Michael Geller & Associates Limited is providing planning and development consulting services to Devon Estates Limited with respect to the future of its IOCO lands in Anmore and Port Moody. The company also provided advice to Keyano College in Fort McMurray with respect to the planning and development of its extensive land holdings
Other activities include a feasibilty study for the Provincial Government examining the feasibility of untilizing relocatable factory built housing modules to provide interim accommodation for the homeless.
Laneway Cottages Inc. is seeking opportunities to develop laneway housing in various municipalities around the region, as soon as permitted by changes to zoning bylaws.
Last year, I returned from the Philippines where I met with representatives of Ayala Land, the country's largest real estate company. There I shared some of the lessons learned about sustainable communities during my time at UniverCity and other successful Vancouver projects. You can read some of my observations about the Philippines in my recent Vancouver Sun Westcoast Homes column.
I was invited to Ottawa to talk about community 'intensification' at a City sponsored workshop. While many people in Vancouver are critical of our EcoDensity initiatives, in Ottawa there was considerable interest and support for Vancouver's approach. One person even asked if they could use the name!
I was alsopleased to be invited as the keynote speaker at a week long community planning workshop organized by the City of Red Deer. As I listened to residents talking about the need for more high density housing downtown, and a desire for alternatives to the private automobile, it was hard to believe I was in central Alberta. Congratulations to my old UofT Architecture classmate John Hull and his associate Lorne Daniel on a very successful planning exercise.
The Downtown Eastside Community Land Use Principles project was initiated by Michael Clague and Milton Wong with support from the Community Arts Council, the Real Estate Foundation and other organizations. This small group is committed to ensuring that changes to the DTES community will be for the benefit of those currently living there. Over the past 6 months, I have been volunteering real estate and development advice to the group.
As a result of what I have learned while working in the community, I strongly believe there needs to be an increase in the shelter component of welfare, which has increased only once in the last 14 years. Today it is set at $375 a month. This is simply not enough to cover the cost of decent and safe shelter. At the same time, in order to solve many of the current problems in the community, one must address drug addiction and mental disorders.
I was involved with the initial launch of EcoDensity in June 2006. At the time, I argued that in addition to helping to save the planet, this initiative could also contribute to more affordable housing choices around the city. See "'Ecodensity' Mayor Sam's Newest Plan" I wrote about EcoDensity again in December 2006, before setting off on my world trip. "Affordable housing rises on wise use of land"
More recently, I have written a number of articles that set out my thoughts about this city initiative. One story, in the Westcoast Homes section of the Vancouver Sun compared EcoDensity to the redevelopment of the south shore of False Creek 30 years ago. "For me, EcoDensity is a 60-year adventure"
I also appeared before the Vancouver Sun Editorial Board, with Mike Harcourt, Jake Fry of Smallworks, and others who support the initiative. While Pete McMartin, one of my favourite columnists, had some fun at my expense, noting that while I argue for smaller, more compact homes, I live in a large home in Southlands,
"Call it EcoDensity or EcoCity --either way it's a hard sell", I think the exercise was worthwhile in terms of better explaining how new developments would generate revenues for the city, that could be used to pay for new amenities.
On February 27th, I spoke to Vancouver City Council, supporting the initiative, but suggesting that the city move forward carefully, and consider demonstration projects as a way of better illustrating what is being proposed. I also argued for greater assurances that amenities would keep up with new developments. Following my presentation, I spoke with local writer Adele Weder whose story in the Tyee gave away a secret about my architectural past "Can 'Eco-Density' Be Beautiful?"
I believe that the EcoDensity initiative will be on the top of Council’s agenda for the coming years. It will not only influence what happens in Vancouver, but it will also change many other municipalities. I believe that the Mayor was very genuine in his concern for the environment when he introduced the EcoDensity program. Sadly, it has become too politicized in the following years, but the recent debate has been helpful, and I am optimistic about its future.
UniverCity (www.univercity.ca) is an experiment in community building.
I was fortunate to be involved with the first phases of planning and development from 1999 to 2006, and am delighted that Gordon Harris has most ably taken over the responsibilities of President & CEO of the SFU Community Trust. As a model sustainable community, UniverCity incorporates many ideas that I think should be applied to other communities around the region. These include ‘legalized secondary suites’ in apartments and townhouses, a community transit pass program, coop cars and reduced parking standards, and green building guidelines. There were many challenges getting this project off the ground, including a high level of suspicion about the role of a university such as Simon Fraser University, in the development business. But today, the community is becoming a success, and it has received numerous awards for its innovations, including a Canadian Homebuilder’s Award as the best new community in Canada. "UniverCity named Canada's best community development"
Even more significantly, it has also been recognized by the American Planning Association with the inaugural award for innovation in green community planning.
