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

An Urbanist's 12 Days of Christmas!

As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, let's remember all the "gifts" that our cities give us. Our cities deserve a Christmas Carol! Here is an Urbanist's "12 Days of Christmas."

Three Quick Wins for Auckland (or Any City’s) Walkability

The following “top three” relatively quick wins for a more walkable city, written below from the perspective of Brent’s observations, reflect some relatively low-cost opportunities toward a more liveable & successful Auckland.

Six Tips for City Hall Leadership

Any leader is only as good as their team, and supporting your team's work while earning their trust and respect is the number one responsibility of a good leader. Here are six additional thoughts on what makes a good municipal leader.

Density Done Well, and Not Just Downtown

It’s an understatement to say that the “D-Word” is a controversial subject in cities across North America. It needn’t be so though, and shouldn't be, as when it’s done well, density is immensely important to the success of cities and regions.

The Most Important Urban Design Decision Vancouver Ever Made

Vancouver's ahead-of-the-curve 1997 decision to prioritize active transport, rather than balance its ways of getting around, has affected everything about how the city has been designed since then.

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.