RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – The City of Richmond says it has worked hard to upgrade infrastructure and prepare for a catastrophic earthquake.
After a provincial audit found Emergency Management BC has not made earthquake planning a priority, Richmond’s city communications manager is debunking a couple of myths and talking about what more can be done in his city and across the region.
Ted Townsend admits Richmond does have specific challenges, but it is not below sea level (though some areas are only just above) and the entire city will not sink in a big quake.
“There’s sometimes this myth that liquefaction is going to be all-encompassing in Richmond, but the likelihood is that it will be more sporadic, in various locations throughout the city. But that doesn’t mean we’re not preparing for that,” he tells News1130.
“We’ve had modern building standards in place that are designed to stabilize any land that we build on, whether it’s the City or private builders. We’re working to address that particular challenge as best we can.”
Townsend says Richmond has well-developed plans and preparedness programs and has worked hard at upgrading infrastructure.
“We recognize we have risks here that we can address. One of the things we have done over the last decade is a very extensive building program to replace all of our fire halls and our police headquarters to make sure that all those facilities are ‘post-disaster rated.’ We continue to look at upgrading our dikes and other critical civic infrastructure to make sure we can achieve high standards in withstanding earthquakes or other threats.”
BC’s Auditor General warned yesterday that the province still isn’t adequately prepared for major quake. While Townsend calls Richmond’s approach to earthquake preparedness “aggressive,” he says more can be done.
“We’ll certainly use the Auditor General’s report and recommendations to further strengthen our planning. We are part of a regional and a provincial planning regime. If an earthquake strikes, it’s certainly not going to hit just one community; it’s going to hit many communities. So, we need a strong local, regional and provincial planning regime in place. We work closely with the province and will continue to do so,” he says.
Would Townsend like to see the province could do more?
“I think the Auditor General certainly identified the need to do more. We’ll work closely with our partners in emergency planning and preparedness throughout the province to achieve that.”
The Office of the Auditor General made similar conclusions about BC’s poor state of earthquake preparedness 17 years ago in a previous report. Current AG Russ Jones says little has changed since then.
SAM COOPER (PROVINCE) - Vancouver is moving toward zoning that would allow condo towers to be built without parking stalls, planners say.
The move would allow developments similar to an existing condo in Toronto and a proposed one in Calgary, in buildings pitched at young professionals who increasingly tend to live car-free.
Vancouver has minimum parking requirements for residential buildings, but city staff are “exploring (no-car condo) opportunities in line with what Calgary is looking at,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The new Transportation 2040 plan adopted by council provides guidance to eliminate parking requirements downtown and near rapid transit stations, but gives no timeline on when the changes will be considered.
“I’d love to see more parking-free buildings,” Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former head planner, told The Province.
“Where to build them, though, is all about the neighbourhood. They wouldn’t work just anywhere — they need walking, biking and transit to be inviting options.”
Tsur Somerville, director of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said that with Vancouver council’s “greenest-city” goals he would have expected the parking minimums to be eliminated already.
“Certainly evidence in the U.S. is that among millennials, car ownership and driver’s registration is way down,” Somerville said.
“I think there is a lot to suggest that there is a group of young people, that cars are just not part of the lifestyle they are thinking of.”
Removing underground parking can slice about $40,000 off the price of a unit, which would help Vancouver tackle its housing affordability problem, Somerville said.
One risk to building car-free condos is that units could be seen as more difficult to resell. Investors who are interested in “liquidity” — the ability to rapidly sell a unit — might not be as interested in a no-parking-stall unit, Somerville said.
Michael Geller, a Vancouver developer and architect, said developers increasingly are seeing parking-stall and non-parking-stall buyers as distinct markets.
“Historically, developers have always sold condos with parking spaces, but we are now starting to sell the spaces separately,” he said.
“My line for the last 20 years has been, we should take all our minimum standards for parking, and turn that overnight into maximum standards.”
VANCITY BUZZ - Marpole, the South West Vancouver neighbourhood, is on the cusp of transitioning into a vibrant community but some challenges must be addressed to ensure that its quality of life continues to flourish.
The neighbourhood will have to deal with a growing population, increased issues around housing affordability, aging community facilities, and transportation infrastructure. Density is something that is coming to all Vancouver neighbourhoods as the city has no other recourse but to densify and build upwards to accommodate expected growth in a sustainable way and enact policy that focuses on the big regional picture rather than merely a local neighbourhood one.
Marpole is a riverfront community located in the south of Vancouver’s west side, bounded by Angus drive, West 57th Avenue, Ontario street, and the Fraser River. It comprises of 1,386 acres (561 hectares), making up about 5 per cent of Vancouver’s total land area and is home to about 25,000 people.
