With a little help from my friends

I love the Swiss Miss newsletter. I hate getting email but I always open this one. It brightens my day.

The latest edition included this quote:

It’s as simple and as complex as that. You’re the only you that’s ever been. Keep showing up despite the chaos. Be humble in the pursuit of your art and ruthless about finding the time to make it. Find friends with whom you can weather the tragic gaps. Give one another loving, honest feedback and teach each other how to make money in weird, sustaining ways. Collaborate and commiserate. Make relationships that are reciprocal, not transactional. Make lives that aren’t easy, but rife with good material. Make art that matters.
— Courtney Martin

I am a sucker for a good quote. And this is a good quote.

It's got the simple and complex thing. Because it really is that easy and that hard. You just have to do it. As best as you can. Even though you don't really know how.

The main thing I like about this is the find friends part. Because I have found some friends, a crew of sorts, of the kind I've been longing for since I finished undergrad and the easy friendships that come with close proximity and common existences.

I had no idea when I took that job at that bike store or got involved with the Bike Root what would happen, where it would take me. I had no idea that I was finding my people, a group of fantastic wonderful people. That it would lead me to friendships and love and community and belonging.

Having good friends isn't something you should take for granted. When I was an undergrad I did. I don't anymore. Instead, tonight I am grateful for the friends that I have found because they are pretty fantastic.

 

Sound and the City

A few years ago, and by a few I mean a few, my sister sent me an audio postcard from London where she was living at the time. It had recordings of different spots around the city. I really loved the concept of it. Little snippets of these places and spaces. Capturing the experience of what it was like to be there.

I've always felt that need to capture experiences. To share them. To document them. That's part of why I spent a big chunk of the last 24 hours going through old blog posts and moving them here. It's tedious but I feel a need to do it. Because then it's all here. Every post. Every lousy post. And a couple of good ones.

That way I can look back at where I've been and in a way see a bit of how I got to here.

I can see the work, the evolution and think about who i was and what I was doing.

When I look back on my life and all the things I've done I have words and images to document them and to place me back into that moment. I think that's pretty cool.

After receiving the audio postcard I came up with the idea of doing my own audio postcards. I came up with a project called Sound and the City that never went anywhere. I did some audio recordings and a basic design but that was pre-podcast and I didn't do much with it.

Nowadays I spend most of my time listening to podcasts. They are my main form of entertainment, a way to feel connected, to learn, to be challenged. I am who I am and I'm doing what I'm doing in large part because of podcasts.

I think about starting a podcast. A lot.

It started with me being annoyed that a couple of my favourite podcasts don't interview landscape architects and urban designers. Who else would you want to interview? If I had a podcast it'd be all built environment all the time. Then I was like I guess I'm the person who should start that podcast.

It's a thought and if it sticks around long enough then maybe it'll go somewhere.

I'm looking for a producer and composer if anyone is interested.

I'm also trying to think of a name.

Wild Thing: Conversations about the built and natural environment comes to mind. I think it would confuse people and be too associated with other things. Usually the name comes and then there's a project.

Maybe when I think of a name and wrap up that book I'm editing and settle into school and have a better handle on my health problems and all 500 other ideas I have I'll do it.

And maybe if I do do it I'll include little snippets of sound from spots around this city, audio postcards of sorts.

Car Free Day Westend cellphone

A couple of cellphone snaps from Car Free Day in the West End.

The first is a book that I am confident I will enjoy. The chair disappeared shortly after I sat down — I was waiting for some friends and the festivals was wrapping up — but I had good banters with the guy who was putting them away.

The other is a broken chair I saw after I was rendered chairless.

Car Free Day Westend Mirrorless

I got to car free day on Denman in the West End around 6ish. It's been hella hot so I wanted to let it cool off then time got away from me. I was annoyed that a number of booths had packed up even though it said it runs until 7. Ahem.

Anyways. I collected numerous buttons and bought an on sale hat so it counts as a win.

I also made it to the library five minutes before it closed, averting the tragedy of having mistakenly taken out a book I've already read instead of a book I want to read that normally lives next to it at a different library. I plooped it on the counter and found another book in about sixty seconds. I am pro.

Car Free Day Mainstreet Mirrorless

Some shots from Car Free Day on Mainstream yesterday.

I don't love street festivals. Mostly they're overwhelming and hot. So many people. I do like some of the booths and I feel like I need to get out to these things because they are a car free day.

I do like that I got to wander free on a space that normally isn't mine. I do like that they're a chance for all of us to reconsider who and what streets can be for.

