November 19, 2012
There is little piece of urban furniture we interact more than with a bus stop pole, and still this element of the urban fabric is too often neglected (his brother the bus shelter has usually better fortune). Below an essay on the Parisian bus stop pole:
It is in 1922 that Paris and the Seine department agreed to have bus stop installed on the streets. At this time, some are part of lampposts, they will be mounted on independent pole, what is now the general practice, at the time of the replacement of the gas lampposts by electrical ones:
Save for the RATP color scheme of the time, up to the 1970, the bus stop shape didn’t changed, becoming a clear Parisian identifier:
The side circles, will be replaced by a trapezoidal shape somewhat in the 70s. In addition to make a cleaner volumetric form with no protuberance, It provides a distinct shape to the bus stop, easy to discriminate from the road signs, which are mainly circles, triangles and squares.
Today, the same bus stop (slightly relocated at the time of the renovation of the Louvre in 1983-89), has kept the same form. Modern technology able to provide real time information is integrated into it. The color scheme, green jade, is the one used by the RATP since 91.
The Parisian bus stop has many qualities, well epitomized in the picture below:
Lately, the City of Paris, wanting to go one step forward had launched an idea competition about “smart urban furniture”. One of the winner is the ibus stop:
 flik ruser tobiwei
October 26, 2012
This post is assumed closing our historic errand series of the Blocks 51-61-71:
- The Provincial Court House or Block 51-61-71 History up to 1972
- The Provincial Court House or Block 51-61-71 History after 1972: The Erickson years
The north Plaza of Block 51 is the square sitting north of the VAG. Thought it is part of the block 51, and more generally of the Block 51/61/71 complex, this square has a life of its own.
After the opening of the second courthouse in 1912, This square will very quickly become the ceremonial Vancouver square. Its location along Georgia street, providing frontage to a preeminent and formal government institution, makes it almost a non brainer:
The early days
- A first fountain, commissioned to sculptor Charles Marega in 1912, had been installed as a memorial to King Edward VII right along Georgia. It was initially equipped with bronze cups on chains, but these were quickly stolen and never replaced.
- On august 29, 1913, a flag pole has been erected in the middle of the square. It was said the tallest flag pole in Canada
It was apparently a staple to be photographed on the front step of the courthouse,and the Vancouver archive are full of group picture 
1966: The Centennial fountain
respecting the formalism of the space, the city idea for the square in 1964 was as pictured below:
It happens that W.A.C Bennett had another agenda. He commissioned R. H. Savery (design) and Alex Von Svoboda (sculpture/mosaic) to design an “XXL” fountain, 72′x26′ and 16′ high:
According to  quoting an official report: the “symbolic twin-pillar centrepiece” is “meant to represent mankind rising from the sea and depicts gods of Celtic mythology”.
The $250,000 fountain will be controversial right from the beginning, and will be called the secret Bennett Project, erected behind blind walls. W.A.C inaugurated it at night, during a rainstorm, after having inaugurated the Grouse tramway, on December 15th, 1966. The semi-private ceremony was perturbed by a so called act of vandalism: someone had poured detergent in the fountain, making huge bubble 
The old fountain has been put in storage up to 1983, when it has been reinstated along Hornby street.
Vancouver people have never been fond of this fountain  and we can give here a couple of keys why:
- The fountain looks over-sized, in respect of the square size, and more especially the old courthouse building
- Disregarding aesthetic taste, The chosen Artistic choice, doesn’t pair well with the Neo-classic building
To be sure, the Vancouver administration hasn’t made any effort to improve the fountain setting, and the fact that the today VAG is turning its back on Georgia doesn’t help the matter. More generally we can consider that all the intervention on the Rattenbury’s building after 66 (lobby on ground level, rooftop patio…) are unfortunate acts of vandalism
The Erickson proposal
The Erickson view for this square in 1966, was not much different of the one of the city:
In his 1973 proposal, it is the chosen location for a civic square, Robson square being then envisioned as a sculpture garden:
- It was envisioned as a largely hardsurfaced plaza — adapting itself readily to multiple uses according to 
This part of the complex design has never been implemented, allowing the Centennial fountain to stay up to today .
2009: the VPSN competition
In 2009, the VPSN held a design idea competition, “Where’s the square?”, and one of the co-winner of the “people choice” was HAPA collaborative, with their entry, “red carpet”:
We will find some remarkable analogy with the City Hall 1964 vision, and this HAPA proposal epitomizes quite effectively what is the Vancouver collective conscience and wish for this space. It also shows a remarkably solid consensus overtime on the idealized vision of this square.
2011 The Concert-hall by Bing Thom
On March 4, 2011, The Vancouver Concert Hall and Theatre Society proposed a Bing Thom plan for a 1,950-seat concert hall underneath the existing plaza fronting Georgia Street.
notice how this vision fits well with the HAPA proposal.
 Verbatim of John Atkin intervention at the Block 51 event, a look forward, VAG, Oct. 17, 2012
 That includes John Atkin, who even qualified it as too noisy!
 VancouverProvince, December 16th, 1966
 heritage vancouver society newsletter, Volume 17 Number 1, June 2008
 Redevelopment in downtown Vancouver : report No 5, City of Vancouver, 1964.
 In fact the fountain is excluded of the Block 51 lease agreed between the City and the Province. That along original negotiation line dating back January 1974- (Vancouver City council mn, January 8, 1974)
October 25, 2012
This post follow up on the history of the Blocks 51-61-71
- The Provincial Court House or Block 51-61-71 History Part 1 (~1900 to 1972)
Prologue: The 70′s at City Hall
The 70′s was years of intense civic engagement worldwide and public interest for civic participation was something city hall, controlled by the NPA for the last 40 years, was not prepared to deal with. The Chinatown revolt on the freeway plan in 1967 is something the city hadn’t see coming.
That had eventually lead to the formation of “The Electors Action Movement” (TEAM), and COPE in 1968, which made inroad to the council in 1968 (Philips and Hardwick for TEAM and Rankin for COPE). the four ensuing year, 68-62 was electric ones at city hall. Each development put forward by the administration was supported by the NPA, fought by COPE and TEAM, and ended to be defeated in drama, the apex of it being probably the third Georgia crossing in 1972, resulting in a full blow fiasco for the couplet NPA/administration. The only major project of the time which had been able to move forward was the Eaton center (sic). The NPA and the city administration was so distrusted that the NPA didn’t even present a candidate in the December 72 election, which was won by the TEAM. The first major decision of the new mayor, Art Phillips, has been to dismiss the director of planning of the time, Gerald Sutton-Brown. other dismissal and administration re-organization was on the TEAM menu leaving a vacuum in the city hall affair
The W.A.C Bennett government is defeated by the NDP, in the Provincial election of August 1972. The Provincial plan for the Vancouver Courthouse is stopped. Naturally (sic), considering his previous work on the site, Erickson will be the architect of choice.
