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Things Are Good: Incremental Design to Address Housing Inequality

Basically every nation has basic housing problems that need to be addressed. Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena won this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize because of his work on community housing. It wasn’t just the buildings that got him the prize, it’s the fact that he and his team worked with locals to bring change to the community in a new […]

The post Incremental Design to Address Housing Inequality appeared first on Things Are Good.

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Incremental Design to Address Housing Inequality

Scripturient: The Swimmer

The swimmer stood on the dock, contemplating the lazy current in the river. The warm spring, followed by the sunny days of early summer, had warmed the water enough to make the crossing less a challenge than a few weeks back, when he had first done i… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The Swimmer

Scripturient: The Airport Mystery

What’s happening at Collingwood Airport? Or better yet: what’s NOT happening? And why isn’t it? Once touted as the role model for regional cooperation, and having the best potential for local economic development, it is now a topic for murmurings about a secret sale, and ugly rumours that this has become the worst regional relationship . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The Airport Mystery

Scripturient: The high cost of affordability

Affordable housing is crucial to the economic and social vitality of every municipality. Without it, people cannot afford to live here, which means they will look for jobs in places they can afford. Young people, especially, will move to places they can afford better. Collingwood is especially vulnerable to housing issues.* Given that the growth . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The high cost of affordability

Scripturient: Fortuna: Why Plans Fail

Niccolo Machiavelli used two words in his book, The Prince, to describe the factors that influenced events. In English these are virtue or character (virtu), fortune or chance (fortuna). Only virtue is internal – our nature – and although it manifests as voluntary action, it can only be somewhat, but not entirely controlled.* The other . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Fortuna: Why Plans Fail

THE CAREGIVERS' LIVING ROOM A Blog by Donna Thomson: What Next! What Best Laid Plans Fall Through

Sometimes, even the best laid plans fall apart.  And life feels very, very unfair.  Every caregiver has a story about a high school reunion or an anniversary dinner that had to be cancelled at the last minute because of a loved one’s illness or worse, bad weather.  Sometimes, the Gods just don’t want us . . . → Read More: THE CAREGIVERS’ LIVING ROOM A Blog by Donna Thomson: What Next! What Best Laid Plans Fall Through

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rethinking Parking

Parking in Collingwood – especially downtown – has been a contentious issue since at least the mid-1980s. Numerous studies have been done advocating a variety of answers, none of them entirely satisfactory to everyone. The factions of free versus paid parking have been warring as long as I can recall. No council has managed to . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rethinking Parking

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gated Communities

I’m not a big fan of gated communities, but even if I don’t personally want to live in one myself, I understand the reason for them, and sympathize with homeowners in those zones. Apartments are basically gated towers that restrict access to residents or keyholders and no one complains that they isolate the residents. Few . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gated Communities

Political Eh-conomy: No thanks Uber, I’m not signing your petition

So the ride-sharing app Uber is urging Vancouverites to sign a petition on its site to put pressure on the City to allow Uber to operate. An ad for the petition invaded my Twitter feed and I decided to take a closer look. Here’s the petition with my commentary. Spoiler: no, I’m not signing.

Uber . . . → Read More: Political Eh-conomy: No thanks Uber, I’m not signing your petition

The Disaffected Lib: Hey, Think You’re Resilient?

“Resilience.”  It’s the new climate change buzz word.  It applies to individuals, communities, institutions, and infrastructure.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from repeated climate change impacts. It’s the ability to withstand repeated floods, for example.  That might require making your home resilient by having it mounted on stilts well above ground . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Hey, Think You’re Resilient?

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Twenty years of strategic planning

Twenty years ago – May, 1994 – the Town of Collingwood started a community-based strategic plan. That report was released in October, 1995. Then in October, 2000, Vision 2020 released its Blueprint Collingwood. These two documents are generally forgotten by the general public today, but they have been the basis of planning, of policy and . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Twenty years of strategic planning

Melissa Fong: Planning the Metropolitan #Vancouver Region: A Critical Perspective

Here is a review of the Planning the Metropolitan Vancouver Region: A Critical Perspective- Thank you to AY for inviting me- great catching up with SCARP people and making new connections. […]

Melissa Fong: Electronic music, raves & Toronto’s moral panic on drugs

…they do the work because they want to re-produce the type of city they want to live- the type of city that is worth living in. … …not all entertainment is built the same- some of these very worth while performers and promotors can’t jump through your hoops, or will grow tired doing so. These . . . → Read More: Melissa Fong: Electronic music, raves & Toronto’s moral panic on drugs