I will also add that normal pedestrianized streets aren't a street festival. They can be busy, they can have booths, but they're generally a bit quieter, freer, like the seawall.

In the loop

There is some really really nice housing in Marda Loop. I wish we had zoning more like this everywhere.

The area could still working on having actual high street zoning so that the whole of the mainstream all the way to and then along 14th could actually have retail and active frontages but overall it's a good hood in yyc,

Outliers at Fairy Tales Film Festival

Some cellphone snaps from the Outliers film a couple of days ago.

A friend invited me, in part because I went on one of Kevin Allen's Gay History walks a few years ago so he knew I'd be interested. It was a cool film and I hope that they make those commemorative plaques happen. This history should be noted and celebrated in our public spaces.

I also think that there's potential for the use of sidewalk stamps to reference this history. When at some point the sidewalk outside the Carousel Club is replaced you could easily put some stamps of carousel horses in the sidewalk as a neat little reference to the important space that was once in that place.

Some thoughts on the future of 17th ave

One of the great things about current journalism and social media is that we get to have conversations and engage with ideas. The Sprawlhas started a fantastic conversation about the future of 17th ave and I have decided to weigh in with my $0.03. (This received positive feedback on Twitter.)

Over the years I have spent a lot of time on 17th. First as a teenager in junior high school when we strayed across the river from the north to this magical seeming place. 17thseemed so cool and big. The entire city did.

We mostly stuck with the bits between 4thst and where Steeling Home is today. We'd go to Blue Light Special, that cool store where The George apartments and the Best Buy are now. We'd go to the thrift store on the second floor at the building by Reid's. I don't know if it's there anymore. We'd go to Divine and look at the shoes and flip through shirts.

I was never good at pulling magical outfits off of thrift store racks but it was fun anyways. Mostly I bought t-shirts including an Expo 86 one with an astronaught on it and thought I was super cool. Really I was just an awkward tomboy who didn't know what they were doing — who knows how much that has changed.

Nowadays 17th doesn't seem so mysterious or magical. It's a place I am used to instead of somewhere I am discovering.

I love the Beltline. It's probably my favourite community in Calgary. I like urban and diverse places. I feel more at home amongst high rises and townhomes than in the suburb where I grew up or the suburb where I live now in Vancouver — I am visiting Calgary at the moment so I can add that credibility to my opinions. If I were to live anywhere in Calgary the Beltline would be at the top of my list. Bankview and Lower Mount Royal would be up there too.

There's something special about this place.

So here are some of the thoughts I have based on listening to the podcast episode and the coverage that's happened so far:

1.

The redo is a huge missed opportunity. It's very car-centric and could be so much more.

2.

I don't understand the Robson St comparison. What does that mean?

What qualities of Robson St are they referring to? What built form is this suggesting? Does this comparison include the pedestrianized block of Robson Square?

3.

How gradual is this change going to be?

I worry that if too many buildings are redeveloped at once it could really disrupt what makes 17thspecial while resulting in homogenous construction. Jane Jacobs remarked in The Death and Life of Great American Citiesthat areas should evolve over time and have a diversity of ages of building stock. She also warned that if areas evolve too quickly and there is too much pressure for a popular area to redevelop that it can cancel out what made it good in the first place.

Will that be lost on 17th? Will what has made the area so successful result in it losing it's spark?

I'd recommend that the developer be careful to ensure that buildings look different and to partner with different architects to ensure diversity. It would be a huge shame for the street to look the same.

This is an opportunity to partner with various talented local and international architects to get creative and do great work on this street.

4.

I bristled at Rollin Stanley's remarks about his comfort level riding in traffic. On both a personal level and as an aspiring built environment professional I take issue with much of what this statement says about the future of 17th and who it is for.

How we design our streets is very important. Built environment professionals decide how people live and how they die. If they get it wrong then it can cost people their lives. I may be a bit intense at times but I care a lot about this stuff and I do not take road design lightly. We have a responsibility to ensure that our streets are safe, equitable, inclusive and accessible.

We should not design our streets for the small minority of people who feel comfortable cycling in traffic. We don't build cycle tracks for middle-aged white men who will ride regardless of infrastructure design. We build cycle tracks for people like me.

I am an anxious and timid female cyclist. I would never ride on 17th. Ever.

I wish I was more comfortable and confident. I wish I wasn't freaked out by stuff as much as I am. I got into cycling activism in large part because I didn't feel safe riding on my city's streets but I wanted to.

The cycle tracks have opened up large parts of the city to people who have never had that chance before. I can now ride my bike to the Beltline.