The Premier of the time, Dave Barrett, had say something, Bing Thom, then member of the Erickson’s team, translated in “You need to go fast, because we don’t gonna be reelected” . This and the fate of the aborted previous project was also more than an encouragement to do so.
In the meantime the consequence of the politic turmoil at city-hall, involving many dismissing among civil servant, was leaving a vacuum in the Vancouver civil administration giving the Erickson’s team pretty much free rein on what to do in the city so allowing a speedy process  :
As seen before, the Erickson proposal was to locate the provincial offices on block 61 and the court house on block 71, leaving block 51 for civic activities. To move forward with this spatial organization required to resolve some ownership issue:
- Block 71, including lane, was sold to the Province for $4.6 millions in 1974
- Block 51 is leased to the city of Vancouver, by the Province, for $1 per year for 99 years started on August 29th, 1975
- In return city of Vancouver leases street sub-surface and air-space to the Province for 99 years started on August 29th, 1975 . exception are
- The city own the air-space above Robson
- The Province can sublease Smythe and Robson sub-surface (it can’t on Howe).
The province was also proposing to install and maintain street furnishing including tree on Robson street, and other detail which could still need to be sorted out.
- Following the freeway revolt, the rapid transit idea was getting steam, especially with Rankin as alderman , and a plan for downtown was as illustrated above, which was calling for a rapid transit station at Hornby and Georgia
- More importantly for the project itself, was the public outcry at the tower, but also the conveyed idea that block 71 could have been a green-space
People didn’t want the tower, but wanted the green-space.
The 1973 Erickson analysis
The city was seeing like illustrated below, where Robson Square at the highest point of the peninsula, is not considered at the crossroad, but as a destination in itself :
The concern for the buildings height and their corollaries, shadow, starts to commend the shape of the court house:
That leaded to the below proposal in late 1973, early 1974:
Some striking element:
- Robson street is interrupted between Howe and Hornby, both being only connected by a pedestrian passerelle.
- A sunken Plaza on the East side of the block 51/61, featuring a food court on block 61, and a sculpture garden on the block 51
- A “city square” on the block 61
- The north side of the old court house, facing Georgia, is in the original proposal a large reflecting pond. This aspect of the design disappear very quickly -the model above seems to show a lawn- certainly due to the lease term of the block 51, which excluded the Centennial fountain
Those elements will be altered in the subsequent project development, but basically the overall design is already fixed:
The thing will be built pretty much as planned. Nevertheless the city took issue with at least three components of the proposal.
The rapid transit station location
- To accommodate the rapid transit plan of the time, the proposal was provisioning a station access along Hornby on block 51.
- For some reason, the city didn’t like this idea and was wanting it along block 61. That is what has been built 
Erickson architects was planning to plant London plane on Howe and Hornby street, and had purchased it right at the start of the project . While a staple and beloved tree in London, Paris or New-York, the city engineers objected to this species, and provided numerous report explaining that the Acer rubrum was a better choice. This curious bickering could have passably irritated the Erickson team, but the Acer rubrum has been the planted species
Mirroring his fordism view of the city, Erickson was looking at keeping separate the Robson shopping mall (then made of small shops) of the Granville one (then envisioned as the high end fashion mall) :
The bus routing was supposed to support this vision:
Accordingly, the original vision was calling for an open sunken plaza with no at grade connection between Howe and Hornby to de-emphasize Robson. Nevertheless, it was a telecommunication duct below Robson they couldn’t realistically move, also they have choose to ” hide” it below a pedestrian passerelle .
The city engineer didn’t like too much this idea for the reason below :
- A too narrow strip above the sunken plaza was breaking the continuity of sidewalk along Robson street, and they want prerve the ability to return the traffic in case of the scheme was not working as expected
By early 1974, The province, the city and the architect, AEA will agree on a bus only connection. Arthur Erickson rationalized the agreement as below:
“The only traffic through the square will be inner city buses, linking the West and and False Creek. Since buses function as people movers, they are seen as a compliment or enhancement to the pedestrian activity of the civic square, whereas the present car traffic would present and irreconcilable conflict.”
- Robson street was one way street at this time, with a peak transit traffic of 11 bus/hour in the West direction, leaving the transit lanes empties most of the time, what was not seen as a best use of the road space by the city:
The city was calling for foundation allowing a 4 lanes -80 foot- wide street (what has been granted), but was satisfied with the construction of a 3 lanes- 50 foot wide- street (that is the Robson street width between the domes). Another problem at this time was the Cambie bridge landing at the foot of Robson at Beatty: the city was pushing its views by painting them as interim, up to a relocation of the Cambie bridge, able to move the traffic away of Robson.
The defeat of the NDP government in the 1975 general election, by the son of W.A.C bennett, Bill Bennett could have signed the abandon of the project again. Something, Bing Thom among other had worked at avoiding by pleading their case to the new Premier . The Province court will move in the new building on September 6, 1979. The entire complex cost had been reported to be $139 million in 1979 . The Vancouver art gallery will move in a renovated old courthouse building in 1983
The project will have received several award, more noticeably, It won the American Society of Landscape Architects President’s Award of Excellence in 1979, where the jury commented on the “extraordinary integration of landscape architecture with architecture–consistent and coherent.” Envisioned as a “linear urban park, importing nature into the city“. In 2011, The RAIC architecture jury will rewards Arthur Erickson Architects with the Prix du XXe siècle in 2011. The jury had commented
“Thanks to its splendid horizontality and its complex system of landscape terrace, pools and waterfalls, this vast urban landmark is able to embody a West Coast sense of space and relationships. Bridging between law and the arts, it epitomizes the urban monument in its highest civic aspiration”
 The originally proposed lease was on a 50 years period. it has been extended to 99 years , and starting date choose, to match the lease agreed with the Pacific center.
