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MOVments: Sunshine, Get Togethers, and Outdoor Fun

 
In celebration of the coming fine weather (it's coming, we promise. See?) we are offering a pared down round up for the week, leaving you ample time to see some buskers (or not), sit down at a cafe, and perhaps visit with your new co-housing neighbours.
 
Busker Idol. A new regulation has instituted a rigorous audition process for buskers wanting to perform on Granville Island. Some people are (understandably) upset.
 
Cafe Culture. This neat exploration of the socio-economic factors surrounding the placement of Vancouver's independent cafes will get you thinking about what it means to sip coffee in your own neighbourhood and beyond.
 
Living Together. Vancouver City Council recently gave the go ahead to Vancouver's first co-housing project. The residential units featuring shared kitchens and common rooms will go up on East 33rd near Victoria Avenue.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Granville Island busker. Photo by Stephen Rees via Flickr]

MOVments: Foreign Investor Spectres, Sign Language, and Ghetto Revolts

 
This week we explore recent debates around three points of contention in the city, namely, unoccupied condos, Chinese language signage in Richmond, and anti-gentrification activism. In all three cases, confusion and misunderstandings abound, making any single reading impossible and revealing just how complex the issues of affordable housing, intercultural communication, and shifting socio-economic demographics really are.
 
Vacancies for Sale. The murky count on apartments purchased and left vacant by overseas investors (as well as Canadian residents) may have just become a little clearer. A recent Globe and Mail piece reports the findings of adjunct UBC planning professor Andrew Yan which suggest that "nearly a quarter of condos in Vancouver are empty or occupied by non-residents in some dense areas of downtown." The argument goes that these vacant apartments drive up market prices and skew the perception of density in certain neighbourhoods. But the vaguely racist undertones of the discourse also mean that the issue is more complicated than simple numbers. (Although perhaps not according to Gary Mason. For an unequivocally pro-free-market perspective on the situation, see his response piece in the Globe and Mail).
 
Reading the Signs. A change to Richmond signage bylaw that would have seen English mandatory on all store signs was struck down by city council recently. The issue was brought forward by two women petitioning the Chinese-only signs they saw in the city. Kerry Starchuk told The Province: “This is not cultural harmony because I have no idea what these signs, advertising and the real estate papers are saying." On the other hand, members of city council felt that the city should not be responsible for controlling sign language and that owners should be free to market to the customers they are looking to attract.
 
Living, Working, and Protesting in the DTES. As most of you have probably heard by now, anarchist groups have been protesting gentrifying forces in the Downtown Eastside in what some have coined a "ghetto revolt." In the midst of the protests, some restaurants are engaging with local residents in a socially and financially supportive way. This fantastic piece from the The Thunderbird explores the complex relationship between business owners and DTES employees, as they each struggle "to succeed in their own way."
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Multi-lingual signage in Richmond. Photo courtesy of RickChung.com via Flickr]

MOVments: Pocket Change

This week's MOVments is all about the bottom line: money, moola, coin. Well, not exactly. After all, when is business ever really just about business? News of W2's near-eviction from the Woodward's building, TransLink money problems, and falling housing prices, has us thinking about the social and political change that necessarily accompanies fiscal shifts (and vice versa) in our fair city. 

W2.0 After receiving an eviction notice for November 23, W2 Community Media Arts Society has been given a 90-day stay by the City of Vancouver so that it can restructure its finances. Megaphone quotes Councillor Kerry Jang for their article on the situation: “It [W2 Media Café] wasn’t making any money,” said Jang. “The business model that was there clearly wasn’t working. That’s what our city staff and everyone are trying to figure out now: how to reinvent the space, how to reuse the space in order to make a go of it.” But as the comment section for the article suggests, W2's brand of social development may not fit so neatly into a conventionally profitable business model. Problematic? Sure, but it sounds like Mayor Gregor Robertson is supporting the organization in exploring some creative possibilities for a sustainable business plan, at least for the time being. For a thorough exploration of the complex relationship between the city and W2, check out this Globe and Mail article.
 
