49. Andy Yan
Senior Urban Planner/Researcher
November 17, 2015
Age: 40 | First Appearance
In 2009, Bing Thom Architects spun off a research and development division to identify the many influences converging in Vancouver. A young urban planner named Andy Yan soon gained influence by dispelling urban myths and making sense of a sort of ground-truth that everyone in this city seemed to believe but nobody in power would address.
Yan had grown up in Vancouver, and he remembered Granville Street in the mid-’80s as “a very cool menagerie of people of all stripes. The greatness of cities is in the weird and the strange.” He’d felt that vibrancy ebb, and he tracked the ghost stories that have taken hold in the city, attempting to make sense of the zombie neighbourhoods of Coal Harbour, the bogeymen reputation of China driving up housing prices. His research mostly became fodder for nerdy urbanists.
And then, in 2014, there he was in the New Yorker, explaining how a city with per-capita income similar to that of Reno, Nevada, could have San Francisco’s housing prices. He loves to say, “Anecdote is not the plural of data!” Today, people are listening.
He’s been reappointed to the city’s planning commission. He’s on the roundtable for the mayor’s task force on housing affordability, the board of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, and the David Suzuki Foundation’s climate council. “How do you scare off the bogeymen?” Yan asks. “You shine a bright light on them.”
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