Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for January 20th, 2010

VIA Blogger Meetup

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I have just returned from a couple of hours at the Roundhouse with a group of bloggers invited there by VIA Architecture. I was pleased to chat with fellow local bloggers Gordon Price, Erika Rathje, Richard Eriksson, Karen Fung and Mike Klassen. There were nibbles and drinks courtesy of our hosts who are keen to continue the great urban debate (or perhaps that should be conversation) and will also be holding a similar meetup for local bloggers in Seattle. VIA have their own blog too.

Towards the end of the evening I managed to get to talk to Graham McGarva. I told him that one of the reasons I was intrigued by their invitation was that it mentioned their current work on the Evergreen Line. I had thought that project stalled for lack of funds, but apparently work is still proceeding on planning – specifically on determining the precise alignment, and its effect on local land use. The project may be stalled now by the absence of sufficient funding, but it is assumed that can be resolved, somehow. While it is not clear yet how that might happen one possible answer would be trimming the specification: after all, that was how the Canada Line got built, when its budget was not enough to pay for all that was originally desired. It is also possible that Translink may be able to come up with more funds through property development. Again this is something that Translink has been looking at for over a year now, but has yet to make any specific proposals.

Graham and I last worked together back when the Millennium Line was at a similar stage of development. He told me an interesting story tonight that I had not heard before of how the retail development at Broadway and Commercial was achieved. This is one of the few stations on the Translink system which actually manages to be truly an urban place, through a modest but strategically located retail building on the north east corner of the intersection. As architects they had no power of decision making but they could be, as he put it, “in all three rooms”. That is they were trusted by the client (the province’s project office) the City and the local community. They were therefore able to determine what each would accept – and thus came up with a proposal for the small parcel of land owned by the project but not actually needed for the station itself. There were several possibilities – and a quick look around most transit stations in this region will show that they are rarely as successfully resolved.

Hopefully, the Evergreen Line will get started in earnest, and when it does the involvement of a firm like this gives me some hope that we will really see some worthwhile transit oriented development in this region, something I feel is long overdue.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm