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Thread: US cities lack families but Vancouver gets it right

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    US cities lack families but Vancouver gets it right

    No kids on the block
    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    RANDY GRAGG

    VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Vancouver is experiencing a downtown traffic jam its city planners never anticipated.

    Baby strollers -- hundreds of them.

    The Canadian city has led North America's urban renaissance, doubling its downtown population to 80,000 in just 15 years. But as new urban dwellers have flocked to fill the city's famously thin, glass high-rises, the strollers crowding the streets below hail another boom -- babies.

    Portland's experience in its new urban neighborhoods -- the Pearl, River and South Waterfront districts -- has been different. Along with other so-called "cool cities" such as San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego, Portland has built thousands of new downtown condos and apartments, luring empty nesters and young professionals to city life. But few children are among them.

    With nearly every major tract of empty downtown land under redevelopment, opportunities to make the central city both urban and child-friendly are dwindling. By contrast, Vancouver made children a top priority in its planning decisions, a route that surprisingly satisfied both families and developers -- and could suggest solutions for Portland's situation.

    The numbers are startling. During the past 10 years Portland has built about 6,400 units of new housing in the Pearl District. But school district demographers say only 25 school-age children live there, and fewer than 20 babies are expected a year. As 6,300 condos went up in downtown San Diego since 2000, 27 percent of its inner-city students left as new towers replaced the lower-rent apartments where families lived.

    By contrast, in inner-city Vancouver births are running 50 to 90 a month; health officials expect 1,000 in the coming year. And since 1990, Vancouver has built 27,000 inner-city housing units while more than tripling its child population to more than 4,000.

    Long a magnet for immigrants, Vancouver has high percentages of Asians and Europeans accustomed to raising kids in dense cities. But city planners, social service workers and, most of all, parents say the Vancouver's new baby boom is directly the result of planning and design.

    In 1992, the city adopted mandates for new parks, community centers and day-care facilities along with minimum requirements for the number of two-bedroom units in every new building, all with the goal of making downtown Vancouver more family-friendly.

    "Our mantra was to build complete neighborhoods," says Larry Beasley, director of Vancouver's central area planning. "They had to have schools and day care, be safe and have things for kids to do. We wanted an adult to be able to look around and say, 'Hey, I could raise a family here.' "

    Although cities such as Portland, Seattle and San Francisco rate high as new-economy creative hubs, some urban theorists are increasingly concerned about their growing childlessness.

    "Cities without children are just Disneylands for adults," observes Joel Kotkin, author of "The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution is Reshaping the American Landscape." "Lose kids and you lose what, throughout history, has anchored the management class and the most industrious immigrants."

    Vancouver appears to have built a hybrid city, attractive to new-economy professionals such as software designers and film producers who are also parents.

    As Portland develops its last swaths of empty urban land in the River District, South Waterfront and, eventually, the 14-acre central U.S. Post Office site adjacent to Union Station -- Vancouver provides one model for attracting families with children to the city.


    Day care with night life


    Vancouver's child-friendly city planning is best exemplified by the Roundhouse Community Centre. For the second phase of a 200-acre waterfront development known as False Creek North, the city required the developer, Concord Pacific, to renovate a 19th-century railroad roundhouse and fill it with a theater, art gallery, classrooms and a day-care center.

    Early morning to late evening, every available room of the Roundhouse is filled with everything from fashion shows, art classes and music performances to "singing in Spanish" classes for 3- to 5-year-olds. Steps away is Dorothy Lam Elementary School and David Lam Park, the latter equipped with swings and play structures. The Roundhouse sits at the center of a new 166-acre neighborhood of 7,800 condos, town houses and apartments, 1,380 of them "social housing" -- for lower-income residents -- all abutting 42 acres of waterfront parks.

    "I can walk to work and to day care," says Dean Olynyk, a 31-year-old software consultant, as his daughter, Paige, swings at David Lam Park. "Plus my wife and I have a night life."

    The city of Vancouver required Concord Pacific to build the parks, the Roundhouse and three day-care centers. With roads and infrastructure, that amounts to about $18 for every square foot of development, according to David Negrin, Concord Pacific's senior vice president of development.

    All new housing developments must have play areas (1,400 square feet or larger) and common rooms for indoor play. A minimum 25 percent of the units must be two bedrooms or larger and located to overlook the play areas. On mega-projects such as False Creek North, Vancouver requires that developers set aside land for affordable housing. At least 50 percent of those units must be two bedrooms but routinely include much larger apartments.

