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Managing density / urban development


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#21 aastra

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 07:50 PM

Is Quadra south of Fort in Harris Green or is it in north Fairfield or is it in Cook St. Village or is it in Mumbleton Mews? You might as well ask me if a leprechaun is more clever than a Humboldt Valley unicorn. It's all made up anyway. All I know is, the population is dense all the way along Cook St. from Hillside to the park.

The main thing I think we should take from the census tract data is this: the areas packed to the gills with lowrise apartments are quite dense by Canadian standards (although not extremely dense). And anti-density arguments against projects like Castana are woefully misplaced.

This is what 7,000+ people per square km looks like:


#22 aastra

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:24 PM

NOTE: the various maps in this post are NOT to scale with one another. Victoria and Kelowna are pretty close, but Nanaimo has been sized up.

***
Here's a map showing the 2006 census tract densities (per square KM) for Victoria proper, Oak Bay, and part of Saanich:
NOTE: We can assume the neighbourhood in Beacon Hill Park's tract actually has a density of about 5,000 per square KM, but the park's presence lowers the density of the entire tract by about half even though there's no park in the populated section and there's no population in the park section.

Density of densest tract in Victoria: 7,259 per square KM



For purposes of comparison, here's a map showing the 2006 census tract densities (per square KM) for Kelowna:

Density of densest tract in Kelowna: 3,707 per square KM



For still more purposes of comparison, here's a map showing the 2006 census tract densities (per square KM) for Nanaimo:
NOTE: Protection Island is included in the downtown tract, which makes the density of Nanaimo's core look a bit lower than it actually is. I've included an adjustment, assuming Protection Island is .56 square kilometres in size and has a population of 328.

Density of densest tract in Nanaimo: 2,308 per square KM



#23 aastra

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:18 PM

Here's the census tract density data for the west side of Vancouver. What does it tell us? It tells us that Victorians have nothing to worry about re: "turning into Vancouver" as a result of densifying downtown and Vic West. If Victoria's efforts at densification are a wild success, the density downtown will probably end up being about the same as the density in Cook Street Village...in other words, about the same density that most Victorians take for granted. Still a long way off from the peak densities on Vancouver's downtown peninsula.

Population Density - Vancouver (2006 census data)


Population Density - Victoria (2006 census data)


#24 aastra

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:42 PM

I bet most Victorians would be surprised to know their comfy Cook Street neighbourhoods are more densely populated than south False Creek.

#25 aastra

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:46 PM

Here's the state of things in downtown Victoria:



#26 amor de cosmos

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 10:08 PM

I bet most Victorians would be surprised to know their comfy Cook Street neighbourhoods are more densely populated than south False Creek.

not for long though. Once that Olympic Village is completed 16,000 people will live there on 80 acres.

#27 aastra

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 08:23 AM

That's true, but in terms of census tracts, I'm pretty sure it would only affect the lower density tract on the right side (density shows as 3,865 in my map).

That reminds me, I received a mailer for a new project there and the rendering only showed midrise buildings.

#28 amor de cosmos

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 08:39 AM

That's true, but in terms of census tracts, I'm pretty sure it would only affect the lower density tract on the right side (density shows as 3,865 in my map).

Yeah it looks like it's that big lot on the water.

That reminds me, I received a mailer for a new project there and the rendering only showed midrise buildings.


I saw on the local tv station (Chek6 or whatever it's called now) that they will be up to 14 sroties, which I guess is midrise by Vancouver standards anyway.

#29 Mike K.

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 12:18 PM

So I see Fairfield has areas far denser than the entire James Bay peninsula. Go figure...

#30 gumgum

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 12:55 PM

Downtown density is just over 1200 per sq km and Lowe wants more public spaces.
What's wrong with this picture?

#31 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 10:23 PM

Downtown density is just over 1200 per sq km and Lowe wants more public spaces.
What's wrong with this picture?


Planners can veer too close to artifice & artificiality. Jane Jacobs would perhaps have argued that we have to learn from nature: watch how nature develops, and model development on how nature does it. It's efficient, it's dense, it's "webby" (connected).

For me, the height of artsy artifice is Corbusier's "Radiant Village" (skyscapers set into parks). It's the sort of thing I might like to visit, the way I might enjoy visiting Disneyland. But live there? Not on your life!

For a 21st century version of what that might look like, check out Zaha Hadid's New York Olympic Village (via YouTube):

Like drops of thick liquid the buildings set their New York based animation for Zaha Hadid's office depicting the proposed high rise Olympic Village overlooking the UN buildings.

