Photos of the new plaza in the Davie Village

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The heart of the Davie Village is going car free. The next great Vancouver Plaza

New rainbow cross walks at Davie and Bute. Photo by Emily Jackson

New rainbow cross walks at Davie and Bute. Photo by Emily Jackson

From the West End Planning Team:

Exciting news!
 
A West End Community Plan pilot project is launching on Tuesday, July 30th. We are creating a new ‘heart of Davie Village’ plaza, partnering with the West End BIA with support from Qmunity and local businesses. The plaza will be on Bute Street between Davie Street and the lane south of Davie.
 
The plaza will include colourful picnic tables, enhanced landscaping, and decorative lighting. It will provide a space for recreation and play, gathering and socializing, and programming and events. It is intended to be a ‘canvas’ for creative use by community groups and others.
 
The plaza supports the emerging directions of the West End Community Plan encouraging vibrant commercial streets and celebrating Bute and Davie Streets as the ‘Heart of Davie Village’. It also supports the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan by creating a vibrant public space to support public gathering, walking and cycling.
 
To further enhance the ‘Heart of Davie Village’ and celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pride, permanent rainbow crosswalks will be painted at the intersection of Bute and Davie Streets.
 
We hope you get a chance to enjoy the transformations happening at Bute and Davie Streets!
 

 Call to Action!
 
If you’re interested in helping with landscaping in the plaza, show up with gloves, boots and a smile and come down to Davie and Bute Streets between 9 am and 5 pm today (Thursday) or tomorrow (Friday).
 
If you have any questions or want to learn more about this initiative, please contact Holly Sovdi at 604.871.6330 or holly.sovdi@vancouver.ca. Or come down to the site today or tomorrow.

Time for the war on safety to end

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Monday July 29, Council update: Council will next meet on the Active Transportation Corridor in Kits on Monday July 29 at 6 pm at City Hall in Council Chambers. The speakers list is now closed, but speakers who were on the original list, but missed their time can speak at the meeting. Council will debate and vote on the issue at the Monday meeting.

On Saturday July 28 Council heard the rest of the 217 registered speakers. Then the Chair of the meeting Councilor Louie went through the speakers list again for folks who missed their allotted time to speak. Council then voted to closed the speakers list. There was some debate on the issue if speakers who were on the speakers list would be heard on Monday. The minority of Council thought that there had been already an extraordinary opportunity to speak to this issue. In the end the majority on Council agree that speakers who were on speakers list, but missed their time could speak at the beginning of the Council meeting Monday. Council will debate the issue and vote at the Monday meeting.

Saturday July 27, Council update: Council resumes hearing speakers today at 10 pm at City Hall. Last night Council heard up to speaker 120 and will start with speaker 121 today.

Friday July 26, Council update: Last night Council heard more speakers on the proposed safety upgrades in Kits. The debate at Council will resume tonight starting with speaker #59 at 6 pm. Here is a story in the Provence about last night:2nd night of speakers

Wednesday July 24, Council update: On Tuesday July 23, 2013,  CoV Council heard a staff report from the Director of Transportation, Jerry Dobrovolny. Councilors also heard speakers from civic panels and 18 speakers from the  list of 192. The speakers list is not close so if folks want to still speak to this issue they can sign up with the city clerk by sending an email to meetingcoordinator@vancouver.ca or call Lori Isfeld, Meeting Coordinator, at 604.871.6355.

Council will resume hearing speakers on Thursday July 25 at 6pm at City Hall in Council Chambers.

From the Meeting coordinator: “If Council is unable to hear from all of the speakers on July 25, the meeting chair will announce the date and time of the next meeting when speakers will be heard. At the end of the meeting, the chair will also announce the number of the speaker who will be first to speak when the committee resumes.

City staff will email an update regarding the next meeting date and time to registered speakers who have not yet spoken to Council. The information will also be posted on the City website.

You can also communicate your thoughts on this topic to the Mayor and Councillors by emailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.”
Time for the war on safety to end

Today on July 23 Vancouver City Council is considering a staff report that recommends an “Active Transportation Corridor” on Cornwall and West Point Grey Road. The purpose of the roadway improvement is  “… to create a safe, convenient and comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists between Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach.”

The stated goals of the project are as follows:

  • Encourage people of all ages and abilities to get around their city through active transportation (any mode of human-powered transportation, including jogging/running, inline skating, skateboarding, wheelchairs, strollers, etc.) in a comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable way.
  • Address existing safety issues along Point Grey Road and Cornwall Avenue by reducing the volume and speed of vehicle traffic.
  • Create a walking and cycling route that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Make the intersection of Burrard Street and Cornwall Avenue safer and more direct for pedestrians and cyclists.