We should design them for those with vulnerabilities and those who would otherwise be excluded from accessing them. This is about freedom and choice. It is about inclusive and accessible design. Everyone should be able to feel safe and comfortable on 17thnot just those with the most privilege.

The 8 to 80 approach to city building is one that I think should guide everything we do. It argues that if you design roads, spaces, cities, etc for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old you will end up designing a road that does a good job of serving everyone.

If you design a road to serve the needs of middle-aged white dudes who feel safe riding in traffic you're going to design a space that doesn't meet a lot of people's needs. It certainly doesn't meet mine.

I also wonder about vision zero, the idea that no number of traffic deaths is acceptable. By designing 17th as a car-centric space we are saying that a certain number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries will occur. Safety and well-being should be put above parking spaces. We should fully commit to vision zero and stop making excuses for anything less. 

5.

Back to Jane Jacobs I think she'd love 17th. It's everything that crazy chaotic cities should be. It's what happens when you don't have rules forbidding most things and let a place evolve naturally.

The Beltline is diverse and dynamic. You can find so many different types of things all together and that's what works.

We should let the flexibility and randomness continue instead of forbidding it as so much planning does.

6.

How many malls are struggling because the anchor tenant model is dying? Is this really the best idea for how to plan the future of 17th?

7.

12–15 stories totally count as midrise. I've been told that 6 stories is basically a highrise and I'm like uh no. I will be referring to this the next time someone tells me modest midrise is a highrise.

8.

Midrise offers a fantastic opportunity to transition between the highrise character of the Beltline and the lower heights in Cliff-Bungalow Mission and Lower Mount Royal. This is a great strategy and I am excited to see how it plays out.

9.

If people aren't comfortable with fully pedestrianizing 17th there is potential for part-time closures. Calgary should consider a summer streets program where certain streets are closed on Saturdays or Sundays in summer. It would also be worth considering closing part of 17thto traffic on Friday and Saturday nights to allow nightlifers to meander between bars. I have suggested this for 10thave as well.

When I was in Edinburgh I lived near a street called the Cowgate. It was home to a high concentration of bars and was closed to traffic on Friday and Saturday nights.

This would be a good way of introducing folks who are a little bit timid about pedestrianization to seeing the street differently and to imagining what it would be like if it was more about 17thas a place than 17th as a way of moving cars.

Stephen Ave serves as the heart of Downtown. 17th is the heart of a handful of other communities. I think it would be a more vibrant and successful place if we gave more space on it to pedestrians and less to cars. This could include wider sidewalks or full pedestrianization.

Many cities around the world are making bold moves in giving road space over to pedestrians and cyclists. Will Calgary be joining them with a reimagined 17th?

Immigrants vs. global capital flows and inclusiveness in Canada's big cities

When it comes to Vancouver's housing crisis we can all agree that there is a problem but it's harder to think of a solution. One of the problems that we all seem to be able to identify is the influence of global capital and real estate speculation on housing prices.

Some have called to ban foreign ownership. Today, BC Premier John Horgan ruled this option out saying, "British Columbia is the gateway to Canada and I don't believe we should be curbing people coming here. I'm the child of an immigrant, virtually everyone I see here is the child of an immigrant."

I'm a bit confused by this argument because global capital flows are not immigration. The problems with people from far away places buying properties they don't live in isn't the same as immigration. If I were to design a policy regulating foreign ownership I would make it so that residents, which includes immigrants would be able to buy property.

The difference between immigrants and global real estate speculation is that immigrants actually live here. They migrate to Canada. What they probably find is that Canada's two largest cities are rampantly unaffordable and that the routes to success taken by previous generations of immigrants are closed off to them.

The problem isn't immigrants, people who come and live in Canada, buying housing. It's people who don't live in Canada buying housing. It's those who wish to treat our housing markets as places to park capital and make money making it so that people who do live here can't survive.

So why are we equating immigrants and being an inclusive place with welcoming an endless free-flow of speculative global investment?

If we really want to be an inclusive place where immigrants and the children of immigrants can make it then we have to be a place where people can afford to live. Immigrants are as much a victim of the housing crisis as anyone else. Imagine how hard it is for new immigrants and refugees to build lives in Canada when the cost of housing is so out of reach. For us to be an inclusive place we need to be a place with housing people can actually afford.

So why is regulating foreign capital flows somehow pegged to being an inclusive society? It beats me. It's not possible for an airline to be majority foreign owned in Canada but our housing market is up for grabs? That doesn't make any sense.