It's a very contrived vision. People are noticeably absent of course. If people were present, they'd have to conform to the architecture, not the other way around.

It's the built stuff that needs all that open space and all that open parkland surrounding it -- not the people.

Demanding endless open space around new development, even when it's not needed, sends a message that the new stuff counts more than the people who are there. And so, paradoxically, "the people" resent the new development more and more, even though the planners put in all that open space "for" the people. But the people don't feel at home there.
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#32 aastra

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 11:59 AM

Too much open space can set new developments apart from the existing milieu and really hinder integration. The Songhees is a good example of this in Victoria. A better example might be Orchard House/Roberts House.

#33 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 10:32 PM

Noticed the following in Friday's Victoria News, "Council to wait on 'bonus' density issue," by Keith Vass:

After five months of work by Victoria planning staff, city council pushed aside recommendations for an interim policy on bonus density for the downtown last week.

They opted instead to simply wait until the city's updated downtown plan is ready, likely in six months.

The review of the interim policy was launched in June, over council concerns that the city wasn't getting good value in the amenity contributions it received from developers in exchange for granting higher density rates on new projects.

"Density is a public asset," said Counc. Dean Fortin. "We can't keep selling it for cheap."

But the subject's complexities got in the way of decision making. Agreement seemed unlikely on how much density could be allowable, how to order the city's desired amenities and whether to refer applications to a third-party evaluator.

Coun. Geoff Young has been the lone voice of dissent against the bonus density discussion. He maintains the sounder way to go is to set a consistent density policy and not negotiate exceptions to it.

I have to admit to difficulties understanding the positions of either Fortin or Young here. What does it mean to say that density is a public asset and we're selling it for cheap? If it's an asset, shouldn't we be trying to get more of it, vs. holding out for a better price? And what would it mean to fix density at some "consistent" level, without the possibility of negotiating changes?

Thoughts, anyone?
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#34 aastra

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 03:14 PM

I think there is much confusion about density.

He maintains the sounder way to go is to set a consistent density policy and not negotiate exceptions to it.
Ah, yes. We can call this the "If-I'd-had-my-way-the-Empress-Hotel-would-never-have-been-built" policy.

The first thing people need to grasp is that exceptions (also known as variety) are the key to an interesting cityscape. It's the exceptions that ultimately define the place. Take away the exceptions and every city is the same. A place with no exceptions (for example, Langford*) tends to lack identity.

 

*Edit looking back in 2018: Langford has some exceptions now and is a more interesting place for it.


Edited by aastra, 24 April 2018 - 09:24 AM.


#35 aastra

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:52 PM

Some lowrise buildings are much denser than they might appear from the street:



#36 davek

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 06:00 PM

When determining for whom exceptions will be made is a political process, political concerns will always come first. Even well intended officials must remain in office in order to do whatever they perceive to be in the peoples' best interests. If flexibility is desirable (and I think it is), then ownership and control should be returned to the communities. This is very effective in insuring that costs and benefits are borne by the correct parties, and that developers are prevented from seizing the machinery of local government.

#37 aastra

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 06:02 PM

...then ownership and control should be returned to the communities.


Do you mean the neighbourhood associations? Or do you mean there should be a city-wide vote on every development matter?

#38 renthefinn

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:03 AM

I agree, send the majority of tax increases to the neighbourhoods!

#39 davek

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 07:07 AM

Do you mean the neighbourhood associations? Or do you mean there should be a city-wide vote on every development matter?


I would hate to see city-wide votes on development. With elected officials acting on our behalf, that's what we theoretically have now. With government's ability to concentrate benefits and disperse costs, they can enact the will of a motivated minority at no political cost, so the city ironically winds up with development that runs contrary to the will of the majority. I dislike that not because I approve of majority rule, but because the current process promises majority rule but doesn't deliver. That means citizens get the worst of both options; no respect for property rights and no majority rule.

So, by all means, yes to neighbourhood associations. They work very well and are increasingly popular in new construction in the US. There should be a process whereby an existing neighbourhood can take back control of itself.

#40 G-Man

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 07:29 AM

^ Oh god please no! First of all you can't have volunteer organizations making million dollar decisions it is not ethical. Second of all if we did do that all we would end up creating if 13 more mini city councils.

I think you need a central city government to rise above the irrational knee jerk decisions you will see in community associations. Plus you need broader city wide planning and this would not occur in this format.

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