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Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm

What a week! In a few short days we have been witness to everything that is good and bad about this city. There's been no shortage of news and commentary about the riot on and it's near-impossible to summarize. So this week, a few things to think about.

Brave people who do the right thing. Like these people who formed a human chain in front of a store to prevent it from being looted. Or this man who took a beating for his efforts, and the people who dragged him to safety.

The role of social media in all this. A social media riot made for TV. A tale of two riots.

Clean up. Recognize all the great work of volunteers, police and civil workers in putting the city back together.

Grief, gratitude and apology. Many Vancouverites gratitude for police. Plywood covering smashed out windows at the Bay and BMO Bank were covered with messages of apology, support for the team, police and volunteers, and condemnation of the riots. The apology wall at the Bay has since come down, but can be viewed in it's entirety here.

Parts of the wall will be stored permanently here at the Museum of Vancouver for future Vancouverites to see.

In other news:

Only Seafoods. The Only Seafoods returns! The newly renovated restaurant will be operated by the Portland Hotel Society and will feature the restaurant's original menu.

Architects. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was recognized this week for her 60 year career in landscape architecture and Vancouver Magazine profiles Gregory Henriquez.

Cambie corridor. The BC Court of Appeal upheld the class action suit by Cambie Street merchants about Canada Line construction.

Community gardens. Inside Vancouver visits the community garden on the lawn at City Hall.

Multiple kite world champion. Open File visits one of the most dedicated kite fliers on the lawn outside the museum at Vanier Park. He makes kites do some pretty amazing things.

Image: Erin Brown-John

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

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.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Hockey. The Vancouver Archives posted a neat photoset of historical hockey photos and Vancouver’s previous team to win the Stanley Cup: the Millionaires.

Public celebrations. Vancouver suburbs are experiencing challenges finding and creating public spaces for celebrating Stanley Cup games. With an eye to public space, are championship runs good for urbanism?

Online voting. The provincial government has denied the City of Vancouver’s request to allow online voting in this year’s municipal election.

FOI. A recent response to a freedom of information request reveals some negative attitudes towards journalists requests. Frances Bula weighs in with her experience contacting City staff.

Residential conversions. The real-estate market is so hot it’s pricing a lot of businesses and jobs out of Vancouver as land is converted to residential development. The latest losses - Avalon Dairy and the Hollywood Theatre and more industrial land.

Housing affordability. Here is the data that Bob Rennie was relying upon when last week he claimed that housing is not unaffordable in Vancouver, so you can draw your own conclusions.

Density. How do we go about densifying development around transit hubs? If we use the intersection at Broadway and Commercial as an example, it turns out there are lots of barriers.

Planning. What if we choose not to plan our urban spaces, let nature take it’s course and crowdsource solutions?

On Broadway. Stephen Rees provides a good overview of SFU City Programme’s Designing Broadway dialogue on May 30.

Safe injection. Another point in favour of Insite: a study shows that a similar facility in Montreal has not had any adverse effects on the neighbourhood it’s located in.

This week’s image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

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

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

How the internet kills great neighbourhoods. More on the demise of Videomatica and other businesses that give our city character.

Viaducts. re:place continues it’s series about the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, focusing this week on the present condition of the structure and a photoessay.

Housing. Vancouver’s real estate is now more expensive than New York and London. A new wave of foreign investment and speculation is driving prices up again, and some fear that there aren’t enough high-paying jobs to support the prices.

Industrial Land. We’ve all heard about protecting farmland and the ALR but demand for housing has put industrial land and the jobs that go with it under threat too.

Olympic Village. The deficiencies are being worked on and the units are finally selling. The City has received it’s first payment from condo sales since taking over the project.

Urban gardens. The Vancouver Sun looks at a couple urban gardens and green spaces around Vancouver.

Urban dance. An SFU student is the recipient of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau scholarship for her interdisciplinary work studying the effects of public dance performance in urban spaces.

Tolls on local roads? It’s under consideration.

A pool at Pigeon Park?

Image: Eryne Donahue and Neil Fletcher via the Vancouver Observer.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Cambie Corridor. The City of Vancouver approved development plans for five distinct neighbourhoods along the Cambie Corridor. The plan outlines plans for increased density, design of public space and amenities and integration with district energy systems, biomass, sewer heat recovery and geothermal exchange.

Insite. The fate of Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site went before the Supreme Court this week. The facility operates under a special exemption granted by the federal government that seems unlikely to be renewed by the Conservative Government. The Globe and Mail provides a summary of arguments for and against and OpenFile has compiled a history of the site.

Usufruct. The word of the day is usufruct. It means using empty lots that you don’t own for farming.

SlutWalk. In spite of the rain a thousand people showed up for the Vancouver SlutWalk yesterday. The walk followed a remark by a Toronto police officer that insinuated that victims of sexual assaults are responsible for their victimization because of the way they dress.

Viaducts. re:place has begun a series on the past, present and future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. The first installments look at the past and photos of the original viaduct, built in 1915.

Gondola. No longer idle speculation, Translink is hosting public consultations about the possibility of building a gondola to SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus.

