How Big Is Too Big

April 18, 2013

That was the title for today’s City Conversations on development in Vancouver held at SFU Harbourview.  The panelists were Councillor Raymond Louie, developer Michael Geller and former Vancouver Planning Director Brent Toderian.  It was a packed meeting, with more than eighty people in a lecture hall designed for far fewer.  I’m glad I arrived early!

geller at sfu

Ald. Louie (hidden behind the computer screen in the picture above) kicked off the discussion by wondering what was meant by “big”.  Did it mean height or mass or density or within a context?  He didn’t say anything wild (except to claim they always listened to the community), but he did manage to suggest that yet another city-wide policy might be useful.

Michael Geller (standing in image above) noted that form should follow fit rather than what usually happens that form follows finance.  When asked why so many buildings look the same, he quipped that developers make sheep look like free thinkers.

Brent Toderian (seated above) noted that virtually all developments coming for approval were too big and had to be talked down.  Design should come first, he said.  However, he also restated his position that density is inherently a good thing.

I’m not sure we learned anything new here: Most of the comments from Louie and Toderian were platitudes; Geller was more entertaining but not really more enlightening.  However, it was a good way to spend the lunch hour and I met several people that I had only known from Twitter before.

The Defeat Of Apathy

April 18, 2013

As the Province heads into an election, and as GWAC heads into a year full of vital business for Grandview, I thought it a good idea to re-post this TED talk that I originally posted a couple of years ago.

In this short video, Dave Meslin explains with compelling simplicity how policies of “deliberate exclusion” work to create an apathetic and inactive electorate — and suggests a way to get us out of that trap.

This is what Civics lessons ought to be about.