The Dam, the Pipeline & the Damn Fish

BC votes in one week. Who will be the winner: The Dam, the Pipeline or the Salmon?

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Candidates for Provincial Premier: Clark, Weaver and Horgan

British Columbia is electing a new government in one week… or so the polls seem to suggest. Meanwhile, I had an energetic round of tennis in North Vancouver with my nephews and my kids. Among the ones that could vote two were voting for the status quo because they the wanted good jobs. The new voter kept silent.

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Premier Clark: Why has the price of housing in British Columbia risen beyond the reach of both the middle and working classes?

British Columbia is in a housing crisis. Will provincial government leaders seeking election promise to return home ownership to the people?

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The $35,000, 5-year loan for first-time owners you are campaigning on doesn’t pass muster. A guaranteed $350,000 price tag for a cottage on a 4,000 square foot lot would return affordable homes to BC.

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Vancouverism@30: The Housing Crisis

After 30 years of building Towers-and-Skytrain Metro Vancouver is in a Housing Crisis. What’s behind it?

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VANCOUVER BUNGALOWS INCREASED IN VALUE 1,167% IN 30 YEARS

30 years after the first Skytrain was built single family home prices in Vancouver have shot up by 1,167%. Far outpacing wages, inflation in property values puts in question the ability of the middle class to ever own a home:

“I want to keep home ownership within the grasp of the middle class in British Columbia,” said British Columbia Premier Ms. Clark at a news conference in Victoria, 27 July 2016, nine months and 13 days ahead of the next provincial elections.

At these prices the Canadian Dream of owning a home is ruled out not just for median income earners, but for almost everyone else. Never mind working folks who used to be able to afford paying down a mortgage on a house as their primary family investment. Three forces have shaken the property markets. All originate in areas of government oversight and regulation: the shift in urban paradigm from suburban to Towers-and-Skytrain; the Agricultural Land Reserve; and Chinese flight capital washing on-shore.

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Vancouverism@30: The Great Urban Train Robbery

A truncated 5.4 KM subway and a 12 KM tram are proposed for Vancouver and Surrey. However, the costs have not been made public. Costs for recent Translink projects just keep going up and up. The culprit? Municipal pork.

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PEOPLE WALK SAFELY SEEMINGLY OBLIVIOUS TO THE APPROACHING PORTLAND STREETCAR

On 17 January 2017 Translink announced two new extensions to the Greater Vancouver transit network: a 6 km subway under Broadway, and a 12 km tram linking Newton-Surrey Center-and-Guilford. While there are many things to like about this proposal, unanswered questions threaten to derail the discussion. Not least of which is the incredible shrinking problem afflicting the length of the new transit lines and the fact that the announcement did not include cost estimates.

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Vancouverism@30: The Game Changing EV

The dawn of clean energy is also the advent of free energy—and that will prove to be the game changer.

 

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SCARE TACTICS

For two decades arguments in Vancouver about sustainable urbanism have centered on curbing car use in order to reduce green house gases. Our civic leaders have sold us Towers-and-Skytrain as Eco-Density when in reality something like a Laundromat for off-shore wealth has been driving large projects here since the late 1970s. Further more, the ecology of towers is an urban myth. The very ‘voices of doom’ have never referenced the alternative: switching fuel sources from fossils to electric. In a land where power has been green since the 1950s, where 93% of electricity is hydro-electric, switching to electric energy and driving electric vehicles (EVs) should be a no-brainer. A natural common place.

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Vancouverism@30

After 30 years Vancouverism—building towers and skytrain—have delivered 2,245% price inflation in the cost of housing, threatening the survival of the middle class and democracy in Vancouver.

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NORTH SHORE FALSE CREEK—THE VIEW OF THE MOUNTAINS FOREVER BLCOKED

Vancouverism—the tower-and-podium architecture that began building post-Expo ’86—boils down to just two essential parts: Towers-and-Skytrain. The towers block the sky and the view of the mountains and stop the sun from reaching the city street and sidewalks. This in a place where skies are either overcast, or raining 60% of the time. Nobody wants that. The Skytrain blights the neighborhoods it crosses preserving an unencumbered ground plane for automobiles. People would rather see the public realm supporting both social functioning and traffic—not just one or the other. The Vancouverism doesn’t give much consideration to the human experience of place, or what should be understood to be ‘good’ urbanism. Vancouverism’s gigantic land parcel assemblies defy human scale. There is no there there. No legible hierarchy of street, block, district and neighborhood. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts simply because the parts are just too big. The gigantism of the tower-and-podium typology is too large to be apprehended by our human senses. The images of the Vancouverism are all made from high up and far away using our glorious mountains as backdrop. Up close the mountains are hidden from view. Unit is piled upon unit, piled high one upon the other, creating a seamless and seemingly endless monotony of place.

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON ‘GOOD’ URBANISM IN NORTH AMERICA

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The sunset of coal and oil, and the rise of energy self-sufficiency in urbanism

The greatest convergence of innovations for curbing energy demand, managing environmental pollution, and reducing carbon emissions is taking place inside the urban footprint.

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STILL FROM THE FILM WHY BEAUTY MATTERS (2009, L. Lockwood, Director; R. Scruton author & presenter)

New technologies available today make eliminating carbon emissions from transportation and energy generation the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the push to clean the environment. In turn, positive results found in the places we call home present as new opportunities in the workplace, and in industries like forestry and mining.

Electric cars; 83% efficient LED-lighting; smart electric grids; wind and solar energy generation; these are combining with new building technologies for human-scale architecture; affordable housing; livable streets; walkable neighbourhoods; commuter rail transit and urban rooms to achieve what was once thought impossible. Canada and the U.S. will achieve energy self-sufficiency within our lifetime, raising the social functioning of our communities while adding value to our economies.

Similar developments underway in other areas of the globe are promising dramatic results in the hot-spots of geopolitical friction, including: the Middle East, the South China Sea, and the OPEC nations.

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