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[caption id="attachment_8839" align="alignleft" width="290" caption="Pender Street in Chinatown in 1972, which was now part of a designated historic area. Item # CVA 780-447. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Archives."]
In 1971, Greenpeace was making waves, there was a riot in Gastown and the CBC started filming a very popular series on the Sunshine Coast.
By Chuck Davis, The History of Vancouver
1971 census figures for Metropolitan Vancouver
The 1971 census showed the metropolitan Vancouver population had topped the million mark for the first time. One remarkable finding of that census was that Delta’s population had more than tripled in 10 years.
Bowen Island 350
Coquitlam 53,225 (includes Fraser Mills, pop. 157, annexed this year)
Delta 45,860 (1961 pop. 14,597)
Langley City 4,680
Langley Township 21,935
Lions Bay 396 (incorporated this year)
Maple Ridge 24,480
New Westminster 42,835
North Vancouver City 31,847
North Vancouver District 57,861
Pitt Meadows 2,770
Port Coquitlam 19,560
Port Moody 10,778
University Endowment Lands 3,536
West Vancouver 36,440
White Rock 10,349
Greenpeace and Amchitka
sailed from Vancouver September 15, 1971 to the island of Amchitka to protest a nuclear test on the remote Aleutian island by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The Greenpeace
—the original name of which was the Phyllis Cormack
, an 80-foot fishing vessel named after skipper John Cormack’s wife—had been chartered by the Don’t Make a Wave Committee.
“Environmentalists feared,” the Province
reported, “that the underground blast might touch off an earthquake or tidal wave and that radiation might leak to the surface or into the sea.”
The test occurred while the Greenpeace
was still en route, but the protest sparked a huge anti-nuclear demonstration in Vancouver by high school students and the Don’t Make a Wave Committee—renamed Greenpeace—stepped onto the world environmental stage. While the Greenpeace
was en route the atomic blast they were planning to protest—a five-megaton explosion detonated under Amchitka Island—went ahead. A second ship was organized, and left Vancouver October 6. This was the converted Canadian minesweeper Edgewater Fortune
. She was named the Greenpeace Too
. She passed the Greenpeace
near Campbell River and carried on north to Alaska—first to Juneau, and then outward bound across the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutians. The detonation of November 1971 was the last nuclear test to take place at Amchitka.
The Gastown Riot, or “The Battle of Maple Tree Square” on August 7, 1971 drew more than 1,000 people to Gastown as a protest against the illegality of marijuana. But police on horseback were called in to break it up, arresting 79 and charging 38. A later judicial inquiry headed by Justice Thomas Dohm criticized the action, characterizing it as a “police riot.”
A “Gastown Festival,” exactly one week after the riot, and meant to repair the area’s image, drew 15,000 peaceful participants.
On October 6 more than 10,000 secondary school students from all over the Lower Mainland massed in the 1000-block Alberni—near the U.S. consulate general’s office—as a protest against a planned U.S. nuclear test on Alaska’s Amchitka Island. The students sang, chanted and listened to speeches . . . and when the demonstration was over, some of them stayed behind to sweep up and collect litter boxes. A delegation from the group went to the consulate general’s office to explain their opposition to the blast. See the Greenpeace item above.
Sports Hall of Fame
The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame opened October 21 in the B.C. Pavilion at the PNE. Tributes were paid to sports writer Eric Whitehead as the man most responsible “for the splendid collection of memorabilia, not to mention various splendid collections of money which made the Hall possible and will ensure its future.” Today, with 19 galleries and even more splendid memorabilia (film, video, uniforms, trophies and more), the Hall is in bigger quarters (20,000 sq ft) at B.C. Place—and well worth a visit.
Vancouver Chamber Choir
The Vancouver Chamber Choir, led by its founder/conductor/music director Jon Washburn, was formed in 1971. It is still making great music, samples of which you can hear at their website
Tamahnous Theatre was founded in 1971 by John Gray, the late Larry Lillo and others. It would present new and challenging work for more than 20 years. A UBC site says: “In addition to scripted works produced by the company, including many plays written for the group, Tamahnous Theatre was known for, and was based in, collective creation. It was a mark of the collaborative nature of this group that even the scripted works developed by the company’s writers went through a workshop process with all of the members of the troupe, and had input from everyone involved with the project. After the 1980s, the number of Tamahnous’ collective creations declined and the company went in other directions.”
[caption id="attachment_8676" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="British Columbia Coast Names was published by D&M starting in 1971."]
D & M
The leading publisher in BC of trade books—those directed at the general public—is Douglas & McIntyre, the largest English-language Canadian-owned publisher outside Toronto. The company began this year—publishing two books—as J.J. Douglas Ltd., named for company founder Jim Douglas. Douglas’ partner was Scott McIntyre, now the company president. Their first two books were: British Columbia Coast Names
, by John T. Walbran, a book that first appeared in 1909. It’s still in print under the D&M imprint. The other book was Cooking for One
, by Norah Mannion Wilmot, which went on to sell some 50,000 copies and which was in print for many years. The company was off to a great start!
