Brent Toderian's blog

Brent Toderian is an international consultant on advanced urbanism with TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, Vancouver’s former Director of City Planning, and the President of the Council for Canadian Urbanism. Follow him on Twitter @BrentToderian

A New Year's Eve Call to Action for Urbanists

We've known for decades the better ways to do things, for greater urban health, sustainability, resiliency, vibrancy and economic success. So this year, let's resolve to have the will and skill to get past the short-term politics, the rhetoric, the market momentum, and the financial self-interest that has kept our better solutions from being realized.

Enough with Bikes vs Cars – It’s about Better Cities!

A few weeks back, I watched with concern Toronto having a rhetoric-heavy debate about removing the relatively new bike-lane on Jarvis Street. Last minute efforts to save the bike-lane were ultimately unsuccessful, although as small consolation, Council chose not to use bike-lane infrastructure funds to remove it – a previous intention that had been seen as adding budgeting insult to active mobility injury.

Families WILL Choose to Live Downtown, If We Design for Kids!

A few months back, Toronto's Deputy Mayor started a political flap, stating on the floor of City Council that downtown was no place to raise kids! “Where’s little Ginny? Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park,” he exclaimed.

Flap, indeed. Urbanists and parents alike were quick to denounce the comment, including me. In a way though, we might thank the Deputy Mayor for saying candidly what unfortunately many politicians, and many parents, might still think.

I heard similar comments from a Calgary council member years ago while I was leading that city's Centre City Plan. We’re dreaming if we think families will move downtown, the Alderman told me.

Olympic Lessons for Host Cities and the Movement

As Olympics excitement grows in the first week of the London 2012 Games, we in Vancouver watch with great interest, and occasional feelings of deja-vu. Last week in Atlantic Cities, I wrote about Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics experience with Olympic jitters and the host city funk, and the ability of the Games to change cities through the “power of the collective experience.”

Powerful Place-Making Meets Cowboy Culture

Returning home to Vancouver last week after taking in some of the 100th Anniversary world-famous Calgary Stampede, I find myself thinking about the relationship between city-defining events and place-making. I also couldn’t help remembering an unusual moment in my career that relates to the Stampede.

In 2006 when I was 36, after 4 rounds of interviews, I found myself in a closed-door session with Vancouver's City Council. I was being recommended to Council to become the new Director of City Planning, replacing former Co-Directors Larry Beasley and Dr. Ann McAfee. Council was meeting me for the first time, before going in-camera to officially decide on my hiring.

Does Twitter Support a Better Global Urbanism?

A few weeks ago I had lunch with a friend and fellow urbanist, Bob Ransford. Lunches with Bob are never boring, as we get right into things, and often debate. Bob’s a communications specialist and a longtime member of the Twitteratti (@BobRansford), so amongst discussions about strengthening urbanism in the Cascadia Region, and affordability debates in Vancouver, I asked him a question that’s been on my mind for the last month: Is Twitter a positive tool for global urbanism? Put another way, is twitter facilitating smarter discussions on international city-building, or are we all getting dumber, 140 characters at a time?

Olympic Cities and Advanced City-Making - Part 1

Today marks the two year anniversary of the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and 150 days until the start of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. Soon millions around the World will turn their attention to London, and in fact to venues across the UK, for the largest sporting and cultural event on Earth.

The Law of Traffic Congestion, according to "The Flash!"

Across the world, city-builders who understand the complex relationship between land-use, car infrastructure and road congestion, struggle to communicate it in a simple way that resonates with the public. It's now well-demonstrated in transportation demand management (TDM) research and practice that you can't build your way out of traffic congestion by building roads, and in fact the opposite is true - the more free-ways and car lanes you build, the more people drive and the more congestion and other negative results there are.

"And the Winners are...": re:CONNECT Stand-outs Announced!

Last week, at an event attended by over 300 Vancouverites, we announced the winners of our re:CONNECT Open Ideas Competition regarding the future of our Viaducts and Eastern Core. If you missed my past posts on the steps leading up to the big night, it might help to read here and here first.   

New Visions for the Viaducts - Vote for your Favourites!

As my last post profiled, Vancouver is creatively working to define the future of our Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts - infrastructure that I've referred to as "the asterix" beside the statement that Vancouver has no freeways within our city. One of several inputs into that process is an open ideas competition called re:CONNECT.

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