Important Date for the Calendar

June 15, 2021

I wrote earlier about the deaths of Frank and Danse Williams, whom many of us knew from Commercial Drive. I have been cheered by the comments on my blog and elsewhere that have celebrated their lives.

My understanding is that a memorial to them will take place at Grandview Park on Wednesday 23rd June at 5:30pm. I hope that a good crowd makes it a fine evening and a fitting celebration.


Image: Echoes of Childhood

June 15, 2021


Last Day for Poke on the Drive

June 14, 2021

Poke 5, at 2247 Commercial, is closing for good tomorrow night.

They were here for about three years and I never tried them, to be honest. They blame the pandemic for the closure.

It is unfortunate they are closing now just while other veterans and new places are beginning to re-open on the Drive.


Poem: Are We There Yet?

June 14, 2021

 

feeling hot and sweaty and

ridiculous in a suit

 

— its sole function to establish my

bona fides with the customs officer —

 

I emerge from an infinitely long

flight of fancy

into a different

world

 

remarking that intercontinental travel

evokes the neurotic

in even the most ordinary

seatmate.

 

 


Image: Echo Density

June 13, 2021


Library Fines Forgiven!

June 12, 2021

I happen to think that a free and accessible public library system is one of the highpoints of modern life. But did you know that more than 70,000 Vancouverites are blocked from using our fabulous library and its services because they have outstanding fines exceeding $10? And that most of those 70,000 live in DTES, Strathcona, and Grandview?

Starting on Monday 14th June, and for two weeks thereafter, VPL will clear any outstanding fines and reactivate your library card—available to anyone, for any reason:

We want to offer people a fresh start by removing fines and fees from their library card. Fines create negative experiences for both our community and staff, and discourage individuals and families from using the library. By removing outstanding fines on Vancouver Public Library cards, we hope to reconnect people with their library and the collections and services they love and need to succeed.

People wanting to take advantage of this offer should go to their local branch, or go online to vpl.ca/finefree, or call 604.331.3670


Stairway To Heaven

June 11, 2021

stairway to heaven


Image: Two Windows

June 9, 2021


GWAC and TMH: A Report

June 8, 2021

I attended the GWAC ZOOM meeting last night which featured a long discussion about Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) in general and the new building at 1580 Vernon in particular.

The meeting began with an overview of TMH in Vancouver by Steve Bohus. It was a very useful review and was applauded by Lisa Jimenez, a CoV planner.

The meeting was then turned over to Julie Roberts and Robbie Moza of Community Buildings Group (CBG) who are in charge of operating the new building which is scheduled to open in July. CBG operates a number of low-barrier homeless shelters in Vancouver, along with two TMH projects, one in Marpole which has operated very successfully for three years, and another at Naomi House which opened earlier this year.

The new TMH at 1580 Vernon will include 98 housing units, along with a community kitchen, common areas, and office space. Each of the housing units is roughly 250 sq.ft. and includes a private bathroom and a small kitchen area. Ms. Roberts played a short but enlightening video of the TMH at Naomi House which illustrated the kind of housing units that will be available.

CHG is currently working with BC Housing to select the first tenants who will be offered space at Vernon. There is an attempt to prioritize local homeless.

CHG also creates what they call a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) from the local residential community. The CAC is designed to help integrate the TMH within the local neighbourhood. In the case of 1580 Vernon, there are no residences within three blocks of the building and so the CAC will probably be peopled by the businesses that are close by.

CHG noted that there were significant community concerns before the Marpole before the TMH was opened. However, after three years of operation, there now seems to be good acceptance of the building and its residents.

I found the presentation and the discussion to be extremely valuable. I have been a strong supporter of this development, and the proposal for 1st and Clark, and I hope that this presentation helped soothed some of the concerns people may have.

It was good to see CoV Planning and BC Housing staff, along with Councillor Jean Swanson and two BIA executives, join in with the GWAC meeting.


Our Compost Flower

June 7, 2021

A couple of years back, when the City started collecting organic waste, we rather gave up on our apartment compost bin that we had nurtured for almost twenty years. The part of the balcony where it sits is always closed off during the winter months, and what goes on in there tends to be left to its own devices.

Now that I have re-opened the area for the summer, I discover that a plant has colonized the bin in quite spectacular fashion.

It sits next to our long-suffering but always abundant clematis and together they give the area a beautiful look of greenery from the part of the balcony where we sit and contemplate.

The plant also has these delightful flowers. I am sure someone will be able to tell me what it is I am growing here.


Image: Geraniums

June 7, 2021


Poem: From Here To There

June 7, 2021

 

the wind wound round my legs,

changed direction, wiping my face

with a salty slap as it whistled away.

