Friday, January 05, 2007
an utopian ideal
I heard a fellow speaking on TV a few nights ago who was making New Year projections, and he went further than just 2007. Some of what he said was whacky - which got my own whacky ideas going. He spoke of peak oil (yawn), but one of the things he said was that he believed that by 2020, the personal automobile would be but a memory. Being that I had just posted in a nostalgiac vein, I mentally rambled around that idea.
I can't remember as far back as the time when most urbanites had not personal vehicles, but it wasn't that long ago, and it is more of a North American phenomenon anyhow. So I wondered - would I be able to live comfortably without a vehicle? No, I would not. Why? Because transit sucks in Vancouver. It really does, and the gov'ts have no readily apparent interest in solving that problem in an effective manner. The RAV line is a case in point. I won't rant about that here - because I'm going off-topic on myself... Maybe we will all have electric buggies of some type - I don't care - so long as I can still get around effectively.
Now, what if we reclaimed all of the venal residential streets and built in-fill housing on them? Perhaps give the landholders on those streets the opportunity to buy the land in front of their homes from the city and build small, affordable homes on them? The City could retain title to the sidewalks and boulevards to maintain access. Streets are 33 feet wide, which is a standard lot width. It would hopefully create more green space too, and the city would save millions every year on street maintenance. The laneways would be retained by the city for services - and for yer electric buggy. The money raised from land sales would be put towards an effective transit system a la some exemplary European and Asian cities.
I photoshopped the above pic as an amusement - to help me envision such a street. The result would be world class. We would attract the best of companies to situate their head offices here. Land values would be stratospheric. This city would become the most desired place in the world to live. I'm writing the copy in my head now - The bold can move to Mexico City or Detroit. The smart, peaceful, content money lives in Vancouver - The Garden Paradise on the Pacific.
It seems extreme at first blush, but the City already has some vision of a liveable city, and changes will come whether we like it or not. In the long run, I think we will like it.
The crazy weather has the environment on everybody's minds, and gov'ts will react. Whether (no pun intended) they react with vision remains to be seen.