    "I always make sure we have at least one 5-bedroom unit in our projects," says Pat Screaton, director of Red Door Housing Society, and affordable housing developer. "We have a lot of immigrant families. Especially when they have teenagers, they need to be able to get away from each other."

    The city also offers subtle incentives for larger units by exempting 40 square feet of storage and enclosed outdoor decks from being counted under zoning rules -- space planners and architects quietly acknowledge many families use them for bedrooms. For Beasley, community centers, day-care facilities and larger units are "as basic to a complete neighborhood as pipes and streets."

    "It's about probabilities," he says. "If we fill 15 percent of those units with families, I'm elated."

    Developer Negrin has worked on False Creek North from its start 18 years ago. He still chafes at what he calls the city's "gun-to-the-head" negotiating style.

    "But in hindsight, what they demanded was instrumental in creating the family-oriented neighborhoods," he adds. "Did it work out for us? I have to say, it worked fantastically."

    Indeed, more than 1,700 children are on waiting lists for the 500 slots of licensed downtown child care.

    "Nobody envisioned the sheer numbers of families who would move downtown," says Sandra Menzer, director of the Vancouver Society of Children's Centres, which oversees day care throughout Vancouver. "We built it, and they have come -- but maybe a few too many."


    Choices lead to childlessness


    Apples-to-apples comparisons between Vancouver and Portland urban developments are difficult. Vancouver's urban housing boom has been far more intense. Landowners must negotiate development rights, so regulation-wielding city officials have had the upper hand. Bankrolled early on by Hong Kong real estate magnate Li Ka-Shing, Vancouver's largest developer, Concord Pacific, had the deep pockets to meet the city's upfront demands.

    In Portland, the urban housing market started out more tentatively. Developers can build whatever the zoning allows. Amenities such as parks are built with urban renewal bonds floated on future increases in tax revenues. To shape large-scale developments, the city must use more incentives and trades.

    In the River District, the 100 acres of former railroad lands north of Northwest Irving Street, the result was an elaborate development deal with the major property owner. The city traded a $55 million streetcar and three parks for the promise of greater densities and affordable housing from developers. At the time some critics argued for units with more bedrooms and land for a future community center. But Hoyt Street Properties, then led by Homer Williams, argued that it needed maximum "flexibility" to respond to the market.

    "It will happen, but the market has to desire it," Williams says of families coming to the city. "Eventually you will see people combining units. The streetcar line will become the neighborhood -- with the library, museum, PSU and even South Waterfront being the amenities."

    But according Sam Gailbraith, former Portland Development Commission housing director, officials and developers have made choices that have led to the River District's childlessness. As far back as the mid- '80s, a PDC market study showed pent-up demand for downtown family housing, particularly for downtown workers and single women with children. The 1992 city policy for the neighborhood, the "River District Vision," states that the 15,000 residents expected for the area should reflect the makeup the city as a whole. But implementation, Gailbrath points out, has focused narrowly on the mix of income levels rather than family demographics.

    "The problem is, going all the way back to the '70s, we've had a Portland-opic view that nobody with a family wants to live in the city," Gailbraith says.


    Late planning


    Changes may be in the air, but they remain years off. And amenities Vancouver urbanites say have been key to their decisions to move and/or stay downtown -- day care and a community center -- are not even in the concept stages.

    The Portland Bureau of Planning recently adopted developer bonuses and potential tax abatements for "family-size" units and children's play areas in new residential projects. Next year, Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation will begin planning a neighborhood park for the northern end of the River District with play facilities. The Portland Development Commission is doing a new marketing study to determine demand for family-sized units. Central City Concern recently received a grant from the Enterprise Foundation to design an affordable family housing project it hopes to build near the border of Old Town and the Pearl District.

    On its remaining land, Hoyt Street Properties is negotiating for new zoning for taller, bigger buildings. According to Gil Kelley, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning, the city is "encouraging" the developer to consider redrawing the planned street grid to build a charter school/family housing combination.

    "In Vancouver, they can say, 'We're going to regulate, and it will be good for you' ," Kelley says. "But the political situation here is not quite like that."


    "The few and the proud"


    Meantime, Portland's young families face hard choices.

