for more information contact skot@penguinstorm.com

I Am Skooter  So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Music is my saviour / and I was maimed by rock and roll / I was tamed by rock and roll / I got my name from rock and roll
— Jeff Tweedy, Sunken Treasure
March 18, 2016
Japan's Disposable Workers

Japan's Disposable Workers: Net Cafe Refugees from MediaStorm on Vimeo.

As a society, it seems like the west has been looking to the east for a glimpse of our future for a long time now—most specifically, Japan. With a housing crisis in Vancouver and salaries falling below where they do in much of the rest of Canada, it may not be long before we see the same type of situation as this video describes. There’s already a significantly outsized working poor population characterized by shared accommodations and lives lived in single room occupany hotels that are meant for, really, short term accomodations.

The future doesn’t always seem so bright, does it?

Posted by skooter at 6:55 PM
Tags: Japan, Vancouver

January 15, 2016
Rice Lake, North Vancouver

Rice Lake Rice Lake

Sometimes, a walk around a small lake is what you really need.

Posted by skooter at 8:19 PM
Tags: Canon EOS-M, North Vancouver

November 23, 2014
On Uber Being Disruptive and #vancuber

A while ago, someone I follow on twitter sent a message with the hashtag #vancuber and the hastag has been gaining traction quickly. There’s been quite a bit of fuss about Uber in the city lately, and even more in the press. When I asked the person in what way Uber was different than a taxi I got the same reply I more or less always do…basically “I don’t know.”

So why does everybody want this so badly?

Watching Uber ratchet up its campaign to launch in the city of Vancouver has been interesting. The company launched a hiring spree in Vancouver as if it was a fait accompli that they’d open here, regardless of regulations. Flush with external investment money Uber can certainly afford to open here: given that they don’t pay drivers unless rides are booked and they really don’t need office space the company’s costs are probably limited to a couple of salaries and maybe some cell phones. Nice way of doing business.

The kicker with Uber is this: that seems to be all they want. Run on basically a libertarian view that government regulation shouldn’t matter, Uber takes the barest of responsibilities for the service it delivers. Drivers aren’t employees they’re contractors. Cars aren’t owned by Uber and though they claim to inspect them ahead of time that claim seems dubious: if a driver has two cars what’s to stop them from having one inspected and driving the other? Insurance is an issue that’s conveniently ignored, despite the fact that it’s impact and application varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

I get that there’s a taxi lobby and it’s powerful. Still: allowing Uber to enter Vancouver completely unregulated isn’t the solution to that lobby. What needs to happen is a redefinition of how taxis are regulated. Drivers should require licences and criminal background checks. Vehicles should require regular safety inspections and commercial insurance. Commercial drivers should be expected to obey all traffic laws with no special privileges. Beyond that, what’s required?

Those regulations should apply to anybody transporting people and driving a vehicle for profit whether they work for a taxi dispatcher or they’re getting called by an iPhone app. Uber shouldn’t be exempt from that, but neither should existing cab companies hide behind the limited number of licences a city chooses to issue. The problem is that while Uber seems to argue the second point they conveniently want to ignore the first points. You can’t have it both ways no matter how much Silicon Valley investment capital you have.

In truth there is one person who pointed out the real innovation of Uber: no cash changes hands. You book a ride, the app tells you the fare and that fare is billed to your credit card by the app. This is a good thing—more predictable for the rider, safer for the driver who doesn’t have to carry cash or risk not getting paid—but it’s hardly a revolutionary form of transportation. It’s also not a guarantee of cheaper rides as the (somewhat overblown) controversy around Uber’s surge pricing seems to prove.

No matter what happens it’s unlikely to make much of a difference to my life. I’ve probably taken a cab less than a half dozen times in the 14 years I’ve lived in Vancouver. It’s just not a thing I do. While this may make it hard for me to relate to the desperate need people seem to have for Uber in their life, I’m also pretty sure that the need is a bit overstated: Uber isn’t going to magically make that 20 minute wait for a driver stuck in traffic shorter, it just means you’re going to be staring at your phone in frustration instead.
How’s that better?

Posted by skooter at 2:23 PM
Tags: Politics, Taxis, Uber, VanCuber

November 22, 2011
Winter Falls

Salt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island Winter

Posted by skooter at 5:52 AM
Tags: Airstream, Frost, Salt Spring Island, Winter

October 16, 2011
Pumpkinfest: West Vancouver

Pumpkinfest, West VancouverPumpkinfest, West VancouverPumpkinfest, West VancouverPumpkinfest, West VancouverPumpkinfest, West Vancouver Apparently Pumpkinfest is quite the annual tradition over here in West Vancouver. Who knew? I’m coming up on the first anniversary of living here so I missed this last year.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 PM
Tags: Fall, Kids, Pumpkinfest, Pumpkins, West Vancouver

October 2, 2011
It's Civic Election Time: This is Your Candidate

It’s civic election time in Vancouver, a crazy event that happens once every three years. The last three elections have each seen a new Mayor (Campbell, Sullivan and Robertson) with substantial changes at council at the same time.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the NPA sees this as an open shot. I’m not so sure: I think Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver team’s popularity is pretty solid, though I do tend to interact with a group whose politics skew in that direction so I’m not sure it’s a fair measure.