 This day in history: September 6, 1979, VancouverSun, September 6, 1979
 Verbatim of Bing Thom intervention at the Block 51 event, a look back, VAG, Oct. 15, 2012
 Memorandum to Vancouver city Council, Blocks 51/61/71, November 29, 1973
 It was in this post 72 context, that Stanley King came to propose his co-design method, object of the movie chair for lovers
 Robson Square, The Canadian Architect, May 2011
 Urban Development Standards: The Block 51-61-71 Project, Arthur Erickson, JAE, Vol. 29, No. 3, Canada (Feb., 1976)
 Development standards case study 1. Arthur Erickson Architects, Vancouver B.C. June 21, 1973
 Department report, Vancouver B.C. June 21, 1974
 51-61-71 Project, block 71 Schematics, Arthur Erickson Architects, 1974
 Following Erickson recommendation, the Province bought, at apparently discount price 300 London plane tree which had been over-ordered for the World’s fair in Spokane, WA. Later the city refused to plant them, they have ended on a waterfront promenade in Victoria 
 Seven Stones, A portrait of Arthur Erickson, Edith Iglauer, University of Washington Press, 1981
Blocks 51-61 and 71 are the ones sitting between Howe and Hornby, and between Georgia and Nelson, numbered from North to South
the early XX centuries
At the turn of the century the court house was located on what is now Victory square. It will be relocated on Georgia in 1912 in the building designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury. (nowadays house of the VAG). The annex facing Robson will be added in the 30s.
In those days, the building main entrance face a ceremonial square onto Georgia street :.
While the South side seems to use to be a lawn:
City of Vancouver was eyeing the Block 61 (South of the today VAG), to transform the whole area in a civic center, by relocating noticeably the public library and the BC electric building.
- An Auditorium is considered for block 61 in 1949
- After an exhaustive study to select a location for a public space in 1958, block 61 is selected in 1960.
Most of the block 61 is acquired-thru expropriation- by the city by early 1964. At this time Downtown Vancouver is a sea of parking lot:
The Province had expansion plan for its court house since 1955. The original 1955 plan to add a building on Robson having encountered firm opposition, the Province had acquired the land behind Hotel Vancouver and some parcels on block 61… But in 1963 it was considered critical to add a parking structure to the Hotel Vancouver. a deal was stroke:
- The Province sold its land north of Hotel Vancouver to the Hotel, for purpose of building a parkade
- The City sold block 61 to the province, for the court house expansion and other governmental uses, understanding it will also include a civic square
The sale occurred in 1964, and land ownership was then as illustrated below, with Eaton owning block 52 and 71:
In 64, the block 51-61 was envisioned as below by the Vancouver city planning department:
The Province was seeing the things slightly differently, with the adding of building on block 51, and some commercial developments:
Retail corridors like Hasting were already seriously declining and the city was not seeing commercial development on block 61 as desirable. The city strongly opposed to the Province proposal for this reason.
The 1964 Redevelopment plan
The redevelopment plans published by the city in 1964  were already integrating an additional building on block 51
The design then considered by the city didn’t seem to consider a major public square. The development of pedestrian precinct, fully segregated from motorist traffic, was considered along the lines below:
That said, the city will have the Vancouver art council to commission Arthur Erickson Geoffrey Massey and Bruno Freschi to offer a counter proposal for which we have a specific post:
Needless to say the Province was decided to move on with its plan leaving the square question open:
1966-1972 : Where is the square?
The Province design was not considered offering an attractive enough space for a civic square. The city approached the Province to buy back block 61 without success. so the city resolved to consider 
- block 71 as a civic square., a then considered very poor alternative.
- block 42 because it was owned by the city (purchased with the proceed of the block 61 sale).
- a one block in the area bounded by Hasting, Seymour, Georgia and Hamilton street
- have scattered open space in the city
And a last alternative, echoing the Erickson 66 proposal:
- Acquisition of block 51 for a civic space
In the meantime, the city acquired block 71 from Eaton, since the site was considered as suitable for a ‘central’ park, if not a civic square, and could be used to trade with other properties, again echoing the erickson 66 proposal.
The Province, on its side, was busy moving on the new court house:
The Plan in early 1972
The year 1972 starts with the following design, from aprioiri Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners, poised to be built:
The proposed high-rise, beyond its height, 698feet accomodating 55 storeys, was a 200 feet wide slab tower along Smythe, twice bigger than the Electra building (by the same architect). It was obviously against any by-law; the Province is not legally bind by city by-law; but this was not the major contentious point with the city administration. The proposal have its fair share of oddities:
- Block 51 and 61 was needed to be zoned commercial
- No sidewalk was planned on the south side of Robson
- A 14 feet passageway between the old court house and a new building was planned, to connect it to a 25 feet wide interior court yard
- The proposal was assuming that the block 71 should be a park, providing an open setting to the tower
While the city engineering department was considering the provided parking space (630), as noticeably insufficient (they were asking for 1200), the civic design panel had considered that “the tower structure itself, is well designed and in an acceptable location” but that the “most important problem is considered the lack of open space separation between the proposed new building and the [old] court house”.
…Needless to say the resident had a very different opinion on the slab-tower.
August 30, 1972
The W.A.C bennett government is defeated by the NDP, in the Provincial election: The project is stopped, but it is not the end of the story, to be continued here
all source from  unless otherwise noticed
 More informal gathering space was at Larwill park, at Georgia and Beatty.
 Redevelopment in downtown Vancouver : report No 5, City of Vancouver, 1964.
 Block 51 and 61, D.L. 541 City Planning Department, Vancouver BC, June 1965
 Memo to Vancouver City council- “BC Centre and court House additions Block 51 and 61″, May 31, 1972
 Memo to Vancouver City Council- “A civic square for DownTown Vancouver”, September 22, 1969
in the 1960′s the Province and the city of Vancouver were in thorny discussions regarding the development of critical downtown blocks known as block 51 (where the Vancouver Art Gallery sits) and the block 61 on its immediate southern edge. The city, unhappy with the direction imposed by the Province, had the Vancouver art Council to commission Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey, to develop a counter-proposal , what they will do in 1966:
The Erickson/Massey proposal was redefining an area much larger than block 51 and 61. It was including also block 71 and 42, among other:
One will eventually draw some parallels with the Le Corbusier‘s plan Voisin for Paris. While the cold reception of his plan had contributed to make Le Corbusier person non grata in Paris…Vancouver gave a much warmer reception to the Erickson modernist ideas! 
In detail, this plan, extend the government activities on block 71, reserving the block 51 to civic activities. Erickson was considering that:
“If the downtown is to survive as a shopping center street, it must compete on equal term with the suburban shopping center, it must provides adjacent parking, free pedestrian traffic flow without crossing traffic lanes and some degree of shelter and pleasant surrounding for the shopper.”
Accordingly, the traffic movement was addressed in a multi-layered system, in which car and pedestrian were atop, while bus and truck, considered as service, were put underground:
His rationals for the segregation of traffic per mode -also promoted by Le Corbusier then for different reasons- lead him to design Robson street and Granville street, the identified main retail Malls (by Erickson, as by the city), on at least 3 levels:
- atop, a covered pedestrian mall on one to 2 levels
- below, a bus tunnel, where the bus, in the Erickson view, are understood as parking shuttle
- and at lower level, a service lane for truck traffic
A case of more interest to us in the context of the current city plan
The Strasse becomes a Shopping arcade
The access to Robson square is done thru the second level of the Shopping arcade – to not impede car traffic on Hornby street.
