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April 03, 2006


David Manchester

Good to see that you're still at it Arjun. This is a great source for those of us who are far away...

Anyway, on something of an aside, we've been doing some interesting stuff out here at McGill (your alma mater, I believe) as a part of the process of elaborating the new McGill "Master Plan". Some of the key aspects are reallocation of space, densification on existing lots/footprints, burying parking, and so forth, but there are also some very interesting aspects. The planners are hoping to coerce the city into allowing them to calm Penfield and MacTavish by narrowing the former and removing motor vehicles from the latter. They're also developing an interesting storm drain run-off catch plan that could save several hundred thousand dollars every year. Perhaps most exciting of all, they're planning major renovations of Burnside and Leacock towers, and the creation of a path from Roddick Gates to McLennan/Redpath library. Neat stuff, to be sure.

Why do I bring this up? Several reasons. First, it's pretty interesting, I'm sure, for a former student. Second, you have a university up on that hill there that could serve as an interesting showcase for environmental technologies. While I understand that the city has very little official contact with UCC, A few well-placed phone calls from a few motivated people could get the administration there thinking very seriously about how they might focus their development along more sustainable lines (both in terms of their built environment and their programs). Third, I really hope that you folks on council come around to doing something very serious about Seymour and Landsdowne streets. If you look at most of these cases, in Vancouver or elsewhere, downtown revitalization almost always starts with two things: 1) an anchor project that attracts other projects; and/or 2) significant changes in zoning and traffic circulation measures. I'd like to suggest that a key aspect of sustainability - especially in a city of Kamloops' size - isn't necessarily LEEDS or more buses (though those would be great)... it's a dense, revitalized downtown core. This means a downtown with grocery stores (why did council let that old Safeway be shut down all those years ago, I wonder?), that means residential towers, that means wide sidewalks and two-way traffic. It also means doing something very serious with city property, it means leaning on the CPR and the Thompson Park folks to develop some of their property west of 4th, and so forth.

I'd also say that it means building a new city hall to spur development, and it means an end to wasteful spending on discredited early nineties "tournament capital" money pits, but then, I suppose that ship has sailed.

Anyway, you're a councillor now, I'm sure you're getting all kinds of advice...

One last little bit though -

I assume you'll be headed to the world urban forum:

It's in Vancouver in June, and registration is free. Virtually every urban planner/architect, environmental activist, green capitalist or political type I know is going to be there.

And again, thanks for keeping us informed!

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