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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: Exchanging Words

MOVments, a museum blog

Controversies in Vancouver, Marpole MiddenThis week, we're engaging with some of the current debates and controversies taking place in Vancouver. From the Olympic Village neighbourhood, to the Vancouver Art Gallery's big move, to the the Marpole Midden, we're lending our ears to some of the city's most passionate voices for a provocative installment of MOVments.

False Creek Comes into Its Own. After years of controversy around the Olympic Village development, the False Creek neighbourhood finally seems to be thriving. As the Globe and Mail reports amenities like an Urban Fare grocery store, a new restaurant with a sizable patio, and the Creekside Community Centre are drawing visitors to the area in droves. Observers have taken note of the suddenness with which this all seemed to happen. UBC architecture professor Patrick Condon describes the phenomenon with a tipping point analogy: “It’s very common to urban areas that suddenly people say, ‘Hey. Let’s go there. That was fun the last time.’ Until that tipping point, people might go there, and say, ‘This isn’t very much fun. There’s not many people here. I don’t think I’ll go back.’”

The 'Pretty Face' Debate. But there are some who would see developments like the Olympic Village as just another testament to Vancouver's tendency to abandon the old, for the new and shiny. Local writer and ranter, Sean Orr for one, thinks that Vancouver is more concerned with its pretty facades than building substantial and meaningful cultural and historical connections. And he seems pretty angry about it. Read his interview with the Westender for an alternative tour of Vancouver that reveals some of the problems related to our constant need for reinvention.

100+ Days of Musqueam Protest. The National Historic Site known as the Marpole Midden is still under threat of development after more than one hundred days of occupation and protest by the Musqueam First Nation. Although the ancient burial ground and village was federally designated as a Historic Site in 1933, the midden on Southwest Marine Drive is on privately owned land. Condominium development had been in the works for a while when it was halted in January after the discovery of human remains. Celia Brauer of the False Creek Watershed Society passionately called for the resolution of the conflict in last week's Georgia Straight. She says, "The Provincial government has the power to overcome the “private property” issue. Future generations are watching. In 2012 swapping Cusnaum [village site] for a less important piece of land and giving a small piece of this Heritage Site back to the Musqueam is the right thing to do."

The VAG's Big Move. This week the Globe and Mail reports on the fascinating machinations behind the Vancouver Art Gallery's proposed move from the provincial courthouse building downtown to a new, yet to be decided, location. Real estate marketer and art collector Bob Rennie and VAG director Kathleen Bartels are two of the most influential and outspoken people in the Vancouver art scene so it's hardly surprising that both have strong opinions about the future of the city's artistic landscape. Notably, Rennie is suggesting splitting the VAG's collections between multiple new locations that would be spread out through the city. Bartels, on the other hand, is firmly in favour of a single new facility which she believes would be better suited to the visitor experience. Whatever the outcome, we are excitedly waiting to see how the discussion develops.

Online Voting. And finally, in slightly less controversial news, BC is considering implementing online voting for municipal and provincial elections. In fact, we think we can quite uncontroversially say: that would be very convenient.

At the MOVeum:
August 16 - Volunteer Information Session
September 20 - Opening Day - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong

[Image: Village site of Cusnaum, part of the Marpole Midden. Photo by Tad McIlwraith]

MOVments

Cycling. Translink has released it's regional cycling strategy meant to encourage cycling and make it safer. Good thing, too, because safety is one of the major concerns that keep women in particular off the roads.

Evergreen line. Negotiations to build the Evergreen Line took a huge step forward when Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour of increasing the gas tax to pay for it. Spacing explores other sources of funds for a cash-strapped Translink.

Shoebox living. A new development under construction features 270 square foot condos. Is that even livable? Well, Gordon Price made it work in the 90s. But in spite of their size, these units aren't as affordable as you'd think.

Status quo. While the city develops around it, the West End has remained more or less the same.

Olympic Village. While many of the housing units at the Olympic Village are still empty, businesses are slowly starting to open.

The dark side of 100 mile. An exhibit on right now at W2 Media Cafe shows the unsavoury side of local food - the exploitation of new immigrants and temporary foreign workers who work on farms in the Fraser Valley. It's an issue also covered in our Bhangra.me exhibit on display right now at MOV. If you have the chance you should come down and check it out!

