The Unthanks — “King of Rome”

March 14, 2014

If you love great singing and you love silver bands as I do, then this is really hard to beat.  If you are not from the north of England you may have trouble understanding all the words, but it rewards two or three listens.

I love it.


Spreading The Manure Far and Wide

March 14, 2014

Former Vancouver City Planner Brent Toderian, who promoted and furthered the aims of the deeply unpopular Eco-Density program, is presumably making a very decent living promoting what he likes to call “Vancouverism” to municipalities around the world, often in Australia.  He will be a main speaker at the Australian Planning Institute next week.

Australian planner Wendy Sarkissian recently forwarded me a copy of an article that Toderian and Jillian Glover write for Planetizen called “10 Lessons In More Engaging Citizen Engagement” and asked me to comment.  This was my response:

I read with interest the piece in Planetizen by Brent Toderian and Jillian Glover.  Had they not kept mentioning Vancouver, I never would have recognized the city they are describing.

In one section they claim that this is “a region known internationally for its public consultation” — really?  In who’s fantasy is that?  The fact is that locally the current administration is known for being complete failures at engagement.  In 2013, one of our major local newspapers, the Vancouver Courier, conducted a survey to find the most important story of the year, and their readers chose neighbourhood discontent with civic engagement by a huge margin.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, of which I am chair, was formed last summer specifically to focus and assist the unprecedented opposition to City planning from right across Vancouver.  We began with 18 neighbourhood associations and now have 24, covering about 90% of Vancouver’s population.

The City recently published the final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Engaged City.  The report was completed without consultation with or input from Vancouver’s numerous and active residents’ associations – that’s a perfect example of how engaged they are.

What the Plantetizen article does highlight is this administration’s ability and indeed willingness to create public relations exercises in which citizens are invited to participate but which result in those same citizens having no genuine influence on policies that, most of us believe, were done deals before the first invite was ever sent.  Bread and circuses are all we get.


As I write this, I am watching the final stages of the Oakridge redevelopment hearing — a cabaret of extraordinary frustration.  Hundreds of residents have spoken and written in opposition to the project. “Council has listened,” claims Clr. Louie as he moves to approve the project, the forest of very high towers, while giving the future seniors’ centre a slightly larger kitchen, and pretending the speeding up of construction is a benefit.

Another done deal.


Slice of Pi

March 14, 2014

On 3-14, or any day really, this is one of my favourite pieces of pi

Handmade Pork Pies