Archive for March, 2008

electric waterfront shuttles

March 24, 2008

A couple weeks ago I saw a booth for zipcars at the Globe 2008 Trade Fair, then Michael Geller talked about tuk-tuks in his SFU City Program lecture last week, and this weekend I saw electric GEM rental cars in Seaside, Oregon.

GEM e6 electric vehicle for 6 passengers

Putting those three concepts together, I came up with an idea that I think would alleviate parking stress on the waterfront.

Imagine this: a public transportation service that requires no staff operators, responds to the weather, has very low maintenance costs, upfront capital costs in the tens of thousands — not hundreds of thousands or millions, and requires no large fleet service or storage facility.

This is my vision… Six-seater electric vehicles driven by independent entrepreneurs ferrying passengers between far-flung parking lots and along the waterfront. Drivers are registered with the City. They choose when they want to check out a vehicle. They pay an hourly rental fee for the vehicle. Passengers pay a small fee (such as $1) for the service, perhaps purchased from the City’s parking meter. The driver collects tickets from passengers and redeems them with the City. Their only overhead is their time and the vehicle rental rate. The City gets more efficient use of its existing parking lots and expanded capacity for the waterfront commercial district.

I figure a pilot project could be run this summer for maybe as little as $15,000.

There are all kinds of problems that are easy to think of, but I think the solutions are just as easy. If a pilot project were successful, there are some technologies that could be applied to greatly improve security, streamline the payment process, and create a system where a driver can be notified of a ride request.

If nothing else, this concept has potential to solve the employee parking problem. Merchants with staff working late night could use a shuttle to get their staff safely home or to their vehicles in the Semiahmoo lot.

This is an innovative experiment that we can do now to expand the capacity of our waterfront using parking spaces that already exist.

2008 a wild ride so far

March 4, 2008

It’s been an incredible year so far. I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water, but it’s been exciting. Spirit Square park design, Housing Diversity policies for a balanced and inclusive community, Spirit of BC public art policy and cultural strategy, REPUBLIC benefit concert, Spirit of the Sea Festival planning, and smoke-free spaces implementation… all great challenges, great learning opportunities, and great goals I’m proud to be a part of.

The Spirit Square project has been an interesting challenge. I’m overseeing a community engagement process that learned from the pioneering experience of the OCP review. The site is very important to the community and there is a lot of passion about its future, past, and change in general. I’m honoured to play a role in renovating such a prominent park, creating a new social space for the community, and refining the way the citizens are involved in shaping the future of their community.

The Housing Diversity Task Force is getting close to the finish line. There is only one meeting left before they begin reviewing a first draft of their report. It has been a gruelling endeavour — not so much because of the research required and balancing of diverse, divergent needs, but because the task force has no budget for consultants or additional staff time. This makes it a constant challenge to focus enough energy required to move the project forward. But it looks like some of the recommendations could be pivotal for maintaining and improving high quality neighbourhoods as White Rock evolves.

Spirit of BC Committee is embarking on a couple of tasks that will create momentum for cultural initiatives in White Rock. Revisions to the Public Art Policy and drafting of an Interim Cultural Strategy are needed to guide substantial investments already on the books. They sound like boring policy papers, but they would set the stage for the City to take arts and heritage issues more seriously and be much more careful about how money is spent when it impacts White Rock’s culture.

The REPUBLIC is a music contest being produced by the White Rock Youth Ambassadors. Five bands will be judged in front of a live audience in the curling arena. The winners will get a prime time spot on the Spirit of the Sea Festival RE/MAX Stage and recording time with Turtle Recording Studios. It is a fundraiser to create a scholarship with the Peninsula Arts Foundation for local youth studying arts. We meet every weekend to plan the event.

Spirit of the Sea Festival (lots of ’spirit’ going on in White Rock right now!) is preparing for its AGM March 18. The preparations have already begun. Requests for application forms for the parade, vendors and musicians have been rolling on strong and steady. Fundraising is well underway and the production team for this year hasn’t even been established yet! We are desperately seeking people with proven success in marketing and promotions, and volunteer coordination. This rollercoaster seems to have taken off already and I haven’t had a chance to put on my seatbelt.

Smoke-free spaces is a continuing pursuit. I am hoping to build consensus among all cities in the Lower Mainland on a higher standard for smoke-free spaces. It would be better for residents and less confusing for visitors if all local cities had the same rules.

This is an exciting and interesting time for me. To keep this good thing going, I’m trying to keep balance in my life so I don’t burn out before all these goals are reached. Luckily I have good friends to remind me to get out and have fun. And I’ve discovered some new music that keeps my brain from seizing. If I’m able to complete these goals, I’ll be happy no matter what the outcome of the next election. If I’m voted out, I’ll be satisfied with what I’d have accomplished. If I’m re-elected, I’ll get to embark on new adventures.