Pop-Up Planning: Toronto, New York, & Vancouver

"Pop-Up Planning", temporary experimental transformations of urban space, gets a good profile in today's Globe and Mail.

"Pop-up" projects let cities try out new ideas without the expense - or the risk - of making permanent changes to infrastructure.  The most famous recent example is the pedestrianization of Times Square in NYC by Janette Sadik-Khan. The Globe traces the practice of using pilot projects to test out unconventional planning ideas back to Copenhagen in the 1950s (back when cars still ruled it the cities streets and before it had become the global darling of pedestrian and bike friendly cities).

If you read the Globe article, I'd recommend also reading this post that came out in the New York Times last month (I've put an excerpt below). It gives a grittier view of the way pilot projects have been used in NYC.

Montreal discovers it's not easy going green: New Economist Green Cities Index

An article that I wrote on the new Green Cities Index (.pdf) released last week by the Economist Intelligence Unit is out in today's Montreal Gazette. It was an interesting one to write.  The focus of the piece was Montreal's poor performance, and the fact that it has everything it takes to become a much bigger player on the urban sustainability scene. You can read the full piece here, or after the jump where I've reposted the full text.

Near the end I make a point that I think is worth emphasizing -- regardless of whether you are in Montreal of Minneapolis.

This index, like all indexes of this sort that I've seen, grades on a curve. It tells you which city is in the lead, but doesn't give you any sense of whether the leaders (or the rest of the pack) are moving at the right speed.

To be blunt: that's not good enough. The problems are serious enough, and current rates of emissions and energy use are rising fast enough, that I think it is time for high profile research houses (like the EIU) to design indicators that give us an idea of how cities' efforts measure up to the challenges they aim to address.


This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.