October 2 - Legacy Dinner
November 8 - Interesting Vancouver 2013
This week a shout out to a beloved, but long gone butcher shop on Granville got us thinking about instances where the city missed a chance to preserve its social institutions and foster its creative forces. From saying goodbye to a car-free block downtown to a long-awaited report on the Downtown Eastside missing women, there are certainly plenty of things to ponder on the current social and political horizon. However, these do not just represent some missed opportunities, they also offer chances to reflect, critically analyze, and move forward from where we are now.
Block 51. It looks like the pedestrian-only block adjacent to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson Street will revert back to its former incarnation as a transit and traffic artery in the city. As the Globe and Mail reports the public space provided by Block 51 has been very popular over the summer but as the winter has set in, it has become much less animated, leading to the decision to open it to traffic again. While this may be the end of a central gathering place in the vicinity for the time being, the city has recognized the vital importance of these kinds of spaces, identifying other areas on Robson, Granville, and Hamilton as potential permanent gathering places.
Missing Voices. Commissioner Wally Oppal has submitted his final report on the investigation of the missing women cases in the Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2002 and as the Georgia Straight reports, it will be made available to the public in mid-December. However, some have already pointed out some flaws. Kasari Govender of West Coast LEAF stated, “This inquiry was a missed opportunity to include the voices of marginalized women, of marginalized communities, and those who were directly impacted by the subject matter of the inquiry. It perpetuated the very problems it sought to alleviate,” But as the reaction to the report has already shown, many legal organizations, non-profits, and media outlets seem to be poised to continue the conversation, critically reflecting on the ongoing discrimination against women, Downtown Eastside residents, and sex-workers in the city and making their own recommendations.
Dude Chilling Park No Longer Quite So Chill. In case you missed it, Guelph Park in East Vancouver was briefly renamed Dude Chilling Park last Thursday. Artist Viktor Briestensky installed a sign with the new name after being inspired by a sculpture of a reclining man that inhabits the park. As the Province reports, Briestensky's goal was simply to promote intergenerational dialogue using humour. And although the sign was removed early Friday morning, it appears that Briestensky has partially succeeded; an online petition calling for the official renaming of the park is creating quite the buzz online, especially among Internet-savvy Vancouverites. Only time will tell if this ends up being a missed opportunity or an exciting example of art being used to reinvigorate an underused social space. You can check out the petition here.
November 28 - Evolving Geographies of Immigration in Vancouver: History and Horizons
December 6 - Curator's Talk & Tour with Viviane Gosselin
December 8 - Love You Forever Tattoo Parlour
[Image: James Inglis Reid Ltd. business card for the Granville Street butcher shop. Museum of Vancouver collection, H2004.12.32]
Insite. Hastings Street erupted into a clebration and pancake breakfast as people gathered to hear the Supreme Court of Canada reject the federal government's appeal to close Insite. This is a landmark decision - not only does it allow the facility to remain open but it signals a change in attitudes toward addicts and positions healthcare as a higher priority than law and order. The unanimous decision by the court opens up possibility of safe injection sites across the country. Kind of fitting that this happened in Vancouver, the birthplace of Canada's first drug laws.
Stanley Park. While it's now the uncontroversial crown jewel of our city, Stanley Park got off to a rocky start, as the land was not only expropriated from First Nations people but also others who made their homes on the land. The removal of these people took nearly 40 years.
Growing pains. You can never have too much of a good thing. Or can you? In some cities there is a glut of farmer's markets and not enough consumer demand, forcing them to compete with each other for customers. In Vancouver the tight control over the creation of new markets seems to ensure that this will not be the case but in the suburbs it's a different story.
Mural tour. The City of Vancouver has created a cool interactive map and audio tour of murals in the downtown core and East Van.
Places that matter. John Atkin shares more of his findings while researching materials for the Heritage Foundation's Places that Matter project. This week: the Louvre Hotel and Saloon.
Image via Bruce...
Just how bike-friendly is Vancouver? Researchers at UBC mapped data on several key factors that make streets accommodating to cyclists. The result is a series of 'Bikeability Index' maps.
Spacing Vancouver. Spacing Magazine has partnered with the staff at re:place to launch Spacing Vancouver. We're really excited to see what comes out of this partnership.
Public space. Erin O'Melinn shares some thoughts about Spacing's list of the top ten public spaces in Vancouver and why they are nearly all in the downtown core.
Surveillance. It has come to light that some of the surveillance cameras purchased for the 2010 Olympics were repurposed and put into service during the Stanley Cup playoff games.
Public art. Many of the Vancouver Biennale's public art works will be heading home to their owners between now and the end of this year.
Phonebooth. In response to the disappearance of phone booths in the DTES, Spartacus Books set up their own.
Housing in the DTES. Tenants at the Wonder Rooms in the DTES filed a class-action suit against their landlord for the inhumane living conditions in their suites. City council discussed this week whether to file an injunction to force the landlord to make repairs.
"Old urbanism" on the Fraserlands. A huge new development for 20,000 residents is intended to be a modern Rome or Pompeii on the banks of the Fraser River. Seems an odd choice of comparison but there you go.
Local food. The Food Secure Vancouver Study and Foodtree's mobile app were both launched this week.
Image: Roland Tanglao, via flickr.
Food security. The city awarded grants to SOLEfood Farm and the DTES Kitchen Tables Network this week for their projects to create employment and food security in the Downtown Eastside. SOLEfood provides employment for DTES residents on an urban farm, while DTES Kitchen Tables is planning to open an incubator program at Save-On Meats that would help people learn how to start food businesses.
Social housing. Housing activists are planning a sit in at the Olympic Village to protest the reduction in the number of units dedicated to social housing, a result of budget shortfalls and sluggish sales.
On a more positive note, the Station Street housing complex opened this week, the first of 14 new purpose-built social housing developments around Vancouver meant to get people off the streets.
Bliss? Posts from local blogs will no longer be included in the civic news round-up that is sent out to staff at City Hall.
Washrooms will remain open. The City has revised the budget for the Parks Board, making money available to reverse cuts to washroom maintenance and a decision to charge users of sports fields made last week.
Expanded Playland and PNE. But in spite of opposition from nearby residents for expanding the amount of space dedicated to Playland and the PNE, the Hastings Park revitalization plan was approved this week.
Image source: Gerry Kahrmann/Canwest News Service, NP
SOLEfood. A scrapyard on Hastings Street may be the location of the second SOLEfood Farm in the Downtown Eastside. The farm is run by United We Can and provides seasonal employment for residents in the Downtown East Side.
Big debut. The Vancouver Police Department inaugurated their new twitter accountwith a marathon session of tweeting every call they received in a 24 hour period. It just so happened that this allowed them to tweet about the lockdown at Gladstone Secondary but they say that they will likely only be using it for traffic and safety announcements in the future.
Hastings Park. The plan for the renovation of Hastings Park unveiled last week has come under fire from the local community for increasing the size of the PNE and the number of tradeshows hosted in the park.
Internet billing. City Council is voting tomorrow on a motion to oppose the CRTC’s approval of usage-based billing for internet service. The CRTC decision will likely result in increased costs for users, making access to information more difficult for those who can’t afford it. Council has no ability to change the decision but they want to raise the profile of the issue.
Powering the city. Scout Magazine takes a walking tour of electrical substations around Vancouver.
Red army. In the early 1930s the unemployed took to the streets of Vancouver and had their concerns largely ignored. Past Tense has a bit of interesting history about the political unrest at the time and the rise of the Communist Party in Vancouver.
Image source: Dan Toulgoet, The Courier
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.