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Victoria is slightly warmer!

Alon Levy

Needless to say, I can't apply. But there's a chance I'll end up getting a job in Vancouver in my own field.

Alan Robinson

I'd have to say, that second picture's actually more beautiful to me than the first.

I'll be home for Christmas.


Wow, the experience profile for that job is a little daunting for those who are just starting out. Especially since it's likely one would had to have spent a good 3-5 years in a junior position to have even gotten to a more senior position that they're looking for the 3-5 years of experience in. Needless to say, I'm in the same boat is Alon, in so far as I won't be applying. Then again, I'm not even ready to apply to Grad School yet, so I probably shouldn't jump the gun. :)

Also to continue the bad news, I was told by a recent Urban Planning graduate that Australia is actually better - jobs wise - for planners because there are more options. He said that Planners tend to be in demand at all levels of government there, whereas in Canada they're typically only in demand at the regional/municipal level. He was telling me that the competition for jobs in Metro Vancouver is extremely fierce. Then again, I have no idea what the job market for planners in the private sector would be like, let alone the demand.

Also, if weather is a concern (as a life-long Vancouverite) I have to warn you that you can look forward to much of what's shown in the second picture, on a nice day, for a good six months of the year.

Corey Burger

It is heartening to see such a positive post about a government organization. So often these days all we hear about is "bloat" and "waste" and other such words, which do a great disservice to the various people who actually work at these bodies.

jack horner

As an Australian, reading Vancouver Translink's 6 goals, which Jarrett links to, is sobering, because it shows up just how mediocre our politicians/ planning bureaucracies are.

In Australia, what are laughingly called 'transport plans' are in fact, ususally, glossy brochures which contain a lot of motherhood vision statements; an engineer's wish list of infrastructure projects; and a big gaping hole between the two.

The hole which should be filled by a few concrete, measurable goals, timelines and performance criteria.

The New South Wales government's latest effort is at http://www.nsw.gov.au/metropolitantransportplan

It contains nothing remotedly comparable to Translink's 6 goals. Translink's 6 goals have more useful content in 100 words than the above offering does in 50 pages.

Tom West

My bigegst gripe with this job advert is that it gives no indication about the salary. When I was moving to Canada and applying for jobs it was very frustrating to have no information about how much money I would earn.

Is this just a Canadian thing? Or a transport planning thing? Or is the UK (where I moved from) unique in providing salary details in job adverts?


@ Tom West: for professional jobs in Canada, I have never seen a salary shown on a job posting. The expectation is that salary will be discussed with each individual applicant.

It becomes a bit of a dance as to who should bring it up first, how, and at what moment.

I would suspect that TransLink would have a pre-defined salary range for the position, as most large and government organizations do.


I do not think Vancouver is much of a model at all. Vancouver's world famous planning really only applies to the inner city and a couple suburban town centres. Metro Vancouver as a whole has one of the lowest transit usage rates of all of Canada's largest cities. In fact Calgary was beating Vancouver in transit usage, and now both are about tied. In most of Metro Vancouver, transit use is about 5%-10% of work trips. Very very low and not a model at all.

I agree Vancouver is trying. But community shuttle buses running once an hour in most areas is not a great way to attract riders to transit.

Vancouver has a ton of work to do and I think they need to stop being held up as this mecca of transit and urban planning. Because at the end of the day it is a very low density car obsessed region. Moreso than most Canadian cities.

Alon Levy

In Metro Vancouver, transit usage is 16.5% of work trips, ahead of Calgary's 15.6%. Calgary was beating Vancouver only for the duration of Census 2001, when there was a transit strike in Vancouver.

Both Calgary and Vancouver are seeing significant increases in transit use, though Calgary's is faster. It's the larger cities, especially Toronto and Montreal, that are stagnating.


I take exception to your comments, Mike. You need to do more real research when comparing Vancouver to Calgary, and hold back on the cavalier throw away comments. I've lived in both cities for decades and know them both very well.

Calgary's population (2006 census) is 988,193 people living on 726.5 km2 of land giving a population density of a titch more than 1,360 people per km2. The population tops out at 1,079,310 in the "metro" area, and 1,251,600 in what's called the Calgary Economic Region. The metro and CEA area is huge and encompasses vast amounts of farmland outside of the city's boundaries, so I've excluded it.

Metro Vancouver's population is 2.35 million, but the "economic area" encompassed by the Metro government includes huge tracts of forested mountains in the North Shore watershed, and tens of thousands of hectares of protected agricultural land contained WITHIN the boundaries of several cities, which skews the numbers toward even greater density in built up areas.

It is impossible to achieve Calgary's lower density in Vancouver without levelling the mountains, shovelling the rubble into the sea to "make" more land, and breaking open the Agricultural Land Reserve to cover prime food-producing land with single-family subdivisions, a model Calgary has followed religeously to its detriment since the 50s.

Ten of the 22 cities in Metro Vancouver have population densities greater than 1,000 people / km2, and seven of them meet or exceed Calgary's density. Vancouver (from the inlet to the river, not just the inner city as you stated) has a city-wide average density slightly greater than 5,000 people / km2, well over triple Calgary's average density when comparing city to city. The 10 cities add up to 1,576,551 people over 746.3 km2, averaging 2,112 people / km2, or 753 more people / km2 than Calgary before we've even added the remaining 3/4 million people in the Metro.

