Posted by: VPSN | March 25, 2013

Public Space News & Events: Spring! Edition

UBC Main Mall - Detail

Main Mall, UBC

It’s that time of year again!  Blossoms and buds are filling the air with all sorts of olfactory treats, and the city is beginning to brighten with renewed colour.  Lots of good public space and urban-related projects are under way too – our latest issue of Public Space News & Events presents a sparkling assortment of goodies for your reading pleasure.

  • SPRINGING FORWARD: with four exciting VPSN projects
  • ENGAGE: opportunities to get involved with urban issues in Vancouver
  • EVENTS: a calendar of public space happenings for late March & April
  • RESEARCH & READINGS: a short miscellany of interesting urban items
  • FUNDING: for small neighbourhood projects

Springing Forward with the Public Space Network …

We’ve got a choice selection of things that we’re working on right now.  Some coming up very shortly…

Thursday, March 28 – The City on Display: Urban Living and the Art of Public Space 

Get ready for the long-weekend by joining us for a lively presentation on our most-favourite of subjects. The VPSN’s Andrew Pask closes out the City of Richmond’s 2013 Lulu: Art in the City Speaker Series – with a talk that will look at the multiple connections between art and public space.

Andrew’s presentation will examine the history of public space and explore how thinking about the public realm has changed over time. Looking at the present era, it will touch on recent debates, designs and dilemmas associated with the public realm, including new park and plaza projects, the social – and ‘contested’ – nature of public places, and several of the more recent artistic interventions that have enlivened public spaces around the world.

Added bonus! The evening’s event will get started at 7 pm with a short performance by renowned jazz pianist Ron Johnston.  The presentation is free, but you need to register to attend. Richmond City Hall Council Chambers; transit: Richmond-Brighouse station.

:: RSVP – Lulu Speaker Series Webpage

UpCycled Urbanism (with the Museum of Vancouver and UBC SALA)

We’ve been pleased as punch to join forces with the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and UBC School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture (SALA) on a project called UpCycled Urbanism.

Upcycled Urbanism is a participatory design project that empowers people to reimagine Vancouver’s public spaces.  The VPSN is one of four design teams that are creating prototypes of public space infrastructure using modular blocks of polystyrene salvaged from the construction of the Port Mann Bridge.

On March 17 we held a design jam at the MOV called “Block Talk.” Our aim was to explore how the infrastructure of public space can shape our connection with friends and strangers. Lots of folks showed up for the event – and the result was a fantastic collaboration where we got to roll-up the sleeves and design the sort of structures (chairs, seating, benches, etc.) that could make our public spaces more communal, connected and interesting.

In July, some of the designs from the four teams will be developed as full-size prototypes… in an as yet undisclosed location in the city.  Stay tuned – and plan on grabbing a seat on the next generation of public infrastructure!

:: For more on Block Talk – jonathan [at] vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca
:: VPSN Blog – UpCycled Urbanism Post
:: Museum of Vancouver UpCycled Urbanism Events
:: Twitter: #upcycled urbanism | @museumofvan

Robson Square – Summertime Activation

In the last News & Events we shared the City’s VIVA Vancouver Call for Proposals for the 800-block of Robson Square… and asked if any of you were interested in collaborating on a submission.  We got a great response and held a few jam sessions to work out ideas, draw pictures and produce a draft concept.

Our roving reporter Mary Wu was there to cover the activity, and you can read about it in her recent article on the VPSN Blog.

Regardless of how our proposal goes, we’re pleased that the 800-block will once again be a summertime public space.  The last two years have featured a pair of great programs for animating the space (Picnurbia & Pop Rocks) – all of which has helped to further make the case for expanding and improving Robson Square on a permanent basis.

:: For more information – robsonsquare [at] vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca

VPSN Goes to Detroit!

The Vancouver Public Space Network is proud to be part of the Placemaking Leadership Council.  We’ll be joining other organizations, policy-makers and designers at the inaugural meeting of the Council, taking place in mid-April in Detroit, Michigan.  Organized by our friends at Project for Public Spaces, the two-day event will be bringing together public space advocates and organizations from nine different countries.  The aim is to consolidate and strengthen placemaking as an international movement. The event will be structured around four key agenda-items:

  • Creating healthier communities and improving streets by redefining transportation planning;
  • Improving our built environment by advocating for people- and place-centric design through an architecture of place;
  • Supporting sustainable local economies by highlighting the central role of public markets;
  • And strengthening communities by creating new urban development models that re-orient our cities and towns around great multi-use destinations.

