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.”


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!


2022 Mayoral Candidates Debate …

September 19, 2022

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Hopefully, all five will show up!


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.


The Arrogance of Front Runners

September 12, 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.


Car Free Day on The Drive

September 10, 2022

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Not quite as packed as events prior to covid, but it was still great to see so many people enjoying the Drive today.

It was also good to see Sean Nardi, James Buckshom, and Tricia Barker dealing with the crowds at the TEAM tent.


Car Free Day 2022

September 8, 2022

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After a two-year break due to covid, the annual Car Free Day on the Drive is back this Saturday! It takes place from noon until 7pm.

In the same way that Italian Day this year was restricted in scope to Grandview Park, Car Free Day is limited this year from Grandview Highway north to 1st Avenue.

Along with all the usual fun, games, local businesses, music, and food, there will be an interesting exhibit on the history of local transit by the Transit Museum.

I look forward to seeing the usual crowds!


Another Mayoral Forum

September 4, 2022

Italian Day 2022

August 28, 2022

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With the last two years’ festivities cancelled due to covid, it was great to celebrate Italian Day once again on Commercial Drive.

This year’s event did not close the street as usual, and everything was confined to Grandview Park. It was not quite the same, but enjoyable nonetheless — and the weather was perfect. The music was great, the food was great, and the crowds came out.

Well done to the organizers!


Mayoral Debate in Grandview

August 24, 2022

Night Music: Tired of Waiting For You

August 24, 2022

Design Fail

August 19, 2022

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The Diamond Centre at VGH has a dramatic 7-storey atrium ringed with glass. The design certainly makes for an airy space in the offices on each level.

However, every section of the glass on every level is covered with ugly yellow CAUTION tape and signs warning people not to touch or lean against the glass. The signs have been there for many years, for as long as I can remember.

Surely this is a design fault of the gravest kind, and one that should be fixed in some way before someone stumbles through and falls.


Zawa — No Good Surprises

August 18, 2022

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I am a great booster for businesses on the Drive but about two years ago I wrote about why I would never again use or recommend Zawa Restaurant. Now I see that the entire front of house staff has walked out due to the “inappropriate actions and harassment from the owner.”

Image from Facebook

The only surprise is how long this took to happen.

Given the huge number of fine eating establishments on the Drive, there is definitely no need to give such a disaster your patronage and support.


A Mainstreeting Event for TEAM for a Livable Vancouver

August 17, 2022

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Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM campaign will be mainstreeting on Commercial Drive tomorrow (Thursday 18th).

They will be meeting at the Entre Nous Femmes housing complex on Adanac & Commercial at 4pm and then proceeding south on Commercial Drive until about 5:30pm.

Come down and meet the next (and first female) Mayor of Vancouver and her TEAM!


Fidel Castro. A Hero For Our Times

August 13, 2022

fidel-castro

Today would have been Fidel Castro’s 96th birthday.

I didn’t support Castro’s politics (though much of it tended to be better than most — look at Cuba’s health care system, for example, a success against every barrier the US could throw against it), but I supported the bravery of standing up for fifty years to an imperialist Superpower that had missiles and a huge army less than a 100 miles away.

More than the military threat, the US for more than two whole generations attempted to destroy the Cuban economy and people by sheer economic terrorism. Luckily, the world would not stand for that, and even Canada never flinched from business and tourism with Cuba.

Whenever self-righteous Americans point to the wreckage of Cuba’s economy and the poverty of the people (compared, say, to most parts of the US), remind them that this was caused directly and deliberately by American leaders.

Castro’s birthday is worth celebrating.


Nixon Resigns!

August 9, 2022

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It seems hard to imagine for those of us who lived every minute of the post-Watergate saga, but it is 48 years ago today that Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States.

He was indeed a crook (in a far more deep sense than, say, Donald Trump) and the system finally worked to eliminate him. Gerald Ford, to his everlasting shame, was quite wrong to pardon him.


The Great CBC Rip-Off

August 8, 2022

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I don’t watch a lot of network TV, preferring to stream stuff on my own schedule. However, I have been watching The Great British Bake-Off series each Sunday on CBC. Last week, I noticed something that I thought was peculiar, and yesterday evening I confirmed it.

The show is scheduled as a 90-minute broadcast. But of that 90 minutes, a full 37 minutes (or about 40%) is commercials. No only that but the ads now come in huge batches — some segments being 5 minutes long!

The CRTC used to have strict rules about the amount of commercial time per hour but my reading of the current regulations suggest there are now “no limits” for TV stations. That is a bizarre way of killing the golden goose because I will no longer watch network CBC and will switch entirely to Gem for their shows which eliminates the need for me to be deluged in commercials.


Dykes On The Drive 2022

July 30, 2022

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It was great to catch the Dykes on the Drive March this afternoon! The parade was several blocks long, and scores more folks followed on afterwards. Pride was in evidence everywhere.