Re-designing from the bottom up: The City of Vancouver unveiled its new sign design for rezoning and development projects last week. The new simplified design is a response to the previous hard-to-read and overly technical signs. Meanwhile in other parts of the city, glitz and glamour are being favoured over simple design, with multi-million dollar homes and surreal hotels marking the horizon. And in Grandview-Woodland we have a radical new plan for redesign and redevelopment. This week we explore Vancouver's stylistic tendencies, ranging from the flashy and ornate, the clean and (not quite so) simple, to the contentious and complicated.
Luxury Living. The Vancouver Observer gives us a tongue-in-cheek take on the fanciest (and most expensive) houses in the city. And yes, those are home cinemas and private bowling alleys that you're seeing. In other multi-million dollar news, Trump Tower is coming to downtown Vancouver. The $360-million Georgia Street development will include a hotel complete with champagne lounge, spa, and banquet and conference centre. It's expected to be finished in summer 2016.
Clean Slate. On the other end of Georgia, removing the viaducts and streamlining the area between Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Downtown Eastside, is beginning to seem like a better, and better idea to many, including Mayor Gregor Robertson. As a recent report remarks, "In every city's evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps to advance the city's goals and livability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both."
Riding in Style. And for something that is perhaps neither simple or flashy, TransLink is shopping around various options for funding future upgrades to Metro Vancouver's transit system. One idea is road pricing, which could mean anything from bridge tolls to charges for drivers based on time of day or location. Could road pricing be the simplest, most elegant means of funding future transportation infrastructure or is it a complicated solution to an equally complicated problem? Your thoughts?
Decision-Making Style. It looks like Grandview-Woodland will be going through a drastic redesign. As Charles Campbell explains for The Tyee, "The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a radical remake of the area around the Broadway SkyTrain station: a possible 36-storey building on the Safeway site behind the station, towers up to 22 storeys in "transitional" zones including the area between 11th and 12th avenues near Commercial Drive, and more high-rises up to 26 storeys between Broadway and 7th towards Woodland." But for Campbell (and many others), the question remains: Who decides?
At the MOVeum:
June 26 - Upcycled Urbanism Volunteer Orientation night
July 6 - Curator’s Talk & Tour Foncie's Fotos w/ Joan Seidl
July 13 - Upcycled Urbanism: A Design+Build Project for Everyone - Granville Street Build Day
[Image: Expo 86 Georgia Viaduct and Saskatchewan pavilion, 2001. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.517]
With the controversy surrounding the Gitxsan First Nation and the non-unanimous handshake with Endbridge in Northern BC, our thoughts this week at the MOV have a key focus on environmental justice.
As the Gitxsan community outlines, more frequently the language of apathy is turning to the language of uproar when it comes to the environment. As Hanna pointed out, teachers are speaking out against the “Catch $25” wherein public schools are increasingly financially immobilized by BC’s carbon neutrality goals in ways that local government, the private sector, and corporations are not.
Even The Muppets (yes, Kermit and Miss Piggy), are having their say on our global oil addiction in their latest movie, much to the chagrin of US FOX news broadcasters who state the Muppets are ‘brainwashing’ your kids with their liberal agenda!
All this action makes for exciting times, and in case you need some extra encouragement, here is a well-articulated TEDx talk about the Antidote to Apathy. Ultimately, this video asks us to stand up, and speak out – which is exactly what Michaelle Jean wants women to do in the effort to end violence against women on this 22nd anniversary of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Concrete jungle – be gone! The City of Vancouver announced winners of the re:CONNECT urban viaduct design contest last week with entry no.71, a parks-and-public-places entry, as the most popular choice.
At the MOVeum: You’re invited to participate in the MOV’s public forum on food resiliency this Wednesday. In partnership with Vancouver Food Policy Council and Village Vancouver Transition Society, From Here to There: Food, Energy, and Resiliency in Vancouver starts at 5pm!
Ah, the sweet smell of victory.
The BC Lions charged their way to a Grey Cup win on Sunday – and quel surprise – the only brawl to break out involved former CFL legends and a ‘peace offering’ of flowers at an alumni luncheon. Looks like the MOV won’t be inheriting any more “vanlover” graffiti walls for the time being.
