Feeling Not Very Special

July 27, 2013

Here we are on a summer Saturday and Vancouver City Council is spending yet another day talking about a bike lane and road closure on millionaires’ row — on a Saturday, for goodness sake!  I don’t know how many hours this is now, but we must be close to a full day.

This is the same Council that couldn’t spend an hour or two listening to ordinary residents of Grandview-Woodland who had taken expensive time off work to talk to them about the future of our entire neighbourhood.  No, we have to wait until the end of September when, again, people are back at work and have to spend real money if they want to contribute to the discussion.

I cannot remember the last time Council had a public hearing on a Saturday.  And I can’t remember when an ordinary Council Motion was delayed for 9 weeks.  Would it be too cynical to believe that this schedule is because many of Vision Vancouver’s biggest supporters live on or near Point Grey Road, while those of out here on the east side are, well, just east siders?


A New GWAC Web Site

July 27, 2013

I spent yesterday evening and early this morning crafting a new action-oriented blog for the Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC). Not quite everything there yet, but please give it a look see at http://gw-ac.org.


A New Addiction

July 26, 2013

Iced CappJust the other day, when it was really hot and I’d been walking on the Drive for just a bit too long, I found myself in Timmy’s.  Not knowing what to order that would satisfy my thirst, me not being a great drinker of coffee, my eye fell on the Iced Capp and I ordered one.

It was perfection, sheer perfection!  I sat there and sucked the straw until the whole thing was gone. Every mouthful rolling over my tongue was exquisite.  I’ve talked of little else since.

Today, the ever-loving and I set out specifically to grab a couple of Iced Capps during the middle of our shopping chores, only to find that their Iced Capp machine was busted!  Horror of horrors! I felt myself go into instant withdrawal and nothing else would do.  We rushed home and emptied the freezer of all the ice cream we had.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a Timmy’s Iced Capp.

Now, I’m sitting here waiting for my next fix.

Transit In Reverse

July 25, 2013

Vancouver was founded because of its harbour and its timber — some of the finest tall and straight trees anywhere in the world — that fit the needs of maritime expansionism in the 19th century.  But once that initial spurt had faded, by the 1890s, say, it was transit that drove the geographic growth of the City.  Streetcar and interurban lines were laid down, and housing soon followed.

That sequence was as true in Grandview as anywhere else in Vancouver. The opening of the interurban line to New Westminster in 1891, with its line along what would become Commercial Drive, created some interest in the neighbourhood.  But it is no coincidence that the building boom in the east end followed the opening of city streetcar service in the middle of the 1900 decade.  By 1915, much of Grandview was covered with a variety of streets and houses and a thriving population.


That is the historical pattern across most of North America: Transit precedes population. It has proven to be a spectacularly successful business model for the building of cities. Oddly enough, now Translink wants to reverse that successful course, at least at the Commercial & Broadway hub; and they are being aided and abetted by the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.

Page 33 of the Emerging Directions document published by the GW Community Plan planners states:

Create opportunities for transit-oriented development in the vicintiy of the station — with transit-supportive density that is consistent with existing and proposed transit infrastructure.

Given that we are told time after time that the Broadway transit service is already the busiest in North America, and given that we are all aware that thousands of people are passed by already-full buses at every rush hour, it is clear that we already have “transit-supportiive density”.  What we need are more transit options NOT more population in the area.

As Translink already fails to meet the current demands, it is senseless to add additional pressures by building what were originally conceived of as 26-36 storey towers, without a significant increase in services first.

This post was inspired in part by Elizabeth Murphy’s well-argued piece in the Sun on Tuesday.

Inaccurate Representations

July 25, 2013

Yesterday on Twitter, Clr. Andrea Reimer said that my post about Tuesday’s Council meeting was “not an accurate summary of what happened yesterday”.   I replied that I thought it was quite accurate but I was happy for Vancouverites to watch the video of the proceedings and make up their own minds.

Lo and behold, not an hour or so later, I was sent a copy of her latest missive to Vision Vancouver supporters.  It says, in part:

“I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on the proposal to keep the zoning along Commercial Drive, from the Grandview Cut down to Venables exactly as it is…”

Talk about an inaccurate summary!  I guess it might be true if we forget the massive upzoning on both sides of Venables & Commercial (15 storeys on the north side and 8 storeys on the south), if we ignore the upzoning proposed at First & Commercial, and if we fail to notice the increased density on the Drive from the Cut north to 4th Avenue.

Seriously, if we want to weigh inaccuracies, I think the Councilor wins by a mile!



Happy Birthday, Famous Empty Sky!

July 25, 2013

FESI didn’t get a chance to post this yesterday, but I was lucky enough to bump into Famous Empty Sky — the greatest artist the Drive has yet produced — and she was celebrating her birthday!

We are privileged as a neighbourhood to have her as a resident and to be able so often to enjoy her powerful and beautiful art.

Many happy returns, FES, and may there be scores more of them!

Council Defers Action

July 24, 2013

I spent Tuesday morning at City Hall, witnessing what is in theory at least the last City Council meeting of the summer.  I was there with a number of others because we were keen to support Clr. Adriane Carr’s Motion to extend the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan process by six  months.

The presentations on National Reconciliation Year and the Bike Share program took a great deal of time (not whining, they are important issues for many people) and it was unclear whether the Carr Motion would actually be reached before Council rose at 1pm. But they shifted the agenda and allowed it to be discussed in the final 15 minutes. Adriane Carr made a good short speech about why we should get the extra time, and both Andrea Reimer and Mayor Robertson suggested they agreed that Grandview-Woodland (and Marpole) had made a good case for more time.

We had anticipated, not unreasonably, that the Motion would be refered to the Planning Committee’s meeting today (Wednesday) and we had a number of people slated to speak to the Motion at that time.  However, Clr. Reimer’s referal motion put us off until 25th September, requiring Planning to give a Report at that time on the pros and cons of delaying any or all of the four current Community Plans (GW, Marpole, DTES, West End).

The fact that we were not allowed to speak to the Motion today is doubly disappointing.  First, a number of people had booked today off work in order to speak and they will now have wasted an expensive day for nothing.  Second, we would have made the point during the various speeches that (a) the process needs changing, not just the schedule; and (b) that the problems with the GW Plan are not just about Commercial & Broadway but stretch across the neighbourhood.

Had Council heard those speeches they may have still told Planners to come back with a Report in late September, but the nature of that Report may well have been broader and more aligned with our overall concerns.  Right now, the focus of the Report will be on what effects a delay will have on the planning department and the other neighbourhoods in the planning queue. Not the same thing at all.

Without impugning motives, I am sure that some part of the reasoning for delaying the process for 9 weeks is that the local and media hue and cry against the Emerging Directions document will die down in that time.  That isn’t going to happen, believe you me.

As the beginning of this new phase, GWAC and its supporters will rally at the Open Houses of 29th and 31st July to make sure the planners know we want more substantive discussions on all areas of the Plan, all areas of the neighbourhood, that “fixing” the towers at Commercial & Broadway will NOT fix the GW Plan, that Open Houses are NOT consultations.  Thereafter, the next public meeting of GWAC is on 12th August and I am sure more actions will be discussed there.

It is going to be a hot summer for local politics!