The stark geography of housing prices in Vancouver

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I would love to be able to map this kind of data for Toronto and Montreal. Never has the divide between West Van and East Van been more clear. (For the associated article in the Globe and Mail, click here.)

It’s instructive to put this side-by-side with local election returns. Here’s a map from a very good SFU masters thesis by Michelle Vernooy, which shows the areas supporting the centre-left Vision party versus the centre-right NPA:



Project: Ward boundary review in Toronto

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The disparity in the populations of the City of Toronto’s wards is large and increasing. This undermines equality of electoral representation, residents’ access to councilors, and the quality of constituency services provided by councilors. All councillors have identical office resources and time constraints, yet some must interact with more constituents than others. This imbalance will be resolved one or way or another before the next election as the City undertakes a review of ward boundaries. The question is — how? And can it be done in such a way as to improve civic democracy, accountability, and responsiveness?

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Project: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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Hardly a month goes by without a report that a particular city is the best place to live, work, invest in, or visit. Rankings and ratings make for an easy news story. Reporting in numerical terms that Vancouver provides a quality of life superior to that of Johannesburg, or that Cleveland is a better place to do business than Paris, satisfies a contemporary appetite for cut-and-dried empirically grounded “facts.” And local media coverage of a city’s changing position in rankings has become a regular event that politicians and public officials dare not ignore.

How good are these rankings? How do they work? Are they well designed? How should they be interpreted by policymakers? This project sought to answer all these questions.

Featured in the Atlantic Cities blog.

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Project: Growing Cities

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This project was a comparison of long-term planning policies with measurements of urban development patterns in the Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto metropolitan areas. It showed that each city pursued a different approach to planning urban growth, and that these different approaches have shaped and channelled that growth in distinctive ways.

Commissioned by the Neptis Foundation, this project was produced in collaboration with Marcy Burchfield, Byron Moldofsky, and Jo Ashley.

Project: Shaping the Toronto Region

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This report examines 16 districts in the Greater Toronto Area to assess how density is related to era of development, standards for parks and schools, housing type mix, street configuration, employment, and travel behaviour.  We also analyzed 24 hypothetical scenarios to estimate the effects on density of planning policy changes. The findings have implications for urban growth policy.

Prepared with John van Nostrand, PlanningAlliance Inc., for the Neptis Foundation.

The report won an Excellence in Planning Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners in 2009.

Project: Simcoe County – The New Growth Frontier

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In this project we investigated plans for several very large-scale developments in the county to the north of the Greater Toronto Area found that developers, rather than municipal authorities, were driving the county’s growth pattern and infrastructure investments.

The report anticipated subsequent provincial actions to protect the Lake Simcoe watershed and ensure orderly development.

Commissioned by the Neptis Foundation and prepared with Leah Birnbaum and Lorenzo Nicolet.