Landing at Marine and Cambie

Fraseropolis Marine Landing perspective

The towers at Marine Landing seen from the north, April 2019

The Canada Line went into service just about 10 years ago, as a rapid transit connection between the City of Vancouver’s downtown and the international airport in Richmond.

Fraseropolis Marine Drive station

Outside the Marine Drive transit station. Starbucks, Subway, liquor store… “Lots of places in Bangkok look like this,” said co-tourist Calvin Hutton.

Tower development along the new line has been significant, although Vancouver’s plan for how it should fit together (the 276-page Cambie Corridor plan) was only recently completed. Continue reading

Kerrisdale, vaguely defined

Fraseropolis W 41 Kerrisdale

Classic one-story shopfronts on West 41 Avenue,  February 2019

This is an urban village with extensive services, a large stock of apartment housing, some of it pre-1960, and elegant streets with fine detached homes — as you would expect on the west side of Vancouver.  In case you’re interested, the detached homes currently sell for between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000, even with the recent subsidence in the luxury housing market related to foreign buyer taxes, speculation taxes, money-laundering investigations and the like.

Fraseropolis Kerrisdale redevelopment

A two-storey commercial building on the West Boulevard, possibly 1930s, set for demolition and redevelopment

Residential and commercial properties on the main streets are under redevelopment pressure with new condos on the southern arterial and visible retail turnover. There is an influx of shops catering to Asians; this does not necessarily mean big money, but it might when there are large number of expensive cars parked on the streets, and expensively dressed 40ish couples of all ethnic types pushing baby strollers. The City website does not show a neighbourhood plan; there’s a 2005 “vision” document for a wide area that includes Kerrisdale, basically a wish list based on conversations with residents, but it doesn’t provide insight on what’s happening now. Continue reading

Industry in the big city: evolution, decay or disappearance

Fraseropolis Southeast False Creek 1

Automotive shop, possibly c. 1920, at the boundary of Southeast False Creek and the Mount Pleasant Industrial Area

Old-time Vancouverites often describe 1986 as the year that everything changed.

Expo 86, staged on the north shore of False Creek, brought the world to Vancouver. Once a rail, seaport and mill town, Vancouver became a place where the primary economic activity is the purchase and sale of promises. Continue reading

The Interurban Tram, 1950-51

Fraseropolis Interurban tram 1951 from YoutubeMy sister Morna has shared a link to a one-hour video record of interurban trams in Vancouver and Burnaby, dating from 1950 and 1951.

A brief history on the TransLink website states that these self-propelled street railway cars were “like streetcars, only larger and more powerful.” The video speaks to a time when the pace of life was slower. The area that is today’s Metrotown (at about 20 minutes) appears semi-rural.

A pop-up village at the University of British Columbia

A promotional photo from DiscoverWesbrook.com showing new high-rise development at UBC

In just seven years, the University of British Columbia has created a highly densified residential neighbourhood on its southern perimeter.

Not everyone loves the Wesbrook project. The University sits outside the City of Vancouver, and there is no local government to put the brakes on the University authority. The University Board develops its lands as it pleases, with some provincial government oversight. Continue reading

Riding Vancouver’s fast train to nowhere

Adam Fitch’s rapid transit map. His LRT line would run from a proposed new Emily Carr SkyTrain station in east False Creek to UBC. The red line on the map, with marked stations, traces TransLink’s SkyTrain route plan as of about 2012. In the real world, stations from Arbutus are to go into service before 2025; stations west of Arbutus have been delayed indefinitely. Adam posted a video on YouTube in October 2018 to advance his proposal.

My thanks to Kamloops-based planner Adam Fitch. He invited me to join him on a May 4 “Jane’s Walk” to consider a cheaper alternative to the Broadway Extension rapid transit project.

Fitch’s proposal would take advantage of a corridor owned by the City of Vancouver, and would avoid most of the tunneling costs associated with the Broadway scheme. It’s an entertaining concept, but it won’t get built, largely because it won’t take people where they want to go.

Continue reading

Vancouver’s Chinatown: heritage site, urban village, tourist zone

Gore Street at Keefer in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Vancouver City Council voted in November 2017 to seek World Heritage Site status for the Chinatown district. This founding neighbourhood began as a segregated zone for Chinese-speaking labourers and merchants outside the railway and lumber camp that covered today’s Waterfront and Gastown areas.  It functioned for many decades as a commercial and cultural hub for Chinese-speaking immigrants, and takes a prominent place in the modern English-language literature of  the Chinese-Canadian community. The retail hub, it should be said, has been supported by apartment housing, Chinese seniors’ housing and small-lot detached housing, either in the core or in the old Strathcona neighbourhood to the east. Continue reading