Is The Adanac/Victoria Median Dangerous?

December 31, 2017

Yesterday I received an email from a local resident. She had found me after googling my earlier comments on the new bike-friendly traffic arrangement at Victoria Drive and Adanac Street.

Victoria Drive looking south from just north of Adanac Street which crosses east to west.

My correspondent’s email described an accident she had had at this median:

“My car was ripped apart by the median on Thursday night – dark, raining – I was looking straight at it and didn’t see the curb jutting out. I live in the neighbourhood and have driven by before. I went back today to take pictures. What I think happened was the curb jutting out is so sharp that it immediately shredded my front left tire down to the rim so that the rim broke and caused damage to other parts connecting the axle as I drove by.”

She went on to say that her regular auto shop thought a similar accident had occurred at the same median. Another resident, a near neighbour of the first, told her she had had to swerve more than once when approaching that intersection.

Being neither a car owner nor a bike rider I have no dog in this fight over functional priority. However, I can attest to the dislike of the new arrangement by taxis and Handy Dart drivers, many of whom, coming from the south, now have to perform a four block loop to park near my house.

I have also heard from driver friends of mine: “road is not wide enough”, “never designed for this stupid hazard”, “poorly lit”, and “hard to see,” are the typical comments.

I guess this looked good on the maps to the bikeophiles at City Hall; but evidence on the ground seems to suggest this needs a more detailed look.  How often are these decisions reviewed to see whether practice met theory?

Image: Fraser River Sunset

December 31, 2017

Snacks Tonight #9

December 30, 2017


A fine memory from my childhood — Wagon Wheels!  I couldn’t find marshmallow fluff (or similar) so went with packaged marshmallows that I cut up.  Worked out pretty good!

Night Music: Sleep Walk

December 30, 2017

Dumb Quote Of The Day

December 30, 2017

Overheard today on Commercial Drive:

“I can’t keep up with all these coffee bars and so I don’t go to any of them.”

Curry as an English Masterpiece

December 30, 2017

Many people will know that several of the most popular “Chinese” dishes served in North American restaurants are in fact American inventions based more or less on Chinese ingredients and techniques. Fewer, perhaps, will know that the same can be said about “Indian” food, with British taste as the instigator.

I learned more than I ever knew before about the origins and development of curry from this wonderful article from NPR.

Growing up in London in the 1950s and 1960s, eating Indian was just becoming a big deal for young experimental palates. They came into fashion a year or so after Chinese had become popular. When I moved to Manchester around 1970 I was wonderfully surprised to discover curried chips as an option in the fish & chip shops.

Whenever I travelled back to the UK since the 1980s, I always knew there would be a decent “curry house” somewhere close to where I was visiting, no matter what part of the country. They were more common in smaller towns and villages than a pub with decent food.

A surprising (to me) tid-bit:

“More than 80 percent of of curry house owners in the UK can trace their roots back to Sylhet, a city in the east of what is now Bangladesh, [Lizzie] Collingham explains in [her book] Curry. Sylhet’s waterways were key to trade during the Raj, hundreds of Sylhetis ended up working on British steamships. “They often had the horrible jobs of working in the engine rooms,” Collingham says. “So quite a lot of them tended to jump ship. They had a tough time finding work in England, and many of them ended up in restaurant kitchens. “Some of these immigrants saved up enough money to then open their own restaurants.”

Group dynamics is a fascinating thing:  That percentage of British curry makers from a single Bangladeshi city reminds me that a majority of the Chinese who settled in Vancouver in the 20th century came from a very limited geographic area in China, or so I believe, and a large majority of nail estheticians (manicurists) in western North America are, or were trained by, Vietnamese boat people from California refugee camps. No connection meant other than seeing very specific groups of people fanning out to conquer odd bits of the world.

Image: Sun Tower

December 29, 2017

Look Out World, Reimer Will Soon Be On The Loose!

