San Jose California Partners with Google on new Transit Village

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The Mercury News reports that San Jose City Council has approved to negotiate only with Google to sell 16 city-owned parcels to the search engine company. Since September 2015 Trammell Crow, Google’s development partner has spent $58.5 million US dollars for an 8.3 acre “transit village” site to potentially build 1 million square feet of offices and 325 apartments.

“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity” for San Jose, Kim Walesh, the city’s economic development director, told the council. “This is a dramatic opportunity to expand the downtown core westward.”

“The transit village would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and add thousands of tech jobs in an area where experts have estimated that up to 3,000 housing units could be built, city officials said Tuesday. “It will mean more local jobs closer to home,” Nanci Klein, the city’s assistant director of economic development, said in a presentation to the council.”

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Whole Foods becoming Amazon Grocery Distribution Centres?

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In one of those decisions that will resonate for decades NPR reports that Amazon the giant of on-line retailing has bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars. That’s roughly three times the original cost of the proposed Massey Bridge.

Stock prices of large retail food chains such as Costco negatively  reacted. Why? Because almost a quarter of all millennials bought food from Whole Foods last year, and Whole Foods has  “a tremendous amount of credibility around the quality of the food and the reputation they have with their customer base.”  While one of the challenges for Amazon was how to deliver fresh groceries “the last mile” having 460 Whole Foods stores in the United States, Canada and Great Britain can serve as distribution centres to solve that issue. Owning Whole Foods and using those existing facilities for delivery will be early adopter to a new way of on-line marketing of…

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Liberals Say Economy At Risk with Massey Tunnel Rethink

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proposed-george-massey-bridge-artist-rendering1More hyperbole regarding the rethink of the Massey Bridge has emerged as reported in the Delta Optimist. The newly minted Delta South MLA, former Delta Councillor Ian Paton had previously said at an all candidates meeting that he could not figure out why the City of Vancouver did not “clean up” the Downtown Eastside and said that such a situation “would not be allowed” in Delta.  This time Mr. Paton takes aim at the other  politicians questioning the tunnel replacement, despite the fact that this project is not supported by Metro Vancouver or by the Mayors’ Council, is overbuilt and will cost $12 billion dollars with carrying costs, will take away the best farmland in Canada, and will be built on a sensitive floodplain.

“Our economy is at stake and the agreement between the NDP and the Green party to kill infrastructure spending for the sake of pursuing their…

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When Cars Cross the Line in Ottawa

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Pedestrians as walkers and as people using the street generally are quite polite about it, because the consequences of being foolhardy or inattentive can be deadly. There is still a lot that can be done to make walking easier, more comfortable and convenient in Vancouver and across the country. Walking is all about the details-curb drops, wide sidewalks, smooth surfaces with non glare treatment, lots of visual interest, benches and ensuring there are places to walk to and through. Perhaps it is because walking is not sexy-it is done by the disenfranchised when they are young, and the elderly when they become disenfranchised from vehicle driving-and by everyone in between from  a trip by bike, bus or a vehicle. Making the walking environment the best is vital as it encourages sociability and health, and all indicators are pointing to walkability as the number one factor to make folks healthier and…

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East Hastings Vancouver’s Most Walkable Street?

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The Vancouver Sun and writer Harrison Mooney outline the Strathcona Business Improvement Association’s (SBIA)  plan to make East Hastings Street Vancouver’s most walkable within the next four years.

“The campaign intends to transform East Hastings into a pedestrian destination by making it more walkable,” the association said in a news release. “The SBIA will improve walkability on East Hastings by enhancing amenities, comfort, access and sociability and promoting local business.”

With stated goals improving health, environment  and economy, the  intent is to make the area more attractive for inhabitants and visitors. What is missing from the statement and the news release is that this section of East Hastings is already the living room for a significant part of the population who live in smaller units along the street. While street beautification does include public art, murals and sculptures, I’d argue that benches are not beautification but should be a necessity…

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Richmond Mayor says Massey Bridge won’t fix Congestion, Rethink Needed.

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The Mayor of Richmond Malcolm Brodie in the Richmond News counters the conjecture and misinformation emerging post-election on the potential rethink of the Massey Bridge proposal, now estimated to cost $12 Billion with carrying costs. As Dr. Kat Volk a former University of British Columbia planetary scientist mentioned this amount of money could fund several planetary missions such as Cassini instead of the vast majority of single-occupant motor vehicles using the Massey Tunnel.

While recognizing that the Massey Tunnel “bottleneck” impacts the economy by fettering the free flow of people and goods, Mayor Brodie notes “the current bridge proposal is simply the wrong project to effectively address the problem. Because the current plan contravenes the Regional Growth Strategy and affects the environment, the Metro Vancouver Regional District board almost unanimously opposes the proposed bridge.”

The Mayor also mentions former  provincial Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon who had wanted to…

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Back to the Drawing Board for Chinatown’s 105 Keefer Street

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pressconf2In a not surprising but still stunning reversal  the proposed 12 storey tower by Beedie Development on Keefer Street was rejected by a Council vote of 8 to 3. In exchange for extra storeys the development was to contain 106 market housing units and 25 low to moderate income seniors’ units with public spaces on two lower floors.

There was passionate response for and against the project  which in the words of one commenter, “could make Chinatown more like Gastown”. As Mayor Robertson noted “In my almost nine years as mayor, no issue or project has yielded such a passionate, emotional response as this rezoning application. The Beedie group put significant effort into this project over the years … and went to extraordinary lengths to adjust and revise the project based on public and community feedback. Yet, council heard overwhelming opposition from several generations of Vancouver residents on the…

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