UniverCity has also been recognized for its contribution to the knowledge on how to build healthy communities. It was recognized by "Well"; "The Simon Fraser UniverCity"and also by David Suzuki in a episode of ‘The Nature of Things’ entitled ‘the Weight of the World’ which looked at how good community planning can help address obesity in Canada. "Weight of the World Challenge" This has led to a very successful program to address obesity, especially amongst school children.
One of my favourite articles about UniverCity was written by the provocative Globe & Mail columnist Trevor Boddy, who documented some of the challenges building a community next to Arthur Erickson’s architectural masterpiece. 'Arthur was not amused' Before heading off on my world travels, the SFU City Program gave me the opportunity to summarize some of my thoughts about the planning process for the community. "Seven Years at UniverCity"
The following ‘resume’ will give you a better idea of some of my activities over the past 35 years. I am also honoured to be included in Chuck Davis’ History of Metropolitan Vancouver. If you are not familiar with this publication, you should check it out. My entry is by my birth date, October 6, 1947. "The History of Metropolitan Vancouver"
President, Michael Geller& Associates Limited
Provides real estate and development consulting services topublic, private, and institutional clients.
Adjunct Faculty, Centre for Sustainable Community Development,Simon Fraser University
1999 to 2006 President & CEO, SFU Community Trust Oversaw the planning and development of the first phase of UniverCity, a sustainable new community on Burnaby Mountain.
1983 to 1999 President, The Geller Group Active in real estate consulting and property development in the Lower Mainland. Consulting assignments included: Development Management for the Westin Bayshore lands; Provincial Project Manager for the proposed Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Expansion; Planning and rezoning for BC Packer’s lands in Steveston and Deering Island in Vancouver; review of the Oakridge Transit Terminal for Translink; planning for the Spetifore lands in Delta; planning and approvals for Furry Creek; Tower Four at Langara Gardens; and numerous planning and feasibility studies, rezonings and development approvals for Vancouver land owners and property developers. Development Projects included: The Lagoons at Granville Island;2020 Highbury in Point Grey, Oak Gardens in Oakridge, Elm Park Place in Kerrisdale, and planning and rezoning for The Lanesborough in Kerrisdale.
1981 to 1983 Vice President, Development, Narod Developments Ltd.Major Projects included Fairview Point, an 85,000 sq ft office building on West Broadway; Mariner Point 143 unit residential project in False Creek; and new community developments in Seattle and Portland.
1972 to 1981 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
1979 to 1981 Director, Research and Demonstration Group, Ottawa, Working with the legendary Bill Teron, managed professional and technical services for major Federal Demonstration Projects, including redevelopment of Old Ports in Montreal and Quebec, LeBreton Flats and Woodroffe Projects in Ottawa;
Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, Projects Director, Ontario Directed the preparation of a development framework and financial plan for Harbourfront, a 92 acre mixed use redevelopment in Toronto.
1977 to 1979 Coordinator, St. Lawrence Project, Toronto Managed CMHC’s involvement in the first phase of this award winning major redevelopment community.
1974 to 1977 Program Manager, Social Housing, Vancouver Responsible for the delivery of cooperative, non-profit and public housing in the Vancouver Branch Office area. Also served as Special Coordinator for the first phase of the redevelopment of the south shore of False Creek, thanks to the faith of mentor and good friend Keith Tapping, former Regional Director for CMHC
1972 to 1974 Architect/Planner, Vancouver and Ottawa
1971 to 1972 Architect/Planner, Irving Grossman Architect, Toronto
EDUCATION Bachelor of Architecture, University of Toronto, 1971
Member, Architectural Institute of British Columbia, Registered Planner and Fellow, Canadian Institute of Planners Adjunct Faculty, Centre for Sustainable Community Development, SFU
Member, Urban Land InstituteMember, International Centre for Sustainable Communities 2005 to presentDirector, Canada Green Building Council, BC Region 2005 to 2006Director, British Columbia Buildings Corporation 1992 to 1998Director, Urban Development Institute Pacific Region 1982 to 1993President, Urban Development Institute Pacific Region 1984 to 1985President, Urban Development Institute Canada 1988 to 1990Member, Development Permit Board Advisory Panel, City of Vancouver 1983 to 1989Member, Lambda Alpha International 1995 to presentDirector, Vancouver Volunteer Centre 1983 to 1986Director, Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver 1997 to 2006President, Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver 1999 to 2001Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver 1994 to 1996Trustee, Louis Brier Home and Hospital 1995 LB Foundation 2005 to presentJury Chairman, National Awards Program, Canadian Housing Design Council 1986Jury Chairman, CMHC Seniors Housing AwardsFrequent Speaker and Lecturer: SFU, UBC, and at conferences across Canada and USA Contributing Columnist, Vancouver Sun
Born Blackpool England, 1947; Canadian Citizen; Married to Sally, two children (Claire, who is an intern with the Environmental Youth Alliance and Georgia, who is studying medicine at UBC);Biography: Canadian Who’s Who
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