Things Are Good: A Scientific Approach to Better Urban Design

Urban design is not an easy activity because of the multitude of variables that impact the overall urban experience. There are buildings, traffic (foot and vehicular), landmarks, natural occurrences like rivers, and abstracted economic forces. Space Syntax is a company has set out to make better urban design by using science to calculate the probability . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: A Scientific Approach to Better Urban Design

Bill Given: City Moves Forward With Annexation


Last night council formally approved moving the annexation process forward by approving a final set of information sessions for the public. As the City’s media release below details it’s been a long process to get to this point, and there is still more to go before annexation is actually complete. 
Although the City “officially” initiated annexation back in early 2011 (by sending the County and the Municipal Government Board formal letters) I really view the process as having started back in 2005 or 2006. Back then Mayor Ayling’s council started a discussion about how the city would grow in the future and that initiated what would result in the 2008 Growth Study (PDF Download). Then, after the election in 2007, Mayor Logan’s Council started renegotiating the Intermunicipal Development Plan (PDF Download) with the County. When it was completed, after nearly 3 years of negotiations, the IDP laid out the future annexation areas for the city in two chunks that were intended to provide for a “30 Year” and “50 Year” growth horizon. Then, shortly after the 2010 election – in the spring of 2011 – this current council sent the letter that started the direct negotiations and landowner consultations that we are just wrapping up now.
Future growth areas for the City. 
Annexation is important for the City because we need to be able to offer a variety of development options to expand our tax base, particularly for commercial and industrial properties. Without the raw land laid out in the annexation area the city has extremely limited space to be able to attract new industrial and commercial development. These two classes of properties pay property taxes at a higher rate than residential properties – essentially they carry more of the burden of the city budget, so obviously if we have more of them it reduces the load on all the existing properties. One important thing to note is that while this is unquestionably about new taxes – it is NOT a “tax grab” as annexations are sometimes made out to be. If this was a “tax grab” the city would be annexing the already developed areas of the County, particularly the Clairmont area. As you can see in the map, that is not the case; the city is getting largely undeveloped land and the County gets to retain and grow it’s Clairmont area. (The light yellow areas are the “30 Year” growth areas that we are talking about in this annexation, the darker brown areas are the “50 Year” growth areas.)
Once the annexation is complete the city still has a lot of work to do to encourage growth and development of new tax paying properties in the new areas of the city. City Council recognizes this and we’ve started that work by recently adopting our Industrial Attraction Strategy (LINK), and beginning investments in the infrastructure that will help fuel development
So, we are nearing the end of one phase of what has been, and will be, a very long process in improving the City’s financial viability. 
City media release below…. 
Open Houses Set For Annexation
City Council Monday approved two open houses for County of Grande Prairie residents to meet with Councillors and Administration regarding the City’s annexation application.

These final information sessions are set for May 27 and 28 at the Muskoseepi Park Pavilion from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“These open houses and the mediated sessions that preceded them are part of the application process to the Municipal Government Board (MGB),” says Senior Planner Stuart Wraight.

“Landowners have been sent letters notifying them of the open houses and we will also be available in person, by phone and email to discuss details of the annexation and how it affects them.”

The City has focused on landowner transition provisions as its priority while keeping in mind relevant previous MGB decisions. An application will proceed by June 30.

The Board will review the submission and then schedule a public hearing in Grande Prairie to consider the City’s request and to obtain information from residents and landowners who wish to make presentations.

If successful, the City would request that annexation become effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

The letter to residents provided a comprehensive update to landowners (see backgrounder for details):

  • Taxation Phase-in Formulas – City’s Final Positions on Landowner Taxation Transition from County to City rates

  • Zoning /Development Opportunities

  • Service Levels

  • Lifestyle Issues, including solid waste and business licenses
“The City is pleased the process allows for this final opportunity to for us to meet directly with landowners and inform them of how their input over the previous four open houses has influenced the City’s final position,” says Mayor Bill Given. “We look forward to responding to any further questions that arise.”

City and County administrations began discussing annexation terms in November 2011. Council to council negotiations began in August of 2012 and had several meetings through to December prior to mediation this spring.

“Annexation is a key issue to address continued growth and viability of the City,” says Mayor Given. “In order to diversify our tax base, raw land is needed to accommodate opportunities for new industrial and commercial development.”

