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MOVments: Flirting, Getting Good Grades, and Hitching a Ride


 
This week brings some new takes on common Vancouver themes like public space interventions, cycling, and transit. You'll learn where to track down a mobile park, what people want in a bike route (and how to flirt while riding), and about a potential downside to our new transit fare system.
 
Park-A-Park. So the parklet at East 1st and Commercial has been around for a while (since the end of July) but by now many of us have had a chance to experience its unique and diminutive charms. As Julien Thomas, the urban interventionist who created the mobile Park-a-Park in collaboration with Emily Carr explains, the space is meant to encourage connection: “Sometimes conversations with strangers are very surface level, but I think if you add a twist, say, in a disposal bin on the corner of a busy street, really interesting conversations can happen.”
 
Cycling Report Card. The Vancouver Sun recently spoke to Kay Teschke about what Vancouver is doing right, and what it needs to work on in terms of cycling safety and infrastructure. According to Teschke, a UBC professor and cycling advocate, separated bike lanes are the way to go, hands down, for reasons of accessibility, comfort, and safety. Another possible benefit? Facilitating bicycle flirtations
 
Transitional Transit. We've all heard about the controversy around the Skytrain no longer accepting bus transfers with the implementation of the Compass card system. But the Georgia Straight brings up another valid point: the $6 price tag attached to Compass cards could make it very difficult for social service agencies to provide transit support to people living below the poverty line
 
Happy Birthday, Stanley Park. And lastly in honour of Stanley Park's 125th anniversary, an article exploring its influence on the city. (Oh, but wait, there's a bit of a dark side). 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: The Narrows, Stanley Park, ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-487]

MOVments: Design Futures

Re-designing from the bottom up: The City of Vancouver unveiled its new sign design for rezoning and development projects last week. The new simplified design is a response to the previous hard-to-read and overly technical signs. Meanwhile in other parts of the city, glitz and glamour are being favoured over simple design, with multi-million dollar homes and surreal hotels marking the horizon. And in Grandview-Woodland we have a radical new plan for redesign and redevelopment. This week we explore Vancouver's stylistic tendencies, ranging from the flashy and ornate, the clean and (not quite so) simple, to the contentious and complicated.

Luxury Living. The Vancouver Observer gives us a tongue-in-cheek take on the fanciest (and most expensive) houses in the city. And yes, those are home cinemas and private bowling alleys that you're seeing. In other multi-million dollar news, Trump Tower is coming to downtown Vancouver. The $360-million Georgia Street development will include a hotel complete with champagne lounge, spa, and banquet and conference centre. It's expected to be finished in summer 2016.

Clean Slate. On the other end of Georgia, removing the viaducts and streamlining the area between Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Downtown Eastside, is beginning to seem like a better, and better idea to many, including Mayor Gregor Robertson. As a recent report remarks, "In every city's evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps to advance the city's goals and livability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both."

Riding in Style. And for something that is perhaps neither simple or flashy, TransLink is shopping around various options for funding future upgrades to Metro Vancouver's transit system. One idea is road pricing, which could mean anything from bridge tolls to charges for drivers based on time of day or location. Could road pricing be the simplest, most elegant means of funding future transportation infrastructure or is it a complicated solution to an equally complicated problem? Your thoughts?

Decision-Making Style. It looks like Grandview-Woodland will be going through a drastic redesign. As Charles Campbell explains for The Tyee, "The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a radical remake of the area around the Broadway SkyTrain station: a possible 36-storey building on the Safeway site behind the station, towers up to 22 storeys in "transitional" zones including the area between 11th and 12th avenues near Commercial Drive, and more high-rises up to 26 storeys between Broadway and 7th towards Woodland." But for Campbell (and many others), the question remains: Who decides?

At the MOVeum:

June 26 - Upcycled Urbanism Volunteer Orientation night
July 6 - Curator’s Talk & Tour Foncie's Fotos w/ Joan Seidl
July 13 - Upcycled Urbanism: A Design+Build Project for Everyone - Granville Street Build Day

[Image: Expo 86 Georgia Viaduct and Saskatchewan pavilion, 2001. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.517]

MOVments: The (In)Congruous City

Proposed high rises in the downtown core have us thinking about Vancouver's rapidly changing skyline. Will new buildings blend in with the existing architecture or will they quite literally stand out? And more generally, what does it mean to 'fit in' and conversely, to be conspicuous in the city? 
 
This week we're looking at a trendy digital marketing conference that found its match in Vancouver, a church's possible move to an unlikely building, and an opinion piece from two urbanists who would like the provincial government to try a distinctive approach to urban development. Which reminds us: love it or hate it the BC Election results are in. Some of us were surprised, but should we have been? Some insightful discussion here.
 
