The most recent city to be inspired by Vancouver, BC’s smart-growth success is none other than Fort Worth, as the Star-Telegram reported last week (registration required). The fast-growing Texas city is using Vancouver, particularly its waterfront development, as the model for a grand plan to transform its downtown, its river, and boost the city’s quality of life “for the next century.”
Early on, the idea—which includes rerouting part of the Trinity River and adding a lake and canals—was dubbed Fantasy Island. Now, with the latest proposal (presented by Vancouver architect Bing Thom), the Star-Telegram is waxing ecstatic:
“Vancouver may have its mountains and ocean. What nature has denied us, we’re compensating for with bold thinking, modern engineering and plenty of gumption.”
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The proposal sounds intriguing, with emphasis on “human-scale” design features. It is worth noting, however, that one key to Vancouver’s success was a conscious emphasis on design that was not just people-friendly—but car-unfriendly; the city, for example, never built an extensive system of freeways.
Policy tweaks such as these, which encourage alternative transportation, might help Fort Worth catch up to Vancouver’s downtown development record. The Texas city has about the same population as Vancouver, but only 3,000 downtown residents, compared to Van’s 80,000.