At Moving the Future conference, mayors and experts envision transportation-friendly city

We don't just work in the city. We play in the city. We hope, dream, laugh, love, and cry in the city. How Metro Vancouver develops has to take this into account.

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Guess which one of these modes of transportation is in the crosshairs.


UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope was the first to tie this issue to the upcoming Broadway Corridor referendum. The Broadway Corridor connects most of the tech industry in Vancouver, as well as 40% of the healthcare industry. Toope compared it to London’s tech city, SD’s Connect, and Toronto’s MaRS Discover District, though we did not come off well in the comparison.  We don’t have that sort of infrastructure support in Vancouver, he said, “and we’re going to suffer for it if we don’t create it.”

Peacock drily predicted the near future: "I don’t think that the risk is that we’re going to over invest.” Toope agreed, and by doing so disagreed with Robertson's assessment of our current transit arrangement. There is, Toope said, "a lot of positive talk about the Vancouver development model”, but “the one place we have failed is public transit.” He added, “I don’t think it’s more than adequate.” It's not a problem Vancouver can solve on its own, warned Toope: “We have to think about partnership as the model”, from civic governments on up. He added that there's a “huge risk that this won’t happen.”

Gavin McGarrigle, BC Area Director of Unifor, said that we should start with with the low-hanging fruit: more fuel-efficient vehicles and more transit. Why, he wondered, doesn't Canada have anything like the USA's Cash for Clunkers program? (The Car Allowance Rebate System was not the economic boon the public had hoped for, though it did work in terms of fast-tracking the retirement of nearly 700,000 gas-guzzling vehicles. So, that may answer McGarrigle's question.)

McGarrigle described the 2012 Olympics as “transit nirvana”, noting that TransLink's network was widely available, and widely publicized. (There was a stick as well as a carrot, though: if you were driving in from outside the Vancouver core, the traffic would have been agonizing.)

Peacock, a “technology optimist”, sees self-driving cars on the road by the end of the decade. Such vehicles have the potential to reshape traffic patterns, but, as Toope pointed out, they’re still single-occupancy vehicles.

As a Google image search for "Beijing traffic jam" will demonstrate, it makes no difference how efficient or automated your car is: only so many can fit on a road at once.

One ride in Bangkok makes the hard man humble

Michael Goldberg, Dean Emeritus of the UBC Sauder School of Business, spoke to Vancouver's emerging importance in Asia while not missing a chance to ruffle the feathers of those involved our city's ongoing real-estate development debate.

Goldberg said that Vancouver used to be the back-end of Europe, but is now at the front door of Asia; pointing to our shift towards services. The aforementioned Gateway, insisted Goldberg, is part of our reality: it's not just about the movement of goods, but the people attached to them.

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