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

Archive for the ‘Vancouver’ Category

Consultations on now

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Thanks to Rick Jelfs of Transport Action BC for the heads up on two sets of consultations going on at present. This illustration comes from the City of Vancouver’s PDF of the Arbutus Greenway in its expected final form with a streetcar!

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  • TransLink is asking for public input on four new B-Line routes – 41st Ave (UBC – Joyce Stn);  Fraser Hwy (Surrey Central – Langley); Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central – Maple Ridge); Marine Drive (Dundarave – Phibbs Exchange). The 41st Ave. proposal includes the return of local trolley coach service along 41st Ave. More information, including a schedule of open houses and an on-line survey, at https://www.translink.ca/bline.
  • Vancouver has a “proposed design concept” for the Arbutus Greenway. Again, there are open houses and an on-line survey at http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/arbutus-greenway.aspx.

I must admit I was a bit sceptical of the 41st Avenue B-Line until I saw what was actually proposed – which involves a considerable change to the current #41 – which would be cut back to Crown and would use trolleybuses – which is something that I have been pushing whenever anyone would listen for many years.

2149 Training on 41st at Cambie

Trolleybuses aren’t used on the 41 right now, but the wires on 41st are used for training and relocating trolleys. Probably much less now that Oakridge OMC has been sold.

V9486 Hybrid

The current generation of hybrid Novabus, has a final electric drive – but no poles even though 600v is within easy reach.

Xcelsior bendy on 41st at Arbutus

The articulated buses used on the 43 and 49 that will be on the B Line

BYD Battery Bus

The short lived experiment with loaned battery buses from China (BYD). Another trial of different battery buses was recently announced. They will be able to charge along the route (100 Marine Drive) but again not using trolleypoles.  All those pictures were taken by me along West 41st Avenue.

I am of course also pleased to see a cross North Shore B Line running through both West and North Vancouver. I was involved with the first groundbreaking bus service to cut through the iron curtain that used to separate transit on that side of the water. There is even talk of combining City and District in North Van which at that time was unthinkable! But I digress. Even if you can’t manage the open houses you can still do the surveys.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 20, 2018 at 10:45 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Favourite Place

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Favourite Place (and yes I have anglicised the spelling) ought to be harder to pick. But “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” and while there are many places in Vancouver that I could pick, the loss of our view cones and corridors is one I feel very strongly about. We are blessed with a place of quite extraordinary beauty – a deep inlet (actually a fjord) at the foot of the North Shore mountains. For a long time Vancouver was mostly concerned about cutting down trees and making stuff from them. The old growth forest is almost gone except for one or two areas of park managed to make it look like we imagine it ought to have looked. Stanley Park is actually just one of several such places.

For as long as I have been here, there was a firm policy to protect the view of the North Shore mountains and the inlet from a number of significant places. Now the pressure to allow ever more taller towers across the city means that these views are vanishing. And one such development is right next to where I live. I took this photo with my phone while walking on the Arbutus Greenway at W 37th Avenue. Overlooking Quilchena Park with a spectacular view – and two tall cranes in the process of blocking that view with condos. The developer has recently gone back to the City to ask for permission to add more floors to the part of the development nearest to our six storey building.

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The roof of our building is just below the height of the current tree canopy, so it almost invisible. The new buildings will be up to 72m (263 ft). The developer says that fits the view because it would match the nearest skyline of the North Shore mountains: the snow capped peaks will still peer over the top. The City has yet to rule on this proposal, and I took the photo so I would be able to look back in future at what we will have lost if the developer gets what he wants.

I went back and took a picture with my camera using the zoom lens.

Click for a larger versionIMG_7897

 

Written by Stephen Rees

March 21, 2018 at 10:35 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

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A Face in the Crowd

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“Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden.”

I was stumped by the challenge at first, but then I looked at a couple of recent images that I had taken of the newly refurbished plaza in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The original is posted on flickr but this version is cropped to better meet the challenge.