    As Pearl District parents, Sarah and Steven Schwartz call themselves "the few and the proud." They've had two children since buying a roomy one-bedroom condo in 1998, but are pondering a move out of downtown. The two attorneys upgraded to a two-bedroom unit, but limited storage and a poor layout are a concern. More space can only be found in town houses and penthouses that cost more than $1 million. Plus, there's the continued lack of outdoor play space and a community center and, most of all, Sarah Schwartz emphasizes, other children.

    "The Pearl is a wonderful learning environment for kids," Schwartz says. "But it's also a really hard place."

    Downtown Vancouver parents voice similar concerns about space, expense and the future. But with close-in single-family houses now cresting the $1 million mark and suburban commutes running more than an hour, young parents say they are happy to exchange the dream house and yard for time and convenience, their sacrifices eased by the city's amenities.

    "I've thought about leaving," says Barry Petkau, a 37-year-old Hallmark salesman, as his toddler son plays in a waterfront park playground. "But in the 'burbs, you live in your car. Here, everything we need is in walking distance."

    Randy Gragg: 503-221-8575; randygragg@news.oregonian.com

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    My neighborhood is full of Children.

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    The bizarre thing about this story is that American women bear more children than Canadian women - their lifetime fertility rate is considerably higher.

    Where is the URL to this story?
    Last edited by abrowne; 15 Jul 2005 at 6:13 PM.

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    I find offensive the idea that childless people are living "in Disneyland." But then, look at the source (Kotkin).

    Not that I disagree at all with the argument that cities should be supportive of all kinds of households. Heck, as a single guy, I still like parks.

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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Apples-to-apples comparisons between Vancouver and Portland urban developments are difficult. Vancouver's urban housing boom has been far more intense. Landowners must negotiate development rights, so regulation-wielding city officials have had the upper hand. Bankrolled early on by Hong Kong real estate magnate Li Ka-Shing, Vancouver's largest developer, Concord Pacific, had the deep pockets to meet the city's upfront demands.
    A developer at the APA San Francisco conference said that capital has legs and it will move. He said he has gotten up and walked out on some cities who were too hard to work with and had the wrong attitude to begin with. It is a little silly to act like a Hong Kong real estate magnate was in Vancouver "purely coincidentally" but now they own him or something. What was it about Vancouver that it attracted deep pockets? And can some of those key elements be replicated elsewhere? People with money don't ask "How much does it cost?" They ask "Is it truly worth the price?" If the value is there, they will gladly hand over the money, confident that they won't regret it. Only people with a poverty mentality want to know the simple "price tag" version of cost/benefit scenarios.


    "Cities without children are just Disneylands for adults," observes Joel Kotkin, author of "The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution is Reshaping the American Landscape." "Lose kids and you lose what, throughout history, has anchored the management class and the most industrious immigrants."
    I am not sure what I want to say here. America is not very family-friendly in many ways. I wouldn't know where to begin. European nations generally do better by families in terms of maternity leave and ...all kinds of things. There is more assumption that the extended family will be involved in raising the kids. That whole myth of Rugged Individualism is really hard on families and such values pervade American policies. So I think it is pretty silly to single out cities as not family friendly. That is just an expression of the general climate which tends to shove families off to one side.

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    It is a little silly to act like a Hong Kong real estate magnate was in Vancouver "purely coincidentally" but now they own him or something. What was it about Vancouver that it attracted deep pockets? And can some of those key elements be replicated elsewhere?
    Canada's immigration policies attract the investors. It would be hard to replicate this in an American city as that is a bit outside the scope of municipal politics.

    I do agree that America seems to not be very family friendly. This is reflected in high health costs, questionable equity in quality of education from one place to another, a bit of a laissez-faire attitude in terms of workers rights (maternity leave and so forth) as well as a worship of the all powerful "market" - nevermind that not all trends are good ones.

    Vancouver is fairly exceptional in that it succesfully yields its design review board. I don't know how long it can go on functioning with perfection.

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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Canada's immigration policies attract the investors. It would be hard to replicate this in an American city as that is a bit outside the scope of municipal politics.

    I do agree that America seems to not be very family friendly. This is reflected in high health costs, questionable equity in quality of education from one place to another, a bit of a laissez-faire attitude in terms of workers rights (maternity leave and so forth) as well as a worship of the all powerful "market" - nevermind that not all trends are good ones.

    Vancouver is fairly exceptional in that it succesfully yields its design review board. I don't know how long it can go on functioning with perfection.
    America has fairly liberal immigration policies. Not that I know much at all about immigration law -- that comment just baffles me, is all.

