Archive for October, 2009

Shifting Gears: Janette Sadik-Kahn

At a more-than-full house on October 19, Janette Sadik-Kahn, the Transportation Commissioner of New York City, gave one of the most exciting talks in our Shifting Gears series.

Here’s a brief summary from the Planning Pool, a blog from the students at UBC’s SCARP:

It was such a pleasure to see such a brilliant woman with a clear sense of humor in the position of commissioner, in a stereotypically serious, male dominated field.   As the “largest real estate developer in New York” she is practicing “urban acupuncture” in the form of new bike lanes, linear plazas (Herald Square and Times Square), Hudson River greenway, regulations regarding indoor parking, increased number of street bike racks, select bus service in the Bronx, Summer Streets and more.

And, as usual, a summary from the Scribe of Richmond, Stephen Rees.


October 26, 2009 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

The Story of Six-Storey

A hundred planner- and construction-type afficionados turned out to a PlanTalk session to get the back-story on six-storey wood-frame construction.  Three speakers covered the ground, from big-picture overview to the nuts and bolts (and nails and screws). 

Speakers were Guido Wimmers, Equilibrium Consulting Inc.; Dave Ramslie, Cascadia Region Green Building Council; and Murray Frank, Constructive Home Solutions Inc.

You can here them here in this audio podcast. 

This was a jointly hosted PlanTalk by the Planning Institute of B.C., the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the City Program.

October 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Views on “Views on Views”

Sean Ruthen over at re:place magazine has done a great job in reporting on the the “Views on Views” session held at the Segal Business School.  Here’s a taste:

Imagine then a world where the Eiffel Tower had never been constructed because it blocked a particular view of the Sacre Coeur, and compound this with the same view becoming blocked by a grove of protected tree foliage over time, and one begins to approximate the complexity that is the highly contentious subject of Vancouver’s view cones.

While cities in Europe have protected areas which limit building construction due to existing heritage structures, the City of Vancouver is unique in regards to its 27 protected view cones (though Seattle has their very similar ‘view corridors’). From the south shores of False Creek to Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour Mountains, the city has safeguarded these narrow pathways through its urban bulk from being overbuilt, all for the public benefit, with the consequence of having severely limited the development of those particular swaths of the city for the past twenty years.

Read it all here.

October 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

Reserve now for Janette Sadik-Kahn

Don’t forget to make your reservation for what promises to be a pretty special lecture:

Shifting Gears II Lecture Series

Transportation, Health and the Built Environment

Learning from New York 

Monday, October 19, 7 pm

 Venue: Room 11 and 12, East Building (under the sails), Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, 999 Canada Place

Free admission; reservations required. Call 778-782-5100 or email


Janette Sadik-Khan is a transportation superstar in North America. As New York City’s Transportation Commissioner, she helped introduce protected bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, sustainable street designs and, most dramatically, closed five blocks of Broadway in Times Square to vehicles — while improving traffic flow!

Find out how she transformed New York and how that could affect us, our health, and our urban environments. 

These lectures are sponsored by the Bombardier Foundation and the Active Transport Lab at the University of British Columbia and BC Recreation and Parks Association. Program partner: Simon Fraser University City Program.

Additional sponsorship for Jeanette Sadik-Khan’s lecture provided by Translink. This is a shoulder event to the Gaining Ground/Resilient Cities conference on October 20–22, 2009.

Admission is free but seating is extremely limited and reservations are required. Call 778-782-5100 or email .

Image above from Price Tags 108 on Cycling in New York.

October 14, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

The View

At the request of the City of Vancouver’s Planning Department, the City Program hosted “Views of Views” on October 5 at the Segal Business School.  Could we get a few hundred people to show up to discuss something as arcane as the view corridors that for the last twenty years have shaped the development of the downtown peninsula?


Apparently we could:


Following a presentation by planning director Brent Toderian, architect Richard Henriquez and past co-director of planning Larry Beasley spoke against and for the corridors (with some important agreement), and dealt in detail with the consequences on urban form, public amenity and the meaning of Vancouver. 

Metro’s urban affairs columnist Derek Moscato reported on the evening here.

The Planning Department is still encouraging comment.  You can find more background and send in your opinion here.

October 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

The Legacy of Peter Oberlander

The media in the last few days have given a prominent place to a planning professor.  Wrote The Province:

Peter Oberlander, Canada’s first professor of urban planning, has been awarded a prestigious United Nations prize for his life’s work.

Oberlander will be honoured post-humously Monday with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme’s 2009 Scroll of Honour Award, the most significant human settlements award in the world. Monday is designated World Habitat Day.

Well-deserved!  Peter Oberlander’s contribution to the world, and especially Vancouver, is profound.  Including, by one degree of separation, the City Program.

“The entire Oberlander family is really delighted to see Peter recognized in this way for his many years of contributions to improving housing conditions around the world,” said daughter Judy Oberlander, who founded the SFU City Program on Urban Issues.

We’d like to hope that the City Program today is very much in the spirit of Peter Oberlander’s work.

October 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

The Dirt on Vancouver Greenways

The blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects is brilliantly called “The Dirt.”   And there you can find an interview with this city’s Greenway planner, Sandra James.  (Everyone calls her Sandy.)

Here’s a clip:

In 1992, we were a bit ahead of the curve — a group of landscape architects and people who were genuinely interested in the walking environment formed an Urban Landscape Taskforce and looked at designing a system of streets that went border to border, called “greenways.”

These streets have sidewalks, pedestrian ramps at each corner of the sidewalk, pedestrian activated intersection controls where needed, infiltration bulges, way finding, public plantings, benches, water fountains and public art. But, functionally, they really are called green streets in any other part of the country or in North America.”

More here.

October 5, 2009 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

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