Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Has anyone read a book about subways, because then Broadway plan is all about a 5.7 km subway.

    The notion that a subway was needed on Broadway was so out of touch with reality, one wonders what they were smoking at 12th and Cambie.

    Outside the Metro Vancouver bubble, in North America, subways are only built when traffic flows exceed 15,000 pphpd; in Europe it is over 20,000 pphpd due to the fact that the modern tram can carry traffic flows exceeding 25,000 pphpd at a fraction of the cost.

    Currently the Broadway B-Line bus has a maximum capacity of 2,000 pphpd!, with total traffic flows on Broadway, including all bus routes, is less than 4,000 pphpd.

    Grossly overbuilt for what it does, the average operating costs of over $40 million per year, means either fares must rise dramatically or bus services must be cannibalized to support the subway, or taxes will be dramatically increased. Then there is the mid life rehab of subways which cost almost as much as the original cost of the subway!

    Subways do not attract ridership, due to the fact they are deemed user-unfriendly, because stations are far apart. On Broadway, this means more auto use, more congestion, more pollution and gridlock.

    And out of tor onto, TTC studies have shown that subways “sterilize” businesses between stations.

    The Broadway subway is fast making Vancouver a ghetto for the rich and squalid slum for the poor, as the DTES expands down Hastings street.

    In Germany, the subways that were built in the 60’s and 70’s, are now bankrupting smaller systems has the huge mid-life rehabs are not cost effective and are being delayed and delayed.

    The Broadway subway is a curse on Vancouver and the region.

  2. I’m having a hard time seeing the diversity of the comments here.

  3. Erick, I passed on this opportunity because I’ve already written lots about the Broadway Plan, did not want to hog your space. Thanks for a well crafted selection of comments from folks I respect—many perspectives, none of them lauding the Plan.

    I just wrote about the very first post-Plan application—no podium, too high, shading green space—breaking the “rules” of the Plan. Not an auspicious start, but neither is it surprising. Keep up the great work.

  4. I think this your are failing in your duty to the public as professor by publishing this piece. Some issues I see:
    – The people you quote are totally one sided. No interested in asking any current staff as to why that made the choices they did, it’s assumed that they are evil, incompetent or working in bad faith rather than managing difficult trade-offs in complex planning environment. You talk about the diversity of comments, but you just posted the same comment by the same people rephrased several times.
    – Seemingly no fact checking. Like for example, the CACs being generated are not very high as land lift capture is going towards below-market rentals, which is why there will be fewer amenities than other plans. This was an actual point of contention during the debate over the plan and it strange to see it misrepresented. Condon’s claim that “Vancouver has, since the 1980s, added more new housing units per capita than any other North American centre city.” is not substantiated, and does not match with the fact that Vancouver has added fewer units of housing per capita than Calgary for instance during that time period. Spreading misinformation like this is dangerous in a time when fake news proliferates so easily.
    – Finally, these are not random citizens at all. Many of these people are powerful, politically connected and politically involved. If you wanted a random persons opinion just grab them of them off the street. The average person is not a retired architect or planner sad that their beautiful single family mansion will be disturbed by unsightly towers. The average person is a renter, waiting in a line that stretches around the block to rent their dingy old basement suites for $1500 a month. Maybe try talk to them.

  5. A few points for clarification. I also agree that the piece would have been better if it included some of the very strong voices speaking in favour of the plan at council. Its unfortunate that they demured.

    While Calgary has added more housing units than Vancouver since WWII, the distinction is that Calgary is not a “centre city” like Vancouver, confined as it is to its pre WWII boundaries. Calgary has added comparatively few housing units to its pre WWII boundaries.

    On the issue of affordability, i have, over time, reluctantly concluded that adding new housing units will not reduce the per sq ft. cost to rent or own a home. I explain why in my book, chapter two (link above). This is why i advance the idea of requiring permanent affordability as a condition of new density. The mayors Making Home proposal takes a page out of this same book.

    Finally, while i cant escape being and old white guy and enjoy the priveledges that affords, I dont own, I rent.

    Patrick Condon (not retired)