Kluckner on Vancouver’s History of Urban Planning

January 26, 2020

On 3rd March, Grandview’s own Michael Kluckner is presenting an illustrated lecture on the history of Urban Planning in Vancouver from 1911 to the City Plan.

“Over 90 years ago Vancouver hired Harland Bartholomew & Associates to create Vancouver’s first city-wide plan. Highly influential in the first half of the twentieth century, Bartholomew’s firm emerged as leading American urban planners starting in 1911 and pioneered methodologies for plans in many cities. The 332-page A Plan for the City of Vancouver saw several iterations completed in 1927-30 for the Vancouver Town Planning Commission. It provided an ambitious vision and specific concepts for the young city at the time when Vancouver amalgamated with two neighbouring municipalities to become the modern City of Vancouver, with automobile-oriented transportation demands and planning for industrial growth as priority considerations.

Bartholomew’s plans left a lasting legacy in how the city developed over the decades to come, including the Burrard Bridge and strict separations between apartment and detached home areas. Author Michael Kluckner will explore what was implemented, what worked and what did not, and track more recent changes in legislation and development, such as the vision for False Creek, condominium living and the push for compact communities in both the city and the region. As Vancouver enters a new phase of city-wide planning and an expanded regional context, a look back over the past century can provide insights on many aspects of the city today.”

Michael is really good on this stuff.  If you haven’t heard him before, he is an excellent relaxed speaker, always entertaining.

For registration details visit the Vancouver Heritage Foundation page.

Snow Day In Salsbury Park

January 15, 2020


Even with the snow falling at its most intense, the kids are having fun in the Park!

“…And The Waters Around Us Have Grown”

November 5, 2019

Thanks to @Lidsville on Twitter we are alerted to the excellent interactive maps of anticipated sea level rise by 2050, just 30 years away. Here is a map of the Lower  Mainland:


A closer view of Grandview and its neighbours shows False Creek reclaiming its historic Clark Drive boundary:


More importantly, this is where the new St. Paul’s Hospital is supposed to be built.  Already there have been stories of liquefaction tests at the proposed site; this is a problem that can only be worsened by a rise in sea level. I suspect  that the technology-heavy and expensive “solution” will be some form of barrier at Main Street, probably with SNC involved.

And what of the entire industrial waterfront along the Inlet?  Are they planning for sea level rise and I missed seeing the stories?

This is important stuff, and thirty years is not very long.

Council Passes AG Motion

October 24, 2019

Councillor Colleen Hardwick

At yesterday’s Vancouver City Council Meeting, Clr. Colleen Hardwick’s Motion to establish an Auditor General was passed unanimously (with Clr. Wiebe absent).

The Motion passed more quickly and less divisively than I had expected, though it was not without incident. Clr. Pete Fry issued a set of amendments that sounded as if they had been drafted by and on behalf of the City Manager, but Clr. Rebecca Bligh managed to remove the most objectionable features of the Fry amendments through an amendment of her own.

I am hopeful for the future but now, we wait and see what impediments the City bureaucracy and their allies throw up to delay and/or water down this fine achievement.

Who Deserves More Respect: City Staff or City Taxpayers?

October 18, 2019

As I have written about before, Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick has proposed a most important and vital reform of city governance: that, like every other major city in Canada, Vancouver should appoint a completely independent Auditor General.

The function of this position is NOT to ensure that monies are being spent legally — that is the job of the outside auditor which every City is obliged to have.  Rather, the function of the Auditor General will be to ensure that Vancouver city taxpayers are getting value for the taxes they pay, that City departments are being run efficiently and are actually fulfilling the tasks that Council sets for them.  The proposed budget for this new position of about one million dollars a year is an infinitesimally small percentage of Vancouver’s almost $2 billion annual budget and, if other cities’ experience is any guide, will pay for itself several times over in savings and efficiencies identified.

This Motion is to come before City Council next Wednesday and it seems to many of us in the City that there is an open and shut case for such a position, especially as Vancouver is one of the last big cities to make such an appointment. Such positions have proved both successful and indeed invaluable elsewhere.  However, there is resistance to this Motion; partly from the entrenched city bureaucracy that will be the focus of the Auditor General’s work; after all, none of us like to have someone looking over our shoulder while we do our work. One might hope that they will understand in time that more autonomy not less comes with transparency and a proven track record of effective spending.

The opposition from certain Councillors are for reasons that are far less clear. Some Vancouver Green councillors, for example are said to be opposed to the Motion because, according to them, it is disrespectful to the City staff. Nonsense. I ask everyone to read motionb6 and show me where disrespect is shown to staff. These Councillors, apparently, would prefer to refer this to staff for their opinion. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think a completely unbiased assessment is likely to result from such a referral.

Vision Vancouver — whom the electors of Vancouver firmly and decisively removed from office at the last election — often used a referral to staff to minimize, significantly delay, or even bury for ever Motions they didn’t like. Many of us assumed that a new Council would be different.  We hope that is the case here.

But, perhaps they all need to be reminded that, while City staff do deserve respect, the taxpayers of this City deserve it even more.


Urban Renewal

October 10, 2019

class war

Important — An Auditor General For Vancouver

October 5, 2019

What may be the most important Motion to come before Vancouver City Council this term is sponsored by Councillor Colleen Hardwick.  It is a Motion that calls for the establishment of an independent Auditor-General to provide

“effective stewardship over public assets, value-for-money in operations, transparent administration, and accountability … [to ensure] that the City of Vancouver is financially healthy and administratively effective, including a commitment to service excellence.”

The full Motion is 9 pages long.  It is worth reading:  motionb6

The Motion notes that:

“Vancouver is the only major Canadian city that does not have an Auditor General’s office (or a comparable “City Auditor” office) that is independent of the City’s management – one that is capable of providing an essential layer of independent financial and performance oversight of the City’s financial and operational affairs.”

I find it hard to believe that anyone could object to this reform. However, some years ago when George Affleck proposed something less substantial (an Ombudsman), the Vision Vancouver majority made sure that it never saw the light of day. And a well-informed observer tells me that City staff “are freaking out” about the current Motion — which makes me an even stronger believer in its necessity.

Unfortunately, I am also hearing that the Vancouver Greens (in whom so much progressive hope was lodged in the last election) will move to refer this Motion to staff for study. In other words, they want to bury it. I hope that serious reformers with contacts in the Greens can help shift them from this disastrous position.

The Motion goes before Council on 23rd October.  I hope that many of you will write to Council before that date in support of this vital reform to bring Vancouver into the 21st century.

You can email them at:   clrbligh@vancouver.ca;  clrboyle@vancouver.ca; clrcarre@vancouver.ca;  clrdegenova@vancouver.ca;  clrdominato@vancouver.ca;  clrfry@vancouver.ca; @clrhardwick@vancouver.ca; clrkirby-yung@vancouver.ca;  clrswanson@vancouver.ca; clrweibe@vancouver.ca