Dear Plan Canada
First, thank you to the organizers of this marvellous international event, and to our hosts
in beautiful downtown Montreal. The theme was spot-on, the sessions superb, and the
The design charette was a wonderful way to begin. Fellow professionals meeting for
the first time in an informal manner, yet all working for a common goal. Relaxing, invigo
rating and brilliant! Our keynote speakers provided an amazing symmetry to the theme
by drawing together cultural wisdom, factual problems, political complexity, and inspired
design. The sessions provided an impressive analysis of climate change, as well as practical
implementation plans. The sheer volume of content was overwhelming. If only we
could be in more than one place at a time.
A curious incident, though, capped off the conference. On my way to catch the Metro,
I crossed the parking lot of a dying suburban mall. Plans were posted indicating which
parts are to be torn down, even though it is surrounded by "high-density" sprawl. At the
main intersection a police woman handed me a pamphlet entitled "26ro Accident". It was
a plea for pedestrians to obey the intersection signals, since Montreal suffers r,3oo pedestrian
accidents each year. It "struck" me as ironic that these officers were not handing out
pamphlets to the seven lanes of speeding traffic, asking them to slow down and watch for
pedestrians. Even more thought-provoking was the fact that the police were not at our
conference handing out pamphlets asking us to design traffic calmed, pedestrian-friendly,
urban streets that don't kill their citizensl
News reports that week pressed home the immense task ahead:
- Montreal study links car & truck pollution to breast cancer
- Homeowners encouraged to install "flapp6" to prevent severe storm sewer backups due to... wait for it... Climate Change!
- Well-used pedestrian tunnel needs thorough cleaning-adjoining municipalities and railway shirk responsibility
- WeightJoss drug is recalled
- Toronto commuters "gear down into misery"
What was it |an Gehl said? "Cities are for People... if we are kind to people walking
and cycling we solve many other problems." In the communities, towns, and cities we
plan with, may this message inspire our efforts.
David J. Stinson
MCIBR PPA, .Ag.