More significantly, I think Suzanne Anton’s certifiably crazy. She always rode the NPA coattails onto Council until the last election, when she was the only one who made it (go figure.) She’s sort of a mayoralty candidate by default and not a very good one. I don’t think she has any coattails.

I know of the folks on “her team” as these things tend to be called. Some of them ran in 2002 when I was heavily involved. Dave Pasin? That guy’s not the sharpest pencil in any box you’re going to find. You don’t want him on Park Board, trust me.

George Affleck on the other hand is a very bright guy. A bit self absorbed to be sure, but a bright guy no doubt. The thing is, I sort of expect a level of maturity a little higher than this—sent just after the release of the report on the Stanley Cup Riots—from a candidate for city council:
George Affleck tweet

But there you have it: it’s off to the races, and if that’s the level discourse you’re looking for from council well…I for one expect more from candidates than jokes about a series of riots which have, frankly, damaged this cities reputation much more than some would like to admit.

I live in West Vancouver now, so the politics of Vancouver are over a bridge from me. My interest is a bit more abstract—I still work in the city—but I’m still hoping to see a rational, sensible council elected. It’s good for the region. In the end, I’m expecting Gregor Robertson back as Mayor but I’d be willing to be that the NPA slips two or three more people onto council. Only time will tell.

September 27, 2011
Vancouver is Awesome; Your Civil Liberties Aren't

Bob Kronbauer is the editor of that bastion of quality journalism, Vancouver is Awesome. The site’s mandate demands that nothing negative is ever said about Vancouver and nothing means nothing—they flat out refused to talk about the cuts to arts funding that have savaged the city’s cultural institutions (lack of funding Is Not Awesome® it seems) and that’s typical of how they deal with anything controversial: they just tiptoe around it like it’s not happening.

Kronbauer is a prolific tweeter at the @viawesome twitter account, but he also runs his own at @bobkronbauer Twitter account where he’s noticeably less prolific.

In a moment of inspiration it seems, Bob recently sent out this tweet:
Bob Kronbauer Hates Your Civil Liberties

The message was sent on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York: an event which, had it happened here, probably wouldn’t have been mentioned on Bob’s site since it was most definitely Not Awesome®. That big hole in the ground? What a great opportunity for urban renewal! How’d it get there? Uh…good question.

You can see the tweet for yourself, by the way. I didn’t fake it. I didn’t make it up. It’s real.

Apparently Bob thinks your government should be tracking your online comments and having Canada’s national spy agency following up on the ones he doesn’t like. This is practically the definition of a police state. It happens in China but that country is, you know, a dictatorship. My understanding of Canada was that it was a democracy.

It seems that while Vancouver may be awesome, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the most important documents in the country—is not. Your right to privacy? It seems that if it hurts someone’s feelings in an online comment, Bob thinks you’ve waived it.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me happy that public policy in our country isn’t made by someone who makes at least a part of their living by photoshopping fake eyes onto inanimate objects.

Sometimes, a little criticism goes a long way. Sometimes, a complete lack of it can be the start of a slippery slope.

Vanocuver is a great place but all those googlie eyes don’t paint over the flaws and problems of the place, and they aren’t helping make it better in the future.

August 22, 2011
Daniel Lanois: The Maker


Only five more sleeps and one more plane flight until Daniel Lanois’ Harvest Picnic event just outside of Hamilton, Ontario featuring a list of talented music too long to do justice too but headlined by Emmylou Harris. This one’s going to be the stuff that memories are made from.

August 17, 2011
Five Minutes from Home

Sometimes I feel like I’d rather live closer: ‘in town’ as I’d say from my perspective over here. Then sometimes I head out for a walk after work, and I remember why I like living here.
West Vancouver Seawall West Vancouver Seawall West Vancouver Seawall West Vancouver Seawall West Vancouver Seawall West Vancouver Seawall

Posted by skooter at 8:55 PM
Tags: Lynn Canyon, Public Art, West Vancouver

July 30, 2011
Today, Salt Spring Island

It’s been a bad week, the one that ended today (or yesterday, depending on your personal calendar I suppose.)

Strike that, actually. I’ve had bad weeks before and they don’t hold a candle to this one. This one…this one…probably the worst week I’ve had in a bit more than 20 years. It’s not over for me yet: this week was a new beginning of sorts, but it could have been worse. Not for me, but for people I love very much. It could have been much, much worse.

Today was the start of a weekend I needed. Badly. It’s been nice, feeling the stress and grief of a week wash away. Monday’s a holiday, so it’s not quite back to work yet and I’m pretty happy about that.

A month from today I’ll be in Toronto with a week of great live music, spending time with people I love and I’ll be fourty years old. I didn’t expect it to start this way but you know what? I’m going to roll with it.