What goes up must come down, and in this case a celebration in sports, means a sad lament for the environment as the Federal Government announces its intention of pulling out of the Kyoto Accord . Along with strong nationalism and the ‘harperization’ of government communications, this latest move has many Canadians and a few MOVers considering the terms “Conversatism” and “Orwellian” more closely. (Maybe now is a good time to mention that CBC Vancouver is holding their open house this Friday, Dec 2nd.)
Meanwhile, the tents may have gone down for Occupy Vancouver, but the group is looking at new phases for the movement, which has brought more discourse on class and capitalism to the forefront than ever before. In London, the occupy groups have begun occupying abandoned banks and buildings - Amanda in marketing wonders what we'll see from the Vancouver group.
Neon Lover? Perhaps our current exhibit has got you thinking about Granville’s “Great White Way” and considering historical neon signs. As Hanna pointed out, the Yale Hotel is closing for renovations after 123 years, but promises to maintain it’s brick walls and neon signage.
Speaking of renovations, be sure to have your voice heard on the state of Vancouver’s viaducts.
And lastly, for those of you interested in the relationship between public media and art, Kate recommends “Urban Screens and City Building”, a free public talk with Mirjam Struppek at SFU Surrey. Many collaborations have been made between museums and urban screen projects asking the question, “What is their potential for creating personal or shared experiences?”
Affordable housing. More this week about the City of Vancouver's ambitious plan for housing. Some of the strategies include a "rent bank" to assist tenants when they have difficulty paying rent, limits on profits in real estate sales and housing on city-owned land. But some caution that several parts of the plan lack specific information about how these things will be implemented and how much it will cost. City staff have also noted the difficulty they have had in moving the hardest to house into current social housing.
Meanwhile, another one of the city's 14 planned social housing projects has opened and the West End civic report recommends creating an advocate for tenants' rights and increasing green space.
Bike lanes. After a study last week revealed only a moderate impact on businesses, the city has chosen not to compensate business owners along the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes. A disappointing response rate for the survey, as well as businesses' apparent unwillingness to disclose financial information make it difficult to find a conclusive link between bike lanes and a downturn in business.
Smelling vinegar. The Vancouver Archives shares a bit the process they use to rescue old film negatives from deterioration. The Archives also on HIstorypin now, so you can take a peek at what Vancouver used to look like.
Slow down, watch the... The City of Vancouver will be setting up a trial 30 km/h speed zone on East Hastings through the Downtown Eastside. The area is notorious for jaywalking and it's hoped that this measure will increase pedestrian safety.
Disappearing traffic. As Vancouver considers demolishing its viaducts, consider the Law of Disappearing Traffic: when a main artery is blocked off, traffic finds new routes.
Eastern Core Strategy Study. Erin Innes at the Mainlander reminds us that there is more to the Eastern Core Strategy Study than potentially removing the viaducts, as it's the last major parcel of land to be redeveloped in Vancouver, right next door to the Downtown Eastside.
LoCo BC is a non-profit looking to help connect local businesses and strengthen the local economy through buying local.
Why do Vancouver cafes close so early? Because people don't visit.
Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.
Homelessness. The numbers are in. Initial results from the 2011 homelessness count indicate that street homelessness is down in Vancouver, though there has not been a change across the Metro Vancouver region overall. This is causing some to question whether or not the massive investment in dealing with homelessness over the past three years has had an effect.
The results do however suggest that low-barrier shelters are having an impact and are seeing a higher level of use. While First Nations people still make up a disproportionately high proportion of homeless, the number of First Nations people who are homeless appears to be dropping. Youth are better represented in this year’s count, though it’s hard to say if this is due to an increase in homelessness among youth or a more accurate count.
What will be the future of the Hornby bike lane? Researchers are in the process of studying it’s impacts on the local community. Geoff Meggs says the City did not do a good enough job of communicating the need for cycling infrastructure to Vancouverites.
U-Pass. Translink is threatening to discontinue the U-Pass program if it continues to lose money to U-Pass theft and fraud. But Stephen Rees reminds us that the U-Pass program was never sustainable in the first place.
Hockey riot. As we head toward the Stanley Cup finals, the Tyee presents an alternative view on the 1994 hockey riot and how we became the ‘no fun city.’
Affordability. Bob Rennie says Vancouver really isn’t that unaffordable if you ignore the prices at the top fifth of the market.
Image: chris.huggins via flickr
How the internet kills great neighbourhoods. More on the demise of Videomatica and other businesses that give our city character.
