About Vanessa:

Profile: Vanessa Kay is a planner in Vancouver, Canada, and a fan of walkable neighbourhoods that are accessible to people of all ages. Like many heritage buffs, Vanessa struggles with the compulsion to cherish and retain every piece of local history no matter how dilapidated or dysfunctional.

Contact: vanessa@planningpool.com

Posts by Vanessa:

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 4 – Changing Expectations

This is the final installment in a four-part series about the demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools. Here are links to parts one, two and three.

North Americans are culturally attached to the single-family house, especially for families with children. Thanks to Barrie Sutcliffe for this great photos of houses on the outskirts of Edmonton, Alberta.

In many core cities, insufficient affordable and suitable housing for families provides a push for young families to leave urban neighbourhoods for the suburbs.

The pull of suburban environments is the other side of the coin. 55% of Canadians live in a house, and many believe that young children have the best outcomes in a single-family house with a private yard. Cultural attachment to … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 3 of 4 – Intergenerational Neighbourhoods and Housing Diversity

105-year-old Sir William MacDonald Elementary School was one of 11 Vancouver schools threatened with closure in 2010. Thanks to Sqeaky Marmot on Flickr for this great Creative Commons photo.

Wrestling with the conundrum of why growing cities like Vancouver face declining public school enrolments, the first two posts in this series suggest links between municipal and regional populations of school-aged children and the affordability and suitability of family housing. Today’s post explores the value of intergenerational communities in both urban and suburban contexts, and considers how housing diversity may influence demographics at the neighbourhood scale.

Urban Context
Researching the dispersal of children across local neighbourhoods, the Curious Dad newspaper column found that Vancouver’s east-side communities house the most young children, while … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 2 – Family Housing

This is the second post in a series exploring demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools in the City of Vancouver and its suburbs.

Last week’s post showed that, though the proportion of Metro Vancouver’s population made up of school-aged children is declining, that decline is occurring more rapidly in the central City of Vancouver. More suburban in character, the City of Surrey (pop 400,000)  is home to the only public school district in British Columbia where enrolment is actually increasing.

Canada-wide statistics show that these trends are not unique to Metro Vancouver. One analysis of 2006 Canadian census data showed that “27% of first-time parents made the move out the city and very few moved in.” A Statistics Canada report suggests that “one of the explanations for … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis – Part 1

This is the first post in a series exploring demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools in the City of Vancouver and its suburbs.

Kids attending public schools in Vancouver, Canada are back in class today after an extended two-week spring break. In previous years, spring break was just one week long, but school districts around BC are experimenting with their instructional calendars in desparate attempts to save money on heating, school buses and wages.

Edith Cavell Elementary School in Vancouver sat empty for two weeks this year during an extended spring break. Creative Commons photo by author.

Recent years have not been easy for public schools in Vancouver. A local newspaper identified threatened school closures as one of the top news stories … Continue Reading

Online Storytelling Part II – RentersSpeakUp

The region of Metro Vancouver, Canada (pop. 2 million) is experiencing a housing crisis, with a shortage of affordable rental housing.

In Metro Vancouver, purpose-built rental stock is aging, and not being replaced fast enough. Thanks to Gak for this Creative Commons shot of walk-up apartments in Vancouver.

From the perspective of regional housing planners, providers and advocates such as the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and the Co-op Housing Federation of BC, the situation urgently requires both direct federal funding and ongoing support in the form of a national housing strategy.

Approximately 80,000 rental households in Metro Vancouver lack affordable housing, spending more than 30% of their incomes on rent. 30,000 households spend more than half of their incomes on rent. These … Continue Reading

Upcoming Event: Planning Engagement through New Media (Vancouver)

While amazing possibilities exist for the use of digital media in planning engagement, a host of challenges often face intrepid planners who make the leap to actually using these innovative engagement methods.

Vancouver-based readers should check out next Wednesday’s event called “New Expressions of Planning Engagement.” Targeted to planning practitioners and students, it will feature three stories from Lower Mainland planners who have led new media engagement in their communities, and offer lessons based on their experiences.

The essential details are as follows:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7-9pm
Roundhouse Community Arts & Rec Centre, Room B
181 Roundhouse Mews (Davie & Pacific), Vancouver
Canada Line SkyTrain Station: Yaletown-Roundhouse

Please RSVP to vanessak at interchange.ubc.ca by November 15.
PIBC members can earn 2 LUs of organized CPD for attending this event.

For more information, check out the poster, … Continue Reading

Betaville: Multiplayer Engagement Planning in Beta

We’ve blogged on PlanningPool in the past about the lure and the foibles of city-building games like Sim City, and about the promise of interactive 3D urban models for communication and engagement.

Battery Park Street, New York, as seen in Betaville

But what if 3D urban models like Virtual Berlin could be plugged into a city-building game engine like Sim City’s? And what if everybody could play?

That’s the idea behind Betaville, a new collaborative planning technology developed by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Betaville is based on an open-source, multi-player gaming engine that runs 3D models of real-life communities. Changes can then be proposed to these “base models” by all participants and modeled in alternative versions of the world.

The intent is nothing less than … Continue Reading

Online Storytelling Part 1 – EdmontonStories

Canadian author and storyteller Roch Carrier, as a 10-year-old boy wearing his despised Toronto Maple Leafs hockey sweater. Public Domain photo.

Roch Carrier’s short story The Hockey Sweater, based on an experience from his own childhood, tells one of the defining narratives of Quebecois, and Canadian identity. It reflects inequities and tension between Francophones and Anglophones and captures a shared national obsession with hockey. An excerpt from the story graces the back of Canada’s $5 bill, and never fails to make me smile.

Shared stories strengthen and even define social groups, from families to communities to nations. Personal stories communicate the lived realities of every planning issue. However, the reach of these stories is traditionally limited to the storyteller’s immediate community.

Innovative initiatives in two western … Continue Reading

Flying Recumbent Monorail Bicycles: Project 10 to the 100’s Public Transport Winner Announced

One of the winners announced yesterday for Google’s Project 10 100 contest provides a great example of the “stuck in the future” boondoggles that Jarrett Walker despairs of getting in the way of functional transit innovation.

As ably pointed out by Wired magazine, the Schweeb technology combines the worst and weirdest aspects of of recumbent bicycles, monorails and personal rapid transit, in an unholy, uncomfortable-looking, cost-intensive and doubtlessly stinky union. After winning $1,000,000 in funding from Google, the company website promises to “soon announce the location where we will build the first transit Shweeb for public use!”  Yikes. Check out the video of the world’s first SHWEEB in Rotorua, New Zealand (above) to … Continue Reading

Liveblogging: Jarrett Walker’s Lecture “A Field Guide to Transit Quarrels”

Jarrett Walker cites Personal Rapid Transit as an example of a specific technology that is often championed without consideration for practicality. Thanks to Antonio Edward on Flickr for the evocative Creative Commons photo!

Planning nerds everywhere will doubtlessly share my enthusiasm for a transit planning blogger lecture tour. One of my favourite transportation bloggers, Australia-based Jarrett Walker, delivered a free talk last evening in Vancouver, hosted by the generous SFU City Program.

Describing Mr. Walker as a transit blogger seems too limited. He draws on his background in literary theory to tease out the semantics of transit debates. He actually refrains from picking sides on heated issues such as which technology should be used for Vancouver’s proposed Broadway Corridor line. Instead, let’s … Continue Reading

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