A park under every parking spot

Is there a park under every parking spot? Can car sharing reduce the demand for parking in cities? If cities needed less parking because residents were walking, riding, using public transit and using car sharing the space that was being used to park cars could be transformed for other uses. Public space is a valuable thing in cities and has the power to create more inclusive communities and to give residents greater access to nature.

Cars on average are parked 95% of the time. Large areas of all cities are dedicated to parked cars. Streets, which connect the city’s various destinations account for a large amount of public space and could be, used many different ways.

While the last century has seen the invention of the car and its increased dominance of its use of civic space, we are now in a time where a “multi-modal” future will transform cities and the people who live in them. Smart phones will make the car just one of the periphery devices that will give residents of the city more transportation options.

Car sharing will become one of the choices of residents from walking, public transportation or other modes of active transportation. The fabric the city will change. Parking spaces could be transformed to other uses.

As density in the city increases the space between buildings and public space will be more important. Public space will present more opportunities for residents to experience and envision the city in different ways. From parks, gardens, and new forms of building, thinking about space in proximity to density will open different cityscapes.

Visit me at 146-1000 Parker St. for the Culture Crawl, November 17-20.

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A mini van in every drive way

IMG_1414“A mini van in every drive way” Acrylic on recovered plywood, 48″x48″ in progress

Hollyburn Properties’ open house for 1640-1650 Alberni St.

1640-1650 Alberni StreetLots of proposed new development slated for Alberni St. There is a huge demand of purpose built rental units in Vancouver with the vacancy rate being so low.

I can’t remember Hollyburn Properties ever constructing a new purpose built apartment building in Vancouver. I thought their business model was to buy existing properties and manage the buildings.

Hollyburn Properties is hosting a Open House for what I am assuming would have to be a rezoning of a site on Alberni Street for a 42 storey building of rental units. Here are the details:

Open House Details

Date: Monday, June 13, 2016 Time: 5:00pm – 8:00pm Place: Empire Landmark Hotel

1400 Robson Street Crystal Ballroom

Proposal Details

Proposed Use: Purpose-Built Market Rental (276 units)

Family Units: Approximately 40% of units are 2-3 bedroom

Sustainability Target: LEED Gold

Proposed Height: Approx. 385 ft (42 storeys)

Relevant City Policies:• West End Community Plan
• West End Community Plan Rezoning Policy

• Green Buildings Policy for Rezoning

Architect: Landscape Architect: Francl Architecture Durante Kreuk

For more information, please contact Curranne Labercane, Brook Pooni Associates, at e. clabercane@brookpooni.com | t. 604.731.9053 x 106

Remarkable Women poster program quietly dropped by NPA majority on Park Board


IMG_1308Vancouver has a lot of remarkable women. At Council there is gender parity excluding the Mayor’s vote. Vancouver is still waiting for its first female Mayor. At Park Board there is more work needed to establish gender equity with only three women being elected to the 7-person Board. Back in 2002, Vancouver voted for a full compliment of women on the Board. Although it’s 2016, meaningful progress on the gender equity front in government, civil society and business still has a way to go.

It was disappointing to learn that the Park Board quietly dropped a great program called the “Remarkable Women” poster series. One has to wonder why the NPA majority would cut such a low-cost program that has the potential to recognize, inspire and inform Vancouver citizens?

The “Remarkable Women”poster

The program is described on the City of Vancouver website in the following manner:

“The Vancouver Park Board established the Remarkable Women poster series from 2008 to 2014 to honour local women who have made significant contributions to arts, culture, sports, and community.

Each year, the individual stories of a select group of women from diverse backgrounds and abilities are featured on posters, which highlight the important role each woman plays in our community.

The Remarkable Women poster series program will be discontinued in 2015. A new awards program, the Awards of Excellence, will take its place. The Awards of Excellence recognizes outstanding achievements made by individuals.”

Curiously, a program that was developed to honour and inspire women has been slashed and a new program has been developed to “recognizes outstanding achievements made by ‘individuals’.” Is this part of NPA pattern that has a problem with recognizing women?

Back in 2006, when Commissioner Loretta Woodcock introduced a motion to have International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 be formally recognized by the Park Board, the then NPA majority of the Board rejected the motion. In the press afterwards the NPA Board Chair Heather Holden explained the rejection by stating that the motion was “silly and out of the scope of the Park board’. Crazily, the NPA Commissioners claimed that celebrating International Women’s Day would cost too much and would promote “a special interest group.” Wow!

In an outrageous media blunder one of the NPA Commissioners even went so far to explain the rejection of Woodcock’s IWD motion by saying “Why isn’t there an international dog day?’ What?

Given this sad history of the NPA’s rejection of IWD, the development of the Remarkable Women’s poster series was celebrated with some excitement. The launch of each year’s poster series was marked with a reception to celebrate the women who were highlighted on these posters.

It is disappointing to learn that the Park Board has chosen to drop this program.