Also in 1971
Lions Bay was incorporated January 2, 1971. Resident (and former Lions Bay mayor) Max Wyman has written: “A plebiscite on incorporation late in 1970 drew more than the requisite 60 per cent majority vote from the 250 residents, and in the spring of 1971 Lions Bay officially became a village municipality. Some members of the GVRD board felt such a small community should not be allowed one of only 57 GVRD votes. ‘I think it's totally wrong,’ said Bill Vander Zalm, then Mayor of Surrey. ‘I don't know why it was done.’ A village complex was built: fire hall, fire truck storage, a council room, village office, kitchen and community hall-cum-gym. Allan (Curly) Stewart was elected mayor by acclamation, and villagers elected their first four-member council.”
Seaspan International was chosen January 8 as the new name after the merger of Vancouver Tugboats and Island Tug and Barge. The North Vancouver company operates tugs and specialty barges from Alaska to Mexico.
Vancouver got title January 15 to the old Shaughnessy Golf Course lands that would later be developed as Van Dusen Botanical Display Garden.
On January 25 200 poor people marched on Vancouver’s city hall.
In February 1971 the provincial government assigned the designation of historic areas, thus preventing demolition of historically significant buildings. Vancouver’s Gastown and Chinatown neighborhoods were designated historic sites. But this silver lining had a cloud. Writes Eleanor Yuen in The Greater Vancouver Book
: “In 1971, the municipal government crippled the growth of Chinatown by declaring it an Historical Area where all old buildings of significant value were to be preserved and new developments strictly controlled. This designation was a blessing in those years as it helped fight proposals for a freeway right across its heart. A decade later, however, the heritage classification turned into a curse in disguise and stalled growth and development in the district.”
On March 4, 1971 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, 52, married Margaret Sinclair, 22, at St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver. Later this year they will open the 500,000-gallon whale pool at the Vancouver Public Aquarium.
On April 1 the post office began a test-run of a new six-character alphanumeric postal code in Ottawa. Its use would eventually be extended to the whole country.
The railway through White Rock (now called the Burlington Northern) ended its passenger service in April, 1971. A few years later a ‘fastbus’ commuter service by B.C. Hydro would link White Rock with Vancouver.
The War Measures Act, imposed October 16, 1970, lapsed April 30, 1971.
George Tidball opened his first Keg Restaurant in North Vancouver June 21. In 1987 he would sell his Kegs and other restaurants (76 in all) to Whitbread PLC of London, England.
Vancouver mayor Tom Campbell visited the ‘Four Seasons’ site (at the entrance to Stanley Park) on June 23 and vocally sparred with young people squatting there.
On July 20, a pageant at Empire Stadium marked the centennial of B.C.'s entry into Confederation.
An 18-year-old lad from Dawson Creek named Roy Forbes came to Vancouver in July 1971 and began to sing professionally. He called himself Bim. He was sensational. And more than 30 years later, now singing as Roy Forbes, he still is.
Parking for 850 cars opened at Pacific Centre September 27.
Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin made a state visit to Vancouver October 23. (One result: a novel, Kosygin is Coming
, by former Sun
police reporter Vancouver’s Tom Ardies, which later became the movie Russian Roulette
, starring George Segal.)
Heritage Village (now Burnaby Village Museum) was opened November 19, 1971 by Governor General Roland Michener. It showed Burnaby as it might have looked in bygone days. There are costumed townsfolk, historic buildings, self-guided tours, and a beautiful old carousel. Besides its entertainment purposes, the village is a learning resource for school groups.
On December 31 Province
publisher Fred Auger buried a time capsule near the reception desk in the editorial department. It was to be opened on B.C.'s 200th birthday. This was when the newspaper was at 2250 Granville Street, before its move to Granville Square in 1997. Wonder what happened to that time capsule?
Some 83 per cent of Richmond’s population listed English as their first language
The Hyack Festival Association of New Westminster began its activities. These include the annual Hyack Festival, the Hyack Antique Car Easter Parade, the Santa Claus Parade, and the Miss New Westminster Ambassador Program.
The Capilano Fish Hatchery opened. The featured species are coho, chinook and steelhead. A related web site
reads, in part: “The construction of the Cleveland Dam blocked the route of coho and steelhead traveling up the Capilano River to spawn. Greater than 95 per cent of their spawning and approximately 75 per cent of their rearing habitat was lost. To mitigate this loss, the Greater Vancouver Water District constructed a concrete river weir and fish ladder. This system collected adult salmon returning to the river to spawn. They were then transported in transport tanks and deposited above the dam to continue their journey upstream. However, young salmon migrating downstream to the ocean suffered high losses, as they had to travel over the dam. Over the next decade the Capilano salmon stocks continued to decline. To address this problem, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decided to build Capilano Hatchery to rear and release salmon below the dam. Construction began in 1969 and the three million-dollar facility was completed in 1971.”
The Greater Vancouver Water District, which had been incorporated in 1926, became part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. So did the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District, incorporated in 1956, a successor to the Vancouver and District Joint Sewerage and Drainage Board, incorporated in 1914.
