Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

From myurbanist —Three Simple Methods
To Inspire Urban Change

Charles R. Wolfe The photo shows the first part of the Nice, France tramway—a city-center transit line which has helped change an automobile-oriented downtown. Experiencing this image in real-time, applying the full range of human senses, compelled my understanding of what is achievable amid the urban fabric of today. Immersion in the real look and feel (and sometimes sound and smell) of a more compact and sustainable local experience can feed arguments for change, justify expenditures or tell how to cast a strategic election vote. Personal involvement is the most powerful and verifiable way to champion the city cause, over and above mere acceptance of empirical data, article prose and illustrations. Read more: three simple methods to inspire urban change

Saturday, June 22, 2013

From Architizer Blog — What Happens
When You Demolish A Highway?

San Francisco, it seems, can’t take down its interstates fast enough. The city began dismantling its elevated highways out of necessity, when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the Central and Embarcadero freeways beyond repair. Instead of rebuilding them, city planners and local architects transformed the plots into tree-lined surface boulevards that stitched divided neighborhoods back together and beckoned pedestrians and cyclists alike. Without that urbanist about-face, we wouldn’t have the Embarcadero’s palm-tree-studded waterfront promenade, the Ferry Building would never have been redeveloped, and Pier 1 would still be a parking lot. Read more: Architizer Blog » What Happens When You Demolish A Highway?

Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From — People's Parks: 5 Public Spaces That Launched Social Movements

1. Gezi Park - Istanbul

The protest movement that has now gripped Turkish society, galvanizing calls all over the country for social change, began when activists only sought to save a local park from being replaced with a shopping mall. Gezi Park, a simple park lined with towering sycamore trees, is the last significant green space in Istanbul, a city now overwhelmed by luxury hotels, pricey lofts, massive shopping malls and gleaming tourist attractions.

Though they began as an effort to save the park from being demolished, the protests have evolved into a full-scale movement for political change. The park has come to represent, for many Turks, the government's disregard for the public's voice. For the Turkish government, however, the park wasn't just the location of a new mall—it was also a space where their opponents could organize against them. When Turkish police attacked protesters with water cannons and tear gas, they only served to anger and empower protesters and allies who were watching from the sidelines.
Read more: People's Parks: 5 Public Spaces That Launched Social Movements | Free Speech on GOOD

Monday, June 17, 2013

Skytrain Side by Side Views 27 Years Apart

Skytrain side by side views 27 years apart.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Snuneymuxw First Nation
Calls for Collaborative Process,
Intends to Exercise Treaty Rights in
Nanaimo Colliery Dam Park Resolution

NANAIMO (British Columbia) – Snuneymuxw Proposes New Public Process on Colliery Dams

The Snuneymuxw First Nation has informed the City of Nanaimo about growing concern it has about the approach being taken to the matter of the Colliery Dams, and is suggesting a new public process be put in place that will transparently review alternatives and engage multiple stakeholders.

"I recognize this matter has gotten extremely complicated for everybody. I know the Mayor, his Council, and staff have been making strong efforts to deal with this complexity, and that many citizens are dedicating their time, intelligence and energy to this matter. Snuneymuxw's goal remains to try to play a positive and constructive role, while also ensuring that our Treaty protected fisheries on the Chase River are respected," said Chief Douglas White III, of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Read more: PRESS RELEASE - Colliery Dams | Snuneymuxw

From NPR — The Most Dangerous
Traffic Circle In The World?

Robert Krulwich I've been to New Delhi where traffic is frightening. I've seen pictures of Nairobi and Bangkok, where it's even scarier. But Ho Chi Minh City? The town we used to call Saigon? I don't think I'd put myself in a truck, car, bike or even a Sherman tank in that town. This video opens in the scariest traffic circle I could imagine — actually, it's beyond imagining — where bikes, cars and people seem simultaneously, collectively and individually heading straight at each other (when you look, just count the vehicles and people on collision course; there are at least two or three in every frame). It's a metropolitan circle of death, and yet ... Read more: The Most Dangerous Traffic Circle In The World? : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Email to Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations re City Of Nanaimo's Plan to Needlessly
Destroy a Cherished City Park

Subject: Nanaimo's cherished Colliery Dam Park
Date: 12 June, 2013 2:04:26 PM PDT
Cc:, Mayor&,

Minister Thomson, 

Congratulations on your reappointment by Premier Clark as Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

I'm hoping in these busy days of your new government I can draw something to your attention:

Something has gone terribly wrong in Nanaimo and the Dam Safety Branch which your Ministry oversees has found iteself embroiled in it — inadvertently and much to its regret I assume. In fact, I suspect that the DSB and City of Nanaimo Staff and City of Nanaimo Mayor and Council wish we could roll the clock back and take another run at this.

