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

Laneway Housing Getting Lots of Attention

Since Vancouver Council unanimously supported the preparation of bylaws to introduce laneway housing across the City in single family zones, the housing idea has been getting consistent media attention. Although we're in the process of using modeling and dialogue to answer the last few questions - what the parking standard should be, and the exact dimensions of the 1 1/2 story model - the most common question I get is "when can we apply for one?" 

Competitions help young designers get B.I.G

Perhaps the biggest difference between the design processes in Europe and North America, at the building scale and increasingly at the neighbourhood scale, is in the use of design competitions. I've been fascinated by this difference for some time, and make a point while in every competition-friendly city I'm in, to dig a little deeper.  

Water City Design - Copenhagen and Vancouver

In 2008 I took a wonderful trip to Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Malmo, Sweden. Although the occasion involved invitations to speak on Vancouver's waterfront achievements and challenges, it was really an opportunity for me to learn from these dynamic cities, and see the best and worst of European waterfront design and master-planning. 

Is Your Planning Department Passionate?

As we move into a 2009 full of staggering urban challenges - economic, environmental, social, and leadership challenges - do our planning departments have the passion, creativity and leadership to be what our cities need them to be? 

Water City Design: Vancouver

Since arriving in Vancouver, I've realized that we are part of a "peer group" of international water cities. Through waterfront design conferences where the same cities seem to get invited time and time again, or through deeper and more interactive collegial opportunities for shared learning such as summits or study trips, these global water cities are taking every opportunity to learn from each other's successes and failures around water-edge planning and design. 

Laneway Housing moves forward in Vancouver

When Vancouver City Council approved the new EcoDensity Charter and Initial Actions earlier this year, among these was a prioritized action to further develop the idea of laneway housing. 

The issues and options report relating to this work program is now available for downloading from the EcoDensity website. 

Malls needn't wait for failure, to Re-Urbanize

One of Vancouver's most recent significant planning exercises is noteworthy not simply because of the merits of its process or its resulting planning and design vision, but perhaps more so because of the new model it may represent to North American mall owners. 

But I'll come back to that.  

Testing Vancouver's Urbanism by Pedal and Foot

I occasionally get accused locally of being too much of a "booster" for Vancouver's success and reputation in city-building and urban design. Although I usually tend to mix in a healthy dose of "constructive candour" on how we need to improve, if there's truth to this accusation, I'd say I come by it honestly. First off, I've been an admirer and careful student of the Vancouver approach to urbanism, as imperfect as it might still be, long before I arrived in the City as Director.

Vancouver's New Policies for Greener Buildings and Large Sites

In my recent post outlining Council's approval of the EcoDensity Charter and Initial Actions I referenced that two new rezoning policies approved by Council (Actions A-1 and A-2) may give Vancouver the highest green requirements for private-sector building design and large site design in North America. Here are these two policies that are in effect as of May 13, 2008. 

EcoDensity Approved in Vancouver

After two years of intensive dialogue and debate, education (in all directions) and idea-development, Vancouver's concept of EcoDensity has been translated into Council-approved policy and actions.

In past posts I've outlined aspects and steps of this challenging process, which has been tackling head-on what many consider the most controversial but critical aspect of urban sustainability, "density done well".

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