This was actually my first visit to the SFU Woodwards campus: tribute was paid to Warren Gill – this was the third lecture in his honour – and he was credited with the initiative to establish SFU in downtown and in Surrey.
The lecture was also live streamed and attendees were encouraged to tweet using the #sfucity hashtag. I have produced a storify from them. Credit should also go to SFU for providing free wifi access. Thank you.
Chief Planner and Executive Director
City of Toronto
At SFU Woodwards
Cities are our greatest hope and our greatest risk. Vancouver and Toronto (where the mode share for transit is 23.3% for the journey to work is comparable to ours when using the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) rather than the city.
She has identified critical success factors that are going to be necessary for securing a different future to business as usual.
Canadian cities are suburban, auto oriented. We are not as rich we thought we were. WE have a number of perverse subsidies that have led to suburban sprawl. We need to increase density to increase the utilisation of existing infrastructure. Areas that don’t change will be left behind. The legacy we are leaving our children can be seen in the weather. Echo boomers want something different whether the city changes or not.
Illustration of city suburbs “expensive mistakes”. [For an instructive comparison see also the recent SFU lecture by Charles Marohn on "Strong Towns" which is one I missed but the video has now been posted on the Stroad to Boulevard tumblr.]
In the city of the future everything will be within short distance, which means less commuting and more time for everything else. Is this vision what our suburbs might become? We continue to build suburbs. Consensus on how to change eludes us.
Three Critical Success Factors
1 the need to believe in a better future
She used the frequently cited prescience of the builders of the Bloor viaduct, which had the ability to accommodate the subway under the roadway 48 years before the subway opened. [As a transportation economist I have a somewhat different view of overbuilt infrastructure]
“I don’t get the baby platforms of the Canada Line” [I agree with her there]
Leaders don’t use polling to determine direction
2 the need to cultivate deep understanding about drivers for change
Clear coherent vision for the future essential for consensus. Walkable neighbourhood is better term than ecodensity
Learning and respect – fundamental to democracy
3 the need to engage to build broad and deep constituencies for city building
Chief planner round table
Our urban fabric
Next generation suburbs
Partnered with LEGO
One imaginative giveaway was used for on platform TTC surveys and other locations giving respondents free pack of tissues with the feeling congested? web site address on them.
80% of those polled after this exercise now agree with new funding sources for transit
[Saw this today in the National Post "I don’t much care where the money comes from, just tax me however you see fit and build, for God’s sake."]
Belief understanding and engagement
Individual action ..every time you make a choice
Collective action .. Finding ways to shape political decision making
q Do City staff follow the advice of living where they work?
a City of TO is actually very weak at walking the talk for staff. Divisions working together on Complete Streets initiative building internal consensus. Water
q What Provincial and Federal policies are needed?
a Social housing … Regent park … Impossible for muni tax base to support affordable housing. Transit funding reward for density.
a Compare the NY subway to TTC and Canada line. Capacity!!
q Affordable housing
a Mid rise stick construction lower price point
q How to frame conversation with professionals
a Not everything worked … you have to take risks
Look at what worked best practices as reference
Right now took it in house with councillors to ward level workshops
TO has not been as ambitious as other cities to get great buildings ( “Despite the talk, it’s now clear Keesmaat has succumbed to the same timidity that has kept Toronto from achieving the greatness it so badly wants.” Christopher Hume Toronto Star)
Canadian cities do pretty well
Building is not the lynch pin
Great urbanism is about the neighbourhood not the building. [She said that we visit New York to see Greenwich Village or Soho not just the iconic buildings. Don't say that to the people who run the Empire State Building, or Rockefeller Centre, or the Lincoln Centre. Or am I alone in being an architectural tourist?]
Profound mistakes with heritage
“I’m very concerned with the implication that sexy buildings define a city. I don’t have stars in my eyes about starchitects.”
Gehry thinks that only two buildings in Toronto are worth preserving
q Cities to watch?
a Washington DC currently mid rise but now looking at variances for high rises
Portland OR they did it in the seventies. They stuck w the plan
New York resilience legacy of Blomberg
Removing cycling lanes “Other people do dumb things too!”
Vancouver West End plan
Old Montreal “architects with a gentle touch”
Rob Abbott Executive Director
Climate Action Secretariat
Another of the lunchtime Carbon Talks at SFU downtown today. Held in a room that not only has no public wifi but also no cell phone signal – at least not from my network, which was at 5 bars outside at the bus stop. So not really much response to their suggestion that people tweet. Even so, given the paucity of my notes you might glean something from the storify I put together. The event was live streamed and will also be available in due course as a web cast.
I must admit I was a bit puzzled given the announcement yesterday about the Carbon Trust – which has now been moved inside the Secretariat. No one asked about that – or about the referendum. If I had got a change to ask a question, I would have asked if he really did work for Christy Clark as I was very conscious of a lot of cognitive dissonance.
Below unedited for the cognoscenti are my raw notes. I am not sure when I will be able to get them into shape – and I am out all day tomorrow at the pricing mobility thing at the Wosk Centre. By the way I am pleased to note, given what I wrote yesterday that Bob Paddon is now acknowledging “Mobility pricing may not be a solution in the shorter term” – but I suggest that we do actually need some short term solutions. Not just to deal with transportation in the Lower Mainland but also to deal with Climate Change – and what Canada, and BC in particular, are both intent on doing does not seem to be going in the right direction at all.
Here as a provocateur. Open up a space about a conversation that matters. Ties to dialogue tomorrow.