We’ll be reporting out from the event on our blog and via our social media channels.  We’ll also be happily championing the good work of Vancouver placemakers and public space aficionados.

:: For more information – email andrew [at] vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca.

A Plug: Join in the fun!

In addition to the various items profiled above, we’ve got a roster of interesting projects on the go… and are always looking for volunteers who are willing to lend a hand. Our next VPSN volunteer orientation will be taking place on Wednesday, April 3.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Network, please join us!

:: RSVP for Volunteer Orientation – Amy McPherson, volunteer [at] vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca.



West End Community Plan – Open Houses – April 4 & April 9

Since the West End community planning process launched in April 2012, the City has received a wide range of feedback from residents, businesses and other stakeholders which has helped shape a set of directions. Drop-in open house to learn more about the directions and have your say. Your input will help refine the directions and create a draft plan.  April 4, 4-7pm, Best Western Sands Hotel, 1755 Davie Street; April 9, 4-7pm, Blue Horizon Hotel, 1225 Robson Street.

:: Details – City of Vancouver Event Page

Ironclad Art – Manhole Cover Design Challenge – Deadline April 15

The City of Vancouver invites everyone who lives, works or goes to school in Vancouver to submit designs for new manhole covers.  This year’s challenge presents an opportunity to celebrate Vancouver’s creativity and educate the public about our water infrastructure. Creative citizen participation is key to City of Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan and the Culture Plan for Vancouver. Two winners will be chosen and receive a prize of $2000 each, in addition to seeing their designs cast in iron as manhole covers and placed at select locations in the city.

:: Application details and more information –

Make an Impact. HUB is Seeking New 2013 Board Members

Are you passionate about making cycling better in Metro Vancouver? Do you want to help shape the strategic and policy direction for HUB to make cycling an attractive choice for everyone?  You could be a great fit for the HUB Board of Directors. Board applications are due by April 8th and board members will be elected at our AGM in May.

:: For details on how to apply – HUB Webpage

Join the Vancouver Volunteer Corps

Lend a hand with the new Vancouver Volunteer Corps – a rewarding way to share and develop skills. Find out how you can help during emergencies and public events. Attend a volunteer orientation at Trout Lake Community Centre (March 28) or Coal Harbour Community Centre (April 16)

:: More Information – City of Vancouver Event Page

Lead a Jane’s Walk!

Jane’s Walk is the street-level celebration of Jane Jacobs’ legacy that combines the simple act of walking with personal observations, urban history and local lore as a way of knitting people together into strong and resourceful communities.  It takes place May 5th & 6th, 2012.

Jane’s Walks very widely. One tour might focus on history and architecture, and another might be about tracking down the best local samosas and park benches – but they all boil down to being a conversation about between people who like talking to their neighbours and learning about cities. Jane’s Walks have been led by urban planners, guerrilla gardeners, youth, professors, newcomers, social historians, cyclists, homeless rights activists, and former mayors.  Lead a walk, or go on a walk: We hope you’ll join us in re-discovering Vancouver’s vibrant and fascinating neighbourhoods.

:: Sign up – Jane’s Walk Webpage
:: Local Inquiry: yuri [at] janeswalk [dot] net

Want to be an Urban Farmer?  Go to School!

Introducing the 2013 season of the SPEC Urban Farmer Field School (UFFS), a program giving people skills in sustainable agriculture – everything from starting your seeds to starting an urban farm.  Over 25 courses are being offered, on subjects such as: organic soil management, fruit tree canopy management, seed starting, urban farming on a budget, and more.

:: For more information – SPEC Webpage

Infuse Vancouver 2013: Digital Media Showcase and Competition

Infuse Vancouver 2013 is the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) national urban planning conference that will be held this year in Vancouver, July 6 – 9. It’s the largest urban planning conference in Canada and will bring leading planners from across the country and internationally to Vancouver.

A key part of the conference will be the Digital Media Showcase and Competition. The purpose of the competition is to draw attention to the creative ways that people (from all professions and walks of life) are using digital media (photo and video) to shape, inform, and raise awareness of their communities. The end goal is to encourage planners to embrace digital media as a valuable tool to engage with their local communities (and for their communities to engage with them!) and to promote a more open and creative civic dialogue.

