Poem: Magnetic North

August 12, 2019



You are magnetic north;

All my paths converge on you.


You are the tropics;

my Cancer and my Capricorn.


You are the forests;

the leafy groves where my dreams dwell.


You are the mountains,

with heights I could not imagine.


You are the seven seas;

I bob on your waves and tides.


You are the equator;

the widest part of my existence.

You are my world.


Image: Curves

June 5, 2019

Image: Diner #1

April 15, 2019

Image: Line #1

June 3, 2018

Image: Triumphalism

June 1, 2018

At Stone Soup Today

May 12, 2018

A Truly Brave Man

April 15, 2018

The first hero that I remember having was Duncan Edwards, the Manchester United footballer who was killed along with many others in the team in the Munich air crash of 1958.  The second was Yuri Gagarin.

Fifty-seven years ago last Thursday, Yuri Gagarin entered history as the first human being in space. A few years earlier, just before my 8th birthday, my father had taken the time to get me interested in the Soviet Union’s feat in putting Sputnik into space. I was entranced and remained an avid follower of the space race for decades. I followed the Russian dogs going up, and Gagarin’s flight was the obvious next step.

It wasn’t revealed for forty years that the cosmonaut ejected from the capsule before it crash-landed, parachuting to earth. And it was definitely sad for Gagarin that he was thereafter too valuable to put at threat and so he was never allowed to return to orbit. No matter.  That first flight was a glorious triumph for mankind!

Image: Red Tulips #2

December 5, 2017

Snacks Tonight #6

September 20, 2017


Almond and cranberry biscotti. Not bad!

Night Music: My Generation

November 26, 2016

Not the best version musically, but this IS the spirit of Woodstock — and we still had Keith Moon!

Night Music: Chicago

September 20, 2016

Night Music: Benny Goodman & Peggy Lee

April 16, 2016

Night Music: Eagles

December 12, 2015

Night Music: Boomtown Rats

August 24, 2015

Image: Gladioli #3

July 29, 2015

gladioli III

Keep The Drive Under Five

July 15, 2015

The No Tower Coalition, formed to oppose the monstrous tower proposed for the corner of Commercial & Venables, now has a great new slogan:


This is in recognition of almost all residents’ desire to see Commercial Drive remain at four storeys or less, to retain the human scale that helps create the Drive’s unique and popular character.

The Coalition’s campaign is building, with two new articles in today’s Vancouver Courier (see here and here) and, now, well over a thousand signatures on their petition. They are collecting more signatures and support this week with displays and brochures at Grandview Park most afternoons.

I urge everyone who doesn’t want to see our skyline dominated by a huge profit-driven condo tower to join the campaign and see how you can help.

Just Say No To Massive Tower On The Drive!

July 8, 2015

In response to a less-than-balanced article in the Courier this morning, the opponents of the huge for-profit condo tower proposed by Boffo Properties for the corner at Commercial & Venables, the No Tower citizen’s group has issued the following press release:


Vancouver. Concerned citizens of Grandview-Woodland are moving to block a project being proposed by the developer Boffo Properties at the corner of Commercial Drive and Venables Street.

Boffo is proposing a massive development for this site, including a 15-storey tower with 150 market condo units and an eight-storey tower with expanded facilities for the Kettle Friendship Society, including 30 units of supportive housing for Kettle clients.

“We want to emphasize that we are not opposed to the Kettle or its valuable services for people with mental health concerns,” said spokesperson Barbara Cameron. “We strongly support the Kettle and its work”.

“Yet the key point here is that a massive and dense, high-rise tower would be completely out of context with our low rise, people-friendly and much-loved Commercial Drive community and extremely destructive to the neighbourhood. The Kettle should get expanded facilities, but not at such a cost to its neighbours.”

The No Tower coalition is active and now has over 800 signatures on its two ongoing petitions against the tower proposal. The group will continue to lobby vigorously for practical alternatives to the project, without a tower.

“We absolutely reject the argument that all possible sources of funding for the Kettle have been explored,” Cameron said. Just today Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang noted “the provincial government has to continue to invest in housing and begin a second phase of development where supportive housing is built on city property.” (Vancouver Courier July 8, 2015.) The City has a key piece of available property at the Venables/Commercial corner, which could be put into play for the Kettle.