December 28, 2017

As one does at this time of year, I was poking through the articles in the “Still To Be Read” folder to see what I had missed, and I came across Charlie Smith’s hagiography of Andrea Reimer from the Straight of October 25th. It was a hard read for me because my experience of Reimer was so different, so negative.

We started off badly, back in early 2012, when I spoke before Council in opposition to the design of the Baptist Church’s proposed building at First & Victoria. In her self-proclaimed position as Councillor for Grandview, she asked me a few questions after I had had my allotted five minutes. She was arrogant, assumed I knew little of Grandview, and the tenor of her questions clearly indicated a predetermined yes vote for the development regardless of any arguments that might be presented. Things only got worse when the Grandview Woodland Community Plan process began.

A central paragraph in Smith’s column asks us to remember

“Reimer’s credibility with the environmental community, her appeal to residents living in the Commercial Drive–Trout Lake area, her stunning work ethic, and political radar that may only have been matched on council in recent years by Geoff Meggs, who’s left municipal politics.”

Problem for me was that I didn’t recognize any truth in most of those statements about her.

I wondered whether my early experience with Reimer had clouded my opinion of her, allowing me to miss the good she was doing. So I asked a number of my friends and acquaintances whether they had opinions on her years as Councillor. By the time I am writing this, more than half have responded and they are all overwhelmingly negative in their judgement.  Many described her as “manipulative,” and as “an opportunist … only interested in her own career.” None believe that she ever genuinely represented any constituency here in Grandview, and that her demeanour was often “officious” and unpleasant. I share all of those views.

When City Planning’s “Emerging Directions” document became public as a draft Community Plan in the spring of 2013 an uproar of complaint erupted from the residents of GW, most especially as “Emerging Directions” included dozens of pages on rezoning the neighbourhood that had never been raised or discussed in any of the public meetings over the previous eight months. While Mayor Robertson admitted the process had not been a good one, and Planning boss Brian Jackson considered it a disaster, Reimer was still giving interviews praising Vision’s handling of community planning.  At the massive community meeting held in early July that year to protest the Grandview Plan, Reimer came late and hid in the back of  the crowded room. When finally shamed into speaking, Reimer ignored everything residents had passionately spoken about for an hour or more, asking for understanding as she was currently being evicted (which, it later turned out, was something of a permanent status for her).

She was an instigator and heavy supporter of the benighted Citizens’ Assembly process deliberately designed to exclude the majority of Grandview’s residents from participation in a vital community project. On the several occasions that I spoke to Council during the Community Plan period, Reimer (along with Geoff Meggs) generally led the attack on me and GWAC or whoever else I was speaking for. She argued against community representation, calling local groups irrelevant and claiming them to be “unrepresentative”.

When the final Grandview Community Plan came before Council, it was Reimer who proposed a last-minute amendment that — against the professional advice of Planning — granted several extra stories to the highly controversial Boffo Tower monstrosity proposed for Commercial and Venables.

And it wasn’t only Grandview she screwed. After years of discussion and community debate, the DTES Community Plan was brought before Council for approval. It was loyal Vision foot soldier Reimer who, again at the very last hour, showed up with a lot of scribbled pages that changed substantial and substantive portions of the Plan, that no-one had a chance to digest before Vision voted it through.

My guess is she is leaving because she has worked out she would not win a knife fight against Raymond Louie to be nominated as Vision’s Mayoral candidate whenever Robertson quits; but I could be entirely wrong. She was very active during the Year of Reconciliation and she has been learning to speak Squamish. I would not be surprised, therefore, to find her working for a FN group, as a lobbyist perhaps.

Wherever she ends up I’ll be glad to see the back of her.

Night Music: Once More

December 28, 2017

Dehumanizing Employment

December 27, 2017

I first posted this wonderful 6-minute animation detailing the dehumanization of menial employment back in March. I think it deserves another look:


Thanks to Open Culture for the link.

Image: Charleston WV

December 27, 2017

Night Music: Christmas In My Soul

December 26, 2017


The late lamented Laura at her very finest.