Let’s kick the last month of my 30s of with a bang. It’s going to be great.

July 13, 2011
West Vancouver vs. Vancouver: A Contrast on Two Wheels

A while ago, I moved to West Vancouver. For various reasons, when I first moved, the amount of cycling I was doing dropped dramatically and I used quite a bit more public transit. Along with the drop in cycling came a drop in my physical fitness, and I’ve been making a concentrated effort to cycle to work on a regular basis.

My daily commute is about 10km, a perfectly reasonable distance. About three of those kilometres are through West Vancouver to get to the Lions Gate Bridge. I head up and over the bridge and down through Stanley Park on the bike path (which is actually a sidewalk) before rejoining traffic on Georgia Street and heading to Gastown.

What I find most interesting is the rather stark difference between how cars in West Vancouver and Vancouver treat cyclists. It astonishes me every day actually.

The funny thing is, some of these drivers are probably the same people. When I merge on to Georgia Street I wind up in a bike lane on the side of the road that’s not physically separated from drivers but is clearly marked. The first right turn is at Denman and without fail when I get to that corner drivers wait and allow me to proceed straight before they make a right turn even when they’ve clearly signalled and I’m waiting for them to go. Given that this is the first right turn, these drivers have almost certainly come off the bridge from North or West Van.

My ride continues along city streets from there (the dedicated bike lanes don’t really help me, and I’m not particularly intimidated by traffic) and I find drivers generally wait to pass until they can provide adequate space. There’s definitely some who don’t but for the most part drivers allow me a safety zone on the road that I’m comfortable with.

West Vancouver, by comparison, is a place where I expect to either get honked at or brushed past at extremely close distances. There’s certainly no such thing as a bike lane on this side of the bridge, though there is a shared bike/pedestrian path from Ambleside to the bridge. If I lived much west of where I do I’d be obligated to use Marine Drive though; there’s still no bikes allowed on the West Vancouver seawall, and no equivalent path for cyclists.

Those pedestrians I have to share that path with, by the way? I think I’d rather deal with cars. Walking four abreast and obstructing the entire path, ignoring the bell I installed for their own safety, and walking their dogs without leashes I’m pretty sure they’re more dangerous than cars. That, though, may be another topic.

At the end of my commute I usually make a left turn from Hastings onto Cambie and to do this I move into the left lane. In West Vancouver this would get me honked at, yelled at, or just plain mowed down by a driver who didn’t see me. In Vancouver I’ve had cars wait patiently with me to make the turn.

Door prizes? In Vancouver I hardly ever see a door open if I’m approaching. In West Vancouver, I avoid parked cars like the plague and give them at least a half lane’s distance. It’s bleak over here.

It’s all rather nice, and rather than an interesting contrast between the suburban (which West Vancouver is, sort of) and the urban I think it’s the difference between a municipal government which has actively supported cycling and one which hasn’t.

There’s been a general rise in awareness in Vancouver of cyclists among drivers, and it shows. The vast majority of drivers in Vancouver are friendly and cooperative with respect to bikes. Sure there are exceptions, and when they happen they can range from annoying (not coming to a full stop) to disrespectful (pulling over and blocking a bike lane) to frightening (making a right turn without signaling in front of a bike) but they’re just that: exceptions.

Cyclists are just as bad. I watched a bike pull along the right hand side of a car that had clearly indicated it was turning from well back. Watching people blow through stop signs at full speed infuriates me, and it happens a lot.

Despite all of these things, drivers in Vancouver soldier on and work with the cyclists who do follow the rules and fairly well at that. I fear for my life quite a bit less over there than I do over here, and that’s saying something considering how many more cars there are.

The next time you’re riding in Vancouver and complaining about the traffic just remember: it could be a whole lot worst, none of us are perfect so that driver who cut you off may have just had a momentary lapse. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because we all need to share these spaces and most drivers are trying to do just that.

July 11, 2011
2 Cents a Litre Isn't Much

Faced with a rash of media attention about the fact that the long rumoured Evergreen Line seems likely to never be built Translink’s board has decided that the solution to the problem is a two cent a litre tax dedicated to the Evergreen line.

I fully support the idea of taxing greenhouse gas causing transportation methods to pay for transit. Not this tax though.

I’ve only recently bought a car again, after going without for not quite a year. I didn’t drive much for the six months before that which means I’ve largely missed out on paying $1.30 or more for gas. It’s not fun, but it’s the price of the beast and the beast has its charms.

You only pay for gas if you drive, and I still don’t drive much, and my new car is a Toyota Echo which is better on gas in the city than my old car was on the highway, so it’s not like I’m spending a lot of money. I ride a bike most places and take transit to work when I have too.

So a two cent a litre gas tax isn’t going to have much of an effect on me. It might increase my cost by a couple of dollars a month at most.

Here’s the problem.

There’s already a levy on gas that goes directly to Translink. Translink asking for another one to build evergreen is like you walking into your boss’ office and saying you need a raise because you’ve spent your entire salary. At the end of the day, even if you get more money you’re probably just going to spend it.

