Rob Nordrum

Planning Student | Animal Lover | Kayaker | City Watcher | Vancouverite


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Project 200: The Lost Vision of Our Waterfront

Price Tags

I’ve covered Project 200 – the massive urban-renewal proposal for Vancouver’s waterfront – a few times in the past: in Price Tags 20 and here on the blog.  But Jason Vanderhill has done us all a real service by scanning the original 1968 report on to his Flickr stream so you can read all the gruesome details for yourself.

Irresistibly, though, I have to post a few of the best images here – beginning with the cover:

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The site would have demolished practically everything from Howe to Abbott Streets, north of Cordova, and covered over the rail tracks on the CPR yards, with a southern extension to Woodwards on the east side.

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The CPR station (now Waterfront) would have been ploughed under (but not, it appears, the Woodward’s department store) to be replaced by this modernist mixed-use complex:

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Its major public amenity was arguably the interconnected pedestrian plazas, elevated…

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MB: Mobility, Urbanism and Human Rights

Price Tags

MB provided this moving comment to “Seniors …”        It deserves foreground treatment: 

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My mother lost her independence in 2003 and has required top-of-the-line care ever since. One day her church bought her an electric wheelchair (I suppose there should be a payback after 30+ years of paying tithes) and it was quite liberating over the next decade.

The most serious limitations to her mobility remain the deeply suburban location of her care facility in Calgary, a city that must still undergo light years of evolution despite relatively successful ridership rates on its C-Train network. Its HandiBus service is inconvenient at best, excruciating at worst, and she has stopped using it due to its inadequacies dealing with long milk runs through excessively sprawling subdivisions. Snow on the sidewalks and streets is a transportation killer to octogenarians – with or without electric wheelchairs — and perhaps…

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Ray Spaxman: “The Telus Case”

I share many of Gordon Price’s concerns with the new Telus building. Personally I don’t think the overhanging box should have been approved. Public places include the space above them in my opinion.

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I overlooked one major issue in my previous note that will prevent some of the potentially best informed people from helping us solve what I am calling “The Telus Case”. While, in a later note, I will go further into what best equips people to discuss urban planning and especially urban design, we may not have the benefit of a good debate involving architects.

telus-1Architecture is the profession which you might believe is most likely to be equipped through their arduous training and experience to help us deal with issues of building a city.  Yet the profession is very sensitive about allowing architects to criticise colleagues’ products. It came home to me quite forcibly, many years ago, when a good friend of mine, an eminent architect, inadvertently criticised a building in town when  being interviewed about what he thought about architecture in Vancouver. He was reprimanded by the professional institute…

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The City and CP: Insights from Auerbach

Price Tags

Herb Auerbach is a long-time real-estate consultant in Vancouver.  In the following letter to Mayor Robertson, he provides lots of insight and some important information to keep in mind when considering the controversy over the Arbutus Corridor.  (My emphasis added in bold.)
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Dear Mayor Robertson
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In 2003, three years after CP ceased rail operations on the Arbutus corridor, they opened a presentation centre in Kerrisdale as a first step toward getting the corridor rezoned for higher and better uses.  They have since lost that fight. CP’s move was a typical real estate maneuver in an attempt to add value to, or demonstrate value of, the land.  The problem is, that in my opinion they don’t own the land and I was irked by their move.  To confirm my view I read the Transportation Act (sections 135 to 145) and in 2003 I wrote to the City’s then…

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The Growth Ponzi Scheme in L.A.

Interesting article from Gordon Price. Raises questions about the economic sustainability of development.

Price Tags

Strong Towns advocate Charles Marohn maintains that “our post-World War II pattern of development operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.”

… government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure.  This exchange — a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation — is one element of a Ponzi scheme.

The other is the realization that the revenue collected does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. … In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion — but that’s just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes.

The reason we have this gap is because the…

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CityStudio Spring 2014

Many of my friends and colleagues have asked about my experience at CityStudio during the spring of 2014, and I’ve been very happy to share my amazing experience with this great program and even greater group of people.

CityStudio is a project based school that has forever changed me. I will write more about the merits of this unique school in a later post, but for now you should check out their current “Keys to the Street” public piano program, which is going on right now!

LivingAtBute2014

My project was “Living at Bute” – I invite you to check out a copy of our project page or read our final report by clicking on the link. Eventually I will archive many of the photos and stories from my experience there on my wordpress page. Eventually… 🙂