Among the locally-shot films released this year were these five: (annotations by film historian Michael Walsh)
Director Mike Nichols shot Carnal Knowledge
here. The film starred Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret and Rita Moreno. Michael Walsh comments: “Vancouver stars as Middle America in a boomer generation drama about guys who spend their lives chasing girls and talking about sex.”
McCabe And Mrs. Miller
(Director: Robert Altman) A drifter, Warren Beatty, becomes enamored of a frontier madam, Julie Christie, in director Altman's second Vancouver-made feature, a Western that he shot in a specially-built North Shore mining town.
Madeleine Is . . .
(Director: Sylvia Spring) Reflecting the militant, mystic 1960s, Torontonian Spring created a feminist fantasy about a runaway Quebecoise (Nicola Lipman) who finds personal fulfillment clowning around Kitsilano. John Juliani was in the cast. This was the first Vancouver-made feature film directed by a woman.
The Life And Times Of Chester-Angus Ramsgood
(Director: David Curnick) A love-smitten teen (Robert Matson) develops elaborate schemes to impress the ultra-Scottish parents of his would-be girlfriend (Mary-Beth McGuffin) in this Vancouver West Side farce.
Jack Darcus wrote, directed and co-starred (with Susan Spencer) in Proxyhawks
, in which “a coastal farm couple experience deepening sexual tensions in their relationship when the man becomes obsessed with falconry.”
The Jericho Youth Hostel was created within what had been a barracks for the old Jericho air station.
Construction began at UBC on the Sedgewick Undergraduate Library (architects: Rhone and Iredale), located in part beneath the Main Mall and featuring conical skylights. It will be completed in 1972.
George Burrows ended his long career (it had started in 1931) supervising Vancouver's beaches and pools. A cairn in his honor is near the bathhouse at Kitsilano Beach.
A bronze and steel fountain in the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, designed by Gerhard Hans Class, began operating. The fountain was a gift to the city and province from the German-Canadian community.
[caption id="attachment_8678" align="alignleft" width="320" caption="The J.H. Carlisle fireboat back in 1928, a year after it was first launched. Photo by Stuart Thomson. Item # CVA 99-1710. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Archives."]
The fireboat J.H. Carlisle was taken out of service by the Vancouver Fire Department. She was replaced by four 1,500-gallon-per-minute ‘Super Pumps’ stationed in the firehalls around False Creek, which by then was more easily accessible by land-based fire companies.
The federal government, under Prime Minister Trudeau, announced a new policy of multiculturalism. That made Canada the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. (In 1997 Statistics Canada noted 68 different ethnic backgrounds of people living in the Vancouver region, including 20 Haitians as the smallest group to the English, the largest, at 257,020.) The policy also confirmed the rights of the country’s aboriginal people and the status of Canada's two official languages. It has been largely adopted as a model by many other provincial and civic governments.
St. George's Greek Orthodox Church on Arbutus Street was completed, reflecting a growth in the number of people of Greek ancestry.
UBC began offering the first credit courses in Women’s Studies in Canada.
George F. Curtis, the first Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Law, retired. He had served since 1945. (In 1995 he will become a member of the Order of British Columbia, in 2003 will receive the Queen's Jubilee Gold Medal, and in 2005 be appointed an officer of the Order of Canada.) The Law building at UBC is named for him.
An extension paid for by graduate students was added to UBC’s Graduate Student Centre (Thea Koerner House). The building serves as a social and cultural centre for students in graduate studies.
The Anglican Theological College, Union College (United Church), and the Ecumenical College affiliated with UBC amalgamated to form the Vancouver School of Theology.
Students at the Langara campus of Vancouver Community College, who had been pushing unsuccessfully for a crosswalk at 49th Avenue and Ontario Street, stopped traffic to paint their own crosswalk on the street. The city eventually gave in to the students’ demands, and installed two crosswalks.
Barry M. Gough at UBC submitted a PhD thesis titled The Royal Navy and the Northwest Coast of North America, 1810-1914
. It was turned into a book this same year by UBC Press. One review read, in part: “This is a scholar devoted to meticulous empirical research and argument; there are surely very few relevant archival documents which Gough has not seen, few sites of maritime importance which he has not visited in person.”
A 169-bed extended-care unit (Evergreen House) opened at Lions Gate Hospital.
Apartment & Building
, published six times a year by BKN Publications, first appeared. Event
, published three times a year at Douglas College, first appeared. It presented reviews, fiction and poetry. Hellenic View
, a semi-monthly with text in English and Greek, first appeared. It featured news of the Greek community in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada. Supply Post
, a monthly publication on the forestry industry from Ken Kenward Enterprises Ltd., first appeared. The hugely successful Vancouver Buy and Sell
, published twice weekly by Buy and Sell Press, first appeared. It presented free classified advertising in tabloid form.
Another great publishing success, Western Living
, published 10 times a year by Telemedia West, first appeared. It was founded by Liz Bryan and her husband, photographer Jack Bryan. Today, this lifestyle magazine’s circulation in B.C. is more than 220,000.