    I bet the weather in Vancouver is also a factor. I think my sister ...uh...honeymooned up there? (cruise ship, Alaska, Vancouver??) Anyway, I got an earful.

    Still -- I know there are always things you can't emulate but if you could figure out what works (to attract investors, be family-friendly, etc) and is replicable, then you have something of real value.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Canada had an immigration policy (still do?) that attempts to make it very attractive for wealthy people to migrate there. Critics call it "citizenship for cash." They recruited in Hong Kong before the handover to China and made out handsomely.

    But yes, the United States is loaded with immigrants, and they have tons of kids, and they live in her cities (and in my neighborhood) that article is bogus.

  9. #9

    Other factors at play that make a comparison wholey unfair...

    Canadian cities may be characteristicly different than their US counterparts in both racial disparity and retention of "household units with children present" for other reasons than simply urban design and immigration policies. I think the convenience of attributing these conditions to the success of Vancouver in developing a strong urban core dwells arrogantly in the present-- the intrigue and suggestion of which may be caused by the phenomenon of the Pearl District in Portland and this recent impetus toward urbanity amongst West Coast cities.

    A professor at the University of Toronto purported that the primary diffence between Canadian and US cities in terms of demographic composition in the urban core is attributable to two factors:

    Canadian cities did not endure a Federal Highway Program like Ameican cities that had lured American families out to the suburbs. Also, Canadian cities have never engaged in widespread urban renewal practices that have disrupted neighborhood continuity.

    To corral the urban core population into a willingness to inhabit dense developments I think only underscores the pattern of American tradition in respect to the two aforementioned policies through history. To suggest that immigrants are characterstically unique in this willingness is not only uneducated but tragically simplistic-- both from a planning and real estate perspective.

    The Pearl District, in comparison, is essentially an induced urban experience that draws facination from residents. Through numerous projects I have engaged in within the area, it is predominantly a market driven by empty-nesters, and the unfortunately titled classification D.I.N.Ks (Dual Income, No Kids). The initial belief regarding the Pearl from a planning and real estate perspective was that it was a speculative market niche that had potential (as with most developments), and more development subsidy than any other UR district. The first projects built in the Pearl were miniscual in comparison--hedged on the prevailing idiosy that Americans won't live in dense developments. That simply isn't the case.

    However, there is some concern as to whether this is a truly organic preference for Portlanders, or merely a facination. Portland has endured a well-articulated wave of urbane emmigrants who have decended on the Pearl and driven the condo market. One could conclude that the people living in the Pearl are those who are equally as accustomed to living in denser developments (ie. NY, San Francisco) as the immigrants in B.C.

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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Canada had an immigration policy (still do?) that attempts to make it very attractive for wealthy people to migrate there. Critics call it "citizenship for cash." They recruited in Hong Kong before the handover to China and made out handsomely.

    But yes, the United States is loaded with immigrants, and they have tons of kids, and they live in her cities (and in my neighborhood) that article is bogus.
    I wouldn't go so far as to say it is "bogus". There was some other conversation on Cyburbia about American cities losing kids and having low percentages of kids for the overall population.

    But thank you for the info on the immigration policy. I had no idea.

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    Pearl District

    In response to Randy Gragg's Oregonian feature, on July 9, 2005 this editorial, "A Pearl without children," appeared in the Oregonian.

    I seem to remember quite a negative Pearl District repsonse a few years back to Maya Lin's "Playground;" an outdoor design, 18’x 24’ in scale, and intended for pedestrian use and child’s play commissioned for the Pearl. If I remember correctly it was all about not wanting children living in the Pearl District. William Wegman’s "Portland Dog Bowl" at NW Ninth Avenue between Davis and Everett Streets across from the historic US Customs House was accepted with no problem, however.

    Melisa Ooms' July 8 blog, "Contemplations on Kids and the Lack Thereof" repsonds to the Gragg's essay

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    I like kids, except when they are being raised by the old fashioned "scream and cuse at them at the top of your lungs" method.

    Of course, I have a couple of sometimes loud dogs, so I can't say anything

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I always found that the only major 'social' drawback of the better dsitricts in cnetrla London was that tehy were disproportionately occupied by young professionals. hardly any kiddeis or older people. Kinda weird. I like a more 'nautral' communtiy with a full mix of ages.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    But yes, the United States is loaded with immigrants, and they have tons of kids, and they live in her cities (and in my neighborhood) that article is bogus.