How to get there?
Of course, all that had to be serviced by an appropriate network of freeway, and Erickson was also calling for a ring road:
Eventually there is a rational to believe that Erickson was better architect than urbanist, thought some will probably explain that the Erickson mastery is not enough understood:
The general development form, with strict separation of movement according to transportation mode, implicitly negating the social function of the street, was a staple of the time, and is usually concomitant to a general organization of the space on multi-level. Such schemes have almost universally proven to be a failure
That said this proposal is important, because it lays down many concept which will be applied in the design of the existing provincial court house complex. One of the most important is not to consider an extension of the Provincial court (from block 51 to block 61), but a relocation of it ( from block 51 to blocks 61/71), freeing block 51 to civic usage. The concept of the sunken plaza, is also introduced in this proposal.
Some other concepts will appear in a different form in the Vancouver urban landscape…like the covered mall of the proposal, which will later translates into the rain-screen above sidewalk- in fact more inline with what was envisioned by Eugène Hénard in its vision of the Parisian street of the future…in 1900.
It also states some important analysis:
- bring the people as close as they want to go
While the car was considered as the mean of choice. Tansit was considered as an important complementary component to the accessibility, and was brought right into the high street of the town, including of course Robson street and square.
Analysis/critics and concern expressed on the Eatons centre; can also be considered as prescient for the time:
“Cemp-Eaton development could very well help the surrounding commercial areas instead of showing a blank face to them. We see the Cemp_eaton project as a vital catalyst to the downtown but are anxious that it not to be inward-looking and self-cenetred, threathening the existing shopping of Granville Street by creating its own subtarrean shopping centre, divorced from the existing shopping pattern.”
As well, a good analysis of why the downtown Vancouver didn’t follow the path of other downtown in North America:
“The downtown Vancouver has strong characteristics, principally from the uniqueness of its site, the surrounding sea, the beaches, the harbour, Stanley Park, and the crossing to the mountains.Largely because of this, the West End has emerged as one of the unique residential precincts in the world”
Cities downtown will eventually learn later, that to be thriving, they don’t have to compete on equal term with the suburban shopping center, but have to offer what they can do the best: a “real” urban experience in all its complexities… which supposes a certain level of “entropy” in its spatial organization
source: A Proposal for Block 61 and the Downtown Core. Erickson/Massey architects, Vancouver, 1966
 Bruno Freschi was also part of the team (source, VancouverSun, May 18 1966) thought his name didn’t appear on the author list of the proposal
 It was of course some dissident voices. The more noticeable was the one of the jurists, and the attorney general of the time, Robert Bonner. They had commissioned the architect Vladimir Plavsic to draft a “counter-counter proposal” (I don’t have more information on it, but for the record, Plavsic was a “brutalist” architect: he has designed the 805 Broadway Medical Dental Centre known as the Frank Stanzl building).
January 23, 2012
It is the center of Paris and was the site of the largest known wholesale market of its time. Since the market has moved away in 1969, the site, having received an underground shopping mall and a subway station seeing close to 1 million passengers a day, has become arguably the biggest urban conundrum of Paris. We gonna study it a bit- This first post layout some general context (at a level allowing me to classified my notes on the topic, so a bit heavier than necessary on the level of historic detail)
The geographic context
The very center of Paris
The centre of Paris is at the center of the “great cross”:
- Historically, it was defined by rue St Honoré for the west branch, and rue St Denis (doubled by rus St Martin) for the North Branch.
- Mostly to resolve traffic issue, This cross will be doubled by the rue de Rivoli (West branch), and Boulevard de Sébastopol (north branch) .
- In 1900 the cross will be doubled by the subway: line 1 for the East West axis, while the line 4 will roughly follow the North-South axis – they are respectively the first and second most used subway lines of the network.
- In 1977, the opening of the first lines, A and B, of the regional express subway (RER) will also follow this cross…
The Montmartre road is coming from of the Montmartre hill following the terrain topography. A historically important road, but not necessarily for commercial reason, at the difference of the great cross roads: the meeting of Montmartre road with the great cross defines Les Halles – historically a triangular shape (between W and NW roads), as most of the medevial square sitting at the crossing of roads, used to be. It is important to note that the Halles has developed exclusively in the NW quadrant of the “active” great cross, basically almost never impeding the traffic on it. It was not the case of Montmartre street, since outside the market activities blocking the street, it was also the site of various celebration, and the pillory was here too:
A short history
Thought a market was officially existing since Louis VI the fat, circa 1117 – which in fact was instituating a function already occurring on a necropolis site - Les Halles history starts in 1183, when the King Philippe II Augustus decided to move a trade-fair on the site called the Champeaux. A history version suggests it was a Jew ghetto – Philippe II Augustus will have expelled them and seized their goods and houses in 1182 -then build two covered market in 1183. They are thought to have been massive enough-100metres long and 10 height, with a vaulted ceiling, all in stones - to have impressed their contemporaries: they will be called “Hala” (halles in french, the English term “hall” is poor translation, and we will keep the french term) and it is the beginning of the story.
At first the market food trading is marginal. The market will start to flourish then will decline in the 14th and 15th centuries and the halles will fall in ruins. A Francis I reformation ordinance in 1543 will try to correct that. New halles will be erected to extend and replace the old ones circa 1551, that along market organization changes. The emergence of new trading usage (shop…) will make the market focusing increasingly on food trading. Soon enough it will be known as the largest market in Occident.
Lot of things will change around, except 2 landmarks which today are still structuring the site- St Eustache Church and the Innocents Fountain-marked with a “red target” on all the maps to help the reader to contextualize the site:
St Eustache Church
It is a relatively unassuming Gothic style church, with an unfinished and at odd neoclassic frontage  – the kind of you can expect in many french cities. Its recognized best profile-highlighting its gothics features slighlty enhanced by some renaissance style details- is seen from its South East side, basically from the Innocents fountain.
It is the obvious landmark of the neighborhood. Most of the photographs and paintings of the district include it whenever possible: When you see St Eustache, you know where you are.
Easy to find. On the way, more exactly on the historic Montmartre road axis- between the Halles and the “great cross” intersection- and dominating the middle of an unencumbered and well defined ~80mx60m square: a size big enough to accommodate a substantiate activity making a good hangout, but small enough to be able to recognize a person in it (see the notion of social field of vision in ): this unassuming structure is a landmark: it is “THE” meeting spot of the Halles.
