Below is a CityHallWatch report of this presentation, contributed by a CityHallWatch reader. At the bottom is text of the original announcement by the organizers, with profiles for the speakers and moderator.
Built City Vancouver
An interesting night at the Museum of Vancouver on September 20 featured two of Vancouver’s past planning titans, in a discussion moderated by Joost Bakker of Dialog. The night started with Ray Spaxman recounting his past trajectory to head city planner of Vancouver, followed by the same by Brent Toderian.
Softly spoken in his British accent, Spaxman had tidbits of wisdom noting that as a planner or a city council, defining and sticking to principles is the most critical and central tenet to good planning.
Toderian spoke in his familiar firm and self-assured tone, at one point momentarily neglecting Joost’s topic to sidetrack it with one of his many anecdotes about a positive call he’s made as a planner, or an accomplishment he was “instrumental” in helping city X or Y achieve. Others following his growing online presence since being ousted by the city might also note this air of self-promotion, but otherwise Brent added value to a good discussion.
Overall the night was pretty tame. Some interesting points of agreement between Spaxman and Toderian included mutual apprehension to the City of Vancouver replacing the post of Director of Planning with a newly-created position of General Manager of Planning and Development. Spaxman was critical of the fact that the newly-minted position includes a commitment to “revenue generation for the city.”
A tidbit of wisdom in this regard from Spaxman: ”Good management will help you climb the ladder. Good leadership will ensure that the ladder is on the right wall.”
An interesting point of divergence that fueled a good discussion between the two former city planners is the use of discretionary zoning to fund amenities such as the seawall through developer fees. For Spaxman, comprehensive development re-zonings are beginning to pockmark the city without necessarily fitting into a unified vision, with negative financial consequences on land surrounding these rezoned sites. For Toderian, the cost benefit is positive in the tradeoff for what he terms “the good of the commonwealth.” Spaxman is a bit more idealistic in wishing the impetus for amenities was supported (and funded?) by the communities themselves, rather than through “blackmailing” developers.
Capping the night and what was otherwise a pretty tame discussion were confrontational questions shouted from the back of the room by critic Trevor Boddy.
Original announcement by the organizers.
Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution “Retold” with Ray Spaxman & Brent Toderian September 20, 2012
Museum of Vancouver
Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM (PDT)
MOV’s 2nd annual “Built City” lecture series with Architecture Canada will explore the “3 Rs of City Building, and Vancouver’s Urban Evolution. Beginning with a dialogue with two of Vancouver’s key city planners, the series will invite city thinkers from all disciplines and areas of interest, to make connections between community, policy & governance, to the ideals and economics of architectural theory and practice.
Vancouver is a city whose urban planning and architectural design techniques have spurred lively global debate, especially around evolving policy principles and practice. Join us for the first lecture in this year’s Built City lecture with two of Vancouver’s high profile former Chief Planners, Ray Spaxman and Brent Toderian, as they share their thoughts and reflections from their respective tenures at City Hall.
Ray Spaxman, has over 30 years of intense international planning and design experience. As a practicing architect and planner in England, city planner in Toronto and Vancouver, Ray has built his reputation for creative and innovative approaches to complex problems, and a commitment to a consultative approach. Ray has lectured internationally on planning and urban design, is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners, and has received several awards for his outstanding contributions to Canadian planning.
Brent Toderian is a well known practitioner and international leader in advanced urbanism, city planning and design. From 2006-2012, Brent was the Chief Planner for Vancouver, and his accomplishments included 2010 Winter Olympics related planning and design, the Greenest City Initiative, new visions for the city’s viaducts, active transport, public street activation, the Cambie Corridor Plan, and leadership in the Metro Vancouver Regional Plan. Brent is the founding President for the Council for Canadian Urbanism, an advisory board member at the Urban Land Institute, and frequent international speaker, teacher, and collaborator.
*Disussant & Moderator: Joost Bakker is a principal in the prominent Vancouver architectural firm Dialog. Joost is focused on innovative urban design, mixed-use, institutional and cultural projects both at home and abroad. His passion for the public realm has always inspired the creation of meaningful and memorable public places, such as the internationally recognized Granville Island and the Governor General award for his work on Richmond City Hall with KPMB architects.