committed a loonie to its construction.

And while you’re at it, please explain:

  • What regional plan included the construction of Massey?
  • How many Metro mayors in the region supported it?
  • What provincial transportation plan prioritized it?
  • Why the previous transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, had rejected it as a pointless project?
  • Why the Liberals imposed a referendum requirement only for transit and not for Massey or any other major highway project?

Do tell.


Ride-Hailing Report – Critical Recommendation #13



Lots of coverage of the legislative committee’s report on ride-hailing:

But this recommendation shouldn’t be missed:

The Committee recommends to the Legislative Assembly that the provincial government:

13. Require transportation network companies to provide data to government for monitoring purposes, including but not limited to: wait times; trip lengths; trip start and end locations; trip start and end times; accessible vehicle trip statistics; trip refusals; trip fares; drivers’ hours and earnings; driver and passenger demographics; and consider extending this requirement to the taxi industry.


It is critical that this data-provision requirement be put in place before the arrival of ‘Transportation Network Companies’ like Uber.  They argue, after all, that they are not actually transportation companies, but instead the providers of apps, marketing, branding and information to independent contractors.  Their product is in fact their data.  Of course they would want to keep it proprietorial.

That in turn means power – power to control and manage part if not eventually all of the transportation system.  If the public sector does not establish who is actually running the show – and has the information it needs to do so – then the power shifts to the TNCs and we are entering a very different world.  And not a nice one.



The Future of Work in Canada

From SFU Public Square:

The Future of Work in Canada: Emerging Trends and Opportunities

On February 26, join us for our mini-conference, presented in partnership with Deloitte Canada, bringing together global business leaders in panel discussions and presentations.

Opening the day will be two future-proofed presentations by Stephen Harrington, Senior Manager, Talent Strategies, Human Capital of DeloitteCanada, and Sarah Doyle, Director of Policy and Research at Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This will be followed by a presentation from Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour.

Presentations will address how Canadians can succeed in the future of work, including recommendations for how business leaders and government can set Canada on a path to success, the potential – and subsequent effects – of automation on the labour force in Canada, as well as the intersection between entrepreneurship and innovation.


Addressing the Skills Gap: Enhancing Mobility From Post-Secondary Education to Employment and Entrepreneurship

This panel discussion, moderated by Sarah Lubik, Director of Entrepreneurship at SFU Beedie School of Business, will feature leading experts to discuss how we can better mobilize individuals into seamless transitions post-graduation. How can we set the next generation up for success and understand the critical role of entrepreneurship and youth-employment in the future of work?

Paulina Cameron, Director, Futurpreneur
Jake Hirsch-Allen, Higher Education Lead, LinkedIn
Kim Howson, Senior Manager of Youth Strategy & Relationship Management, RBC Future Launch


Embedding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Future of Work

Meaningful implementation of inclusive hiring practices into human resource policies and procedures plays a vital role in the success of an organization. How can organizations better integrate the policies to ensure the representation of diverse voices?

Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Patrick MacKenzie, CEO, Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia
Lesley MacDonald, Employee Engagement and HR Planning, BC Hydro


How Alternative Business Models Can Improve the Way We Work

What are some examples of alternative business models, and how are they improving the way we work? Elvy Del Bianco, Program Manager, Co-operative Partnerships at Vancity, will moderate this discussion on new opportunities afforded by innovative business models.

Eric Bulmash, Senior Consultant, Community Business and Investment, Vancity
Frisia Donders, SMart (E.U.)
Steve Rio, Founder & CEO, Briteweb


AI and Automation in the Workplace

How is automation truly changing the way we work? What are models of effectively utilizing AI in the workplace while still allowing for meaningful, well-paid employment? This presentation, including panelist James Maynard, President and CEO, Wavefront, will get you ready to anticipate, and work with (or combat), those robots. Stay tuned for further panelist announcements.


Get Tickets


Check out our website for the full 2018 Community Summit lineup!



Ride Share On its Way in British Columbia?



It has been a bumpy road for ride hailing  which was originally promised by the Provincial government for the end of 2017. But as reported in Metro News the all-party committee of the legislature looking at ride hailing unanimously supported going forward with the online services, making 32 recommendations for ensuring “fairness, consumer protection and workers rights”.

The committee recommended updating legislation that regulates the taxi industry to “allow for equitable and fair competition.””Protecting specific types of business for the traditional taxi industry, such as street-hailing and taxi stands, should also be considered.”  Regulations will be established that will examine “pricing, insurance, licensing, and public safety” 

And what about insurance for ride-hailing cars and their customers? The committee has recommended that ICBC  (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) develop specific insurance packages with appropriate liability  levels that reflect the fact that rideshare  vehicles are being used for personal and commercial purposes. Drivers will be required to have medical exams and criminal background checks, and vehicles will have to undergo mandatory inspections based upon mileage driven.

There is a rideshare coalition with Lyft, Uber,  Vancouver Board of Trade, B.C. Business Council, Vancouver Economic Commission, B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Urban Development Institute, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Finger Food Studios and the B.C. Restaurant and Food services Association.The Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena says the new legislation will be introduced in the Fall of 2018.

You can read the whole report produced by the committee of the legislature here.


Vancouver Civic Election: A Candidate’s Statement – Adrian Crook

Price Tags will post candidate’s statements* – who they are, what they’ll do – for the upcoming civic election.  Here’s the first one:


I’m Adrian Crook and I’m seeking a NPA City Council nomination for this Fall’s election.

I’m a business owner, director of two non-profits, and a single father of five who rents an apartment in downtown Vancouver.

Over the last two years since I co-founded Abundant Housing Vancouver (AHV), a non-partisan advocacy group, the conversation around our city’s housing crisis has dramatically intensified. Renters face a historically low vacancy rate and every day potential purchasers lose out to multiple higher bids. Some Vancouver communities are feeling besieged by development, while at the same time other neighbourhoods are declining in population.

For years I’ve written and spoken on the benefits of raising kids in our city, via 5 Kids 1 Condo.

Housing and transit advocacy naturally followed 5K1C, when I co-founded AHV in 2016 and later Abundant Transit BC. As a Director of AHV, we’ve successfully advocated for over 3,000 new homes, including Temporary Modular Housing for our homeless residents, social housing and affordable rentals.

As a City Councillor, I’ll support:

  • Citywide pre-zoning to bring certainty to neighbourhood planning.
  • Create meaningful housing choices for homeowners and renters alike.
  • Restore affordability for young people and families.
  • Capping building permit wait times for homeowners and property developers, making it possible to bring an emergency addition of middle class and social housing to Vancouver.

I want a Vancouver that my kids – and those less privileged – can not just afford, but thrive in.

That’s why I decided to put my name forward for City Council this Fall.

To get involved, visit:  


*At this point, ‘candidates’ are those running for the nomination of a party, or planning to run as an independent.  


CIBC backflips on “student mortgages”


Via Jak King, a blow to those students wanting to buy multi-million dollar west-side Vancouver houses, via

Foreign buyers just got one of the most aggressive hurdles when buying Canadian real estate. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) quietly notified its mortgage advisors the “Foreign Income Program” has ended. The program was replaced on February 1, 2018, with a new program designed to ensure compliance with B-20 guidelines from OSFI. This change will have a drastic impact on those that use foreign income to qualify for a mortgage, from one of Canada’s largest banks.

… The improved income verification does introduce two new downside pressures for real estate prices. First, it’ll be more expensive for non-residents dodging local taxes to buy a house. Second, the amount they can borrow will be stress tested against the declared income.

Lots of detail in the article itself.