Developer urges women-friendly city planning
By Michael Mui, NOVEMBER 1, 2015, vancouver.24hrs.ca
Women are getting harmed by this lack of inclusion of safety in the way we plan public spaces or communities ... walking at night, which route am I going to take that’s going to get me from where I am now to my destination — I’d probably take a different route than my male counterpart.
— Carla Guerrera, Darwin Properties
The real estate industry and urban planners have yet to realize women are increasingly the ones buying homes for the household — and that it is for them neighbourhoods should be marketed to, according to a top female developer.
Carla Guerrera, a vice president at Vancouver’s Darwin Properties, has spent 15 years working in the development industry — in an era that’s produced such follies as sidewalks too narrow for strollers to navigate, dimly lit streets that are a hazard to public safety, and neighbourhoods where the nearest services require kilometres of travel by car.
It’s a topic she’ll be discussing as part of Simon Fraser University’s “We the City” community summit, which runs until Nov. 7.
Guerrera’s problem with contemporary cities is men were designing them with little thought as to what the other half of the population needs.
“From a development perspective, there’s a huge business and finacial opportunity with this as well — with the purchasing power women have now ... we have a huge opportunity to build development and communities really targeted and incredibly marketed to women,” Guerrera said.
A lot of this comes down to location, choosing areas most likely to have accessible and inclusive services for women — or creating new neighbourhoods sensitive to women’s needs.
“Regardless of the fact there are more women working and contributing in the work sector, there’s still a primary dominance of women in raising children, caring for parents and in home management,” she said.
“It’s those roles and that kind of lifestyle women primarily find themselves in at various stages of life are very different from men — in terms of the way they use communities, the way they use city infrastructure, city services.”
There are solutions. One North Shore property Guerrera is working on focuses on the “key principles” of a community that works for women. It’s close to schools, daycares, transit, shopping, and green spaces like playgrounds. Guerrera also targeted women in the community for feedback in the development process — voices with lifestyles often too busy to participate in traditional public hearings.
Shauna Sylvester, executive director of SFU Public Square, said the summit will feature 13 events over nine days.
More at sfu.ca/publicsquare