During the 23 october 2013 Mount Peasant Community Plan Implementation Public Hearing held at Council Chambers Councillor Geoff Meggs consistently asked speakers at the podium misleading questions about the Mount Pleasant Charrette Plan. Prepared by the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (MPIC) acting independently of City planners the plan boldly calls for a New Planning Paradigm to come into effect outside the downtown tower districts.
While the modern media regularly doles out succés de scandale it is important to set the record straight. Councillor Meggs posted his analysis: Contradictory voices: MPIC collapses in confusion. Of course, here we are served yet another icon of modern media, recalling Samuel Clements (aka Mark Twain) infamous reply to the erroneous report in the New York Journal of 2 June 1897, that “The report of my death was an exaggeration”. Far from being down and out, as of 20 october 2013 members of the MPIC are participating in the city-wide Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods.
Quotations in bold below are mis-characterizations posted on the Meggs blog. Civic politicians are tireless servants with full and busy schedules. Thus, we see this moment as an opportunity to explore the new paradigm in planning to be used outside the tower districts. As with everything new, signs of learning are progress.
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Illustration of Kingsway Square in the Mount Pleasant Charrette Plan (Panel 6)
From: “The Mount Pleasant Charrette Plan: Key Principles”:
6. The unit-block Kingsway is designated as a pedestrian priority zone figurating the sense of place.”
From “The Mount Pleasant Charrette Plan: [Panel Board Number 6”:
Unit-block Kingsway as Pedestrian Priority Place… The entire page; a birds eye rendering (above) and four illustrative photos deal with the “Village Square” planned on the road right of way of unit-block Kingsway.”
Calling for the “closure of Kingsway” invokes incendiary rhetoric. Designating the unit-block Kingsway “as a pedestrian priority zone” and “place”, or designing a Village Square to mark the historic heart of Mount Pleasant, adopts a timeless principle in designing ‘good’ urbanism for this wonderful place.
“The Donut Principle” as I have dubbed it states that the centre of a neighbourhood should be an open space. A ‘people place’ and a destination for walking trips where people can meet each other spontaneously, without having to text or phone. A transit stop should be located nearby, along with a concentration of shops, services and housing.
In contrast, the Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation fails to designate a Village Square in the neighbourhood.
Revitalization of Arterial with parking and streetcar (Charrette Plan Panel 3)
From Charrette Plan Panel 3:• two lanes of moving traffic in each direction with off-peak parking;
The picture tells the story (see above). The merchants get BRT or LRT at the centre of the street with a trip capacity matching that of the Cambie Line. This practice has been used successfully in places like the UK and Curitiba, Brazil. The transit is ready to go. BRT can simply be buses or trolleys running on the reserved centre lanes. Translink officials stated that moving trolley wires to the centre of the right-of-way is not a daunting process.
Streetcars and Trees in New Orleans, Garden District (Charrette Plan Panel 3)
From Charrette Plan Panel 3:• two continuous rows of street trees planted either side of…• two dedicated transit lanes in the centre of the R.O.W.;• two lanes of moving traffic in each direction with off-peak parking;• two 22-foot sidewalks.
From Charrette Plan Panel 2:“Residential Intensification engages the full neighbourhood footprint bringing the benefits of contextual redevelopment to every street.”
Meggs Blog: “None of these proposals are consistent with the plan they are supposed to reflect — they contradict it.”
MPIC was not directed to march lock-step to the 2010 plan, which reads as a long stream of generalities cast in ambiguous and imprecise language.As I testified at the hearing, after sitting out the Mount Pleasant Planning process, I volunteered my time for the MPIC “with my hair on fire”. As document above there are egregious errors in urbanism in the 2010 Mount Pleasant Plan. The Implementation phase, I was told by planner Peter Burch, was an opportunity to address such issues.
As demonstrated above, problems with neighbourhood footprint; building type; street type; transit implementation; identification of public urban rooms (“The Donut Principle”); lack of targets for build out; selection of only Main & Broadway for intensification strategies; no heritage preservation district or strategy; all these are failings in the 2010 Mount Pleasant Plan should have been addressed in the implementation stage.
Meggs Blog: “Not surprising: Council was told today that many MPIC members actually opposed the plan all along, urbanist and charrette organizer Lewis Villegas among them.”
After 25 years of paying property taxes in my neighbourhood, adjacent to East Broadway, I felt it was high time to have the community plan re-drafted. I received the call for a planning process in my neighbourhood with open arms, and an open mind. What we got instead was towers being shoved down our throats.
Nothing could have prepared me for the failing—as compared to planning practice elsewhere in North America—of the 2010 Mount Pleasant Plan. Or the shambled, broken process dubbed the MPIC that I would participate in as a volunteer for over two years.