It was a sponsored food truck event, part of the Dine Out festival. I was surprised at the number of people willing to stand outside and eat in this kind of weather. I wasn’t intentionally anonymizing people – but their umbrellas, and the truck awning, did that nicely. This one is, I think, a better photo but you can actually make out some faces.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 21, 2018 at 11:26 am

Rezoning the Arbutus Development

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Arbutus Rezone

I had thought that I had written something here about the redevelopment of the Arbutus Mall which is just next door to where I live. I am actually quite surprised that I haven’t been able to find anything. It is mostly on flickr. So to give you a very quick background, when Arbutus Village was first built it was a real exercise in being a complete community. There were apartments and townhouses, a park and a shopping centre which included some local services, like dentists and insurance offices, as well as a recreation centre. The Mall had a large Safeway as its anchor tenant as well as a liquor store, bank, dollar store and so on, with a significant amount of surface parking between the buildings and Arbutus Street.

Arbutus Mall 4.6.17 panorama

A couple of years ago, a new development was approved to excavate the parking lot and build more apartments over commercial and retail space on the ground floor, with parking underground.  I was quite pleased to see that start construction as the huge high level flood lights for the parking had been shining into our apartment windows all night long.  The light pollution meant we could never see any stars. It also interfered with my sleep. Of course it was a blow to see all the small businesses disappear. Safeway kept the pharmacy open – a requirement of their license, with a small convenience store providing essentials. The Liquor Store also stayed open to protect its grandfathered rights which might otherwise be lost due to the proximity of the Prince of Wales High School. The post office tried to stay open but couldn’t, due to lack of foot traffic. And we lost our recreation centre to commercial operations of a dance school and a swimming school. At least the indoor pool now saw much more use than formerly.

Arbutus Mall redevelopment pan

The scale of the proposed development was roughly equivalent to the buildings around it. There are three condo buildings of six storeys – known around here as “high rise”. What the developer was going to build was not too different – and there would be more townhouses and a wider social mix as the city was insisting on more rental units. Once development got underway on the first two buildings, the developer (Larco) applied for greater density on the part of the site closer to our building and the park. This evening we went to an Open House. The information on the many boards around the room is available on the city web page . There are a lot of documents there too.

The City Vancouver has received a rezoning application for 2133 Nanton Avenue (the Arbutus Centre) to amend the existing CD-1 (642) (Comprehensive Development) District. The proposal would increase the residential floor area, including an increase in the number of market and social housing units. The specific amendments include:

  • An increase in the maximum allowable floor space for all uses from 67,065 sq. m (721,881 sq. ft) to 77,611 sq. m (835,400 sq. ft.). The additional floor space is to be accommodated on Blocks C and D (the western portion of the site).
  • An increase to the maximum building height on Block C from 57 m (187 ft.) to 60 m (197 ft.) and the maximum building height on Block D from 57 m (187 ft.) to 72 m (236 ft.).

The rezoning application proposes no change to the amount of office and commercial space, and includes an expanded Neighbourhood House.

The images below are taken from the Applicant Boards pdf file available on the City web page.

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The scale drawings give a much better idea of how much bigger the new proposal is compared to the pictures. In fact I think the Block C illustrations are almost comically misleading. The size of the block in the new proposal seems to be comparable to the original at first glance until you realise that the scale is quite different. Not only are there more storeys above ground, the below ground is also greatly enlarged, although the consultant told me that the parking ratio is only one space per unit. Two spaces for car share are included – which might at long last see some Modo cars parked here, something I have been lobbying for, though I think two is unlikely to be adequate. I also suggested that dedicated parking for evo and car2go be included. The Arbutus Club across the street already provides a lot of demand for both.

Given that the site is adjacent to the #16 trolleybus we might, I hope, see more service on that given the number of other four storey additions to commercial areas in Kerrisdale and the proposed major transit interchange at Broadway and Arbutus once the stubway opens. I suspect that the ratio of one parking space per unit will also generate considerable on street parking demand as the retailers will want to reserve much of their underground for customers.

