Presentation to the Rise Tower, Mount Pleasant Public Hearing:
I have been a property owner in Mount Pleasant since 1988. I attended the open house at the community centre last year, had an extensive discussion with the lead planner, and came away perfectly impressed with the fact that it would be… business as usual.
Mr. Mayor, there is a cancer spreading over our city.
Unless it is stopped, CD1 zoning will ravage our neighborhoods. Not just Mount Pleasant, but all our neighbourhoods. Continue reading
Princess Street, Strathcona
If we are to draw a single conclusion from our the Vancouver Historic Quartiers working process, it would be that urbanism is a phenomenon of our own creation built across several scales of place and spanning centuries of time. Our findings are consistent with the work of others. The quality of the street environment—its “livability”—became our litmus test for measuring urban functioning at the local or district scale; we used the level of “walkability and social mixing” as the measure of urban functioning at the scale of the neighbourhood or quartier; and we used the “affordability of housing” as the measure for urban functioning at the scale of the region as a whole. By establishing different measures for urban functioning at different scales we were finally able to make sense of the urban whole. In the Vancouver’s Historic Quartiers we discovered the finest single piece of urbanism in our region. Continue reading
Our highest priority in designing the city must be to make places that will resonate with human sense experience, and support social functioning. Yet, that will require a shift away from the Modern planning paradigm to the longstanding urban tradition that shapes cities according to physical, social and ecological human needs.
In Vancouver, when we speak about ‘urban design’. For example, when a project goes to the Urban Design Panel for review. However, what we are dealing with is Modern urbanism, rather than the longstanding tradition of urban design. We have argued here that Modern urbanism is bereft in one all important area: it has failed to produce any places of lasting value.
Focusing on just one aspect of ‘good’ urbanism, we list here several characteristics in the built form that are fundamental in shaping the human experience of place. Continue reading
The Vancouver Historic Quartiers presents a new planning paradigm grounded in the human experience of place. We believe that the resulting quality of urban spaces is the right measure for sustainable, or “good” urbanism. In the new paradigm, we design at the scale of the neighbourhood, or quartier, rather than the individual building site. We shape quartiers as places that have lasting social value, with urban rooms serving as hubs of social mixing, shops, services and transit.
Four New Transit Lines & the Historic Quartiers
The charrette proposes using the implementation of four transit lines to support the intensification of the Vancouver Historic Quartiers, and the revitalization of Main Street, Hastings Street, Chinatown, and Japantown, together with transit implementation on the Broadway Corridor.
Through transit implementation and urban design we hope to achieve livable streets, walkable neighbourhoods, and housing affordability in the , and region wide.
Urban Spine 1 : 3
The Charrette recommends transportation implementation that will double trip capacity in the new urban spines, and street revitalization to enhance their social functioning. Transit implementation will mediate traffic volumes on the urban spine, while adding sufficient trip capacity to make possible the removal of commuter trips from local streets nearby. Public investment in transportation, and street revitalization combine with private sector intensification to produce the new street types in the quartier. The new public realm caters to transportation needs, and supports social functioning.
2011 Vancouver’s Historic Districts
Using historical analysis we have identified five key settlement areas in the era immediately following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway—the corporation that picked the name “Vancouver” for its pacific terminus:
- The Hastings Mill Townsite and Japantown (the townsite was re-platted as Railway Avenue by the CPR).
- Gastown (The Granville Townsite).
- The cottage lots, including those dubbed “Strathcona” in the 1950’s.
- The Industrial quartier.
Aboriginal people were among the groups denied land ownership rights. Although their presence preceded European and Asian settlement by millennia, because they did not own land, today no district, quartier or neighborhood carries their name.
The Charrette Intensification Plan
The final results of the charrette show the potential intensification for the area as:
The final Charrette plan shows incremental intensification in the Historic Quartiers with 15,500 units, housing 35,000 new residents, for a total area population of 55,000.
The future of Vancouver’s urbanism hinges on establishing a new “Vancouver Special”: a building product that is adaptable, fee-simple, and can build incrementally. The urban house adds 6 times more density per lot than suburban cottages, yet retains the hallmark characteristics of residential neighbourhoods, including: an address and door on the street; gardens and yards; rear access parking; affordable rental unit(s); and human scale.
C. P. R. plan shewing site of bridge carrying railway across False Creek, Vancouver, B.C. 23 October 1886.
R.C. Harris Collection. Reproduced in D. Hayes Historic Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley (Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. 2005). This is one of the first plans by the CPR of their new terminus on Burrard Inlet.
Discussions about the Vancouver plan usually center on the “crank in the street grid”. Hugging the shore of Burrard Inlet, the Vancouver street grid turns as we move from the West End into downtown; and from downtown across Carrall Street into the East End. It is seldom mentioned that a “Plan for Vancouver” was never drawn. What we experience today in the city’s layout is the confluence of three different plans joined together at the most critical moment in the city’s history—some two years ahead of its incorporation on 6 April 1886. Continue reading
Under the watchful gaze of Gassy Jack social mixing is underway. Erected on Carrall Street, the statue of Gassy Jack looks east towards the site of the original Hastings Mill Townsite home to his first patrons. Gastown is filling up with people on a summer night arriving to hear bands setting up on the sidewalks, and in Maple Tree Square. Everyone is welcome.
Japantown clusters around the 300 and 400-block Powell Street. Oppenheimer Park, on the south side of the 400-block Powell is the vital role civic space that, along with peripheral cultural sites, speak to family and community life.