Night Music: Oye Como Va

January 12, 2016

Lord Nelson Elementary Upgrade

January 12, 2016

A couple of years ago, the City held public hearings to discuss an upgrade/rebuild to Lord Nelson Elementary at 2235 Kitchener.  The next stage of the development process takes place tomorrow.

At about 5:45 on Wednesday afternoon, the Urban Design Panel will review the final design of the new three storey school/daycare centre.  They meet at the Town Hall Meeting Room, ground floor, Vancouver City Hall.

As Steve Bohus of CityHallWatch notes:

“I often find that the UDP [Urban Design Panel] receives the most complete set of information (drawings & models), so it can be worth going just to see the proposal in full. As this is a Development Application (and not a rezoning), the City doesn’t even need to hold an Open House. They can also forgo a Development Permit Board review (basically have Jane Pickering approve it behind closed doors without public comment).

So, if you have a chance, this might be a meeting worth attending.

Image: Upon Reflection: Marine Building

January 11, 2016

upon reflection_Marine Building I


January 11, 2016

The tagline on my blog is “the most important post-modern expression is the ability to just start again.” No-one lived that more than Davis Bowie.

Poem: Memories Are Made Of This

January 11, 2016


filters of memory

crimp images from forgotten



tread carefully


down these pathways of the past,

canyon-like corridors,

chasm-sided walls

tiled with jagged notches

of previous wants.


tread carefully.


David Bowie

January 10, 2016


Too many people are called legends, and too few really are.  David Bowie was a genuine legend. Sad to see him go.

Night Music: Pointer Sisters, “Jump”

January 10, 2016

More On Speculation

January 9, 2016

Following up on my earlier piece about property speculation in Grandview, it was interesting to read Kerry Gold’s article in the Globe today about property speculation on the west side and her observation that:

Since the province has made it clear that it doesn’t want to intervene to slow speculative buying, there is one move that could be made at the municipal level that could take the pressure off. The city could down-zone single-family neighbourhoods that are in the crosshairs of speculation to disallow the building of houses that are bigger than what already stands. After all, a massive house doesn’t house more people or increase density; it’s not sustainable, it’s usually out of scale, it often replaces a character house and it drives up prices.

This is a lot more useful than listening to developers’ shill Bob Ransford suggest, as he did all morning on Twitter today, that what we are seeing is merely “mythological” and not reality. I’ll continue to believe the evidence of my own eyes.

Image: Greenspace #2

January 9, 2016


Black Pudding

January 9, 2016

black_puddingBlack puddings are some of my favourite things. Other kinds of blood puddings are okay at a pinch (JNZ’s is particularly fine), but nothing compares to the blood, oatmeal, and beef suet creations born in England. Slices of quickly heated black pudding are the perfect complement to any configuration of the traditional English breakfast, or served between two heavily-buttered pieces of good bread.

Most North Americans shy away from trying this perfect food. Obviously, the list of ingredients will seem unattractive to some. But it is also true that most black puddings are cooked too long and turn into hockey pucks. Thus, even if you are brave enough to try it, it may be horrible and put you off a second attempt.

I was lucky enough to be raised in London where they know how to cook their puddings. And I love them.

Experienced cooks will recognize what I mean when I say that for me, in the context of a fried breakfast, black pudding perform like an anchovy in a beef stew: it dissipates a flavor that complements and embraces all the other flavours and yet almost evaporates under examination; umami, as the Japanese have it.

A wonderful experience. And now we hear it is oddly healthy apparently,

“according to well-known nutritional oracle MuscleFood (an online shop specialising in lean meats for body builders). A spokesman this week claimed the pudding is becoming so popular with their health-conscious customers that they have declared it ‘a new buzzword in clean eating”, ranking it as a “superfood for 2016’…

“Black pudding is a superfood. Low in carbohydrates, high in protein, filled with essential nutrients. Lancastrian Viagra, I call it.”



Who knew?


Night Music: Hey Jude

January 8, 2016

Reflections From Inside The Bubble

January 8, 2016

1637 Victoria

The rather unprepossessing house on a 112 x 33 foot lot at 1637 Victoria has just come onto the market and, without unduly picking on a single transaction, the recent history of this property provides a reflection of the meaningless bubble that Grandview real estate has become.

In April last year (2015), this property was listed for $888,000. It sold in May for $1,050,001. Now, structurally and cosmetically unchanged, it is listed for $1,349,900.  It will no doubt sell, and the flippers will make their $300,000 profit on just 8 months financing.

None of this rise in price — from $888,000 to $1,349,900, or 52% in nine months — has anything to do with the actual need for housing. Nothing new has been created here, nothing improved; just the price jacked up. This is pure speculative capitalism: rent your million dollars out for nine months and get a bonus 30% return for doing nothing more than sign a few papers. The financiers, their PR shills and a compliant media play up the market so any genuinely speculative risk is nominal.

They know that this particular house isn’t very attractive. In its present condition, it will not attract the kind of price they want. So they push the idea of demolishing a perfectly decent structure with the potential of providing three affordable rental units, and building a duplex unit in its place, each half of which will sell for a million or so. These capitalist lackeys are all about ROI and profit and lifestyles of the rich and dubious. They don’t give a damn that these are people’s homes and futures that they are fucking with.

