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Showing posts from December, 2010


SleepyCity has an amazing post on the Paris Metro. If you're like me, a total transit nerd, check this out. They risk life and limb to explore the Metro's 'lost' tunnels and stations. Tons of pictures.  Think the City is a dangerous place to raise a kid? Think again. Grist finds out that the suburbs can be more unsafe.  Glasshouse Conversations asks, "What else should public space do?" Watch the evolution of Washington D.C.'s Metro. I'm highly jealous of their wide ranging system that started only 10 years before Vancouver's Skytrain. The CityFix lists their top 10 new transit systems for 2010. Dallas' Green Line is quite impressive. Under 'notable addition or expansions' at the bottom on the page, Vancouver's Olympic Street car is mentioned - sadly, it is no longer running and there doesn't seem to be much going on...yet! Notice that bikes get some attention - hey Vancouver, how about that bike-share program you've been ta…

'Tis the Season

Because I do this every year: 
I want to see great herds of bison grazing on freeway medians and, in stampede, spilling down the clover-leafs like a mudslide. I want to see rush-hour traffic paralyzed by them, and goggle-eyed commuters forced to get out of their cars to wonder at the great noble mass in before them.
I want to see long-legged wolves loping through shopping mall parking lots like punks looking for trouble, so that the yappy Shih-Tzus of chic matrons cower in their SUVs and fear for their lives.
I want to see flocks of blue-birds and painted buntings and scarlet tanagers braiding in and out among the hydro lines, and then roosting there, as bright as strings of car-lot pennants!
I want the fairways of golf clubs to revert to wildflower meadow, and see a thousand picnics bloom there. I want the lawns of suburbia to grow as high as a horse’s withers. I want milkweed and Queen Anne’s Lace and dandelions never to be thought of as weeds again, and to take their lordly …

Translink: Ads Coming to Your Farecard

Late last week Translink (via The Buzzer Blog) announced that they would be putting advertisements on their monthly farecards. According to the available mock-up, the ad would take up just under one half of the card space. In exchange, Translink is getting a minimum of $84,000/year and according to the press release, space has already been sold for the first 6 months. I strongly oppose this for a few reasons.

For only $7000/month, is it worth it? One comment left on the Buzzer noted that if they sell roughly 140,000 farecards (131,000 sold in March 2007), that is only about 5 cents per card. I'd think if I was holding captive every farecard holder's eye, I could get a bit more cash out of the deal. But to me, that's besides the point.

I find the more important issues are that 1.) advertising is not particularly stable funding 2.) it's further corporatizition of our public transit space. Transit users already have to put up with ads in the vehicles, on the vehicl…

Art: "The City"

I just had to post these images of Artist Lori Nix's work titled 'The City' in which "public spaces devoted to history and science lie deteriorating and neglected while nature slowly takes them back." See her work here

Greenest City: "Food Incubator"

Story by the Vancouver Sun: Downtown Eastside food projects win approval
Among some of the cooler projects going on around Vancouver as a part of the broader 'Greenest City' initiative is the 'Food  Incubator' that could be set up next in the old Save-On-Meats building on Hastings Street. You can read more about business incubators here. In general, they are a great way to nurture small businesses by giving them resources to be successful and we're all aware that small businesses are essential to any neighbourhood's success. In addition to being a really great program, the Save-On-Meats building, which had been a butcher shop for 50+years until it closed last year, will re-open again as a butcher shop but with a grocery store and restaurant, as well. I'm happy to see such a prominent building being re-used for fantastic things.

Public Space: Robson Square

I've written before about the Robson Square/Court House/Art Gallery area before, however, recently there's been some great movement about to possibly create a public space on the south side - the 800-block segment of Robson Street (between Hornby and Howe).
Essentially, the city would permanently close that section of Robson street to vehicle traffic. There is a possibility that they will keep the street open to transit vehicles, as they do on Granville Street. I would strong argue against this as it would limit programming and confuse people as to the nature of the space as Granville Street does. The problem is the #5 bus that connects the West End to the rest of the city. Currently, this section of the street is closed off due to construction and traffic patterns have already adjusted. The #5 has been re-routed but its new route is convoluted and confusing - Translink should immediately look to simplifying this if the closure were to be permanent.