I know you're aware of all this: The residents of one of Nanaimo's oldest most established neighbourhoods, Harewood, have been told they will be losing their cherished Colliery Dam Park. 

The Dam Safety Branch has informed the City the dams in the park must be taken down immediately. This, not surprisingly, has caused shock and fear in the community. The dams are over 100 years old and there has long been concern about them. We're told that there has been no discernible change in the structural integrity of the dams, and that there is no new geological or other data that indicates an increased likelihood of a major earthquake. But your Dam Safety Branch has informed the City the dams must be taken down immediately. 

It has to be said (though it's understood this is not the concern (happily I can imagine you saying) of your Ministry) that this has not been handled well by Nanaimo's City Hall. You'll be aware that a decision was made by Council and Senior Staff to make the original decision to remove the dams in-camera without consultation with the neighbourhood. What you may not know is what this park means to Nanaimo's south-end neighbourhoods (and the whole city certainly). A visit to the Facebook page SAVE the Colliery Dams would give you a glimpse.

You'll also no doubt be aware this is escalating quickly and that the City has sought a injunction against citizen protest even before any such protest has taken place, further damaging the badly needed trust and open communications between our City Hall and Nanaimo citizens.

So Minister, I have no idea what you might be able to do here but I appreciate the chance to bring it to your attention in the hope that there remains a solution which protects public safety of course, but also respects community concerns and repairs damage done to Nanaimo's "civic fabric".

Frank Murphy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

From Planetizen — The Relationship Between Parking, Perception & Local Businesses

You ever hear the one about the Main Street merchant who went out of business because he lost all his parking? No? Are you sure? But, it's common knowledge that business goes bust as soon as parking is removed. I mean, I don't know about you, but I've even heard irate shop owners claim that just talking about reduced parking, or – dare I even say it out loud – increased parking rates (cue: gasps, guffaws) , can devastate a business district, and surely sink one that is struggling in these "difficult economic times." We've all heard it time and again; and therefore, everybody knows that the key to good small business downtown is gargantuan gobs of (preferably free) parking. But, some of us still get a kick out of questioning authority; so I'll ask you, is it true? Read more: The One About the Parking-Pinched Merchant… | Planetizen

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Architect Arthur Erickson's Imperiled Future

Arthur Erickson, a native son of Vancouver and one of Canada's most famous architects, died in 2009 at 84. Now his foundation is struggling to keep his house from dying with him.

Mr. Erickson's tiny modernist home, just 900 square feet with one small loft for a bedroom, is a living artifact of Mr. Erickson's process, reflecting the interplay of nature and structure that marked his long career. The property, which sits on a corner lot in Vancouver's Point Grey neighborhood, is bunkered from the street by a wood fence and cedar hedges that feel thick enough to stop a bus. Inside the home looks onto a two-lot garden that has two reflecting ponds and looming Douglas fir trees. Read more: Architect Arthur Erickson's Imperiled Future -

Saturday, June 8, 2013

City of Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan: From Car-Dependence Now to
Car-Dependence 20 Years From Now

Can you spot the difference? And let's delete one of the human forms riding in the car in the top graphic. Vast majority of car traffic in Nanaimo is carrying only one citizen per vehicle. With minor incremental tweaking like this, I wonder why bother at all. Here's work produced for White Rock by the consultant Nanaimo has engaged (Urban Systems). Can you spot on the cover of this document a single pedestrian or cyclist? Contrast that with Red Deer's initiative, working with Jan Gehl Architects and 8-80 Cities. Here in Nanaimo road building projects proceed while the planning process is underway, City traffic engineers inform Council that they see no reason to eliminate the commercial highway that runs through town, and the Mayor tells the local papers that he sees no "appetite" on Council for reduced speed limits.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

From BT | A | Works
Independent and Chain Bookstores (and Public Libraries) in the City of Vancouver

Click the image for the interactive map of Independent and Chain Bookstores Stores with Public Libraries in the City of Vancouver.

