A look back at last year and predictions for the next

I have always been fascinated by predictions.

At the end of 2014, I reviewed my first year as a Vancouver Courier columnist. Popular topics included increasing concern over the loss of character houses, improving the tidiness of the city, whether citizens should have greater say in the planning process, the need for improved transit and the impact of foreign buyers on the cost of housing.

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I opined that as we looked forward to 2015, these topics would continue to be of interest to readers. Suffice it to say, I was right.

Earlier this month, I reviewed which of my 2015 columns generated the greatest interest and recycled them into a Holiday Greeting Card. You can find it here.

In January, I wrote about the need to fix our broken taxi system by allowing Uber and other ride-sharing services into the city. Rather than fight Uber, I suggested the taxi industry strive to improve our taxi culture.

In February, I offered 12 affordable housing ideas based on a SFU lecture.  This year I will be presenting another 12 affordable housing ideas at an April 6 SFU lecture.

In March, inspired by a tour of Paris with a former Vancouver city planner, my column called for a master plan for our city. Many readers agreed; sadly, Brian Jackson, the city’s director of planning did not. But he’s gone now.

On April 1, I delivered another SFU lecture on 12 great ideas for Vancouver from around the world.

Following the talk, members of the audience made suggestions on how we might make Vancouver a friendlier city and this became the topic for a subsequent column. It included a proposal for Neighbour Day, when we all make an effort to meet our neighbours.

In May, I was distressed by the amount of garbage strewn along the 100 Block East Hastings by street market vendors, and suggested Vancouver needed a good spring cleaning. While I will never know if this column had any influence, later in the year, city council voted to shut down this unsightly mess.

In June, following a Heritage Vancouver house tour, I suggested we needed to develop a greater respect for our architectural heritage, with more incentives from city hall to keep heritage and character buildings. This time I predict the city will follow up, and we can expect zoning changes and design guidelines later in the year.

In July, following a decision by the Ontario government to pass legislation to prevent “phantom bids” from realtors involved with real estate transactions, I suggested that it was time to revise how real estate commissions should be calculated. While most realtors disagreed, a small minority agreed with readers who liked the idea. I predict nothing will happen.

In August, I met UBC’s Dr. Paul Kershaw, a most interesting young man in red shoes. He founded “Generation Squeeze,” a movement to encourage Canadians 25 to 45 to become more politically engaged and increase their influence on future government policies. I think the October election demonstrated that his voice was heard.

In September, following a trip to Saint Petersburg, I reiterated a call for a master plan for Vancouver. One day we will get one, but not in 2016.

In October, I wrote about Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM, a new community based radio station that hit the airwaves earlier in the month. While most Vancouverites still haven’t heard of it, I predict this will change in 2016.

In November, I returned to the theme of affordable housing and reported on the need for our Metro Vancouver regional government to play a more active role. I predict it will try, but with little success.

At the beginning of 2015, I wrote about the need for a “world class” public New Year’s Eve celebration in Vancouver. I am delighted to report that this year, a public event is happening. Unfortunately, it has had little publicity. For details, go to nyevan.com.

I will be there and I hope many of you will be, too. If you see me, I’d like to hear your predictions for the coming year.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season and 2016.


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