All of this info is easily found on the City of Calgary and Metro Vancouver websites and on Wikipedia.

Transit ridership taken alone does little to guage a city's quality and efficacy. Downtown Vancouver doubled its population over a 10-year period and experienced a concurrent 10% drop in traffic. A huge proportion of the downtown population does't drive or take transit, they WALK. That to this urban designer is one of the most important success stories in Western North America.

Calgary's transit ridership is impressive, but taken in the context of the extremely low densities in the vast peripheral subdivisions, all that tells us is that more people drive to the C-Train stations and bus stops.

There is history behind this little-discussed issue. There is evidence that immediately after the approval of the first C-Train line to the south, huge land deals swung into place and up popped several sprawling subdivisions south of Fish Creek Park. It seems C-Train perversely stimulated automobile-dominated sprawl. It has been onmly a decade or so since the concept of transit-oriented development has shown up in Calgary, but it's still a huge unrealized opportunity (Chinook Centre comes to mind ... if they could only bring C-Train right into the heart of the Centre ...).

Vancouver's SkyTrain may be guilty of stimulating "tower sprawl", but the density supports the Expo Line outright, and the Millenniuim Line is catching up. There is currently a planning program in place for more transit-oriented density along the Canada Line. And the regional commuter rail service known as the West Coast Express makes a healthy profit.

Ridership stats alone do not address the really important things that matter to passengers, like frequency, safety, proximity, and the aesthetic experience of taking transit every day. Standing on the platform at Burrard Station recently I timed the trains. Four trains arrived in the five-minute period 3:30-3:35 p.m. You don't get that kind of frequency with Calgary's C-Train, not even on 7th Ave where several lines converge into one.

Moreover, two of the SkyTrains were only 4-car sets, which indicates that there is still much unused capacity in the SkyTrain system that will require a significant expenditure in rolling stock. But this will not result in proportionately higher operating expenses because the system is driverless. Jarrett has addressed the important link between frequency and operating (labour) costs several times before.

Calgary is riven with major arterials and hundreds of km of concrete freeway sound attenuation barriers. These elements have become the city's most visible urban design feature beyond the 1940s suburban ring.

Vancouver city (not the Metro) is only nipped at the edge by one freeway (albeit a freeway that is absurdly growing to LA scales thanks to our outgoing provincial premier), and it overturned a major freeway project in the late 60s that would have detroyed the downtown waterfront, Chinatown, and many neighbourhoods to the south and east, including my own 1910 house. That was perhaps the greatest and most courageous urban decision made by any city in Canada during the latter half of the 20th Century.

One day I'd like to see a comparision of per capita km driven in private cars between cities, or the proportion of a city's land devoted to public and private road space, or the public subsidy levels of the private car between cities.

The quality-of-life components traditionally rated in the international studies that have put cities like Vancouver and Zurich in the top 10 are only the icing. You have to build the cake first.


MB: you take a lot of shots at Calgary which is easy to do, but Mike's main point still applies, even if his example was flawed - transit in Vancouver proper is great, but Metro Vancouver as a whole is horrible. and since most of the lower mainland's population lives outside of Vancouver, this is a huge issue and vancouver's suburbs are full of car driving transit deprived people.


J: My shots were aimed at Mike's very loose grip on density.

Yes, Vancouver city's population is less than 600,000, but it has a billion dollar annual budget because a huge portion of the provinces economic activity occurs within its boundaries. The CBD, Central Broadway and UBC remain three of the provinces four largest employment and wealth generators. And that's even before we get into the port facility.

Calgary is the product of annexation of its suburbs, and that trend will not slow until liquid fuel prices really start to climb and people realize the real costs of car dependency.

Vancouver city is the product of amalgation that occured 3/4 of a century ago, and it ran out of land then, hence its accelerated progressive planning at higher densities. Moreover, many of the suburbs are in the same predicament; the need for transit service in the outer burbs will be greater in Vancouver's because they are simply denser than Calgary's. The best thing that ever happened to Metro Vancouver was being hemmed in by the mountains, the sea and protected farmland concurrenty with high population pressures.

With respect to suburban transit service, you're part right and part wrong. Many of Vancouver's suburbs -- namely the densest -- have good if not decent transit service and serve a population more than 50% larger on a smaller land base than Calgary's. Once the Evergreen Line is built it will serve even more people in the NE corridor. Several of these suburbs, like Port Moody, Coquitlam, Burnaby and Surrey, have already rezoned land and built up development around planned station sites before the project even has its financing in place.

I remain enamoured of Calgary's inner city, notably Kensington, Bridgeland, Hillhurst Connaught, Mission, Elbow Park, and the long underated Inglewood, and I enjoy spending time there. But my comments stand on the narcoleptic suburbia beyond, which I agree happens to have poor transit service.


I recently made my first trip to Vancouver BC and used and paid attention to the transit system there. I work in the business. I've been to Vancouver but I've never used transit.

I was so impressed! SkyTrain is a marvel to me as it's subterranean in the urban core and elevated beyond. Our rail system is at grade and consequently so slow in the urban core.

SkyTrain's frequency is amazing during peak; 2-4 minutes in some sections.

The buses I rode (17 & 19) were as comfortable as most I've experienced.

Great town.

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