Public square. Gordon Price wants to get rid of the fountain in front of the art gallery to turn the space into a proper gathering area.

Crime. Did you know that Vancouver is the bank robbery capital of Canada?

Image: LastGreatRoadTrip, via flickr.

MOVments

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.

MOVments

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.

MOVments

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.

MOVments

Hidden stairwell. Scott Billings and Josh Hite are planning an art project that looks inside the unused Burrard Bridge stairwell, and looking for help from the public.

Nuclear threat. Several officials have declared the risk of radiation from Japan affecting BC is low. In spite of this, local pharmacies have sold out of potassium iodide.

Earthquake preparedness. Re:Place looks at what Vancouver can learn about earthquake preparedness from Japan.

Edgewater Casino. The casino hearings continue. The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has condemned plans to expand Edgewater Casino, stating that it could pose a risk to public health. Former city planner, Nathan Edelson has also spoken out against the expansion. Casino employees are understandably concerned about their jobs.

Meanwhile, contrary to what was claimed a couple weeks ago, PavCo does not need the revenue from the casino to complete the roof on BC Place Stadium.

Cargo tricycles. Coming soon to a bike lane near you.

Sweet. The Vancouver Sun ran an interesting story about the history of Rogers Sugar.

Olympic Village. Nearly a quarter of the owners at the Olympic Village have sued, claiming their suites have deficiencies and are not built to the standards they had expected.

Image: Burrard stairwell, via Price Tags.

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

Digital video billboards: a vibrant addition to the landscape or ad creep? Planners didn’t have them in mind when they originally drew up rules about ads and signage in the city. These new flashy signs present their own set of problems and issues.

Casino expansion. In spite strong numbers opposed to the latest proposal to expand gaming and casinos downtown, and some notable opponents, it seems to be an uphill battle. The leaders of the movement lament that it’s just not as easy to get people interested in actively opposing it.

** I’ve since heard from Vancouver, Not Vegas that things are not as dire as the article suggests, that their list of supporters has gained the attention of City Hall and that they are gaining support as more people hear about the proposed casino expansion.

Bike lanes. The City released the usage stats for the Dunsmuir and Hornby bike lanes and is seeking public input on how to make them work better. For doubters, a City engineer issues a challenge: check the data yourself.

Canada Line vs. small business. A decision to award damages to a business owner affected by Canada Line construction has been overturned by the BC Court of Appeal.

#1. For the fifth year in a row, The Economist has ranked Vancouver as the most liveable city in the world, but don’t rejoice just yet because the rankings don’t take income or cost of living into account.

Olympic Village again. Sales have resumed and the new prices have been announced, but some advance sales have roused some complaints about the process. Meanwhile, sales companies are going after buyers who have backed out of their purchases.

Please drive. Not enough people are using the Golden Ears Bridge, so toll revenues are far below expected and what is needed to pay for it’s costs. TransLink is planning a marketing campaign to get people to use the bridge more. Stephen Rees comments and considers how to pay for transportation.

Image: rufousfelix, via flickr.

MOVments

A year later. Did the Olympics make Vancouver a better city? Lance Bereloqitz and Matt Hern debate in the Tyee.

Another question. Can Vancouver become the ‘best place on Earth’?

At Home. A few months ago the Boseman Hotel became home to several homeless people as part of a Canada-wide study about the effects of providing housing for the homeless. An article in the Vancouver Sun looks at it’s progress so far.

Suburban and invisible. More on the changing face of homelessnessness. At a time when great strides are being made to address homelessness in Vancouver, the problem is growing in nearby municipalities. Megaphone takes a look.

The Forgotten. I highly recommend having a look at this series of articles on the Vancouver Observer about the Museum of Anthropology’s cancelled exhibit about the missing women of the DTES and the challenges of exploring such a difficult issue both through art and in a museum setting.

Olympic Village Plan B. Reduce prices and maintenance fees, sell selected condos and rent out others, and rename the whole thing “The Village on False Creek.” Hopefully that will get people to finally live there.

Image: kennymatic, via flickr.

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