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Growth, Livability and Transit Network: Part II

Sep 10, 2014
By Alan Hart, AIA Architect AIBC AAA, Founding Principal

The dilemma is that although the City of Vancouver and its residents have, in most part, adopted the principles of mobility and growth, the other municipalities of the region have been formulating the right balance of growth and livability.

What is often forgotten is that by densifying the areas near transit, the pressure for growth in existing single family neighbourhoods is lessened. Vancouver is often associated with images of high rise towers but in fact 80% ‎of the City’s residential land area is occupied by single ‎family homes.

The regional cities are wrestling with what it means to be more urban, what the appropriate and authentic form and character should be for their cities, and what the ingredients and the necessary components are to make their cities work successfully.

For these suburban communities to move to a more urban model, it means that residents and businesses are asked to reconsider a vision for growth and livability that is significantly different to the norms that have defined suburban life for six decades: the automobile and the single family home.

At the heart of the potential transportation referendum for these suburban communities, their ‎residents and businesses, is that they are being asked choose to fund transportation initiatives that seem, at first blush, not to support the suburban lifestyle they have chosen. By pitting transit against the car in this discussion, both the suburban and urban ways of living in the region will be undermined. The focus of the discussion has to return to preserving the natural beauty of the region, promoting food independence and water quality, and creating a range of transportation choices that supports a range of housing and employment choices, both urban and suburban.


Vancouver City Skyline with single family houses in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Vancity Buzz