Hyping Hyper Island. The Swedish company Hyper Island has announced it will be holding its buzz-worthy, three-day education institute in Vancouver this December. With presentations and collaborative workshops exploring digital media's influence on the marketing world, the event draws some of the best and brightest execs, creatives, and strategists from around the world. What made Vancouver a natural fit for the event? We're already on board with forward-looking, digital action plans as illustrated by the recent unveiling of our digital strategy.
 
Westside Church at the Centre. Westside Church is looking into the possibility of moving into the current home of the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. So far, Westside Church has raised one third of the funds necessary for the purchase and move. It would also need to apply to the city for changing the use of the property. But would the church fit into the new neighbourhood? Given the area's emergence as a cultural district, the answer is, well, complicated. As Brent Toderian points out to the Georgia Straight, the church could be considered a cultural institution, but it is unclear what kinds of events would take place in the space and if it would bring the same kind of vitality to the neighbourhood as other occupants.
 
Getting Our Priorities Straight. Finally, Anne McMullin and Michael Ferreira voice their opinion about the direction they'd like to see the province go in the coming years. Their number one priority? "...A clear vision for the province’s economic future and sustainable growth" with specific attention paid to urban development. Sounds pretty good, but what exactly would that look like? For starters, they want to see a centralized decision-making process surrounding infrastructure projects like rapid transit on the Broadway corridor and Surrey's proposed light rail. As they say, "Given the importance of such strategic investments to the province, and to the next government’s policy interests and fiscal planning, it is imperative that the decision-making authority for these projects lie with a responsible provincial minister — and those decisions be linked with cabinet’s budgetary process."
 
At the MOVeum:
 
May 31 - Libido Liberation: Sex Talk After Dark
June 5 - Foncie's Fotos Opening Reception
 
[Image: Inside the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Photo by Garry Zeweniuk via Flickr]

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: (De)Congestion

This week in MOVments we celebrate the season of colds, flus, and general respiratory discomfort with a selection of news related to that ever-annoying winter symptom: congestion. Whether implementing tools to relieve overcrowded transit systems, promoting creative congregations in public space, or consolidating civic institutions the issues are the same; the city is challenging itself to bring people together while facilitating their fast and efficient movement through space.

Port Mann Progress. Landmark progress has been made in speedy inter-urban travel with the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge on Saturday, December 1. But while the eight new lanes look like they're providing faster commute times for many, ongoing construction on the westside of the bridge continues to cause considerable delays for others. Another minor glitch? An express bus, the first public transit to cross the bridge in over two decades, currently only has stops in Langley and New Westminster, leaving Surrey out of the loop. This understandably has some Surrey residents bent out of shape, not the least of whom is Mayor Dianne Watts who is pushing for a Surrey stop in place of upgrades to an existing exchange hub.

Billion Dollar Ride on Broadway. In other transit news, the city has unveiled a proposal for a subway system along what is currently the busiest bus route in North America, the 99 B-Line. As the Vancouver Sun reports, the seemingly endless line ups associated with the 99 could be a thing of the past if funding can be found for the 2.8 billion dollar project. With the memory of the Canada Line construction in mind, city officials are hoping that by running the proposed system underground problems such as restrictions on turning and loss of trees and parking along the corridor could be effectively avoided.

Block 51 Revisited. Last week we were lamenting the proposed reopening of Block 51 to traffic and with it, the loss of a dynamic, innovative place for Vancouverites to congregate in the downtown core. As the Vancouver Public Space Network reported recently, Vancouver City Council has confirmed that it will allow traffic through the block again until a more comprehensive plan can be made. As the article points out, it's hard to ignore the results of a recent survey that showed tremendous public support for a permanent public square in area. The city seems to be committed to conducting research on the best solutions to traffic problems related to permanently closing the block, with city staff agreeing to report back to Council with findings before summer 2013. Fingers crossed.

Number Crunching. For any of you who wanted detailed numbers on how many staff the city employs (or for that matter, how many old mattresses city garbage workers picked up last year), you've finally got your chance. The city has just released a 177-page budget that offers a wealth of information regarding services, income, and expenditures. Notable for the heritage-minded, the document contains a money-saving proposal for consolidating the historical photographs in the City Archives and Vancouver Public Library's collections into one location. As Frances Bula reports, "The city is reviewing the overlap between the two collections and looking at whether some or all of the archives, possibly the photographs, could be moved to the central [library] branch."

At the MOVeum:

December 6 - Curator's Talk & Tour with Viviane Gosselin
December 8 - Love You Forever Tattoo Parlour
January 25 - Vancouver I Love You But...

