Sunday, November 09, 2014

Town Centres & Density in DNV

 A town centre, ought to have a centre. Call it a public square, a ‘commons’ or a piazza. There must be a large, central publicly owned space for people to gather. This is the foundational element for successful town centres. Around that centre, density. A mix of homes, businesses, services and activities that make the central square the place you want to be. The centre must have gravitational pull. It’s a design challenge that many don’t succeed with. But around the world there are proven town centre successes. Portland is one. Copenhagen another. In the 1970s Copenhagen removed cars from the centre of town and replaced them with human feet. It was a great success. The community has considerable density – density that’s seldom higher than 5 storeys. It’s social for people, for meeting, walking, shopping, cycling, using transit, and it allows cars on its periphery – but it’s not so car dependent that a lack of one creates impediments to happy living. And it’s a safer environment for everyone, especially for children and elders.
While North Vancouver is not Copenhagen or Portland, there are design lessons and insights for our community. We have much more study and conceptual work to do if we are to create successful town centres that enrich community life. Town centres are so important to our future, our municipal government should not hand over leadership to real estate developers as they did in Lynn Valley. While developers are valuable and necessary participants in our projects, their interests are not directly aligned with community needs – as demonstrated by Vancouver’s current ‘nobody’s home/lights out’ vacant condos.
In the case of Lynn Valley Town Centre, the approach employed by Council, letting Bosa drive the bus, was stressful for the community and the outcome is mixed. After all the debate and study, transportation, traffic and transit issues were never properly addressed. We will find ourselves with more roads that could have been human spaces, more cars to congest Mountain Highway, Lynn Valley Road, Keith Road and Highway #1 entry points. And still no centre for this ‘town’.
© Len Laycock, October 2014. More at


Anonymous said...

Please tell me why I should listen to a failed furniture retailer about urban planning?

Anonymous said...

For a list of people burned by Laycock go here:

Good article here:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Almost entirely irrelevant, but interesting. How do you rack up a $30,000 debt to Movie Central?

Looks like Len was burned the most at $350,000.

A recent bankruptcy doesn't sound good, but it is often misunderstood. Lots of businesses need to be closed because of changing market conditions, not necessarily because of incompetence.

Regarding Len's post, If he is elected, he will soon learn how little influence local councils have on Translink.

L Leeman said...

Laycock doesn't get it.

The people that moved to Lynn Valley, and paid the price, didn't move there to create a 'Town Centre'. That is an American Planning Association invention we didn't ask for.

They moved there to be free of TOWN CENTRE thinking which is all pro-DENSITY.

I know as I am one of these people.

We didn't ask for URBAN planning or planners. We moved here to be close to the mountains, the rivers, and the trees in our back yards. We didn't ask for transit, as we have our cars. Most of all we didn't ask for density and towers to house it. We just wanted a decent home on a decent lot not too far away from a supply depot ( the mall!).

This outgoing council has bought into the need for growth and that vision should absolutely have gone to referendum. It didn't and so we have had to fight Bosa and others on a 'case by case' basis as the council was utterly remiss in carrying out its duty to the taxpayers around this unwanted growth. I will not vote for ANY of the outgoing council members for that reason.

Laycock really doesnt get it at all. WE DONT WANT A TOWN CENTRE. That's already been built over in the CITY of North Vancouver with extraordinarily ugly result. No, we dont want a TOWN CENTRE.

We want a neighbourhood and that is the exact opposite of what fills the pages of the OCP document.

Anonymous said...

The OCP should have gone to referendum. Lynn Valley is being destroyed!! Len certainly gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

Wait, hasn't Lynn Valley always had a town centre of some form or other? If not, what's that rather conspicuous cluster of retail and commercial buildings around Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway? Looks a lot like a well established town centre to me.

L Leeman said...

Let's look a bit more at Len's statements. He says:
In the 1970s Copenhagen removed cars from the centre of town and replaced them with human feet.

Well it was all so eeeezy wasn't it Len? I mean if we just did the Smart thing too huh?

What Len is kind of leaving out here is HOW the Danes were bludgeoned onto bikes and feet.

Y'see they are really not a lot different from you and me. They LIKE cars. But in order to carry out the Danish War on Cars the true believer government attached a teensy weensy tax on the purchase and registration of a new or used car. Imagine if you went down to the local dealership,and to buy a nice little fuel efficient Honda and cut a deal around $20,000 . Ok here's the money let's go!!.. Uh uh. Not so fast. In Denmark, you first calculate 180 PERCENT of that 20,000 bucks and that is $36,000 which you will pay to government in registration TAX first. So the car now costs $56,000. Of course you probably finance the car AND the tax so it depends what the interest rates and terms are you could easily end up paying another $5,000 or so in interest bringing your outlay up to $63,000 bucks per Honda depending on rates and length of the loan.

Oh so maybe you WILL try a bike now? No sh##t.

When a candidate starts talkin' Copenhagen I know it's time to vote for someone else.

L Leeman said...

"Wait, hasn't Lynn Valley always had a town centre of some form or other? If not, what's that rather conspicuous cluster of retail and commercial buildings around Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway? Looks a lot like a well established town centre to me."

Well, I was using the 'Town Centre' moniker in the OCP sense not the existing mall sense, the main difference being the conspicuous lack of a thousand or so condos and associated people and their vehicles in the existing mall sense.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who votes for Len Laycock is obviously not seeing the man for what he is: a cocky know-it-all who....doesn't! I've watched him at recent ACMs and he struts and crows and generally talks down to everyone. Were he to be elected (heaven forbid) we would be back to confrontation, tension and general dysfunction on council.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 12:28

Let me get this are falling for the "cohesive" council argument, which basically means they are all whistling the same tune and there is no reasonable debate.

Anonymous said...

No, I am not. It means that they can engage in meaningful discussion and agree to disagree when that's the way it is without resorting to personal attacks, and that takes a certain personality type which does not describe Mr. Laycock. If you check, you will see that they did not all vote FOR the Larco development at Cap Road...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Muri & Doug voted against it for political posture. God help us if they are re-elected.

Vote for Len!

Griffin said...

Sounds like Mr. Laycock is doing a bit of self-aggrandizement and of course more conjecture and falsehoods. God help us if HE is elected.

Anonymous said...

Sha-na-na-na ...good-bye...

Lyle Craver said...

"Town Center" has a very specific meaning in the 2011 Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy Plan which serves as the Metro-wide "Official Community Plan" - if you don't know what that is check out the linked document.

There are various categories of "town centers" each with different characteristics - Mountain Highway & Lynn Valley Road is not the same as downtown Vancouver or Metrotown!

I thought Laycock ran an interesting campaign and made better use of e-mail than the other candidates.

I was quite frustrated with the results of the election primarily due to the continuing poor voter turnout and also my frustration at some of the people who I felt deserved to get in along with others who were elected that I felt didn't deserve to be.

Would we have had a more interesting election if Peter Kent of Squamish (who was a former Arnold Schwarzeneggar double) had promised to set himself on fire if we got more than 40% out to the polls? (He's not suicidal - he's a movie stuntman who claims to have done so several times before and will do so as soon as he can get his permits from Squamish to do so since they got 44% out to vote!)

Last of all, kudoes to re-elected School Trustee Christy Sacre who improved her margin of victory from the 1 vote margin she got in 2011!