The Port of Vancouver processed 22,800 cruise passenger this year. The total would pass 170,000 in 1981, top 423,000 in 1991, reach 600,000 in 1995 and 929,976 in 2004. The 2009 figure: 897,000.
[caption id="attachment_8679" align="alignleft" width="320" caption="Mayor Taylor with the Scottish soccer team in Con Jones Park (later called Callister Park), circa 1927. Photo by Stuart Thomson. Item # CVA 99-1781. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Archives."]
Callister Park, bounded by Renfrew, Oxford, Kaslo and Cambridge Streets, and a centre for soccer for more than five decades across from the PNE grounds, was demolished. (The park was formerly known as Con Jones Park. It was built by Con Jones in 1912 as a playing ground for his Vancouver field lacrosse team. The name changed to Callister Park in 1942.)
The 41-kilometre Baden-Powell Trail was built on the north shore by various Boy Scout and Girl Guide troops. The trail was named in honor of the scouting movement's founder. Writes Charles Montgomery: “It cuts a wandering line from Horseshoe Bay to Indian Arm, sampling all the delights of the North Shore: from Black Mountain's magnificent views of Howe Sound, through dark forests and rushing canyons all the way to the quiet waters of Deep Cove.”
The Tunnel Town Curling Club, which had opened four sheets of ice in a Boundary Bay air hangar in 1958, moved to Tsawwassen.
, a 16-feet-high concrete sculpture by Tom Osborne, was installed in North Vancouver’s Mahon Park. The work was commissioned to commemorate B.C.'s entry into Confederation. It’s described as “Six wall-like cement structures spaced equally on the periphery of a five-meter earth circle.”
Five former Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers launched Ballet Horizons in Vancouver. It lasted a year.
Concert Box Office was founded by the late Gary Switlo and Tom Worrall. They sold tickets to rock shows. They would merge with their chief competitor, Vancouver Ticket Centre, in 1987.
Ann Blades, writer and illustrator, began her career with Mary of Mile 18
, based on her experiences as a teacher in the B.C. Interior. The Canadian Association of Children's Librarians would choose it as Book of the Year in 1972.
Pulp Press was founded in Vancouver, says a link from the company’s web site
“by a collective of university students and associates disenchanted by what they perceived to be the academic literary pretensions of Canadian literature at the time. The early seventies were a fertile and exciting period in alternative arts and literature, and life at Pulp was no exception.” Pulp would become Arsenal Pulp Press in 1982.
T.W. Paterson, who has written many books on B.C. history, got them going this year with Treasure, British Columbia
The 35-member CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, conducted by John Avison, became the first Canadian orchestra to perform in the Arctic.
Artist B.C. Binning was named an officer of the Order of Canada.
Walter Gage, while serving as president of UBC, was awarded the Order of Canada.
Sprinter Harry Jerome was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Vancouver’s Bob Smith, who was already presenting the jazz program Hot Air
on CBC Radio, became the host of the Vancouver edition of CBC's That Midnight Jazz
. He would do that until 1979. Smith was “an encyclopedia of jazz, jazz musicians and records.”
Gertrude Weinrobe, the first Jewish child born in Vancouver (May 12, 1893) received the 1971 B.C. Pioneer Centennial Medal.
The fondly remembered Saskatoon-born Steve Woodman, entertainer and broadcaster, moved to Vancouver, aged 44. Among his many gigs, he hosted CKWX's Steve's Place
and Vancouver Variety Club telethons. He was also an original cast member of the zany radio show Dr. Bundolo’s Pandemonium Medicine Show
, recorded live at UBC's student union building. “A man of 1,000 voices.” After a 1974 telethon, a car accident on black ice nearly took his life and ended his career. He died March 13, 1990.
The Penthouse night club was forced to close and, apparently, that led to a rise in street prostitution. It has since reopened in what is the oldest standing striptease club in Canada.
The popular CBC television series The Beachcombers
began shooting on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast in 1971.
Starbucks opened at its first location: Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Chuck Davis is a Vancouver writer who has written, co-written, or edited 15 books. Most of them are on local history, and he describes his next book, The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, as the capstone of his career.
By the Vancouver Public Space Network
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN) is calling on the BC government to reconsider proposed amendments to the School Act. The changes, contained in a recent piece of omnibus legislation (Bill 20 - 2010 Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act No.3), would legally entrench the ability of schools to install video surveillance technology in classrooms, playgrounds and other public school facilities.
It is the Vancouver Public Space Network's position that schools should be free of video surveillance, except as a tool of last resort and when its use is clearly justified. The proposed bill states that a school board "may install and operate a video surveillance camera in a school facility or on school land for the purposes of protecting the safety of individuals, their belongings or school property".
However, the VPSN feels that this connection is flawed. "We're concerned that the BC government has positioned surveillance cameras as an effective tool for protecting the safety of students and school property," says Josh Paterson, VPSN Surveillance & Security Coordinator. "The truth is they're not very good at deterring or solving crimes or bad behaviour."
