Posted by: VPSN | May 6, 2010

VPSN Public Space News & Events | 6 May 2010


  • Surveillance in our schools? Province proposes CCTV
  • Where’s the Square Pt.2 and North East False Creek
  • Pedestrian Issues Working Group – Pedestrian Safety
  • Planting goodness with a balaclava and flashlight
  • Great Trees Contest. Make a map. Support the urban forest. Win a prize!
  • Sticking It to the Streets (SITS)
  • Public Transit – the Broadway Corridor
  • Other things we’re working on… (Vancouver 125, Film Fest, Community Gardens)


  • Friday, May 7, 2010 – Northern Voices Festival
  • Saturday, May 8, 2010 – Stone Soup Festival
  • Saturday, May 8, 2010 – Feathers and Fedoras
  • Thursday, May 20, 2010 – The Art Gallery and Cultural Precincts


  • Parks Advocate Co-Coordinator
  • Bicycle Transportation – Co-coordinator


Surveillance in our schools? Province proposes CCTV

Recently, the Province announced a series of proposed changes to the School Act that would allow surveillance cameras to be installed in public schools. The Vancouver Public Space Network is concerned about these changes. It is our position that schools should be free of video surveillance, using CCTV only as “a tool of last resort” and when their use is demonstratedly justified. Research shows that surveillance cameras are ineffective both at decreasing unwanted behaviour and at catching criminals after the event. The technology is also expensive and in the light of the recent budget shortfalls and layoffs experienced in local school boards, cameras are just too costly, economically and culturally, to be deployed in our schools.

The proposed bill states that a school board may install and operate a video surveillance camera in a school facility or on school land for the purposes of protecting the safety of individuals, their belongings or school property. However, this connection is flawed. Our organization is concerned that the BC government has positioned surveillance cameras as an effective tool for protecting the safety of students and school property when research shows that they are not very effective at deterring or solving crimes or bad behaviour.

We are currently drafting a letter to the Province expressing our concerns about this development and will be providing further updates on this issue shortly.

:: For more information – cctv [at]

Urban Design Working Group Updates – Where’s the Square Pt.2 and North East False Creek

The VPSN’s work to advocate for a grand gathering place in Vancouver continues. The Where’s The Square? project is moving toward ‘Phase 2’. This project will aim to “animate” a space(s) downtown to raise awareness about the need for a grand gathering space for Vancouver. The “Where’s the Square” project is the immediate opportunity for volunteers to get involved but there will be other projects and advocacy work in the near future.

The City of Vancouver’s proposal for development at Northeast False Creek will likely be our other big project this year. The VPSN has been part of a consultative committee for over a year now, providing feedback on design aspects on the project and advocating for better use of public space. After a brief hiatus, meetings with the City have resumed and a few key updates are in. The Vancouver Art Gallery will no longer be built in NEFC, freeing up more space for a civic plaza to be constructed on/near the Plaza of Nations site. A new Civic Plaza Task Group has formed from the larger consultative group and future meetings will help to create a concept for design, uses, and management of this space. In March the Province announced that a large casino resort complex will be built on the west side of the stadium as part of the plans to build a new roof for BC Place. Construction on this massive project officially started on May 4 with the deflating of the old air-supported dome.

The Urban Design Working Group meets on the first Tuesday of every month. The next session is scheduled is for Tuesday, June 1 from 6-pm. Location TBD. For more information – urbandesign [at]

Pedestrian Issues Working Group – Pedestrian Safety

In Vancouver, more than 2000 vehicles struck pedestrians between 2000 and 2005, resulting in preventable injuries and deaths. Over half of these collisions (61%) occurred at spaces designated for pedestrian crossings. The Pedestrian Issues Working Group wants to bring these numbers down by identifying the most dangerous intersections and developing street design, operational and other recommendations for the City.

Lend a hand. This summer we’ll be exploring and analyzing these spaces in the field. We will need urbanists, researchers, walking enthusiasts, photographers, and other interested Vancouverites to develop our recommendations and imagine safer, more walkable, shared public streets.

:: If you’re interested in getting involved please email

Planting guerrilla goodness with a balaclava and flashlight

The VPSN’s Guerrilla Gardening Working Group is growing in leaps and bounds this season. The group has planned events throughout the year with the latest ones being a seed ball workshop on the 13th May and a downtown planting event  on the 23rd May. Planning meetings take place on the first Wednesday of each month. Guerillas are welcome to come along and bring photos of their gardening sites and discuss their sucesses. Anyone curious about starting their own gardening patch and wanting some inspiration is welcome, we would love to see new faces.

In addition to this, the Guerrilla Gardening Working Group is aiming to create an online interative map this summer to display spots which are planted and provide a comphrehensive tool for identifying sites near you.

:: For more information – elaine [at]

Great Trees Contest. Make a map. Support the urban forest. Win a prize!

The Vancouver Public Space Network is looking for your help in profiling the stars of the city’s urban forest.  We’re holding a contest to find the Vancouver’s most amazing arboreal specimens.  The goals?  A permanent record, an interactive “Great Tree” blog, and community-based map of the city’s favourite leafy giants.