[Image: UBC bus stop. Photo courtesy of Tony Chang]

MOVments: Alternate Realities and Theoretical Futures

 
This week we're exploring some things that could have been (and then weren't) and things that should have been (and still possibly could be). Confused? Don't be. Just get ready to delve into a few of the controversial, up-in-the-air, keep-you-guessing situations that have been popping up all over our fair city. 
 
Wide Streets to Remain Wide. Remember the "thin streets" proposal that aimed to increase density in laneways and underused roads? Looks like our streets are going to remain just as spacious as ever, at least for now. As the Vancouver Sun reports resident opposition at a recent city council meeting has meant that the proposed densification of streets in Grandview Woodlands, the West End, and Marpole has been deprioritized until more consultations can be made. During the meeting complaints centered around the logistics of the plan and how residents may lose natural light and green space on their properties.
 
Partying, Hard? And the 'No Fun City' debate rages on. After last week's Huffington Post article disparaged Vancouver for its apparently non-existent night life, Jason Sulyma provided a rebuttal, telling us that if we're bored here, it's our own fault. He admits that while there are problems with the city's archaic liquor laws, transit system, and funding for art spaces, there are plenty of positive things happening on the scene too. Indeed, from Granville Street gems to East Van grunge-dens, there seems to be a venue for everyone. Well, almost everyone. As The Tyee reports, partying is still very difficult for the under-nineteen set. However, a future with a permanent all-ages venue may be on the horizon. The Safe Amplification Site Society has high hopes for moving into the old Astorino's building on Commercial. 
 
The Future of Transit. And finally, Vancity Buzz just brought our attention to this nifty little map of the future of Vancouver transit. You might ask how long we have to wait for some of these upgrades? Oh, only about 100 years. With a wait that long, the projected transit routes seem to be firmly in the realm of fantasy. Another factor that makes the map a bit fantastical? Translink was recently accused of making a number of "faulty forecasts" with regard to their projected expansions. With Translink dealing with decreased revenue from the Golden Ears Bridge toll, a smaller tax cut from its levy on gas, and money guzzling projects like the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam and its ongoing support of the U-Pass program, we'll have to wait and see how fast the future arrives.
 
At the MOVeum:
October 10 - MOV Legacy Dinner
 
[Image: BC Transit Vancouver and Victoria touring guide booklet, 1994. Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver collections, H2008.23.1004]

MOVments: Imagined Communities, Imagined Vancouver

The way we envision, project, and ultimately imagine a community into being is immensely powerful (just ask Benedict Anderson). This week we're looking at how Vancouver is being shaped by our imaginings and ideas (or in some cases lack thereof) around streetscapes, public space, transit routes, and Aboriginal education.

Civic Bling. Have you ever tried to imagine what East Hastings might look like with more bike racks, trees, and street furniture? With Blockee, a new web-based app, you can redesign it completely using images taken from Google Street View. It's a pretty fun little project put out by Code for America, but as OpenFile reports, there are more serious applications. For example: with 150,000 more trees to be planted in Vancouver over the next eight years, OpenFile produced a greened up, and blinged out, vision for Hastings between Dunlevy and Gore, an area which has long been conspicuously free of greenery

Reimagining Public Space. GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab have announced the winners of their 2012 Transform a Public Place competition. With over 120 submissions proposing innovative ways of making public space more comfortable, Vancouver's own Rodrigo Caula was awarded one of the top five spots. His team's Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project converted a 205-year-old fallen tree into a public bench that is currently being displayed on Granville Island. As he says, "...Our intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources." Woot! Go Vancouver!

West Broadway Woes. So far we've heard about creative types re-envisioning Vancouver in unexpected ways, but the idea of a rapid transit line along West Broadway may represent a crisis of imagination for the city. Or so says Gordon Price in last week's Globe and Mail. He argues that given the endlessly complicated negotiations between TransLink, various levels of government, UBC, and private partners, we shouldn't expect to see a rapid transit line heading out to Point Grey within his lifetime. While TransLink is putting together preliminary reports on what form the line might take (above ground vs. underground), funding questions are up in the air and Surrey may actually be next in line to receive money for increased rapid transit infrastructure. Read more about the problems and the possibilities here
 
(Mis)Imagining Native History. Finally, this week The Tyee printed a revealing piece on the general public's knowledge of Aboriginal history and cultural in this province and across the country. In a recent online survey, when Canadians were asked about the relationship between Native peoples and the federal government "over two-thirds of respondents believed that not only are aboriginals treated well by the government, but also they receive too much federal money." As The Tyee points this couldn't be further from the truth: infrastructure like water systems and housing are incredibly underfunded across the board. What the survey ends up telling us is that we are not doing enough to educate around the ongoing struggles of Native groups in our school curriculums. On a positive note, UBC's faculty of education is doing its part to prepare its students to meaningfully engage with these issues in their classrooms through a course called Aboriginal Education in Canada.

