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Metro Cities Roundup: Cargo delivery bikes, locals' only condo sales and an Airbnb class action

Inspiring urbanism from across our Metro markets for the week of Oct. 17-24.

Former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat sat down with Metro Halifax recently to talk about what makes for an effective city planner.

Eduardo Lima / Metro

Former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat sat down with Metro Halifax recently to talk about what makes for an effective city planner.

Toronto's former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat sat down with Metro Halifax ahead of the Art of City Building conference. She talked about the qualities that make for a successful, and supported, city planner, including being "very much vision-driven" and ensuring that vision lines up with the administration.

Halifax's Tool Library reopened after funding and volunteer shortages almost shuttered the program after three years. Metro Halifax's Tristan Cleveland, who helped found the project, wrote a thank you letter to the city (and one special volunteer) for showing the spirit and dedication that revived the plan.

The free tour train that chugs through downtown Halifax will choo-choo for years to come, with a recent injection of municipal funding. A legacy of the FRED (Free Rides Everywhere Downtown) bus, the people behind the "community road train" set-up a not-for-profit, the only way the city could legally give money to the project.

The city of Ottawa is hesitating to make needed changes to its recycling and compost programs, citing the provincial government's plans to change the system, Metro's Kieran Delamont reported this week. (Though it did launch an app to help residents sort their waste.) Ontario is following British Columbia's lead and moving to a province-wide industry-run model for blue box programs. But with preliminary plans set to be unveiled in early 2018, Ottawa-area environmentalists suggest the changes will be a long-time coming.

An Ottawa transit advocate is urging that parking fee increases, rather than transit fare hikes, get a look-in at the next round of budget discussions. The city hasn't raised on-street parking prices since 2008, while transit fare hikes have been approved into 2018.

With three-quarters of Alberta's four million residents living in cities or suburbs, the province's Electoral Boundaries Commission is calling for fewer rural ridings and the creation of three urban ridings in the next election, including Airdrie-Cochrane, Calgary North East and Edmonton South.

A new model in affordable housing opened in Vancouver Sunday. The 48-unit apartment building was developed by the Community Land Trust Foundation, which brought together multiple levels of government and non-profit agencies to purchase a 99-year lease on the property. The building is open to single people and couples earning $70,000/year or less with rents from $1,250 to $1,435.

Monday marked the kick-off to the fall edition of Bike to Work Week in Vancouver, challenging fair-weather cyclists to try out year-round commuting.

A Vancouver lawyer and condo board member is attempting to launch a class-action lawsuit against Airbnb on behalf of condo boards (known as stratas in B.C.) to combat unauthorized short-term rentals. If approved, the suit could be open to condo boards across the country.

Rounding out the urbanism updates from the west coast, city council voted to approve a motion from Mayor Gregor Robertson to give locals the first crack at condo pre-sales in an effort to curb speculation in the real-estate market that may price out Vancouverites. Similar moves have been made in the U.K.

On the heels of a report from the Pembina Institute calling to swap out delivery vans for cargo bikes on Toronto's streets, UPS announced a pilot project to test cargo bike deliveries on York University's campus. And delivery companies aren't the only ones ditching their vehicles in Toronto. This family of four recently went car free.

Finally, with more women, more minorities and its first openly bisexual councillor, Calgary may have just voted in the city’s most diverse council ever, reports Aaron Chatha.

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