Archive for August, 2008

Penalosa Review

John Calimente does a nice summary of Gil Penalosa’s lecture here in re:place magazine.


August 28, 2008 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

TEAM comes to the Paradise Makers

Former city planner Ray Spaxman, when asked to discuss “Vancouverism”, had this to say in a recent Courier article:

“I see Vancouverism not as an individual building or style, but as a work by a group of people in the 1970s, [at] a moment in time when the community elected a city council whose mission it was to improve the quality of life in our city. I refer to TEAM, or The Electors Action Movement, led by Art Phillips.”

Spaxman is quite right.  And the SFU City Program will be exploring that theme in the first “Paradise Makers” session on Friday, September 5 at Harbour Centre. 

We’re bringing back politicians from City Councils past – Aldermen May Brown and Marguerite Ford, and Mayor Jack Volrich – to share their perspectives not only on the times when they were in office but the challenges facing the city and region today.

Free, reservations required. Email or call 778.782.5100.



 Details here.

August 28, 2008 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

“Don’t Rest in Peace” is now up and active

For those who attended the Paradise Makers interview with the neighbourhood activists last March, including Margaret Mitchell, you’ll remember the reference to a seminal publication on community organizing – “Don’t Rest in Peace – Organize!”  [The audio recording is available here.]

This book has been long out of print, and only available in a few libraries.  But now the City Program has put a digital version on its website, available here.

Our thanks to the Neighbourhood Services Association of Greater Vancouver for permission to re-print it.

August 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

The Best of All Possible Transit Exchanges

If you’ve ever been to the Coquitlam Loop just off the Lougheed Highway, you might have observed the contrast between the heavily used bus exchange – a woeful asphalt desert – and the nicely appointed West Coast Express station on the other side of a fence, visible but out of touch, that’s only used for a few hours during the day.  Or the contrast between a $10-million Millennium Line station and the standard bus stop.

It only reinforces the idea that buses are a second-class form of transportation – even though they carry the majority of transit riders. 

So what would a first-class bus exchange look like? 

A consultant working on an SFU bus loop is asking for ideas.  Add your thoughts to the comment section in this post.

Here’s a suggestion seen in Freiberg, Germany. There at one of the transfer points was a kiosk that not only provided reading material and snacks but also … beer!

It’s a beginning. 

August 21, 2008 at 7:29 am Leave a comment

Gil Penalosa comes to Vancouver

Walking, Bicycling and Public Spaces: Lessons from Bogota and Beyond 

An evening with Gil Peñalosa

August 20, 7 pm, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings, Vancouver

Admission is free but reservations are required. Call 778-782-5100 or email

We are now facing a perfect storm of increasing global warming and environmental degradation, growing traffic congestion, an obesity crisis and other public health concerns, soaring energy costs and slowing economic growth. It is time to go beyond baby steps and take some major leaps. We must re-position walking and cycling as key parts of the solution to these major challenges.

As Bogota has shown, creating great public spaces for walking and cycling contributes enormously to creating healthier, happier, more thriving communities. Hear former Bogota Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation share his experiences and his lessons for Vancouver.

The evening’’s free lecture is being co-sponsored by Translink, the SFU City Program, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Space Network.

Lecture details here.

UPDATE:  Here’s Gil in New York City, commenting on the success of their Summer Streets program.

August 9, 2008 at 9:39 am 1 comment

Vancouverism in Red Deer

Michael Geller, who writes for the Homes section of the Vancouver Sun, visited Red Deer, Alberta, as a speaker recently – and wrote about it in last week’s column.  (Michael has also given a lecture for the City Program.)

Although Red Deer is very different than Vancouver, a surprising number of residents want to see their downtown redeveloped as a more walkable city with higher-density housing, mixed-use developments, a public market and an extensive waterfront walkway system.

And as he noted, our Urban Design Curriculum Coordinator, Michael von Hausen, is well known in these parts: “Also participating in the program was Michael von Hausen, an internationally acclaimed Vancouver-based planning consultant, and his ‘swat team,’ which had recently returned from a similar planning exercise in Russia.”

For some years now the City Program has been holding courses in Calgary and Edmonton, and many students from the Prairies come to Vancouver as part of the urban-design certificate cohort.  The same looks to be true for the launch of the Sustainable Community Development program this fall.

It’s gratifying to see our instructors and lecturers making a difference outside the classroom when it comes to the design of our cities.

August 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment