Thursday, May 20, 2010

Victoria moves downtown plan forward

Today's Council meeting advanced our Draft Downtown Plan - a vision for the heart of Victoria over the next few decades.  It's an ambitious project that expands the downtown core to recognize that the city is growing and districts around the commericial heart of the city will develop consistent with the city centre moreso than with their immediate neighbourhoods.

For Old Town, it reinforces our commitment to preserving the unique heritage and modest scale of our historic city.  In other nearby blocks, renewal, increases in resident populations, growth in office and commercial density is envisioned to keep Victoria as the region's downtown.  We'll invite hi-tech and light industry to locate in the city to help keep our economy vibrant and diverse.

For me some of the key and exciting new directions include an emphasis on walking, cycling and transit as our primary transportation choices.  We want to lower our carbon footrpint and make our city more sustainable.  It doesn't mean we are pushing cars out, more that we are inviting people in.  The evolution will take place over time and we'll plan to make walking, cycling and transit the easiest, most appealing and safest choice for our citizens and the people who also work, play or visit here.

It's also refreshing to see an acknowledgement that waterfront parking lots need to be redeveloped - preserving our most desirable land and our best  viewscapes for empty cars has long been one of my frustrations.  We can do better.

I'll be sharing more of my thoughts on the blog on issues raised by the plan - like the future of Government St. 

I'm off to Toronto for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference to help shape policy for local governments in Canada and to network with colleagues from near and far who face similar challenges to those we face at home.  I will be doing some local research there too - checking out car free zones in the Distillery District and having a look at their Cherry St. Bridge, built by the same architect who did our Johnson St. Bridge.  I'll also be meeting with some of Toronto's leading bike and active transportation activists to see what new ideas I can borrow.

 I'm sure the trip will help me reflect on the planning and transportation issues that will be central to our downtown plan, as well as other projects I'm working on.

We're several months away from adopting the plan and we have plenty of public consultation to engage in before Council endorses a final plan.  Click on the title and it will connect you to the city's plan page.  It's a great read and I hope you'll get involved in helping us to shape the future of downtown Victoria.

Monday, May 17, 2010

U.S. Cap and Trade Analysis

The cap and trade system being introduced in the U.S. is an important step forward in battling climate change.  Here's some details and analysis of the program.