British Columbia

Vancouver celebrates 125th birthday with street party

The City of Vancouver officially turns 125 years of age on Wednesday and thousands of people are expected to turn out for a giant street party downtown by the Olympic cauldron.
The City of Vancouver officially turns 125 years old on Wednesday.

The City of Vancouver officially turns 125 years of age on Wednesday and thousands of people are expected to turn out for a giant street party downtown by the Olympic cauldron.

The free events are scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and include street hockey, live music, video and light installations. Vancouver Mayor and other dignitaries will also be on hand to cut up a massive birthday cake and light the Olympic cauldron.

About 8,000 people are expected at the celebrations and city staff are recommending anyone coming down take public transit, bike or walk to the outdoor plaza next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. Donations to the Food Bank are also being accepted at the site.

Aging and energy key to future

As the city celebrates its past, urban planners are already predicting what the city will be like in coming decades.

The city has frequently been ranked as one of the most livable in the world and one of the best places to visit, but two issues — energy consumption and an aging population — will have the biggest impact on Vancouver's future development, said UBC  Professor of Landscape Architecture Patrick Condon.

"The over-65 demographic increases by 250 per cent," and will become the single largest population group in the city, said Condon.

He said another dramatically increasing demographic will be adults who choose not to have children.

"Those two groups tend to need smaller units and seem to appreciate taking advantage of urban amenities, close to transit, easier to take care of, as opposed to large, single family homes."

Condon said the best place to put that large increase in housing would be along the city's major arteries, like Broadway, Main Street and Dunbar Street. 

"That would be the most fundamental change in the city such that if you came back here in 50 years, the place would be recognizable certainly, but might have twice as many dwelling units in it as it does right now."

Condon said the other major issue influencing development in the coming decades would be energy conservation.

Vancouver is working towards a goal of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and that means a transportation shift, he said.

"We need a virtually zero greenhouse-gas way of getting around. The transit part of that trip needs to be in some kind of electrified transit."

He said if the city and region plan properly for these two factors, we can expect to see streetcars replacing diesel buses in the coming years.