Programs

Surrey

MOVments: A Bump in the Road (and the Bike Path, and the Bridge...)

This week Gordon Price's post about the worst streets in BC (that's right, Vancouver's own BC Parkway bike path comes in second on the list) got us thinking about bumpy roads more figuratively. From uneven law enforcement when it comes to jaywalking, to a bridge that's on its last legs, to a neighbourhood that could use a bit of a shake up, we're exploring the cracks and rough edges in our rugged city. 
 
The High Price of Crossing the Street in the DTES. The Vancouver Police Department is getting flack from DTES advocacy groups who are calling them out for seemingly discriminatory policing practices around jaywalking. Pivot Legal Society and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users point to the fact that over 2,000 tickets have been handed out over the last four years in the DTES, compared to zero over the same period in Kerrisdale and Dunbar. 
 
How to Solve a Problem like the Pattullo. So the Pattullo Bridge that connects New West to Surrey is getting old. Like 75 years old to be exact. And lately it's become a bit of a hazard. Options being shopped around for its replacement range from a pedestrian/cyclist-only route, to an 8-lane bridge, to just getting rid of it all together. 
 
A Neighbourhood Less Travelled. So, while foreign investment driving up housing prices may be a myth, the fact remains that a number of condos in Coal Harbour (and other areas) are occupied by part-time residents. What does this mean for the culture of the neighbourhood? Well, quieter streets, but also less lively streets and less opportunity for local business. More on 'Cold Harbour' here.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Pattullo Bridge, 1938. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 260-884]

Museum Monday: Asha's Mums

(Guest post by Arleigh McKerlich)

Children’s book “Asha’s Mums” was one of the first books written for elementary age children that portrayed a family with same-sex parents. Written by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse and illustrated by Dawn Lee, it was first published in 1991.

In the book, Asha is told by her teacher that she can’t go on a field trip because her permission slip is filled out incorrectly and that it is not possible to have two mothers. After her mothers meet with the teacher to explain their daughter’s family situation, Asha is allowed to go on the trip. The other children learn of Asha’s mums and a discussion is had about whether this is a good or bad thing. The conclusion offered by the teacher is that it is just fine, as long as your parents take good care of you.

In 1997, kindergarden teacher James Chamberlain applied for approval of this book and two others (“Belinda’s Bouquet” and “One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads”) for use as teaching aids in his classroom. In response, the Surrey School Board issued resolutions that stated resources from gay and lesbian groups were not approved for use or redistribution in the school district.

After these resolutions were passed, resources like library books, pamphlets, and posters that promoted sexual diversity and tolerance were removed from all Surrey schools. Chamberlain — supported by teachers in other school districts in the Lower Mainland where these materials were allowed — launched a court case to challenge the ruling of the Surrey School Board. After much publicity and appeals by both sides, the case was considered by the Supreme Court of Canada and judgement handed down in 2002. The Court found that the Board’s decision was unreasonable and that the Board had acted contrary to provincial statute as well as its own regulations regarding curriculum materials, both of which stress tolerance and inclusion. The Court directed the decision to be reconsidered by the School District, with Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin noting that “tolerance is always age-appropriate.”

(full text of the decision available at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2002/2002scc86/2002scc86.html)

After revisiting its decision in 2003, the Surrey School Board still found “Asha’s Mums”, “Belinda’s Bouquet”, and “One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads” to be inappropriate for use as curriculum material. The Board was critical (among other things) of the books’ depiction of men, problematic and inconsistent grammar, and of the issue of dieting being inappropriate for kindergarden age children.

While 18 of the province's 60 school districts have policies in place regarding anti-homophobia, Burnaby and Surrey School Districts have not been able to develop a policy because of push-back from parents. Recently, protest and submissions from students have led the Surrey School District to say last summer that they would begin developing an anti-bullying policy in the fall that includes anti-homophobia strategies, as well as racism and physical disability

MOVments: Keeping Our Cool

 
A recent survey has revealed that Vancouverites are less trusting of authority than our Eastern Canadian counterparts. Over at MOV, the report had us excitedly asking: does this mean we're finally getting some long-overdue street cred for our anti-authoritarian spirit? Maybe. But while nicknames like "no fun city" still stick, we have a ways to go in the coolness department. Nevertheless, join us this week for an exploration of all things hip, including Surrey (possibly) being the new Brooklyn, maintaining our reputation in China, and the financial and intellectual complexities of hosting a trendy lecture series (we're looking at you, TED). 
 
