Archive for April, 2011


Some exciting new offerings from the City Program:

MAY 10:


Progressive cities are harnessing the power of mass collaboration and innovation. New technologies including cloud computing and mobile devices are allowing us to co-create our neighborhoods and improve community design.

This forum will explore how these new technologies and social media can improve the transparency of policymaking, planning and projects. Leading innovators in the use of crowdsourcing will demonstrate some of the new techniques and platforms available.

Lukas Biewald of Crowdflower will explain the background and trends in crowdsourcing.

Darin Dinsmore of Crowdbrite will show how an international competition led to innovation in design.

Colleen Hardwick of PlaceSpeak will demonstrate the use of pioneering software for location-based community consultation.

May 10 / 7 pm / Room 7000 (seventh floor) / 515 West Hastings Street / Free, but registration required:

Register here – and bring your laptop or pad.


JUNE 9-10:

Transit Network Design

A two-day hands-on interactive course in real-world transit network design, led by ‘Human Transit’ author Jarrett Walker.

Transit planning, like sculpting or carpentry, involves learning to use of a set of tools and materials. This interactive course includes a series of in-class exercises where students work together to design transit networks for a fictional city, based on its geography and a set of cost limitations. The exercises let students learn the basic tools and materials by actually working with them (exactly the way you would learn carpentry or sculpture) to develop creative solutions to a series of planning problems. Issues covered include network design, frequency, right-of-way, basic costing, interactions with urban form and basic technology selection.

This course is well suited for professionals, students, community leaders and local government staff.

Instructor: Jarrett Walker is an expert in fixed route service design and related policy, with 15 years experience in planning for transit systems in North America. He takes a particular interest in helping agencies and citizens appreciate the unavoidable tradeoffs that arise from transit’s intrinisic geometry.

This theme forms the basis of his book Human Transit, forthcoming from Island Press in the fall of 2011. He also writes the popular transit weblog

 $392 / CITY240-SU1114
Thursday–Friday, June 9–10, 9 am–5:30 pm, SFU Surrey
Room 3240 (250 – 13450 – 102 Avenue)


April 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Bloggers on the Viaduct Forum

As promised, we’re posting the posts – comments various bloggers are making after having attended the Viaduct Forum on the future of the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts, hosted by the City Program on Thursday, April 7.

Scot Erdman writes:

Thanks for hosting a really interesting discussion last Thursday on the Viaducts!  I really enjoyed the exchange of ideas, hearing the different options and opportunities, and the Q&A period at the end as well. 

You mentioned that anyone who was planning on writing a blog piece on the topic should email you their links so that it can be shared.  Here’s a blog article I’ve co-authored with two other Vancouver Public Space Network volunteers, Canisius Chan and Jesse Tarbotton, on the topic:

I’d love to read other pieces written up by local bloggers from Thursday’s Forum.  Is there a page you have that has links to everyone’s Viaduct blog articles?

Yes, Scot, there is – and here it is.  I’ll add other links as they come in, and continually update this post.

Stephen Rees, of course, has published the most comprehensive description of the evening.  His conclusion:

I do not think that the viaducts are worth preserving …  But let us see what the proposed design competition produces. I am not an urban designer. But I do know now as a certainty that the area will be better without these concrete viaducts, and there is very little to be said for retaining even small parts of them. Dammit they are ugly!

Here’s a post from Tim Barton:

… what happens to all the traffic that currently uses the viaducts? Does everything come to a grinding halt if they are removed? The consensus was – no. And to be fair, all the evidence now supports this, including the little experiment the City did in February last year when a small sporting event shut down the viaducts and a few other streets! There is now a fair body of evidence from all over the world which supports the notion of  ’disappearing traffic’

Full post here.

Voony hasn’t weighed in on the Viaduct Forum yet – but he did post on the Cheongyecheon Restoration Project, which obviously had a big impact on City Engineer Peter Judd who began the evening with the CRP as an instructive lesson on the limits of traffic modelling.

Says Voony in an email:

In the forum, we mostly heard ‘removal’ of structure and other ‘negative’ words …  No need to convince me, like  the forum audience, that there will be little adverse congestion effect – but we need to agree of what will be the positive outcome of it.

The panel didn’t answer my question, but from the audience feedback, I got my answer, from the nicely named Hogan’s Alley Planning Initiative touted by Ned Jacobs to the Hong Kong bay ‘vision’ touted by Larry Beasley…

Clearly a world of possibilities … but no agreement whatsoever.  And when there is no agreement, there is no action…long life to the Viaducts !

Paul Hillsdon also sent along a link to a previous post back in 2009 (he was one of the first to suggest tearing down the Viaducts).  Good illustrations too.

Ron Richings, who doesn’t blog but should, writes in an email:

One of the interesting things about this … is that much of the ‘problem’ that we now want to fix results from an earlier generation’s ‘Grand Vision’ (which often happened to include freeways).  And at the time those designing the new, enlightened approach to urban living were likely every bit as confident of their ‘rightness’ as we are today.

 Perhaps some of the problem arises from the very notion of ‘Grand Visions’ themselves, which often involve ignoring and displacing existing neighbourhoods and the people who live in them.  To paraphrase, when they are good they are very, very good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

It’s fairly rare to get regular media coverage of City Program lectures, but we had reporters from The Courier and The Tyee, which also linked to a video by Kurt Heinrich which describes the city’s current study of viaduct removal, and how some community groups have reacted to the idea.

April 11, 2011 at 8:04 am 3 comments

Acoustic Cartography

Acoustic Cartography: Re-listening Vancouver

In conjunction with the UBC Department of Geography and SFU School of Communication, Western Front New Music presents an afternoon on April 10 of audio works created by geography and communications students, generated from field recordings made throughout the Lower Mainland.

A panel discussion with UBC professor Gerry Pratt, SFU Prof Barry Truax and others will contextualize the works from the respective disciplines of acoustic ecology and urban geography.

Western Front – 303 East 8th Avenue

Performances – April 10, 2-3:30 pm

Panel – 3:30 – 5 pm

April 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment