No Place for Office Space in Downtown Vancouver

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With some of the recent events and policies south of the Canadian border it’s no surprise that  there is a squish for office space, as reported in the Province by Sam Cooper. While vacancy rates have dropped from 8.3 per cent to 6.8 per cent and sound healthy compared to the housing market, they are not.

The report from professional services firm JLL says a tight Vancouver commercial real estate market will be driven by new demand from technology companies. Vacancy rates could dive from about seven per cent currently to three per cent in 2019, the JLL report says, which would be “the lowest vacancy rate on record.”

How low is a low office vacancy rate?  Cushman and Wakefield estimated that by 2019 “Vancouver is predicted to have the second-lowest office-vacancy rate in the Western hemisphere. ” The vice-president of the services firm JLL…

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Big Bridge Changes, Big Bridge Rethink?

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From CBC via Price Tags Editor Ken Ohrn is the notification that “four of the five members of the Transportation Investment Corporation board, which oversees B.C.’s Port Mann Bridge, have been removed by the provincial government.” 

That’s right- “In an Order In Council formally approved on Friday, chair Daniel Doyle and directors Anne Stewart, Clifford Neufeld and former finance minister Colin Hansen had their appointments rescinded.” One person remains, Irene Kerr who is the CEO of TI Corp and will be on the board until the end of 2018. TI Corp is the governmental creation that managed the construction of the bridge and the subsequent tolling on this and the Golden Ears Bridge.

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While the Port Mann is not making money as projected from tolls, it is still projected to pay for itself . The 2017 B.C. budget suggested that losses of  $88 million dollars in 2017…

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Make Your Mark in Mount Pleasant

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The Daily Hive notes that the City of Vancouver is looking for artists and designers  to create “sidewalk stencils” for the sidewalks in front of commercial businesses along Mount Pleasant’s Main Street. There have been sidewalk stamps before, most notably along Heather Street between 49th and 54th Avenues. Those sidewalks stamps were chosen from images created  by the Churchill Secondary School’s fine art class,  and were cut into metal stencils using a plasma cutter at the City works yard. Some of the images have been so successful that they have been used in other parts of the city as well.

Sidewalks were installed on Heather Street from 49th Avenue to Marine Drive and there was the opportunity to imprint the metal stencil directly into fresh cement. In the Mount Pleasant case,  a metal stencil will be…

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Massey Bridge, Rapid Transit and “Fake News”

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Back to the south side  of the Fraser River where positional information on the Massey Tunnel and Bridge appears daily.  The latest is reported in the Delta Optimist  where the Mayor of Delta has added another reason for the support of an overbuilt bridge on the sensitive Fraser River delta-it could have light rapid transit. But, just like the Mayors’ Council’s lack of support for this behemoth of a bridge, the rest of Metro Vancouver nixed that.

Here’s what the Delta Mayor said:  “I’ve been trying to press this with the mayors for a long time in that it makes sense to take the Canada Line and run it south, over a bridge, and it’s meant to do that, accommodates that. The idea being maybe go out to the ferry terminal, with stops in Ladner and Tsawwassen. Most importantly, it would go through all the southern area, as…

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Daily Durning:Can Cities Influence Walkability?

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From the Daily Durning comes an interesting article from governing.com  on the importance of sidewalks to the liveliness of cities and places. Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities established the concept that holistic communities are based upon the opportunity to have face to face contacts with neighbours. Jane wrote: “Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.”

Sociologist Mark Granovetter  reinforced this view in the 1980’s in an academic review that found the “most successful communities were built on what he called “weak ties,” informal contacts among casual acquaintances who stop on the street to share news, gossip or simple good wishes. A robust array of weak ties gives city dwellers access to jobs, child care and practical advice, and it enhances their overall sense…

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Anish Kapoor’s Descension

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For the fortieth anniversary of the City of New York’s public art fund, Anish Kapoor’s “Descension” public art piece has been placed in Brooklyn Bridge Park from May until September. This is a very visceral work ,in that it is a “negative” space work-it looks like a large round swimming pool that has a continually spiralling vortex of water funneling but is flush to the ground. In other places it has been installed with the water frothing black to emphasize the wave. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy insisted that the water be the same colour as the East River, so it is more transparent looking.

The work is fenced off by a simple bar fence and is under 24 hour guard so that no one slips into the water. The actual pool is eight meters in diameter, and the water is about 1.2 meters deep.  The water…

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Noises Off at Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Via NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver is this Fast Company article on the Secret Life of Parks. Diana Budd explores the work in Brooklyn Bridge Park that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has undertaken in making parks quieter, even when surrounded by traffic and other noise. “By sculpting the land, MVVA gives cities their very own mute button.” 
In the parks of three major cities heavily impacted by traffic noise- Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and A Gathering Place for Tulsa,  MVVA  decided that having a conversation at normal tone was a measure.  “If you have to yell or get really close together to talk, it’s not park-like . . . You try to lower ambient noise level so people can start to hear the insects.”
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Last month I visited Brooklyn Bridge Park with NYC…

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