:: More information – > ‘Digital Media’ link

The Sharing Project

Check this out!  A new project aimed to inspire and guide the growth of sharing in Vancouver. Yes, sharing! Things like cars, tools, workspace, bikes, knowledge, skills, food – you name it. The research this team is doing is aimed at providing intelligent information for community leaders to step forward and create sharing projects that are powerful, meaningful, and desired in their neighborhoods.

Find out more via Facebook, or contribute via the crowdfunding campaign.  Things are just getting rolling!

:: Sharing Project – Facebook Page
:: Sharing Project – Crowdfunding Page


Now – April 6 – Lost in the City

A hand-printed photography show that explore issues of identity, control, knowledge and reality that exists within the chaos of a metropolis. This assemblage is a portrayal of the consciousness of a small group of artists and their experiences of navigating life in Canadian cities.  The show opens on Thursday, March 21, and runs until April 6. The gallery is open Wednesday–Saturdays 1–4PM.  Positive Negative Gallery, 436 Columbia Street.

:: Lost in the City – Facebook Page

Wednesday, March 27 – Vancouver’s Main Post Office

Heritage Vancouver, Philip Boname of Urbanics Consultants, Patricia Bourque of Bourque Bruegger Architects, and Bruno Freschi, a distinguished architect best known for his role as chief architect for Expo 86, will discuss the future of Vancouver’s Main Post Office.

Admission is free, but registration is required as space is limited. 7pm. Alliance for Arts & Culture, 938 Howe Street.

:: To register – Heritage Vancouver Webpage

Now through – April 1 – Easter in Stanley Park

Spring has sprung at the Stanley Park Miniature Train. Ride the train, hunt for Easter eggs, enjoy Easter themed crafts and visit with the Easter Bunny. Easter egg hunts take place throughout the day. Bring your own Easter basket.  $8.75 per child and includes train ride and Easter egg hunt / $3.50 per adult to ride the train.

:: More Information – City of Vancouver Event Page

Saturday, March 30 – Kitsilano War Memorial Community Centre Eggstravaganza

Eggciting things will be happening at Kits CC! The gym will be full of fun activities for all ages; crafts, games, face painting, cookie decorating and much, much more! Parent participation required. $6 per child (infants under 12 months free). Starts at 11:00am. Pre-registration required.

:: More Info – Kits CC – Facebook Event Page

Saturday, March 30 – Renfrew Easter Event

Face painting, crafts and our famous Egg Hunt. Register your child for one of the time slots to guarantee their space in the hunt. (Children less than 6yrs must be accompanied by an adult). Limited number of tickets available. $5/child

:: More Info – Renfrew Facebook Event Page

Sunday, March 31, April 28, May 26 – Refrew Ravine Clean-up and Planting party

Come out to Renfrew Ravine for a monthly ravine clean-up and planting party! Lend a hand hunting unwanted garbage, re-introducing native plant species, and conducting water quality tests.

The event takes place on the last Sunday of March, April and May and begins at 10:00am.  Meet at the ravine by 27th Avenue to get your hands dirty. Tea and treats afterwards at the Art House in Field at Slocan Park.

:: More Info – Facebook Event Page 

Sunday, March 31 – Mountain View Cemetary – Walking Tour with John Atkin & Andy Coupland

Venture off to the cemetery and visit some of the notable residents who helped shape Vancouver’s early skyline.  Meet outside Celebration Hall, 5445 Fraser Street (enter off of 39th Ave).  Cost $10 (cash only).  Lasts approximately two hours.

:: For more info – John Atkin’s Webpage

Tuesday, April 2 – Food Talks Vol 7: Food Trucks

This is the seventh event in this Food Talks series! This edition of Food Talks is themed Food Trucks: The business & the movement.  Meet and mingle with other foodies, and to hear some enlightening speakers from the food community.

:: More Info & Tickets – Food Talks Eventbrite Page

Wednesday, April 3 – Bring Your Boomers – All Candidates Election Forum

Our good friends at GenWhy are hosting their next Bring Your Boomers event – and it’s an All Candidates Forum!  Come learn about what BC’s provincial political candidates have to say about about address the challenge of climate change in BC.  The event will bring together young voters with political candidates and go beyond traditional political debates by presenting an engaging mix of intelligent conversation, media, storytelling and music to provide a culturally-driven entry point to discuss social transformation. The event features the following candidates: David Eby (NDP), Gabby Kalaw (Liberal), Duane Nickull (BC Conservative Party), Bob Simpson (Independent) and Jane Sterk (Green Party). Musical performance by Au4.  The event takes place 7pm at the Rio Theatre (1660 E Broadway).