Housing. Vancouver’s real estate is now more expensive than New York and London. A new wave of foreign investment and speculation is driving prices up again, and some fear that there aren’t enough high-paying jobs to support the prices.
Industrial Land. We’ve all heard about protecting farmland and the ALR but demand for housing has put industrial land and the jobs that go with it under threat too.
Olympic Village. The deficiencies are being worked on and the units are finally selling. The City has received it’s first payment from condo sales since taking over the project.
Urban gardens. The Vancouver Sun looks at a couple urban gardens and green spaces around Vancouver.
Urban dance. An SFU student is the recipient of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau scholarship for her interdisciplinary work studying the effects of public dance performance in urban spaces.
Tolls on local roads? It’s under consideration.
Image: Eryne Donahue and Neil Fletcher via the Vancouver Observer.
Cambie Corridor. The City of Vancouver approved development plans for five distinct neighbourhoods along the Cambie Corridor. The plan outlines plans for increased density, design of public space and amenities and integration with district energy systems, biomass, sewer heat recovery and geothermal exchange.
Insite. The fate of Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site went before the Supreme Court this week. The facility operates under a special exemption granted by the federal government that seems unlikely to be renewed by the Conservative Government. The Globe and Mail provides a summary of arguments for and against and OpenFile has compiled a history of the site.
Usufruct. The word of the day is usufruct. It means using empty lots that you don’t own for farming.
SlutWalk. In spite of the rain a thousand people showed up for the Vancouver SlutWalk yesterday. The walk followed a remark by a Toronto police officer that insinuated that victims of sexual assaults are responsible for their victimization because of the way they dress.
Gondola. No longer idle speculation, Translink is hosting public consultations about the possibility of building a gondola to SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus.
Bike sharing. The City of Vancouver is looking for expressions of interest into a public bike sharing program, likely funded through sponsorship or user fees.
Image: eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee, via flickr.
Olympic Village. This week the City of Vancouver finally released it’s projections as to it’s financial losses resulting from the Olympic Village. However, while they have stated that actual losses will be $40-50 million, there are reasons for doubt, as the amount doesn’t include things such as the cost of the purchase of the land. Frances Bula has stated her concerns about the way that the numbers were presented to the press, and their accuracy. They are not considering a property tax increase at this time.
Public protest. The bylaw proposed last week that would ban all permanent structures built by protest groups on public property has been rewritten to allow protests outside consulates after heavy criticism that it specifically targeted Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate and concerns about freedom of speech.
Insite. Research results show that since the opening of Insite, deaths related to drug-overdose have decreased substantially in the Downtown East Side.
Save-on-Meats. An inside look and a lot of pictures of the renovations at Save-on-Meats and some of the exciting things planned for the space.
Rapid transit. An overview of the different proposals for rapid transit along Broadway to UBC.
Viaducts. Stephen Rees takes a close-up look at the land underneath the viaducts, and just how underutilized it is.
Sprawl. After taking possession of their treaty land, we get a first glimpse of what Tswassen First Nation has planned for it: a massive mall, larger than Metrotown and lots of low-density housing.
125 places. Vancouver Heritage Foundation has shortlisted 200 sites as it searches for 125 places that matter most to Vancouverites.
Image: unk’s dump truck via flickr.
Public demonstrations. A proposed bylaw to limit Falun Gong demonstrations in front of the Chinese consulate and place restrictions on structures used in public demonstrations has sparked considerable debate and has some concerned about democratic rights and freedom of speech.Pivot Legal Society has expressed concern that this bylaw may also make temporary structures used by the homeless illegal.
And speaking of free speech, the BC Civil Liberties Association has taken the case of the woman ejected from a Skytrain by police for refusing to remove a button with the F word on it.
First Nations in public art. The electronic billboard beside the Burrard Street Bridge now features selected messages as part of the Digital Natives project. Read about the project here.
Casino. The casino hearings continue. PavCo and Paragon Gaming have proposed reducing the number of slot machines planned for the development.
Save-on-Meats. The iconic Downtown East Side building will be renovated and include a new butcher shop and restaurant, rooftop garden, office space and incubator kitchen for new start-up businesses.
Garbage. What should we do with Vancouver’s garbage? There are two options on the table.
Eagle cams. It’s nesting season again and the Hancock Wildlife Foundation has set up a live stream of the nest at the Lafarge concrete plant. The eggs are expected to hatch around April 20.
Image: .mused, via flickr