social housing

MOVments: Bike Pumps, Nighttime Economy, and 'Old' Chinatown

This week we delve into stories that take us along the Adanac bike route, from the downtown core, over to the Eastside. But what do the new bike pumps, clubs on the Granville strip, and Chinatown SROs have in common? Each has a not-so-obvious (secret, if you will) story behind it, illustrating once again that Vancouver's streets are littered with multiple layers of meaning.
Bumpy Road to Bike Pumps? A couple weeks ago this opinion piece came out on the Province blog in response to news that the City had installed Vancouver's first two public bike pumps along the Union-Adanac bike route. The gist? Cyclists, not taxpayers, should be paying for the pumps themselves. Unsurprisingly, there's been a bit of backlash. Charlie Smith makes an informed, rational argument for the importance of these pumps in the Georgia Straight. He also highlights a fact that isn't exactly a secret (but is perhaps taken for granted): amenities for private automobile users are also heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
Granville, Stripped Down. In her recent piece for Vancouver Magazine, Frances Bula explores the current culture and economics of partying on Granville Street. In the process she also lays bare the fascinating historical shifts that lead to a five-block strip becoming the densest drinking destination in the city. She explains how "In May 1997, city councillors changed the official plan for downtown to create a Theatre Row Entertainment District. The policy, considered revolutionary then but prim by modern lights, said that up to 1,000 lounge, cabaret, and pub seats would be allowed in the blocks from Georgia to Nelson." Thus leading to the Granville we know today. But has the current configuration harmed other businesses on the strip? Check out Bula's article for a variety of perspectives on the topic.
Secret Lives of Chinatown Seniors. Finally, over at The Tyee Jackie Wong begins a series of articles on a group you most likely don't know much about: Chinese seniors living in low-income housing. She explains, "While much is made about the seemingly flamboyant wealth of some Chinese immigrants to Canada, those who live at the May Wah [hotel] and other privately owned SROs in the old Chinatown area share a very different experience." It's a complex and humane exploration of a marginalized community's struggle for resources. And for more coverage on the subject check out the current issue of Megaphone.
At the MOVeum: 

April 26 - Brothels, Strolls, & Stilettos: Histories of Sex Work in Vancouver
April 27 - Strolling the stroll: A Tour of Sex Work History in the West End
May 2 - Special Curator Talk & Tour: Designing Sex w/ Propellor Design

[Image: Nighttime on Granville Street. Photo by Danielle Bauer via Flickr

MOVments: Schooling, Social Housing, and Shopping

In this instalment of MOVments we're taking a look at some pretty momentous happenings in the city. From a North Vancouver case that concluded in a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, to an unprecedented move forward by the provincial housing strategy, some key moments unfolded in civic history this week. And as a bonus, we're exploring some crucial junctures in something that, from a cultural standpoint, may be equally as important: the history of department store shopping.
Support for Special Education. A fifteen-year legal struggle with the North Vancouver school system is finally over for Jeffrey Moore and his family. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Jeffrey, who had been diagnosed with dyslexia, was discriminated against when he was not given the help he needed with reading and literacy at his North Van school. As the Globe and Mail suggests, the implications are much broader than Jeffrey's case alone: "Advocates for the disabled were overjoyed by the judgment. They said that school boards that cannot furnish compelling evidence to justify under-funding must henceforth provide genuine help to children with learning disabilities." However, in his opinion piece for the The Tyee Crawford Kilian responds to the ruling, problematizing the way that school boards in the province have had their budgets rerouted. It seems that as always, the story is a bit more complicated than at first glance.
Hopeful Housing. The opening of the Sanford Apartments last week was a monumental occasion indeed: it is the seventh of 14 supportive housing developments planned for city-owned land in Vancouver. The housing complex also provides facilities such as a library and computer room for Vancouverites at risk of homelessness. As Mayor Robertson said it, “Safe and supportive housing is one of the most urgent needs of residents living with mental-health challenges, especially for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” And it looks the former Ramada Hotel may be next in line for redevelopment as a social housing complex for seniors. It's the first non-downtown property the city has bought for conversion into low-cost housing.
Bay Day. And finally, David Look spends a day at the The Hudson Bay Company at Granville and Georgia and in the process weaves together a thoughtful piece on history, shopping, and memory for Ballast magazine. As he explains, "My idea was to get to the root of the 21st-century lifestyle that the Hudson’s Bay Company and its flagship stores throughout Canada represented. What became apparent was how deeply that lifestyle was entrenched in my own sense of personal history, and how my day spent there was, in part, an attempt to connect with it." Read it and you may just learn a thing or two about the shifting culture of department stores in Canada, the new Top Shop store, and the author's lived experience of it.

