Why Broadway Was Closed

October 4, 2017

Three weeks or so ago I posted about upcoming disruption at Broadway and Commercial due to construction at the Sky Train station.  Translink have now issued a short time lapse movie about what went on:

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Major Road Disruption at Commercial & Broadway

September 15, 2017

Upgrades to the Commercial Skytrain station will start to impact drivers and bus users starting today, according to a report in the Province.

The installation of a new overhead walkway across Broadway will involve a massive crane sitting in the road, blocking a sidewalk and some traffic lanes. The #9 and #99 buses will have temporary stops other than in their usual places from today until October 1st.

“The weekend of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 is when drivers will really feel the pain. Broadway will be closed completely so that a crane can be erected in the middle of the road. The two cranes will move the largest piece of the walkway, which weighs 13,600 kilograms, into place over the road.  “It’s a pretty significant disruption, obviously, to Broadway as we do that, but it’s necessary to make that lift take place,” said Matt Edwards, manager of engineering project delivery. Drivers are encouraged to avoid the area while detours are in effect.”

 


The Thingery in Mosaic Park

August 31, 2017

The GWAC meeting last July was all about local services, including a tool library. It is perhaps no surprise therefore to find that our own Mosaic Park has been chosen as one of three sites in Vancouver to have a Thingery container.

A Thingery is a lending library for — things, including tools, golf clubs, tents, tarps, and a whole bunch of other stuff that people need from time to time.  It will operate rather like a car-share system, with members gaining access to the otherwise locked container. As Metro reports:

“Dalhousie University architecture student and former Vancouver resident Kara Burman designed the refurbished crates to allow dues-paying members to use electronic fobs to open the swinging door, and to help coordinate “grassroots programming” on a notice board. Last week, Diplock held a series of community meetings in each Thingery neighbourhood; each will operate as its own nonprofit cooperative with a local leadership board. We wanted to get each community involved in planning their local site,” he explained, “and to help steer the direction of The Thingery.” He’s now recruiting neighbourhood volunteers to help “steward” each container, “to have a say about the focus of each.” Local residents can apply to join their Thingery’s board by Sept. 15.”

The last few times I have visited Mosaic Park it seemed to be suffering from lack of care and clean up by Parks Board. I hope this new venture encourages them to do a better job of servicing this community resource.

 


The Roses Again!

July 19, 2017

Every year since 2012, I have noted the appearance of pink roses at or near the top of a fairly tall tree at Adanac and Commercial. I was worried this year because I had not seen them and the vines seemed a bit more tattered than usual as they wound their way up the trunk. But today they were there in full force!

[select image for a larger view]

This year, indeed, there are more than usual — at least nine blossoms that I can count; and more widely spread across the tree.

Simple pleasures.


GWAC and Renters

June 6, 2017

I attended the regular GWAC meeting last night, the main subject of discussion at which was the potential improvement of tenants’ rights in the over-heated property market that is Vancouver today.

Given that about 60% of Grandview’s residents are renters, I have to begin by expressing my disappointment at the low turnout for this meeting; at no time were there more than a dozen non-GWAC-directors in the room. Many recent GWAC meetings have had better attendance than this, on subjects of less immediate concern to so many. There was also a notable lack of presence by organisations — the BIA, for example, the Kettle, church groups, to name just a few — who claim a community interest but rarely partake except when their own direct interests are concerned.

The main business of the evening was a joint presentation by Marilyn and Emma of the Grandview Renters’ Action Group and Neil from the Vancouver Tenants’ Union. These are both recently formed groups and they want to introduce themselves to the community. After a brief recitation of the well-known problems facing renters in Vancouver today, the Grandview Group listed its priorities (my summaries):

  1. Affordable rents;
  2. Steady supply of both new and renovated units;
  3. An end to renovictions and other dodgy “evictions”;
  4. Provision of safe housing;
  5. Legislation to make housing a human right.