I know that the major concern I have heard from my neighbours is the scale and height of the buildings. We are also aware of other developments that are going to be proposed on Eddington at Valley (Amica – currently a two storey residential care facility, with the adjacent townhouse development) and at McBain and Valley/King Edward (currently town houses and three storey condo apartment block). We do not know how high these will be yet, but the fear is that Larco’s proposal will set a precedent for much taller buildings.

In the applicant’s rendering shown below the building I live in is at the bottom right hand corner. The Amica building slated for redevelopment is behind it – about half way up the right hand side of the image. At this time we have no idea how high that will be.

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The Arbutus Ridge Community Association is certainly not happy.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

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Downtown Vancouver aerial

“For this week’s challenge, make use of sizing, placement, and scale in your photos. Perhaps you live in a place with mountains, and want to highlight the size of the homes in relation to the dramatic landscape. ”

Downtown Vancouver has plenty of tall buildings – in fact quite a few taller ones now than when I took this picture in 2010 – but they are dwarfed by the Coast Mountains in the background. That’s Cypress Mountain in the middle of the skyline – this was in April but there was still snow on the ski runs.

Scale

Click on the image to be taken to the photo page on flickr. You can get a larger size if you like it – and you could, if you want to – click on the star to “fave” it.

POSTSCRIPT

Cypress Mountain is going to be open early this year

Written by Stephen Rees

October 11, 2017 at 9:37 am

“Watermelon” wants free transit

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Straight picture

There are a lot of nice photos of Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon and a nice old bus in the Straight. I replied under the article but decided I should post here too. Not that I need to write much more

“she’s traded in her bikini for a business licence”

Erm, I don’t think so. Wreck beach is not the sort of place where people wear bikinis, is it. And her famous Georgia Straight front cover picture doesn’t have her wearing a bikini either.

watermelon

As for free transit, we have been around this argument several times over the years

https://stephenrees.blog/…/a-case-for-free-transit-in…/

https://stephenrees.blog/2008/03/31/free-transit/

https://stephenrees.blog/2007/12/20/free-ride/

And just to show I’m not the only one who thinks this idea is far from “sensible”.

https://thetyee.ca/News/2007/07/30/FareFree6/

The way to get more people using transit is to increase service – and make what you do provide more reliable. That means more trains and buses – and put the buses is exclusive bus lanes. Put a camera in the front of every bus, and paint the bus lane red, then the operator just clicks the button every time the bus gets behind a vehicle that is not a bus. Use the ticket revenue from that to buy even more buses. But you cannot afford to give up 50% of current revenues if you want to increase service.

By the way the City has no power to make transit free – but there is a great deal it could do to give buses priority on Vancouver’s streets.

I think we would be better off with Pete Fry on council.

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Seven Sisters Road by “sarflondonunc” on flickr

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Jericho Pier Renewal

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jericho-pier-landing

Jericho Pier is a regular destination for our walks, but I have many more photos taken from the pier than of the pier itself. I thought it might be a good idea to record what is there now, before work starts. Then I took a look at the City webpage

The Vancouver Park Board, in partnership with the Disabled Sailing Association, is renewing the aging pier at Jericho Beach and providing an accessible dock for sailors with disabilities.

The pier is a popular destination for locals and visitors as well as for fishing and crabbing. The ramp and float on the east side of the pier are used for emergency boat landing.

The reconstructed pier will:

  • Provide an accessible floating dock to provide for users of all ages and levels of mobility, accommodating up to 15 sailboats for the Disabled Sailing Association’s adaptive sailing program

  • Provide seating and views of Burrard Inlet and English Bay

  • Offer recreational fishing and crabbing opportunities

  • Accommodate future sea level rise

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So it looks like I have some time. It also looks like there is a conceptual design already although  not on the webpage at the time of writing. Ken Ohrn on the PriceTags page does have a rendering – but without any link to where he got it from – so I won’t steal it.

If you cannot make it to the open house at pier tomorrow  11:00am to 2:00pm, presentation materials and an online questionnaire will be available September 16 to October 2, 2017.

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Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2017 at 3:58 pm