    I think the article speaks more towards families in gentrified, downtown neighborhoods rather than the types of urban neighborhoods that immigrants typically inhabit (not that I know where you live). These neighborhoods definitely are short on families and its good to read an article about a place where families are being accomodated downtown rather than being chased out by planning commissions who are scared of more kids in the schools. As someone with little kids I always have to listen to community leaders and residents try to keep out people like me by promoting "55+" housing or other family-unfriendly developments because we are apparantly a drain on the tax base.

    One big issue this article doesn't mention is the quality of the school systems in Vancouver vs. Portland. Are Canadian city school systems generally better than their US counterparts?

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    Member japrovo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Urban Paradoxes
    In response to Randy Gragg's Oregonian feature, on July 9, 2005 this editorial, "A Pearl without children," appeared in the Oregonian.

    I seem to remember quite a negative Pearl District repsonse a few years back to Maya Lin's "Playground;" an outdoor design, 18’x 24’ in scale, and intended for pedestrian use and child’s play commissioned for the Pearl. If I remember correctly it was all about not wanting children living in the Pearl District. William Wegman’s "Portland Dog Bowl" at NW Ninth Avenue between Davis and Everett Streets across from the historic US Customs House was accepted with no problem, however.

    Melisa Ooms' July 8 blog, "Contemplations on Kids and the Lack Thereof" repsonds to the Gragg's essay
    I've also heard anecdotal/media acounts about Pearl district residents being very negative about the families flocking from across the city to a really cool fountain in the center of "their park." Also a colleague completed his dissertation on the early design process for the Pearl, when it was essentially a warehouse district so the developers were essentially the only ones at the table. There were some very concious efforts to avoid kids---baskteball courts for example were not to be allowed in the district. Bearing in mind that city TIF $ financed all the infrastructure in their its all kind of a chilling to me in our new post-Kelo world.

    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I am not sure what I want to say here. America is not very family-friendly in many ways. I wouldn't know where to begin. European nations generally do better by families in terms of maternity leave and ...all kinds of things. There is more assumption that the extended family will be involved in raising the kids. That whole myth of Rugged Individualism is really hard on families and such values pervade American policies. So I think it is pretty silly to single out cities as not family friendly. That is just an expression of the general climate which tends to shove families off to one side.
    Michelle (and others) you should pick up some Nancy Folbre, and economist whose written several veery accessible books on the barriers/disincentives we place to raising families.

    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    America has fairly liberal immigration policies. Not that I know much at all about immigration law -- that comment just baffles me, is all.

    I bet the weather in Vancouver is also a factor. I think my sister ...uh...honeymooned up there? (cruise ship, Alaska, Vancouver??) Anyway, I got an earful.

    Still -- I know there are always things you can't emulate but if you could figure out what works (to attract investors, be family-friendly, etc) and is replicable, then you have something of real value.
    I can't claim great knolwledge about immigration law either, although looking forwardm Richard Florida (in his new book Flight of the Creative Class) are others very concerned abou8t the post 9/11 turn in immigratrion plicies and their impact on high skilled, highly educated imigrants.
    Last edited by nerudite; 18 Jul 2005 at 4:35 PM. Reason: triple-merge Please consolidate your posts, or we will just start deleting them.

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    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Commercials advertising Vancouver as a place to work, raise a family, invest, etc. have been playing on NYC TV stations. Has anyone else seen these? Someone in another thread posted that B.C. is the most difficult province to emigrate to. So how wealthy do you have to be to get "citizenship for cash"? Doubt if I'd make the cut!

    When I visited the Pearl district last summer, it was curiously absent of children. I saw maybe a couple moms with kids in tow at the Whole Foods. I don't recall seeing any playgrounds.
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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by japrovo
    Michelle (and others) you should pick up some Nancy Folbre, and economist whose written several veery accessible books on the barriers/disincentives we place to raising families.
    I have read a few books about women and children and families in America. Some of the titles I can actually remember:

    "Women and Children Last" (Ruth Sidel)
    "More Work for Mother" (Ruth Schwartz Cowan)
    "Starting Even"
    a few books about women and money, including one that delineates some of the flaws with policies, social security, etc. which are completely biased in a patriarchal way and what that means for women and another with lots of statistics about how most poverty in America today is confined to women and their children and that most of these poor women were solidly middle class until unexpected pregnancy, divorce, or death of their spouse plunged them into poverty overnight. Under the current system, women can do "everything right" and still end up in dire poverty because the system doesn't look out for them -- and it doesn't look out for children either and actively penalizes young couples who "get in trouble" and try to do the right thing. In lots of subtle and not-so-sublte ways, men are encouraged to save themselves and bail on the woman and "her" kids (as if they aren't also his).