According to Paterson, the amendments to the School Act set out the purposes for which cameras may be used in schools, but fail to set out any specific criteria to guide school boards in their deployment of surveillance cameras - or require school boards to establish such policies.
"If enshrining the opportunity for schools to use surveillance technology is bad, it's even worse that the proposed bill allows cameras to be used without setting any rules governing what circumstances they are allowed, how they should be operated, how students' privacy rights will be safeguarded, who has access to the images, and places where surveillance cameras are inappropriate. If the Province is going to open this door, they should require stringent rules to avoid the possibility of over-use and abuse of surveillance cameras," says Paterson
There are also considerations about the effectiveness of surveillance technology in creating safer spaces. Research shows that surveillance cameras are ineffective both at decreasing unwanted behaviour and at catching criminals after the event. In addition, there are also significant economic considerations as well as CCTV technology - including capital and operating costs - is costly and provides a low return on investment.
"Given the lack of evidence that surveillance cameras make us any safer, authorizing school boards to spend lots of money on ongoing surveillance capacity is not the best investment, especially given the looming significant budget cuts in local school boards," said Forbes.
For more information, visit the VPSN website.
Congratulations to Tyee investigative editor Monte Paulsen - and the rest of the Tyee team - for the recent nomination for the Jack Webster Award for Community Reporting, and an inaugural Canadian Online Journalism Award for Best Series for their great work on “A Home For All” series. The 12-part series ran earlier this year and took and in-depth looked at the complex issues around affordable housing within Vancouver.
For those of you who didn't get a chance to read it, the Tyee has graciously compiled the entire series in pdf format and made it accessible to all through their website
An updated version of the Laneway Housing Illustrative Examples
document is now available on the Laneway Housing website
The Illustrative Examples serve as visual companions to the approved Laneway Housing Regulations and Guidelines. ?These Laneway Housing Regulations and Guidelines are available on the website along with contact information for those wishing to learn about the approval process and whether your lot is eligible.
To view these documents, please visit our website
[EDITORS NOTE: A special thanks to Steven G. for this one!
URBAN GODDESS: JANE JACOBS RECONSIDERED - Knowledge Network, July 28th, 10pm.
Urban Goddess, Jane Jacobs Reconsidered explores the legacy of Jane Jacobs, a champion of neighbourhood activism, through two redevelopment disputes in neighbourhoods in New York and Toronto. These disputes raise many of the same issues Jacobs encountered fifty years ago. The documentary also looks at Vancouver, a city frequently put forward as a shining example of her livable city philosophy.
By Erick Villagomez, re:place magazine
Cities, by their very nature, are always in a state of change. Responding to the myriad of internal and external forces placed upon them, they ebb and flow continually. At certain times throughout history, the profound changes have shaken the foundation of cities and the human made systems that create them - many of which decline as a result.
We are living in such a time: as radical environmental, social and economic shifts have driven us to question the way we have organized and planned our urban centres for the past century. Cities are currently developing and changing at a rate exponentially faster than planners' attempts to shape them. Economic, political and environmental circumstances are changing so quickly that by the time a plan is realized, it is often already obsolete. As we have readily witnessed locally, a sudden change in political leadership or economics can fundamentally alter the assumptions and objectives of a project or planning initiative.
Within this context, typical planning processes and bureaucratic structures - indeed, the urban planning profession as a whole is quickly losing relevance. Unless we rethink the fundamental principles and systems governing urban planning in accordance with this climate of rapid change, it seems inevitable that this vocation will continue its decline into obsolesence. Petaluma, California's recent termination of its entire planning department
points to how dispensable the profession currently is and forecasts a very real potential future for planners across the nation.
The young profession of urban planning had noble beginnings just under a century ago. In Urbanization
, Paul Knox and Linda McCarthy discuss how the planning profession arose in response to health, social and natural crises - as epidemics, riots and floods inundated cities and sparked interest in institutionalizing municipal control measures. As was the spirit of the time, planning was built upon Marxist ideals as well as moral, social, and philanthropic values of bettering the conditions of urban citizens - well-intentioned sentiments that continue today.
Importantly, through focusing on the health and safety of urban citizens, planning was also seen as a means to mitigate the adverse effects of capitalism - speculation, in particular - on the built landscape. With this in mind, several significant control measures were established. The most significant was the Zoning Law - first introduced in New York in 1916 - whereby an imaginary "building envelope" describing the outline of maximum allowable construction was specified for a building lot or block to ensure light and air
This act solidified planning as a design project, over and above a legal document. And although zoning had its roots in social well-being, these mechanisms quickly evolved into practices that served other purposes under the guise of the public good - particularly the maintenance of property values for the wealthy. Locally, Vancouver's RS-5 zoning bylaw
focused in and around Shaughnessy that is still intent on "maintaining the existing single family character" of their respective areas and "compatible" housing developments is the most blatant example of this (a brief discussion of the motivations behind the creation of the RS-5 bylaw can be found here
As such, zoning practices extended beyond dense city centres, where light and air concerns were paramount, into outlying areas where they were used to ensure low-density, freestanding single-family neighbourhoods through mechanisms such as building setbacks. This was, in turn, bundled with a permitting process.