Notice the today square’s name, place Joachim du Bellay, is virtually unknown, overwhelmed it is by the “Innocents” fountain name everyone know.
A bit of historic background for the Innocents fountain
The fountain- thought have been existing since 1274 - has been a bit peripatetic. Originally this site was a cemetery, the St Innocents cemetery, and the fountain was sitting at the NE corner of it. A cenotaph was sitting in the middle of the cemetery.
The cemetery- an “overflowing” mass grave-the level was 2meters above natural level - surrounded by an ossuary, has been closed circa 1785 under hygienist concern of the time and pressure of the neighborhood complaining about its “mephitic” odours  (the cemetery has been transferred into the catacombs) . The fountain has then replaced the cenotaph. Though merchants was conducting business in the cemetery before its closure, it became the regular market we see in the photo above in 1789-as planned as witnessed by older plan of the 1750′s.
before be surrounded by shelter for merchant, circa 1811-1813 , it will receive 400 red parasols in 1800 , an anecdote which will eventually have a huge influence on the future of the site. The Innocents market will last up to 1858 when it will be relocated in the Halles Baltard, and give room partially to a park, an opportunity to relocate the fountain for the last time so far.
Some other building of interests
The Halle au Blé
In its today form, this building could have eventually been a landmark in a provincial city, but in the Parisian landscape, it looks like another official Parisian building… Its circular and repetitive from makes it a poor orientation helper. The lately added main entrance on its west side, make the building turning its back to the Halles site.
A bit of history
It was a building to trade grain and flour. It has been built by Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières between 1763 and 1767, and was part of a larger neighborhood development following a circus layout. This building has been considerably altered in its history to the point it bears little relationship with its original design:
- Jacques-Guillaume Legrand and Jacques Molinos added a wooden framed dome in 1782, it will be destroyed by a fire in 1802
- François-Joseph_Bélanger will rebuilt the dome with an iron frame and copper surfacing in 1806-1811
- After another fire in 1854, the building will be closed in 1873, and radically transformed by Henri Blondel in 1885, to give its today appearance, and to host a commodity trade market.
- Nowadays, it is used by the Paris Chamber of commerce
The surrounding buildings have followed a similar track.
The Médicis column
It is the column seen next to the Halle au blé building. Commissioned by Catherine de’ Medici in 1574, it predates the building itself, but has always stand still there a bit at odd. Blondel was planning to demolish it in the context of its renovation work: Jean Charles Alphand, to whose Paris owns most of its most celebrated parks, will have intervened against such a fate.
The Halle au Draps
We mention this building because it was probably the traditional shape of the non food related Halles, and it relates to what have once been one of the most important and flagship trade activities of the medieval halles of Paris: drapery.
The illustrated Halles, a 50x400foot building, has been built by Legrand and Molinos in 1786, it will lost its vaulted, wooden framed roof in a fire in 1855. following that, the then almost moribund drapery market, will be transferred to the Halle au ble. The building will be demolished in 1868. The advent of the department stores surrounding the halles, like Le Bon Marché, Samaritaine, the BHV or the Grands magasins du Louvre, will make them the place of choice to buy drapery
The market in 1850′s
The Halles, for the food related market, are largely very medieval in their typology, and the last addition like the Prouvaires market built by Jean-Jacques-Marie Huvé between 1813-1818 (see photo above) or the halles for the fish and butter market, built in 1822 by Hubert Rohault de Fleury, don’t revisit this style, thought they are almost contemporary of the Covent garden market in London.
In former time and in addition to Les Halles, Parisian houses in commercial districts had an open ground floor, where market activities was held. this form used to be called “Piliers” (from the building foundation pillars)-they form a 4meters wide gallery on the east side, and a 2meters wide one elsewhere , but in fact the market was sprawling in all the surrounding area. The Giuseppe Canella’s canvas below illustrates it:
the market is the largest known central market of its time and live mostly at night: people, including 7162 counted sellers, start to come around 11pm, to serve an estimated 40,000+ customers, and are supposed by bylaw to have freed the street by 9am or 10am (in winter).
The market roughly occupies 3.6 hectares -2.2hectares for flower, fruit and vegetable only- partitioned as following:
- 1 hectares of Halles (covered market)
- 0.6 hectares on open space
- 2 hectares on public street
Traffic is a huge issue- there are counted 4,000 carts occupying an additional 2 hectares. handcart, basket storage, and livestock occupy an additional 0.5 hectares (number above from ,  provides similar numbers, 5.5 hectares for the whole market).
The area is a fertile ground for endemic prostitution and other activities associated with more or less shady nightlife . The retail market is functioning all the day, making the area active 24hr a day.
Adding to the picture the smell of the rotten food (odours have always been a strong marker of the site ), it doesn’t necessarily make a desirable place to live, and in fact the neighborhood, “unhealthy, badly built and crowded, is of a repulsive appearance” : It is the “worst” slump of Paris where the living population density level has been reported at up to 100,000 people/km2 . Diseases are widespread and the neighborood will be a nest of the 1832 cholera pandemic 
Thought there were many men, for packing work- called fort des halles- many of the merchants were women, and the market was associated with a high level of gossiping and obscene language by the moral bourgeoisie of the time . Eventually due to the market sprawl and ensuing disorganization, the government had little control on its activities, market stall allocation, tax collection..etc…. The government will try to get better control on it… It will be the object of another post:
The autumn of Central Paris, Anthony Sutcliffe, mc Gill Quueens Univeristy Press, 1970
it was kind of an European tradition when the government was in need of money. We refers to the June 24, 1182 expelling ordinance. It was called la “Juiverie des Champeaux”. This version doesn’t appear- neither is dismissed- in the recent literature (like ), but up to recently the literature was frequently referring to  to support this version.
 Paris, ses organes, ses fonctions et sa vie dans la seconde moitie du XIXe siecle, Paris, 1874 (as translated in )
 Les halles de Paris et leur quartier (1137-1969), Anne Lombard Jourdan, 2010
 Histoire physique, civile et morale de Paris, Vol.6, Jacques Antoine Dulaure, 1837
 Cities for people, Jan Gehl, 2010
 The Rue de Rivoli (street) has been opened in different stage between 1806 and 1835, for the Western part, and the last section completed in 1855 .
 It used to be chapel, St Agnès, built in the 13th century. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. Jean Hardouin-Mansart de Jouy has started to had a new neoclassic style frontage in 1754. The work will be continued but not finished by Pierre-Louis Moreau-Desproux up to 1772.