Marpole has a population density of 43 people per hectare, which is lower than the citywide average of 54 people per hectare, but about average compared to other neighbourhoods outside the central area of Vancouver.
In 2011, 68 per cent of families in Marpole had children living at home, compared to 58 per cent citywide, and 38 per cent of all households in Marpole had children, compared to 30 per cent citywide.
Marpole residents have a lower median household income and a higher share of residents considered low income than the rest of Vancouver. Within Marpole, renters face the greatest challenges – their median household income is about half the median income of homeowners and 32 per cent of renters spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.
In Marpole, there are approximately 10,100 units of housing within a diversity of types and tenures:
• 55% are apartments
• 56% are rented
• 97% of rental units are protected by Rate of change regulations
• 639 units of social housing (2.6% of the city’s stock)
There are over 4,000 units of relatively affordable market rental housing in Marpole, 85 per cent of which were built prior to 1975.
The new Marpole Community Plan will exclude the Cambie Corridor, which has it’s own plan, and the the industrial lands to the south.
Respecting neighbourhood character while managing growth
New and improved community amenities
A comprehensive Public Benefits Strategy:
Vibrant local shopping area along the Granville High Street
Granville Street serves as the main neighbourhood centre and ‘high street’ for Marpole, with a variety of shops, services, restaurants, and the Marpole Library. The development of the Safeway site at West 70th Avenue is bringing higher buildings to what has been a lower-scale area.
The Granville ‘high street’ will be strengthened and enhanced as a walkable, mixed-use neighbourhood centre with a variety of shops, services, restaurants, and a mix of housing. It will continue to be the social ‘heart’ of Marpole and a welcoming place for Vancouver, distinguished by active street life, public plazas, and infused with references to its Musqueam heritage within the public realm.
The plan calls for mixed use towers between 4 and 12 floors. It will also have strong walking and cycling connections to transit and other key destinations such as schools, shops, parks, and the Fraser River.
Upper Hudson will retain it’s character of single family homes and duplexes while Lower Hudson will be strengthened as a walkable residential area, with a focus on protecting the existing stock of affordable rental housing.
The ‘working village’ feel will be supported by retaining a mix of uses and celebrating the Musqueam heritage and cultural amenities in the area. New walking and cycling routes will improve mobility and access to key destinations in the community, with a focus on parks, shops, community facilities and the Fraser River
Incremental development of new rental housing along West 70th Avenue will be accompanied byimprovements to the pedestrian environment. The commercial and cultural area south of West
72nd Avenue will accommodate growth and encourage the retention and expansion of the unique businesses and facilities. New, strategically located public plazas will create places to gather and soften the streetscape. Lighting, wayfinding and other improvements will improve access to
the Fraser River and create a memorable walking experience.
The architectural character in the Lower Hudson Street area should reflect its diverse past and
eclectic appeal, capturing the spirit of the historic village and current industrial context. Creative gestures and cultural accents are welcomed and encouraged as part of a coherent streetscape composition.
Oak Street will transition to having a more urban residential character with new housing types and an improved overall look and feel. Located in the centre of Marpole, Oak Street at West 67th Avenue will become a focal point for this area, developed as an urban mixed-use “node”, creating a vital connection between east and west Marpole.
The commercial area will be strengthened and enhanced through more prominent mid-rise, mixed-use buildings, including increased retail space at street level and a new urban plaza to help establish a sense of place. Wide sidewalks, street trees and planted boulevards will create a comfortable, safe and attractive walking experience along Oak Street. Existing commercial area at Oak Street and West 67th Avenue Oak sub-area
Additional housing variety, including apartments and townhouses, will be introduced to provide a sensitive transition in scale and height to the surrounding residential areas. West 67th Avenue is a desirable neighbourhood walking and cycling route that connects the Granville shopping area, library, schools and churches to the Canada Line station.
Improvements to the public realm at Oak Street will create a pleasant and memorable place on this popular route through the neighbourhood. The architectural character of the Oak Street area should echo the optimism of its postwar past. Contemporary materials can predominate in combination with traditional materials.
Architectural detailing could reflect the feeling of movement that the automobile era inspired, while providing a comfortable pedestrian scale and rhythm at the street level.
Cambie. The area within a 10 minute walk to the Canada Line will evolve to become a highly walkable, vibrant urban area that responds to its evolving residential context. The mixed-use hub at SW Marine Drive and Cambie Street will also offer new job space, shopping and entertainment uses.
New walking and cycling routes through the neighbourhood will provide safe and attractive connections to transit, shops, parks and other key destinations. Opportunities for additional social housing in this transit-supported area will be provided.
The industrial areas south of SW Marine Drive will be retained and enhanced with employment opportunities on limited and strategically located sites.
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