I could live with an increase in the Translink levy if it weren’t for the fact that there’s also the carbon tax. This means that there’s already two environmental taxes that could be used to pay for this thing.There’s two taxes that should be used to for this thing: building long term mass transit is exactly the sort of thing the carbon tax should be used for. Long term investment in public transit is the only way to get people who use their cars every day to stop.

It’s not the fact that I’m unwilling to pay two cents per litre, it’s the fact that municipal, provincial and federal levels of government have—yet again—decided that instead of prioritizing or trying to invest carefully wisely, they’re just going to raise money with another new tax.

Adding a third tax just doesn’t make sense. The fact that the third tax is being proposed by Translink—an unelected board board—is even worse. It literally amounts to taxation without representation, and that’s the sort of thing that used to cause revolutions.

it probably won’t in this case. The various mayors will shuffle the blame around and it won’t have any impact on their reelection chances. Vancouver will continue to function but the real question is: do we actually believe this two cent a litre tax will get the Evergreen line built? The other two didn’t help.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

July 10, 2011
Saturday in the City

A day that includes a killer breakfast, a visit to a farmer’s market, a stop at Gourmet Warehouse and, and outdoor with Neko Case and the New Pornographers in Stanley Park is a very good day.
Heirloom Tomatoes at the Trout Lake Farmer's Market Neko Case in Stanley Park

July 6, 2011
Steveston at Sunset

Steveston, British Columbia at Sunset Steveston, British Columbia at Sunset My mother’s been here for a bit, and though we’ve been other places our visit ended as it often does: with a trip to Steveston at sunset, eating gelato on the wharf. Now that summer’s arrive in Vancouver, it made for a rather nice evening. There’s more photos on my Flickr stream.

Posted by skooter at 10:55 PM
Tags: Fishing, Photography, Steveston

July 1, 2011
A Trip on BC Ferries


This is what I do when I get bored on ferries these days and I remember to bring my tripod (which I don’t usually do when I take public transit.)

I also had dust on my sensor. Blurg.

The time lapse section was shot by hand, not by remote. I took a photo every 30 seconds while standing on the deck.

This was mostly an excuse to assemble a project in the new Final Cut Pro X and, yes, there were some annoyances. The music may or may not be Nick Drake, because I was too lazy to search for some legitimate Creative Commons music. I may recut this with something different when I have the time to do it.

Posted by skooter at 1:31 PM

Public Dreams Society: A Midsummer Fete

A Midsummer Fete The Public Dreams Society is one of Vancouver’s most important arts organization. They play a vital role in creating public art in Vancouver, and spaces where families can experience the kind of fantastic play that children need to learn, grow, and dream.

Balance at A Midsummer FeteThe Midsummer Fete was one of Public Dreams’ first events to be held outside of Vancouver proper. Colony Farms in Coquitlam is a beautiful park along the Fraser River with a history that’s closely tied to mental health in British Columbia. The farm is managed by Metro Vancouver parks, and provided a beautiful spot for the event.

Tomatoes at A Midsummer FeteThere were plenty of children on hand to learn about life on a farm, practice milking a very wooden cow, learn about birds of prey, and farming. There were punk klezmer bands, violinists, a Mad Hatter’s tea party, stilt walkers, harpists and a young lady walking around in a living dress with produce growing from every surface.
A Midsummer Fete

A more complete gallery of photos is on Flickr.

Public Dreams’ next event is Illuminares 2011. Formerly held at Trout Lake the last one was held at the W2 Woodwards space, a cavernous public space downtown that has recently been lost to commercial development through a deal with the Vancouver Film School. Make sure to catch visit Illuminares and donate to Public Dreams to ensure these events can continue.

June 21, 2011
Vancouver & the Stanley Cup a Week Later

It’s been an interesting week in Vancouver: tomorrow marks a week since the Vancouver Canucks threw in the towel on a season of hockey that ended badly for the team and much much worse for their fans.

I left downtown that night about 5:15 or so, right as the game was beginning. Crowds were insane and—frankly—I didn’t really want to deal with them.

So much has been written about these riots that I think I have little to add, so I’ll keep my hindsight observations simple:

I still say this city is a weird, inward looking, self obsessed place. Nothing’s happened since the riots to change that one bit.

Posted by skooter at 6:53 AM
Tags: Riot, Stanley Cup, Vancouver, Vancouver Canucks

June 17, 2011
Darwin the Owl

Posted by skooter at 6:56 AM
Tags: Videos, Wildlife

June 16, 2011
Vancouver Burns after the Stanley Cup


The Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup last night. Instead of conversations about why Roberto Luongo was left in net to allow four goals, I’m now living in a city that’s looking in on itself after crowds rioted in the downtown core.

Early in the evening I faced a decision: stay downtown, or get home to West Vancouver. I chose to head home. I joked about this happening—it happened in 1994—but I wasn’t that serious: I really didn’t want to deal with crowded buses, and I certainly didn’t want to deal with the CBC Fan Zone crowd for any extended duration.