At the MOVeum:

November 18 - SALA SPEAKS @MOV: In Praise of Ambiguity
November 25 - SALA SPEAKS @MOV: Children in the City
November 28 - Evolving Geographies of Immigration in Vancouver: History and Horizons
December 8 - Love You Forever Tattoo Parlour

[Image: Pedestrians on Georgia Street outside the Hudson's Bay Company, 1940s. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 1184-1005]


TransLink. As it celebrates Skytrain's 25th year, TransLink reports another year of record ridership, with little funding to increase service to meet the demand. The question then, is how to fund improvements?

Social housing. A social housing project for girls and young women is the latest space of controversy in the Downtown Eastside, because some feel that the location leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. Francis Bula shares a letter from Janice Abbot explaining the project. Debate in the comments is both interesting and heated.

Robson square. Granville Street and Robson Square are soon to return to normal when they are opened to traffic on September 5. Spacing shares a video of what it looked like during Picnurbia and other public programming by VIVA Vancouver.

Buskers. The Dependent remembers the beginnings of regulations targeting buskers and other street performers on Vancouver streets.

Nude-in. On August 23, 1970 demonstrators held a nude-in at Wreck Beach to protest the arrests of nudists at the beach. The court case and the ensuing protests helped ensure Wreck's place in our collective consciousness.

Curtain call. The Pantages Theatre and neighbouring buildings are finally coming down. The Straight has pictures of the extent of the demolition.

Velo-city. Copenhagenize shares some vintage photos of Vancouver cyclists during a time when the car was king.

It's a dirty job, but... OpenFile visits the sewers with one of Vancouver's dragging crews.

Beatlemania! Hysterical fans got so out of hand at the Beatles' only appearance at Empire Stadium that Red Robinson was called in to quiet down the crowd. The Beatles told him to "get the fuck off the stage," but ended their set shortly afterward and made a hasty escape. Tickets were just $3.25. Thanks, The Dependent and Past Tense for digging this trivia up this week.

Image: fi_chince via flickr


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.


Best in the world? City Planning Director Brent Toderian looks at the debate around Vancouver’s recent livability rankings, what they mean and just how hard it is to quantify and rank quality of life.

DTES development. The City may have postponed a decision about towers in the DTES but city manager Penny Ballem made it clear that they are definitely going ahead with other development projects in the neighbourhood.

Next door, new towers for Chinatown are still being hotly debated.

Library housing. Turns out the new Strathcona branch of the VPL will include social housing after all.

Rainwater. The Tyee looks at how Vancouverites could put rain water to better use.

Winter die-off. Some very concerning news about bees in Metro Vancouver.

Remembering Vancouver historian Chuck Davis

Image: runningclouds, via flickr


The changing face of commercial space. Across North America, developers and planners are taking aim at shopping malls, tearing up parking lots to build housing, big box stores are moving downtown and suburban shopping centres are urbanizing. An article in the Globe and Mail looks at some current redevelopment proposals for shopping centres around Vancouver.

In Whalley, the strip malls are coming down and being replaced with highrises and municipal buildings as Surrey tries to build a new city centreRichmond is densifying too.

Casino. Paragon is seeking changes to legislations that place limits on the amount of money that can be carried into BC casinos without a Canadian bank account. They would like the province to allow casino patrons to be able to wire money directly from foreign bank accounts. But there are concerns about money laundering.

Other municipalities are concerned that a larger downtown casino will pull patrons away from the suburban casinos they rely upon for tax revenue.

The public hearing is tonight at City Hall. Should be interesting, because there are so many people signed up to speak.

Traffic. A couple weeks ago it was announced that the traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge was far less trafficked than TransLink had hoped, and was losing money as a result. Now it seems like traffic is falling short of what was predicted all down the coast. So what does that mean for new infrastructure projects like the Port Mann?

Vancouver, do you know where your children are? Census data says they’re not downtown.

Tent city returns. Housing activists are setting up again to protest the City’s lack of commitment to social housing at the Olympic Village.

The elms of East 6th may be coming down soon. They’re getting old and difficult to maintain, and the park board wants to replace them with smaller trees. Doing so will permanently alter the streetscape, something that some residents really don’t want to see.

Komagata Maru. Coming soon, a new monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru, a ship of Punjabi immigrants that was forced to return to India in 1914.

Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.


Disappearing lake. The park board is exploring options to preserve Beaver Lake. The lake has been steadily shrinking due to nearby construction projects, sediments and invasive pant species. Now they’re looking for public input about the project.

