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From "The Record", there will be a free public lecture by former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt tomorrow (feb 27, 2007) 3:30 pm, at the UW Humanities Theatre. I'd love to go, but i'll be working at that time :-( Is anyone on here planning to attend? The article:


UW guest Harcourt attacks development 'abomination'
TERRY PENDER
WATERLOO (Feb 26, 2007)

Calling it a medieval abomination, the former premier of British Columbia says Ontario should abolish a powerful tribunal that often overrules the land-use and city-building decisions of elected officials.

Mike Harcourt, who is taking up a visiting professorship at the University of Waterloo, said all other provinces find it a "medieval abomination to have a bunch of unelected people overruling an elected council."

But the abolition of the Ontario Municipal Board, which is appointed by the province, should only occur after city halls radically change the way development gets approved.

If not, city councillors will sometimes vote against developments to satisfy potential voters opposed to a new neighbourhood or building, Harcourt said.

"More responsibility and accountability must also be given to municipal councils, so you can't have irresponsible behaviour, where people showboat in their ward to kill off a good quality development."

Harcourt touts the example of Vancouver, which created an independent body appointed by city councillors to review and approve individual developments.

"We have a development permit board and a whole series of negotiations and creative engagement between architects and developers and city hall," Harcourt said.

This development permit board operates independent of city council.

Harcourt calls this more responsible, transparent and accountable because city councillors cannot then oppose good development because of pressure from potential voters.

"We lay out the zoning and the over-all plan for the city, but then development takes place in a meritocracy rather than in petty politics and showboating," Harcourt said.

Harcourt, who will be teaching UW graduate students on and off until March 16, knows about cities from the ward up. He was a Vancouver city councillor and then mayor. He chaired an advisory committee on cities and communities for former prime minister Paul Martin. And he sat on the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy. Last year, he won the Canadian Urban Institute's Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award.

Vancouver is ranked by the United Nations as one of the world's most livable cities, and is renowned for having a beautiful, dense urban landscape that is transit friendly.

That city is often held out as a model of new urbanism, where strip malls are banned, and parking lots must be built underground. There is only one, short expressway disrupting the urban fabric.

Vancouver has been called the international urban poster child.

No city in Canada is yet sustainable, but Vancouver is much further along than most because it built a fast and efficient system of public transit to service the high-density developments.

"Transportation is key, but you have to link it to land use because they feed each other," Harcourt said. "The more compact the development gets, the more transit friendly it becomes.

"And the better the transit system you've got, the more people are encouraged then to live in higher-density nodes around rapid-transit stops."

Harcourt has a book coming out later this year called City Making in Paradise, which he wrote with Ken Cameron and Sean Rossiter. It's about urban planning and the City of Vancouver since the Second World War. The books is about the issues and citizen action behind nine key decisions that made Vancouver what it is today.

"So it's a pat on the back to the visionary politicians and planners and citizens who have helped create one of the most livable cities in the world," Harcourt said.

"And it's a kick in the ass to the present generation for not getting with the tough issues on sustainability."

[email protected]

HARCOURT AT UW
Who: former B.C. premier, former Vancouver mayor and former Vancouver city councillor.
Where: UW Humanities Theatre, J.G. Hagey Hall.
When: Tomorrow, 3:30 p.m.
What: Free public lecture called Canada's Cities: Competitive and Sustainable?
 

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I See Skyscrapers
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This Harcourt sounds like a real asshole. I think he should go back to BC where people actually believe that crap. I'm very happy with the OMB, thank you very much.
 
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