Bike sharing. The City of Vancouver is looking for expressions of interest into a public bike sharing program, likely funded through sponsorship or user fees.

Image: eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee, via flickr.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Expo 86 began this time 25 years ago. The Dependent remembers it’s first day.

Online voting. Vancouver city council approved a motion to allow online voting in the upcoming municipal elections. If approved by the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Vancouver will be the first municipality to allow online voting.

Videomatica. The Venerable film rental store, Videomatica will be closing shortly. Since 1983 the store has offered the widest selection of titles in Vancouver but has been suffering from competition from internet downloads. The owners are looking at finding a way to keep their collection available to the public in the future.

Ardea Books and Art is the latest indie bookstore to close.

Goodbye, W2 Storyeum. The Vancouver Film School has replaced W2 Community Arts as the tenants of the Storyeum building. During W2’s tenure the space hosted many arts and cultural events and will be missed in the local arts and culture community. W2 has now moved into it’s space in the Woodwards Building.

The last post. Derek Miller, author of the blog Penmachine succumbed to cancer this week. News of his passing reverberated across the blogosphere and his last post, aptly named “The last post” has had 8 million hits. He will be missed.

Architecture awards. Two buildings by the late Arthur Erickson have been awarded the prestigious Prix du XXe Siècle Award for ‘enduring excellence in Canadian architecture’.

Cambie Corridor. Stephen Rees looks at the difficult considerations surrounding increasing density around Canada Line stations while the Canada Line is already near capacity.

Image: gmcmullen via flickr

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 2, 2011 at 7:16 am

News this week has been unsurprisingly dominated by federal elections coverage, but staying Vancouver arts, culture and history-centric, there was actually a lot of news this week about affordable housing.

We’ve heard a lot about the affordable housing problem from renters and housing advocates, but now the BC Apartment Owners and Managers Association is joining in, calling for new government incentives for purpose-built rental housing.

The remand centre is being converted from a facility to hold prisoners awaiting trial to affordable housing for the Downtown East Side. Council approved rezoning to allow the Coast Plaza Hotel to be converted into rental housing, though no word on exactly when that would happen.

Cambie Corridor. Re:place has an interview with Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s director of planning, about the Cambie Corridor.

One building’s waste is another’s energy. Waste heat from a Vancouver rink is now being used to incubate plants in city-run nurseries and greenhouses, reducing the City of Vancouver’s carbon emissions overall.

Olympic Village. It looks like there’s no end in sight for the situation between unhappy Olympic Village owners and the City of Vancouver.

Bhangra! We’re really excited to be finally unveiling our Bhangra.me exhibit this Wednesday! If you have the chance, check out the City of Bhangra this week and next.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on April 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm

 

City of glass. Sometimes loved, sometimes maligned, glass towers are cheap to build and make up most of the landscape in Vancouver. However, new building codes and concerns about energy efficiency and aesthetics are driving the evolution of these buildings.

No-fun city. Mark Lakeman from Portland’s City Repair Project says that risk-adverse planning is stifling free expression and citizen engagement.

Protest. Council passed a new bylaw regulating public protest this week, legislation that some argue will not stand up in court.

Ransack the toolbox. In search of solutions to the growing affordable housing problem in Vancouver.

No casino. After much public debate, the proposed Edgewater Casino expansion was voted down by Vancouver council, stating that a larger casino would not fit Vancouver’s brand.

Taller buildings in Chinatown. Council has approved height increases for buildings in Chinatown but some are still concerned about the potential for gentrification and real estate speculation to drive out low-income residents.

Aww, it’s a mini Vancouver Special!

Image: conceptDawg via flickr

Posted by: Erin Brown John on April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

Olympic Village. This week the City of Vancouver finally released it’s projections as to it’s financial losses resulting from the Olympic Village. However, while they have stated that actual losses will be $40-50 million, there are reasons for doubt, as the amount doesn’t include things such as the cost of the purchase of the land. Frances Bula has stated her concerns about the way that the numbers were presented to the press, and their accuracy. They are not considering a property tax increase at this time.

 

Public protest. The bylaw proposed last week that would ban all permanent structures built by protest groups on public property has been rewritten to allow protests outside consulates after heavy criticism that it specifically targeted Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate and concerns about freedom of speech.

Insite. Research results show that since the opening of Insite, deaths related to drug-overdose have decreased substantially in the Downtown East Side.

Save-on-Meats. An inside look and a lot of pictures of the renovations at Save-on-Meats and some of the exciting things planned for the space.

Rapid transit. An overview of the different proposals for rapid transit along Broadway to UBC.

Viaducts. Stephen Rees takes a close-up look at the land underneath the viaducts, and just how underutilized it is.

Sprawl. After taking possession of their treaty land, we get a first glimpse of what Tswassen First Nation has planned for it: a massive mall, larger than Metrotown and lots of low-density housing.

125 places. Vancouver Heritage Foundation has shortlisted 200 sites as it searches for 125 places that matter most to Vancouverites.

Image: unk’s dump truck via flickr.

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