Catching Up Post

February 21, 2014

Yesterday afternoon I spent a long time in a formal interview with the sociology student I met at the beginning of the month. We covered a lot of ground and I was impressed with his knowledge and industry.  We covered some of the material from my book, but he also obliged me to compose a lot of my thoughts on the Drive in the 1970s, 80s and 90s that I am still researching in prep for the next book.  A very useful exercise for both of us, I believe.  He is currently waiting to hear back from the graduate schools he has applied to.  I hope he gets what he wants.

Last night, I thoroughly enjoyed the latest meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group. No contention, no egos, just useful and interesting discussions with intelligent people.  More of that, please.

Finally, in the catch up category, I received my new passport in the mail today.  That was just seven working days since I made the application.  Well done Canada!

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Debunking the Myths of “Vancouverism”

February 21, 2014

I had an interesting morning today, having been invited by a UBC prof to meet with a group of ten “urban planners” from Thailand who were interested in hearing about community engagement.  We met at SFU Harbourside, and I brought along Fern Jeffries from the False Creek Residents’ Association.

The Thais, it turned out, consisted of four hotel owners from a small resort, along with six local city officials including the Mayor and their senior Planner.  They had spent the last few days meeting with Vancouver and Richmond City folks, Translink staff and developers, all of whom had regaled them with the joyous wonders of “Vancouverism ” — high density and even higher towers.  Today, Fern and I explained to them the other side of the “Vancouverism” coin — top-down planning that ignores the desires of local residents, and which changes skylines and lifestyles to the benefit of the developers rather than the people.

After the meeting downtown, the Thais, the prof, and I took SkyTrain to Commercial & Broadway to show them the Transit Oriented Development zone that would bring 30+ storey towers to our low-rise neighbourhood. (Here are some of them on the trip, with Prof Peter Boothroyd of UBC in the second image):

Thais 1Thais 2

They had visited the station under the auspices of Translink the previous day. I gave them a different view, I am certain.  We walked a block or so into E. 10th and I showed them a typical Grandview street of detached houses.  I believe they were genuinely shocked that such a beautiful and livable street could be under threat.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable time with a very pleasant group.  I hope we may have leavened the pro-tower stuff that our City planners and developers would have stuffed them with.