5 things that separate the good neighbourhoods from the great, according to B.C. city planner | CBC News

As the search for Metro Vancouver’s best neighborhood continues, a former Vancouver chief city planner says there are a few factors that separate the good from the great.

Brent Toderian, an urbanist who led Vancouver’s city planning from 2006 to 2012, says a neighbourhood is more than just a collection of physical things. 

“It’s also a social collection of people and things and activities that can be defined and assembled to make up a city,” he says.

“Debating which of those is better is going to vary greatly depending on what your own value system is.”

Brent Toderian says individuals’ values and needs ultimately matter when choosing what neighbourhood is best for them. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Toderian stresses that the greatness of a neighbourhood is ultimately based on an individual’s own needs but noted there are a few universal factors that separate some neighbourhoods from the rest of the pack.

WATCH | Brent Toderian explains the 5 things that define a great neighbourhood:

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former chief city planner, shares five things he thinks makes a neighbourhood ‘great.’ 2:51

1. Accessibility 

A complete neighbourhood is one that is able to meet all the needs of a resident within a short distance. Think easy access to the grocery store, parks and societal comforts all within blocks. 

Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood seen from a rooftop patio on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

2. Space

Toderian says great neighbourhoods encourage people to be active, mobile and healthy, because they are more able to walk to places for services, gatherings and recreation.

Having ample room for activity is a key requirement for a healthy neighbourhood. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

3. Diversity

Equitable and fair neighbourhoods allow for a mix of people from different backgrounds and economic status, says Toderian.

“All is not just tolerated but celebrated in terms of that diversity [when] you’ve built a level of equity into the physical and social fabric of the neighbourhood.”

Welcoming neighbourhoods are ones with a mix of people from different backgrounds. (Evan Mitsui)

4. Green and sustainable

Sustainable green neighbourhoods exist when their carbon footprint is lower due to design. If your neighborhood is more walkable or rideable by bicycle, residents end up using less energy, like fossil fuels, to get around, meaning emissions and air pollution are generally lower.

Having ample room for activity is a key requirement for a healthy neighbourhood. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

5. Character and identity

A sustainable and successful neighbourhood is one that people can fall in love with. It might have heritage, a great social life or is uniquely identifiable.

Toderian says a great neighbourhood is one that has its own personality and is easily distinguishable from living anywhere else.

A great neighbourhood is uniquely identifiable. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver? You can take part in the voting until Aug. 21 when a winner will be revealed.

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