Over three podcasts, we revisit the year’s critical urban discussions on topics and ideas ranging from transportation along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor, the degradation of work in postindustrial urban economies, gentrification in Vancouver’s Chinatown, feminist urban futures and social movements, the making of Stanley Park, arts and cultural spaces, and much more.
Part III (featuring Ellen Woodsworth)
The Tyee’s Jackie Wong discusses her recent series ‘Generation Rent’
Listen and subscribe to the podcast here.
Jackie Wong discusses her recent series, Generation Rent: Two Cities, Two Directions, recently published by The Tyee. We discuss the differences and similarities between Vancouver and San Francisco – and we specifically explore how political attitudes towards renting and renters can shape cities in profound ways.
What are the differences between these two west coast cities? And what might we learn from our southern neighbour?
In the interview, Jackie Wong refers to an article by The New Yorker’s George Packer on Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s growing urban inequality. It is an illuminating piece and you can read it here.
On the podcast, The City discusses the intersections of race, class, and redevelopment in Brooklyn, New York with My Brooklyn filmmaker Allison Lirish Dean. In the filmmakers’ own words:
My Brooklyn is a documentary about Director Kelly Anderson’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn “gentrifier,” to understand the forces reshaping her neighbourhood along lines of race and class. The story begins when Anderson moves to Brooklyn in 1988, lured by cheap rents and bohemian culture. By Michael Bloomberg’s election as mayor in 2001, a massive speculative real estate boom is rapidly altering the neighbourhoods she has come to call home. She watches as an explosion of luxury housing and chain store development spurs bitter conflict over who has a right to live in the city and to determine its future. While some people view these development patterns as ultimately revitalizing the city, to others, they are erasing the eclectic urban fabric, economic and racial diversity, creative alternative culture, and unique local economies that drew them to Brooklyn in the first place. It seems that no less than the city’s soul is at stake.
Meanwhile, development officials announce a controversial plan to tear down and remake the Fulton Mall, a popular and bustling African-American and Caribbean commercial district just blocks from Anderson’s apartment. She discovers that the Mall, despite its run-down image, is the third most profitable shopping area in New York City with a rich social and cultural history. As the local debate over the Mall’s future intensifies, deep racial divides in the way people view neighbourhood change become apparent. All of this pushes Anderson to confront her own role in the process of gentrification, and to investigate the forces behind it more deeply.
The film is an important reminder of how seemingly mundane processes of zoning and land use change can dramatically change urban landscapes, and these changes may entail the loss of vibrant, racially diverse neighbourhoods and the displacement of lower-income residents and affordable, independent businesses. While the contexts may be different, these broader processes are at work in cities across North America, and certainly in Vancouver.
Vancouver City Council, under the direction of the ruling Vision Vancouver party, wants to remove two remnants of the never fully realized inner city highway system in the downtown core. But, in the process, two long-standing community gardens are threatened with demolition. In this documentary, Green for All or Green for Some, Peter Driftmier explores the debate around the removal of the viaduct through the twin lenses of gentrification and environmental sustainability.
City staff have yet to come back to council with final recommendations on the removal of the viaducts. In recent months, the Strathcona Residents Association has expressed serious concerns about the possibility of increased traffic volume on Prior Street, and community groups in the Downtown Eastside have also expressed similar concerns regarding increased traffic along Hastings Street. The Vancouver Courier reported in an April 11th article that the staff report on the viaducts future is expected in June 2013.
This documentary was originally produced for Redeye on Vancouver’s Coop Radio 100.5 FM and aired in Fall 2012. Peter Driftmier is a producer with the Redeye Collective, and we are pleased to bring you this documentary. Thank you to Peter Driftmier and Redeye for permission to rebroadcast.
What do you think about the proposed $2.8 billion UBC-Broadway subway line (and the economic case for it)? Will this come at the expense of other regional rapid transit projects? How would it shape the city’s transit accessibility and urban development trajectory? What are the lessons to be learned from the Canada Line experience?
On the podcast, Matti Siemiatycki discusses transportation policy, planning metro Vancouver’s transit future, and the UBC-Broadway line. Matti Siemiatycki is assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography and Program in Planning. His research focuses on transportation policy and planning and how large infrastructure projects are financed and delivered. He has authored many articles on these topics and is involved in the Public-Private Partnership Research Project, which graphically shows trends in the delivery of transportation projects through public-private partnerships (P3s).
Social mix is a euphemism for destroying low-income communities. This is a community that fought for – and won – the only safe injection site in North America. This is a community that had to occupy a Police Board meeting in order to get the Police Board to put out the same reward for the missing women that it put out for garage robberies on the Westside. This is a community that had to fight for seven years to get a community centre like other people have. This is a community that had to camp out on a beach for a whole summer in order to get a waterfront park like other communities have. This community has a history of fighting for human rights, and the City destroys that by condo-fying the whole [neighbourhood] and displacing low income people – that will be destroying one of the most valuable assets it has.
–Jean Swanson, Carnegie Community Action Project
Vancouver’s Chinatown is undergoing increasingly rapid gentrification. The Carnegie Community Action Project’s Jean Swanson (author, Poorbashing: The Politics of Exclusion) discusses why a significant influx of condominiums and high-end retail are threatening to displace the neighbourhood’s low-income residents – and why the city is approving these major developments before the completion of the Downtown Eastside local area plan. You can check out a past podcast, From Poor to Yuppie: Artists, Boutiques, and Neighbourhood Change, if you are interested in hearing more about gentrification and social dislocation in the Downtown Eastside.
On the second half of the program, we hear why the independently-owned Festival Cinemas has been sold to Cineplex. We talk with co-owner Leonard Schein about why he is calling it quits, the challenge to operate cinemas independently, and what he believes the City and province should do to help arts and culture thrive/survive in Vancouver.