You can read more about the project in the staff report here

Sadly in Vancouver, special interest groups in Kits have used bike lanes as political issue for a long time. The history of the Burrard Bridge bike lanes is a tortured tale of the NPA using it as a wedge issue. Desperately, a small, vocal minority who are threatened by change has exploited the safety of people walking and riding bikes. They are doing it again with this proposal and they are motivated to maintain the status quo. It is difficult to understand why they would so easily dismiss the real issues of safety.

Some folks have little intention of modifying their transportation choice for health or environmental reasons and would rather discredit attempts to create safer conditions for people walking and riding their bikes. Their fear is easy to organize and exploit because it is not based in logic, but rather fear and a sense of betrayal of some sort of promised lifestyle dream.

There are many good reasons for encouraging folks to live more active lifestyles. The road system in Vancouver cannot accommodate any more cars. If the city is to grow and economically thrive more people will need to walk, ride and take transit to avoid total gridlock. Bike lanes have also been demonstrated in multiple cities to support local business although in Vancouver this seems like a hard sell to the business community. More importantly is the issue of “urban health”. Our bodies are meant to be active. Many of the chronic ailments are connected to sedentary styles. Being more active will make us healthier. Finally our transportation choices do have any impact on climate change.

It is disappointing that some educated, entitled and privileged residents in Kits would turn the process of creating better safety condition on Cornwall and West Point Grey into a public relations campaign to disseminate misinformation in an ill-informed and desperate attempt to resist change.

 

Safety in numbers: why a bike lane in Kitsilano?

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Support for the Active Transportation Corridor on Cornwall and Point Grey Road

July 18, 2013

Dear Mayor and Council:

I fully support the development of an Active Transportation Corridor on Cornwall and Point Grey Road to create a safe connection between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho for persons of all ages and abilities. I frequently cycle through this area and it is a dangerous stretch of road.  ICBC reported that from 2005 to 2009 there have been 143 collisions along this roadway with two-thirds resulting in serious personal injuries.

Improvements to the city’s built environment for people to walk and ride bikes is one of the best ways to invite and encourage people to do these activities safely. Vancouver needs to have more improvements to the roads to promote cycling in all age groups and abilities. Road conditions need to feel and be safe enough for more women, children and older folks to ride. Women riding bikes is the fastest growing group of cyclists in Vancouver since the construction of Hornby and Dunsmuir bike paths. Countries where women are at least 50% of the cycling ridership have the largest over all ridership levels in the world like in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Riding bikes in Vancouver needs to become mainstream and an activity that is completely normal and done by everyone because it is the easiest, fastest and safest way to get around. Building a network of separated bike lanes is the next big challenge for the city. With the construction of the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike paths and with the soon to be completed Comox /Helmcken Greenway the city is well on its way to incrementally improving the built environment for cycling. The priority now is to build a bike network so folks who would never ever dream of riding a bike will do so.

There are many good reasons for encouraging folks to ride bikes. The road system in Vancouver cannot accommodate any more cars. If the city is to grow and economically thrive more people will need to walk, ride and take transit to avoid total gridlock. Bike lanes have also been demonstrated to support local business although in Vancouver this seems like a hard sell to the business community. More importantly is the issue of “urban health”. Our bodies are made to be active. Many chronic aliments are connected to sedentary lifestyles. Being more active will make us healthier. Finally our transportation choices do have an impact on climate change.

Change is always hard especially with respect to long established transportation choices. These choices do have really world consequences particularly in regards to climate change. Climate change is among biggest challenges that we face as a city.. Some of the actions to mitigate the effects of climate change need to be taken by government and others are the responsibility of residents. An Active Transportation Corridor represents an important opportunity both for the city and residents to have an impact on developing a more responsible and ethical for future generations.

Yours truly,

Brent Granby

Viaduct removal: send more parks

Illustration of Main Street with viaducts removed

Without a doubt the prospects of the removal of the Viaducts has the ability to provoke much anxiety in some folks. While tthe removal of the Viaducts has the potential to have a significant impact to improve the city and to restore the policy debacle of the attempted highway construction, much still needs to studied and understood about the proposition.