I have extremely high hopes…

Newsmaker of the Year: The Bicycle

The Vancouver Courier has declared the Bicycle 'Newsmaker of the Year'. This is a significant choice considering the year that Vancouver has had. It brings into focus how behemothic the issue of two wheels vs four has become. It has even eclipsed the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

I will layout my bias right now (if you couldn't tell already) that I'm pro-bike infrastructure. I believe that a city that has a great mix of walking, cycling, and driving, is a great city. There are the usual suspects in Europe that we can point to: Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, and Amsterdam. And there are cities in North America that are forging ahead with building better cycling facilities: Portland, Boston, Washington D.C., Montreal, and New York. Like Vancouver, these cities are suffering their own backlashes. New York is finding out that great success comes at a cost. The bike is a political issue again.

In many ways, people react to the removal of a car lane as if their inalienable hu…

Image: Powering Vancouver

The Death and Life of Gastown: Part Four - Planning Vancouver in the 1950s,

Planning Vancouver: 1950s  In 1952, Vancouver set up its first Planning Department that worked in conjunction with a City Council appointed Planning Commission. Even more influential than the Commission were the Technical Planning Board, which handled the physical development functions, and a Board of Administration (BOA), composed of the mayor and two commissioners. The BOA enjoyed dominance over City Council and its affairs.[1] Gerald Sutton-Brown became one of those two commissioners. Donald Gutstein, a Vancouver Academic, describes Sutton-Brown as “most powerful person at City Hall, his power verging on the absolute.”[2] Here is where people often draw parallels to New York's Robert Moses (albeit without the cash). 
Sutton-Brown’s influence is an important factor to Gastown’s revitalization because of his authority over city development plans and his role in two very important and inter-connected projects: a Vancouver Freeway system and Project 200. Gutstein argues that, althoug…

Transit Debates and What We Don't Need

We need more transit and we need better transportation options. We need communities that are built for people not cars. We need a lot of things.

What we don't need is pointless quibbling. By breaking down how much each municipality pays for our regional transportation system versus how much service they receive in return is besides the point. Where does that get us? All it does is stir up controversy and doesn't advance the conversation or our common goals.

In Metro Vancouver, Translink's services and initiatives affect us all (they do more than just run our transit system). Improved service on Skytrain or the B-line or any bus route for that matter can positively benefit all of us (read on Human Transit what transit can do for us). Each municipality is not an island unto itself and their citizens and goods are not bound within their borders.

If each municipality started its own transit agency, what benefit would it bring us? We'd have 20+ agencies that could lead to t…


There was Woodwards (and the Charles Bar), now there's the new Waldorf. There's always a fear that when you revitalize or renew (words are a very touchy subject when come to the dreaded 'gentrification' subject) a building, business or block, that it will inevitably harm the people who already live in the neighbourhood (see: Gastown, DTES, etc.). A friend from Oregon just visited Vancouver for the first time. Read his review! Amazing  restoration work done to Grand Central Station's ceilingRobson Street may finally get its square!According to this French report from the city of Lyon, cyclists get around quicker than those that drive cars. Also, they travel quicker on Wednesdays...good ol' Humpday.   More news from New York: They're expanding their successful 'Pop-up Cafe' program. They've noticed a 14% increase in business where the cafes are installed.  I'd like to see this kind of thing all over Vancouver. Main, Robson, Denman, Davie, Co…

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

6 months. 88 posts. Over 4000 page views with 1300 just this past month. Not a huge feat nor am I bragging but this, for me, is somewhat a personal victory. When I launched this blog back in the Summer, I intended it to be a place to help me gauge my interest in urban planning and I think I can safely say that, after all this, I still love this stuff.
Now comes the hard part: what do I want to do? Where do I want to go?

My two choices for grad schools are McGill in Montreal and SFU in Vancouver. I like the look of McGill's Urban Planning program because it seems very hands on and practical with a studio component. Also, it's in a different city with a ton of diversity and a very interesting urban form. McGill also carries with it the cache of its name being one of the best universities in Canada.

SFU's Urban Studies program intrigued me because of its breadth and connections to other institutions. However, it isn't a 'traditional' planning program and d…