    "Losing Ground" which is a history of welfare and social policy in, um, maybe the last half of the 20th century in America -- something like that.

    A book comparing American policies to European policies (or something like that) and how harsh and unsupportive they are here.

    Beyond the double bind.

    I imagine I have forgotten the titles of most of the books I read on the topic (or on related topics) over the years. But I appreciate the info. Given that I do tend to read such things, your suggestion may well make my reading list at some point.

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Citizenship for cash is quite misleading, if not incorrect outright. There is no monetary exchange other than standard fees for entry application. What is considered, though, is an immigrants ability to provide for themselves, among many other factors. They use a fairly complicated points system that tallies up all sorts of things from education, finances, and health to god only knows what else.

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    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    I hear the babble about cities needing to attract more families all the time. The funny thing is, I see children out my window every day. I see them all over town and I see them playing in the fountains in the park. But guess what? Most of these children are... get ready to gasp.... BLACK. While demographics are indeed changing there still seems to something a bit racist in all of this talk about there not being families in the city. I think the writer/speaker usually means there are no white families in the city (well except for a very small number of the dirt poor whites but they don't count either).

    Yes, we need to change cities to cater to white families, then everything will be fine.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    I hear the babble about cities needing to attract more families all the time. The funny thing is, I see children out my window every day. I see them all over town and I see them playing in the fountains in the park. But guess what? Most of these children are... get ready to gasp.... BLACK. While demographics are indeed changing there still seems to something a bit racist in all of this talk about there not being families in the city. I think the writer/speaker usually means there are no white families in the city (well except for a very small number of the dirt poor whites but they don't count either).

    Yes, we need to change cities to cater to white families, then everything will be fine.
    I just don't see the article like that (although I'm sure people overlook the needs of minority families). Its about the population boom in downtown vancouver, not the city as a whole. When downtown areas redevelop the focus is always on empty nesters and childless professionals. There is always an assumption that middle class families with kids wouldn't want to live in a dense urban neighborhood.

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    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Sorry, I didn't mean for my comments to address the article directly. I'm just talking in general when people go on about cities not being home to families.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop

    One big issue this article doesn't mention is the quality of the school systems in Vancouver vs. Portland. Are Canadian city school systems generally better than their US counterparts?
    In short - yep. While there are some differences in quality, the school funding system is vastly more egalitarian in Canada. And, to the extent that differences do arise between Canadian schools, the shiny False Creek neighbourhood described in this article is certain to have a great school.

    Anecdotally, in viewing open houses in downtown Vancouver over the years, two bedroom places almost always have a crib in one bedroom - i.e. a family is moving out to a bigger place. Sure, you see a lot of strollers, but I sure don't see a ton of 8 and 12 year olds.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Portland, Oregon Territory
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    4

    duh

    If Portland had ANYTHING in town in the $99,000-$199,000 price range like VBC had a recent years, there would be more families in Portland. The vast selection of $400,000-$600,000 units isn't going to cut it. That's Portland problem as well as SF..

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by nyawker
    If Portland had ANYTHING in town in the $99,000-$199,000 price range like VBC had a recent years, there would be more families in Portland. The vast selection of $400,000-$600,000 units isn't going to cut it. That's Portland problem as well as SF..
    This is the problem with Austin as well. The closest affordable housing I could find was located 7 miles outside of downtown. I have no doubt that a LOT of people would live downtown if they could afford to. The developers know, however, that there will always be enough affluent people to buy the 600k condos downtown, so why should they create cheaper alternatives? It's all about money... not the desires of the community

  25. #25
         
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Sydney, New South Wales
    Posts
    46

    lucky chance for BC

    Most of the population influx into Vancouver came from Hong Kong with the handover. Hong Konger's "get" what high-rise lifestyle is ... most Canadian cities don't.

    Does any one have reliable census data or industry data that shows what keeps Vancouver going? I'm pretty sure its natural resource extraction ... fueled not by the folks in the skyscraper condos, but the hinterland.

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