At Wednesday, June 26, City Council is considering a report on the removal of the Viaducts. Council is  being asked in principle rif the proposal  should go to a more detailed planning phase for two more years. You can read the report here:

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The report outlines the detailed work and consultation that needs to be undertaken to plan for new traffic patterns and to plan for what will fill the space when the Viaducts are removed.

The report starts of with bold statement of intent:

 “In every city’s evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps toadvance the city’s goals and liveability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both. The opportunity presented by the removal of the viaducts includes increased waterfront parkland, opportunities for affordable and subsidized housing on city land, connections between Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods to False Creek, and restoration of the gap created by the viaducts on Main Street. The viaducts removal also eliminates a physical and psychological barrier and erases an urban scar from a rapidly urbanizing part of the city. Removal of the viaducts would allow for improved street connectivity which will offer a new balance between mode shares that supports our Transportation 2040 goals and will integrate the development of Northeast False Creek into the fabric of the downtown.”

viaductparkspaceThe most exciting prospect resulting from the viaduct removal is the huge potential to build a whole new part of the city with more park space. Reconnecting Chinatown to the False Creek basin would right a previous significant planning mistake. With the removal of the viaducts and changes to the streets, at least 13% more park space could be added to this area that is already park-deficient. Presently, the area is home to some intersecting park features like the skateboard park under the viaduct and some of the water features of Andy Livingston Park are interesting green space. Currently, much of the area is an asphalt wasteland that is owned by both private owners and the public.

Check out these photos to see the current state of the area: photos from around and under the viaducts

This area has the potential to have one of the next great parks in the city. There are many issues with traffic patterns, the form of development, density levels, public amenities and residents’ feedback to the project that will need to be sorted by the city, but the prospects for this area are exciting.

Cycling for all abilities and ages, AAA, green house gas reduction for better health

 

 

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The actions of climate change

 Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that we face as a City. It is established that Green House Gases (GHG) are the cause of climate change and the actions taken to mitigate its effects need to be taken by the government and city residents. Optimally, the City’s actions to address this issue should support and facilitate residents in reducing their carbon footprint.

The City of Vancouver through its Green City Action Plan 2020 is setting ambitious targets to reduce the amount of GHG that the city is emitting. Some of the plan’s highlights are as follows:

-Vancouver is set to bring our community-based greenhouse emissions down to 5% below 1990 levels, even as our population has grown by over 27% and jobs have increased by over 18%

 -Vancouver’s electricity is generated in British Columbia – 93% of it is from renewable sources. We are also developing neighbourhood-scale renewable energy projects. Conversion to renewable sources will create new green jobs.

 -The City has implemented the greenest build code in North America.

 -Vancouver is rising to meet the green transportation challenge by creating compact neighbourhoods with higher density to provide easy access to work, shopping and recreation. The City has shifted investment to walking, cycling and transit infrastructure instead of building new roads.

 You can read the full plan here

In conjunction with the Greenest City Action Plan, the City also has the 2040 Transportation plan that sets goals for residents and the city to reduce GHG emissions by making a more sustainable transportation system.

You can read the plan here

The plan is described in the following manner by the City:

The City of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 Plan envisions an efficient transportation system to support a thriving economy, a healthy, safe, accessible and vibrant city, and an improved natural environment. Specific targets include having two-thirds of all trips in Vancouver by sustainable modes by 2040 and eliminating traffic-related fatalities. The projects outlined in this report support the high-level goals and specific targets of the Transportation 2040 Plan.

 Transportation 2040 includes visions to make walking ‘safe, convenient, comfortable, and delightful’ and to make cycling ‘safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun’ for people of All Ages and Abilities (AAA), including seniors and children. The Cycling in Cities research from the University of British Columbia concludes that cyclists, and potential cyclists, prefer bicycle routes that are fully separated from vehicle traffic or are on local streets that have traffic calming to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic.

 In the West End and Downtown core we know the benefits of living in a high-density community where walking, cycling and taking transit are the highest levels in the city. The sustainable transportation choices that we make contribute a huge reduction in the amount of GHGs that are emitted.

Going forward with the City’s new building code to create more efficient uses of energy in buildings for lighting and heating will also lead to a significantly reduction the carbon footprint. When neighbourhood heating systems are implemented it will really make the density work to create more environmentally sustainable housing types.

Still, the West End needs to have more improvements to the roads to promote cycling for all age groups and abilities. Road conditions need to feel and be safe enough for more women, children and older folks to ride. Women riding bikes is the fastest growing group of cyclists in Vancouver with the construction of Hornby and Dunsmuir bike paths. The largest overall ridership levels in the world are in Denmark and the Netherlands where women are a least 50% of the cycling ridership While the construction of the Comox/Helmcken Greenway is a needed and great addition to safe biking routes in the West End, roads like Robson, Denman, Beach and Davie need more work. Cyclists do not feel safe to ride on these roads and are often found riding on the sidewalk. Imagine if there was West End Downtown separated bike lane!