With Frances Bula’s recent Vancouver magazine article on the City’s bookstore scene, she looks at the various reasons behind Vancouver’s lack of a large independent destination flagship bookstore like Powell’s Books in Portland, Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, Strand Books in New York City. or Munro’s Books in Victoria. She also looks at the overall challenges of operating an independent bookstore in the City of Vancouver and what does it take to survive and thrive in a changing climate of shifting reading habits, disruptive technologies, and ever increasing retail rents. The answers seems to be hinged on a tale of entrepreneurial guile, a mixture of specialization and co-marketing/merchandising, customer service and a dose of luck with real estate. While there are many aspects of a Murder/Mystery when it comes to the fate of the independent bookstore (RIP Duthie’s) in the City of Vancouver, independent bookstores seem to best succeed when they pick a tone and a niche in the 50 shades of grey in the City’s population of readers and booklovers.BT | A | Works » Flotillas, Not Flagships: Independent and Chain Bookstores (and Public Libraries) in the City of Vancouver

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

From Twitter Blog
The Geography of Tweets

Give every Twitter user a brush and they will paint you the world — if they geotag their Tweets. Every dot is a Tweet, and the color is the Tweet count.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Update: Waterfront Pioneer Plaza
Shipping Container Public Market

Thanks for asking @neil21! Thought I'd dedicate more than 140 characters to answer... The original post: A Proposal — A Recycled Shipping Container Public Market for Nanaimo's Pioneer Waterfront Plaza

This illustration of Census tract 0015.00 shows the plaza site (circled). And some demographics: Population 4,565 (Change since 2006 +5.5) Dwellings Total Private Households: 2590 Distribution by dwelling type Single Detached 26.4% Semi-detached 1.9% Row House 1.9% Duplex 6.9% Hi-rise Apt. 20.8% Low-rise Apt. 41.7% Single Attached 0.4% Population by gender Male 2,215 Female 2,355 Median age 48.9.

My Old City neighbourhood is well within a 15 minute walk to the plaza.

Walk time from the western edge of this tract to the plaza: 15 minutes. Adding the households to the north and south, I estimate the population in the catchment area within a 15-20 minute walk to be about 7500. 

And a google earth view looking west.

The plaza could and should be part of what our award winning Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines calls for: "the development of an open space and pathway network throughout the downtown. Existing city owned lands and rights-of-way, combined with private property redevelopment, provide the opportunity for a coordinated park, pathway and open space plan…"  (But in Nanaimo this key public pathway on public land is a "driveway" reserved for "tenant parking":  Public Path Used as "Driveway" and "Tenant Parking" is Contrary to the Downtown Urban Design Plan, Diminishes The Integrity of the Heritage Restoration) And should seamlessly connect the waterfront to the downtown commercial district. Critically here: Repair the Square!

Currently there's one largish grocery store serving the city centre, any owner-operator bakery or butcher shop or small market have long since fled or become extinct. Seasonally cruise ships drop about 2500 well fed and slaked tourists into downtown Nanaimo for the day and the harbour is popular with boaters. Condo towers nearby and medium density low-rise along the water to the north which all connect to the plaza by a really quite spectacular waterfront promenade — have a stroll. To the south, Nanaimo's original, established neighbourhoods, the reserve lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the newly city-acquired waterfront rail yards: City of Nanaimo to Purchase 26.7 Acre Downtown Waterfront Rail Yards

From Project for Public Spaces
Why Barcelona’s Markets Are “Super” Places

“Barcelona residents rank their public markets the second most valuable public service after libraries” F Murphy photo
When you think of the important places in the social life of your community, what comes to mind? Parks, squares, street corners, libraries, schools—these are common answers in many cities. They are the public spaces where we relax, where we meet friends, bump into neighbors; in short, the places that we all share. But there is another kind of commonly shared space that often goes unappreciated as a community hub in today’s convenience-oriented cities: the public markets where we buy our food. While markets were historically important threads of a city’s social fabric (indeed, for centuries they were housed right inside of many city halls), sanitation concerns and a cultural obsession with convenience led to their demise in many western cities starting in the 1950s. The “super” markets that replaced these vital public spaces were some of the first of what we now know as big box stores. Today, many millions of people around the world rely on these fluorescently beige, air conditioned megastores, where the goal is to get in, get your shopping done, and get out as quickly as possible. But in some cities, even in the developed world, traditional public markets still reign supreme! Read more: Project for Public Spaces | Food For Thought: Why Barcelona’s Markets Are “Super” Places

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Federation of Canadian Municipalities YVR hashtag #fcmyvr

Saturday, June 1, 2013