This week in MOVments we celebrate the season of colds, flus, and general respiratory discomfort with a selection of news related to that ever-annoying winter symptom: congestion. Whether implementing tools to relieve overcrowded transit systems, promoting creative congregations in public space, or consolidating civic institutions the issues are the same; the city is challenging itself to bring people together while facilitating their fast and efficient movement through space.
Port Mann Progress. Landmark progress has been made in speedy inter-urban travel with the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge on Saturday, December 1. But while the eight new lanes look like they're providing faster commute times for many, ongoing construction on the westside of the bridge continues to cause considerable delays for others. Another minor glitch? An express bus, the first public transit to cross the bridge in over two decades, currently only has stops in Langley and New Westminster, leaving Surrey out of the loop. This understandably has some Surrey residents bent out of shape, not the least of whom is Mayor Dianne Watts who is pushing for a Surrey stop in place of upgrades to an existing exchange hub.
Billion Dollar Ride on Broadway. In other transit news, the city has unveiled a proposal for a subway system along what is currently the busiest bus route in North America, the 99 B-Line. As the Vancouver Sun reports, the seemingly endless line ups associated with the 99 could be a thing of the past if funding can be found for the 2.8 billion dollar project. With the memory of the Canada Line construction in mind, city officials are hoping that by running the proposed system underground problems such as restrictions on turning and loss of trees and parking along the corridor could be effectively avoided.
Block 51 Revisited. Last week we were lamenting the proposed reopening of Block 51 to traffic and with it, the loss of a dynamic, innovative place for Vancouverites to congregate in the downtown core. As the Vancouver Public Space Network reported recently, Vancouver City Council has confirmed that it will allow traffic through the block again until a more comprehensive plan can be made. As the article points out, it's hard to ignore the results of a recent survey that showed tremendous public support for a permanent public square in area. The city seems to be committed to conducting research on the best solutions to traffic problems related to permanently closing the block, with city staff agreeing to report back to Council with findings before summer 2013. Fingers crossed.
Number Crunching. For any of you who wanted detailed numbers on how many staff the city employs (or for that matter, how many old mattresses city garbage workers picked up last year), you've finally got your chance. The city has just released a 177-page budget that offers a wealth of information regarding services, income, and expenditures. Notable for the heritage-minded, the document contains a money-saving proposal for consolidating the historical photographs in the City Archives and Vancouver Public Library's collections into one location. As Frances Bula reports, "The city is reviewing the overlap between the two collections and looking at whether some or all of the archives, possibly the photographs, could be moved to the central [library] branch."
At the MOVeum:
[Image: UBC bus stop. Photo courtesy of Tony Chang]
This is neat: our neighbours at the City of Vancouver Archives have digitized early film footage of the city and put the collection online. Some 150 films and counting, all accessible here. (A screen grab from the film “City Lights” is pictured left.) It’s an incredible glimpse of Vancouver’s early days: sawmills on fire, bridges demolished, swimmers in bathing caps at Third Beach. Maybe I’m just on the change beat these days—a look at previous posts indicates as much—but I’m always astounded by the rate of change in this city. Some of the footage calls for a curator or historian to explain precisely where you’re looking. Granville and Robson? Somewhere on East Hastings? Would other Canadian cities be so unrecognizable? Other young, Western Canadian cities?
Cities are always in a state of change: buildings come and go, businesses change hands. But in Vancouver, it’s the scale of the transformation that’s striking. Here, whole neighbourhoods change from industrial to residential in the span of a few years. Maybe things will settle down now that the low-hanging fruit—those industrial areas that had run their course—has been plucked, but I think innovation and renovation is just part of our nature, and nothing is permanent.
Image credit: City of Vancouver Archives, film “City Lights”