This was interconnected with racial biases, the growth of the automobile, and simplistic notions of urban systems that segregated different uses - residential, commercial, industrial, etc - into different parts of the city. All of which was bundled into larger bureaucratic processes of permitting, guideline development, and internal reviews. As such, it has been strongly argued that urban planning - counter to its noble initial intentions - has played one of the most significant roles in humankind's single most extensive urbicidal acts.
This brings us to the present, where the detrimental social and ecological implications of these early decisions have been made clearly evident while, simultaneously, the structure and practices these employed by the urban planning profession - based on these early assumptions - have been institutionalized and solidified to the point that change is increasingly difficult, even internally.
Historically, cities coped with radical political, economic and environmental shifts through rapid bottom-up transformations to the built fabric that was allowed through flexible (often minimal) top-down control mechanisms. Thus, for example, former urban farm lots and houses could freely evolve into higher density house types in response to growth pressures. Examples of this abound and are responsible for the creation of well-known cities like London, Rome and Athens and even early Vancouver.
But currently, such changes are held captive by our obsolete, slow-moving urban planning practices. An important effect of contemporary urban planning that is often not discussed within the field is that, in attempting to control all aspects of city development, the impossible task of predicting and responding to rapid, unforeseen change through built form has been placed on the shoulders of a handful of people who have neither the education (no one profession does) or power at their disposal to make informed decisions at the rate required to do so.
In this respect, urban development has been, and continues to be primarily reactionary instead of proactive - attempting to develop in comprehensive wholes instead of realizable increments that are quickly implemented and emphasizing organization instead of augmentation. In Vancouver, for example, secondary suites were illegally being used for over 10 years(!) before the City formally made their creation legitimate. Similarly, it will be four years of report writing, council approvals, and internal bantering since the initiation of EcoDensity
that laneway housing will (hopefully) be legalized - the first of several initial actions, yet to be fully realized.
Consequently - and to the City's credit - four years is outright swift within the typical bureaucratic timescale. However, it is also ironic that it was urban planning that made laneway housing and secondary suites illegal decades ago. So these progressive "achievements" are really untangling the mess the profession created in the first place, and bringing us back to the point we should have been over 50 years past.
That said, given the rate of explosive change in virtually every facet of society, the time taken for planning measures to be created and implemented should be considered effectively unresponsive. From accelerating urbanization, to economic hemorrhaging and unprecedented climate change effects in countries the world over - Australia being the most recent casualty - it seems almost comedic that urban planning as currently practiced can viably foresee even 5 years ahead, let alone 50 years in advance. Or respond to any unpredicted forces in a timely manner amidst their tedious bureaucratic operations. Vancouver is one of the worst, with respect to the latter. So much so, that the prolonged and poorly streamlined development processes of the City attained special recognition within John Punter's The Vancouver Achievement
as well as Andres Duany's lecture when he last visited.
So what does this mean to for urban planning?
The lack of sufficient time to plan brings with it an atmosphere of higher risk. If planning is to remain relevant - economically, environmentally, socially, and politically - amidst the instability of the future, it must to be rethought in a manner that assumes risk and does not avoid it. Instead of simplistically putting all its eggs into a future based on past and present trends, urban planning must provide sufficient looseness within future scenarios while attempting to tilt the odds in favor of certain directions.
Cities must be strategized not just in terms of how they are intended to work currently, but also how else they might work under extremely different (unforeseen and inconceivable) circumstances. As such, similar to well-designed software, urban plans must posses a variety of alternative organizational patterns as opposed to not the standard one.
Furthermore, urban planning must balance top-down and bottom-up thinking as a means of creating a variety of plans of equal value. This will necessarily be multi-disciplinary. However, the versatility created - like diversified stock portfolios - will allow a given design strategy to spread the risk and decrease its susceptibility to failure or obsolescence due to change in conditions. Additionally, it will recognize the emergent
intelligence of its citizens to give appropriate physical form to the pressures being placed on them - to be refined, not created, by "higher-level" professionals.
Uncharacteristically, urban planning must also be opportunistic - encouraging piece-meal processes that operate on the as-needed basis required by a constantly changing present. Within this context, latent value and potential futures must be actively "discovered" through the careful observation of existing settlement patterns - from individual buildings to the larger city scale.
Lastly, and very importantly, planning departments must be re-organized to allow for rapid implementation and experimentation. This is intimately related to fostering creativity and innovation, and acting on it rapidly: measures currently not a part of typical urban planning regimes. Similar to successful businesses - like Nike who, in the 1980's formed product specific multi-disciplinary teams called "speed groups" to by-pass their internal bureaucracy and rapidly deliver the "latest" styles to consumers - planning must engineer an internal infrastructure that permits the transformation of our cities within compressed times frames.
All this points to a new form of open-source
planning. One that differs drastically from the current closed and centralized model of urban planning and integrates the older, bottom-up flexibility of past cities with more specific top-down methods based on the handful of positive lessons we've learned within the past century. It is a model that must strive to make fewer, but more intelligent decisions.
