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Chinatown

MOVments: Knowing Your Neighbourhood

This new series from Inside Vancouver inventorying Vancouver neighbourhoods got us thinking about what it means to live in a city with distinct, geographically and socially defined communities. But as this week's stories reveal, our neighbourhoods are also fluid, permeable, shared spaces. Read on for a look at close-quarter living in Surrey's new micro-lofts, the new neighbours being brought together at the revitalized Chinatown Night Market, and a potentially major shift to a very central neighbourhood: the VAG's possible move from Robson to Cambie. 
 
Micro Communities. Micro-suites that are being called "Canada's smallest ever condominums" are now up for sale in Surrey. The smallest units are 297 square feet and can include space-saving features such as murphy beds and built-in storage units for an extra cost. Speaking to the Province, Charan Sethi of Tien Sher developers, highlighted their shifting model for apartment living: "We have to start thinking about what the next generation wants...[They want] a pad of their own that they can call their home. They don’t entertain at home ... their dining room is actually restaurants.” Just how these tiny condos might affect the ways we interact with each other, inside and outside of them, remains to be seen.
 
Mixing it Up at the Night Market. Tannis Ling of Bao Bei restaurant and current managing director of the Chinatown Night Market has a new vision for the long-standing cultural institution. She hopes that by incorporating vintage clothing booths, Rain City Chronicle storytellers, hip hop karaoke, and other acts and vendors the summer market will attract a "wider demographic": “Chinatown is Chinese, but there’s so many different neighbourhoods in the area. There’s no reason why we should appeal to strictly a Chinese audience where there’s all those other kinds of people around.”
 
New Neighbours for the VAG? City Council is meeting with members of the public today regarding the potential move of the Vancouver Art Gallery to the corner of Cambie and Georgia, currently the site of a parking lot. There has been ongoing debate surrounding the move with critics skeptical of the gallery's ability to raise funds for the move and operation of the new building. For more information on the issue check out the complete recommendation report here. Whatever the outcome, using the site as anything other than a parking lot makes sense to us.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Chinatown Night Market, 2010. Photo by claydevoute via Flickr]

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: Hipsters, Homelessness, and Hard Cash

This week we take a look at two prominent socio-economic groups in Vancouver, hipsters and the homeless, as well as the hubbub around the future of a downtown heritage site and an entrepreneurial experiment in Chinatown. What links these seemingly disparate stories together? Well, for one thing: money. Whether it takes the form of jobs/joblessness, government funding, the real estate market, or investment capital, cash (or lack thereof) is at the heart of MOVments this week. 
 
Get a Job (You Dirty Hipster). So by now you've probably seen or heard about the BC government's new, and by most accounts, misguided, "Hipster is not a full-time job campaign." The ads, which attempt to use humour to encourage young people to seek employment, have backfired according to a representative at the Canadian Federation of Students in B.C.: “It shows how this government is disconnected from reality when they insist there’s no money to invest in post-secondary and then they spend money telling us it’s all our fault.” The price tag for the campaign: a whopping $604,000. 
 
Public Perceptions of Homelessness. You've also probably heard about the Angus Reid survey that was published on October 4, which gauged the city's understanding of issues around homelessness. Notably, the survey revealed that one in four Vancouverites personally knows someone who is, or has been homeless. As well, more than half of the respondents viewed homelessness as a "major problem" in the city. However, when it came to stepping up with solutions in their own neighbourhoods, survey takers were a bit more evasive. The Globe and Mail chalks it up to our tendency towards NIMBYism. To get an idea of the complexity of the issues and what kind of activities took place during Homelessness Action Week, check out more of the media coverage here and here
 
"Taj Mahal with Elevators." The Canada Post building property is under threat of becoming the next site of “high-density, mixed-use residential development” downtown. The building, which Heritage Vancouver has put on its current "endangered sites" list, is valued by heritage advocates as a modernist landmark. However, as a recent report from the property broker states, "This site is one of the few remaining development properties that can accommodate large format retailers seeking locations in Vancouver’s downtown peninsula,” thus making it particularly attractive to developers. 
 
Big Innovation in Little China. Meanwhile, over in Chinatown, a new small business accelerator is helping local startups develop their products, marketing strategies, and well, just plain experiment. Devon from the Chinatown Experiment sums it up like this,"It’s a space for entrepreneurs to test run their ideas in a low cost/low risk environment. This manifests itself in the shape of retail pop ups, micro tradeshows and creative events. We are located at 434 Columbia St." As the Vancity Buzz piece explains, this little experiment is providing a real service in a city where high rents and cost of living can have prohibitive effects on small businesses. 
 
Budget Cuts to Coast Guard Stations. And finally, many are still mourning the closure of the Vancouver Coast Guard station. Proof? This poignant little film from The Tyee site.  
 
At the MOVeum:
 
[Image: View of the General Post Office at 349 West Georgia Street. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 780-56]

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

 

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

MOVments

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

MOVments

Olympic Village. Apparently after all the setbacks and politics, Olympic Village condos are apparently selling.

Casino. PavCo has responded to the public outcry about the proposed expansion to the Edgewater Casino, stating that we need the new casino in order to pay for BC Place’s new roof, something that wasn’t previously disclosed to the public. That is, assuming that the casino pulls in the revenues they are expecting to. Whether or not they would materialize remains to be seen. Some say that the numbers just don’t add up.

The Vancouver City Planning Commission is asking council to delay their decision about the casino expansion until there is more public consultation.

Endangered sites. Heritage Vancouver released it’s Top 10 Endangered Sites for 2011. This year’s list includes three Vancouver schools scheduled to be replaced.

The endless cycle of debate about the Hornby bike lane resumes.

Chinatown towers. Some Chinatown residents are concerned about the proposed lifting of height restrictions in their neighbourhood. They feel that changes in height would affect the character of the neighbourhood and lead to an increase in rents and housing prices.

Where tourists go. Eric Fisher shows in a heat map the geographic distribution of tourists and residents in Vancouver.

Image: Tyleringram, via flickr.

MOVments of the week

 

Can Vancouver feed itself? Last week’s Food and Beers event was a huge success. Read about it here on The Tyee. We’re planning on making film footage available from the event available soon so stay tuned!

Slim pickings. The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project is reporting that due to the poor weather this spring, they are receiving less calls and collecting less fruit for food banks and local charities this year.

New model for housing. Vancity Credit Union and Westbank are partnering with community organizations in the Downtown East Side to make new condos a little moreaffordable for people with moderate incomes. The units will sell for well below the normal market value. In exchange for the reduction in price, residents will have to volunteer in the Downtown East Side and will not have access to a parking stall.

Olympic Village. Bob Rennie joins the public debate about the Olympic Village development this week, stating that Michael Geller’s statements that social housing is scaring buyers away and the ensuing debate is making it difficult to market the project. Geller clarified his position in the Vancouver Observer, stating that he never meant his statements to be taken the way that they have been interpreted in the debate.

Putting down routes. An article in Regarding Place looks at where new immigrants choose to settle in the Metro Vancouver region and finds that access to transit is key.

Great Beginnings mural program. A new mural in Chinatown pays homage to philosopher Lao Tzu.

Image credit: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

MOVments of the week

 

Fresh Choice Kitchens reports that the demand for home canning workshops has surpassed their capacity to deliver them. There has been a resurgence in interest in home canning and preserving in Vancouver due to people’s renewed interest in local food. The skills the workshops teach were once very commonly known but in many families has been lost due to the increased availability of imported and convenience foods. Fresh Choice is currently training new trainers to help meet the demand.

Chinatown has a new muse. The Chinatown Business Improvement Association unveiled Chinatown’s new mascot this week. The mascot, temporarily named ‘Muse’ is supposed to symbolize Chinese culture and help bridge the gap between generations, and is part of the ongoing effort to revitalize Chinatown. With the emergence of Richmond as a major centre for Chinese culture, Chinatown has struggled to remain relevant as an important historical and cultural hub.

Rethinking busking regulations. An article in the Tyee focuses on buskers challenging busking restrictions around the city and the relaxing of regulations along the Granville corridor. Some buskers complain that city bylaws are too restrictive and treat buskers more like panhandlers than an important part of the local atmosphere and arts community.

Fraser River parks. Metro Vancouver announced it’s plan to create a park system along the Fraser River. Municipalities along the river are planning new parks and trails in order to increase public access to the waterfront. Emphasis will be on creating continuity between the different parks and cultural activities along the river so that people can easily travel between them.

Image credit: ayngelina, via Flickr.

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