What makes a tree Great?  Whatever you think. The tree in question doesn’t need to be big necessarily, just something you consider special, important, meaningful, amazing — for whatever reason.  It could be the shade at your favourite picnic spot, or the place you met for your first date… or maybe it’s the best climbing tree you’ve ever met.  If you’ve got a favorite tree in the city, then this is your chance to nominate them for a branchy high-five.

Win a prize for your efforts!  We will be randomly drawing one submission each week for a special “thank you gift.”  The first prize draw is on Monday, May 10, 2010. Good prizes too!  We’ve got some neat Vancouver-ish books and other city-friendly, tree-loving goodies to give away.

:: For more information –

Sticking It to the Streets (SITS)

A group music event where we are equipped with only drumsticks and the street is our instrument. We hope to encourage public space re-animation, spontaneous interaction, showcase art and music in the public realm, and embrace new functions of urban design. Most importantly, we hope to make beautiful music and have fun!

If you would like to get involved with this event please contact simon [at] for meeting details.

Public Transit – the Broadway Corridor

The Public Transit group is gearing to get involved in the Broadway corridor (both the transportation and corridor consultation processes) through compiling research for a document, holding a community outreach event, and reporting on those outcomes. Our activities are still in the planning but if you want to help by writing or lending a hand with the event, please give the Public Transit coordinators a shout at quinn [at]

Other things we’re working on…

The 2nd Annual Public Space Film Fest, as well as some fine film screenings in local parks. For more info – jaspal [at]

Planning and plotting around Vancouver’s 125 birthday in 2011. What to do? How to do it? Lend your ideas – lyndsay [at]

Community Gardens everywhere! This would be awesome… and we’re doing our best to make it happen. There are some good projects on the go and others that we’d like to start. Dig in – gardens [at]


The following are a selection of the upcoming events that we’re involved in. But there’s lots more going on to animate the city’s spaces. Check out the main events calendar at And feel free to submit your public space events to us as well (please, text notices only, no posters!) – events [at]

Northern Voices Conference – exploring technology and public space. Takes place Friday, May 7, 2010 at UBC. Public Transit Co-Coordinator Karen Quinn and others explore the use of social media in movement building. Find out more – quinn [at]

The annual Stone Soup Festival takes place this Saturday, May 8, at Britannia (Commercial Drive and Napier). It features an inspiring mix of sustainable goodness, food issues, greenery and other exciting things. We’ll be there giving away seedballs and spreading the public space gospel. Drop by, say hi, or lend a hand! For more information – events [at]

Feathers and Fedoras – Saturday May 8. An evening of fashion & foolery inspired by the height of Art Deco!33 East 3rd Avenue; Doors Open 8pm * Music Starts 9pm. This is a benefit gig in support of the excellent Gramorail Project and the fine work of the Vancouver Design Nerds. Cover $7.

The Vancouver Art Gallery and Cultural Precincts – a discussion about the proposed VAG move, and its implications for the city. Councillor Heather Deal, SFU’s Gordon Price, VPSN Director Andrew Pask and others. Takes place Thursday May 20, 7pm-10pm at UBC Robson Square.


In addition to project opportunities with each of the initiatives mentioned earlier, we also have some key positions that need to be filled. This month we’re focusing on two key positions that we’re looking to get some support for. They’re longer term commitments (minimum 1 year) and offer a great opportunity for leadership training, skill-building and other benefits.

Parks Advocate – Co-Coordinator

We’re in the process of developing a Working Group that will look at parks issues – including the design and planning of parks and parks facilities, their social use, and the regulatory aspects that affect these spaces (as enacted mostly by the City’s Board of Parks and Recreation). We’re looking for a keen volunteer who can help us to develop this working group, activate a volunteer team and assist with

  • monitoring a variety of parks issues and following them as they unfold;
  • keeping on top of related media;
  • providing input where necessary and connecting the dots between these issues and other VPSN working groups (e.g. community gardens, urban design,public art, etc.) as relevant;
  • raising awareness in the community about these issues, creating opportunities for engagement, identifying areas of common concern among neighbourhood groups etc.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please contact Erin O’Melinn – erin [at]

Bicycle Transportation – Co-Coordinator

Our team is expanding to provide dedicated coverage to the various key modes of sustainable transportation. We’re looking for two people who can help to develop our Bicycle Working Group and enable us to work effectively on a range of cycling issues:

  • cycling infrastructure – including advocacy around the development of bike lanes, bike locking infrastructure, bike share programs and other support systems that will enable more people to cycle;
  • culture-shifting – including the promotion of cycling as an effective, healthy, sustainable mode of transportation.

To learn more, please contact Erin O’Melinn – erin [at]


The Vancouver Public Space Network is an all-volunteer, community-driven enterprise that works on advocacy, education and outreach pertaining to the city’s public realm. We depend on your contributions in order to undertake our projects and activities. Looking to lend a hand? Please consider making a donation or signing up for one of our volunteer projects. Thanks!

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