Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Opinion: Vancouver can learn from other major cities Vancouver Courier April 1, 2015

I cannot let Wednesday April 1st go by without sharing two April Fool's Day stories involving the Vancouver Courier.
In 1998, I completed the development of Elm Park Place at the corner of West 41st and Larch Street. I often advertised the project in the Courier and, when I realized there would be an April 1 edition, I decided to have some fun. It was shortly after Prince Charles had visited the city. Instead of a conventional advertisement, I wrote an “advertorial” reporting that “according to often reliable sources, during his recent visit to Vancouver, the Prince had purchased a residence in Kerrisdale.
While the Palace would not comment, the purchase was rumoured to be one of the remaining penthouses at Elm Park Place.”

What I had not anticipated was the response from some pre-sale buyers who called my office as soon as their paper was delivered. How dare I sell to the royal couple without consulting with them? Imagine the security costs they were are now going to have to pay!
The following year I still had a few suites left. The RAV Rapid Transit along Cambie Street was very much in the news and this prompted another advertorial in the March 31 edition. It reported that the government was secretly planning a SkyTrain extension to UBC along West 41st Avenue and included an artist’s illustration of the SkyTrain running past Elm Park Place. The next day my youngest daughter came home from Crofton House School with a big smile on her face. “You’ll never guess what, Daddy,” she exclaimed. One of her new classmates, whose family had recently arrived from Hong Kong, brought a copy of the Courier to her classroom “show and tell” to let everyone know there would soon be SkyTrain to Crofton House School. My daughter tried to explain it was really her dad’s April Fool's Day joke, but the girl had never heard of April Fool's Day.

This year there will be no pranks. However, I am presenting a talk at SFU Wednesday evening on the theme “12 Great Ideas for Vancouver from Around the World.” Here is a preview:
  • Vancouver is surrounded by water. While we have SeaBus and the False Creek ferries, we could make better use of this water for transportation, like Sydney or Hong Kong, or for housing like some of the new Dutch floating home communities.
  • Other cities may offer lessons on how to make Vancouver a friendlier city.
  • While we hold festivals and events to bring people together, we could do more. For example, every April 1, Odessa, Ukraine holds Humorina, an entire day devoted to the celebration of humour. It is a tradition dating back to the 1970s.
  • Given our desire to be the greenest city in the world, perhaps Vancouver could hold an annual sustainability festival, or other similar events.
  • We also need more public spaces where people can gather and better neighbourhood and buildings designs to foster greater interaction.
  • Other cities around the world offer lessons on how we might also make Vancouver a safer and healthier place in which to live. Some of these ideas were incorporated in SFU’s UniverCity community development. Tonight’s presentation will look at how to make existing and new neighbourhoods healthier and safer.
  • Vancouver has many beautiful tree-lined streets and well-maintained gardens. However, compared to other cities, we could do a lot more to landscape the city and keep it clean and tidy. We will look at what Irish cities and towns have been doing, as well as other cities around the world.
  • Since transportation is very much top of mind these days, the presentation will include examples of rapid bus and tram systems that will hopefully come to Vancouver one day, as well as how we might make Vancouver a more pedestrian-friendly city.
  • When it comes to city planning, other cities have developed various approaches to create a more ordered and harmonious appearance. Is this something Vancouver should consider?
Wednesday's talk is at SFU Harbour Centre 515 West Hastings St. from 7 until 9. You can register at or take a chance and just come by. Of course, it is free. No fooling. 

- See more at:

No comments: