Image: Motion #1

September 27, 2022

Poem: Another Sunday Morning

September 26, 2022

 

 

the air

after all that rain

had the texture of twilight fireworks

 

glowing

gently above the ground

then bursting into a sun-splashed grey.

 

the chill

had gone while those

of faith pondered greater mysteries

 

and those

who preferred a faster tempo

drew other conclusions from the game.

 


Image: Still Death

September 25, 2022

In Honor of Hilary Mantel

September 24, 2022

Dame Hilary Mantel, the great historical novelist famous for the “Wolf Hall” books about Thomas Cromwell has died at the age of 70. She will be sorely missed. The following is one her most valuable lessons for all historians:

“Evidence is always partial. Facts are not truth, though they are part of it – information is not knowledge. And history is not the past – it is the method we have evolved of organising our ignorance of the past. It’s the record of what’s left on the record. It’s the plan of the positions taken, when we to stop the dance to note them down. It’s what’s left in the sieve when the centuries have run through it – a few stones, scraps of writing, scraps of cloth. It is no more “the past” than a birth certificate is a birth, or a script is a performance, or a map is a journey. It is the multiplication of the evidence of fallible and biased witnesses, combined with incomplete accounts of actions not fully understood by the people who performed them. It’s no more than the best we can do, and often it falls short of that.”


Image: Water’s Edge

September 23, 2022

Council Candidates’ Forum

September 22, 2022

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Whose Community Is It?

September 21, 2022

As an architectural and social artifact I have no real 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 became inconvenient for me commuting without a car, I moved to the West End and happily lived amid (though not in) the towering glass and concrete erections.  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 Commercial 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.

From a planning point of view, I was deeply concerned in particular by the Boffo Tower proposal on Commercial Drive because of what the success of the developer against the expressed wish of 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 disproportionately asymmetrical power equation of developers + money + a developer-friendly City Council and Planning Department versus ad hoc volunteer groups trying to protect the right of the communities to choose means that the ability of Vancouver’s 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.  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 now the city-wide plans such as Broadway and Vancouver Plans currently being implemented and further 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 override 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.

And we must oblige the Province to amend the Vancouver Charter so that we, the residents of Vancouver, have full control over the style of council we have, the financial terms under which elections are fought, whether or not we become members of larger groups such as Metro and Translink, and all the powers needed to ensure that we can at least address the pressing crises of unaffordable housing, homelessness, and the low salaries paid to Vancouver employees compared to other large cities in Canada.

In a Twitter exchange with me some while ago, Bob Ransford called “parochial decisions” and “endless debate” a problem.  No, it’s not a problem.  After so many decades of top-down control and crony management, parochial decision-making after legitimate local debate is exactly what we DO want, what this City needs.

Civic politics should not be about cult followings and strict ideological homogeneity.  It matters not that TEAM and I differ in some of the details of policy. What matters is it is TEAM and TEAM alone who understand that neighbourhoods are the vital partners in this enterprise of moving Vancouver forward, and it is only TEAM that will implement the processes of government that will strengthen that partnership.

On October 15th vote Colleen Hardwick for Mayor with a majority of TEAM Councillors!


Image: Lines & Shadows

September 21, 2022

2022 Mayoral Candidates Debate …

September 19, 2022

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Hopefully, all five will show up!


Image: Corner

September 19, 2022


Poem: Calculation

September 19, 2022

 

It’s the poor that give

to the poor.

Those who can actually afford it walk by

the outstretched hand and box

with sneering dismissal.

 

“Get a job,” they whisper under their peppermint breath,

knowing, as bosses,

they would never hire some bum

begging on a street corner.

 

“Have a nice day, anyway”

 

Spitting on a well-polished shoe

gets you six month’s jail time;

letting the poor starve

gets your picture in “Fortune”

 

Go figure.

 


A Reminder: Tonight’s Debate is Off

September 19, 2022

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For the last few weeks, volunteers from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) have sought to put together a Mayoral Forum which was scheduled for 19th September at Britannia. It was to be an occasion for the people of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver to question the five leading candidates for Mayor specifically about community engagement, local development, housing affordability, and public safety.

Colleen Hardwick of TEAM agreed to attend, as did Mark Marissen of Progress, and Fred Harding of the NPA. I know CVN thanks them for their acknowledgment that ordinary residents are worth the effort of engagement.

However, both Kennedy Stewart of Forward Vancouver and Ken Sim of ABC decided they didn’t have the time or desire to speak with the people of East Vancouver and the other neighbourhoods. Even though they were given plenty of notice, they are probably too busy cozying up to their big developer buddies, planning the further ruination of our great city for the benefit of their well-heeled backers.

The rationale for the event was to listen and compare the five major candidates. With two of them refusing to attend, the rationale fails and so the event has been cancelled.

This is the second such opportunity to mingle with taxpayers Stewart and Sim have disdained in the last week. Twice bitten, forever shy, I say. The opportunity to show these characters the door once and for all occurs on October 15th, and you can do it with your votes. Take that opportunity and help free Vancouver from the clutches of the for-profit growth4greed mindset that has dominated our politics and created the affordability crisis for the last generation.

Only TEAM has the right people and the right policies to ensure that residents of Vancouver have the final say in how our city and our neighbourhoods develop. I urge all my readers to vote Colleen Hardwick for Mayor with a TEAM majority Council.


Sign of the Times

September 18, 2022

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The view along Adanac Street has been greatly improved with some simple signage.


Image: Upon Reflection: Downtown

September 17, 2022


The Origins of Commercial Drive

September 16, 2022

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I have just published a brief article on the earliest origins of Commercial Drive. It can be found at: https://grandviewheritagegroup.ca/blog/

It will probably be the first in a series.


Image: Wall of Water

September 15, 2022


Twenty Six Years and Counting

September 15, 2022

Yet another year without cigarettes. Twenty-six years today, wow.

It might seem tedious to keep harping on this year after year, but frankly I think giving up smoking after 35 years of two-pack-a-day slavery to the habit was the smartest and bravest thing I ever did. And I know for a dead certainty that I would not be here writing this today if I had continued smoking the way I did.

It is also thirty-two years since I owned a car.

I’ll keep celebrating my freedom, year after year!


The Lunch Lady Is In Town!

September 14, 2022

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We had lunch today with old friends at The Lunch Lady on Commercial.

It was a delight made even more special by meeting Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh, the original Lunch Lady, who is visiting from Saigon and staying here until the end of the week. She was warm and friendly and quite obviously enjoying her stay in Canada during which she had visited Montreal and Toronto.

A good time!


Are You Better Off?

September 14, 2022

Image: Life Like A Movie

September 13, 2022