So I went home, and watched the game online as the Canucks fell. Switching to the radio after the game ended news of the damage started to filter in as first one car was flipped over and lit on fire, then another. At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Wicked was showing and the crowd wasn’t allowed to leave at the performance’s end, legitimately fearing for their lives.

I headed over to North Vancouver and shot the video above in the civil twilight. The smoke filtering into the sky looks like a bomb strike, and maybe that’s the closest analogy. The city created a concentrated space where 100,000 people got together and that spot exploded. Some would say it was predictable, but that hardly seems fair. People aren’t that predictable.

People say these weren’t Canucks fans, but they were. They were there to watch the game. If the large screen TVs had been showing the Vancouver Opera performing the works of Wagner, this wouldn’t have happened.

It’s embarrassing, this city, sometimes. Maybe it’s time to get out of town.

Posted by skooter at 7:03 AM
Tags: Riot, Stanley Cup, Vancouver Canucks, Videos

May 8, 2011
Slip Sliding Away

Rain on a ferry window Friday was stressful this week, for reasons that I won’t go into. A trip had been planned—an escape from the city to an island paradise of sorts—and I couldn’t wait for it to start. As the minutes ticked down towards the end of the work day I did my best to let the stress wash away and get ready.

Ferry hopping is fun, but time consuming. My trip involves a train, a bus, a big boat and a little boat. When I left work it was raining but everything went well for making connections and I found myself on the big boat sitting indoors watching the Pacific Ocean slide past as I made my way westward. There’s something very calming about it. Watching the rain slide down the plexiglass windows of the Skeena Queen was a soothing way to end the trip.

The forecast called for rain all weekend, but as it turns out our little island was warm and sunny and sheltered somehow from those rains. They certainly hit the city, but over in our world we saw as much blue sky as grey, and probably less than an hour of actual rain all weekend. It’s funny how so little distance can make such a huge difference.

So the weekend was on: good food was made and eaten, modest amounts of wine and spirits were consumed, the beginnings of a garden were planted, afternoon naps were taken and books were read. A good time was had by all.

The trip home was harder, as leaving a warm and wonderful place always is, but the city beckoned and with it life. Tomorrow is Monday, and that marks a return to life as normal, whatever that means. My normal routine of working, cycling, swimming and reading I suppose. I quite like it, and next weekend I won’t be slipping away but instead spending it here with company. It’s just as nice really: both lives have their charms. It’s the times in between that aren’t as much fun.

Posted by skooter at 11:17 PM
Tags: BC Ferries, Salt Spring Island, Travel

February 8, 2011
Sunset Splash

Sunset from Ambleside Sunset is an angel weeping / holding out a bloody sword They say there are disadvantages to living in West Vancouver: bridges to cross, not being right downtown in the centre of it all—wherever that is.

On nights like tonight, they don’t seem all that much like disadvantages.

Posted by skooter at 11:32 PM
Tags: Ambleside Beach, Ships, Water, Waves, West Vancouver

February 4, 2011
Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy

January 28, 2011
A Long Walk in the Sun

A phone call comes in with sad news for a friend on a sunny day in Vancouver and really the only option is to have a coffee on the beach then take a long slow walk together around English Bay through Stanley Park across the Lions Gate Bridge and finally home to West Vancouver. When Vancouver’s weather cooperates, there’s really not a lot of other places I’d like to be.

Posted by skooter at 10:44 PM
Tags: English Bay, Ships, Stanley Park, Tim Hortons

January 22, 2011
A Good Prominent Typo is Always Fun

Granville Magazine's Slide Sows A good typo hits everyone every once in a while, especially in the modern day and age when lax editorial standards seem to be the new norm. I once recall an errant t appearing on the end of the word far in an article I wrote for Beyond Robson. It was as much my fault as it was the editor’s, of course, though I never felt that much got edited at the time. I lament the days of working with a good editor.

This one’s at Granville Magazine is fun though because it’s so prominent and in the header of Oink Magazine it would be completely appropriate. It’s part of a template, and probably appears on quite a few pages. I’m curious how long its been there.

Posted by skooter at 10:59 AM
Tags: Granville Magazine, Online Publishing, Typo

December 31, 2010
Does Vancouver Need Its Own Nuit Blanche?

I’ve never been fortunate enough to be in Toronto when Nuit Blanche was happening. For the last few years I’ve jealously followed along as sites like BlogTO and Torontoist have covered Toronto’s annual twenty-four hour festival of arts and culture.

According to the Globe and Mail a group in Vancouver has formed hoping to bring the all night festival to Vancouver. I’m happy about this—I’ve repeatedly said that I wanted a Vancouver edition of the festival—but I also can’t help but wonder if the focus on creating a new festival is the best strategy. Vancouver has a thriving arts community with a number of outdoor festivals already. Cuts to arts and culture funding have been hard on these festivals in recent years and it’s possible that adding a new festival to the mix has the potential to do as much harm as good.

