When Debating a Controversial Plan, Does 30 Percent Equal a Majority?

In the face of vocal opposition, Vancouver's city council approved a proposed bike route and greenway. For one former councillor, if a third of the speakers in hostile public meetings support a project, that's enough to indicate a silent majority.

August 1, 2013, 2:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"In the face of [opposition], when does a city councillor decide it is time to back down and abandon an idea, and when – as Vancouver city council did on Monday in approving a bike route in the western beaches – do they say, 'In spite of the vocal objections, we’re going ahead with what we think is best for the city?'” asks Frances Bula.

"Former city councillor Gordon Price maintains that, if about a third of the people who come out to council support your idea, that is a strong enough sign."

"'In a very emotional and often hostile environment, if 30 per cent of the speakers have made the effort to come out in spite of the opposition, that means the community support is probably there,' said Mr. Price, who was a councillor with the city’s once-dominant centre-right party and is now a vocal cycling and transit advocate."

"Mr. Price said that moderate supporters often get scared off from speaking publicly because the opponents can seem so intimidating. So when they do step up, their opinions get extra points."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in The Globe and Mail

A conceptual rendering of three high-speed rail trains. The middle train is orange; the other two are black.

The California High-Speed Rail Project Illustrates America’s Transit Issues

Slow progress and a bloated budget have plagued the High-Speed Rail project linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, exposing deeper issues with American transit projects.

May 22, 2022 - Eric Carlson

Multi-Family Development

Density and Driving: A Second Look

A common argument against more compact housing is that increased population density will only reduce vehicle miles traveled at moderate levels of density, as opposed to very low-density and very high-density areas. But this might not be so.

May 22, 2022 - Michael Lewyn

Parent and child walking, holding hands on mixed-use trail with trees

What Role Does Health Care Play in Community Development?

Cities are economically diverse and require accessible health care systems, but this can be challenging to implement. Urban developers are working alongside health professionals to create affordable care for city residents.

May 18, 2022 - Devin Partida

Boise Idaho

Boise’s New Planning Director Warns Against 'Dysfunctional Highways'

On the heels of his stint as Atlanta’s planning director, Tim Keane says Boise should avoid following in the path of American cities that have let highway expansion and sprawl go unchecked for decades.

May 27 - Boise State Public Radio

Aerial view of single-family homes in Atlanta, Georgia suburb

Voters Reject Atlanta-Area Cityhood Proposals

After local activists whipped up concerns about forced density to promote cityhood for three wealthy Atlanta suburbs, residents voted to remain in unincorporated Cobb County.

May 27 - Bloomberg CityLab

A row of white pickup trucks at a car dealership.

Want to Drive a Big Pickup Truck in D.C.? It’s About to Get (Even More) Expensive

D.C. is considering a $500 vehicle license fee for private vehicles over 6,000 pounds.

May 27 - Bloomberg

Urban Planner

Environmental Science Associates

Land Use Field Representative - Culpeper County

Piedmont Environmental Council

Planner

City of Oakland, California

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.