Homelessness. The numbers are in. Initial results from the 2011 homelessness count indicate that street homelessness is down in Vancouver, though there has not been a change across the Metro Vancouver region overall. This is causing some to question whether or not the massive investment in dealing with homelessness over the past three years has had an effect.

The results do however suggest that low-barrier shelters are having an impact and are seeing a higher level of use. While First Nations people still make up a disproportionately high proportion of homeless, the number of First Nations people who are homeless appears to be dropping. Youth are better represented in this year’s count, though it’s hard to say if this is due to an increase in homelessness among youth or a more accurate count.

What will be the future of the Hornby bike lane? Researchers are in the process of studying it’s impacts on the local community. Geoff Meggs says the City did not do a good enough job of communicating the need for cycling infrastructure to Vancouverites.

The City is once again looking for public input about transportation and looking for more ways to get people out of their cars

Viaducts. What’s in store for the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts? re:place looks at the future of the viaducts and offers some suggestions.

U-Pass. Translink is threatening to discontinue the U-Pass program if it continues to lose money to U-Pass theft and fraud. But Stephen Rees reminds us that the U-Pass program was never sustainable in the first place.

Hockey riot. As we head toward the Stanley Cup finals, the Tyee presents an alternative view on the 1994 hockey riot and how we became the ‘no fun city.’

Bike watch. A cool idea via Gordon Price, Vancouver Bike Watch lets riders report road hazards, stolen bikes and collisions.

Affordability. Bob Rennie says Vancouver really isn’t that unaffordable if you ignore the prices at the top fifth of the market.

Image: chris.huggins via flickr


Public demonstrations. A proposed bylaw to limit Falun Gong demonstrations in front of the Chinese consulate and place restrictions on structures used in public demonstrations has sparked considerable debate and has some concerned about democratic rights and freedom of speech.Pivot Legal Society has expressed concern that this bylaw may also make temporary structures used by the homeless illegal.

And speaking of free speech, the BC Civil Liberties Association has taken the case of the woman ejected from a Skytrain by police for refusing to remove a button with the F word on it.

First Nations in public art. The electronic billboard beside the Burrard Street Bridge now features selected messages as part of the Digital Natives project. Read about the project here.

Viaducts. This week SFU hosted a forum on the future of the viaducts in Vancouver. Gordon Price provides a round-up of bloggers’ responses to the event.

Casino. The casino hearings continue. PavCo and Paragon Gaming have proposed reducing the number of slot machines planned for the development.

Save-on-Meats. The iconic Downtown East Side building will be renovated and include a new butcher shop and restaurant, rooftop garden, office space and incubator kitchen for new start-up businesses.

Garbage. What should we do with Vancouver’s garbage? There are two options on the table.

Eagle cams. It’s nesting season again and the Hancock Wildlife Foundation has set up a live stream of the nest at the Lafarge concrete plant. The eggs are expected to hatch around April 20.

Image: .mused, via flickr


A year later. Did the Olympics make Vancouver a better city? Lance Bereloqitz and Matt Hern debate in the Tyee.

Another question. Can Vancouver become the ‘best place on Earth’?

At Home. A few months ago the Boseman Hotel became home to several homeless people as part of a Canada-wide study about the effects of providing housing for the homeless. An article in the Vancouver Sun looks at it’s progress so far.

Suburban and invisible. More on the changing face of homelessnessness. At a time when great strides are being made to address homelessness in Vancouver, the problem is growing in nearby municipalities. Megaphone takes a look.

The Forgotten. I highly recommend having a look at this series of articles on the Vancouver Observer about the Museum of Anthropology’s cancelled exhibit about the missing women of the DTES and the challenges of exploring such a difficult issue both through art and in a museum setting.

Olympic Village Plan B. Reduce prices and maintenance fees, sell selected condos and rent out others, and rename the whole thing “The Village on False Creek.” Hopefully that will get people to finally live there.

Image: kennymatic, via flickr.




Happy New Year! Wishing you lots of health and happiness in your year of the rabbit.

Favourite places. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation wants to know which places in the city are most important to you. They intend to place 125 plaques around the city to recognize important and previously unrecognized places.

Homelessness. The City has made great strides in providing new housing for the homeless but is projected to fall short of it’s goal of eliminating homelessness by 2015 unless more funding can be produced.

Cultural space. The City has set aside space at 688 Cambie for cultural use but the Vancouver Art Gallery must still demonstrate that it is able to raise the necessary funds to build a new building and operate and there are concerns that the City is trying to fit too many things into the same site.

Internet metering. Vancouverites are taking on the CRTC over the issue of usage based billing, plans by internet service providers to limit downloads and charge people for extra use. To date more than 400,000 people have signed the petition created by Vancouver-based OpenMedia. Another Vancouverite, David Beers, debates the issue in the Globe and Mail here.

Green design. re:place Magazine looks at Canada’s first Passivhaus in Whistler. Formerly Austria House during the Olympics, the building uses 10% of the energy a normal building would and shows the possibilities for sustainable design with wood.

Image: Carol Browne, via flickr


A belated happy new year and welcome back to our weekly batch of things we’re following!

Van East. East Van is experiencing a renaissance as the cultural heart of Vancouver. It’s affordability is drawing a lot of independent and owner-operated restaurants,  businesses and arts spaces and for the past several years the neighbourhood has been shedding the stigma it once had

The eagles have landed. But there’s nothing to eat. Brackendale’s famous eagle count registered another disappointing turnout this year, blamed in part on a poor chum run.

Home sweet home. After much political wrangling, tenants are starting to move into the Olympic Village.

Roundhouse Plaza. The Park Board is revisiting plans to vitalize the Roundhouse Plaza, which since it’s inception has not been used by the public to the degree that planners had hoped.

Homelessness. 2010 saw a lot of progress made toward housing Vancouver’s homeless, with the creation of new emergency shelters and permanent housing. Yet in spite of all the efforts made in the past year to house the homeless, the number of homeless people grew this year, from 1500 to nearly 1800.

Remembering Gastown. The Globe and Mail looks at some of the early investors in Gastown who saw potential in the neighbourhood.

Our new exhibit SweaterLodge Unlatched opens this week!

Image credit: kennymatic, via flickr.



Farmland in the city. A blog post on the Vancouver Sun provides a good overview of many of the challenges of farming in Richmond, where often farmland and residential or parkland are situated next to each other and where there is intense pressure to develop. One of the farmers featured is Harold Steves, whose farm is also featured in our Home Grown exhibit.

Housing first on Howe. Bosman’s Motor Hotel has reopened as part of a study of a ‘housing first’ approach to dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. For the next three years the hotel will provide stable housing to 100 hard-to-house residents before the property is converted into condos.

One year on the Canada Line. An article in re:place magazine looks at ridership statistics and impacts of the construction of the Canada Line, one year after it’s completion.

Charting Change. A new online atlas of Burnaby links historical photos and stories with an interactive map of Burnaby. Very cool!

Salmon! Last year’s run was disappointing or frightening, depending on how you look at it, while this year it is inexplicably huge. 30 million, the largest run in 97 years. The only problem is that nobody seems to know why.

Image credit: Gord McKenna, via flickr

MOVments of the week


A round up of things we have been following this week.

Beatty Street wall repaint. Painting is finally underway on the new Beatty Street wall mural. The project is jointly funded by the City of Vancouver and Concord Pacific and depicts figures from Vancouver’s past and present. More information can be found on the project’s Facebook page and Youtube.

Shortly before the Olympics the Beatty Street Wall was painted over by city workers conducting what was apparently routine maintenance. The move sparked the ire of a large number of people in the community. For those of you who may be feeling nostalgic, the original artwork is still visible on Google Street View, here.

Pop-up shop. Douglas Coupland partnered with Roots to open up a temporary store in Gastown stocked with several limited edition signature items. The event has garnered a lot of buzz and is part of a trend in retail and marketing that turns shopping into an event with stores appearing in novel locations for limited periods of time. Pop-up retail and marketing has already been used successfully by several companies. In a sense, the Cheaper Show uses the same model in order to create new markets for local art. I’d love to see this concept used for non-commercial purposes too, like education or community building.

The changing face of Gastown. The Westender focuses on the closure of Biz Books to highlight the pressures on independent businesses as Gastown gentrifies. In spite of the neighbourhood’s facelift, rents are rising and there is a growing number of empty storefronts as people wait for the renewal and residential density ushered in by Woodwards to arrive.

City calls for container housing. City council is considering a motion to explore the use of shipping containers in providing low-cost social housing. The Tyee ran a very positive story about this kind of housing earlier this year, but the comments below reveal that it is a very controversial idea.

Old Spice answers your questions. And a shout-out to Old Spice for launching an excellent social media campaign this week. In short: you send a message to the Old Spice Man via social media and he responds in a video on Youtube. This is in no way a product endorsement, I just think it’s a clever and entertaining campaign and Mashable is reporting some incredible stats about its’ reach and effectiveness.

Image credit: Kris Krüg, via flickr

MOVments from the week and a look at what’s ahead


A weekly round up of the news and cultural happenings we’re following. Off we go:

Remember the Bixi bike trial the city hosted one weekend last summer? (Bixi being the public bike-share program that’s been successfully implemented in Ottawa and Montreal, and modeled after similar programs in Paris and Copenhagen.) Where’s that at? Looks like Dublin’s the latest city to embrace the idea and it’s described in this article as a “spectacular triumph.” Even better: They’ve launched a bike-to-work tax incentive program where employes can buy bikes and sell them to workers tax-free, “reducing the price by about 40%.” (Global Post)

City Hall’s new rental scheme going over like a lead balloon: There were stories in the local press this week about growing (and unexpected) opposition to city council’s Short-Term Incentives for Rental Housing program. In a nutshell: The plan gives developers incentives to build rental units instead of condos. Seems the first projects announced under the scheme aren’t being well-received by some West End residents because, among other reasons, the new units will rent for market rates. Gordon Price, the long-time voice of the West End and director of the SFU City Program, offers a nice summary of the issues on his blog—click the link. (Price Tags)