Mo' Transit, Mo' Problems? In response to the new proposal for a subway system along the Broadway corridor, Pete McMartin has written a rather existential piece for the Vancouver Sun. In it, he poses a couple of philosophical questions about the meaning of, well, TransLink; he asks "Is [TransLink] an agent of change or reactive to change? Does it create cityscape or service it? Most important, in this time when the effects of global warming are making themselves apparent, is it an environmental agency or merely a people mover?" McMartin argues that we need to start answering these questions in order to move away from car-based transportation infrastructure. He also suggests that the Fraser Valley region should take priority over Broadway for rapid transit given the sheer number of vehicles moving from this area to Vancouver everyday. Your thoughts and feelings?
 
Chilly Housing Market. It appears that just as we head into some more wintery weather, the housing market in the Lower Mainland is cooling off as well. As the Vancouver Sun reports "the number of home sales dropped to 10-year lows in the Vancouver area and average sale prices dipped across the region." Some of us don't need to be told that there could be benefits to a drop in housing prices, but the Vancouver Sun makes it official, reporting that while a further drop in prices will hurt some, it would also boost the economy by encouraging movement to BC by both retirees and first-time homeowners. As with other economic trends only time will tell where these falling prices will take us but we will be keeping a close eye on the developments.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
January 17 - Built City: Reinvest
 
[Image: W2 Woodward's, Perel Gallery. Photo by Kris Krug]

MOVments: Easy, Breezy Summer Reading

For this week's installment of MOVments we set out to keep things light, offering some "fun facts" to keep you entertained during the last wee bit of summer. However, as with most MOVments, we got a little serious in spite of ourselves. Read on for the latest on playing in Vancouver (for a good cause), strolling around the city (and the problems that go along with it), and the story of our very own Vancouver Town Fool (who, it turns out, had a pretty serious mission).

(Not Just) Playing Around. Some of us MOVers have had a chance to make it out the PNE this summer and as always, it's a guaranteed sensory overload experience. But if you can slow down and take a little break from eating deep-fried oreos,Canfor's Playhouse Challenge is well worth checking out. Each of the seven playhouses on display uses local forest products and is designed by a renowned architectural firm. Kids are encouraged to interact and engage with the playful designs (think beehive shapes and pirate ships) before they're auctioned off at the beginning of September to raise money for Habitat for Humanity

Vancouver on Its Feet. Frommer's travel website calls Vancouver one of the most walkable cities in the world, noting Stanley Park, False Creek, and Granville Island as particularly idyllic areas to meander through. However, as Carl Funk argues in his recent report entitled “Walkability of transit-oriented development: Evaluating the pedestrian environment of Metro Vancouver’s Regional City Centres” there are definitely things we could be doing better in the pedestrian-accessibility department. As Nathan Pachal summarizes on the Civic Surrey blog, more could be done to widen sidewalks, create segregated bike paths, add connecting streets, and install street furniture at transit hubs like Metrotown and Surrey City Centre. 

Foolish City. And finally, this week The Dependent (by way of the The Tyee) brings us the fascinating story of Joachim Foikis, who, upon receiving Canada Council funding, became Vancouver's "Town Fool" in 1968. Playing with the traditions from Medieval Europe and other cultures, Foikis, dressed in a jester's costume and proceeded to publicly poke fun at social norms and governmental institutions at the time. As The Dependent's Jesse Donaldson describes, "For three years -- starting with his "coming out" at the city's 1967 Canadian Centennial Celebrations (where he was threatened with a knife by a sailor who thought he was a communist) -- he played the Fool, promoting discussion, drawing ire, and promulgating joy, before vanishing just as abruptly as he'd appeared." Despite his playfulness, Foikis' intentions were serious; by making fun of the "rat race" and concepts of social status, he forced observers to re-examine their own civic expectations and assumptions. Great piece, seriously worth a read.

