[ Comment posted in response to: Jessica Linzey. Riding Vancouver’s streets into the future. Tyee (15 July 2011) ]
Rhetoric vs Performance
Writing here as an East Vancouver resident sandwiched between the first two — perhaps the only ever to be, out of the projected nineteen? — “neighbourhood centres” at Kingsway/Knight and in Norquay. This planning was supposed to implement the multimillion-dollar overarching CityPlan initiated in 1995. Anybody really want to call that planning, more than fifteen years onward?
What have we got so far in livability and sustainability and alternative to the automobile?
One. The largest retail space at King Edward Village (KEV) sat empty for years and has just been occupied by a drive-to federal government agency. No walkable local retail here! The TD Bank is useful, but has dissed Kingsway by being allowed to turn its back to the street. Getting a grocery store meant further height/density concessions to the developer because of the former landowner’s abusive restrictive covenant. Oh yes, and the big public benefit, touted as a new library for the community? Not exactly. Try ten years of no-charge lease on the space, after which the developer starts sucking up a new revenue stream from the City of Vancouver.
Two. Two other drive-to vertical gated communities are already destined for 2300 Kingsway and 2669 Kingsway.
Three. Nasty minimal back alleys at KEV — and coming at 2300 Kingsway — where pedestrians get to dodge automobiles and delivery trucks, and to weave among parked vehicles that refuse the underground option. There’s a good reason no cafe life has emerged in the “courtyard” at KEV. A handful of surface parking spots are obviously far more relevant.
Four. Norquay Working Group could not convince planners and politicians that a bicycle lane (even one going west only) along Kingsway was a better use of public space than an automobile-dividing median planter typically filled with weeds and dead plants. Such median infrastructure is a waste if we ever get back the middle-of-the-street tram that Kingsway used to have. Paint us a much cheaper bicycle lane instead.
Five. A curb cut to send a tsunami of traffic across the Kingsway sidewalk at 2300 Kingsway, as pedestrians will scurry past, traversing shadow cast by a 22-storey tower with no setback.
Six. A privatized plaza in the interior of 2300 Kingsway set one level up from the hoi polloi that consort with motor vehicles in the alley below.
Seven. A daycare as prime community feature in the interior of 2300 Kingsway. The 10,000 residents of Norquay not served by those 37 daycare spaces effectively realize NO public benefit.
Eight. Plans at 2699 Kingsway (public hearing was July 12) that seem unlike to address effectively Urban Design Panel consensus concerns about building orientation and garbage/utility protrusion into the focus of stingy public space.
Call these the eight unwonders of East Vancouver.
Also ask yourself why the curse of this sort of planning — rezoning swaths laid over thousands of single-family homes — has been directed only at East Vancouver, ever.