Whalley Is the New Williamsburg. And Cloverdale is the new Park Slope. Or at least that's what this Vancouver Sun article would have us believe. Comparing our suburb's rough, working-class upbringing and its relatively affordable housing market to the trendy New York borough, Shelley Fralic argues that it's finally becoming cool for young Vancouverites to move to Surrey. Backlash against the article can be seen in the comments on the Vancouver Sun page: "You're joking right? There's no doubt things are improving, but New West or the DTES has a better chance of becoming Vancouver's version of "Brooklyn." Surrey has little character [and] few historic buildings..." For the record, The Tyee seems to agree that it's New West that's the new Brooklyn
 
Cultural Ambassador to Cool. In an effort to gain more of the lucrative Chinese tourism market, Tourism Vancouver has enlisted recording artist, Wanting Qu, to be its first tourism ambassador. As part of her new role, Wanting will be producing videos that combine her music with images of the city and its surroundings. Stephen Pearce of Tourism Vancouver says, “I think the Olympics put us on the radar screen with China, and I think this relationship with Wanting Qu will do that again." In less than two years, China is set to overtake the UK for highest numbers of overnight visitors heading to Vancouver.
 
Money Talks. If we define "cool" as "exclusive" then it looks like attending the TED conference in Vancouver is going to be really, really cool. Set at US$7,500, tickets for the 2014 lecture series are not going to be readily available to most of us. The cost highlights an interesting tension in the TED mandate: it is a public lecture that broadcasts its talks online while also carrying prohibitively expensive ticket prices and a rigorous application procedure. This recent Globe and Mail article articulates some other criticisms of TED including it being derided as repetitive, middlebrow, and "the Urban Outfitters" of the intellectual world. Critic Nathan Jurgenson is quoted as saying, “The role of Urban Outfitters is to find what’s edgy, package it, label it and sell it to the masses and thereby extinguish what’s edgy about it. And so TED has sort of filled that role.” What do you think? TED lovers and critics we want to hear from you!
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Beautiful British Columbia Magazine cover, 1986. From the Museum of Vancouver collection, H2010.2.15]

MOVments: Getting Steamy

 

 
With our Sex Talk in the City exhibit opening this week, we've been talking a lot about the history of sexuality and the controversies that have raged around subjects like women's reproductive health and birth control in the city throughout the years. It seems whether in the bedroom, the streets, or the classroom the topic of sex has caused even ordinarily reserved city-dwellers to express some pretty strong emotions. In that spirit, this week we're talking about some other (not quite so sexy) issues that tend to get us all worked up, namely: Surrey's bad reputation, our city's film industry, public transit funding woes, and who could forget, affordable housing.
 
Hating on Surrey? Well, now there's a t-shirt for that. Surrey entrepreneur Don Pitcairn is selling t-shirts with the logos “The future dies here" and “Better safe than Surrey” spoofing the city's official motto and its reputation for violent crime. Not surprisingly, this has angered city officials who have sent Pitcairn a letter asking him to cease and desist the production of the clothing line. However, it looks as though those of you still wanting to buy and sport the controversial tees will be able to, given that parody and satire are protected by our national copyright law. 
 
Film Industry Love. Today (February 12) City Council will respond to a motion proposed by Mayor Gregor Robertson asking for a "national approach" to the film and television industry in Canada. Motivation for the motion comes from observations that Vancouver's tax credit offers for filmmakers have become less competitive, causing some productions to move to Ontario and Quebec. Bill Bennett, the BC minister responsible for film, has said that while the province is certainly on board with supporting film, it is unlikely that it will increase the millions of dollars already subsidizing the industry. Keep your eyes out for developments on this one.
 
Frustrated with Increased Transit Fares? There's good news, they won't be increasing again soon. Well, not exactly, anyways. Metro Vancouver mayors recently converged to propose five new sources of funding for transportation expansion projects such as light rail in Surrey and rapid transit along Broadway. In a letter to Transportation Minister Mary Polak the mayors stated that while "economic and political limits have been reached on the rates of existing taxes and fares" they would like to see funding come from sources such as a vehicle registration fee and a regional sales tax for Metro Vancouver (that could generate up to $250 million per year). The province is currently considering the recommendations outlined in the letter. 
 
Hoping for (Affordable) Homes. Finally, we thought we'd turn your attention to a project dealing with another touchy subject: affordable housing. As this Tyee piece explains, the Housing Matters Media Project is "a series of 11 digital short films produced by Lower Mainland youth who've been affected by the region's ever-growing need for affordable housing." They will hold their second screening of short films on February 20 at SFU. Get out there and check out these provocative, compelling pieces, if you haven't already!
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Quotes above the entrance to the Sex Talk in the City exhibit]
 

MOVments: Putting Ourselves on the Map

In the aftermath of the Waldorf closing the city is looking into mapping cultural resources like arts venues and spaces that resonate with city dwellers. Over at MOVments, this got us thinking about the other kinds of maps we're making and how they're helping to locate us and more importantly, guide us where we're going. Read on for details on a blueprint for a new food strategy, a development plan for a growing municipality, and how neighbourhood rebranding may (or may not) be helping East Vancouverites envision where they live.