It's worth saying, as well, that open source planning goes beyond the community engagement workshops and urban design panels currently being practiced. While these are definitely a step in the right direction, they are still trapped within the larger outdated model of urban planning described above, and as a result are not being fully mined for the creative potential that this inclusiveness brings.
Ultimately, this will lead to the radical transformation of the urban planning profession as we know it - the death of old obsolete roles /processes, birth of new ones and reformulation of others. With this in mind, it makes sense that Vancouver - a city known for its urban planning experimentation - take the lead in addressing the biggest culprit holding us back from meaningful and much-needed change: the fundamental structure and processes of urban planning, itself.
And this seems fitting on a higher level as well since courageously this direction - valiantly sacrificing themselves to the unknown for the greater good of society - will be to bring the profession back to the virtuous roots from which it flourished. Roots that have long since eroded after decades of cultural weathering.
Erick Villagomez is one of the founding editors at re:place. He is also an educator, independent researcher and designer with academic and professional interests in the human settlements at all scales. His private practice - Metis Design|Build - is an innovative practice dedicated to a collaborative and ecologically responsible approach to the design and construction of places.
The winners of the first ever FormShift Vancouver have been selected. In the Vancouver Primary category, honours go to a submission from Calgary-based Sturgess Architecture
. The Vancouver Secondary choice is Romses Architects
(Scott Romses) – Vancouver. In the third and final category – Vancouver Wildcard – the nod goes to Go Design Collective
(Jennifer Uegama and Pauline Thimm) of Vancouver. As first place finishers, the three contestants receive $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively.
Final selections were made by a jury comprised of Canadian Architect editor Ian Chodikoff
, world-renowned artist Stan Douglas, leading Vancouver architect Walter Francl
, planning expert Nancy Knight
, and City of Vancouver Director of Planning Brent Toderian
“Overall the submissions were excellent,” says Toderian. “The true value, I think, isn't just in the winners, but really in the totality of submissions. We received examples of good practice, best practice, and innovative new practice, all of which are useful at this key moment of opportunity for change.”
In choosing the best of each category, jury members were also impressed with the attention given to community and social factors. Says Knight of the Vancouver Primary winner: “It is a thoughtful, refined, smart project, with beautiful porosity softening the density, and creative thinking about roofs, walls, floors and passageways. It also makes a great push of green building as a solution that includes social aspects such as usable space within and relationship with the adjacent neighbourhood.”
In addition to the three first-place finishers, the jury identified eight submissions worthy of honourable mention:
Vancouver Primary: Garon Sebastien & Chris Foyd – Vancouver
Romses Architects – Vancouver
Vancouver Secondary: Acme Architecture – Santa Barbara, California
CMO (Miller / Miller / Cavens) – Vancouver
Vancouver Wildcard: GBL Architects Inc. – Vancouver
Brian Wakelin – Vancouver
Idette de Boer & Magali Bailey – Vancouver
Wang Yiming – Burnaby
The unique competition, co-hosted by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver, challenged architects, designers and others with creative flair to submit innovative, built form ideas that will guide Vancouver’s future growth.Competitors were encouraged to draw inspiration from several key initiatives developed
by the city, including the Climate Change Action Plan, the EcoDensity Charter, and the Greenest City Action Team.
Says Dorothy Barkley, executive director of the AIBC: “The value of a competition such as this is the opportunity it provides for new and emerging architects and firms, students and intern architects with fresh approaches and innovative ideas, to gain expression and recognition. It raises the profile of the profession, expands understanding
and appreciation of the contribution that architects and architecture make to the shaping and texture of our communities.”
The contest attracted 73 entrants and 84 submissions, including some from as far away as San Francisco, New York, Paris and Rotterdam. Identifying the best of the bunch was no easy task. “Considering that the competition welcomed entries from architects and nondesigners alike, the overall quality of the submissions was very impressive,:” says Chodikoff. “While some lacked a methodological rigour, the intent was certainly there.” Jurors were impressed with the integration of wide-ranging ideas for sustainable development, including many that incorporated components of renewable energy on a community level, Vancouver’s back lane conditions, urban agriculture, land parcellization and tenure, and various designs for green roof technologies. Many submissions also strongly addressed affordability and livability in the design. The winning submissions thoughtfully put forth multiple innovations and approaches.
Adds Chodikoff: “Vancouver has a unique opportunity of becoming a city that engenders environmental stewardship on a community level that might include neighbourhood food markets, waste-water harvesting and local energy production. These are themes that were reflected in the majority of the submissions.”
“Having a dialogue between the city and the architectural profession in B.C. is essential for the success of Vancouver,” summarizes Chodikoff. “I applaud the efforts of both the City of Vancouver and the Architectural Institute of British Columbia , and I congratulate every participant who took the time to submit an entry in this competition”
The best and most innovative submissions will be featured as part of a series of public exhibitions and community dialogues, and used a a starting point for decisions about Vancouver’s future growth.
