By Elaine O'Connor
Vancouverâ€™s EcoDensity initiative is attracting admirers from abroad â€” 115 U.S. politicians and planners from Georgia, to be exact.
A delegation from Atlanta is in Vancouver this week to learn how to cope with a boom in their city by following our example.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said she chose to study Vancouver because of the cityâ€™s international reputation for city planning.
â€œI went to the World Bank to talk about which cities in the world were doing the best long-range and sustainability planning, who was most innovative and likely to have a business model that might be replicated in Atlanta.
â€œThey immediately said Vancouver. Vancouver was a city worth studying,â€ Franklin said yesterday after touring Granville Island and False Creek and lunching with Mayor Sam Sullivan.
After decades of declining population, Atlanta began booming in 2000. There are now five million people in the region.
Much of the growth has been downtown, putting pressure on transportation and raising concerns about condo development.
â€œWeâ€™re getting a lot of highrise development, a lot of redevelopment,â€ said Charles Krautler, director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the cityâ€™s planning body.
â€œAnd we still have a lot of people who are afraid of the concept of density. Vancouver is a very dense city, but we know it is also a very beautiful city.
â€œOne of the things we hope to begin to show people, particularly our suburbanites, is that you can have density and still have a very livable environment.â€
â€œIt clearly has a reputation for being one of the best-planned cities in North America,â€ added Sam Olens, chairman of the regional commission.