MOVments: Meatless Mondays, Honouring Advocacy, and Highrise Woes

This week we explore traditions in the city: one that is just emerging, one that marks an end of an era, and one that is only just now being imagined. From a new annual tradition centered around not eating meat, to the legacy left behind by homeless advocate Judy Graves, to the potential impact and influence of high-rises at Oakridge, we're taking a step back for a broader view of a few current issues and events.
M.M. 2013. Vegetarians, you have a new holiday: the City has announced that June 10th will be Meatless Monday this year. But why go meat-free? As the Vancouver Food Policy Council explains, the day is connected to the city's commitment to its Greenest City Action Plan. By promoting a more moderate intake of meat the initiative is helping to advocate "for food systems that protect global resources and contribute to planetary health."
Judy Graves Honoured. There is no doubt that recently-retired advocate for the homeless, Judy Graves, left her mark on the minds and hearts of those who she worked for and with. Co-workers, politicians, and activists alike shared kind words and sweet memories at her recent retirement party. However, it is unclear whether Graves' legacy will continue with the hiring of a new homeless advocate by the City. 
Density Comes to Oakridge? Perhaps in the form of a 45-storey building? Some are all for it, arguing that the proposed rezoning and redevelopment of Oakridge Centre will revitalize the area. Others are wary of the lasting legacy of high-rises in their 'hood. Read this Georgia Straight piece for a fuller picture. 
Environmental Legacies. And finally, does BC's official opposition to the Enbridge pipeline mean that we can expect continued commitment to high environmental standards in the future? We sure hope so.  
At the MOVeum:

June 5 - Foncie's Fotos Opening Reception (for an in-depth look at the exhibit check out our post on VIA)

June 5 - MOV Annual General Meeting 

June 6 - Foncie's Fotos: Curator Talk & Tour w/Joan Seidl

June 19 - From Here to There: Stories of Food, Energy, and Transitioning to Resilient Communities 

[Image: Apartment buildings in Oakridge, 1978. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 780-276]

MOVments: Budding Relationships and Blossoming Civic Systems

Over at the MOV, we've been excitedly welcoming the cherry blossoms all over the city (seriously, so excited). And with the arrival of these new buds, there are a whole host of other fresh starts and new beginnings in Vancouver. This week check in with Vancouver's new proposed digital strategy, the start of greener garbage collection, and something that seems like an end, but what we hope will blossom as a new future possibility: the retirement of advocate for the homeless, Judy Graves.

Born Digital. On April 9, City Council met to discuss Vancouver's first ever digital strategy that, if adopted, would mean a huge shift in how the city processes licenses and permits as well as a significant expansion in the availability of free wi-fi. Sounds pretty good, but are there any concerns? Of course. Nikolas Badminton over at the Huffington Post blog suggests the strategy doesn't do enough: "I feel it is a safe governmental play that drags us to be where we should be right now in 2013, but with full implementation not until 2016. At that point we'll be four years behind."

Hello, Green Garbage. Starting in May, the City will be implementing a new garbage pick up system that aims to reduce materials being sent to the landfill. Food scraps will be picked up once a week and garbage only once every two weeks. As the Globe and Mail reports, "It’s part of a push to recycle all organics in Metro Vancouver by 2015, a move that is supposed to result in 70 per cent of the region’s garbage being recycled." The next step will be sorting out all the food waste storage dilemas for those of us in small apartments, but we know we're up for the challenge.
End of an Advocacy Era? And just as these two new systems are beginning, a vital position serving Vancouver's homeless community appears to be coming to and end. Judy Graves, the City's only full-time advocate for the homeless, will be retiring this May with no word on if she will be replaced. Here's hoping that her legacy will help make advocacy work a priority in the future. As Judy told The Tyee: "I think it's important to have an informed advocate within the system who can speak truth to power. It's very easy for government to start believing its own spin."
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Cherry blossoms. Photo by Geoffery Kehrig 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: Monstrous Bridges, Beastly Public Art, and Scary Economics