“These design ideas can influence everything the city is doing, from review of policies to specific ideas like our laneway housing work,” offers Toderian. “That is the power of this moment and why the competition was well-timed. Our need for boldness around climate change, and the challenges our new economy present, make this is the perfect time for new ideas to be explored.
In addition to the AIBC and the City of Vancouver, the competition received generous sponsorship support from Parklane Homes, Wall Financial Corporation, Grosvenor, PCI Group, The Tyee, and mcfarlane /green/biggar Architecture+ Design.
By City of Vancouver, Planning Department
The City has been working on amending single family zoning to allow laneway housing. This new housing form will be located in the typical garage area where it maintains backyard open space. As per past City Council direction, it will be limited to 1 ½ storeys, have at least one off-street parking space, and be rental or family only (no stratification will be allowed).
Recently, a City Council Motion directed that action relating to new affordable and rental housing, be prioritized. In explaining the motion, Council referenced laneway housing specifically as such an opportunity for prioritized action and fast-tracking. The laneway housing timeline has therefore been adjusted to provide draft zoning amendments for public comment and Council consideration at the July 21st Public Hearing
Many homeowners have been indicating their wish to apply to build a laneway house as soon as possible. Laneway housing was also identified as having broad public support through the EcoDensity public engagement in 2007-08. Public discussion on specific issues and options then occurred in fall 2008, leading to the list of features that laneway housing zoning will incorporate.
Prior to the July public hearing, staff will again meet with stakeholder groups and provide information to the broad public. If Council approves zoning changes, development applications can start right away.
Further information is available on the City’s website
- The Architectural Institute of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver are pleased to announce their partnership in an exciting new ideas competition that will help shape the changing face of the city.
invites architects, designers and anyone else with creative flair to submit innovative built form ideas that will guide Vancouver’s future growth. The competition officially begins today and runs until April 6, 2009.
“Vancouver has made strong commitments to champion sustainability and address the impact of climate change,” says Brent Toderian, Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver and one of the competition’s organizers and Judges. “The challenge now is to translate those bold commitments into workable built form ideas. Through this competition we hope to foster dialogue and bring forth those ideas.”
FormShift Vancouver consists of three distinct award categories:
- Vancouver Primary - design for a mixed use primary (arterial) site along a major Vancouver street that includes a rapid transit station.
- Vancouver Secondary - design for small secondary (residential) site in an established Vancouver neighbourhood near public transit.
- Vancouver Wild Card – a futuristic design that pushes the envelope of sustainable design and community building.
A distinguished panel of judges will be considering criteria that includes originality and innovation, the integration of sustainable design strategies, adaptability, and sensitivity to cultural and climate factors.
“Vancouver architects and designers are already regarded as some of the most creative, forward thinking professionals on the planet,” says AIBC President David Wilkinson. “This is a chance for a truly fresh approach, to think outside the box and break away from the traditional design solutions. It should be exciting.”
The competition is offering $12,000 in prize money, including $6,000 for the best in the Vancouver Primary category. The entry fee is $100 ($50 for students and interns) to foster widespread participation. Competitors are being encouraged to draw inspiration from several key initiatives developed by the city, including the Climate Change Action Plan
, the EcoDensity Charter
, and recently, Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Greenest City Action Team
Architect Walter Francl, the professional advisor for FormShift Vancouver, adds: “Vancouver has shown itself to be a community with a real appetite and talent for re-imagining itself. From False Creek in the ’70s to the Expo lands and now South East False Creek, there has been a continuous theme of creative urban re-invention of a very high calibre. This competition is an opportunity to carry the newly emerging urban forms into the fabric of the city.”
Following the completion of the competition, the best submissions will be featured as part of an ongoing series of public exhibitions and community dialogues. Detailed information, including registration form and supporting material is available on the FormShift Vancouver website
FormShift Vancouver Jury
FormShift Vancouver Organizing Committee
- Peter Busby, Architect - Busby Perkins+Will, Vancouver (jury chair)
- Ian Chodikoff, Architect / Editor-in-chief – Canadian Architect, Toronto
- Stan Douglas, Photo-based Artist, Vancouver
- Nancy Knight, Vice President Campus and Community Planning – University of British Columbia, Vancouver
- David Miller, Principal - Miller Hull Architects / Chair – University of Washington Department of Architecture, Seattle
- Brent Toderian, Director of Planning – City of Vancouver
- Jury Facilitator: Gordon Price, Director – Simon Fraser University City Program, Vancouver
- Professional Advisor: Walter Francl, Architect - Walter Francl Architecture Inc., Vancouver
- Dorothy Barkley, Architectural Institute of British Columbia
- Sailen Black, City of Vancouver
- Trevor Boddy, Architectural Critic & Urban Historian
- Peter Busby, Busby Perkins+Will
- Walter Francl, Walter Francl Architecture Inc.
- Scott Kemp, Scott M. Kemp Architect
- Steve McFarlane, mcfarlane | green | biggar Architecture + Design Inc.
- Katherine Rau, Architectural Institute of British Columbia
- Sean Ruthen, IBI /HB Architects
- Adele Weder, Architectural / Design Writer
- David Wiebe, Architectural Institute of British Columbia
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