The day began well before dawn. Bath, my rugby team of choice when Harlequins aren’t playing, fought hard to beat Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup. I watched the entire game; it was splendid. In the background throughout, I had another channel showing the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic cycle race. When the rugby reached its satisfactory conclusion, I switched over to two hours of cycle racing. Great conditions, great race, my guy came a very close second. I enjoyed it. So much good sporting suff going on that I didn’t even watch Chelsea beat Liverpool!
And then, after all that activity, I had to get up and get on with the day, and it wasn’t even 9 in the morning! Thank goodness for risotto and eggs and toast and tea!
The day continued — a Sunday, mind — with a long and productive 10:00am meeting of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods. After plotting to overthrow the established order and make residents the boss of everything, and gossiping about which planner would be leaving the City Planning Department next, we turned to more prosaic matters. There will more news of them (the prosaic matters) in the next few weeks.
Home again, and this time it is raisin toast and butter and tea that saves my life.
Not really sure exactly what happened with the afternoon. It kind of drifted by, with a few emails in and out, a couple of chores, a phone call. Nothing big. Pretty soon it came around to be time for the ever-loving’s asparagus stuffed chicken breasts with a jicama/lime salad. Hard to beat that!
And now I’m just exhausted writing about it all. Did you notice there was no nap in there?
There has been a lively debate these last few days about condos, Vancouver’s favourite form. Macleans started the conversation with their piece about the challenge of living in condos. This was followed by a defence of sorts. City Hall Watch comes in from the side with a piece about the longterm costs of the form as another Vancouver tower undergoes a full and expensive envelope recladding.
I have a belief that the whole condo tower structure business is a failed design, destined to be seen in the same light as the projects we built in the 40s and 50s. That being said, I know people who love living in those towers. It is exactly what they wanted. I myself have lived in condo towers on the North Shore and in the West End. I liked it well enough.
What cannot be denied, though, is that the condo tower has proven NOT to be the saviour of nor contributor to affordable housing. Over the last decade we have built these things almost to the exclusion of all else. And yet our housing market has gone through the roof in the same period. I am certainly not suggesting that the one is caused by the other. But regardless of any direct connection, it is clear that the building of condos has not had the ability to lower prices.
And what are Vision offering us? More “condos” in the form of “market rentals” for which they are willing to give away any and all advantage the City might have gained in the form of CACs. They have yet to explain how thousands more $2,000/month apartments with no community amenities will deal with the “affordability” crisis. And yet Clrs. Meggs and Reimer and others scream “build more! build more!” with no explanation why this will work when it hasn’t worked over the last six years.
Vision laughs at the NPA when the opposition says that the market should be allowed to create affordable housing. But that is exactly what Vision is doing, just with different packaging. This is housing to meet developers’ needs not housing to meet the needs of the people.
Stop giving stuff away. Stop spending money on elitist toys. Make developers pay the full cost of necessary infrastructure. Stop Meggs charging all those taxi fares, and teach Reimer how to use Skype rather than flying to Sweden for Earth Day. Bite the bullet and raise property taxes. Use the money you save and make to build truly affordable housing.
Dim sum to start (more of the finest), and stir fry (one of my best) for dinner.
In between? A long nap and periods of forgetfulness.
A fine day.
Here is a new documentary by John Ngyuen, who was involved in the Youth Non-Engagement video, that captures the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan process as it stood at the end of February 2014, just a month or two ago. Way too much of me in here, perhaps, but an interesting historical document nonetheless. And very well put together by John.
I adore these designs:
And the rest which you can find here at Taxi.
The elemental power that the idea of fire has for humanity is still exhibited in any number of culturally important ceremonies. The latest to disturb my attention is the Holy Fire ceremony this week at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
There are some irreducibly elemental beliefs that link us as a species. One of these is in the extraordinary power of fire, both attractive and destructive. The clan that first started getting some control over that power, maintaining it, using it, must have really ruled the roost for quite some while. No doubt that happened many times in different places and across all ages until the overlapping webs of fire-control tribes covered the globe. Fire was now ours, controllable. A lot of the time, at least.
We began to celebrate or at least bring into our cultures the great fires of the past: the burning of Rome when Nero fiddled; the Great Fire of London in 1666; the devastation of the fire raids on Dresden and Tokyo; these and many others. We created entire agricultural economies that relied on slash and burn transactions with nature. We embraced fire in our homes and in our religions. We found a thousand and one uses for it.
