Best Of the City — On The Drive

February 28, 2013

It’s that time of year again:  WestEnder’s Best of the City 2013 has been published, and the Drive did pretty well once again.

  • The Reef Restaurant (Food: Caribbean/West Indian), Memphis Blues (Food: BBQ), Donalds (Independent Grocer), Liberty Wines (Wine merchants), Home Hardware (Hardware stores), and Van City (Financial Insitutions) all won their categories.
  • JJ Bean (Coffee chain) and Daily Catch (Fishmongers) came second.
  • Havana (Food: Caribbean/West Indian), St. Augustines (Pub), Uprising (Bakery), La Grotta (Cheese) and Mintage (Vintage Clothing) placed third.

Congratulations to them all!


First & Commercial

February 28, 2013

If you’ve only known the Drive for the last, say, 25 years, you could be tempted to believe that the Il Mercarto Mall on the northwest corner of First and Commercial has been there for ever.  Not so.

That site has a long and sometimes troubled history, some of which I have described at the Grandview Heritage Group blog.

The Over-Building of Vancouver

February 26, 2013

Mayor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver crew at City Hall continue to push for ever more densification.  Vision and their allies claim that we need to keep building to solve the housing affordability crisis, even though this strategy has been tried since before Sam Sullivan’s EcoDensity days, always without success — the ever-increasing cost of property in Vancouver since, say, 2000 proves the failure.

This desire for more new building — which only helps the development industry keep the money flowing — is creating an alarming situation where Vancouver is being over-built.  Proof of this claim is to be found in the 2011 Census data.

The 2011 census for Vancouver shows that there were a total of 286,742 private dwellings in the city.  A “private dwelling” is defined as “a separate set of living quarters designed for or converted for human habitation in which a person or group of persons reside or could reside.” In other words, a house, a condo, an apartment, or anything similar. The same census shows that only 264,573 of those dwellings were occupied by “regular” residents of Vancouver, i.e., those folks who claim Vancouver as their place of residence.

The difference of 22,269 dwellings (8% of the total) is made up of vacant dwellings or dwellings occupied by people who do not claim Vancouver as their place of residence.  

Stats Canada has not yet provided a breakdown of the 22,269 dwellings, so we are obliged to make some assumptions.

One of the abiding beliefs in Vancouver is that non-residents are driving the Lower Mainland housing market. Clearly, if one out of every twelve dwellings is occupied by non-residents then this claim is patently true.  However, supporters of “Vancouverism” (Vision and others) say that is just a myth and isn’t so; and who are we to disagree?

Which means that most of these 22,269 dwellings are vacant.

It gets worse:  That 22,269 number does not include buildings that were under construction at the time of the census.  Nor does it include the vast numbers of additional units that Vision Vancouver’s majority on Council — generally against strong neighbourhood opinion — have approved since the census.

And lest Vision and its surrogates try to say the 2011 figures were just a blip, the relevant figure for 2006 was 20,592 showing that under Vision’s management this problem has grown by 10% and, of course, continues to grow as Vision continues to feed their development buddies.

The Census figures clearly show that, either the non-resident occupiers are distorting the housing marketplace or that Vancouver is seriously over-built.  Given the arguments by Vision and its pals that the former is not the case, then the latter must be true.

Reason #208 NOT to use Facebook

February 25, 2013

Media theorist Douglas Ruchkoff has decided to quit Facebook.  Hard to believe it took him so long, but some of his reasons are worth repeating:

“It actively misrepresents us to our friends, and worse misrepresents those who have befriended us to still others … Facebook does not exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network of connections, brand preferences and activities over time — our ‘social graphs’ — into money for others …

“The true end users of Facebook are the marketers who want to reach and influence us. They are Facebook’s paying customers; we are the product. And we are its workers. The countless hours that we — and the young, particularly — spend on our profiles are the unpaid labor on which Facebook justifies its stock valuation …

“That innocent mention of cup of coffee at Starbucks, in the Facebook universe, quickly becomes an attributed endorsement of their brand. Remember, the only way to connect with something or someone is to “like” them. This means if you want to find out what a politician or company you don’t like is up to, you still have to endorse them publicly …

“Through a new variation of the Sponsored Stories feature called Related Posts, users who “like” something can be unwittingly associated with pretty much anything an advertiser pays for. Like e-mail spam with a spoofed identity, the Related Post shows up in a newsfeed right under the user’s name and picture. If you like me, you can be shown implicitly recommending me or something I like — something you’ve never heard of — to others without your consent.

None of this is new to those of you who have read my previous reasons not to use FB, but it is good to point out that others are beginning to realise the danger that FB poses.

Tulips And Vase

February 23, 2013

Tulips and vase

Tulips and Vase” (2008), acrylics on canvas, 16″ x 20″

For a better view go here.

U-Turn In The Brain

February 23, 2013

For most of the last twelve months I have been concentrating my research efforts on the first twenty-five years of Grandview’s existence, say from 1890 to 1915.  I have collected a vast amount of data (much of which I have yet to publish), created some research aids, given presentations, written short pieces (here and here, for example) about that period, and generally immersed myself in that time and place.  It has been great fun.

However, now that VPL cataloguing has completed their work on the “Highland Echo” files we donated, I have decided that writing volume two of my history of “The Drive” has to take precedence. It is a bit of a shock moving my brain from the stump-strewn streets of 1905 to the raucous vibrancy of the 1960s and 1970s.

It also means I am back to camping out on the seventh-floor of VPL for the next many months as I work my way through the Echos from the early 1970s to the late 1990s.  When I was researching the first book, I had access to the physical copies of the paper; this time I have to make do with microfilm versions.  After three full days of work, I can say that this is much harder work and I really miss the tactile experience of turning pages.  Still, it is the best information available about the time and place — at least until I start interviews with real people later this year.

Luckily, I have the Grandview Heritage Group and their exciting discussions and projects to keep me in touch with the full range of our wonderful neighbourhood’s history and heritage.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

February 21, 2013

This week’s book was the masterly novella called “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  It is a slim volume (just 117 pages) that I wolfed down in two return trips on the #20 bus to the library.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Written in the first person, Garcia Marquez tells the story of an unnamed 90-year old man, a writer of sorts who suddenly falls in love with a thirteen year old virgin whom he has procured from an ancient madame as a birthday present to himself.  His love is unrequited and unconsummated (his choice) but changes his world completely.

This is a remarkable paean to old age, to the process of aging, to unexpected love, to music, to solitude and desire. It is the work of a true master of his craft and I loved it.

It is devastatingly sad to know that there will never be more books by this extraordinary artist.