[Originally published in early January 2009]
As many of my readers know, I was fortunate and honoured to win the Jane Jacobs Prize in 2005 for my long-standing advocacy of transit improvements in Toronto. This was the last year the prize was awarded while Jane was still alive.
I remember, warmly, sitting beside her on the stage with other prizewinners, John Sewell and David Miller as Jane spoke so warmly of our “new Mayor” (Miller), but scathingly about the dysfunctional Planning Department so dominated by the suburban, North York mentality. Paul Bedford, then recently-retired as Chief Planner, was in the audience nearby and in her sights.
A documentary on Jane Jacobs will appear on February 18 on TVO. Here is their press release.
The View From Here:
Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered – World premiere
Airs on TVO Wednesday February 18, 2009 at 10 pm. (Repeats Sunday February 22 at 10:35 pm and Wednesday morning — i.e., late night Tuesday — February 25 at 1 am)
Produced by Bliss Pictures Inc. in association with TVO, Knowledge Network and SCN
When Jane Jacobs died in 2006, Canada lost one of its loudest and most persistent urban voices. What Jacobs advocated is well known: short blocks, mixed-use buildings and diverse neighbourhoods. Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered considers the livable city: an issue that directly impacts the quality of life of the majority of the world’s population.
The documentary examines the champion of neighbourhood activism’s legacy, through two redevelopment disputes: one in New York and the other in Toronto. These disputes raise many of the same issues Jacobs encountered 50 years ago. It also looks at Vancouver, a city frequently put forward as a shining example of Jacobs’ livable city philosophy.
The documentary asks “Is Jane Jacobs’ legacy intact?” and, more to the point, “Is it still valid?”