david pritchard. bibliography.

Notes on Punter, The Vancouver Achievement: Urban Planning and Design [13]

I found this book quite valuable. It doesn't touch on transportation much at all, but it goes into graphic detail on other aspects of municipal politics, particularly development, zoning, participation, urban design, municipal finances, and social exclusion. I found it useful for understanding the viewpoints of other actors in the local political scene, and for a better of idea of the (slow!) development process.

Also contributing to Vancouver's distinctive politics was the Vancouver Charter. Granted by the province in 1953, the Charter gave the city much greater powers of self-government than other British Columbian or Canadian cities, which remain subservient to provincial municipal acts. The city could amend its Charter by means of private bills submitted to the BC legislature, and this has allowed council and the director of planning very significant scope for policy innovation and direct response to local circumstance. In Vancouver, council shapes policy and approves all plans, rezonings, and design guidelines but generally does not interfere in day-to-day planning practices; most notably, council delegates all decisions on development permissions to the director of planning.

[pp. 13-14]

Some significant people in the early history of Vancouver planning:

Related criticisms have been made about the neatness and orderliness of the projects, and the sanitizing of city and public realm. Journalist Sean Blore sees in the Concord Pacific scheme the pursuit of a formal and behavioural perfection that he labels "Smileyville," a description of what he perceives as a Vancouver-wide "urge to use design to predict, program, and control all aspects of public behaviour" [2]. There are times when it does resemble a high-density version of The Truman Show with its pristine public realm, its exciting architectural backdrops, and its lightly populated stage-scenery feel. That impression is heightened by the body-beautiful cyclists, joggers, and rollerbladers who glide past the tourists on the seawall. It is also projected by the Concord Pacific publicity, with its emphasis on "resort" living, gourmet cuisine, and passive and especially active recreation. Current Concord Pacific marketing of Beach Neighbourhood highlights nature—sky, sunsets, earth, sea, parkland—alongside the excitement and consumer choice of the urban setting. Predominant themes are "in it, away from it," in the sense of being within the city but detached from its negative aspects, and being able to (literally) "sail off into the sunset." Equally significant is the marketing of each complex's recreation facilities, which are now complemented by such facilities as private cinemas, bars, and entertainment rooms where residents can socialize in private. The planners emphasize that megaproject planning has brought all the advantages of suburbia into high-density inner-city living. The developers carry this ethos to its privatized extreme. Urban Design panellist and architect Lance Berelowitz identifies "the cult of the view"—one of Vancouver's defining characteristics—as the driving force of design and links it with the production of "highly contrived, ideologically controlled and economically commodified reality" in the waterfront zone, "a space of personal leisure and private gratification" [1]. He argues that "the city acts as a kind of mirror, or a vast display case for the aesthetic consumption of Nature. In the metamorphosis from a street-oriented and centripetal urban model to the outward looking centrifugal city, activity intensifies towards the edges. The centre is stilled." Berelowitz sees the attractions of the seawall draining downtown of its vitality and civic life and depriving it of truly public spaces. Blore and Berelowitz's conclusions might be viewed as a premature response to incomplete developments that lack a certain amount of vitality and diversity merely because they are so new. But their comments resonate with more sustained critiques of the introduction of postmodern aesthetics to urban life and the gentrification of the central city. David Ley postulates that Vancouver is becoming a city with a sanitized aesthetic, one where public life is driven by conspicuous consumption, where conviviality replaces community, and where aesthetics override equity [10].

[pp. 226-227]

However, cheek by jowl with the newly livable downtown is the markedly unlivable skid row, to which have been added crack cocaine, HIV-AIDS and hepatitis outbreaks, and serial homicides. Compared to many similar-sized American cities, Vancouver has contained and confined its crack alley but, by Canadian standards, its problems are very severe and spectacularly concentrated. The problems of the Downtown Eastside are accentuated by the proximity of so much wealth, investment, and environmental quality in the rest of the downtown peninsula.

The Downtown Eastside is a testament to rampant processes of social exclusion and gentrification that operate not just in the downtown peninsula but citywide. Similar processes impact upon the public realm and, specifically, attempts to improve the city's streets. This is evident in the Vancouver Sun's characterization of the Downtown Eastside crises as "The Battle for Hastings," to reclaim the streets and public spaces from dealers, drug users, pushers, prostitutes and drunks. The enhancement of central Vancouver is normally treated unproblematically by planners and by proponents of urban renaissance who regard themselves as defenders of democratic streets and public space. But many planners and councillors have an urge to domesticate the vitality, diversity, freedom, and choice of the busiest city streets and urban spaces to make them safe for middle-class inhabitation and investment. The geographer Loretta Lees draws attention to this phenomenon in the attempts to clean up Granville Street and to create safe spaces for women and children in the new city library, summing up the urban designer's dilemma: "Simultaneously embracing and withdrawing from the public spaces of city streets, gentrification is deeply ambivalent in its stance to urban life. Its attempts to foster genuine public culture in the street subvert that very goal, as efforts to secure urban space stifle its celebrated diversity and vitality" [8]. So, in the city's efforts to improve the downtown public realm, planners and councillors need to recognize the dangers of sanitizing and prettifying city streets, and the absolute necessity of reinforcing pedestrian movement and ensuring that downtown attracts the widest possible population. As the residential population steadily increases and more people occupy downtown streets, more vitality will naturally accrue. Now is the time to consider where strategic interventions might be made and where traffic might be calmer to create a truly pedestrian- and cycle-friendly downtown.

[pp. 286-287]

Interesting references: [4,5,3] are apparently ideological kin of Jane Jacobs [7]; [6] discusses the politics of development in the Edge City; [12] discusses the Cascadia concept; [11] discusses housing affordability; Ley studies Vancouver in depth from the UBC geography department [9,10]; the Seeligs' criticism of CityPlan [14]; .


Lance Berelowitz.
Reinventing Vancouver's waterfront, projects for a new urban mythology.
Bauwelt, 89(12):600-605, 1998.
in German; author's original in English.

S. Blore and J. Sutherland.
Building Smileyville.
Vancouver Magazine, 32(9):48-58, 105, 1999.

M. Fried.
Grieving for a lost home.
In J. Duhl, editor, The Urban Condition, pages 151-171. Simon & Schuster, New York City, NY, USA, 1963.

H. Gans.
The Urban Villagers: Group and Class Life in the Life of Italian-Americans.
Free Press, Glencoe, NY, USA, 1962.

H. Gans.
People and Plans: Essay on Urban Problems and Solutions.
Basic, New York City, NY, USA, 1968.

Joel Garreau.
Edge City: Life on the New Frontier.
Anchor Doubleday, New York City, NY, USA, 1991.

Jane Jacobs.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Vintage, New York City, NY, USA, 1961.

Loretta Lees.
Vancouver: A portfolio.
Urban Geography, 19(4):283-286, 1998.

David Ley.
Gentrification in recession: Social change in six Canadian inner cities.
Urban Geography, 13(3):230-256, 1993.

David Ley.
The Middle Class and the Making of the Central City.
Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1996.

Ann McAfee.
The renewed inner city: Is one out of three sufficient?
In New Neighbourhood International Forum, Toronto, ON, Canada, January 1983.

Gary Pivo.
Towards sustainable urbanization in mainstreet Cascadia.
Cities, 13(5):339-354, 1996.

John V. Punter.
The Vancouver Achievement: Urban Planning and Design.
University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2003.

M. Seelig and J. Seelig.
CityPlan: Participation or abdication?
Plan Canada, 37(5):18-22, 1997.

David Pritchard 2007-12-10