For low cost the Park Board celebrated women of distinction annually by developing and displaying the Remarkable Women poster series in community centres and city hall.  In 2006 the NPA didn’t understand the importance of recognizing the achievements of women, and it appears that they still don’t in 2016.

Happy Victoria Day Long Weekend: Outdoor pools set to open and hey, where are our three new outdoor pools that the NPA promised!


In the last civic election the NPA promised to build three new pools. The NPA mayoralty candidate said that Vancouver was “dramatically underserved” by the current three outdoor pools. Here is a Metro article from the election:Metro

It was a hollow platform promise for the NPA with no plans for where the pools would be located or how they would be paid for. But hey, it was an election and making wild promises seemed to be the NPA’s campaign strategy.

While the NPA was not elected in the majority on council, it did gain control of the Park Board. One has to wonder, how many folks voted for the NPA with the expectation that they would be getting three new pools in Vancouver. Also, the NPA’s election notion of the lack of outdoor pools does not seem to be burning concern for the current NPA majority on the Park Board.

While the NPA-controlled Park Board has been busy granting contracts to build zip lines and renting deck chairs in our parks, it seems curious that there has been no mention of new pools at budget time. Did the Park Board Chair go to Council at budget time and request that the Capital Plan be amended to include three new pools? No!

Vancouver has some pretty spectacular pools, both indoor and outdoor. New Brighton pool, Kits pool and Second Beach pool are all located in idyllic places where folks can swim in warm pool waters. We also have some incredible indoor pools like the Aquatic Centre and Hillcrest. Some of the pools are in need of updating and renovations. To this end the Park Board commissioned a consultant to develop a strategy for the renewal of pools back in 2011. You can read the study here: Park Board Pool Study

Interestingly, a key finding and recommendation of the report was to “Phase out of stand alone outdoor pools, build future ones in combination with indoor pools.” There is a plan and it is based on rational thinking around how to use taxpayer’s money in the most cost-effective way to obtain maximum recreational utility.

It is regrettable that the NPA made promises during the election knowing full well that there was no possibility of fulfilling these pledges based on the planning that was already in place and paid for by taxpayers dollars at the time.

City breaks ground on 135 units of affordable housing geared towards families

savewayDaviewr - 1 (1)Great to see the City of Vancouver use its resources to create more affordability for families. The city with the land that it has, the new housing authority and the political will to make affordable housing for families a priority is  doing some pretty impressive work. This first of its kind project for Vancouver will create more housing for middle income people who need an important boost to stay in the city. If the Federal and Provincial governments could participate in this project there would be further opportunities to develop more affordability.

City of Vancouver
News Release
March 15, 2016
This morning the City officially broke ground on a development with 135 units of affordable housing geared towards families, to be constructed on the 6.4 acre Southeast False Creek site being developed by Concert Properties.

Located at the northwest corner of Quebec Street and 1st Avenue, bounded by the False Creek seawall and Ontario Street, this 15 storey building will create affordable family housing, enabling families to live close to work, waterfront amenities and transit.
“We want to ensure that families are not just able to live in Vancouver, but to thrive here. This project is creating more homes geared towards families in a neighbourhood where they can access outdoor recreation, community centres, transit and jobs,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We recognize the affordability crisis our city is facing and City Hall is doing everything we can to increase a wide range of housing opportunities in Vancouver.”
Exceeding the Southeast False Creek Official Development Plan requirements, 54 per cent of the 135 units are targeted towards families with children: 44 two bedroom and 29 three bedroom suites. Two in-home daycare units will also be included. The housing units will meet both the Affordable and Modest Market housing requirements of the official development plan for the area, which means that at least 40 per cent of the units in this building will rent below the Housing Income Limits and the remaining 60 per cent at modest market rents for the area. Housing Income Limits will ensure that at least 40 per cent of the homes in this building are targeted to people with an annual income ranging from $36,500 up to $56,000.
This building is part of a larger master-plan community being developed by Concert Properties called The Creek, which also includes four market housing buildings containing approximately 450 suites, and a 2.7 acre waterfront park.
“We are proud of our plans for The Creek and the contributions it is making towards the provision for new affordable housing and a future waterfront park in Vancouver,” said Brian McCauley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Concert. “As a company who has been committed to building strong, sustainable communities across Canada since 1989, we are grateful for the opportunity to assist the City with the development of this important affordable housing project.”
The total development costs for the building are $38.75 million. Through partnerships like this one, the City is demonstrating success in creating affordable housing but needs both the Provincial and Federal Governments to support its efforts to expand affordability.
Completion of the project is expected by mid-2018. Upon completion the City will own the land and building and select a non-profit housing operator to lease and operate the building.