Happy 2013, MOVers! We hope you all had a warm, cozy, and cheerful holiday season ... because that's all about to come to an end. The new year has us confronting a monster (bridge), a bizarre beast (in the form of a poodle sculpture on Main), and the demise of an East Van cultural space (R.I.P. Waldy). Not to mention the economic fallout from the end of the NHL lockout and fears surrounding a new megapub in the Olympic Village. But don't be frightened, gentle readers: on the flip side of these changes and challenges there are opportunities for innovation, evolution, and what we can only hope will be constructive dialogue.
Killer Bridge? John Metcalfe over at Atlantic Cities makes the argument that the Port Mann Bridge is out to destroy its human creators (or anyone who crosses its path) pointing to the ice that it threw down on drivers on December 19th. However, it looks like there's plenty more blame to go around: according to this opinion piece from The Tyee, Transportation Minister Polak put the blame on drivers themselves for a January 3rd crash. We suppose one could also blame insufficient de-icing and poor road-condition forecasting. Killer bridge or no killer bridge, let's all just be careful out there.
Poodle Party. A new seven-foot poodle sculpture at Main and 18th is causing a little bit of controversy. As the Vancouver Observer reports, at least one resident is confused about how the public art piece, which was sponsored by the city and TransLink, is meant to represent the neighbourhood. Martin Stoakes complains that "Instead of hiring an artist from the neighbourhood, they hired an artist from Montreal who after walking up and down the street decided a poodle was the best reflection of the community." Check it out in front of the new Shopper's Drug Mart and decide for yourself. 
Street Economics. One of the most commented-on pieces of news coming out of the city last week was the closing of the financially troubled Waldorf Hotel. As soon as the press release came out, Interneters of all ilks began eulogizing the East Van cultural institution while bad-mouthing the condo developers who purchased it. See what Mayor Robertson had to say about it here, and why there may still be hope for an arts and cultural hub in the area. Another piece of economic news that we hope won't come true? Proposed higher fines for sleeping outdoors and illegal vending aimed at the homeless.
Is Hockey Bad for Business? Don Cayo at the Vancouver Sun says yes. He explains that the end of the NHL lockout may actually have a negative impact (albeit slight) on the city's economy: "The reason is, when you think about it, pretty obvious. When people can't spend their money on pricey sports tickets, they spend it on other stuff instead." And a large portion of the money going towards those pricey tickets is ending up with players and owners who are less likely to spend it in the city right away. So go ahead and get excited for the return of hockey, just don't get that excited.
Trouble Brewing. Lastly, some residents of the Olympic Village are protesting the opening of the CRAFT Beer Market in the Salt Building, claiming that it will devalue real estate in the area. Worries range from traffic congestion to increased night-time noise and rowdiness. We're hoping that if the project goes through, "rowdiness" will translate into "liveliness" or - even better - "vibrant nightlife." 
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Port Mann Bridge under construction, 2012. Photo by Ken_Lord via Flickr]

MOVments: Vancouver, Isn't It So Cliche

We've all heard certain stereotypes used to describe Vancouver before (Vancouverites = yoga-fanatic, organic juice-guzzlers). But as is the nature of cliches, while they may contain a kernel of truth, they also ignore a deeply layered lived experience that is not so easily summed up in buzzwords and cute expressions. In MOVments this week we're looking at the city through the lens of a few well-worn adages and in the process deconstructing and complicating some of our civic assumptions.

(Heritage) Home is Where the Heart Is. This story from the Vancouver Sun about the relationship between heritage buildings and densification got us thinking about the notion of "home" and our historically-rooted aesthetic expectations. As the article suggests, in a city that is constantly changing, Vancouverites are being forced to reevaluate what the "quintessential Canadian home" will look like in the future. It also poses an interesting idea from local historian John Atkin: while there seems to be an "inherent" cultural beauty to heritage houses, given time, Atkin believes that our contemporary glass towers will also take on a similar emotional and nostalgic resonance.
The More Things Change..."Housing costs are high, but we can't afford to throw up our hands and say we can't afford to build many more houses until costs come down again. In a city growing as fast as ours this would be the counsel of stupidity and despair. We must have more homes and we must have them at prices people can afford to pay." Sound familiar? It was pulled from a Vancouver Sun article from 1958. The Tyee reflects on the findings of the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability, putting them into historical context for us in this little article from a few weeks back. Nothing like some good old-fashioned archival research to shed some light on contemporary issues. Great read!
Beggars Can't Be Choosers. Chances are you've heard of Mark Brand's sandwich token program at Save-On-Meats. And chances are if you know about it, you also know that it's been surrounded by controversy from the get go. The Mainlander laid down some harsh criticism of the project that encourages restaurant goers to purchase meal tokens for panhandlers in the area, in this recent article. Peter Driftmier argues that the program's basic conceit ("beggars can't be choosers") is based on an assumption that the homeless cannot be trusted to make "appropriate" purchases with money given to them. He says,"Instead of playing into stereotypes about poor people and tokenizing the poor, it’s best to trust and empower all residents to make the best food choices possible for themselves and their families." Stephen Quinn further complicates the story in his piece for the Globe and Mail where he provides a more nuanced perspective on Brand's social enterprise but also ponders the efficacy of treating the symptoms of poverty rather than the causes.
At the MOVeum:
January 17 - Built City@MOV
[Image: English Bay, c. 1937. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-569