Now, back to the children of immigrants. I know quite a few first-generation Canadians. Their parents came here for freedom or opportunity or because of the idea of this place that we project into the world. Parents dream of giving their kids a better life. Sadly, for most of my friends that life doesn't include being able to own or afford housing. I don't know a single first generation Canadian who can afford a one-bedroom condo in Vancouver. Not one. So what was Horgan saying about the children of immigrants and the promise of opportunity in Canada?

There are many models for how we can regulate foreign investment in Canada's real estate. Switzerland offers a compelling model.

Global capital flows are not immigrants. They are very different. Immigrants are people, people who actually live in Canada, people who are being crushed by the housing crisis just like the rest of us. Global capital flows are money. Until we decide that people matter more than money we will not be an inclusive place for anyone, immigrants and children of immigrants included.

Repost: An urban strategies and design approach to Highland Park redevelopment

I posted this on my Wordpress back when this was before yyccc. I found the draft and am reposting here in case anyone finds it useful.

I've been following the Highland Park redevelopment proposal, mostly from social media, and I'm not very impressed by what I see. The process has been highly dysfunctional and it makes me wonder about the state of planning in Calgary. By applying the basics I learned in my program last year I could easily come up with a better development proposal.

The opposition to the Highland Park proposal hasn't been classic NIMBYish. It's been a community opposed to a development that fails to respond to its needs and that fails to apply the most basic urban design principles. The community isn't upset about density. They are angry about green spaces, drainage and watersheds. They are angry about TOD that is in no way TOD.

Two really easy things have been missed: context and putting the public realm first.

Context and assets

The first place I'd start when planning a development like this is context.

I'd study the history of the area and the site. How has it evolved over time? What previous uses have been in place there?

I'd look at the community it's in and those around it. What is the character of that community? What is good about it? What can be improved? What do residents want from a new development?

Here there are some concerns that I'd ignore. Generally people opposed to mid-rise development in single-family home communities need to be told that density is not up for discussion. The way it happens is but the concept itself is not. In this situation the community isn't opposed to density, at least not from the objections I'm hearing. They're opposed to badly done density. That is fair. Badly done density serves the needs of no one.

Then because this is an old golf course on a sloped site I'd look at the ecology and geography of the site. I'd look at waterways. I'd wait for the watersheds study to come out. I'd look at the sad buried stream that can be brought back to life. I'd look at flooding and seasonal rain. Given how prone to flooding the stream in Confederation Park is this should be a serious concern for any development here.

At the charette the community favoured a park in the middle with housing around the edges. Instead the proposal is clumsy with housing shoved in the middle of the valley and poorly thought out green spaces dispersed between. This type of green space will be neglected and used by no one.

Context tells you what a development should be like. You take the history, community character, and the ecology and geography of the site and you build something around that. The public realm, in this case the park, should be designed first. Then you plan the buildings.

The proposal before council fails to do these basic things. They have not listened to the community association. They started with buildings instead of the public realm.

The proposal also commits the horrible blunder of running a road through a green space. Why in 2017 we would even consider this is beyond me. Buildings around the edges would mean that existing roads can link to new buildings. Instead of daylighting the stream they want to pave it over.

An urban design approach would see the stream as an asset to be cherished. If Jane Jacobs taught us anything it's that development should enhance what is already good about a place, a community, a site. It should be used to make it better, not worse.

Why not create a sustainable urban drainage system centered on a stream and floodway? There is a great opportunity here and we are missing it.

Precedence and examples

It's always a good idea to look at similar developments in Calgary that have been done well and what can be learned from them. Confederation Park has a similar geography and housing around the edge of a park. Bridgeland can be an example of how to introduce new built form around a park and public space considerations. What are other examples in the city that we can learn from?

Just say no

No development is better than bad development. If you say yes to anything you get bad development. That is a bad development and it doesn't have to happen. Once it does it's too late. The opportunity is gone for at least 100 years and probably forever. The City of Calgary needs to start saying no and expecting development of a high quality. If it's not good enough it's just a waste of opportunity and resources. Quality should be the rule, not the exception.

An urban design approach is about looking at how buildings fit into the communities and spaces around them. It means taking a wholistic approach to them and demanding quality.

Council has the power to demand more and set higher standards. They have the ability to change guidelines.

Calgarians have the obligation to insist on better like we are with this awful proposal. We can do better than this.

Relationship to broader policies

This proposal is impacted by a lot of broader policies in the city including the Green Line, the densification of the Centre Street corridor, the watershed study, other parks and the pathway network.

