Is Vancouver the best city in North America?

this video is sponsored by curiosity

stream get access to 2400 documentaries

and nonfiction titles free for one month

by following the link in the description

I'm so excited to be here in Vancouver

Canada I've been wanting to visit into a

video here for so long why well there's

a lot of City Planning hype surrounding

Vancouver allow me to demonstrate here's

what you get when you search for

Vancouver is the on Google you get

autocompletes like best city in the

world and best place to live and most

livable city to prove this isn't what

Google says about every city here's

where you get when you search for

Memphis the poorest city and the most

dangerous city

ouch nothing but love for Memphis though

sorry to call you out but there is a

difference is I guess what I'm saying

countless articles been written about

how great Vancouver is it's been called

the best city in Canada the most livable

city in North America the greatest city

on earth and tied for the best city in

the Milky Way

probably Vancouver's success is no

accident but a result of decades of

thoughtful planning and design

collectively known as Vancouver ISM what

does Vancouver ISM exactly and can other

cities harness it to dethrone Vancouver

as one of the best places to live in the

world let's take a walk and find out

when you walk around central Vancouver

it really does look and feel unlike any

other city out there but back in the

1980s Vancouver was pretty much just an

ordinary North American city city

leaders and planners consciously changed

the way they plan to design their city

to get this style of urbanism I said

pretty much an ordinary city because

those planners were lucky to inherit a

city with some good bones first of all

the city is situated in just a beautiful

area most cities don't have mountains

and water like this so close second

previous generations made some good

decisions about how to design Vancouver

for example Vancouver has some extremely

narrow residential streets the entire

right-of-way is only 66 feet wide

with about 28 to 36 feet for vehicles

and in the 1970s Vancouver residents

protested the construction of freeways

within the city limits this occurred at

about the same time as San Francisco's

freeway revolts halted construction

there but San Francisco only halted the

construction of the new highways after a

few at

and built this left Vancouver is the

only major North American city without

highways and it made it difficult for

cars to take over so it's a normal city

save for one important abnormality the

lack of highways it's one of the major

reasons Vancouver went down two

different paths planners the 1980s we're

looking at significant growth and

suburbanization with no efficient way of

getting residents to work downtown the

public didn't support new highways and

mass transit was expensive they didn't

have funds to build new lines everywhere

if you can't connect people's home to

work what do you do you put their home

and work in the same place or at least

within cycling walking and transit

distance this is a solution that has a

lot of benefits more trips can be made

by walking and cycling transit becomes

more popular which can be used to

justify greater frequencies and more

lines and even if a resident chooses to

commute by car the trip is shorter

easing congestion there are two major

challenges that needed to be solved to

make this happen

one how to convince people who would

otherwise choose to live in the suburbs

to move to the Central City instead and

to how to revitalize downtown Vancouver

a typical 80s downtown and decline the

solution if you haven't guessed it

already was Vancouver ism I'm back here

in the city beautiful Studios what my

family likes to call the living room

after my trip to Vancouver I have a lot

to say about my visit but I'll start

with the basics what is the definition

of Vancouver ISM there's a lot to say

there's a whole book about Vancouver

isn't and I'm not gonna get to all of

this I'm gonna focus on the most novel

part the urban design and I'm gonna

further narrow the scope the cool urban

design is largely limited to a few areas

of central Vancouver it's mostly in the

False Creek Yaletown and Cole Harbour

areas they were former industrial sites

that were ripe for redevelopment in the

80's 90's and 2000's let me introduce

you to one of the key pieces of

Vancouver ISM the point tower one way of

thinking of the point Tower is a

building with two parts the podium and

the tower it's sort of like you merged a

thin condo tower with a mid-rise

building why would you design a building

like this the condo tower provides

residential density in the unit's

themselves command beautiful views of

the surroundings making them attractive

to those who wouldn't necessarily want

to live in a high-rise normally views

are one thing lots of suburban homes

don't have

the City of Vancouver regulated the size

of the towers and their placement to

preserve view corridors the city even

went so far as to regulate the size and

placement of towers to create an

attractive skyline on purpose they

identified blocks that would be good

places for towers of additional height

punctuating the skyline of relatively

uniform point towers the idea was that

the skyline could be urban design as

public art the mid rise section of the

building is designed to create vibrant

street life the mid rise building is at

a great scale to frame the street in an

attractive way many of the towers are

wrapped with townhouses with doors that

open directly onto the sidewalk this

makes the city feel very human scaled

the condo tower set back from the street

is not as noticeable the townhouse is an

attractive home type for families and

the point towers edit thousands of them

to the downtown housing market the

townhomes are often wrapped around a

parking garage parking garages are

required to be hidden or below ground in

Vancouver these towers stand in contrast

to LA Corbusier's towers in a park that

in reality often turned into towers in a

parking lot they also differ from the

tower and windswept Plaza that was often

built in post-war North American cities

these point towers create vibrant

streets and add significant density

point towers weren't built everywhere

though sometimes the density wasn't

appropriate or needed and just the mid

rise housing was built the Athletes

Village from the 2010 Vancouver Winter

Olympics now just regular housing is a

great example of this I want to pause

this video for one second to tell you

about a great Channel all about the City

of Vancouver so if you're liking this

video I recommend checking out the

channel about here hey Dave hey guys

hope you don't mind me hijacking this

video for just a little bit but yeah

like dave was mentioning I've got a

YouTube channel called about here where

I cover urban planning issues in my city

if you love Dave's you know wonderful

high quality analysis of City issues you

know I hope you don't mind checking out

my channel after this video finish this

video first but then afterwards open

that tab up okay back to our regularly

