October 6th, 2007

Vancouver Furnishes Its Sidewalks

Posted in Art and Design, Canada by Christopher DeWolf

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Downtown Vancouver has an abundance of high-quality new street furniture, thanks in large part to a proactive planning department that gives developers density bonuses in exchange for public amenities. So far, developers have paid for countless water features, a good number of parks, social housing, a permanent home for the Vancouver International Film Festival and even a new elementary school. But they have also shelled out for some small but important pieces of street furniture. Montreal could learn a few lessons.

The strange-looking bike rack above is a nice example. I found it on Davie Street near the corner of Seymour, just outside a large new condo complex. It is both attractive and functional, which is something that cannot be said for the woefully misguided bicycle rack design that is the standard across Montreal.

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Like Montreal, Vancouver does not maintain street recycling bins. Unlike Montreal, though, it has come up with an ingeniously simple way to make sure that bottles and cans are recycled nonetheless. Many garbage cans in the city feature a “recycling rack” with room for five containers; put your bottle there and, soon enough, someone will take it to the bottle depot to cash its deposit. Vancouver has a virtual army of men and women who scour garbage cans for anything with a deposit value so these recycling racks are never full for long.

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Many newly-developed residential areas in downtown Vancouver include superbly-designed parks and plazas. One of these, George Wayburn Park, includes a row of permanent metal sunchairs that face False Creek and the afternoon sun. It’s a nice touch that adds a bit of playfulness to its surroundings.

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There are few legal spaces for postering in Montreal. You can stick a poster onto any construction hoarding, but these are monopolized by an advertising company called Publicité sauvage. There are also a handful of poster boards in the Quartier des spectacles and outlying boroughs like Lachine. In the most heavily trafficked places in town — exactly where legal postering space is needed the most — people are forced to glue their posters illegally to mailboxes, lampposts and other surfaces.

Vancouver is far more accommodating: hundreds of lampposts around the city have been fitted with casts to which anyone can stick a poster. City workers clear them every Tuesday.


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One comment

  1. Samantha Orwell says:

    http://www.thevancouvermanifesto.blogspot.com/

    You speak so nicely abobut Vancouver, but a Vancouver resident would know that:

    -although we pretty awesome at making bike racks we have yet to have citizens that don’t steal bikes. bike racks are often unused unless just popping into the store
    - yes we have recycling racks but on any given day you will see more starbucks cups in them than bottles or cans
    -we’re not that accommodating with posting bills. people are just lazy at enforcing where we post bills.

    April 6th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

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