:: More Information – Bring Your Bookers Webpage
:: Tickets (by donation) – Eventbrite

April 4 – April 27 – Tree Walks & Talks

Various walking tours throughout Vancouver – all to coincide with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  Takes place at Coal Harbour, Van Dusen Gardens, Oppenheimer Park, UBC, Stanley Park, QE Park, West End and Downtown.

:: Details – Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Webpage

Friday, April 5 – Bike Movie Night

The good folks at Kickstand (Commercial Drive & Venables) are screening The Triplets of Belleville.  Show starts at 8pm and admission is by donation.

:: More Info – Kickstand – Facebook Event Page

Saturday, April 6 – Worldwide Pillowfight Day

Here’s your chance to participate in the 8th annual Worldwide Pillowfight – taking place on the 800-block of Robson Street (between Hornby and Howe).  Stow a nice soft pillow under your jacket, show up for 3:00pm, and get ready for pillow fight mayhem!

Getting ready to rumble? There are some pretty sensible rules you should take a look at first – because they’re key to making sure the event is safe, friendly and fun. (You can find them on the Facebook Page).

:: Vancouver Pillowfight – Facebook Page
:: International Pillowfight Day – Webpage

Monday, April 8 – SALA Lecture – Julie Bargmann (D.I.R.T. Studio)

Interested in landscape design and some clever place-making projects? Check out this free presentation by Julie Bargmann – who will be presenting the 2013 Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Lecture.  Takes place at 6:30pm, UBC Robson Square.

:: DIRT Studio – Webpage 

Thursday, April 11 – EastVanLove Vol. 8: Journey to Now

On a daily basis, we walk among monuments, memorials and mementos, easily passing by historic landmarks and forgotten memories of a culturally diverse community. #EastVanLove Vol 8 inviting will dig up the past while paying homage to the micronarratives that make up East Vancouver’s historic legacy.  Features presentations by Jason Vanderhill (Illustrated Vancouver), Am Johal (SFU Office of Community Engagement), John Atkin (Walking Tours of Vancouver) and Naveen Girn (Vancouver’s Bhangra Story).  Takes place at SFU Woodwards

:: East Van Love – Information and Tickets – Eventbrite 

Saturday, April 13 – World Umbrella Dance Flashmob

Learn the moves and do the Umbrella Dance with funky new moves from all over the world!  Part of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Takes place at Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza.

:: Details and rehearsal info at Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Webpage 

Saturday, April 13 – Coal Harbour Spring Carnival

Spring has sprung! Come and enjoy the fun at this family friendly spring carnival in the auditorium. Games, bouncy castle, arts & crafts, make a flower facinator, decorate a cookie and enjoy some music! Pre-register to ensure your spot, space limited.  10am. $5-6. Coal Harbour Community Centre.

:: Details – Coal Harbour – Facebook Event Page

Monday April 15 – Connecting Transportation Professionals – Brainstorm Gathering & Mixer

Interested in starting up a new networking group for individuals with an interest in innovative transportation solutions, particularly in alternative forms of transportation! Join a special gathering on Monday, April 15th to brainstorm ideas as to what the mission of this networking group should be, and what type of events/actions we could organize. This will also be a great networking opportunity!  If you are interested in joining in on the conversation, come to a meeting at 6-9pm at the Elephant & Castle, 385 Burrard St at Hastings (in the upstairs area).

Saturday, April 27 – Strolling the Stoll

A guided tour of the area of the West End that provided a safe environment for sex workers before they were evicted in the 1980s. This fascinating journey through not-too-distant history will be lead by Jamie Lee Hamilton, who will share rich stories and insights from her own days working the Davie Stroll.  The tour will focus on 8-10 stops in the Davie Street area, then continue down to the Aquatic Centre.  Concludes at Museum of Vancouver. Tour fee ($15) includes water transport and admission to Museum of Vancouver’s Sex Talk in the City exhibition.

:: Details and tickets – Museum of Vancouver Event Calendar



A round-up of recent items related to public space, city-building and the urban condition…

Vancouver Archives – Map & Plan Digitization Project

Map geeks rejoice!  The Vancouver Archives have recently completed a project to digitize 512 maps and plans in our holdings. You can read about highlights of the project on their excellent blog and can also search through full-resolution versions of the maps.