 The original fountain with only 3 exposed faces- has been redone in its current style by Jean Goujon (sculptor) and Pierre Lescot (design)- 1546-1549. The fourth face has been added by Auguste pajou in 1788, when the fountain has been relocated in the middle of the place.
 La politique Nouvelle, Juin, Juillet Aout 1851, Paris
 Revue générale de l’architecture et des travaux publics: Volume 8, edited by César Daly, 1849, Paris
 Urban Renovation, Moral Regeneration: Domesticating the Halles in Second-Empire Paris, Victoria E. Thompson, French Historical Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1997.
 “Question du déplacement de Paris,” Lanquetin, Prefecture de la Seine, Commission de Halles, April 1840 (as cited by .
 Les Halles: images d’un quartier, Jean-Louis Robert,Martine Tabeaud, 2004
March 21, 2010
I have been first intrigued by this “rapid transit map” dating of the 1970, but it was more than a map:
In the today context of transit in Vancouver, acuity and prescient of some old writings are not short of amazing and this one is of them
Below an extensive Verbatim of “Beat the Traffic Rush”, The case for rapid Transit, Alderman Harry Rankin, 1971
Do the people of Vancouver and surrounding municipalities want a freeway system which will:
- Crisscross and divide up residential areas with ugly structures of concrete and steel?
- Funnel all automobile traffic from north, east and south into the narrow peninsula that comprise Downtown Vancouver?
- Create unprecedented and impossible traffic congestion and traffic jams?
- Pollute our air to the danger point until it becomes as bad here as in Los Angeles?
- Saddle our citizens with an enormous debt which will burden homeowners with huge boost in taxes, and tenants with still higher rents
- Bring people instead of cars into Vancouver’s downtown area and to place of employment?
- Move people quickly and efficiently at low fares, saving time and money for transit users?
- Keep down debt and taxes?
- Reduce air pollution?
Do we want to see a rapid transit system in the Greater Vancouver region which will:
Provide frequent and efficient service between municipalities and within each municipality so that everyone will have far greater freedom and ease of movement?
We can have one or the other.
We won’t have both.
Which one we get- freeway or rapid transit—is not only important for the reasons given above. The undeniable fact is that the kind of transportation system we end up with will decisively shape the nature of the growth and development of our cities and municipalities for decades to come.
Our future is very much at stake in the choice and decisions that will be made.
You can help decide what that choice will be.
Rush hour TRAFFIC
Population by the year 2000 will have doubled
Metropolitan employment employement will have more than doubled
Downtown employment will increase by at least 50% and possibly double
The number of morning rush hour commuter trips into downtown will increase accordingly.
|39,000||61,000 – 88,000|
Many of these rush hour commuters will need public transit, for those roads into downtown will have limited capacity.
(From brochure By GVRD)
Freeways Are Already Here!
We will have to make a choice very soon because powerful interests are at work endeavoring to impose a freeway system on the Greater Vancouver area. The city of Vancouver is the local point. Here freeway plans are already well advanced-more so can most people realize. Vancouver City Council is trying to sneak in a freeway system piecemeal, one section at a time. This way the total effect will not be felt at once. People will not know what is happening. The freeways sections are being planned and build in such a ways that each completed section logically demands another.
This is of concern not only to Vancouver. While Vancouver cannot build freeways its own boundaries, yet once these freeways are built in Vancouver you can be sure they will not abruptly end at city boundaries. They will be extended into adjacent municipalities. Then we’ll all be saddled with freeways whether we like or not.
Vancouver Transportation Study
The essential aspects of the freeways scheme were outlined in the Vancouver Transportation study, 1968, prepared for Vancouver city Council by BBQ&D of San Francisco. It called for:
- A New Georgia viaduct
- An East-West freeway continuing east from the Georgia viaduct along Union and Prior streets and connecting up with Highway 401
- A north-south freeway in the Ontario and Quebec street corridor, also linked up with the Georgia viaduct.
- A third crossing of Burrard inlet (called Brockton crossing and located just east of Stanley park).
- A waterfront highway from the Brockton crossing to the north-south freeway, and going through the CPR’s Project 200.
- A Taylor expressway going along the North shore of False creek where the CPR is planning another West End-type of apartment jungle.
The Vancouver Transportation Study studiously ignored the question of rapid transit. It stated that the city of Vancouver and B.C. Hydro agreed that no provision for rapid transit was required in the freeway system except for a 60 foot median strip in the centre of the east-west freeway from Gore Avenue eastward “for possible future grade separated rapid transit facilities in this corridor.”
The Vancouver Transportation Study has never been officially adopted by the Council. Yet a majority of Council is trying to implement the report piece by piece.
The citizens of Vancouver met this report with open hostility.
The Chinese community vigorously protested the connection between the north-south freeway and the Waterfront Highway which would go along Carrall Street and cutup Chinatown. Council had to drop this plan and consider a connection along Gore street.
The resident of the East End rose up in arms against the east-west freeway which would go through the heart of their area, cut their district in half and compel the expropriation (and removal of destruction) of about 1,200 homes. So Council had to drop this scheme too.
But Council didn’t give up by any means. It went ahead with plans to replace the Georgia Viaduct, shelving some of the other sections for the time being. But what it built was much more than just a replacement. What we have now is a two pronged viaduct designed as the hub of a downtown freeway system. The Vancouver Transportation Study admitted (page 25) that “the Georgia viaduct replacement is in effect a western extension of the east-west freeway”. There is now sits awaiting decisions about connector links at each end.
Compelled by to drop its Union-Prior corridor route for an East-west freeway, Council’s next step was to set up a Liaison Group included aldermen Wilson, Broome, Rankin, city officials, a team of consultants responsible for selecting a route, and representatives of five community organizations from the East End.
The study team of consultants has selected a new route that would go in a south-easterly direction form the East End of Georgia Vaiduct, avoiding the densely populated areas, and linking up with Highway 401 in the vicinity of boundary Road and the Grandview Highway. A conservative estimate places the number of homes that would have to be demolished at between 90 and 105. However, this does not take into consideration the construction of ramps that would bring this figure closer to 200. It is significant that the connector link they have selected makes no provision whatsoever for rapid transit.
The community representatives on this Liaison Group have given their views on the new alternative route. They have turned it down flatly.
“While the $60 million freeway route now being proposed by the consultants is less reprehensible thean the Union-Prior corridor earlier considered” they said in a statement to Council signed also by Alderman Rankin “it is still a freeway, and freeways our citizens don’t need and don’t want.” They then proposed that council drop all its plans and get busy on a rapid transit system.
Council’s unofficial plan is now to connect the west-end of Georgia Viaduct via Georgia and Dunsmuir streets with a new freeway crossing of Burrard Inlet, Council has opted for a tunnel rather than a abridge. Ottawa has offered to pay the cost of the tunnel, but only on condition that its contribution will be recovered in tolls. The provincial government has pledged $27 million for tunnel approaches.