Intensification of use in the area will mean more people using the same amount of green space. Taking away a green space instead of creating one means they have even less park space. Again density is only good if you do it well. Has the city considered how parks and potential green spaces fit in with the plan for the Green Line? Why not use this as one of those spaces?

If you are aiming for TOD why put a road through a green space? Why widen McKnight? It's 2017. Other places figured this stuff out decades ago and we're still doing it wrong.

How does this space fit in with the pathway network and linear parks in north Calgary? Can it not be an extension of those? We are known for our pathway network and green spaces that enhance quality of life. Why not use that strength here? Again Jane Jacobs would say that we need to enhance what is good rather than destroying it.

How does this space fit in with cycling networks and active living strategies?

How does it relate to parks right next to it like Confederation Park? What impact does a change here have on Confederation Park?

Form and existing areas

The sad thing about this whole debacle is that I really like the buildings, urban design failings aside. They are the type of development I'd like to see in Calgary. If done on an existing paved block this wouldn't be an issue, it would be great. Unfortunately it's really hard to do blocks and buildings of this type in existing communities. We are so stuck with single-family homes and big setbacks that we make it nearly impossible to do good development in existing communities.

Lack of area plan

This is the second development in a very short period of time where a lack of area plan has created difficulties in assessing a proposal. The city needs to commit to area plans. They need to define what sort of development should take place in every community in Calgary. They need to be engaging with community groups to create long-term visions. Starting with an area plan and then having developments that fit in with it will prevent this sort of development that completely ignores the needs of the community and is very badly done. The golf course site could be clearly defined as a park with development around the edges.

In Edinburgh planning is done differently. They don't have strict land use rules. Instead they have suggestions for what type of development they'd like to see proposed in an area or street as well as what areas are being targeted for what types of development.

We need to start defining what the characters of communities are and what we want to see happening in them. The city needs to commit to hiring staff to do long-term area plans and to engage communities in this process. It's not that hard to do we just have to decide that it matters.

The city also needs to take an urban design perspective to proposals. Vancouver has adopted this approach and it has paid off. We can do it too but it means hiring someone with a background like mine to look at developments and have a say early on. A lot of the issues with the proposal are painfully obvious to me. The solutions are simple as well. You could do something really great on this site. Will we?

Eclipse watching

The Eclipse that some people have long awaited and I heard about a few weeks ago happened today. It was pretty cool, although probably way cooler down in totality. The partial eclipse was neat but not really the same.

It seemed that the people who were crying and deeply moved all got the full on eclipse experience, and well I felt a little bit bummed out that I didn't. I felt left out from the coolness. I wish I'd hoped in the SUV and headed to Idaho or that I'd been in Oregon. Next time.

Fortunately I get to say next time. Come hell or high water I'm planning on hitting up the totality zone in 2024. It seems like an amazing experience and I want to have it. Just have to stay alive until then. If I do live long enough an eclipse will be headed over Alberta this century so that's something to look forward to — that's 2044. I doubt I'll be around for the one in 2099 but that will hit up Canada.

My mother is a huge nerd so she ordered eclipse glasses early. It was great having that taken care of knowing that they were probably not fakes. She used to take us out to do astronomy things as kids and I'd be tired and bored. She never converted us.

Today I went up to Nose Hill because I wanted a view to the south. It's close and high and it was a great pick. I don't go there enough even though it's so close. It was pretty quiet when I got there. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get a spot in the parking lot but that wasn't an issue. The Internet said things would start around 10:20 so I got there for then. I could see it start bit by bit. It was neat but also left quite a bit of time for reading while I waited for things to move.

By 11:00 more people were showing up and it was getting closer and closer to the maximum eclipse we'd get. It was fun chatting with people. There was a mother with two young daughters. They had a pinhole type setup. I offered my glasses, they took a look and then ran back down the hill. I joked that they weren't patient enough for astronomy. I certainly never was. I still don't think I am.

There were dog walkers and joggers. A mother and daughter who hung around for the peak.

It was nice chatting with people. It would've been fun to go to one of the parties that was happening or to hit the U of C.

After the peak had passed I headed home. I watched a few of the live streams on Twitter. It was then that I started to feel like this really big thing had happened for people and sadly I hadn't been there for it. I'd kind of been there but not in the place where it was really happening. It was cool to see how intensely people responded to it, the clapping, the cheering, the way the NASA commentators talked about it. The young scientists really understanding why what they do is cool.