Edible Streets. Imagine a city with more farmers markets, community gardens, rooftop plots, and edible landscaping. These are just a few of the actions outlined in the new food strategy being considered by city council. As the Vancouver Sun blog describes "City council intends the Vancouver of the near future to be a model system of just and sustainable locally-grown food, a city as pretty as it is delicious." This deliciously sustainable city would have at its centre a green economy which would incubate food businesses and create infrastructure for food processing and distribution.
 
City of Cities. And speaking of infrastructure, the City of Surrey has challenges of its own as its six, distinct town centres continue to grow. As the Vancouver Sun reports while the city offers (relatively) affordable housing and a myriad of parks and recreation opportunities, it still does not have a cultural infrastructure in the form of large-scale entertainment venues; for these, many still head to Vancouver. President of the Surrey Board of Trade, Anita Huberman, is looking forward to a city filled with "state-of-the-art elegant spaces for arts, events, [and] theatres" that would keep people working and playing there.
 
The Neighbourhood Formerly Known As...Hastings-Sunrise has recently been rebranded as Vancouver's East Village but residents have been slow to adopt the name, and some are not so sure the reference to the Manhattan neighbourhood is apt. Developers are quick to point out that the new name isn't meant to replace the old one but rather to help build a cohesive identity for businesses in the area. As executive director of the neighbourhood's Business Improvement Association, Patricia Barnes describes, "It’s a marketing and branding strategy for the business improvement area, within the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. Critics have their own opinions, but it is not a renaming of the whole neighbourhood.” 
 
Spotlight on Vancouver. And finally, if you didn't get a chance to see Marpole and downtown all lit up this weekend, check out these photos of the playful Limelight: Saturday Night art installation. 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Plan of the City of Vancouver, 1910. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, MAP 387]

MOVments

Rethinking libraries. Surrey is leading the charge in the trend toward building libraries as places for gathering and education, rather than as stacks of books. In addition to this, the Surrey Public Library is launching a 'living books' service, where patrons will be able to take experts on a variety of subjects out for coffee and pick their brains.

Rising oceans. Cities generally prohibit the construction of buildings in areas that are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, but a new map of Vancouver shows that by 2100 many more areas will be at risk. The entire map can be found here.

Slowing down. A local non-profit shares a perspective from the Downtown Eastside about traffic calming along Hastings Street.

Making Vancouver better. Just ahead of the Design Thinking UnConference, urbanist and architecture critic Trevor Boddy shared some thoughts about making Vancouver a better place. Some issues he cites as areas for concern: the relative lack of office space and business activity in the downtown core, the segregation of social problems into areas such as the Downtown Eastside and the lack of debate over public space in the media.

Coach houses. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is looking for examples of old laneway houses to show that the idea is not entirely new to Vancouver.

Urban bees. Vancouver Magazine visits the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront where the director of housekeeping maintains six hives of honey bees.

Rubber sidewalk. The city engineering department has installed Vancouver's first rubber sidewalk. It's made from recycled materials and easier to walk on.

Car-free Robson. The Vancouver Public Space Network has launched a petition calling for Robson Square to be maintained as a pedestrian-only space.

Public art. Two public art projects at transit shelters aim to encourage people interact more with public space. Adorno and Nose encourages transit riders to whistle or sing while they're waiting for the bus and A Sign for the City dedicates each firing of the Nine O'clock Gun to a cultural event or historical figure.

Image: squeakymarmot via flickr.

MOVments

The changing face of commercial space. Across North America, developers and planners are taking aim at shopping malls, tearing up parking lots to build housing, big box stores are moving downtown and suburban shopping centres are urbanizing. An article in the Globe and Mail looks at some current redevelopment proposals for shopping centres around Vancouver.

In Whalley, the strip malls are coming down and being replaced with highrises and municipal buildings as Surrey tries to build a new city centreRichmond is densifying too.

Casino. Paragon is seeking changes to legislations that place limits on the amount of money that can be carried into BC casinos without a Canadian bank account. They would like the province to allow casino patrons to be able to wire money directly from foreign bank accounts. But there are concerns about money laundering.

Other municipalities are concerned that a larger downtown casino will pull patrons away from the suburban casinos they rely upon for tax revenue.

The public hearing is tonight at City Hall. Should be interesting, because there are so many people signed up to speak.

Traffic. A couple weeks ago it was announced that the traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge was far less trafficked than TransLink had hoped, and was losing money as a result. Now it seems like traffic is falling short of what was predicted all down the coast. So what does that mean for new infrastructure projects like the Port Mann?

Vancouver, do you know where your children are? Census data says they’re not downtown.

Tent city returns. Housing activists are setting up again to protest the City’s lack of commitment to social housing at the Olympic Village.

The elms of East 6th may be coming down soon. They’re getting old and difficult to maintain, and the park board wants to replace them with smaller trees. Doing so will permanently alter the streetscape, something that some residents really don’t want to see.

Komagata Maru. Coming soon, a new monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru, a ship of Punjabi immigrants that was forced to return to India in 1914.
 

Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.

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