Underground chickens. Six months after legalizing chickens in Vancouver, only 18 people have registered their birds, and many more people are choosing not to register.

Social housing. Vancouver needs more affordable housing, but where to put it? The City may be backing off from it’s policy of requiring developers to dedicate 20% of new units in their developments to social housing. The property in question is the northeast section of False Creek. The developer, Concord Pacific has proposed that instead of building social housing there, it would give the City two properties in the Downtown Eastside.

Meanwhile activists are currently protesting a proposal to allow the construction of 7 new condo towers in the Downtown Eastside, something they claim will have a detrimental impact on rents and the affordability of housing.

Death at their doorsteps. Also controversial, plans to locate a hospice at UBC hit a snag as residents complained, citing their cultural values. Their concerns have been condemned by some as nimbyism, while others urge more tolerance.

Bike fashion. The Vancouver Observer looks at the colourful world of bike fashion in Vancouver.

Image source: feffef, via flickr.


Food security. The city awarded grants to SOLEfood Farm and the DTES Kitchen Tables Network this week for their projects to create employment and food security in the Downtown Eastside. SOLEfood provides employment for DTES residents on an urban farm, while DTES Kitchen Tables is planning to open an incubator program at Save-On Meats that would help people learn how to start food businesses.

Supporting local food. The Tyee’s coverage of local food this week focused on sharing equipment and other solutions for supporting local food economies.

Social housing. Housing activists are planning a sit in at the Olympic Village to protest the reduction in the number of units dedicated to social housing, a result of budget shortfalls and sluggish sales.

On a more positive note, the Station Street housing complex opened this week, the first of 14 new purpose-built social housing developments around Vancouver meant to get people off the streets.

Bliss? Posts from local blogs will no longer be included in the civic news round-up that is sent out to staff at City Hall.

Washrooms will remain open. The City has revised the budget for the Parks Board, making money available to reverse cuts to washroom maintenance and a decision to charge users of sports fields made last week.

Expanded Playland and PNE. But in spite of opposition from nearby residents for expanding the amount of space dedicated to Playland and the PNE, the Hastings Park revitalization plan was approved this week.

Image source: Gerry Kahrmann/Canwest News Service, NP


New City Market. Community groups are busy planning the creation of a new hub for local food. The New City Market is meant to to fill the gap between producers and consumers of local food in BC, and give farmers direct access to their markets, as well as provide facilities for cooking and learning for the public.

Buy BC. The BC Agriculture Council wants the government to spend more money on marketing local food and assisting farmers and retailers with information about organic standards. Several programs have been funded in the past, but have been cut.

Freedom of information. Earlier this week Paul Hancock, Vancouver’s freedom of information officer resigned from his position at the City, leaving the City to reconsider how to deal with it’s freedom of information requests.

Olympic Village. The City of Vancouver is trying hard to recoup nearly a billion dollars that are owed to it by the developer of the Olympic Village, but can’t guarantee that it will be able to collect the full amount.

The City has not yet approved a new marketing plan for the condos that would see the condos sold at substantially lower prices. The City has not come to an agreement with the developer as to how the shortfall will be made up.

Meanwhile, the City has chosen the Co-op Housing Federation of B.C. to manage the social housing in the Olympic Village, so those units may finally be occupied before the end of the year.

Rental housing. Construction began on a new market rental housing complex at Granville and Davie. The project has been made possible by the City’s Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing program.

Image credit: CityLab



Homes and books. Housing advocates are urging the city to consider including social housing in a new library branch that is to be constructed on East Hastings.

Opsal Steel. Two towers are planned for the Opsal Steel site south of False Creek. The 90 year old building is one of the best remaining examples of west coast early industrial architecture. The plan calls for portions of the original building to be saved. The building was listed as one of Heritage Vancouver’s Top Ten Endangered Sites in 2001 and 2002.
Viaducts. Anthony Perl, director of urban studies at SFU, wants to tear down Vancouver’s viaducts. He says the land is better suited for social housing and other projects and represents a huge unmet potential.

Bike lanes. City Caucus looks at why separated bike lanes are so controversial in Vancouver and elsewhere.

Salmon. Scientists now believe that the unusually large salmon run this year was caused by the eruption of the Katsatochi Volcano in 2008, which led to a greater amount of phytoplankton in the water for the fish to feed on.

Meanwhile, the Cohen commission is still looking for answers as to why last year’s salmon run was so small and debate continues regarding how best to promote biodiversity without harming the fishing industry.

Local food infrastructure. In their ongoing series searching for solutions for fostering a local sustainable food system, The Tyee looks at Mennonite produce cooperatives and auction houses in Ontario.

Image credit: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier


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