This week in MOVments we explore some of the recent narratives, numbers, and neighborhood games top of mind in the ever-present world of Vancouver real estate. We have the on-going and multi-layered tale of gentrification in the DTES, some new research that tackles the oft-cited cause/effect relationship of of foreign-buyers driving up condo prices, a playful chronicle of one conceptual artist selling the smallest pieces of real estate in the history of Vancouver, and an online game that tests your knowledge of local city neighborhoods.
Pidgin Protesters. By now, you've probably heard about the protests happening outside of a newly opened restaurant called Pidgin in the Downtown Eastside. Anti-poverty activists are arguing that the intrusion of another high-end restaurant in the neighbourhood means that there is not only less space for low-income housing or organizations providing community services but that it is also disrespectful to the culture of the community. On the other side of the argument, people like city councillor Kerry Jang see the mixed nature of the area as a positive and restaurant co-owner Brandon Grossutti sees his efforts at hiring DTES residents as a path to a more integrated community. And while we're on the subject, check out a couple other perspectives that range from accusations of a kind of reverse NIMBYism to biased media coverage of protestors.
The Myth of the Foreign Buyer Boogeyman? Chances are that if you've lived in Vancouver for any length of time you've also heard about the people who come from overseas to buy up our real estate, drive up prices, and then leave the residences vacant. This Globe and Mail piece suggests that there may be less truth in the story than we previously believed. Although exact statistics are tricky to obtain the article states that "2012 figures from Landcor Data Corporation show that only 0.2 per cent of people who bought residential properties in Metro Vancouver last year are currently living outside of the country" In other words, hardly enough to drive the market. The article also says that many foreign investors are in fact also residing here, coming from China and other countries in order to support their children's educations.
Cube Living. Looking for some affordable real estate in the city? Then look no further than artist Alex Grunenfelder's Cube Living project at 221A Artist Run Centre. Last week, Grunenfelder was selling one cubic foot units of space to interested buyers for as little as one dollar. In this interview for The Tyee Grunenfelder explained the project: "I'm not necessarily advocating living in smaller spaces," he says of Cube Living. "It's about looking at the discussions that are happening around all of this, and maybe looking at things from a different point of view, and also trying to project, where is this going? Where is this process of urban densification going to end up?"
Know Your 'Hood. And finally, get to know your Vancouver neighbourhoods with this cute little app (helpful for the next time that you buy real estate?).
At the MOVeum:
March 3 - Design Sundays: Upcycled Urbanism March 7 - Special Curator Talk & Tour: A Clandestine History of Contraception March 10, 17, 24 - Design Sundays: Upcycled Urbanism
We've all heard certain stereotypes used to describe Vancouver before (Vancouverites = yoga-fanatic, organic juice-guzzlers). But as is the nature of cliches, while they may contain a kernel of truth, they also ignore a deeply layered lived experience that is not so easily summed up in buzzwords and cute expressions. In MOVments this week we're looking at the city through the lens of a few well-worn adages and in the process deconstructing and complicating some of our civic assumptions.
Vancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.
Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.
Video Stores Live. With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.
Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."
Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.
The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.
At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers
[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]
Even for a forward-looking city, Vancouver seems to be on the verge of some particularly big changes this week. Maybe it's because we just finished watching a Franklin Templeton commercial which features a decidedly Vancouver-shaped, futuristic city, but this week's MOVments has us thinking about what the city is going to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. Check out these links for some clues to what might be in store.
Floating Houses (Maybe...) Vancouver's new Task Force on Housing Affordability will present its second set of findings and recommendations to City Council tomorrow (June 27). One of the suggestions that's gotten a bit of press involves converting container ships into low-income, floating houses. Cool? Oh yeah. Feasible? We'll have to see.
Art Spaces in Unexpected Places. A new art space called The Nines at the former Budget car rental office at Pender and Abbott could be part of a larger trend towards more studios and art spaces in the city. The Tyee explains that the city recently approved a plan to convert a number of former industrial spaces into art studios. Artists, makers, and multi-media-ers all across Vancouver are optimistic.
