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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for November 11th, 2006

Who is Mr Olympic Oval?

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There is a piece is this weekend’s Georgia Straight by David Berner, which I wish I could post a link to. But it’s not on their web site. So I guess you may have to pick up a hard copy, like I do, to read the whole thing.

UPDATE January 28, 2007 The original article has now been posted here.

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Bob Ransford but he says “Richmond is drifting. The corporate vision … was crafted by the bureaucratic and political elites in City Hall without any public buy-in.”

Berner uses the example of the Oval to illustrate the point. Despite what the City claims, he shows that it is neither on time or on budget. Peter Webster, a developer and a member of the Oval Steering Advisory Committee says : “We have no business plan. We have no marketing plan. We have no financial plan.”

The Richmond Oval under construction December 23, 2007

The answer to the question posed in the headline appears to be George Duncan – the City Manager. Ransford again “George Duncan has the world’s biggest Lego set, and unsuspecting taxpayers have given it to him”. Now the article makes it clear that being Mr Oval is a full time job in itself but George has also got to deal with the naughty firemen, the Watermania mess and other issues.

Oh and there’s also this thing

Richmond is going to triple its population from its current 41,000 to 120,000 in the city centre. This is as big of a makeover as you can get, and the city wants you to take part. You can pop by city hall or check out the plans and drawings at

Gloria Chang in the Richmond Review

She also quotes Councillor Harold Steves

“Previously, when we’ve come up with a community plan, we have great ideals and lofty visions, but the implementation of the plans—generally what happens is that when the developers come in and make a case that the economy is down or for some reason, they’ve paid more for the land than they should,” says Steves.

“Then the council of the day allows them to build without providing the amenities that were envisioned. It’s happened over and over again in Richmond over the last 30 years.”

The key issue is the use developer contributions of “community amenities” to make up for the reduction in required open space – not the 7.6 acres per thousand people that applies in the rest of the city. And even there, the School Board notes that the City seems to assume that the Board will provide the parks – which ain’t necessarily so

If the city’s current plans aren’t altered, Richmond’s downtown core could slowly devolve into a concrete jungle because of the city’s over reliance on the school district to provide green space.

“The public just needs to know that the city is using in their calculations land that is owned by the school district,” said Linda McPhail, chair of the Richmond school board chair.

That’s the front page story.

At least a lot of the 120,000 will be in high rises, so presumably most will be able to survive the coming flood.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 11, 2006 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

Dear Canada: you are part of the problem

with one comment Vancouver | News and Views |

George Monbiot is a columnist on my favourite newspaper (The Guardian). This is the introduction to the Canadian edition of his new book “Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning“. There is also an interview which reveals that Jack Layton is reading this book.

He praises our R2000 standard. I wonder if he realises how few houses built in Canada actually meet this standard?

In 2004 alone, there were 233,431 housing starts across Canada (Statistics Canada, 2005). This translates into more than 200,000 missed opportunities to build more sustainable, more energy- efficient homes.


It’s not just a “model for the rest of the world to adopt” it’s one that we need to adopt!

But give George some credit. This book is actually a practical guide to things that can and should be done to save the planet – so it’s not just the usual doom and gloom. However, whether or not anything will be done is another question.

In my experience, probably not. I was part of the team that wrote BC’s first greenhouse gas action plan. Or “53 things the province could do to reduce its emissions and still come out ahead financially”. Yes, that’s right, every recommendation made economic and financial sense – we were, after all economists. And even at the energy prices of that time (1995) we only recommended things that would pay for themselves within a year or so. Shortly afterwards (1997), the Energy Management Branch was wound up, as part of Glen Clark’s reduction in the size of the civil service. And yes I did lose my job. Despite what the press said at the time about people being absorbed into existing vacancies, so did quite a few of my colleagues.

And nothing was done.

UPDATE November 24, 2006

BC’s greenhouse gases have grown 30% over the last 15 years

Written by Stephen Rees

November 11, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Environment