However, there has been a strain of competition throughout human history between fire, earth, and water. The Industrial Revolution was the final victory of the Earth (with its Metals) over Fire. In an astute judo move, the new Metals technologies used the power of fire and water — through heat and steam and every other way — to create metallic alternates that did away with humanity’s need for direct fire control for heating, lighting, and cooking.
Culturally, Fire itself retreated to its religious base, but remained an important fear in the human psyche. I have long been fascinated by Zoroastrianism and its fire rituals. I love to follow Diwali each year. It was good to catch the Holy Sepulchre folks this year.
Of the many regressive steps taken at Vancouver City Hall since Penny Ballem became City Manager, arguably the worst was the elimination of line item budgets and the introduction of departmental and program lump-sum budgets that hide all the details. That is the purpose, of course: to hide the details from the people who pay for everything — that would be you and me.
We must immediately return to detailed line-item budgets being submitted by the City bureaucracy for Council’s approval, with Council having the ability and duty to review and if required amend individual line items in the budget.
But we need to do more, much more.
We need to make all payments made by the City openly available within a short period of time, online, searchable by payee and program identification. All payments, including salaries, wages, expenses and fees should be made available.
It’s our money. We should be able to see exactly where it is going, in virtually real time.
So-called No Public Disclosure clauses should be made illegal and invalid in all transactions involving public money. You want our money, then play by our transparency rules and needs, not yours.
I have had several breakfasts at Adeline’s recently, and mighty fine they have been. I stick to ordering the Traditional English breakfast which is actually a sort of Americanized version of a Traditional English Breakfast. And that’s OK; I can grill tomatoes and mushrooms, and heat up some baked beans at home anytime. They get the bacon and the sausage and the country-fried potatoes and they get the eggs any way you want them. Tastes good and the coffee’s fine.
The ever-loving has never been there for breakfast, and so today was to be the day. Off we went into the chill way-too-early-for-summer sunshine and hiked around the corner. Only to find that Adeline’s had chosen today to shut for renovations!
Oh well, Skylight is only half a block from there, and thus we ended up at our usual haunt. No problem with that rebound. And we got there to find the place almost empty. But within ten minutes the place was crowded, all tables used up. Apparently, Good Friday means it is OK to take your mawkish kid to the local diner to test out their lungs. Oh well, it is good to see the place lively and keeping everyone busy.
So today I had two breakfasts: the expectation of one at Adeline’s and an actual one at Eva’s. Pretty good morning, I’d say.
Adriane Carr, the Green Party Vancouver City Councillor, has been hitting the high notes since she pushed the party into an early 2014 campaign launch with three other nominees. Getting a proactive handle on the aquarium debate is a good idea, and a natural for her. Suggesting a plebiscite, bringing the public into the process, challenges Vision’s fine words with genuine action.
Once the additional nominees are acclaimed as Green candidates in May, then it will be interesting to see whether the Greens can properly display the bench strength that many of us feel they could put out with that team.
Those involved in local civic activism know that getting younger residents involved is one of the genuine barriers to full integration of community with group.
Here is a fascinating look at why youth today are not engaging in the process, not swamping the political channels available to them today.
This video was a class project this year at SFU. This is youth (with the occasional old fart or two) thinking about youth, and all the more valuable for that.
Definitely worth watching!
I received an email from the Architectural Foundation of British Columbia (AFBC) which I thought was worth sharing:
We all have our favourite buildings. Buildings with architectural lines we love, old houses with never forgotten memories within their walls and shops that beckon us to visit. Buildings that hold special significance and have become a touchstone in our lives.
To celebrate 100 years of architecture, the AFBC is presenting the BC’s 100 Best Building Contest.
No matter where you live in British Columbia, you are invited to nominate buildings whether they are located in your region or elsewhere in the province. A building that you love and want to share with us.
Visit our website here to make your nominations.
The Best Building Contest will close in June, and then the public voting begins. A panel will select the top three for each of the four regions (North, Interior, Island & South) to be awarded plaques at a special event to be held in the fall of 2014.
Go ahead — your vote counts!
Today was one of the Big Days in cycling — the Paris-Roubaix race: 6 hours of racing, 250+ kilometers, much of which takes place over the fearsome cobble tracks of northern France.
I was hoping that my man Fabian Cancelleria would make this a Flanders/Roubaix double, but he had to settle for third after a brilliant solo breakaway by Niki Terpstra, who has been showing well all Spring.
Paris-Roubaix is a fabulous race to watch and deserves its reputation as one of the greats. This year did not disappoint.