Portfolio approach includes ng for commercial and light trucks TOD
Behaviour change is hard esp wrt cars iconic far more than mobility
Land use mixed, complete community etc
BC target GHG down GDP and pop both up
More we can do
Clean Transportation Strategy
Need to couple bldgs to transport
Claims 20 to 30% reduction in GHG for NG trucks compared to diesel
10% reduction in intensity of fuel
Warranty provisions for liquid fuels
Expansion of urban transit
$14bn inc Evergreen Line
BC Transit data
No TransLink data
Make it something you want to take
Calgary growing car2go fastest
TOD is the big one
Affordability is goal = congestion reduction
Paddon oped in Sun today
Climate Action Charter for LG
(Lots of motherhood and apple pie does he really work for Christy?)
Wholly new paradigm
How high can transit fees go
Govt going in wrong direction re coal and oil exports
Need for pt plan provincially
1 massive failure of communication narrative shld raise fees context ppl aren’t reflexively opposed
2 yes we have to be responsible citizens what
3 need to open up something quite different …how ppl g&s might flow province not there quite yet
Production is more important than consumption in GHG
Biodiesel can go much higher
Corporate culture ..no need to commute
3 part of the solution waffles at length
2 lcf is sexy can go higher
1 embodied carbon must account for it and reduce it -how to do that w/o reduced q of life
2 port emissions will double in next few years – truck traffic
3 how much do you look at other places?
3 easy to beat ourselves up. Our planners go to Sweden. Would these ideas work here
2 good at parts much less at integration
1 lynch pin investment lifestyle aspiration and land cost how we connect those communities will still need roads
Multiple levels of trust
Stadium of our egos
A lot is happening which shows that the trust is there
Collaboration with stakeholders
Not a member just yet? We’re giving away a FREE 1-year membership + registration and $30 driving – just share this photo with your social networks and email a screenshot to email@example.com. We’ll draw and announce our winner this Friday!
and today I got an email which read in part
“Thanks for entering our Make It! giveaway. I’m happy to say that after a random draw, you’ve won!
Your prize is a free 1-year membership + registration and $30 carsharing credit.”
You do follow me on Twitter, don’t you? It’s not that I tweet a lot – though if you do not use RSS it’s not a bad way to know when a new blog post has gone up. It’s more that I often see things there that I think are worth reading – but I do not have a lot to add. It usually means I agree with much of what is there. Not always a total endorsement but usually “this is worth looking at”.
So when someone calling himself Neil21 (I know no more about him than that) posted a link to an article on robotaxis I retweeted it. Prompting this exchange
I was a bit taken aback actually that someone who follows me on twitter, and therefore presumably reads this blog too, could have ascribed such an opinion to me. And since I don’t know who he is, this medium not being restricted to 140 characters seems a better way to respond properly.
I knew I had written about this topic before so I put the words “shared ride taxis” in the search box in the right hand column. So it starts with a plea to do a real reform of taxi regulation mainly to improve service but also to allow for shared rides. There’s a link to a story about shared rides on Pender Island and a useful summary of Auditing Translink which includes a lot of my thoughts on HandyDART (repeated earlier today). There was also an article about how to stop global warming which included this gem
Lets go for simple, easy and restrictive of car use. Street cars. Using existing lanes in the existing roads that are then closed to cars. And really cracking down on speeding – which wastes huge amounts of fuel and costs many lives. Use the fines from photo radar and bus lane violators to buy more trams. Car co-ops, and cheap shared ride taxis. Subscription based commuter coaches – commuters take the same route most days. It should be easy to sign them up for door to door services once the parking lots have been turned over to food production and the highway has only one lane for General Purpose traffic and all the rest of the capacity is dedicated to shared ride, essential freight and so on.
I am an enthusiastic early adopter of car2go. It already incorporates quite a few technological advances over other cars. For a start, I can easily find out where the nearest one available is: trouble is they are often not near enough (they are known around Main Street as Go2Car). It is quicker to walk or take a bus. Transit, someone once said, takes you from where you are not to not very close to where you want to be. In the low density suburbs that is a real issue. And taxis are as rare as hen’s teeth when you really need one – anywhere in the world, not just here where we are deliberately under supplied as a matter of public policy.
What would transform the utility of car2go would be bringing the nearest empty car to me when it is more than a short walk away. There are going to be autonomous cars, simply because the technology is now very nearly ready for prime time. The only question is how to use them. “It’s absolutely inevitable that autonomous vehicles will be shared” and the first application could well be a car2go that comes when you need it and vanishes once you have finished with it. It need not be an exclusive two seater car. It could be a larger shared unit – like a minivan. Tell the system not just where you are but where you want to go and the software links up the riders. So it then works like para-transit or HandyDART for everyone – or perhaps the commuter coach now favoured by many hi-tech firms for getting their employees to campuses out of town centres (though I think more of them will be just as interested in better urban locations for their offices).
Autonomous vehicles will “hasten sprawl repair.” We are stuck with much of our present built environment for another generation or two. It takes a longer time to rebuild whole suburbs than decayed inner cities – and that took long enough. Since our very silly provincial government thinks its a good idea to lock us into car dependency for much longer then we had better hope that the techno wizards building zero emissions self driving cars are a lot more successful than the people who have been promoting the very well known and established plan of more and better conventional transit (with protected bike lanes and comfortable walking streets) in denser urban areas. That doesn’t mean that the latter won’t happen as well – but since Premier Barbie seems to be doing all she can to prevent that, this will offset some of the worst effects of her decisions.