Posted by: Brandon Yan | January 27, 2012

Regeneration: moving the city

Last Wednesday, the City of Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, BC Transit Museum partnered together to host an event called ‘Regeneration: How We Move Out City’ that they billed as “an intergenerational dialogue sharing stories of active transportation for Vancouver’s Greenest City goals.”

I was particularly eager to talk about cross-generational conflict and the differences that we’re seeing in the choices they we are making versus those that our parents or their parents made. I was hoping to learn from people with first hand experience the shifts in transportation modes in Vancouver over time. What I got was not quite that.

Participants were split up into groups (which was nice so get people mixing) and the night was started with a series of ‘stories’ or presentations.

Angus McIntyre, who retired in 2010 after being a bus driver in Vancouver since 1969, presented the room with stories of how transit had changed over his tenure. Here’s a short video that played:

One of the more interesting things that he mentioned was how citizens in the suburbs that had no bus service into Vancouver would form ‘Commuter Clubs’. They would hire charter buses during peak hours to take them to and fro. Citizen action!
Next, walked us through Vancouver citizen’s fight against the Freeway system in the 60s and 70s. These historical events tend to get a lot of airplay in the success story that is Vancouver’s livability. One thing that was missing from the re-telling was that while Gastown, Chinatown, and Strathcona were saved, we still lost Hogan’s Alley.
Robyn and Graham from Shift Delivery

The last two presentations took us into present-day: one by Tanya Paz from Modo (the Car Co-Op) and Robyn and Graham at Shift Delivery, Vancouver’s cycle-based distribution service. Both presentations shared some common themes: times are changing, we have to re-think the way we do things, and that determination and persistance pays off.

Overall, stories from great people up to great things.

We were then told to discuss these stories in our groups with the help of our moderators. I didn’t find this part of the night particularly useful or fruitful. I was actually disappointed in that the organizers seems to have missed the whole ‘intergenerational’ aspect of their event. For the most part, it was overwhelmingly people my age or thereabouts. Intergenerational issues didn’t even come up.

For one, I would have asked the groups to raise their hand if they lived in the city. I would have then asked them to raise their hand if their parents lived in the city. That data could have posed some interesting questions.

Last part of the night (and what I think the event was for all along) was a presentation on Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 plan by Councillor Andrea Reimer. Again, a great presentation by a great and very engaged councillor.

After Reimer’s talk, we were organized by ‘neighbourhoods’ based on where we lived and discussed what our vision of Vancouver in 2040 would look like. Some really great ideas came up like making the alleyways into streets and taking over the ‘real’ streets as public space or a successful bike share program (hopefully implemented sooner than 2040!).

But, where was the dialogue? I went hungry looking to talk about generational shifts in transportation choices and was left wanting. It seems that those that have the greatest stake in the future always show up to these events but the question is how do we get those that got us here at the table?

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