Image: Barrels

December 25, 2017

Happy Christmas!

December 25, 2017


Happy Christmas to all our friends and family.

Especially this year to my Mum who is 90 years old today, and to our wonderful grandchildren Gemma, Dustin, Jordan, and Lewis!

Poem: In the Time Of The Dying

December 25, 2017

In the time of the dying of the leaves,

when summer’s solace is a memory passed,

and deepening shadows of evening cast

their pall ‘cross rich man’s roof and beggar’s eaves,

colours primary, raw, blast out a last

spectacular fanfare:  embroidered sleeves

to counterpoint the widow’s darkling weeds

shows off to the night no matter how vast

eternity approaching, no matter

no one escapes the black hole’s pull of doom,

and each lifes’ cloth will be cut from the loom,

no matter this, ‘tis only now that matters;

the now that paints the tree with red and gold,

regrets nothing, wants only to stay old.

Night Music: Fairytale of New York

December 24, 2017

Image: Las Vegas Venetian Lobby

December 23, 2017

2017 in BC: Two Steps Forward, Two and More Steps Backwards

December 23, 2017

The big job got done this year, at least: Christy Clark and her evil regime were finally evicted from power — and if nothing else, that is enough to declare 2017 a success.  Unfortunately, as the year progressed, it became clear that John Horgan’s NDP still had plenty of its own powerful regressive demons to deal with on top of the mess the Liberals left them.

There have been some small improvements under the new government — rental loopholes closed, for example, grizzly bear hunting ended. But no movement on disability bus passes, rent freezes and limits, or MSP, and we are supposed to wait until next year for any serious changes in housing, which most people in the Lower Mainland might consider the number one priority, and perhaps even longer for electoral change to some form of proportional representation.

And what has been done often seems flawed.

Legislation to amend election financing (“getting big money out of the system”) was a decent start, but didn’t touch spending limits, deal adequately with limits on third-party expenditures, or make donations — including and especially donations in non-election years — fully transparent in real-time.

And then there’s Site C. Corrupted politicians might well say that nothing was actually promised in the election campaign. Decent progressive politicians would admit that, yes, we implied as strongly as we could that the decision to cancel was going to be policy. Financial and utility experts from all over the map have made it clear that the reasons given by Horgan for moving ahead are horribly flawed; party members from all over the Province have made it clear their support for the Party has been seriously dented.

There are questions about the NDP’s understanding of the underlying finances, especially as regards the so-called “sunk costs.” There are many questions about how the NDP decided to prioritize a few traditional Union jobs against the vicious destruction of the Peace Valley. And there are serious questions raised about the NDP’s loudly proclaimed relationship with the First Nations after this insult — “I’m not the first colonialist to lie to you”, I paraphrase Horgan.  This decision goes against the Treaties, it goes against reconciliation, and it goes against UNDIP.

This albatross will hang around the NDP’s neck for a long long time unless they come to their senses and reverse their decision as soon as possible. Liberals are never going to back the NDP anyway, so the government needs to do what needs to be done to recover their own supporters.

The threat is that these now dissatisfied former supporters will turn to the Green Party at the next election. But the Greens have issues too. Site C should have been enough to drive them away from their agreement with the NDP but, apparently, massive damage to BC’s environment, native peoples, and finances doesn’t compare with the glorious benefits the Party sees itself gaining from prop rep down the road some time.  There are no innocent political parties.

In 2018, I’ll be watching how the Provincial NDP works its housing policy to ensure another Vision Vancouver victory at the municipal level. With all the Visionistas holding significant levels of power now in Victoria, you can bet this will be a two-handed campaign; and they’ll probably find some way to include their buddies at the Federal level too.  That doesn’t auger well for Vancouver, I fear, with supply-side thinking still dominant no matter how exhaustively debunked by progressive urban academics.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Night Music: Shake It Off

December 22, 2017

It’s Winter!

December 21, 2017