At the MOVeum: 
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel 
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong 
September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold 

[Image: Joachim Foikis as the Town Fool. Courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library]

 

MOVments: Bright Lights & Spider Silk

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Take Down The Giant Sign Now – a demand, yes, but also the name of a very concerned group of residents urging for the removal of the bright and blaring 1500 sq foot signs outside newly minted BC place. At MOV, it sounds very reminiscent of the storyline of our current exhibit, Neon Vancouver Ugly Vancouver. Except we probably won’t be celebrating the anniversary of digital signs in the same nostalgic way we look at Vancouver’s chic old neon signage. Happy birthday, neon tube!

In other land-use matters, things are heating up in Mt Pleasant too. The Rize development is hearing a lot of negative feedback from neighborhood residents worried about the future of affordability in the eastside; a frustration which, apparently, dates back centuries in our fair city.

Token words? A small, yet audacious, mayor and council on Vancouver Island is challenging the current legislation and casting a broad political net for the decriminalization of marijuana. We’d love your thoughts on this! While you’re debating the challenges and benefits, take a listen to up-and-coming, Pleasure Cruise, a brand new local indie-surf rock band. One thing's for sure, this city doesn’t lack artistic merit.

And neither does this museum in London, which is unveiling the world’s largest pieces of cloth made from spider silk.

MOVeum-related event: Re:generation – How we Move our City, Wednesday January 25.

MOVments

Affordable housing. More this week about the City of Vancouver's ambitious plan for housing. Some of the strategies include a "rent bank" to assist tenants when they have difficulty paying rent, limits on profits in real estate sales and housing on city-owned land. But some caution that several parts of the plan lack specific information about how these things will be implemented and how much it will cost. City staff have also noted the difficulty they have had in moving the hardest to house into current social housing.

Meanwhile, another one of the city's 14 planned social housing projects has opened and the West End civic report recommends creating an advocate for tenants' rights and increasing green space.

Bike lanes. After a study last week revealed only a moderate impact on businesses, the city has chosen not to compensate business owners along the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes. A disappointing response rate for the survey, as well as businesses' apparent unwillingness to disclose financial information make it difficult to find a conclusive link between bike lanes and a downturn in business.

Smelling vinegar. The Vancouver Archives shares a bit the process they use to rescue old film negatives from deterioration. The Archives also on HIstorypin now, so you can take a peek at what Vancouver used to look like.

Slow down, watch the... The City of Vancouver will be setting up a trial 30 km/h speed zone on East Hastings through the Downtown Eastside. The area is notorious for jaywalking and it's hoped that this measure will increase pedestrian safety.

Disappearing traffic. As Vancouver considers demolishing its viaducts, consider the Law of Disappearing Traffic: when a main artery is blocked off, traffic finds new routes.

Eastern Core Strategy Study. Erin Innes at the Mainlander reminds us that there is more to the Eastern Core Strategy Study than potentially removing the viaducts, as it's the last major parcel of land to be redeveloped in Vancouver, right next door to the Downtown Eastside.

LoCo BC is a non-profit looking to help connect local businesses and strengthen the local economy through buying local.

Why do Vancouver cafes close so early? Because people don't visit.

Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.

MOVments

Bike lanes. A new study about the impact of the bike lanes on business finds that while there has been a decrease in business along the routes, losses are not as bad as the figure often cited. At the same time, ridership continues to grow. Gordon Price has a round-up of a lot of the commentary this week.

Housing. The City of Vancouver released an ambitious 10 year plan to end street homelessness, calling for the creation of 38,900 new housing units by 2021.

Viaducts. After much talk and proposals about what to do with the viaducts, the City is looking for public input.

Civic arts. Councillor Heather Deal wants to create a central committee to oversee the city's 2008 cultural plan. Currently there are multiple smaller committees working on different aspects related to culture but communication is an issue.

Clarifying transit. An Emily Carr grad has redesigned the Metro Vancouver transit map to make it clearer and easier on the eye and more like the London tube map.

Drinking and driving. With the tightening of drinking and driving laws, some are asking why Vancouver still requires bars to provide so much parking space. Could that space be used for something else?

Hidden floors. Scout looks at the so-called "cheater storeys" in Chinatown's architecture.

