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

No Freeways, but what about those Viaducts? re:CONNECT Ideas Competition launched!

One of the bedrocks of the Vancouver city-building story, which we often refer to as "the most important decision Vancouver ever made", was the dramatic rejection of inner city freeways in the late 60's/early 70's.  This left our city frequently referenced as the only major North America city without a freeway. That decision led us down the very different and counter-intuitive path for livability, mobility, inner city density and urbanism that has come to be referred to as "the Vancouver Model".

Manhattan Urbanism, 9/11, and the "Security-Silo"

 

Are Championship runs good for a city's urbanism?

 As I heard a national reporter put it recently, it’s not often that an entire city is focused on one thing. In Vancouver it happened during the 2010 Winter Olympics. A year and a half later here, it’s happening again. 

An Election Call-to-Action for Canadian Urbanists!

Here in Canada, we're in the midst of a Federal election. It’s an election where if you’re interested in urban issues, you’re likely quite frustrated. 
 

City Livability Rankings, and the struggle for the Complete City

A few weeks ago, the Economist Intelligence Unit (the business side of Economist magazine) released its annual global Livable Cities rankings. Like the similar Mercer rankings, the EIU efforts aren't officially meant for urbanist's bragging rights - such rankings are used in human resource circles in corporate placements, related to such tools as "hardship allowances".

"Intelligent City Model" Complements Smart Growth - Doesn't Replace It!

Having read articles lately on Planetizen and elsewhere on how the "fresh new concept” of Intelligent Cities is replacing the stale old term "smart growth", I was moved to write a comment regarding the latest such article which compared smart growth to urban renewal in terms of its stale-dated coolness, and suggested that smart growth may be passé because of its successful take-over of main-stream thought and practice.

"Hidden Density" showing up across the City

Back when Vancouver was first discussing the concept of laneway housing as part of the EcoDensity Initiative in 2006-2008, we nick-named it "hidden density" because it didn't significantly change the way single-detached housing blocks looked from the street. We did so, recognizing that the word hidden is a relative term. 

Canadian Urbanists weigh in on Census Controversy

 Canadian city planners and urbanists have been active in the discussion and debate over the last few weeks, regarding the Federal government's decision to change the mandatory long form census to a voluntary approach. As un-sexy as the census might seem to many (I myself never thought I'd be writing a post about the census), the national media has been all over this, giving extensive coverage to the numerous experts and professional organizations who have been unanimously critical of this move, and the effects it will have on the planning and management of cities and communities.

Vancouver Olympics a Living Laboratory for Urbanism!

Among the countless stories being written on the successes and challenges of these 2010 Olympic Winter Games, not surprisingly the most interesting stories to me are those that speak to the challenges of great urbanism. As a host city, Vancouver has become a massive urban laboratory, with so many opportunities to learn, and we’re soaking it all up.

As we are coming to the end of the final week, a few examples of big experiments and learnings come to mind.

In Olympic year, Vancouver chooses LEED™ Gold for private buildings!

Followers of Vancouver city planning will remember that in 2008, as part of the approval of the EcoDensity Initiative, our Council approved what remains (we think) the highest green standard for private sector building design in North America. The 2008 policy requires that buildings that go through rezonings (representing most buildings built in Vancouver) must establish that their design, at approval, is capable of achieving LEED™ Silver. We actually nick-named it "Silver Plus", because we mandated that there be a minimum of 3 energy points, 1 water point, and 1 storm water point, emphasizing the things that matter most to us.

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