MOVments: Bright Lights, Big City

Today a neat little visualization of a day in Vancouver transit got us thinking about sources of light (both literal and figurative) in the city during this dreary time of year. In this instalment of MOVments bright spots appear in the form of an exploration of urban lighting, Vancouver's We Day celebration, a new street soccer court, and the lanterns that will be lighting up the sky in Mountain View Cemetery over the coming weeks. 
Lighting Up the Night. The way a city is lit and sometimes over-lit has huge affects on how we behave in urban spaces, says Anya Paskovic in her recent Spacing Vancouver piece. An integral part of urban design, artificial light has often been relegated to a purely functional role with little thought given to aesthetics or a cohesive lighting strategy. Among other things, Paskovic calls for city planners to take more innovative approaches to lighting design and take a closer look at how pedestrians interact with lit environments, highlighting these public experiences in the urban design process. 
We Day Vancouver. Magic Johnson and Desmond Tutu addressing the crowds at Roger's Arena were definite bright spots at last week's We Day celebration. As the Georgia Straight reports, the event, organized by Free the Children charity, aims at encouraging young people to engage in actions for social change. In response to the recent suicide of Amanda Todd the event focused strongly on an anti-bullying message. Johnson summed it up with some simple yet poignant words: "That’s important that you take this away today: Let’s stop the bullying and let’s hug and support people and high-five them instead of bringing them down.”
Street Soccer Finds New Home. The Vancouver Street Soccer League has something big to cheer about: plans are in the works to create Vancouver's first street soccer court at Hastings Park. For those of you who didn't know, Vancouver's street soccer league, is dedicated to providing safe, supportive, and active experiences to homeless, at risk, and substance addicted individuals in the city. Each year, members of the league compete in the Homeless World Cup.
Alls Souls. And finally, Spacing Vancouver gives us the details on the annual All Souls celebration at Mountain View Cemetery. For the seventh year in a row, the cemetery grounds will be lit up with hundreds of candles and lanterns in a celebratory commemoration of the dead. 
At the MOVeum:
[Image: All Souls installation, 2009. Photo by John Atkin. Read his cemetery blog here.]

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: Out with the Old, In with the (Sort of) New

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Community garden near Rogers arenaVancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.

Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.

Video Stores Live.  With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.

Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."

Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.

The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.

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

[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]


Picnurbia is a pop-up installation of picnic benches and artificial turf at Robson Square as part of VIVA Vancouver. Perhaps installations like this can help us re-evaluate the way we think about public space.

Homelessness. The city's new housing plan reveals that five neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside will be targeted for the construction of homeless shelters and supportive housing.

Renting. The Tyee's Reporting Fellowships are turning out some good stories: this week an in depth series about renovictions and affordable rental housing in Vancouver. Catch them all here.

Humanitarian architecture. Two Vancouver-based architects are recycling the fabric from the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre's old sail roof into projects for Architecture for Humanity.

Community awards. The City of Surrey has launched the City Awards Program, a variety of awards to recognize people for community spirit, clean energy, urban design and beautification.

Cycling infrastructure. Another update on the Coal Harbour seawall connection: it still sucks for cyclists. A little further down the seawall, installing consistent signage and adequate infrastructure for cyclists at Stanley Park doesn't seem to be a high priority either.

Just who are bike thieves anyway? The Dependent talks to bike thieves and learns about the tools of the trade.

Earthquake preparedness. An engineering report has found that both City Hall and it's data are vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake.

Data mapping. The Vancouver Sun has created a series of interactive maps with data from the 2006 census.

The road not taken. Forty years ago Vancouver and Hamilton shared many similarities. Nicholas Kevlahan takes a detailed look at how they diverged.

Image: Krista Jahnke for Loose Affiliates


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


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