This is next big vision for the West End and Vancouver to make cycling more mainstream for men, women and children of all ages. Safer road conditions like separated bike lanes need to be constructed on the high streets. This will not just reduce the amount of pollution in our community by reducing car use, it will also improve the health of all us living in the West End.

The lack of purpose built rental units still an issue for Vancouver

 

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The spring Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 2013 Rental Market statistics have been releases. There is not a huge change in the rental market for Vancouver, but vacancy rates are still at a critically low rate and rents are increasing faster than inflation. The report can be view at CMHC report

The over all vacancy rate is 2.9% for 2013 up marginally from 2012 which was 2.6%

In 2012 the vacancy rate for the different units were has following:

Bachelor 2.3% ,1 bedroom 2.6 %, 2 bedroom 2.9% and 3 bedroom 2.4%.

In 2013 the vacancy rate for the different units is as following:

Bachelor 2.2% (-.1), 1 bedroom 2.8% (+.2), 2 bedroom 3.8% (+.9) 3 bedroom 1.9 (-.5)

 The Wellesley Institute states that  “Housing experts say a 3% vacancy rate is the minimum for a healthy market.’ Wellesley Institute

 On the price of rents also went up as well.

In 2012 the average rents for the different units  in Vancouver were the following:

Bachelor $855, 1 bedroom $965, 2 bedroom $1,219, 3 bedroom $1,407.

In 2013 the average rents for the different units in Vancouver are the following:

Bachelor $ 891 (+$37=4.3%), 1bedroom $995 (+$30=3.1%), 2 bedroom 1,260 (+$41=3.3%), 3 bedroom $ 1,434 (+$27=1.9%)

In all unit types the rental increase was more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI)which is .4%.

So there is still a critically low vacancy rate and renters are paying more for rent.

First big test for new Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone: Stanley Park Causeway.

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Update Tuesday, June 25, 2014:

At the Monday night Park Board, after hear speakers who mostly spoke in support of Commissioner’s Barnes motion, the majority of Commissioners voted to pass the motion to create safer conditions for people walking and riding bikes on Stanley Park Causeway. The two NPA did not vote in support of the motion. Now, the issue lies with Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone.  After his ministry concludes its investigation,  will it improve safety conditions on the causeway?

 Built for cars: Stanley Park Causeway

Without a doubt the number one priority of the Stanley Park Causeway from the beginning has been to move cars fast. People riding bikes and walking have been literally pushed to the margins. When the Lions Gate Bridge was renovated and the Stanley Park Causeway was widened little serious design attention was placed on creating a safe built environment for bikes and pedestrians.

On May 25 at around 7 pm the predictable results happened, a 61 year old women was killed after falling off her bike and was struck by a bus. While the details of the horrible collision are still being investigated what is clear, is that the shared path on the Stanley Park Causeway between people walking and riding bikes is unsafe and needs to be redesigned. One only has to be out there for a little while to see how unsafe the space is with the speed of the cars and bikes in close proximity to people walking.

Check out these photos  that I took on Tuesday June 18 between 4-5 pm of the space:
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The responsibility for the safety conditions on the causeway is the responsibility of the Provincial government and the new Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, since the causeway is part of the highway system. The Ministry of Transportation is currently investigating the death on the causeway.

At the Monday June 24th Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Barnes is going to bring forward a motion calling on Park Board staff to work with Ministry of Transportation to create safer conditions for people walking and riding through the causeway. This will be the first big test for Minister Stone. Will he allocated resources to quickly improve conditions for people not in cars?

 

New Board Walk in Stanley Park on Cathedral Trail

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The Vancouver Park Board opened a new boardwalk in Stanley Park last week to protect and restore a sensitive habitat on Cathedral Trail. The project was a partnership with Stanley Park Ecology Society  (SPES) This area was hard hit by the windstorm in 2006 and many of the knock-downed trees still bear monumental witness to the weather catastrophe.

The Cathedral trail is just past lost lagoon on the edge of Stanley Park trails. The area is a very sensitive environment of a swampy bog that is home to some unique little creatures as moles and salamanders. The boardwalk allows visitors to access the area, but still protect the habitat from being harmed by the foot traffic.

More photos: