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MOVments: Flirting, Getting Good Grades, and Hitching a Ride


 
This week brings some new takes on common Vancouver themes like public space interventions, cycling, and transit. You'll learn where to track down a mobile park, what people want in a bike route (and how to flirt while riding), and about a potential downside to our new transit fare system.
 
Park-A-Park. So the parklet at East 1st and Commercial has been around for a while (since the end of July) but by now many of us have had a chance to experience its unique and diminutive charms. As Julien Thomas, the urban interventionist who created the mobile Park-a-Park in collaboration with Emily Carr explains, the space is meant to encourage connection: “Sometimes conversations with strangers are very surface level, but I think if you add a twist, say, in a disposal bin on the corner of a busy street, really interesting conversations can happen.”
 
Cycling Report Card. The Vancouver Sun recently spoke to Kay Teschke about what Vancouver is doing right, and what it needs to work on in terms of cycling safety and infrastructure. According to Teschke, a UBC professor and cycling advocate, separated bike lanes are the way to go, hands down, for reasons of accessibility, comfort, and safety. Another possible benefit? Facilitating bicycle flirtations
 
Transitional Transit. We've all heard about the controversy around the Skytrain no longer accepting bus transfers with the implementation of the Compass card system. But the Georgia Straight brings up another valid point: the $6 price tag attached to Compass cards could make it very difficult for social service agencies to provide transit support to people living below the poverty line
 
Happy Birthday, Stanley Park. And lastly in honour of Stanley Park's 125th anniversary, an article exploring its influence on the city. (Oh, but wait, there's a bit of a dark side). 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: The Narrows, Stanley Park, ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-487]

MOVments: Being on (the Cutting) Edge

Sometimes there's a fine line between being on the cutting edge and just plain being on edge. This week we bring you two lovely stories of Vancouver's willingness to push boundaries and embrace new, fresh ideas. And for good measure: one story of a divisive new bike plan that has excited some and induced anxiety in others.

Beach Biking. We start with the story that's put some Vancouverites on edge: the freshly approved Kitsilano bike route that will see a one-kilometre stretch of Point Grey Road closed to commuter traffic. Many cyclists are loving the idea of biking directly between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach, while some local residents fear the impact of 10,000 motorists being diverted onto their streets. Meanwhile The Tyee asks: Why was this such a controversial topic in the first place? And Gordon Price tells us to relax.

One Little Free Art Exchange. As the Globe and Mail reports, "It is believed Metro Vancouver has between five and 10 “little free libraries.” And now, one little free art exchange." Cheryl Cheeks' brain-child, the aptly named Dude Chilling Art Exchange, located in Mount Pleasant's Guelph Park (also known as Dude Chilling Park) was unveiled this weekend. We're pretty excited to check out the first public spot in Vancouver where you can swap anything from sculpture and paintings to poetry and photos.

Sunshine, Pride Week, and Rainbows. In other very exciting news: Davie Street Village unveiled Canada's first permanent rainbow crosswalk on Monday to kick off Vancouver's Pride Week celebrations. According to Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP MLA for the West End, the colourful crosswalk symbolizes the city's unique contribution to gay rights across the country. Check it out at the corner of Davie and Bute.

At the MOVeum:
October 2 - Legacy Dinner
 
[Image: Rainbow Crosswalk on Davie Street. Photo courtesy of Sean Neild via Flickr]

MOVments: Surviving the City, Reality TV, and E-Commerce

This week we look at the economic realities and struggles of big business, small business, and "anti-business." From the uncertain fate of the The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, to the changing landscape of independent bookstores in the city, and the meta-reality of the DTES anti-gentrification conflicts, we're exploring what it means to survive and succeed in Vancouver's economic wilderness.
 
Saving The Centre. Many in Vancouver's arts and culture scene are looking to the City to step in to save The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. The Centre is set to be sold to the Westside Church after struggling with economically viable programming as a large-scale venue. Will The Centre survive as an art space? We'll have to wait to find out.
 
Struggling to Sell Books. Francis Bula explores the economic ups and downs of Vancouver's best-loved independent bookstores of the past and present in this recent article. Some of the culprits behind slumping sales are easy to identify - the rise of e-commerce to name one - but others are more surprising (and more Vancouver-specific). She also examines stores like Kidsbooks and Pulpfiction Books that are surviving and thriving against some pretty bleak odds.
 
Reality TV Gets Real. Did the reality presented in the television show Gastown Gamble contribute to the current anti-gentrification protests in the DTES? Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones of The Atlantic Cities seems to think so. The show follows Mark Brand's journey as the socially-conscious owner of Save on Meats. As Hinkes-Jones says, "For many of the at-risk locals whom Brand has hired, he's a legitimate hero. But there's also little doubt the show's subject — the renovation of a historic Downtown Eastside business to make it more appealing to upscale customers — is exactly the sort of effort that's caused much of the distrust among the protesters."
 
And On a Not Entirely Related Note...it's Bike to Work Week! Check out this neat initiative co-produced by Vancouver is Awesome with Penny Smash funds. Definitely some of the most fun you'll have getting to work in the morning.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Shelves at Pulpfiction on Main. Photo by Richard Erirksson via Flickr]

MOVments: The (In)Visible City

Our upcoming Visible City online exhibit and app has got us thinking more broadly about the relationship between the highly visible aspects of our city and the less conspicuous civic spaces and moments. From Native history, to informal bike paths, to the BC Bollywood awards, it seems that more often than not, the seen and the unseen exist in close proximity in Vancouver.
 
Shining a Light on Native History. “In the silent solitude of the primeval forest, he drove a wooden stake in the earth and commenced to measure an empty land.” That's how a Vancouver heritage plaque describes Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton as he surveyed the land that would become Vancouver. Of course, the land was not an empty wilderness and members of the First Nations community are trying to set the record straight. Another development that would make contemporary Native culture and history much more visible is this proposal for six longhouses to be built in the DTES. And on a similarly enlightening note, this recent Vancouver Sun article highlights the large First Nations collection at the MOV. 
 
On the Road. A proposal for a separated bike path linking New Westminster to South Vancouver would make cyclists more visible along Marine Way. Currently, riders seem to have created their own unofficial bike route along a ditch to avoid cycling on the busy freeway. If the New Westminster branch of HUB (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) gets their way, a two way bike lane separated by a cement barrier would be installed in the area.
 
Bollywood/BC. This Saturday saw the Times of India Film Awards held at BC Place Stadium. For many Bollywood fans, the glitz, glamour, and spectacle surrounding the event meant that it could hardly go unnoticed, however, others were less enthusiastic. Some have been critical of the $11 million doled out by the provincial government to hold it in Vancouver, others blamed high ticket prices for lower-than-expected ticket sales. And perhaps most troubling, there seemed to be no mention of Vancouver or BC in the Indian media coverage of the awards show. 
 
Gentrification Can Be Funny. Well, at least when The Onion puts its spin on it. We thought with all the serious gentrification talk happening around town lately we'd sign off with this.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Norman Tait eagle helmet. Museum of Vancouver collection, AA 2571]

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: Envisioning Our Streets

In this week's instalment of MOVments we explore a few developments related to Vancouver's winding roads, busy intersections, thriving bike paths, and the conversations and interactions that are happening alongside them. There's a food cart that some would prefer to see driving away from its current Commercial Drive home, a cold weather shelter that some want removed from its Yaletown neighbourhood, and finally a cycling culture that some hope will spread to every street in the city.
 
Commercial Controversy. It turns out that the first food truck on Commercial Drive is causing a bit of tension with its neighbours. After paying to be stationed at Grandview Park, the neighbourhood BIA has asked The Daily Catch truck to move to a costly on-street parking spot. This comes after neighbouring businesses complained of the truck blocking views of the park, generating unwanted noise, and well, unwanted competition. It's becoming clear that the situation may have broader implications for the future of food trucks on the Drive. 
 
Street HEAT. A small group of Yaletown residents are complaining of the impact of a cold-weather shelter on what they perceive to be the safety of the community. While some are attacking the increase of public rowdiness and discarded needles in outdoor spaces near the Seymour Street shelter, Councillor Kerry Jang points out that the diverse area has actually been undergoing needle sweeps for the past 20 years. He also told Global News that the possible problems associated with the shelter's location are outweighed by the benefits:"We had to make a hard decision between saving lives and inconveniencing an area, and our choice was to save lives."
 
Cycling Culture. Lastly, we wanted to say that we love this Vancouver Magazine piece on Jinhua Zhao and Chris Bruntlett, two outspoken cycling activists in the city. Both are calling for innovative strategies to increase ridership in Vancouver and for a pervasive cultural shift in how we see cycling. And that's not all: the BC Cycling Coalition and its affiliates are also working to raise the profile of cycling issues before this spring's provincial election. However, it looks like car use downtown may also be getting a boost with the possibility of this new five-storey underground parking lot
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: West Pender. Photo by Ashley Fisher via Flickr]

MOVments: Talk of the Town

Innovators, thinkers, and trailblazers across the city are rejoicing at the news that the ever-popular speaker series, TED, is moving its headquarters to Vancouver in 2014. But that's not the only kind of talk happening around town this week: the city held open houses last week surrounding new proposed bike lanes that may make access to the MOV and Point Grey much safer, complaints are flying around a failed energy-efficiency program, and after much discussion, the city will be responding to a recommendation made by the B.C.’s missing women inquiry. Of course, after all of the talk is done, we're hoping to see some very real results, practical solutions, and measurable progress.

Bike Lane Buzz. Chances are if you've ever ridden a bike or walked the streets near the MOV you've encountered high traffic volumes and at least a couple inconvenient crosswalks. A city proposal shopped around at three open houses last week aims to change this. As the city website states, "The Point Grey Road - Cornwall Avenue Corridor Active Transportation Project proposes creating a safe, convenient and comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists between Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach." You can find the all the proposed solutions here and can join the conversation by taking a survey here.
 
Home Energy Loan Fail. A loan program for homeowners looking to reduce their house's carbon footprint looks as though it will no longer be offered by the city. As The Vancouver Sun reports, "Had the program worked as well as city officials and politicians hoped it could, it would have led to as many as 3,000 homes a year being retrofitted with high-efficiency furnaces, hot water heaters, windows and insulation." But complaints surrounding the loan ranged from interest rates being too high to feeling that it wasn't worth it to extend the maximum amount, $10,000, over a 10-year period. As it stands, it's unclear if the city will continue to be involved in the program. 
 
Sex Trade Liaisons. Meanwhile, the city will be hiring two liaisons to work with the sex trade community following commissioner Wally Oppal's recommendation. As the Georgia Straight explains, the new employees will liaise with the city, community groups, police, and those involved in survival sex trade to prevent and reduce violence. However, another of Oppal's five recommendations is currently being neglected: the WISH Drop-In Centre which provides 24-hour emergency services to women is suffering a lack of funding which Mayor Robertson finds concerning. Task force members and city staff will meet again in June to discuss solutions and their progress. 

 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Burrard Bridge bike lane, 2008. Photo by Ariane Colenbrander]

 

MOVments: Symbolic City

 

 
It looks like West Van and Kitsilano want in on some of East Vancouver's street cred. After Stephen Hui of the Georgia Straight brought our attention to these versions of the iconic East Van Cross going up on the Westside, we got to thinking about other symbols and images that make our ever-changing city distinct and how they're also continuously being reworked and redefined. Join us this week for a little exploration of the Vancouver Special, the possible addition of bike paths to two major Vancouver landmarks, an effort to battle the city's lonely image, and finally a report on the growing popularity of a very West Coast lifestyle choice: midwife assisted births. 
 
Vancouver Chic. It looks like our boxy, bland Vancouver Specials might just be well-built enough (and big enough) to be part of the next trend in high-end housing. Often derided for their clunky design, builders like Jonathan Kerridge and Jason Hagemeister see potential in the sturdy structures that became ubiquitous in the city starting in the 50s and 60s. With renovations such as the addition of cedar, skylights, and a yoga room, they have put their most recent converted Vancouver Special up for sale at an asking price of over a million dollars. As Kerridge points out in this Globe and Mail piece  “We think there is a lot of opportunity to revitalize these homes. Most of the time, they are in original condition. It’s almost like the demographic is such that they just bought them and didn’t do anything to them.”
 
Bridging the Bike Gap. One of our best known landmarks, the Granville Street Bridge, might also see a major transformation in the coming years. The bridge could see its two centre lanes converted into a "greenway" or shared space for pedestrians and cyclists depending on the response to a recent feasibility study. The proposal also envisions an expanded bike lane for the Cambie Bridge connecting downtown to the 2nd Avenue off ramp. But as OpenFile explains any major decisions on the proposal will likely be years away. Until then, we'll have our fingers crossed. 
 
The "Make New Friends" Task Force. As Francis Bula reports on her blog a new task force has just been announced at the Mayor's office. The focus? Fostering community building and interpersonal relationships in our neighbourhoods. Partly in response to the recent Vancouver Foundation findings on social isolation the task force will "identify ways to increase neighbourhood engagement and improve the ways in which the City interacts and connects with its residents." Very excited to see what this group comes up with over the next year. And while we're on the subject, we'd like to know your own thoughts and ideas around this. Shoot us your comments in the section below!
 
BC Baby Catchers. In their recent piece on BC midwives, The Tyee explains the rise in popularity of midwife assisted births: "...Like all things local, organic and au naturel, midwives are now being embraced by a new generation of parents." In fact, UBC's midwife school, one of only seven programs in Canada, will double its enrolment capacity in the next five years. But the story is not as simple as an easy growth in numbers to meet the demand for the kind of one-on-one, personalized birth planning that midwives can provide; those in the profession still think they could be assisting with more births and for those living outside BC's major cities access to midwives is severely limited. The good news? Efforts are being made by the Midwives Association of BC to increase incentives and benefits for rural practitioners. And there are hopes that midwife students who do rural practicum placements will end up staying where there is greater need. 
 
At the MOVeum:
October 10 - MOV Legacy Dinner
 
[Image: Westside crosses. Photo by Stephen Hui

MOVments: Making a Mark

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Vancouver bike laneThis week's MOVments has us thinking about what it means to make a mark (both literally and figuratively) on the city and beyond. From neighbourhood banners, landmark treaties, and public infrastructure we are exploring the ways that Vancouver is being marked, shaped, and influenced by the people who live here.

Kits Pride. In Kitsilano, residents are marking their streets with signs that proclaim their love for the neighbourhood. The Kitsilano Neighbourhood House started the 'Kits Me-Love the hood you're in!' project to give locals the opportunity to share what makes the area special to them. Each banner features a photograph of the contributor and a quote, with people talking about everything from Kitsilano's walkability to its famous farmers' market.

Treaty Approved. After some hiccups, the Sliammon First Nation has approved a treaty with the federal and provincial governments. The agreement will give the Sunshine Coast group 8,300 hectares of land and $30 million over 10 years. Chief Clint Williams takes a practical view of the milestone event, saying "Now the real hard work starts."

Vancouver: Richest Canadian City (For Now). Nationally, Vancouver has set a record by coming in as the country's richest city for 2011 according to Environics Analytics WealthScapes. But there's speculation about how long this will last given the level of debt financing happening in Vancouver. And there's also the little matter of the declining housing market.

Velo City. As Luke Brocki reports, Vancouver is a long way off from being the benchmark in cycling infrastructure and bike-ability. In this case, it looks like we'll need to take cues from cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, and Portland. Global experts at last month's Velo-city bike planning conference challenged Vancouver to move beyond helmet issues to creating more separated bike lanes and increasing the total number of trips taken by bikes.

Seawall Politics. Controversy continues to swirl around what would be a new line drawn on the city: a proposed continuation of the seawall linking Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach. Critics have been quick to point out the cost involved and the problems associated with private funding of public works. As OpenFile reports, Vancouverites have historically been pretty outspoken about what happens with our public spaces, and the seawall is no exception.

At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers

[Image: Vancouver bike path. Photo by Charles Lamoureux]

MOVments: On the MOV

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Runner on the seawallIt's almost officially summer and true to form, the weather in Vancouver is an unpredictable mix of downpours and sunshine. As those clouds hurtle across the sky, things are moving just as quickly on the ground below. This week MOVments looks at the shifting cultural landscapes and the influential movers and shakers that are setting Vancouver in motion.

The Loneliness of the Vancouver Runner. As the weather improves (slightly), more of us are getting out for a morning run. But, unlike in Miami or Toronto, we're not greeting each other as we pass on our running routes. A new Vancouver Foundation survey suggests that this could be a symptom of the broader social isolation many Vancouverites feel. A quick fix? Flash a big smile at your fellow runners, folks!

Marpole Midden. It appears that the dispute over development on a 3,000 year-old village site may be closer to a resolution. The provincial government has offered the Musqueam First Nation cash in exchange for land previously owed to them, so that the group can purchase the historic midden. A condo development was halted when burial grounds were discovered at the Marpole site in January.

Happy 45th Anniversary Vancouver Magazine! To celebrate 45 years of engaging and entertaining readers with insightful content, Vancouver Magazine has put out a fantastic list of 45 people who have helped shape the city.

Northern Exposure. Are British Columbian cultural sensibilities and aesthetics invading the American psyche? Knute Berger suggests BC urban design, sports, and film sets have a greater influence on our neighbours to the south than we realize.

Book Ending. And finally, the St. George Bike Lane Library is putting books, ideas, and people into circulation in an exciting way. Everybody should go check it out!

At the MOVeum:
June 19, 6 pm – Home: Inspiration from Three Vancouver Communities

[Image: Runner in Stanley Park. Photo by Arlene Gee]

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