GG2010: Vancouver’s Brent Toderian & the next Vancouver

(Yes, this is just a little bit delayed. Life gets in the way sometimes)

Although most Vancouverites couldn’t pick him out on the street, Brent Toderian, the City of Vancouver’s Director of Planning, is amongst the most influential people shaping their city (and indeed, through the recently in-vogue Vancouverism, shaping cities far beyond even the Canadian borders). On Thursday morning he came to Gaining Ground to share some wisdom and talk about the future of planning Vancouver.

Introduced as being from a “mind-numbingly dull & boring profession”, he led off by saying that he wanted to “deliver gorgeous public places” and that although he collects flack for using words such as gorgeous,  “people in positions like mine get to decide what is flaky.” Beyond the quips, Brent had a serious message about sustainability and planning, claiming that there are too many easy (and unworkable) solutions in North America then publicly wondering if livability was enough.

So what is the next Vancouver? The 1970’s brought streetend views and the 80’s view corridors and the 90’s a streetscape with high towers. That future is bundled up in EcoDensity, described as “density done well”, which Brent said needs three critical components: movement (of people and goods), high design quality, and amenities. Given how controversial EcoDensity is

Beyond EcoDensity, he emphasized that the need for industrial hasn’t gone away and, if a city isn’t careful, it can end up with no “job space” whatsoever, which is one of the reasons the city recently protected some commercial space downtown, a move that wasn’t universally popular.

In parting, he said that “being the greenest city just isn’t enough”. Probably a good thought.