The Mayor says goodbye (sort-of)

With Mayor Causton taking a short break to run for Liberal candidate in the Victoria riding, he took the opportunity to say good-bye Monday night. At what may be his last council meeting ever, he brought up a lot of unresolved business that he wanted to see put to bed.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing he mentioned was the town hall meeting, something he promised to the protesters from the the other day. What he promised was a meeting without an agenda, and he promised that he would facilitate that However, he wanted to have it during April, which means that somebody else will need to chair that. Causton ended up suggesting the acting Mayor — Nils Jensen for the month of April — as a suitable substitute. As for a date, there are a few being kicked around, all in April: 12th, 14th, 19th, or 20th.

Second on his agenda was “improved communication”, which apparently just means the website currently, something Tara Ney is taking over. As an aside, I see a pattern emerging here; prospective mayoral candidates being asked to get involved in high profile issues (although neither have said anything either way).

Lastly was the giant hot potato known as secondary suites. Causton has pushed hard on this issue recently, prompting one councillor to ask “What’s driving this issue?”. My suspicion is that council is going to shelve this until after the election. We are only eight months out (Nov 19) and nobody wants to commit to such a polarizing issue right now.

Thankfully, the Mayor is not shirking all of his duties as he runs federally: the children of Willows in Grade 1 and 2 are going to get a visit by him to, as he put it, “explain a federal election without getting political”, as well as chairing the local Mayor’s lunch and one final Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ AGM and conference up in Sidney.

And so we (possibly, although I think not very probably) bid adieu to the Mayor of Oak Bay for the past 14 years. Emperor Frank (of Saanich) he was not, although he is equally long standing. Now the speculation will turn to what councillors are going to run again this year and who will replace him.

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.