The Public Dreams Society is probably the best known of the groups that produces free outdoor events in Vancouver. The society’s annual Illuminares lantern festival and now seemingly semi-annual Parade of Lost Souls are amongst the most notable public festivals in North America, but both were reduced in size substantially this year. Illuminares has moved from its gorgeous outdoor location to a smaller indoor venue on the downtown eastside, while the Parade of Lost Souls no longer occupies the entirety of Commercial Drive that it used too.

The hard times that both of these festivals have hit were caused by sudden cuts to government funding and a lack of corporate sponsorship. It’s notable that Toronto’s Nuit Blanche festival is, in fact, the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. The marriage between arts and commerce has always been a bit tense, but the London Drugs Parade of Lost Souls just doesn’t quite have the same ring of magic it. Despite this, I know that a Nuit Blanche style festival in Vancouver won’t happen without sponsorship and I hope it doesn’t happen without the Public Dreams Society.

Even events with corporate sponsorship have suffered in Vancouver. The most notable example is the annual Celebration of Lights Festival. Fireworks festivals across the country hit hard times a few years ago with only Vancouver’s surviving thanks to title sponsorship from HSBC but the hard times hit again this year and the festival was officially canceled before being rescued at the last minute. The addition of a concert series to the four nights of fireworks expanded by the scope of the festival, but the Celebration of Light lacks the dynamic and mixed media nature that Nuit Blanche has. People tend to get to the beach early and park themselves on a blanket and relax in the (hopefully) sunny weather rather than moving around between venues.

The Eastside Culture Crawl is one of the Vancouver arts communities great success stories, and may serve as a good example for Nuit Blanches. This weekend long celebration of East Vancouver’s visual and textile arts is more of a collective of artists selling their work than a produced festival, and hasn’t seemed to have suffered from a lack of funding. The three day celebration runs on Friday night and through the day on Saturday and Sunday and sees thousands of people touring multiple venues throughout the city. The Crawl gets bigger every year, as anybody who’s visited the warmth of Joe Blow Glassworks on those chilly November evenings can attest. It seems like it would be easy to expand the Crawl, but the November weekend isn’t ideal.

The Vancouver International Fringe Festival is an excellent example as well. When the Fringe takes over its Granville Island location the sedate public market transforms into something completely different with buskers, musicians and performers of all kinds taking over the space under the bridge and slightly beyond. The Fringe is at heart a theatre festival, but it plays a bigger role than that in the Vancouver arts community and serves as an end of summer treat for fans of arts and culture.

With no lack of family friendly public events already, what’s the point of proposing a Nuit Blanche for Vancouver? The Toronto festival is something of a combination of all of the examples above: it celebrates visual and media arts with a dash of music thrown in as well. It focuses on outdoor performances and venues, but indoor galleries participate as well.

The twenty-four hour nature of Nuit Blanche is its most unique element, and one that Vancouver could benefit from. This is a sleepy town that goes to bed early. Keeping Vancouver up late is hard, though the success of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Fuse events is a testament to the fact that it can happen outside of the Olympics. An all night event such as this will draw press coverage and an audience that all artists benefit from, not just the ones who already have substantial public profiles. The mixed media nature of it will help families expose their kids to art forms they may not have experienced before.

In order to succeed a new all-night festival needs to work with prominent local musicians, performance groups and visual artists. The festival needs to extend beyond the city’s sterile downtown core to embrace East Vancouver and the Waterfront, hopefully including North Vancouver. Translink could help by keeping the Seabus and Skytrain systems running all night, allowing people to easily move between geographically dispersed venues. Vancouver’s unique geography offers opportunities for equally unique events: the Stanley Park Seawall could be an integral part of the celebrations if city hall decides to allow it—technically the park is closed after 11:00 p.m.

That’s a lot of cooperation, in a city where arts groups and politicians don’t always seem to cooperate well.

Whatever happens, I’m hopeful that a new event creates a lasting legacy and becomes a core pillar of Vancouver’s arts community. The traditional mid-summer Illuminares festival offers a good starting point for growth. Typically good weather and the legacy of an annual outdoor event that could be incorporated into something new and perhaps bigger may offer an easier path to success than starting from scratch. By integrating with other arts and culture groups Nuit Blanche’s legacy can be one of helping to build the existing community—one that’s suffered greatly in recent years—rather than competing with it.

Perhaps the Nuit Blanche name will offer a fresh start in the public’s eyes, and some familiarity based on its Hogtown history. Perhaps it can become one of the focal points for Vancouver’s arts community. Either way, on the eve of 2011 it’s nice to think that we have something new to look forward to in 2012.

December 25, 2010
Today Marks 10 Years of Living in Vancouver

It’s Christmas today. For most people the day is one spent with family and loved ones reminiscing about the year that’s past. For me Christmas always marks an extra anniversary: the end of a long drive from Toronto when I crossed the border at the Peace Arch and moved here.

