October 2010

Posted by: Erin Brown John on October 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm


Remembering Terry Fox. The Terry Fox monument at BC Place is slated for demolition and will be replaced with a new monument designed by Douglas Coupland. The architect of the original monument is understandably upset, but acknowledges that it was never popular with the public.

Cycling infrastructure. While improving cycling infrastructure in is a priority for many municipalities, they have been having trouble trying to secure funding and support from the province.

Great Beginnings. The City of Vancouver is currently looking for proposals for new murals that “offer new perspectives on Vancouver and represent a range of Vancouver’s diverse cultural communities.” The program is part of an overall plan to reduce graffiti in the city.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Straight has a great gallery of images of the mural on Beatty Street that is nearing completion.

Backyard chickens. The City of Surrey is considering whether to allow chickens on urban lots.

Unsung heroes. An article in Grist calls for more acknowledgement of the roles of women in the sustainable food movement. While the article’s focus is American, it’s good to look around and take stock of all the people, male and female, in our communities that perhaps aren’t being recognized.

Photo credit: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Posted by: Erin Brown John on October 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm


Can Vancouver feed itself? Last week’s Food and Beers event was a huge success. Read about it here on The Tyee. We’re planning on making film footage available from the event available soon so stay tuned!

Slim pickings. The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project is reporting that due to the poor weather this spring, they are receiving less calls and collecting less fruit for food banks and local charities this year.

New model for housing. Vancity Credit Union and Westbank are partnering with community organizations in the Downtown East Side to make new condos a little moreaffordable for people with moderate incomes. The units will sell for well below the normal market value. In exchange for the reduction in price, residents will have to volunteer in the Downtown East Side and will not have access to a parking stall.

Olympic Village. Bob Rennie joins the public debate about the Olympic Village development this week, stating that Michael Geller’s statements that social housing is scaring buyers away and the ensuing debate is making it difficult to market the project. Geller clarified his position in the Vancouver Observer, stating that he never meant his statements to be taken the way that they have been interpreted in the debate.

Putting down routes. An article in Regarding Place looks at where new immigrants choose to settle in the Metro Vancouver region and finds that access to transit is key.

Great Beginnings mural program. A new mural in Chinatown pays homage to philosopher Lao Tzu.

Image credit: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

Posted by: Erin Brown John on October 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm


A round-up of some things we’ve been following.

Safekeeping. First United Church announced this week that it is desperately in need of funding to keep their storage facility in operation. The facility allows Downtown East Side residents to store their belongings in a secure environment, but will close if they are not able to secure the necessary funds.

Social stigma? Mixing social housing with high-end developments is not new to Vancouver, however, the sluggish sales of units in the Olympic Village has reopened the debate about the social engineering of communities and provision of social housing. Development consultant Michael Geller stated early last week that the inclusion of social housing within the development may be hurting sales. Very understandably he has been met with a lot of criticism for this view and unfortunately the debate turned nasty.

How much does it help? Bob Rennie and architect Peter Busby debate the merits of green building.

One book, not Vancouver. Vancouver Public Library named The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as this year’s One Book One Vancouver. While conceding that it’s an old favourite, Terry Lavender questions whether a more Vancouver-centric book or author could have been chosen instead.

Speak up. Mero Vancouver launched a new website called Renters Speak Up to encourage renters to participate in discussions about affordable housing in the region. Though housing policy affects them, they tend to be absent in discussions. That is about to change, at least for renters who speak English and have internet access.

Can Vancouver feed itself? Join us this Thursday at the museum for the next ‘Food and Beers’ discussion, hosted by The Tyee’s David Beers. Free with admission.

Image credit: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier

Posted by: Erin Brown John on October 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Last month Granville Magazine ran a contest looking for the best story about home canning and preserving, inspired by the Wall of Preserves in the Home Grown exhibit.

They received several excellent submissions, each touching in their own way the themes of home, family and childhood memories. Who would have known that home canning was so inspiring?

In the end, the winner is senoritaJen, who reflects on the magic of canning peaches:

Kitchen Alchemy
When I was a child, canning seemed as intimidating and thrilling as alchemy. The huge enamel canner was an imposing sight, as it took up most of space on the stovetop and emitted billowing clouds of hot steam. It was remarkable to me that my mother and I could produce something that was sealed in glass jars and looked like it could have come from the store.

It was my task to peel the peaches, which I did while perched on a sturdy kitchen chair, letting the fuzzy skins drop into a large orange mixing bowl. Then later I would observe from a safe distance as my mother fearlessly retrieved the filled jars from the boiling cauldron. We would get such satisfaction at the end of the afternoon, proudly surveying all our mason jars lined up in neat rows on the table, with the sun streaming through the window and turning the peaches into gold.

So congratulations senoritaJen, enjoy your MOV prize pack!

Read the submission from the runner-up here.

Image credit: E. Brown-John

Posted by: Erin Brown John on October 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm


Another round-up of the things we’ve been following.

The making of. The Vancouver Observer ran a great article with some background on how the Davie Village Community Garden came to be.

Poetry in transit. Ever wondered why there are poems posted inside buses?The Tyee has answers.

Accolades! Congratulations to the students at UBC who won an Emmy for their documentary about the dumping of E-waste in Ghana! Kudos for helping to raise the profile of a very important issue.

The headaches continue. BC Housing has rejected all bids to operate the social housing at the Olympic Village. The City is now looking into the possibility of having to take on the financial burden of guaranteeing loans for potential operators, but the situation has provided another setback in it’s efforts to have the units occupied by winter.

Meanwhile, the developer of the Olympic Village has been having difficulty paying off it’s loan to the City. The City is now going after other assets held by the company and finding that many are already mortgaged.

Recommended viewing. Finally, if you have a bit of time to kill, check out 50 videos about urban planning via Democrablog.

Image credit: Steve Luscher via flickr.