Archive for September, 2008

A Survey of Surrey

The City Program was asked to submit a paper for the Surrey Economic Summit.

The development of a post-war urban region at a time of changing assumptions

ABSTRACT: The City of Surrey, laid out on a classic mid-19th century grid, predominantly developed in the post-World War II environment, reflects the car-dominant design of transportation planners of that era. The assumptions of its growth and the choices available to those who live and work there have become increasingly tentative as a consequence of global events and changing needs and expectations. Surrey is examining how to become both more sustainable and more resilient. Fortunately, there are options.

Exactly a century and a half ago, events led to the creation of a Crown colony roughly four times the size of Great Britain – the colony Queen Victoria chose to name “British Columbia.” Fearful of American expansionism, its rulers realized they would have to impose their presence on this vast wilderness if they were to retain control.

And so they called forward those who knew how to draw lines on paper.

As W.A. Taylor, provincial surveyor-general, remarked: “There is nothing like a little surveying to create the illusion of ownership.”



September 19, 2008 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Paradise Makers – the Chuck Davis report

Vancouver historian Chuck Davis attended that last “Paradise Makers” – the SFU City Program interview series with decision-makers from the past – and was impressed enough to document the evening.  Here’s his report, which he’ll also post on his website,

There was no more significant year for Vancouver than 1972, says Gordon Price. That was confirmed on Friday, September 5, at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University when we heard, among other things, that “Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick changed the direction of the city.”


September 15, 2008 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

A City Built for Change

How can “flexible architecture” make a better Vancouver?

A Special Presentation by Professor Robert Kronenburg, Liverpool School of Architecture

Thursday September 18 – 6:30 pm

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, 1100 Chestnut St., Vancouver

Thursday September 18 – 6:30 pm

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, 1100 Chestnut St., Vancouver

Vancouver – How our city responds to shifts in societal, economic and environmental issues is the basis of “A City Built for Change”, the central focus of the Vancouver City Planning Commission’s (VCPC) 2008 program. During the course of the year, three unique events have been developed to engage a broad group of stakeholders in discussion, and this input is being incorporated into the VCPC’s draft “Change Charter”, which will be presented to City Council.

Seating is limited for the September 18 presentation. Please reserve a space at

September 12, 2008 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

The Demographic Inversion

Tom Durning noted this article by Alan Ehrenhalt in The New Republic:

No American city looks like Vancouver at the moment. But quite a few are moving in this direction …

What makes it unusual–indeed, at this point unique in all of North America–is that roughly 20 percent of its residents live within a couple of square miles of each other in the city’s center. Downtown Vancouver is a forest of slender, green, condo skyscrapers, many of them with three-story townhouse units forming a kind of podium at the base. Each morning, there are nearly as many people commuting out of the center to jobs in the suburbs as there are commuting in. Two public elementary schools have opened in downtown Vancouver in the past few years. A large proportion of the city’s 600,000 residents, especially those with money, want to live downtown.


September 11, 2008 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

Gil Penalosa’s Podcast

Gil Penalosa’s SFU City Program lecture (from Aug 20) is now online.

Watch the video for “Walking, Bicycling and Public Spaces: Experiences from Bogota and Beyond

September 8, 2008 at 1:42 pm 1 comment

Stephen Rees summarizes the “Paradise Makers”

Blogger Stephen Rees, who thankfully covers so many of our City Program events, summarizes last Friday’s Paradise Makers here.

September 8, 2008 at 10:34 am 1 comment