Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

High density living in Vancouver, British Columbia

Welcome to the Vancouver Courier - On Line - News (2).jpgEight is enough but not too many, say Tanya Varnals and Rob Huntley, who share a three-bedroom townhouse with their six children. Photo-Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier.

Vancouver, British Columbia is known for its high-density housing development downtown, as has been discussed by many including John King of the San Francisco Chronicle, in this piece, "GRACEFUL GROWTH IN VANCOUVER - Clearly defined, strictly enforced goals key to city's expansion." From the article:

This Canadian waterfront has done what San Francisco only talks about: create neighborhoods where most people live in the air. Its financial district is framed by nearly 100 towers added in the past decade, many of them slender spikes of concrete and glass. With the towers come shaded sidewalks and large grassy parks, along with money for day care centers and subsidized housing...

"When you're selling a lifestyle as much as square footage, you have to show there are attractive streets, nice parks, a place to walk the dog," says Gordon Price, who stepped down from Vancouver's City Council in December after 16 years.

SF Gate Multimedia (image).jpgCanoeists paddle about on False Creek as Concord Pacific Place's buildings rise gradually from the waterfront. Photo by Nick Didlick, special to the Chronicle

The Vancouver Courier community newspaper recently ran a story, "In the City," about families with children living in the downtown, often in high-rise buildings. It's definitely worth reading, and does show that there are different ways of living other than in more suburban like settings. It makes sense too, given the Roberta Gratz quote from the other day ("" which is about the benefits of critical mass. The Varnals-Huntley family has 6 children, and they live in a 1,300 s.f. townhouse. (The average DC rowhouse has far fewer than 8 inhabitants, and tends to run around 1,200 s.f., without a basement, and has more s.f., if possessing either or both a basement or a dormer, as is typical of Wardman type "S" or porch-front houses).

From the article:

For 39-year-old Spino, an elementary teacher recently hired on the Vancouver School Board's teacher-on-call list, downtown is the ideal place to raise children. "I don't see the need for having rooms in houses that you don't use. I don't see why you have two spare bedrooms for visitors that you just use to store boxes. I don't think that's efficient. I don't think that's a responsible way to live," he says. "You don't need that space. You don't need skis in the garage or a snowmobile somewhere and stuff in the attic-all that consumerism collecting. I don't think we're occupying a lot of space here. This high-density living is good for the city. It's good for the environment. It's good for the children-it's a fantastic way to live." ...

They own one car. Otherwise, the Spinos walk or ride bikes kept in a bike locker. They don't have to go far for entertainment. Granville Island, English Bay, Stanley Park, the aquarium, shops, and restaurants are nearby.

It helps that the government planning process ensures that there are community amenities including parks (downtown is already close to the water), schools, and other services.

Check out the article.
Welcome to the Vancouver Courier - On Line.jpgPhoto-Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier.

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