Thursday, October 25, 2007

Vancouver and Urban Planning

Vancouver is pretty renowned for being a well-planned, livable city, and former city planner Larry Beasley has been part of that success. David Eaves overviews a keynote speech recently given by Beasley on the current challenges of the Vancouver housing market.
Affordable housing has become a significant issue in Calgary and Toronto, but in no city is the issue more problematic - or long running - than Vancouver. Beasley blamed this on a commonly understood fact - Vancouver has been blessed and cursed by its international stature. The property market in Vancouver is simply not restricted to the city’s population. For reasons of investment, political security, and sometimes just for a pad to crash, the whole world wishes to own a part of the city and it is driving up real estate costs. To fully grasp the magnitude of the problem, one developer informed me that up a 1/3 of some residential towers in downtown Vancouver sit empty. I’ve been unable to confirm this figure, but it is a startling number if true.

How can the city address this challenge?

Beasley's answers are 1) develop the False Creek Flats, 2) eco-density, and 3) learn from Madrid. The description of the third point in particular is worth reading.

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