Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walk21 Davie Street Walkshop

Gordon Price hosted the Walkshop on Davie Street that took us to the West End, the neighborhood that he lives in. We started at the Seawall, which is a very important backbone to the City's transportation infrastructure. It was great to hear Gordon talk about the history of the community and the challenges he had in getting developers to do the right thing. He has a lot of experience related to the use of the streets, the choices that were made at the local level, and the big picture, which he shared at the plenary session.

The seawall has a lot of use throughout the day and is a place where people go to get a break from the City. Gordon described how the City pulled together a lot of vacant land and worked with a developer on the master plan for this area. The developer chosen was not a Canadian or American (an Asian country I can't recall), which describes the density (most American developers probably wouldn't have had the same vision) and the layout which reminds me of something similar that I have seen in Japan, which I would describe as more complex.

As we walked up Davie Street, we found that the mix of developments was more diverse. There was a nice section of old warehouses that had been converted into live-work space. This area reminded me of the Pearl District and specifically on NW 13th Avenue in Portland. Both areas have links to transit (streetcar vs. subway). The planner from the City of Vancouver described that the docks are managed by the City, so they control the space and manage the cafes quite carefully to get the desired outcome of a livable space that attracts conventioners and people that are looking for a unique setting. The docks are wider than ours and thus they have an opportunity to do quite a bit more with the space than we have in Portland.

The outdoor seating was heated and sheltered from the wind. I thought the heating was unnecessary but definitely would have been appreciated by my wife.

There were quite a few big flat screens for watching TV and it brought the restaurant experience into the public realm.

They had sort of an odd take on garbage dumpsters and left them out in the open to maintain the district's gritty feel. This surprised me because as the owner of the public space they could have come up with a more creative solution (the Dutch co-locate them underground) to eliminate the use of space on the street.
As we walked north through the City, I was definitely the only one of the bunch taking photos of the traffic signals and the lighting, which is so similar but different in subtle ways.

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