It was ten years ago today that I did that. I’m starting to write this at 7 p.m., and probably by the time it’s done it will be about 9:30 which is about the time I arrive…home…that day. I’d actually flown out for a weekend earlier in the month so I’d already been there, but there was something different about this arrival. This time when the border guard asked “Where do you live, sir?” (for they are unflaggingly polite, unless given a reason) I answered “Vancouver.” It felt right.

It’s been a long and interesting ten years. Looking back it’s hard to remember the person I was when I moved here, in that existential way that we become different people as we move through life. I often joke that I moved out here for a girl and it’s true, in its way. I was living with a woman I loved and she had a career opportunity that was worth pursuing. My work at the time was done remotely by phone and online anyway, so the move wasn’t too disruptive. I followed the girl, and even pushed her a little to make the move because she wouldn’t have done it without encouragement.

Ten years later, five or six addresses, a marriage, a divorce and many girls later I’m still here. Sometimes I wonder how it happened. No too often, but sometimes.

Vancouver is home for me now. Toronto—the only other city I’ve truly lived in, though there have been brief stays elsewhere—has faded from me. When I visit, the geography of the city has changed enough to be unfamiliar to me. I still know it, but not the way I used too: the ROM has a new edifice that I dislike, the AGO has a beautiful addition designed by Frank Gehry, the University of Toronto’s campus has changed, the home I grew up in is no longer the one my mother lives in and the neighbourhoods I visit aren’t the same ones they used to be.

I visit sporadically, but I visit because there are people I miss not places. James and Richard and Jamil, who are like brothers to me. I go long periods without seeing them but when we finally do see each other those periods don’t matter. I have no friends like these in Vancouver, and I probably never will: I’ve known those three since we were in Grade Five together. These are friendships that took time to develop.

I don’t miss Toronto, I miss the people.

I have a Grandmother who lives near Toronto, and thinking about her always makes me sad. Her health isn’t good and my last visit to Toronto was prompted by an expectation that she would pass away. She didn’t (she’s a tough old broad) but it will probably be the last time I see her. Age has been unkind to her in the last few years, and I’d like to think she knew that I was there but I can’t be sure. I think she did.

My Grandfather passed away a long time ago, and I’ve missed him every day since. He bought me my first camera and there is a part of him in every photo I’ve ever taken. I think he’d be proud of some of them. He would have loved it in Vancouver, and I would have loved to explore the area with him, our cameras in hand. I have the last camera he ever gave me and it’s one of my most prized possessions.

I have a Grandmother and Grandfather in Vancouver as well, and age hasn’t been any kinder to them in the last few years. To be honest I didn’t expect either one of them to still be alive ten years after I got here: I’m glad they are, though I haven’t seen them in a while. They live rather far from here, and I no longer own a car. It’s a challenge.

Vancouver has changed in the last ten years as much—perhaps more so—than Toronto has, and I’ve changed along with it. Last year’s Olympics had a dramatic effect of course but there have been other more subtle changes along the way. I’ve watched tall towers being erected downtown at an incredible pace and the I’ve moved four or five times into drastically different neighbourhoods, giving me an appreciation for the city’s diversity that I didn’t have when I moved here.

I’ve made and lost friends in those ten years, too many to remember. The last year has been a particularly good one for new connections. I moved a couple of times and with each of those moves things have changed. There are many people who’ve made the last year a great one and I hesitate to name them lest I forget a few. I trust that they know who they are and that they know how much I appreciate the role that they’ve played in my life in a year that has been at times immensely challenging and at times immensely rewarding.

I’ve explored up and down the coast I live on now. I’ve traveled through Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, and (of course) California. This home of mine has been good to me. It’s offered my camera and I the opportunity to see things I only imagined when I lived in Toronto. The words canyon and chasm and valley and mountain are part of my daily vernacular in a way they never were before. I’ve traveled by car, by train, by motorcycle and by bicycle. I’m hoping to spend ten more years doing the same. There are people I’ve met and places I’ve been that I’d like to see again.

It’s been ten years today since I moved to Vancouver. I’d like to thank the people who’ve made the last ten years special. I’d like to apologize to the people I’ve disappointed or let down in those ten years. I’d like to spend the next ten years trying to do better.

It was ten years ago today I called Vancouver home for the first time. It’s been a great ten years.

Posted by skooter at 2:54 AM
Tags: Friends, Narcicism, Vancouver

November 2, 2010
Three Blocks from Home

View from Ambleside BeachView from Ambleside Beach Three blocks from home. Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver.

October 24, 2010
Thrill the World Vancouver 2010

Thrill the World started in 2007 as a relatively small event intended to set the world record for the number of people to simultaneously dance Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance. When Jackson died on June 25, 2009 the event was vaulted into the limelight as a way to honour the memory of a performer who—whatever you think of his…antics…later in life—was the King of Pop at a time when that took real work to achieve, not just a few minutes of internet infamy. Jackson’s legacy is undeniable, and the Thrill the World dances that happen simultaneously world wide are proof.