:: Vancouver Archives Blog – The Map & Plan Digitization Project

30Km/hr on Residential Roads Reduces Casualties

“Recent evidence from Portsmouth shows that, when implemented on a wide scale without traffic calming, (what we call “Total 20”), 20 mph [30kmh] speed limits reduce casualties by 22% and have a varied speed reduction effect dependent upon previous average vehicle speeds.” | More…

Foncie’s Photos – Vancouver Street Photography Collection

Foncie Pulice, Vancouver’s best-known street photographer, shot millions of photographs of people from 1934 through 1979 as they walked along Vancouver’s downtown streets, or beside English Bay, or just inside the P.N.E., or close to the entrance of Stanley Park.  For half a century, Foncie captured moments in time, the history of a city, and the lives of British Columbians.  This material – or much of it – has now been gathered into a content, and will also be developed into a film.

:: Visit the Foncie’s Photos Webpage

Toronto Public Space Initiative – TAPS – Tagging City Hall

Here’s an interesting project developed by the Toronto Public Space Initiative – a civic engagement tool called TABS On Toronto that will let residents, media, staff, and organizations sign up for email alerts from City Council based on their keyword preferences.

For example, a user can type into the system the name of their local street, or a policy issue of interest to them. Whenever that word comes up on a Council agenda item or background document they will get an automatic email from the system informing them of the upcoming Council meeting.

Resident’s will have an easier time keeping informed of what government is doing, never missing a beat, and getting their full 7 days statutory notice.

The system is launching as a beta and is intended to help residents and organizations such as BIAs and Resident’s Associations, City Staff, Media, and NGOs – making it easier for stakeholders to engage with City Hall and hold government accountable.

:: More information – TABS on Toronto Webpage

Toronto Pt. II – Animated Laneways Research

Over 2012 and 2013 the Toronto Public Space Initiative worked with Ryerson University Master Students to investigate how to best implement and develop animated laneways in Toronto’s downtown through an analysis of laneway projects and policies in Toronto and internationally.  A report was produced that identifies best practices for laneway animation implementation and viability, as well as guidelines to overcome barriers and challenges that may hinder laneway projects.

:: For more information or to review the report – TPSI Webpage

New Book – Transcultural Cities: Border-Crossing and Placemaking

Our pal Jeffrey Hou (U Washington) has a new book out that examines how placemaking can serves as a vehicle for cross-cultural learning and understanding. Here’s a snip from the promotional blurb:

“Transcultural Cities uses a framework of transcultural placemaking, cross-disciplinary inquiry and transnational focus to examine a collection of case studies around the world, presented by a multidisciplinary group of scholars and activists in architecture, urban planning, urban studies, art, environmental psychology, geography, political science, and social work. The book addresses the intercultural exchanges as well as the cultural trans-formation that takes place in urban spaces. In doing so, it views cultures not in isolation from each other in today’s diverse urban environments, but as mutually influenced, constituted and transformed.”

:: For more on the book – Routledge Webpage

Mark Kingwell – Is Public Space A Public Good? – VIDEO

Philosopher Mark Kingwell was in Vancouver recently, and presented the annual Warren Gill Memorial Lecture.  The VPSN’s Katie Stowe wrote up the event in a blog post earlier this month and now – for those that want to see (or re-see) the lecture in its entirety – full-length video is available on YouTube.

Public space is routinely seen as the cure to every imaginable urban ill, from air quality to obesity. But how much of what we call public space is really public?  Author and critic Mark Kingwell considers this problem, together with its implications for the notion of urban play and the so-called ‘right to the city.’

:: YouTube – Warren Gill Memorial Lecture 


City of Vancouver / Vancouver Foundation – Neighbourhood Small Grants

The City of Vancouver and Vancouver Foundation have teamed up to help make Vancouver the greenest city by 2020. Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) are designed to help fund projects that have a green focus. The aim is to encourage local initiatives, designed and undertaken by residents, right in their community.  Grants of up to $1,000 are available.

:: For application details and criteria – Neighbourhood Small Grants Webpage 


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 member 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. Find out how you can help: info [at]


Vancouver Public Space Network
Box 2754 Station Terminal
349 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC, V6B 3X2

General info: info [at]
Newsletter Submissions: newsletter [at]

Facebook: VPSN Facebook Group and VPSN Facebook Page

Flickr: VPSN group and photostream

Twitter: @vpsn


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