But a third crossing, whether a bridge or a tunnel, is not the urgent need its promoters represent it to be. All survey show that the bulk of the traffic entering Vancouver comes from the east and south, not from the North Shore. In fact traffic the traffic volume to and from the south and eats is approximately the volume of traffic to and from the North Shore. But because Liberal politicians promised another crossing to North and West Vancouver business interests, and because of pressure from freeways promoters, plans for the crossing are being pushed ahead.
Other planned sections of the freeway system scheduled to come before Council sooner or later are links which will connect Burrard and Granville bridge with Georgia viaduct and with the third crossing, the north-south freeway, along the Quebec Ontario street corridor, a Waterfront Highway, and the Taylor Expressway.
Then our half a billion dollar eyesore and traffic congester would be complete—fro a few years, that is, when inevitably there would be a demand for still more freeways. Once caught up in the freeway cycle, there’s no escape.
That’s the plan that is being implemented piecemeal. It is still in its initial stages, but every completed section makes other sections more certain. If we are going to stop it at all, the timer is now before it has a chance to go much further.
Adverse Effects of Freeways
The adverse effects of freeways are obvious and numerous. If you want to see Vancouver would be like in five or ten years from now if it gives through with its freeways plans, just look at Seattle and Los Angeles.
Freeways are an eyesore which will artificially divide up cities and municipalities.
It is fundamentally wrong to siphon all traffic into the narrow neck of land (bottleneck would be a better word) which constitutes Vancouver’s Downtown area.
More and more of our choice land in Vancouver’s Downtown would have to be taken over a great expense and used for parking lot, and many city streets widened to serve the freeway system. Freeways will further aggravate the lopsided growth of Vancouver where far too much development is going into the Downtown area.
Since the freeway system would be spread over the whole Lower mainland, all its citizens would be saddled with enormous debts and increases in property taxes.
The experience of all cities which have freeway systems clearly proves that freeways solve nothing. They contribute to the very problem which they are supposed to solve—Traffic congestion. And the accident and death toll from the hundreds of thousands of cars on our freeways systems will continue to mount, as will the already too high insurance rates.
Who Wants Freeways?
Why then, are freeways being promoted by Vancouver city council?
The answer is that powerful special interests want them. They are the business interest who stand to profit directly from them. First among them are the big real estate interest and devlopers. The CPR has project 200 – the complex of hotels, apartment and offices – which includes 5,000 parking stalls to be linked to the freeway. The CPR is also building a huge apartment complex on the north shore of false creek; Taylor expressway was designed to service this area. The Bronfman interests, Eatons, and the Toronto Dominion Bank want traffic directed to Block 42-52. Near Stanly Park the Four Seasons and Bayshore Inn interest want the freeway to serve them.
Then there are the car manufacturers and the oil interests who push for freeways everywhere and the big construction firms looking for lucrative multi-million dollar contracts.
These are the private interests that want the government and the public to spend half a billion dollars on freeways just to serve them! No matter where you live in the Lower Mainland – these selfish interests are determined that you must foot the bill for freeway to enhance theirs profits.
No wonder the citizens of the Lower Mainland in increasing numbers are saying NO! We’re not going to subsidize the freeways with our hard-earned dollars and pensions!
The majority of our citizens are already opposed to freeways and their number is growing constantly. They include a wide variety of community organizations, ratepayer and tenant groups, trade unions, anti pollution groups, and increasing number of city planners and aldermen—in fact, citizens from almost every walk of life.
For the most part the groups and individuals opposing freeways are also supporting rapid transit. They look upon it as the only realistic alternative. It’s a view I wholeheartedly share.
We can’t ignore the fact that the number of motor vehicles is growing twice as fast as the population in the Vancouver region. If we don’t take control of the situation now, the demands of the car will soon control us completely!
The phoney “Balanced Transportation System” theory
Some politicians and municipal officials, feeling the pressure of the opposition to freeways and the support for rapid transit, have come out with a “compromise”. They say we we don’t need to choose freeways or rapid transit, and that we can have both. This argument they clothe in the fine and sounding phrase, “a balanced transportation system”.
I want to say without equivocation or hesitation that this is a lot of nonsense. It doesn’t come from people who don’t know better. It come from people deliberately trying to mislead and deceive the public. It is coming from people who are busy promoting freeways while doing nothing about rapid transit.
The reason we can’t and won’t have both freeways and rapid transit in the Lower Mainland isn’t only because we can’t afford both. The cost would be staggering. Even more important is the fact that freeways and rapid transit serve opposing purposes and interests that can’t be reconciled.
Isn’t the fact that Vancouver city council is building freeways while just paying lip mservice (and hardly even that) to rapid transit proof enough that it has made a choice? It isn’t building any “balanced transportation system” — it is building freeways!
What Is Rapid Transit
Perhaps at this point it would be worthwhile to go into the whole question of rapid transit more deeply.
What do we mean by rapid transit?
As the term is usually used, it means any form of public transportation operated over its own exclusive track or roadway and separated from other traffic.
Examples of rapid transit are the subways of Toronto, Montreal, London, Paris and Moscow; the elevated trains of Berlin and New York; the one-mile monorail in Seattle; and an exclusive bus roadway in Washington D.C.
Rapid transit systems are often supplemented by others from of rapid transportation including commuter trains, express buses, ferries and hovercraft.
In the Lower Mainland we could use all of the above or any combination of them, to suit our special needs. What we’re after is a good travel system that will get people where they want to go, when they want to go and at low cost.
Rapid transit us designed primarily to move people, rather tha cars, swiftly, efficiently and economically, to and from work, to and from the Downtown area of Vancouver, from one point to another within a city or municipality, and from one city or municipality to another.
Let me add that advocating rapid transit does not imply that we don’t need or shouldn’t use cars any more or that traffic roads don’t need improvement. All that rapid transit is trying to do is to eliminate unnecessary car trips. People will continue to use cars for shopping, visiting family trips and the like, and adequate roads and parking facilities must be available. But wherever it is not essential to go by car, rapid transit should offer a cheaper, faster and more comfortable service. In fact it must be made so advantageous that people will use it whenever they can.
Rapid Transit Study
The Greater Vancouver Area Rapid Transit Study of September 1970 was prepared for the Joint Transportation Committee of the greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and BC Hydro and Power Authority. (the regional district, by way includes West Vancouver, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver district, Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Burnaby, New Westminster, White Rock, Surrey, Lions Bay, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Fraser Mills, plus three electoral areas, Ioco-Buntzen bay, University Endowment Lands and Bowen Island.)