Second houses, cottages, lake property — these used to be the “investment” side of real estate for those with a bit of spare cash, not people’s everyday homes. My parents and grandparents, and no doubt yours too, considered the purchase of a house as a means to raise and enjoy a family in an affordable and safe environment. It never crossed their minds that they were missing out on an investment ready to be sold on at the first sign of a fat check book. Today, I believe, the first question a potential buyer asks is “Can I afford it?” swiftly followed by “Can I make money on it?”

No room for sentiment today.

Another Dope Shop? Have Your Say

January 8, 2016

Angelo Papas’ tailoring shop opened at 1044 Commercial in 1966.  In 1975, they moved to 1501 Commercial and have been a prominent fixture on that corner for the last forty years. But things are changing.

EVO MEDI Society has applied to the City for a change of use at that storefront from “retail” to “Medical Marijuana-Related”.  The proposed use is within the allowable “conditional uses” for the current zoning; it just needs the Director of Planning’s approval. Whether it meets the terms of the new City guidelines on dispensaries (distance from another dispensary, distance from schools, etc) is unclear to me.

Residents and neighbours have until January 22 to submit their comments on this proposal, application number DE419315.  Comments can be by email ( or by letter to City of Vancouver, Planning and Development Services,  Development Review Branch, 453 W. 12th Ave., Vancouver V5Y 1V4.

Gonna Be A Good Year

January 7, 2016

Since Christmas, I have been contacted independently by three (THREE!) close relatives, each of whom I thought lost to me; one for more than forty years.  It is a marvelous learning experience to suddenly have more family than one knows what to do with.

My efforts to make these relationships work this time will be a priority for what is, because of them, already a happy new year.

Image: Post-Modern Phallusy

January 7, 2016

post modern phallusy

Whose Community Is It?

January 7, 2016

As an architectural and/or social artifact I have no issue with high-rise towers.

When I moved to Vancouver in 1979, I lived first at what was then the Plaza Hotel at the northern end of Lions Gate Bridge. I worked as a freelancer and so needed a corporation to invoice my services. My first company was called Twenty-Third Floor Productions, which accurately reflected the position of my apartment. I loved it up there. When North Vancouver swiftly became inconvenient for me travel-wise, I moved to the West End and happily lived amid the towering glass and concrete.  No, I have no issue with high-rise towers.

In fact, I have often said that if the residents genuinely approved 15-storey towers on every block on the Drive, I would have no problem with that. I would definitely move because that’s not the Drive I want; but the point is that I will always support the right of the neighbourhood to make that decision.

I am deeply concerned by the particular Boffo Tower on Commercial Drive, for example, because of what the success of the developer against thousands of local residents would mean for any concept of genuine neighbourhood control in the future.

It matters not whether we are talking about towers or townhouses or row houses or supported housing or a new transportation option or a change in the use of roads; the issue always comes down to where the power of approval lies.  Right now, the asymmetrical power equation of developers + money + City versus volunteer groups trying to protect their communities means that the ability of neighbourhoods to control their own affairs, in matters of zoning and streetscapes, business and housing, is slipping away at a fast and increasing rate.

It is vital that we re-establish the rights of the electorate by pushing powers down to the lowest, most local level.  In terms of municipal policy this means making “city-wide” policies subject to local opt-in or opt-out.  Today, this would mean that the Interim Zoning policies enacted after the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, land use policies under Transportation 2040, and the city-wide plan currently being devised by the Vancouver City Planning Commission would all be controlled and enacted — or not — by each neighbourhood in Vancouver.

This also means that regional groupings, such as the unelected Metro Vancouver, need to become operational liaisons only with no executive powers concerning local development, and certainly no authority to over-ride neighbourhood decisions through Regional Context Statements and similar.  If necessary, the City of Vancouver should be prepared to withdraw from Metro in order to ensure this level of local control.

In a Twitter exchange with me, major Vision supporter and developers’ mouthpiece Bob Ransford called “parochial decisions” and “endless debate” a problem.  No, it’s not a problem.  Parochial decision-making after legitimate local debate is exactly what we DO want, what this City needs.



A large chunk of this post was first published on 12th November 2012. How little things have changed.


Night Music: Harvest Moon

January 6, 2016

Greening Mount Pleasant and West Grandview

January 6, 2016

Finally, almost at the last possible moment, Premier Clark has called a by-election in Vancouver Mount Pleasant for 2nd February.

This riding, previously held by the often-disappointing Jenny Kwan until she resigned last summer, includes Grandview west of Commercial Drive. Melanie Mark has been selected as the NDP’s candidate, with Gavin Dew running for the Liberals, and Pete Fry for the BC Greens.

I have worked with Pete Fry for several years on a number of issues, beginning when he was chair of Strathcona Residents (SRA) and I was chair of GWAC.  He led SRA into the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods as a founding member, and he has been pivotal in leading communities in tackling development, viaduct, and housing issues.  He will be a vigorous supporter of local options in Victoria and I will be cheering him on in this by-election.

Pete Fry

Pete Fry is, I believe, the only candidate who actually lives in the riding.

We don’t need a parachute NDP-er and we certainly don’t want another BC Liberal. I urge you to give Pete Fry your full support.

Image: Blue, Yellow, Red

January 5, 2016

Blue Yellow Red

Night Music: Patti Smith Does “Teen Spirit”

January 4, 2016