Should the corner store, and coffee house, return to residential neighbourhoods?

sfuPublicSquareLogoWR There are a few  neigbourhood stores in the West End and I really think that it is a great idea. Strathcona has some fun ones as well. I like the idea of mid block coffee shops and restaurant as well. It seems so civilized to be able to have a coffee, shop or have a meal only steps from one’s front door. Also these business have a huge potential to be real life social  hubs.

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite residential businesses: Here

If you know other example of little stores in residential neigbourhoods please let me know and I will try and document them.

Here is the Frances Bula article that started the conversation going: Here

The next edition of City Conversations, presented by SFU Public Square:

From SFU Public Square

Should the corner store, and coffee house, return to residential neighbourhoods?

Before the 1950’s, Mom & Pop grocery stores were common features of Vancouver’s single-family residential neighbourhoods. Then car culture, supermarkets and rigid zoning rules that relegated commerce to main streets changed how communities functioned. A handful of “grandfathered” locations survived, and now their successors are transforming their neighbourhoods’ social life. Is it time to legalize new corner stores, or would they create noise and activity problems?

Starting the conversation will be Andy Yan, urban planner and researcher at Bing Thomas Architects; urban planner Neal Lamontagne; and Boyd Thompson, the proprietor of Strathcona’s popular The Wilder Snail grocery store. Then it’s your turn to question, comment and opine.

When: Thursday September 5th, 2013

Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Room 1600, SFU Vancouver at Harbour

Cost: Free
*Note* Guests are welcome to bring
their lunch to City Conversations events
by Bing Thom Architects and SFU Vancouver.
to Wild Rice Restaurants.

2nd annual epic bike ride: Vancouver to Hornby


Scroll down for updates along the way.
Photos from the ride
Okay, its a go! Our tandem is all tuned up. We are heading out for our annual bike ride to Hornby Island. I wrote about the process of convincing my wife to do this trip here.

We will do the ride in two days stopping at Qualicum Beach first day which is about 75 km from Vancouver. The total mileage will be around 12o km one way. The real tough part is getting to Horseshoe Bay in the morning with the bikes loaded down.

My wife and I will be riding with our daughter Saffrin and with her friend. I will ride the tandem with one of the girls and they will take turns riding my mountain bike which I have equipped with road tires. Much easier to ride on the tandem for a little break. Anita will ride a touring bike loaded down with bags both on the front and back racks.We did the ride last year, so everyone knows they can do the mileage. Continue reading 2nd annual epic bike ride: Vancouver to Hornby →

Pride Parade 2013

Naomi Singer and Lindsey Shepek stilt walking in Pride Parade

Naomi Singer and Lindsey Shepek stilt walking in Pride Parade

Photos from the Parade

Happy Pride weekend!

Vancouver Pride Parade 2012
Photos from Last year’s parade

Photos of the new plaza in the Davie Village


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 Or come down to the site today or tomorrow.

Time for the war on safety to end

war on safetyWR

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 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”
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?

safety in numberWR

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:


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.