Social media, as it can be when it's good, was lit up with moving and beautiful posts. People were in awe of the wonder of the world and it's beauty. Science isn't that much different from art after all.

Maybe if we can appreciate how cool it is that we live on this place that keeps us alive and has all these rare combinations happening then we might want to protect that beauty. I get that jobs matter but so does beauty and wonder. If we destroy beauty and wonder what's the point of any of the rest of it? Why bother being alive?

How can we build a world where we maximize beauty and wonder as a precondition for all decisions? How can we remember that we're a part of nature and that we need it?

Later I was reading an article in Monocle where they interviewed a prominent American landscape architect. He talks about connectivity — connecting with each other, with the places we live, with nature and getting where we need to go. It's a great idea. I think a good philosophy for cities is connection and sustainability. That should be at the heart of our world. Connecting with people like the mother and daughter, with this planet, with wonder and beauty. Taking care of this place we live in, having just enough and not more, taking up only the space we need, being a part of nature instead of destroying nature.

Take that sense of wonder and awe. Build a connected and sustainable society. Remember that this world is fantastic and beautiful. It's worth taking care of.

Mansplaining the City: An all male panel again and how housing markets hurt all of us

I came across an article this morning called "Mansplaining the City" on Twitter. I find it frustrating being a part of a field where dudes make a whole lot of the choices. I've been to events where every last person including the emcee was a dude. When this happens I always want to ask whether they've could've gone and found one female city hall employee or stakeholder to just read the names and bios of the dudes. That way at least one woman would be there.

When a friend of mine who works for a feminist organization asked me who I'd recommend for a female built environment panel I told her that I couldn't think of anyone in the city. I could probably come up with a better answer now but that moment was a bit sad.

The article blends these traditional concerns about how male dominated the built environment field is with questions about gentrification. I appreciate the comments on the need for some dudettes in the industry. I feel less comfortable with some of the comments about gentrification. The author has her own perspective but she is also dismissive of groups I think are doing good work and the role for middle class individuals caught in a crazy housing market. Walker calls out lots of people and waxes nostalgic for the neighbourhoods of yore. Some of these concerns are valid but I also think they lack nuance.

Gentrification is complicated. It is also not inherently a good or a bad process. It is a process characterized by changes in class. That can be from super duper poor to less poor. It can also be a process that makes even the worst neighbourhoods unaffordable for people with lots of money. A lot of it depends on other factors and how this process unfolds. As Walker notes it originally described an influx of intellectuals, students and artists. This group, which I am a part of, are often initial gentrifiers. They are drawn to places with cheap rents. As the neighbourhood improves the initial wave of gentrifiers are pushed out, too poor to enjoy the changes they have brought about and seeking the next spot where they can afford to pay rent.

While on the one hand I am a gentrifier I also live in poverty. I will likely spend my entire twenties either in poverty or as a student. I am white, my family is upper middle class and I am well-educated — probably over educated. I have more choices than many but I struggle to figure out how to pay rent. I struggle to see where I can go in my city. I have a friend who charges more for a one bedroom condo in a nice inner city neighbourhood that I love and want to be a part of than I earn in a month. There were moments when I lived in Vancouver when I'd buy groceries on my credit card unsure whether or not I'd have enough money to pay for them.

We are all a part of cities that are increasingly unaffordable. We live in a world where even tech workers struggle to afford housing. This is a sign that something is very wrong. Housing in any major Canadian city is a nightmare no matter what class you belong to. The issues of gentrification are tied up in market forces and development processes that treat housing like a bank and an investment rather than a basic necessity. New attitudes towards housing and different ways of building cities are as important as preserving character.

Managing change is one of the most important parts of planning and urban design. You want to keep what is good while still allowing communities to change. You need to find a way to ensure that nice communities are varied and accessible to all, not just people who earn enough to rent my friend's condo. You also want to find ways to have run down neighbourhoods become better. The biggest problem I see in places like Vancouver and Calgary is the market forces that have overrun our cities turning them into places we can no longer afford to live combined with zoning bylaws that prevent the construction of a diverse range of housing.

We are all coming up with our own responses to cities and how they should change. Groups like the YIMBY movement in San Francisco want wealthy homeowners to allow the construction of more housing. They may come from some privilege but I look around me and I see the same problem. We build mostly one thing, it's low density, unsustainable and really unaffordable. Maybe if we built something else we'd have more affordable housing? Maybe if we relied less on the market to provide housing and more on our government like they do in large parts of Europe then gentrification wouldn't be putting such a squeeze on people and housing wouldn't be so unaffordable?