A Community Forum: The Density Fallacy

Can we build high density neighbourhoods without building towers? A Community Forum will be held in Mount Pleasant where the Rezoning Hearings for the 19-storey RIZE Development at Main and Broadway are showing overwhelming neighbourhood opposition for tower forms outside the downtown. Come and join the discussion with a panel of experts.

Date: Monday, March 19, 2012

Place: St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, 2881 Main Street at 13th Avenue.

Time: 6:45 – 9 p.m.

Residents Association Mount Pleasant (RAMP) is organizing a Community Forum to look at positive alternates to tower form development for neighbourhood densification. Guest speakers include urban design specialists Lewis N. Villegas, Professor Patrick Condon and Jim Lehto.

Lewis N. Villegas will discuss the new planning paradigm in a multi-media presentation entitled “The Density Fallacy”. Professor Patrick Condon of UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture  will discuss options to towers that are more resilient, affordable, and compatible with existing neighbourhood character. Jim Lehto, former City of Vancouver Downtown Development and Policy Planner, will explore possible alternatives within C3A zoning. Finally speakers from RAMP will summarize the Rize Rezoning now before City Council at the ongoing Public Hearing.

Read the Vancouver Courier report on the evening here.

6 thoughts on “A Community Forum: The Density Fallacy

  1. Lewis I loved your presentation at this event and it was nice to see other cities in Canada achieving Yaletown type density without the tower. However most of the examples you gave were 100(ish) years old. You noted that this type of development is illegal in Vancouver and BC. Can you please provide some thoughts on how to remidy this and how to bring this form of development into the 21st century (I’m thinking in terms of accessability)?

  2. Melissa, thanks for coming to the session and for the kind words.

    The bad news is that we are aware that a house 12.5-foot or 16.5-foot wide is not wheel chair accessible. These houses are typically accessed by stairs, so they will not be the pick of the demographic for whom the elevator is a necessity. However, they are fine for a whole lot of other people.

    On the illegality of the row house, in British Columbia the legal issues impede fee-simple construction of row houses. The provincial Land Title Act is missing provisions for the “party wall” that must be owned in tandem with the neighbour.

    Just around the corner from Place Roi, the Montreal neighbourhood I featured in the presentation, I photographed a brand new 3.5 storey house under construction. If we went looking for it today, we probably would not be able to single it out on the street. The architecture of these places blends in very smoothly. Yet, on the NW corner of the same square, a brand new 3-storey house would be unmistakable because it was built with yellow brick and very smart black-frame windows. It had commercial on the ground floor, ready to lease.

    These houses are current and old at the same time. Their longevity speaks to their flexibility and adaptability. Also noteworthy is that the neighbourhood around Place Roi gave every indication of having a very high level of social mix.

  3. Mount Pleasant in the citywide context . . .


    . . . and how remedial work . . .


    . . . will ameliorate the devastatingly ugliness of Rize if it ever sees the light of day.

    Urban design is more than a barren discourse on towers or no towers.

    It is about the pedestrian presence at ground level, imaginative contemporary development design (without obsessive need for humiliating reference to yesterday because we lack confidence in our own abilities and, simply, badly trained architects), the interconnected, ambulatory spaces between buildings, (figure ground), and the building, (shape), envelope.

    Public use of interconnected urban space is very difficult to discuss because there is no such tradition in Vancouver.

    It is about close-by diverse amenities, less dependency on costly transportation gadgetry and the ambience of being alive without the need for acrimonious community protests.

  4. Hello! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the excellent work!

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