The Happy City, how urban systems influence our happiness

The Happy City, how urban systems influence our happiness

Today the CHHM hosted a Lunch and Learn where we ate our lunches and digested some big ideas by local author Charles Montgomery.

Montgomery’s talk on what makes a happy city is humerous, sarcastic, and poignant. His vision for a happy city focuses on changing the way we build and plan cities to better connect the people who live in them. The best way to do this? Re-think the way we plan cities, including how we plan for parking, cycling infrastructure, and rapid transit but wait … let’s not forget to include Brad Pitt (see 40:58) and hugs for BC Premier Christy Clark (see 41:10).

His talk is definitely a must see for anyone who lives in BC because his arguments relate directly to what is going on here in BC and particularly the Metro Vancouver region. Even if you don’t live in BC, anyone can relate to the frustrations of being stuck in a traffic jam, circling the mall looking for a parking spot that doesn't exist, and been elbowed on a crowded bus.

In Montgomery’s vision of the "Happy City", building more roads without a plan for mass transit and active transportation means building social disconnection and unhappiness. He proposes a public policy strategy for alleviating these frustrations through rethinking our priorities with the built environment. The pay off is happier cities that are more socially cohesive.

Some fast facts from his lecture

  • In Canada we have 6 parking spots for every car
  • By 2041, if the reliance on cars continues on the path we’ll have roughly 730,000 more vehicles on the road
  • That growth would require a 26 lane highway and we’d need to create 2,200,000 new parking spots
  • The cost of all this congestion to the economy …. $1.5 Billion!!!
  • The cost of building a better future …. 5 pennies for every $10

You can follow Charles Montgomery on Twitter here

Join the conversation using hashtag

This Lunch and Learn was organized by Amanda Frazer, Research Coordinator for Active Streets, Active People - Junior and hosted by the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. Charles Montgomery’s lecture “Choosing the Happy City”, that was originally part of SFU City’s “Rethinking Transportation” series.