Eight walks echo Jane’s talk

SURREY – She was an urban activist before urban activism. She dared speak her mind at a time when women were still fighting for equality, and some deemed her a "housewife" and "crazy dame" for it.

 

She didn’t like what she saw taking shape in the car-centric cities of 1950s and 1960s North America. She railed against it and wrote and spoke about nouveau concepts, such as mixeduse development, short blocks, the necessity of sidewalks and high-density neighbourhoods.

 

Her efforts ultimately had a direct impact on cities such as New York and Toronto, where planned freeways were quashed, and her 1961 book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," rocked the urban planning world.

 

Her name was Jane Jacobs. She died in 2006 at the age of 89, and her legacy has only grown over time.

 

One year after her death, the first "Jane’s Walk" was organized in Toronto, the city she called home for the final 40 years of her life. Today, there are more than 1,000 Jane’s Walks spanning 140-plus cities around the world. Eight will happen in Surrey this coming weekend (May 1 to 3).

 

Leading one of them will be Grant Rice, a local environmental activist and 2014 Surrey mayoral candidate. Rice, a big fan of Jacobs’ vision, will take participants on a tour of his own North Surrey neighbourhood of St. Helen’s Park, an area known for successfully down-zoning and maintaining its character in the face of change.

 

"The purpose is to get people engaged in their community. To talk about the assets they have in their neighbourhoods. It’s about placemaking. It’s about building community."

 

Rice talks as we walk through his ‘hood.

 

He’s an enthusiastic fight-the-power guy, and he’s quick to identify both the highs and the lows of the homes and the streets around us. Over here is a house that’s kept true to its roots. Over there is another that… hasn’t.

 

"I’ve recruited a woman who lives in our neighbourhood who will help us study some of the local mid-20th century architecture," he says. "Part of the walk will look at some of the in-fill development that’s occurred in our neighbourhood, the way some people have renovated homes, and others that don’t quite fit."

 

A section of the tour will meander through both the recently renovated Robson Park and the adjacent Robson Ravine Park. The latter in particular is simply stunning: a shockingly deep and scenic gorge surrounded by massive oldgrowth trees. This is truly one of Surrey’s most spectacular hidden gems, yet you get a chance to experience it only if you park

 

your car and know where to walk.

 

"Vancouver and New West have had sort of a Jane’s Walk contest going," Rice says. "Vancouver had 18 and New West had 16 I think, so we have a long way to go. Last time I checked, we have eight or nine, so maybe next year we can get in the race."

 

Rice promises a leisurely stroll of 90 minutes or so, with lots of discussion breaks. It’s absolutely free, and there’s no registration involved.

 

"The idea is about celebrating Jane Jacobs – a woman of action," he says. "She really had an idea what human-friendly cities were all about."

 

Interested parties merely show up at the Robson Park playground near the intersection of 100th Avenue and 127A Street at 1 p.m. this Saturday, May 2. For more information on any of Surrey’s Jane’s Walks, go to Janeswalk. org/canada/wwwsurreyca/.

 

Goble@shaw.ca

Just Posted

Out with a roar: Dinosaurs take over forest at Surrey school on last week of class

Six colourful creatures painted by Grade 3 students led youngsters on an expedition in the outdoor classroom

Animal advocates yowl after Delta cat severely injured in trap

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Surrey city council cost taxpayers nearly $1M in 2018

That includes more than $151,372 in expenses from the former council

The end is near for North Surrey rec centre, meaning programs will move to other facilities within 4km

Plan is for the site of the aging rec centre to become mixed-use ‘Centre Block’ development

Street dance competition outdoors in Surrey on first day of summer break

DJ, prizes, activities, a food truck and more Friday at Surrey City Hall Plaza

SQUEEZING SURREY STUDENTS IN: The causes and impacts of overcrowding in city schools

Special series: How growth is affecting students, parents and school staff alike – and what the future holds

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Most Read