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The Denver Infill Blog recently had a posting showing some lessons that were learned by a trip to Vancouver, BC.
Lessons from Vancouver
The lessons not only can help Denver but of course be of use to us here in Utah especially as we get closer to the completion of the City Creek project in downtown.
Here is some comments about the priorities in Vancouver:
When asked about the city’s policy and spending priorities within the public realm, the Vancouver planning director said in a very matter-of-fact manner:
4. Movement of goods
5. Private automobiles
However, as pointed out in the article it is not just the planning department that has those priorities but also Parks and Recreation, Public Works and from the Mayor down. Vancouver seems to be avoiding the problem that most cities with bickering and different priorities for every department and a lack of working together.
Another interesting comment is that more is expected out of developers than here in the our region or most US cities for that matter. Instead we let developers have free reign and if you try to limit it you always get the cries of "private land rights" and "free enterprise".
The blog also points to the architecture requirements in Vancouver. The buildings are required to be interesting at the top so that buildings have some character. If you look at the new 222 tower and the new residential towers going up in City Creek you will not seeing anything that attracts the eye to the top. In fact the architecture of the buildings is very boring and drab.
Still another benefit of living in downtown Vancouver is the amount of grocery stores and other retailers that cater to the residents of the city. The side benefit of the number of grocery stores in downtown Vancouver is that area residents don't need to drive for quick trips to the store. However, retail isn't forced into every nook and cranny however the ground floors of buidlings must be appealing and pedestrian friendly if it does not have retail.
Finally, and most important Vancouver is more family friendly. Too often all the development in downtown areas is that it primary caters to those without children. However, Vancouver requires a certain number of 3 and 4 bedroom units in condo and apartment complexes that brings more families into the downtown area. In addition Vancouver has plenty of downtown day care centers, schools and other kid friendly spaces.
While Vancouver is unique, there is no reason why we can't take some good ideas from them and apply them to our area.