Opposition to Development in Castlegar

What do you do when a good development is being opposed by surrounding residents?

Situation

On Monday night, opponents to the proposed Grandview Heights development in the south end of Castlegar will have their right to be heard before the City Council.However, these people should not underestimate the powerful voice of future residents of this development, who want this to go ahead this year.

Note: This is not a detailed analysis of all of the issues involved, this article merely represents my personal thoughts on the matter, see disclosure at the end of the article for more information.

Read more after the jump…

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Public Transport Ridership Down in Castlegar

The Present Public Transport Network

One 35 foot bus. Two routes, (click for map), and about three passengers it seems.

Castlegar has a very distributed residential population, and as such, smarter planning of bus routes, bus types and appropriate levels of service and waits is necessary. As I say often enough, Castlegar is not alone in problems like this, but it is big enough to know better than to accept this from the provincial government, who provides much of the funding for public transport.

In today’s local newspaper, reports of a study being undertaken to improve the service and rebuild ridership, which I think is an excellent initiative…

Castlegar News – Local Transit Strives to Provide Better Service

B.C. Transit will be looking at alternative solutions, and is considering adding another bus, simplifying the current route and possibly adding a Saturday service. “The system is going to be looked at. It takes a long time for somebody to go from one end of town to another,” said Marshall. “We can’t cut back anymore, that’s partly why the system isn’t growing anymore,” he added. (emphasis mine)

Hang on, cutting back? Why on earth would they be looking to cut things back!?! The problem surely is being caused by the cut backs. With the price of gas vs rising housing costs, people need options for transport that meet their needs. As new land is developed, houses are typically being built further from the commercial zones, and the service becomes more unwieldy the further out you go. Read more after the jump….

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Redundant Pedestrian Study for Canada

While I was reading through this recent article on a pedestrian study being carried out in Canberra, the Capital City of Australia, I thought, how nice would it be to undertake this study in smaller towns and cities in Canada…

Urban Design Forum – Creating a Walkable City Centre in Canberra

Intelligent Space Partnership Ltd, a London based consultancy developed a model that established pedestrian flows for the existing areas and predicted flows in future development areas of Canberra Central.

I chastised myself, “don’t be silly Mike, no one walks in small town Canada!”

Unfortunately, the partial truth of that statement is seen in who actually does walk; the poor, the elderly, and moms with young children are about it.

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Now to be fair, the town I live in is not alone in this trait, but seriously, something should be done to reduce the dependence on motorized transportation and make the roads friendlier for bikes and pedestrians.

The average person doesn’t walk.

They will drive the 100 meters from Safeway to Dairy Queen rather than walk.

But is it all their fault?

Or is it actually difficult or dangerous to attempt walking through typical North American commercial and big box store areas? Now that would be a study worth reading.

Small towns and cities don’t have the means to do these large scale studies, but what they can do is encourage healthy and sustainable living through policy and leading by example to the community they serve.

It’s interesting to think that Canberra would feel the need to carry out a study like this, in my mind, the have more meters of paved trails and paths per person than any other city I can think of. Walking and cycling are encouraged.

What pedestrian stories do you have from your town? Is it dangerous to walk through your town? What improvements have you seen in recent years to the pedestrian networks where you live?

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Alberta Land Use and Sustainability

by BugMan50 (Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial)As Albertan land use spirals out of control with massive growth in the oil, gas, residential, commercial and industrial sectors, the rest of the country stands by waiting and watching…

What can we learn about this situation and how can we better protect the environment and livability of those towns we call home? This article in yesterday’s Calgary Herald…

Alberta can’t just keep racing to keep up with the boom, Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says. "It’s just about a free-for-all out there right now, and it’s causing all kinds of problems," Taft says as he travels to Red Deer for a meeting.

"With the economic boom, land use decisions are getting pushed through every day and there’s no long-term strategy. "Clearly, we need rules on who can play in what parts of the sandbox."

Premier Ed Stelmach acknowledges a comprehensive blueprint for land management is needed, and promises to complete one shortly….

The question then becomes, how much of Alberta should be developed?

Official debates on this and other land use questions have so far taken place behind closed doors amongst government officials, municipalities, industry representatives, aboriginals and landowner groups. Next month, average Albertans will get their say in a round of public forums and an online survey.

"I think that Albertans, once they have an opportunity to talk about what they would like to see in the province of Alberta in terms of the rules of development, it may in many ways deal with the kind of pressures between urban-rural, oil and gas, and agriculture and forestry," Stelmach says. "There’s also these questions being raised of how much area we will protect of Alberta in the future?"

At the moment, virtually nothing in the province is off limits to energy development, except national parks.

(via Calgary Herald – Alberta’s land rush chaos)
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Just Like Texas

Will Alberta follow the trend in its Southern Cousin Houston, Texas? Will Alberta end up with 18 lane highways to keep all the gas guzzlers moving?

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February 2007 Newsletter

IMG_0720.JPGWell, it’s February already, and here is our UrbanWorkbench Newsletter to kick start the month off. Mike, Robyn and the girls have been pretty busy over the past month, so join us as we look at some of the newsworthy items in our life and around the world. You can also read this newsletter online. You are receiving this (as an email) either because you signed up on UrbanWorkbench.com, or are a friend of Mike and Robyn Thomas. If you no longer wish to receive this monthly email update, there is a form at the bottom of this article to unsubscribe.

Moving to Castlegar

Firstly, we’re settling into life in the small town of Castlegar, BC, Canada, Robyn is keeping pretty busy with the girls and meeting new people. We’ve been skiing a couple of times at Red Mountain and enjoying winter activities like tobogganing at the local hill. We’ve met lots of great people and even got invited to a party on Sunday. Neither Robyn or I knew what sporting event was on, (we don’t have a TV), and Robyn was confused as to why the Grey Cup was in February, which it wasn’t, it was the Super bowl. Anyway, you can tell that life has been too busy to try to keep up with sport or world news.

Mike travelled from Newcastle to Castlegar about two weeks ago, with a 17 hour daytime layover in Honolulu. Mike got to travel around the island of Oahu for the day, enjoying a bit more warmth and sunshine before heading into the depths of winter. Almost as punishment for taking such a leisurely trip, the weather conspired against Mike and many fellow travellers for the flight from Vancouver to Castlegar.

After two flights being cancelled and three beers later, Mike decided to team up with a couple of other travellers and catch the next flight to Kelowna, then get a ride with one of the guys brother in law. Of course the roads were terrible, with the three hundred kilometre journey taking the brother in law about five and a half hours, and we still had to drive back. We made it to my new house at around midnight, only 12 hours after I was intending to fly in, not bad considering the conditions… the Greyhound wouldn’t have made it until seven am the next morning.

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Moving to Canada

As many of you know, I’m traveling to Canada in the next couple of days, and with past performance of posting while on the move pretty poor, I’m expecting a bit of a holiday from the blog until the weekend.

I’m catching the train to Sydney this afternoon and spending two nights with my sister and mum, then flying out on Thursday afternoon for Honolulu. I get a 17 hour stopover in Hawaii, (from 7 in the morning till midnight the same day. I’ve sorted out a car and some touristy sorts of things to do, (as well as some free wifi!).  I then fly on from Honolulu to Vancouver, then onto Castlegar, arriving at midday on Friday. Robyn and the girls have set up house already and seem to have gotten most things sorted. I’m just looking forward to getting there now!

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