It proposed a rapid transit network consisting of four main corridors to be completed by 1990.
- Arbutus Corridor – Granville and Pender in Vancouver to Centenial Park in Richmond—10.2 miles
- Granville and Pender to Surrey—13.5 miles
- Kingsway corridor—Granville and Pender to North Road—10.9 miles. This would go on toward and connect up with other form of fast transit serving Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. It would also serve the PNE and North Vancouver (via second Narrows Bridge)
- North Shore—Granville and pender across new Burrard crossing to Upper Levels Highway.
- Link to east via Lonsdale and 21st (North Vancouver)
- Link to West via 15th Street (West Vancouver)
It estimates rapid transit passenger volume per peak hour inbound as follows
At peak periods, trains would run every two or three minutes and at six minute intervals during off-peak periods.
The study states that the Kingsway Corridor has enough traffic today to warrant its construction immediately, and estimates that it would take 7-10 years to get in operation.
The Kingsway Corridor would “leave the downtown area by means of an elevated structure parallel to the new Georgia Viaduct and turn south near Main to cross over the CNR yards. It would be underground below Prince Edward, Kingsway and 22nd Avenue to Nanaimo. At this point the line would occupy the BC Hydro right of way between Nanaimo and Willingdon, using open cut construction…Stations on this line could be located near Main, Broadway, Knight, Nanaimo, Renfrew, Central park and Willingdon”.
It proposes that the rapid transit network be complemented by feeder bus routes and parking lots fro those who wish to park their cars for the day (“park and ride”) and for those who pick up or drop off passengers (“kiss and ride).
The study also points out that in Montreal and Toronto, 70% of the peak of travel oriented to the central business district is by public transit. This shows the potential for our area.
How do we Get Rapid Transit?
This involves several important questions such as
- Who should be responsible for establishing a rapid transit system in the Lower Mainland?
- What Practical steps should be taken immediately to implement rapid transit?
- Who will pay for rapid transit?
- What political action needs to be taken?
A Regional Transit Authority
It will be obvious to all that rapid transit cannot be brought about by each municipality if it is left to do or not do its own thing. It is essentially a regional matter and must be tackled on a regional basis.
We already have a regional structure in the Greater Vancouver Regional district. Its directing board consists of members appointed by the various municipalities included in the district—15 cities and municipalities plus 3 unorganized districts.
The GVRD should set up a transit Authority for the whole region with the responsibility and authority, under the direction of the GVRD, to establish a transit system for the region.
Under no circumstances should the Transit authority become an independent or autonomous body. (we already have one sorry example of this in the PNE in Vancouver. Although all its facilities are publicly owned, its operation has been turned over to a small group of businessmen who use our publicly owned facilities for the benefit of private professional sports promoters who get use of our facilities for next to nothing).
The Transit Authority must be appointed by and be directly responsible to the GVRD for all its action. Only in this way can public control be maintained. Don’t forget that if and when we get a rapid transit system, the special interests who oppose rapid transit and support freeways would be only too happy to see rapid transit run in trouble.
Who pays the Shot?
The first point that should be made is that rapid transit services (and an upgraded bus service, too) should not have to pay their own way through fares. Rapid transit should be regarded as a service, as essential to a community as sewers and water, and the costs should come out of general and special revenues.
The bulk of the cost to build and subsidize a rapid transit system should not be placed on the property owners and tenants of the municipalities. These costs should be met by grants from senior governments. The fact is that the difficuylt financial situation our cities and muncipalities find themselves in is not of their own making. It is the direct result of a distribution of taxing authority under a British North America Act adopted over a century ago and now completely out of date, and the contributing failure of senior governments to adjust their contributions to municipalities to the changed needs of the times.
Urban center are growing at an accelerated rate. Today only 7% of our entire population is engaged in farming. It is estimated that by the end of this century, 90% of the population will live in large urban centres. The economic council of Canada predicts that by 1980 one third of all Canadians will be concentrated in three large metropolitan areas- Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Several of our cities already have larger population than several of our provinces.
Hand in hand with this urban growth has come the demand for all manner of essential services – police and fire protection, street, sidewalks, welfare costs, education, parks. These costs have grown enormously. Yet our municipalities must rely mainly on property taxes to raise the necessary funds. All the other significant means of raising revenue (income and corporations taxes, resources tax, liquor tax, gasoline tax) have been reserved by senior governments. Municipalities must go hat in hand to senior government for grants to meet their rising expenses.
This situation needs correction and it can only be done by senior governments. Obviously some constitutional changes are needed. In this case of rapid transit though, no constitutional change is required –only the agreement of Victoria and Ottawa that they will pay the bulk of construction and operating costs.
The provincial government has already committed itself to pay some of the cost. On October 27, 1970, Provincial municipal affairs minister Dan Campbell, stated that “the provincial government is of the opinion that the financial input to the transportation picture in the Greater Vancouver area…should be on the basis of a 37,5% outright grant from the provincial government on a progress-payment basis to the transportation authority; 37,5% outright grant, again on a progress payment, cash payment basis by the federal government and 25% input from the regional district, again on a cash progress-payment basis”.
The proposal leaves considerable uncertainty since it does not commit the provincial government directly to rapid transit, but only to “transportation” which could include anything and everything. Furthermore, it is conditional on grants from Ottawa and a heavy 25% percent load on the region. However it does acknowledge the need for aid by senior governments and does offer a basis for negotiations.
In my view we should press for 100% of capital costs to be paid by senior governments, plus a share of the operating costs.
The rapid transit study proposes a new retail tax, increases in property taxes and increases in gasoline taxes as ways and means to raise whatever money the GVRD must pay for rapid transit. I don’t think much of any of them because they all place the biggest burden on the people least able to pay, working people and low income groups that comprise 80% of the population. As an alternative, I would propose land assembly and assessment of big properties at their true market value.
A profitable means of raising funds for rapid transit is through land assembly. When a rapid transit route –the Kingsway corridor, for example—is definitely agreed upon, the transit authority should acquire substantial sections of land along the route, especially in the vicinity of the transit stations. This land is bound to increase greatly in value due to new attractiveness added to it by the rapid transit corridor and the rezoning upwards that would be necessary. When the transit corridor is completed the Transit Authority could develop this land and sell it to private developers. Million of dollars in revenue could be raised in this way.
The principle is a sound one. Since the new land value are created by public action, the benefit should accrue to the public and not all go to private real estate speculators and developers as has always been the case in the past. This method has been used in Britain for some time in connection with public housing projects.
Note: maps have updated from the scanned original pamphlet (cover pages missing)