And speaking of the SFU City Program… On April 28, they’ll host a discussion entitled, “Post-Game Analysis: How Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler planned for the Olympics.” Six panelists, including Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s director of planning and Whistler’s Mayor Ken Melamed, will discuss how they pulled off the Games, and lessons learned. (SFU City Program)

“Quick Homes,” smart designs: Following on the success of the city’s Housing-First strategy, the local chapter of Architecture for Humanity is hosting a design super-challenge tomorrow night to “generate a series of viable [housing] concepts that are ready for prototyping and implementation.” It’s too late to register for that session, unfortunately, but you can follow the event on Facebook and/or attend the live-jury session this Saturday. Click the link for details. (Architecture for Humanity)

SHOES! Fox, Fluevog & Friends: The story behind the shoes opens in mere weeks and we’ve got shoes on our mind. Next Wednesday, the storied Army & Navy store on Hastings hosts their legendary, crazy-popular shoe sale. It’s one of those events every Vancouverite should attend at least once. Doors open at 8 a.m. (Army & Navy)

As it happens, the Museum of London is also hosting a program devoted to shoes. Tomorrow, there’s a object-handling session featuring items from their leatherworking collection. Among them: handmade leather shoes excavated from the banks of the River Thames. Some things are just made to last. (Museum of London)

And… special thanks to everyone who attended, sponsored, or just perused last Friday night’s DIY@MOV2. Over 300 people attended, and the feedback was stellar. Thanks for making it such a fun and lively night. Happy weekend.

MOVments from the week


A weekly round up of the news and cultural happenings we followed this week—and what’s coming up at MOV.

Empire Stadium rising! This isn’t a news event from the week so much as an expression of enthusiasm for the new-old Empire Stadium that’s very quickly taking shape in Hastings Park. So excited about its return! If you haven’t seen the goings on down there, check it out this weekend. (Are we forgetting the misery of watching football in cold November rain? Perhaps.) Blogger Miss 604 blog posted a nice round up of archive images of the original stadium in a December post linked here. The image at left is of the final BC Lions game played there in 1982.

The sea horse comes down: Hastings Street’s iconic Only Sea Foods (sic) sign came down this week. The sign has been dark since the storied restaurant closed last year (read our story on the closure here). Many of you have contacted us asking if we’re now in possession of the sign. Nope! The Portland Hotel Society is storing it in hopes of reinstalling it and reopening the diner somewhere, somehow. John Mackie has a thorough account in today’s Vancouver Sun; local historian John Atkin has a slideshow of the sign coming down on Flickr.

Fewer homeless on the streets, more in shelters. The good news: according to new figures released today, the city’s homeless residents are using emergency shelters. The bad: the shelters close next month. The worse: the number of people without permanent homes continues to grow, rising six per cent per year over the past two years. (CBC)

Wish we could be there: We often suffer a twinge of public program-envy when reading about the goings on at our favourite New York museums. Case in point: tonight, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia speaks at the New Museum. A perfect guest to speak on the use of technology in cataloguing history, and the rise of mass curating! (New Museum)

And lastly… tomorrow night we host DIY@MOV2. I’ve written much about the social-crafting soiree on the blog and there are additional details on our Audience Engagement Calendar here. If you come, please send us feedback either by posting a comment here or via our Twitter account. Oh, and on Saturday morning we’re hosting an awesome felt workshop for kids and their parents; details here. Do hope to see you! Happy weekend.

Image credit: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun files

Welcome, Home Phone

While at Interior Design Show West last month, we were drawn to a project commissioned for the show called “Off the Hook.” The show’s organizers had obtained a number of discarded telephone booths and put out a call to local designers, challenging them to create something from the materials.

Contexture Design’s Nathan Lee and Trevor Coghill responded, their first thought going to who is most affected by the steady retreat and removal of phone booths from city streets: the homeless. “We really thought of the telephone booth as a public amenity that is being lost,” says Lee. “Their removal means one less service available to people living on the streets.”

Lee says Contexture’s design process often starts with used materials—their history, their provenance—and a focus on sustainability. One of their earliest designs was the “Coffee Cuff,” a piece of reclaimed wood veneer intended to replace disposable cardboard cuffs, or to be worn as a bracelet. Another project see old maps laser-cut into various objects, like migrating crows or homeward-bound salmon, and suspended in delicate mobiles. (Click here for details and images.)

With Home Phone, there’s even more layers, and more social commentary. The piece reimagines the telephone booth as a temporary shelter. The design addresses basic housing needs, incorporating electricity and running water, as well as liveability: the stowage ottoman offers dry storage while the door removes to form a platform bed. Construction-grade materials, finished to a high standard, are used to present a dignified respite from the street, despite the limitations of the nine-square-foot space.

It’s a concept piece as much as it is a critique of how street furniture is now being designed to shuffle people along and out of public spaces. Picture: dividers on low garden walls to prevent skateboarding and benches broken up into individual seats to prevent sleeping. Home Phone takes a very different approach, suggesting the street can be a place of welcome, rather than alienation.

The exhibit officially opens tomorrow night, in conjunction with the talk “Ending Homelessness,” and runs until October 25.

Image credit: Contexture Design


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