scheduled video so these point towers

give us residential density and

attractive Street scapes but streets

aren't enough open space for so many

people Vancouver has the stunning

Stanley Park but it's far from much of

the city if the goal is to attract

families there needs to be a large

number of neighborhood parks with


the city offered density bonuses to

developers who set aside parkland where

there was a deficiency basically

developers could build a taller building

in exchange for a park the city also

built water parks community centers in

water's edge exploration areas so kids

wouldn't get bored the city once had a

policy of separating parks from school

yards but there wasn't enough space in

central Vancouver for both they've

changed the policy and now parks do

double duty here's an example of an

elementary school in central Vancouver

next to its parks schoolyard okay so now

we have our point our buildings on

beautiful streets near a diversity of

park amenities let's talk about

transportation for a second it's the

piece that might have impressed me the

most when I was in Vancouver Vancouver

has an extensive network of protected

bicycle lanes and multi-use paths that

make it easy to get places without

worrying about cars

check out this path that goes along the

edge of Falls Creek it has a separate

area for pedestrians in a two way cycle

track the path is so busy this kind of

separation is necessary the path acts

sort of a Main Street to the Falls Creek

area in homes and shops open out onto it

roads here don't generally continue all

the way to the waterfront meaning

residents living in buildings near to

Falls Creek can go for a kilometres

without even encountering a car this

means it's safe for kids to run around

without much supervision when I was

there I noticed groups of ten twelve

fourteen year old kids wandering around

without parents I definitely don't see

this in downtown Sacramento where I live

and I rarely see it in the suburbs

either honestly this commitment to

active transportation is also a

necessity many of the units and

high-rise towers don't have parking

spaces meaning residents have to use

transit bikes are walking to get where

they're going and with tens of thousands

of residential units in downtown there's

just not enough space for everyone to

have one or more cars Vancouver had to

resort to alternatives to create density

without gridlocked traffic today

approximately 50% of trips in Vancouver

are made on transit bike or walking only

a handful of North American cities see

that percentage of non car trips so it's

not hard to see why other cities would

want to emulate Vancouver ISM it's very

market friendly nearly all the projects

are market rate private developments

it's also climate friendly you have

people living in dense urban areas using

active transportation it's popular among

residents to it's really win-win-win but

I don't want to let Vancouver off the

hook that easily there are still plenty

of critiques of banku

and the biggest one is affordability

Vancouver is one the most expensive

metro areas to live in relative to

median incomes one would think that

adding tens of thousands of housing

units downtown would increase supply

enough to neutralize housing prices but

it hasn't the housing affordability

crisis is complicated and not limited to

Vancouver but in some cases Vancouver

ISM exacerbated the problem for example

concord pacific place is one of the

largest masterplan urban communities in

north america built on a former rail

yards it's thousands of units were

marketed simultaneously in Vancouver and

Hong Kong and its first units were sold

out faster to strong interest in Asia

this obviously undercuts the goals of

Vancouver ISM with its promise of

housing potential Vancouver suburban

nights it also points to a larger

problem at Vancouver where wealthy

foreign buyer snatch up all the housing

pricing out the local residents in

response to this problem

Vancouver imposed a 20% tax on foreign

homebuyers the city also recently

introduced a speculation tax on owners

who don't pay income taxes in British

Columbia and don't live in homes they

buy the measures have had some limited

success but it may only be temporary

in the overall issue remains when

Vancouver ISM buildings are built the

market rate units are often affordable

only to out-of-town buyers Vancouver has

built social housing but the number of

units isn't high enough to meet demand

and the rents for the affordable units

are often still too high for those who

need it most

you only have to walk a few blocks from

Falls Creek and Yale town to see the

streets line with Vancouver's homeless a

stark reminder that Vancouver ISM isn't

working for everyone this also

highlights another critique of Vancouver

ISM while most of Vancouver feels like a

normal city charming but a little rough

around the edges and spots the Vancouver

ism districts feel almost unnaturally

clean and well-kept

the prescriptive urban design combined

with a modern architectural aesthetic

makes the whole area feel kind of

monotonous in some ways Vancouver ISM

has achieved the goal of bringing in the

suburbs downtown it's clean safe and

filled with families but it can also be

affluent cookie-cutter and exclusive so

that's Vancouver ISM as someone who

studies urban design my trip to

Vancouver was just amazing the city has

designed entire districts according to

cutting-edge urban design principles and

the result are vibrant public spaces and

beautiful City but

beautiful city for whom like a lot of

cities Vancouver hasn't figured out how

to make a good city a good city for

everyone what we need is a Vancouver ISM

2.01 that focuses on equity for

Vancouver to truly be the best place to

live in the world so I recently did a

viewer survey thanks to all who

participated and when I asked about who

else you all watch on YouTube I saw a

lot of people mentioning creators like

Wendover productions

CGP Grey real engineering and Lindsey

Ellis did you know that me all of those

creators and many other educational

creators teamed up to build nebula a

streaming video service for educational

content we also teamed up with a

fantastic documentary video service

curiosity stream to bundle a

subscription to nebula and curiosity

stream for one low annual subscription

price of $19.99 or $2.99 per month for

that price you get curiosity streams of

vast library of high-quality documentary

films by the likes of Stephen Hawking

David Attenborough Jane Goodall and more

and you're also supporting dozens of

high quality educational creators on

nebula many of these creators are

putting out nebula originals special

series that you could only get over on

that service there's a great series

going on right now where different

creators discuss their favorite movie

and TV intro sequences to get both

amazing streaming video services for an

exceedingly low price visit curiosity

stream comm slash city beautiful it's

probably the best deal in online video

you can get right now and it supports so

many great independent creators

including City Beautiful so thanks for

considering it