Fading history. Open File looks at efforts to document and preserve faded "ghost signs" in Vancouver and reveals that often nothing is done. So make sure you photograph your favourites!

Riot aftermath. WorkSafeBC is now receiving claims of post-traumatic stress from people working during the riots.

Gordon Price asks whether the City should be spending money to promote professional sports like hockey over other arts and cultural events, and who benefits.

The Bulkhead Project is an open, food-producing garden on False Creek.

Image: framestealer, via flickr

MOVments

Cycling. Translink has released it's regional cycling strategy meant to encourage cycling and make it safer. Good thing, too, because safety is one of the major concerns that keep women in particular off the roads.

Evergreen line. Negotiations to build the Evergreen Line took a huge step forward when Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour of increasing the gas tax to pay for it. Spacing explores other sources of funds for a cash-strapped Translink.

Shoebox living. A new development under construction features 270 square foot condos. Is that even livable? Well, Gordon Price made it work in the 90s. But in spite of their size, these units aren't as affordable as you'd think.

Status quo. While the city develops around it, the West End has remained more or less the same.

Olympic Village. While many of the housing units at the Olympic Village are still empty, businesses are slowly starting to open.

The dark side of 100 mile. An exhibit on right now at W2 Media Cafe shows the unsavoury side of local food - the exploitation of new immigrants and temporary foreign workers who work on farms in the Fraser Valley. It's an issue also covered in our Bhangra.me exhibit on display right now at MOV. If you have the chance you should come down and check it out!

Public square. Gordon Price wants to get rid of the fountain in front of the art gallery to turn the space into a proper gathering area.

Crime. Did you know that Vancouver is the bank robbery capital of Canada?

Image: LastGreatRoadTrip, via flickr.

MOVments

Just how bike-friendly is Vancouver? Researchers at UBC mapped data on several key factors that make streets accommodating to cyclists. The result is a series of 'Bikeability Index' maps.

Spacing Vancouver. Spacing Magazine has partnered with the staff at re:place to launch Spacing Vancouver. We're really excited to see what comes out of this partnership.

This week the magazine kicked off with a series about planning for schools in downtown Vancouver: Part 1 and Part 2.

Public space. Erin O'Melinn shares some thoughts about Spacing's list of the top ten public spaces in Vancouver and why they are nearly all in the downtown core.

Surveillance. It has come to light that some of the surveillance cameras purchased for the 2010 Olympics were repurposed and put into service during the Stanley Cup playoff games.

Public art. Many of the Vancouver Biennale's public art works will be heading home to their owners between now and the end of this year.

Phonebooth. In response to the disappearance of phone booths in the DTES, Spartacus Books set up their own.

Housing in the DTES. Tenants at the Wonder Rooms in the DTES filed a class-action suit against their landlord for the inhumane living conditions in their suites. City council discussed this week whether to file an injunction to force the landlord to make repairs.

"Old urbanism" on the Fraserlands. A huge new development for 20,000 residents is intended to be a modern Rome or Pompeii on the banks of the Fraser River. Seems an odd choice of comparison but there you go.

Local food. The Food Secure Vancouver Study and Foodtree's mobile app were both launched this week.

Image: Roland Tanglao, via flickr.

MOVments

Fire. This day in 1886 a massive fire swept through Vancouver, destroying the city and taking 20 lives.

Team colours. A social media uproar resulted in the banning of the display of the Boston Bruins logo on City vehicles.

Canucks on Georgia. Gordon Price recalls that even a few years ago shutting down a major artery for hockey fans would have been totally unheard of.

High rents. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a report this week that named Vancouver the city with the highest average rents in the country.

Life and death.  The hospice at UBC will be going ahead in spite of the concerns of nearby residents and will provide important research opportunities in palliative care.

Little Mountain. The redevelopment of Little Mountain Housing Co-op has stalled. In 2008 the housing development was cleared in anticipation that a larger social housing development would be created. But after three years with no construction in sight, people are wondering why there was a rush to vacate in the first place.

Save-On-Meats. Save-On-Meats is set to open within the next two weeks.

Image: Winston Wong via flickr.

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