The local group is in the process of reaching out to renters and other groups in the neighbourhood, and hopes to swiftly become the go-to place for tenant’s information and advocacy in Grandview. They have monthly meetings and they urge renters to become members through the website.

The Vancouver group is doing much the same thing, although acting more as an umbrella group for local groups. They are also working on eliminating loopholes in the RTA to bring more stability and certainty to renters. They are keen to get tenants’ reps into each multi-family building, and they look to implement a Montreal-style linkage of rent to a unit rather than to a tenancy (thus ending the practice of massive rent increases between tenancies and the subsequent pressure this puts on some landlords to evict existing “rent-controlled” tenants).

The Vancouver Tenants’ Union plans to have a convention this fall to elect a Board, establish principles, etc.

After the presentations, there was a free-wheeling Q&A/discussion that covered a lot of ground including RTA horror stories, AirBnb issues, empty suites, and possible ways of reducing rents. It was generally agreed, I believe, that in Vancouver’s current market, renters are becoming second class citizens, marginalised by insecurity. It was also understood that the Vancouver permitting process has become so unwieldy and costly as to discourage many homeowners from establishing legal suites. It also seemed to be agreed that one part of a solution is for all three levels of government to get back into the business of building genuinely affordable housing units, owned by the municipality and thus protected from market pressures.

A very useful discussion, and a well-managed meeting. We can only hope that ever-larger numbers of Grandview residents will find enough interest in these topics to come to meetings and have their say. GWAC offers that opportunity to everyone and is a vital resource for the neighbourhood.

 


Open House at Britannia

February 27, 2017

This coming Saturday, March 4th, between noon and 4:00pm, the folks who are working on the Britannia Renewal project are holding an Open House and Ideas Fest.  They want you to see the groundwork they have laid for the project and to actively solicit your ideas and feedback.

The updating of the Britannia site is almost certainly the most important project our neighbourhood will undertake this generation. The site contains two schools, gyms, a swimming pool, a library, facilities for seniors and childcare, playing fields, offices, and community spaces; it is the very heart of Grandview and changes there will affect us all in one way or another.

I hope many of you attend and make sure your voice, your opinion, is heard. This really is important.


PR BS for Commercial + Broadway

November 19, 2016

I went to the open house this afternoon at Federico’s Supper Club to see what the folks who control the Safeway site at Commercial & Broadway have to say. It turned out to be a PR trap, a Gary Pooni special.

First, let me say that having an event like this at Federcio’s on a Saturday afternoon was an excellent idea. The space is right in the heart of the Drive, making it convenient for shoppers. I was quite surprised that there was no street signage saying what was going on inside and so the passing trade was missed; I am sure all the people who attended knew about it before hand.

I also have to apologise for previously making some fun out of the idea that there would be face painting and balloon for the kids. It worked out well, and no doubt enabled some parents to come who might no otherwise have been able to leave their kids.

Now for the nitty gritty.

There were a couple of dozen poster boards around the room which attendees were led to read in a particular order. Many of the posters had colourful and attractive images. And many more were filled with aspirational phrases such as “revitalizing the node to match the eclectic nature of the Drive”, buzzwords such as “family housing”, and ideas based on a false history, such as “reuniting” the Drive on either side of the Cut.

There was nothing — nothing — in the way of genuine project information; not even  as conceptual ideas.  And the questions that were asked of the attendees were so broad as to be useless as data except for cherry-picking positive statements. So what was the point of the meeting?

It was, as I said before, a Brook Pooni special. Developers’ PR companies are well known in the city for their style of “community engagement” which attempts to manufacture consent, especially when it is clearly not there. And that is where this meeting comes in.  Pooni and the developers can now say they have had a community engagement, at which xxx people showed up and they collected xxx comments.  Just as importantly, they now have an email database of everyone who signed in.

This meeting met all the needs of the developer and none of the needs of the community. Glad I went, because the cannoli were excellent.