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CORE VALUES: SFU prof Anthony Perl hopes we can remain vital as a transit hub for the region; he’s less optimistic about our value as a second-home destination for the world Mark Maryanovich

What’s wrong with our city? Plenty, says SFU’s Anthony Perl, starting with our ass-backwards transportation plan

Q: How is it we never learn from these missteps?

A: Often, policy in this province is set by trial and error: if someone has learned something from someone else’s experience, find a way around them to give it to someone who has no clue what they’re getting into. Do we pick things that have a clear long-term future, or are we so insecure that we constantly go for the flavour of the month, whatever seems to be on top of everyone’s mind? Switzerland, Sweden, countries like that, they have a vision. You may or may not agree with it, but they stick with it. We, however, are still a very new society. Now, I like being in a young dynamic society, but it’s like being an adolescent: we go with fads and blow our allowance on things that it turns out we don’t like a few weeks later.

Q: What about the role of education in the city?

A: You can’t have a great city without a real, full university in its centre—I’m not taking away from UBC or SFU for trying to do things downtown, but they’re branch plants of suburban campuses. Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary—they all manage it. We need a University of Vancouver. It doesn’t have to be great, but it has to be based in the city. And we need that student population downtown. Montreal has its student ghetto on the Plateau, Toronto used to around Kensington Market, Paris has the Left Bank. It brings a dimension of life to a city that Vancouver, for all its dynamism, lacks. The nightlife, if you want to call it that, of Granville Street and Yaletown, with all its issues, is oddly truncated because students don’t live within walking distance. So what do you get? People who drive in from the suburbs to get drunk and fight with each other. A student area/university could be east of Granville, maybe with the development around Woodward’s and what’s coming in around it with SFU, or maybe the Cambie area now that they’ve put all the local businesses out of business. Or maybe, if there’s a complete housing collapse, Southeast False Creek. That would make a great campus. It’s not what it was set up for, but we could adapt it. Take out the gourmet cookware ranges and the European toilets. Put in shower stalls.

Recent Comments


Well his research interests touch on transportation, city planning, and the environment, subjects on which he’s persuasively outspoken. hoover floormate hard floor cleaner

by farazakan on Apr 10 2010 at 5:50 AM