Prior to negotiations with the County, landowners within the proposed annexation area received information packages from the City dealing with items such as proposed taxation and service levels, lifestyle and leisure issues as well as planning and development opportunities.

The City’s Planning Department held open houses and provided consultation opportunities for land owners.

Annexation would give the City about 6,300 hectares in the west and northwest, northeast and several quarter sections surrounding the City.

The City and County of Grande Prairie agreed on the lands to be annexed through adoption of the Intermunicipal Development Plan in June 2010.

. . . → Read More: Bill Given: City Moves Forward With Annexation

Bill Given: City Moves Forward With Annexation

Last night council formally approved moving the annexation process forward by approving a final set of information sessions for the public. As the City’s media release below details it’s been a long process to get to this point, and there is still more to go before annexation is actually complete.  Although the City “officially” . . . → Read More: Bill Given: City Moves Forward With Annexation

Melissa Fong: Eliminating clubland: Planning for the right dance & social spaces in the city

Eliminating clubland: Planning for the right dance & social spaces in the city I’m going to respond to this article from an Urban Planning point of view, but also from a Feminist and “dance-positive” point of view [2]. This month I have been dreading my move back to Vancouver – for many reasons- one of . . . → Read More: Melissa Fong: Eliminating clubland: Planning for the right dance & social spaces in the city

openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

[I was in Portland when the EcoDistrict project was launched and have been following it ever since.  It’s still in its early days, but I think it’s a great approach to speed the evolution of our cities. Originally posted  @SustainableCitiesCanada.]

You’ve probably seen pictures of London’s BedZED , or Malmo’s Western Harbour redevelopment. Showpiece green developments like those have put urban sustainability in the international spotlight.

But all around them is a larger city that also needs to evolve radically if we are going to make sustainable cities a reality. Otherwise the substance is missing; you’ve got the cherry on top, but no Sunday underneath.

The magic of developments like BedZED, or projects like Victoria’s Dockside Green here in Canada, is that they do it all, and all in one place. Renewable energy, walkable vibrant density, multiple transportation options, urban agriculture, green buildings…. all woven together into a whole that is inspiring and effective. Rather than piecemeal interventions you get a picture of what a fundamentally different city could look like.

But how can you apply the same holistic approach to the neighbourhoods and districts that we already have? Portland (OR) is one of a small number of cities pioneering efforts to answer that question.

Building EcoDistricts
In 2009 the city launched the EcoDistrict program to accelerate the transformation of five existing neighbourhoods. EcoDistricts pursues the type of neighbourhood-scale interventions that you might expect, ranging from district energy to green streets. But at the core of the whole endeavour is the insight that to operate at a district scale the challenges aren’t primarily about technology, they are about people.

Unlike greenfield developments, working with existing neighbourhoods means working with a complex mix of residents, businesses, developers, utilities and municipal agencies. The EcoDistrict process begins by building a framework that allows all these different players to work together and supplies them with resources and strategies to begin remaking their part of the city.

The Elusive “How”: People
Portland aims to make the EcoDistrict approach something that can be applied in other cities (see their upcoming summit). How well it will transfer remains to be seen. At the same time, other cities will also develop their own approach to collaboratively transforming existing cityscapes. Montreal’s Quartiers 21 and Quartiers Verts programs, for example, also use the neighbourhood scale as a place to test out innovative ideas and processes of public engagement.

In the end the specific process cities follow isn’t as important as how they frame the challenge. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the “what” of urban sustainability; the “how” has always been a bit more elusive. Portland’s EcoDistricts program shows that it is possible to mobilize the complex mixture of different people and institutions in a way that makes holistic green urbanism possible.

It will be interesting to see which Canadian city will be the first to do the same.

. . . → Read More: openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

[I was in Portland when the EcoDistrict project was launched and have been following it ever since.  It’s still in its early days, but I think it’s a great approach to speed the evolution of our cities. Originally posted  @SustainableCitiesCanada.]

You’ve probably seen pictures of London’s BedZED , or Malmo’s Western Harbour redevelopment. Showpiece green . . . → Read More: openalex: EcoDistricts: All Green, All in One Place

Trashy's World: Kanata… O the surprises

We dropped our daughter #2 off at a Brownie camp yesterday north of Kanata close to Dunrobin. We took March Road off the Queensway and I completely expected that, shortly after exiting, we’d be zooming past farms and trailer parks as we traveled toward the river. Boy, was I wrong! Much to my amazement, there . . . → Read More: Trashy’s World: Kanata… O the surprises