A Leader in Refugee Care. As new laws make life more difficult for many refugees in Canada, Vancouver will become home to a world-class Welcome House Centre for people escaping dire circumstances in their countries of origin. The Immigration Services Society of B.C. plans to combine a variety of services including short-term housing, language training, and medical care at the facility that will be built at 10th and Victoria.
Life Without Luongo (Maybe...) Speculation abounds over where Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will end up as the NHL draft finishes this week. Although backup goalie Corey Schneider becomes a free-agent after July 1, opening him up to offers from other teams, the Canucks' manager maintains that they won't be rushing to make any decisions about trading Luongo. And, while you're in a sporty state of mind, check out this little article about the Vancouver Canadians minor league baseball team and what they're doing to help the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league.
At the MOVeum:
Sunday, July 1 (Canada Day) - All general admission is FREE
June through September 30 - Reading the Riot Boards exhibit
[Image: Expo '86 Souvenir Postcard from the MOV collection H2008.23.2501]
Vancouver makes, shakes, retaliates!
This week’s MOVments have tallied up yvr’s points and prongs from policy to film.
In Mount Pleasant, despite loud controversy, the new Rize development has been approved by city council. This will mean a 19-story development smack in the middle of Mt. Pleasant. OpenFile has curated some great comments from the twittersphere.
Down Broadway at Granville street, the Vancouver Public Space Network transformed a bus shelter into a public message board to house your comments about Vancouver!
In film, the Projecting Change Film Festival is underway and bringing Vancouverites a special panel discussion along with their screening of Miss Representation this Saturday. Simultaneously, our MOV Youth Council will be hard at work editing their films. More on this in late May.
In foliage, nature lovers gathered outside the Van Art Gallery recently to throw a giant flash mob for cherry blossom season. Simultaneously, across the Georgia Straight, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities threw their hands in the air to pass a resolution for the decriminalization of pot! This means the UBCM will vote on this issue later this year.
Lastly, if you’re an aspiring journalist, you’ll appreciate this workshop on Perfecting your Pitch, put on by the Tyee’s Freelance Survival Series.
Greeting, MOVers. Just as Canada’s West produced harrowing hail while the East saw seducing sun this week, Vancouver’s sightlines are equally diverse. Caught between the closing of little YVR gems like The Book Warehouse and the growing movement of BC schools to offshore destinations, one is left to wonder about values and priorities when it comes to staying in the city. Did you know 300 BC certified teachers are employed in 29 BC offshore schools?
Should I stay or should I go? Your local radio program, On the Coast, is hosting a series of conversations on housing affordability as conversations out east say the next federal budget should stretch its long arm of policy reform to put the rental housing market “on solid ground”.
This way to Grandma’s… Of particular interest to MOVers is where this stay/go dilemma intersects with visual history and our built city. Recently Vancouver knocked down an old building to reveal a new (old) ghost sign for Grandma’s Boy.
Should it be saved? Maybe this is a question for Vancouver’s museum professionals. If you’re interested in what Museum educators have to say, you might be interested in the upcoming un-conference, Then/Hier.
Cut a Rug. Or… some other fine fabric… As you may know there’s a fashion design challenge happening at the MOV around our new exhibit, Art Deco Chic. In tune, this article explores the question, Can historic garments be used for contemporary fashion? In small-business response, the owner of Musette Bicycle Café thinks so. This Italian-vintage-cycling-attire-inspired café recently opened off Hornby bike route and we think it pulls off the contemporary-glam thing quite well.
In other worldly affairs, the LA Times is examining the ups and downs of Vancouver’s Climate Action Plan, 5 years post instatement. And for those of us interested in the goods behind the Canadian Economy, a free dialogue is being held at SFU Woodwards Wednesday night.
At the MOVeum: Veda Hille @MOV Songs of False Creek Flats
& Big thanks to everyone who came out to Mini MakerFaire Fundraiser last week! Here are some photos.
[Photo care of http://trextrying.tumblr.com/ ]