I veered with it, swinging south

along the strand, grinding my heels

into the beach to stand my ground

against the tempest’s growing bloom.

And though I’ve felt the lash

of fortune’s back of hand before,

never before did I assume the depths

of despair I felt that day.   No,

not even close. I looked ahead

as best I could through the spray

that pebble-dashed  my view.

The future spread before me,

flat as prairie, expressionless, gray

and drab, devoid of interest, latent or

exposed.  I sighed the sigh of the

homeless man;  then,

like a seasoning sapling,

I bent with the rain and trudged

on to Desolation Sound.

 

 


Image: Hawaiian Ferns

June 5, 2021


R.I.P. Frank & Danse

June 5, 2021

Two of the Drive’s most colourful characters are now both lost to us.

Frank, on the right, and Danse, on the left, have been habitueès of the Drive for as long as I can recall, sometimes carving wood and sometimes just begging. They had several pitches but most of the time they had a spot outside Home Hardware at Graveley.

I found them a cheerful pair, always willing to chat. Danse could be a bit loud on the bus, but in a happy way; proudly announcing with his big grin that no-one had to bow to him as he passed.

A few years ago, they moved back to small-town Alberta, which they hated, and they soon returned to the friendlier streets of Grandview. Their support network included folks at Home Hardware, Tim Horton’s, and the Dime, and I suspect many others too.

Now, they are both gone. Frank died a few weeks ago and I heard this week that Danse had died in intensive care on 27 May. They will be missed.

I understand that their sister is coming up from San Diego for a celebration of their lives on 20 June in Grandview Park. I also hear that Home Hardware will be erecting a plaque in their memory on their wall.


Turn Corporate Taxes Into Licenses

June 3, 2021

The new Trump tax code,

“lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, but in practice large companies often pay far less than that because of deductions, tax breaks and other loopholes. In the first year of the law, the amount corporations paid in federal taxes on their incomes – their “effective rate” – was 11.3% on average, possibly its lowest level in more than three decades … [T]he new law introduced many new breaks and loopholes.”

Corporations around the world play the same tricks. Often they reside in tax havens and levy enough “corporate service charges” on their overseas subsidiaries to ensure that no taxes are paid.

And this all comes at a cost to the rest of us.  As corporate taxes fall and government deficits grow, there is increasing pressure to reduce those deficits by reducing spending on welfare services, health, and education.

Centre-right politicians have suggested that lowering corporate tax rates will encourage more companies to stay in-house as it were.  That is just an excuse to make the rich richer as the new Trump tax code proves.  There is a simpler and much more efficient way.

I suggest that corporate income taxes be eliminated completely. They should be replaced by a “license to operate” fee equal to, say, 10% of revenues earned in the country no matter where the head office is based. Simple to understand, simple to manage, and, I suspect, very difficult to get around.

Country of ownership becomes immediately irrelevant, and transfers to an offshore HQ will be pointless for tax purposes. Indeed, they may well create a double taxation situation in which those transfers become taxable revenue in the home country. It also gives corporations the right to NOT operate in any particular country if they choose to forgo the revenues.

Finally, I would make this tax law bullet-proof by including a provision that, should some smart accountant or lawyer find a loophole, then that loophole is closed retroactively to the dater of the law’s passage.

We should give this a try. It is a commonsense approach, eliminates the need for accountants, lawyers, and an army of regulators. It will produce fairness across the board.


Image: Birds On A Wire

June 3, 2021


GWAC and Temporary Modular Housing

June 2, 2021

This month’s meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) takes place on Monday 7th June, 2021, at 7:00pm on ZOOM.

A really important topic that has generated heat on both sides of the argument.

Image c/o Steve Bohus


Image: Fabric 1

June 1, 2021


Image: Upon Reflection: The Marine Building

May 31, 2021


Being and Nothingness

May 31, 2021

Fifty-five years ago this week, a Vietnamese nun poured gasoline and set fire to herself in Hue. Twenty-five years ago today, Timothy Leary died in his sleep.

After all these years, I honestly don’t know whether Dr. Leary’s work helped us understand why the monk’s death was important to us, or whether he helped mask us from the true meaning by taking us elsewhere. Many saw no conflict in actively protesting and actively tripping. In fact, many claimed then that the “enlightenment” received through herbal and chemical stimulation was an important component of our political activism. These days, I wonder more often whether we were just bullshitting ourselves and simply following the pleasure principle.

In the end, of course, both the revered Buddhist martyr and the revered western materialist trod the same path into being and nothingness.