Services to people with mental illness are part of Canada’s social safety net, the No Tower group emphasized. They should be publicly funded, in ways that do not have a negative community impact.

Giving private developers inappropriate density and height bonuses in exchange for providing necessary mental health services would set a dangerous precedent. It should not be allowed.”

The community group’s website is at https://novenablestower.wordpress.com/

Plebiscites Helped Build Vancouver

July 5, 2015

Now that the developers’ wet dream known as the Metro Transit Referendum has failed the test of public approval, the twitterverse and op-ed columns are full of ravings about plebiscites being a “failure of leadership” by politicians. Of course, the truth is that if the result had come out as YES, these same pundits would have hailed the value of democracy and pushed forward their profit-driven schemes with gay abandon.

This was a terrible plebiscite in terms of the question — the Mayors deliberately embedding a god-awful “Plan” (constructed with no consultation whatsover by our “leaders”) with a simple question about taxation, and agreed to by the Province in order to further (by its failure) their own anti-transit pro-road building strategy.  But the fact that this plebiscite was particularly badly planned and executed does not argue against plebiscites in general.

In the early years of Vancouver’s spectacular growth, plebiscites were a regular part of our political process. There were often several in one year, and usually with no more than six weeks of preparation and lobbying. It was through the plebiscite process — operated by a Conservative business-oriented City Council — that Vancouver got streetcars, a waterworks system, an expanded city boundary, new docks, new sawmills, new industrial plants of various types.

In each case, the politicians proposed and the people disposed. So far from being a failure of political leadership, these were examples both of fine leadership and a ready belief that the people will go along with sensible suggestions sensibly put.

Vancouver needs to do this more often.

Celebrating the Drive, and Opposing Towers

June 22, 2015

Yesterday was Fathers’ Day. It was also warm and sunny as the annual Car Free Day festival on Commercial Drive kicked off.   Not nearly so crowded and frenetic as Italian Day, the Drive was still full of booths and visitors.

I was with the triplet of tents manned by Grandview Heritage Group, GWAC, and the No Towers on Venables group.

GHG 2015 No Car Day crowd

The No Towers on Venables table was particularly busy all day, drawn in perhaps by the magnificent model of what the proposed building might look like and showing just how massively inappropriate it is for the neighbourhood.

Tower model

Hundreds upon hundreds of people signed the petition against the Boffo Tower.

It was a most enjoyable hday for extended chats with folks who came by, for many discussions about the City’s Heritage Action Plan, and a great deal about how well the Drive is standing up to the passing years.

The New GWAC

April 14, 2015

I went to the monthly GWAC meeting last night. It was sparsely attended, which is a problem as this was the first membership meeting for the newly-elected Directors. I’m glad that I was one of the half dozen residents to show up.  We need to work on growing the base again and getting these meetings largely attended by providing genuine community value.

The Directors held their own meeting prior to the public event, and chose their leaders for the year.  The new President of GWAC is Dorothy Barkley., which is great news because Dorothy has spent the last couple of years becoming deeply involved in community activism though OCOP, the Grandview Heritage Group, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, the Grandview Garden Group, and on the GWAC Board.

Several members of the new Board are active involved members of the Citizens’ assembly process; and I would suggest that this year’s Board, which also includes broadcaster-activist Garth Mullins and Nick from the BIA, along with GWAC veterans, is perhaps the best prepared Board for many years.

Dorothy threw the meeting open to the resident attendees, by asking them each in turn, what issues should GWAC be involved in this year. This generated an exciting conversation that produced a list of issues such as inclusivity, especially with First Nations residents, substance abuse problems, welfare rates and austerity in general, better liaison with other neighbourhood groups. There was also an excellent discussion about the kinds of “workshops” we could sponsor, includihg work on urban land economics and planning terminology.

There were also good signs that this year’s GWAC will return to a more activist agenda including, importantly, the taking of positions on contested issues.  A letter from GWAC has already been issued regarding the reform of electoral financing, and at last nioght’s meeting, after a vigorous debate, we passed — unanimously, I think, — a motion demanding that the Community Plan include a 10-year moratorium on spot rezoning.

Good signs.  I urge everyone to attend.  It’s worth spending two hours out of the first Monday of each month to put your ideas for how our community will develop.  Put it in your diary for next month.