VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How did the city we know and love become the way it is and what can other places learn from it? That’s the theme of a new book – Vancouverism.
“Looking back, it was a very extraordinary period in the history of our history, of great transformation, and it’s had almost no documentation,” explains author Larry Beasley, who was also the co-director of planning for the City of Vancouver from 1994 to 2006.
In Vancouverism, he lays out how a generation of planners helped set our city apart, through a series of decisions that continue to bear fruit today. “We re-conceived the city with an absolutely high aspiration of livability, that includes inclusiveness and all of that, and with the potential to become compatible with its environment or sustainable,” he explains. “It is an undeniable success story.”
He traces the beginnings of the idea of Vancouverism to the early ’70s, when the city council of the day rejected freeways and decided to make the downtown core more livable, cutting the distance between home and work.
“That name, Vancouverism, it was coined by other people, somewhere, we don’t even know where, who said, ‘They are building a city in a different way. It is literally unique.’ And because of that, it’s got a brand,” he says.
However, Beasley admits issues like affordability, homelessness and climate change could threaten the legacy of Vancouverism. He appeals to a new generation of planners to tackle those challenges.
“The top of the list is affordability of housing and not just housing but workplaces and to make sure that local people always have a guaranteed stake while we continue to be a world city with world investment and world interest,” says Beasley.
Beasley is speaking at an SFU City Conversations event in Downtown Vancouver on Thursday, July 18.