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Vancouver Public Library has joined together with twenty cultural and recreational providers in Vancouver in what they call their Inspiration Pass:
With a Vancouver Inspiration Pass you can spend an afternoon with a sea otter, discover a secret garden; dive into aquatics; learn about sailing the seven seas and navigating the stars; uncover our city’s past, explore the future and much more.
Created to increase community engagement and inclusivity and support lifelong learning, the pass provides opportunities for Vancouver residents – regardless of socio-economic status – to benefit from the many diverse cultural, learning and recreation activities offered throughout Vancouver.
But most of all, it’s a ton of fun!
And all this through the use of a free VPL pass. Very creative idea. Well done.
We took a day trip to Victoria yesterday to collect some material from the BC Provincial Archives. It was great fun and we enjoyed the entire journey which we did by bus.
It is hard to believe that we would ever want to take a car from the Lower Mainland to the Island. The coach is comfortable, there are no driving anxieties (you can even take a nap), and the coach gets off the ferry first every time. We walked around Victoria when we arrived, but we could just as well have used local transit or taxis or even rented a local car for our time there.
Definitely no need for us to bring a car from Vancouver — ever.
We are back from Harrison where we had a wonderfully relaxing time. The weather was perfect, the beds were firm and the pools are great. But there was one black cloud that was hard to shake,
In the past we have always paid by VISA but this time, when we checked in, we took the option of paying via debit card rather than credit card or, to put it another way, to use cash rather than plastic. We even accepted that they could immediately take the full price of the room and taxes plus a $200 deposit against extra charges. And from that moment on we were treated in important ways as second class citizens.
We could not charge to our room a lemonade at the pool bar, for example, or a drink with dinner in the Copper Room. In both places we were told in a stern and disparaging voice that we were “cash only” customers. When we checked out, we were obliged to have our room searched for missing items before we could leave — an inconvenient and embarrassing check on our integrity that credit card customers are not obliged to endure.
What is the point of taking a $200 deposit for additional charges in advance if you cannot use that to charge additional charges? You have to think that the credit card companies are paying off the hotel to discourage cash payments. And frankly, that kind of treatment discourages me from ever returning.
We are spending some time in Harrison Hot Springs, which is as beautiful as ever and bathed in sunshine. I remembered my camera and I remembered my computer; but I forgot the USB cable! So pictures will have to wait until we get back.
I have to say that the drive was bloody awful. It took us almost four hours to get here (instead of less than two), with three separate sections where we barely crawled along the highway. Even the turnoff at Bridal Veil Falls was blocked as cars tried to deal with a highway accident westbound. Quite the mess, and I sure needed that Guinness when we finally pulled into the Old Settler for a late lunch.
But now, with an hour or more in the pools behind us, and a decent dinner in the Cooper Room ahead, life is peachy!
The immense and ugly barn-like structure that Grandview Calvary Baptist has proposed to build at 1st and Victoria — and which I spoke against the other night — has been approved this morning at City Council. The vote was unanimous.
Councilor Reimer, who lives in Grandview, made the motion to approve with a couple of minor amendments that the design be “more reflective of the neighbourhood” and that a “community advisory committee” be formed.
It is a great shame that they could not get the building down to a size that is closer to Rt-5 zoning. We can only hope that this does not become a precedent-setting decision.
This evening I am on the speakers’ list to talk with City Council about a proposal from Grandview Calvary Baptist Church to redevelop their property at 1st and Victoria as an “intentional community” housing individuals who are hard to house elsewhere. Grandview Woodlands Area Council has the documents on this proposal.
The Church wants to put up a huge barn-like 4-storey structure that will dwarf surrounding houses (see image below). Not only that, but their design includes nothing that comes even close to reflecting the neighbourhood’s historic and current buildings. It will, almost literally, stick out like an enormous sore thumb on one of our major intersections.
My position tonight will have three parts:
a) I fully approve the development of this site. It is currently used as a private car park for the Church (which is further up First Avenue) and looks shabby. My personal preference is that the site become a pocket park. However, that seems to be a pipe dream and so I am content that a good building will improve the look of the intersection;
b) I don’t know enough about the Church and its programs and so cannot comment specifically (although I have read a number of comments from neighbours that question the Church’s ability to control previous programs.) However, I am in favour generally of creating housing opportunities for the hard to house in our neighbourhood; and so I am in principle in support of the Church’s proposed use;
c) The design is so overwhelming and out of character with the neighbourhood that it must be changed. I will ask that Council send the proposal back for re-design before granting approval. My suggestion would be that the design eliminate certain uses that are not relevant to the primary use (see below), and that the design be spread over a larger footprint on the site. These changes should allow the design to be scaled down from four storeys to three at most and, hopefully, two.
I have attended a couple of public presentations by the proposers and their architects, and their response to our concerns over the design were less than helpful. In fact, on both occasions they essentially refused to discuss the design, saying that their “programming and business plan” required the size and style proposed. However, their “business plan” includes offices for rent and a large community kitchen, neither of which seem essential to the proposed use.
Finally, I want to note that I assume their programming is designed to meet all Federal and Provincial regulations for such things; and I assume their financing and accounting set ups are designed to meet all necessary regulations for non-profits and churches. Why then, should their building design not be obliged to meet current zoning regulations? Why should it be that the one part of their proposal that directly affects the neighbourhood (and will for a generation at least) should be subject to the whims of their “business plan”?
As regular readers will know, I am a big booster for Vancouver’s transit system. I use it almost every day at least once, and have done now for more than twenty years since I last owned a car.
But it is certainly not perfect and could stand some improvements.
For example, under the current governance structures (i.e. government run), Translink should make all transit fare-free. If the government is going to monopolize a business using our tax money, then we should at least get the service free. Besides, in today’s world, freedom of movement must be a human right.
But I am sure there are smaller changes we could make while the transition to free is agreed. And COPE councilman nominee Tim Louis has some interesting ideas that help ignite the conversation — if only for the length of the municipal campaign.
“[Louis] said the transportation company could make “small” changes that would improve ridership, such as freezing fares and putting even bigger buses on crowded routes along the Broadway line.
“A COPE increase on council will do everything possible to democratize TransLink, to see that the TransLink board is accountable to the taxpayer,” he said. “The TransLink board is currently accountable to only one person and that is the transportation minister in Victoria. A new TransLink board would begin working in the best interests of passengers, taxpayers and workers …”
TransLink should equip all its buses with special transponders that he said would keep “stale green” lights green when a bus approaches, essentially speeding up service. “The ideas we’re putting forth today are very cost-effective with very small capital costs which would make enormous improvements for you and I when we [ride] the bus,” he said. “No more red lights.”Louis also believes TransLink should buy special “bi-articulated buses” or essentially larger versions of the current articulated buses with an extra coach. “It would cost about 30 per cent more, but would carry 50 per cent more people, making it much more efficient,” he said.
On an even more quotidian level, Translink better do a better job of clarifying their rules about baby carriages on buses. I have written about this before but I witnessed a perfect example from the weekend: seniors being forced to move out of the front seats to make way for baby carriages. This is simply nonesense and must stop!
Bravo to the Lower Mainland mayors who today voted for a 2 cents gas tax increase to pay for the Evergreen Line and other transit improvements! Approving a tax increase just weeks before each of them faces the voters was the right thing to do, but brave nonetheless.
For Richmond’s Brodie and Burnaby’s Corrigan — both representing municipalties particularly well served by transit already — to vote against improvements elsewhere showed no class at all.