At the MOVeum: 
 
[Image: Blockee image courtesy of OpenFile. With files from OpenFile's Trevor Pritchard]

MOVments: Doing Our Homework

As the Labour Day long weekend (and the annual Victory Square Block Party) mark the passing of summer, we here at MOVments are sharpening our pencils and getting ready to hit the books. This week we're getting into the back-to-school spirit by asking some tough questions around new housing developments and transit maps and exploring new work by a grad student around gay and lesbian retirement communities. So study up, think hard, and read on. 

Vancouver vs. Vancouverism. Last week Bob Ransford asked Vancouver Sun readers to rethink the practicality of what is commonly known as Vancouverism architecture. He argues that the tendency toward building high-density, glass high-rises, actually prevents more innovative, people-based designs from springing up. As his interviewee, architect Gair Williamson, suggests, "The trouble with architecture in Vancouver is that many architects are failing to look at the substance of how people inhabit buildings. They’re looking at how buildings appear. It’s about style over substance." In this context, dear MOVers, what do you think of the new proposal for development of 2220 Kingsway by Henriquez Partners Architects? Does this represent the future of our neighborhood strips? Of Vancouverism? Is it more stylish than substantive? (5 points per question)
 
Cartography 101. Mike Aynsley at OpenFile delves into an Atlantic Cities article that explores how transit maps dictate passenger behaviour. Basically, shorter distances on maps can influence us into choosing particular routes over others (no matter what our lived experience tells us). With this in mind, map makers are experimenting with making certain, highly congested routes less attractive on transit maps. This may be effective in some cases, but as Aynsely points out, "How do we make [the 99-B Line] straight-line route with few stops appear less attractive to the commuter? Can we just photoshop some dragons in along the line?"
 
Extra Credit Project. Alex Sangha, a grad student originally from Vancouver, is looking into conducting a feasibility study for a retirement home catering to gays and lesbians in BC. According to Sangha, there is a general need to support these groups in their later years when loneliness, depression, and isolation can become much more prevalent. There are also local issues that make this kind of support all the more necessary in our city. Particularly problematic is the fact that the 1980's AIDS epidemic decimated a huge percentage of the gay community in Vancouver leaving a diminished source of funding for this kind of facility. Additionally, the West End (where many members of the gay community live) is one of the priciest neighbourhood in the country making it a particularly difficult place to live as a retiree. 
 
Pop Up Hip Hop. And here's your final assignment: We'd like to know who the young rappers were who stopped traffic on Granville a couple weeks ago. Were any of you there? Hastings Crossing tweeted this about the crowd, "Good sign your hip hop career is taking off when VPD shut down Granville from massive impromptu crowd." It also seems to be a sign that your city is getting more agile and open to surprises.

 

At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold

[Image: Brockton Point 18th Annual Inter High School Sports programme, c. 1929. From the MOV Collections H2008.23.437]

MOVments: Radicals, Transit, and a Happy New Year

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Horse and buggy illustration (old school transit)New years resolution? Maybe do go for that jog and get your bum muscles prepared for some cycle commuting. Seems BC transit wants to increase our already ridiculously high bus fare rates, while elsewhere, innovative small businesses are figuring out ways to implement a bike sharing system in Vancouver that is conducive to our mandatory helmet laws.

Or – you can just take your laughs while you still can, and ride around public transit with your pants off until they listen!

It might even help you swing some romance in the so-called ‘cruel’ dating world of Vancouver. A recent article in VanMag has facebook and twitter alight with cat vs. dog understandings of what it’s like to find love in the city of glass. Reminds me of those videos we made a few years back citing the MOV as the perfect place for a date. What are your thoughts?

Up North, BC First Nations in Kitimaat Village, Hartley Bay, The Dogwood Initiative, and other so called “radical environmentalists” (as named by the Tories this week), are standing up for the future of their communities and the environment by participating loudly in the Northern Gateway hearings.

Down to the lower mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health is strongly considering the addition of supervised injection services at a number of its clinics.

Lastly, for a touch of mid-week inspiration, check out this rather inspiring list of the top 5 life wishes people regret during palliative care.

At the MOVeum: Come check out Neon Vancouver/ Ugly Vancouver!

(photo credit: B.C. Electric files at the Vancouver Archives.)

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

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