Media Contact:
Corporate Communications

Community Open House for redevelopment of 1661 Davie St.

savewayDaviewr - 1From the City of Vancouver:

Community Open House

Monday, February 29, 2016,

5:00-8:00 pm

The Coast Plaza Hotel

1763 Comox Street

Details of the project

Henriquez Partners Architects has applied to the City of Vancouver for permission to develop this site with a mixed-use building consisting of :

-a 3 storey podium with three retail units on the lower and upper ground level

-a retail grocery store on the upper ground and mezzanine level

-two residential towers containing a total of 319 dwelling units (market rental)

-3 levels common underground parking, accessed off Davie St. and the rear lane

-Total floor area of 28,405 m sq

Under the site’s existing C5-A Zoning, the application is “conditional” so it may be permitted: however, it requires the decision of the Development Permit Board

The Development Permit Board will decide on the permit at a meeting on; Monday, May2, 2016 at 3:00 pm, Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12 th Ave., Ground Floor, Town Hall Meeting room.

Any may register to speak on this item at the meeting. For details, visit: vanouver.ca/dp-board

Written comments on this application are accepted till March 29, 2016. For more information and updates visit: vancouver.ca/devapps

or contact Wendy LeBreton, Project Facilitator at 604-871-6796 or wendy.lebreton@vancouver.ca

The Ford Pinto

Pinto, 48"x48", acrylic, on recovered plywood.

Pinto, 48″x48″, acrylic, on recovered plywood.

My memories of the Ford Pinto are from my Dad’s car pool pal “Curly” Kennedy who owned one. Curly was a giant of a man in many ways. As a boy, when I was sent out to tell him that my Dad would be right out, I would tease him about his car, which he always took with grace. I have a memory of his knees being at his chin sitting in the front of that Pinto. But the real joy of the job was to sit on the curb and talk with Curly before him and my Dad went to work when they were on the afternoon shift.

The 1970s were a hard time for the auto industry in North America. Cars where big, poorly manufactured and gas-guzzlers. The oil embargo in the Middle East and the strengthening market share of foreign imported cars, which were better on petrol with higher quality techniques in manufacturing, necessitated a massive rethink of car design in Detroit.

The Ford Pinto was a response to cheaper more fuel-efficient imports. The Pinto was Ford’s car to counter the enduring popularity of the Volkswagen Beetle, which is a testament to the enduring power of the bug which was designed in the early 1930s in Germany.

The Pinto was marketed as a “carefree” fuel-efficient car, like the pinto horse, a high utility animal with little demands. The car was piloted through the design phase by auto industry legend Lee Iacocca. Iacocca was also the driving force of the Ford Mustang and pushed for a minivan at Ford too, but had to realise the idea when he move to Chrysler with the Caravan. The Pinto was intended to be a car 2000 pounds and to sell for $2000. A car that was more affordable than a VW super beetle.

You can read more about the pinto here: Wikipedia on Ford Pinto 1971-1980 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto

Of course, the most infamous part about the Pinto was the exploding gas tank. Ford became aware of the design defect, but decided against a recall of the car. A cost benefit analysis was done comparing the cost of recalling against the potential cost from the lost of life and property. Ford executives made the decision, that not recalling was a better business decisions despite the loss of life and suffering. One of the worst business decisions made by the auto sector it is used as a case study now on business ethics.

You can read more about it here, The Ford Pinto Case;


1970 Pontiac Station Wagon


There are a plethora of stories embedded in every car. Whether it’s the thinking behind the design or our personal tales of our relationship to the car, memories and histories are the substance of a fascinating narrative.

One of the more exciting cars that my family owned when I was growing up was the 1970 Pontiac station wagon. My  uncle Vernon had  a station wagon and it was a favourite activity to be allowed to rattle around in the back of that wagon on family visits. So when my Dad brought home a big green station wagon my sister, brother and me were thrilled. Our huge green wagon was no disappointment with an automated rear tailgate and even a rumble seat that allowed us to sit backwards and look out the rear window!

Station wagons back then were the equivalent of our mini vans: a domesticated utility vehicle. Like a contractor’s truck for carrying their tools, the station wagon is the workhorse of the suburbs and families, carrying kids and stuff. Not the most beautiful cars that were every built, but with a lot of cargo capacity to be sure.

The allure of the station wagon was based on its cargo capacity and mobility. This was a generation of cars that not just promised to get you somewhere, but also with the ability to bring a lot of stuff with you. Car camping and the family vacation were the dreams of this vehicle. The station wagon’s position in the suburb was a form of latent desire to escape to nature.

The expansion of freeways across North American induced a desire to go anywhere. The freeways paradoxically both transformed the landscape and gave us access to remote areas that for generations where inaccessible. The promise of the post war industrial culture was a well-paid job and leisure time and the station wagon was a symbol of this promise.

My Dad had 3 weeks off every summer, which was a real treat. We would go away camping often and it was a journey we looked forward to all year. We would carry a little sailboat on roof racks on the top, pull a small aluminum boat on a trailer, packed with camping equipment and fill the station wagon to its roof with our personal possessions. Essentially we carried a smaller more compact version of our home and take this on the road.

One of my fondest memories was when we were going on vacation and we packed up the station wagon the night before my Dad’s last day at work. My Mom would drive the car from Hamilton to Oakville and park it on the side of the highway beside the Ford plant. When my Dad was done his shift, he ran across the field and hopped the fence and we started our summer camping vacation. It was a beautiful thing.