I have been hanging out at the Vancouver city hall more than usual lately, which brought to my attention just how different the Vancouver city hall location is from most cities. Most city halls are located in the downtown central business district for example Edmonton or Calgary. In these cases, the city hall is surrounded by office, or residential high rises. Here the cities’ top businessmen and entrepreneurs have easy access to elected officials in the daily 9-5 work week.
Edmonton, AB, Canada City Hall
Calgary, AB, Canada City Hall
Vancouver, BC, Canada City Hall
In Vancouver the city hall is located in the Broadway corridor which has the second highest concentration of employment outside of the downtown. It is surrounded by single detached housing to the east and south, a high capacity arterial road (Cambie St.) and a large medical complex to the west, and a high capacity arterial road to the north (Broadway). I particularly found the close proximity to the residential land use interesting. I found myself wondering how does this change the political dynamics of a city when the decision makers and the voters are physically close to each other? Are Vancouver citizens more politically engaged because their elected representatives are closer to their door step? One would also have to wonder how political dynamics would change if the city hall was located in the Central Business District, where in Vancouver the downtown has a higher than usual make-up of mid to high rise residential land use than typical North American cities. Does the location of a city hall matter in today’s world of ubiquitous internet, social media, and instant communication? If not, this location most certainly played a role in the historical development patterns of Vancouver.
Below are a sample of photos taken on 11th ave immediately adjacent to the city hall to give you a sense of the context.