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Canadians in Metro

February 26, 2015

Just sorting through images on my phone, and came across a couple that seem to be to reflect something about who we are.

Queuing for the bus alongside the New West SkyTrain station:

Canadians 1


Surrey City staff at an assembly (that’s City Manager Vince LaLonde on the right):

Canadians 2


Got some images that reflect us?  Send them along for the morning shot – pricetags (at) shaw (dot) ca.

Quote: Congestion, Tolerance and iPods

February 25, 2015

” … people get frustrated by traffic congestion, which costs them considerable time and inconvenience. They demand that ‘government’ fix the problem — just don’t raise their taxes. Someone else should pay. When it comes down to forking over their own money, people display a remarkably high tolerance for congestion. If they have to pay for it, they’ll usually opt to plug in their iPod and put up with an extra ten minutes of driving.”

- James Bacon, Smart Growth for Conservatives

Bikes and Brainwaves in NYC

February 25, 2015

From Wired:

The setup is simple: An off-the-shelf EEG brainwave sensor made by NeuroSky is built into a standard helmet. To make the map, eight riders spent September and October riding most of Manhattan (favoring north-south thoroughfares over east-west cross streets). Every second, the EEG sensor sends, via Bluetooth, data on the rider’s level of focus. Attention level rises when the user focuses on one thing (say, a car about to swerve into the bike lane), and decreases when they’re less focused. In other words, it provides an idea of where you’re totally stressed and when you’re chill. A riders’ level of attention was ranked from 0 to 100, then correlated onto a color scale, from green to yellow to red.

Bike Brain

… there are some broad takeaways:

Biking through congested midtown and lower Manhattan requires more focus. In calmer areas of the borough where bike lanes are common, you can relax. The most surprising find is that having a bike lane doesn’t necessarily make riding calmer: It can provide security from cars, but also be crowded by other cyclists and errant pedestrians (who, in New York, are as much a threat to cyclists as cars are). “A bike facility in itself doesn’t call for a sweet spot,” Sta. Ines says.

Full article and interactive map here.

Fraser Games – 3: The Larger Agenda

February 25, 2015

Is there a larger intent behind the referendum the Premier has imposed on the region?  Beyond the obvious discrepancies (why only for Metro Vancouver, why only on TransLink  taxes and not on tolls for new provincial bridges in the region?), is the real agenda to limit local government’s ability to raise taxes at all.

I was struck by an op-ed in The Sun last summer by Hugh MacIn­tyre and Charles Lam­mam of the Fraser Institute: Van­cou­ver city hall has a debt ad­dic­tion 

In the City of Vancouver’s case, the substance is government debt and the city has been addicted for more than a decade. Despite clear signs of an addiction problem, city hall recently proposed an ambitious infrastructure plan that would further increase debt during the next four years. …

In 2012, the latest year of comparable data, Vancouver was in the red with liabilities exceeding financial assets by $ 268 million. In other words, the city was in a net liabilities position. Meanwhile, other Metro municipalities, including nearby Surrey and Burnaby, were collectively $ 2 billion in the black.

Remarkably, Vancouver’s net liabilities quadrupled between 2006 and 2011, from $ 101 million to $ 419 million. To the city’s credit, net liabilities decreased in 2012 and 2013, although the reduction stemmed from an increase in financial assets, not a reduction in gross liabilities. …

And now, with gross liabilities at a record high, city hall is proposing to spend $ 1.1 billion during four years on infrastructure. The plan, which includes new spending on bike lanes and social housing, would be partly funded by adding $ 400 million to the city’s existing debt. So instead of reducing liabilities, the city plans to take on even more debt.

… with the newly proposed infrastructure plan, the City of Vancouver is signalling it’s not ready to kick its debt addiction.


There was a flurry of articles by other organizations (they are well coordinated) and columnists (the second-hand dealers in ideas), and then not much.  But it’s certainly conceivable that the referendum was concocted as a way to have the voters deliver the cut without the Premier’s hand having to be on the knife.  If it works well this time around, it will be irresistibly tempting to use it again.  Other cities and regions, take note.

The City of Vancouver responded, of course.   Their release is below.

Read more…

Panel: Regional Resilience in the Pacific Northwest – Feb 27

February 25, 2015
Jason Biermann, who co-managed the Oso landslide (what has become to be known as “the smallest biggest disaster”) is one of the speakers along with a number of experts in the Pacific Northwest region.
Towards Regional Resilience in the Pacific Northwest
February 27, 2015 1:30 PM (Liu Institute, Multi-purpose room)
This panel will explore the climate and natural hazard-related interdependencies of our Cascadia bioregion and investigate the question of whether the regional level is the ultimate scale for planning resilience.
The Pacific Northwest is a unique region in which climate change is expected to exacerbate many of the natural hazard risks irrespective of political and international boundaries. This panel will explore the climate and natural hazard-related interdependencies of our Cascadia bioregion and investigate the question of whether the regional level is the ultimate scale for planning resilience. Perspectives will be gained from a diverse array of panelists from BC and Washington representing the public, private, non-profit, and industry sectors.

Read more…

Happy Birthday: Downtown Vancouver BIA

February 25, 2015

PT was out of town when the DVBIA blew out the candles on their cake – but its history is worth noting:

The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association is celebrating its 25th ‎Anniversary!

Since its inception in 1990, the DVBIA has helped bring major change to fruition – such as successfully advocating for the 2010 Winter Olympic Gamesand leading the revitalization of Granville Street.‎

As a resource to policy makers, business, media, residents and visitors, the DVBIA has also taken a leadership role in addressing crime prevention, cleanliness, beautification and sustainability – with the singular goal of providing an enriched urban experience that cannot be matched.

Approximately 75,000 people live in the downtown core, and nearly 9 million people visit the city annually. Throughout its 25 years, the DVBIA has tracked public opinion in key areas: overall perception of downtown, safety and transportation. Topline results reveal that people’s attitudes towards downtown are improving, automobile use is on the decline, and people feel safer downtown:

  • 19 per cent increase in the positive overall perception of downtown since 2008
  • 15 per cent increase in those who feel safe downtown since 1997
  • 17 per cent decrease in private automobile use to get downtown since 1991‎

To commemorate a quarter-century of advocacy, the DVBIA has generated 25 years of milestones – such as the Canada Line completion and first annualRogers Santa Claus Parade – that reflect the evolution of Vancouver. Milestone highlights are included below.



Here is just a selection of events and initiatives the DVBIA has spearheaded and supported since its inception in 1990:

Read more…

The Daily Scot: Vancouver Especially

February 25, 2015

Scot likes this:

Ken Lum’s ‘Vancouver Especially’ exhibit a critique on the state of Vancouver real estate


Vancouver artist Ken Lum, renowned for his sculpture of a large sign that says “East Van” in the shape of a cross, has created a new exhibit consisting of a small replica of a Vancouver Special, a common home design.

The first Vancouver Specials went up after the Second World War to accommodate an influx of immigrants coming to Canada looking for a better life. They were designed to maximize square footage on relatively small lots.

Lum’s exhibit, called Vancouver Especially, is a commentary on current real estate, wealth, and building style in Vancouver.

“I’m interested in trying to tap into something essential about the time we’re living in,” said Lum, “as well as the culture of the city as determined by the new money class.” …

A bit of research led him to discover that in 1970, a Vancouver Special would have cost $45,000 to buy. So he decided to build one for the same price, but at a scale that would be relative to its cost today.


Van Special


The exhibit opens on Feb. 21 at 271 Union Street in Vancouver.


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