Night Music: FayinkounkoSeptember 30, 2017
Britannia: Housing, Imagination & PurposeSeptember 30, 2017
Yet again, another Elizabeth Murphy opinion piece in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun has brought me to the keyboard. Yet again, she uses an attack on the revamping of Vancouver’s Community Association management agreements (an attack with which I agree in general terms) to push her negative and unimaginative opinions about the future of Britannia, a site that is irrelevant to, and outside the boundaries of, the power-grabbing centralising dispute disturbing other parks and recreational facilities in the City.
She writes as if allowing certain housing options on Britannia will guarantee a loss of some of the precious little green space that Grandview currently enjoys. Quoting Darlene Mazari, she claims that adding housing to Britannia will make the management structure too “complex.” She declares that Britannia “is a fabulous model of combined services.” I take issue with each of these points.
When it was constructed in the 1970s, there is is little argument that Britannia CCS was a progressive move forward in the delivery of services to Grandview. However, designed and constructed using the then-chic Pattern Language style it has long been recognised that Britannia is no longer fit for purpose; its buildings, working spaces, and interior connections form a barrier to the type of programming that Britannia wants to deliver to its 21st century clientele. I am certain that this failure was what drove the original impetus for a Britannia renewal in the first place; because it was no longer “a fabulous model.”
Created outside the standard model of Vancouver Community Associations, the management of the Britannia space has always been complex. It is governed by agreements between the Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Parks Board, and the Vancouver Library Board, and has a Board elected from the community. Although this governance structure has presented challenges over the Brit’s existence, the form has proven to be both durable and workable. Adding a housing component will certainly expand the complexity but to believe this will collapse the governance model is an insult to the professionals (and residents) who will make it work.
The housing options I have discussed in previous posts assume that spaces/buildings can be multi-functional: Housing options can be developed above other required Brit facilities; above gyms, above the library, above programming spaces. In fact, I am a strong believer that the future of a land-poor Vancouver will not look well on us if we restrict ourselves to single-use properties in such developments. Given the number of buildings required at Britannia, I am certain we can place all the housing we want on site without the loss of any green space. Imagination and creativity can allow us to have our cake and eat it, too.
As regular readers will have noticed, I have now come to the conclusion that housing on the Brit site is both required and desired. However, I need to stress once again the three inviolable principles for this: all housing on site must be government run for low income residents; all present green space is to be retailed; and a maximum height of four storeys must be maintained.
I know that even with these caveats, there will be lots of opposition from my heritage and development-activism colleagues, and I am sure I have already discouraged a number of them with my earlier ideas for densifying Grandview. However, I am equally aware that the affordable housing crisis is genuine and needs to be faced directly with urgency and imagination. I also know that a large number of individuals and groups within Grandview support the idea of on-site housing, including perhaps a majority of the Brit Planning & Development committee, I hope my ideas can be used as an input to a final conclusion.
Under doctor’s orders, I was unable to make either of last week’s Britannia meetings and I apologise if this post has fallen behind the times.
Image: Family At BeachSeptember 29, 2017
Night Music: BlueSeptember 28, 2017
All Candidates’ Meeting — 2nd OctoberSeptember 27, 2017
The usual Grandview Woodland Area Council meeting next Monday has been set aside to allow for an All Candidates’ Meeting for the upcoming City Council By-election.
It looks like all the candidates have agreed to attend, so it should be an informative and lively evening. You can submit questions in advance to email@example.com.
Image: City Abstract #7September 27, 2017
Night Music: L.A. WomanSeptember 26, 2017
Wise WordsSeptember 26, 2017
Dinner Tonight #32September 26, 2017
Last night I made this very simple Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (to which I added some fresh basil). It was very satisfying.
Image: Inside The TowerSeptember 25, 2017
Poem: Mayor’s SiestaSeptember 25, 2017
And threads of thoughts of windy days
Rushed by like the rivers of Sierra de Ronda.
And the heft and touch of the silken duvet
Slipped across his body like the soft waves of Estepona.
And into his reverie the ringing telephone
Floated like a minor chord from a flamenco guitar.
And the dreamy grin of the old pepper merchant
Dissolved like tapas in the mouth of a hungry eater.
And the sound of his hoarsely whispered “Ola?”
Crept across his chin like a shovel scraping tar.
And the everyday cares of the little village
Wrapped up his dreams like garbage and threw them afar.
Night Music: Blitzkreig BopSeptember 24, 2017
Image: Standing StonesSeptember 23, 2017
Night Music: Find YourselfSeptember 22, 2017
Image: Greenspace #3September 21, 2017
Snacks Tonight #6September 20, 2017
Almond and cranberry biscotti. Not bad!
Book Review: Babylon BerlinSeptember 20, 2017
Back in August, I read a Guardian piece about an upcoming European crime drama called Babylon Berlin based on novels by Volker Kutscher.
I was intrigued because, after all, northern Europe has been the source of a great deal of excellent detective material recently — Wallender, The Killing, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, etc; and the period, Germany of the late 1920s, is fascinating and lively — think Cabaret, So I ordered the only one of the novels held by VPL. It was the second in the series, the one called Babylon Berlin.
Now, I can usually push myself through most material but after two weeks effort, I have reached page 180 of the 520 and I have absolutely no feeling for any of the characters and the plots, such as they are, are tedious and failing to grab my attention. The beginning of the book seems more like vignettes that might look good on the screen (and which seem to have been included only for that purpose) but which fail miserably on the page due to the dullness of the writing.
I was almost happy to receive the email from VPL telling me my time was up because I’ve given up on it, and I cannot recommend it.
Night Music: Eh Ya YeSeptember 20, 2017
Compton Cowboys: GuinnessSeptember 20, 2017
For a long time now, Guinness has been just as good at producing commercial ads as it has been at brewing beer. Here is their latest effort that exemplifies that.
Housing At Britannia — Important MeetingSeptember 19, 2017
This coming Thursday, September 21st, there is a very important forum on the question of whether there should be housing on the re-developed Britannia Community Center site and, if so, what kind of housing should be contemplated there.
A week or so ago, Elizabeth Murphy wrote an opinion piece in the Sun that opposed housing of any kind on the site. This led to my own argument, more or less in favour of the idea with certain conditions, and a very spirited email exchange between a number of interested parties. Now, it is the broader community’s turn to have a say.
This particular debate about the future of a vital community resource is perhaps the most important we will have in this neighbourhood this decade, and I urge everyone interested in the future of Grandview to attend.
I would also urge that this debate be continued in the broadest possible sections of our community through public gatherings, email chains, and other means, rather than be delegated to a small and perhaps unrepresentative (though worthy) group who are able to attend certain committee meetings.
Finally, we must ensure that the decision on whether or not to include certain types of housing at Britannia be a genuinely community-wide decision, made by a plebiscite or some other form of all-resident participation.
In the meanwhile, I again urge everyone to attend this forum and make yourself heard.