Vancouver’s event was held on October 23rd, 2010 at the Roundhouse Community Centre and 284 people participated in raising funds for the Vancouver Food Bank. I shot stills during the rehearsals—a complete set is available on Flickr a video of the final dance performance.

Thrill the World Vancouver 2010 from Skot Nelson on Vimeo.

September 21, 2010
2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Photos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe Festival Over the last ten days, in and amongst other things, I’ve been busy photographing the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival as part of a talented team of photographers. It’s been an honour to spend time with the enthusiastic staff and volunteers who make the event possible, the performers who bring such amazing live theatre to Vancouver and the other photographers who are contributing to the Vancouver International Fringe Festival pool on Flickr.

Some, but not all, of the photos I took are in a Flickr collection.

August 19, 2010
A Walk Around the Neighbourhood

Sunset in Mt. Pleasant Sunset in Mt. PleasantSunset in Mt. PleasantSunset in Mt. PleasantSunset in Mt. PleasantSunset in Mt. Pleasant

Yesterday started gloomily, and after attending the CBC’s free concert at noon and a swim I wound up at home working in the afternoon. As the sun broke through a layer of clouds in the early evening it seemed like a decent time for a short walk. Little did I know that I’d bump into a dude who was chillin’ like a villen.

I sat down on the bench beside him for a while and listened in on a fairly active conversation that was obviously happening in his head. Topics ranged from why teenagers would carry firearms to school to the conversations his mother had with his aunts Dolly & Glenna.

Posted by skooter at 10:04 PM
Tags: Architecture, China Creek Park, Mt. Pleasant, Sunset

August 13, 2010
A Day in Vancouver

Sometimes, it’s perfectly reasonable to just walk around with your camera for a bit.

Somewhere in there I attended a good old fashioned rock and roll concert. Photos of Cotton Jones and the Parson Red Heads are on Guttersnipe.

Posted by skooter at 5:40 AM
Tags: City Hall, cycling, Jericho Beach, Sunset, Vancouver

August 8, 2010
Is North Vancouver Part of Alaska? Google Says Yes.

Google Maps image of Burrard Inlet

I’m heading to the Under the Volcano festival today, so I checked out Cates Park on Google Maps to see what the walking distance is in North Vancouver from other destinations (most notably, Honey’s Doughnuts.) I was quite surprised to notice that while the waters of the Burrard Inlet are labeled correctly, the waters off of Cates Park—farther east, and surrounded on three sides by various areas of Vancouver—are not.

As it turns out, Google seems to think that North Vancouver might, in fact, be a part of Southeast Alaska.

There’s a shuttle running to the festival, and I think I’m going to take it over instead of cycling. It’ll make towing camera equipment around a whole lot easier.

The image is a composite of two Google Maps images. Click to see a larger view.

July 27, 2010
Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

I wrote daily wrap ups of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival for Beyond Robson (click to read Day One, Day Two and Day Three on the site) which kept me busy and up late during the festival itself, so I didn’t write much here. A week later, I’m finally getting around to it.

I have a full collection of photos on flickr to browse through. I’ll excerpt some of those here along with some thoughts. Read on.

Day One

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010This was my first Folk Fest, and I was planning on being pretty mobile and taking pictures which means I didn’t rush down to get a coveted blanket position. This worked just fine for me, but I was amazed at the size of the crowd that was already there an hour after the gate opened. If I had been staking out blanket space I would’ve been well back from the stage. Impressive turnout, Vancouver. Nice show of enthusiasm. Now why don’t you go see any other shows? Sigh.

Day One only uses the Main Stage, with a constant rotation of acts. A pattern emerged of having a main act play followed by—and I apologize for the inelegant term here—a small, filler act. These acts keep the music going, which is a lot nicer than 20 minutes of silence while a stage is rejigged.

Day one’s highlights were Shane Koyczan & the Short Story Long, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, the Avett Brothers and Calexico whose horn section was the perfect accompaniment as the sun set fire to the crowd. I’d absolutely see Calexico again in the right venue.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

Lantern Procession

Thanks to a twitter comment I caught along the way, I knew there were going to be lanterns at the Folk Fest, but I didn’t know that there was going to be a nightly lantern parade. It’s hard to describe how beautiful these lanterns can be, especially in a starry outdoor sky. They hover in the air like spirits aglow, and the Folk Festival parade serves as a guide to light the way out of Jericho Park. There was a science fiction or space theme to some of this year’s lanterns, naturally making me a very happy boy. The Mr. Spock lantern was built by the talented Jacquie Rolston (who was also dressed in a Princess Leia costume) and the Serenity lantern was made by Jeannie. I got a little obsessed with both of these: sorry ladies!

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

Day Two

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010A night of solid sleep after spending the day in the sun got me back to the festival fairly early the next day, and I caught the first of many workshops. This one was called Troubadours and featured Sarah Harmer who was definitely the star of day two if the opinions of my friends mattered.

I left the Troubadours to the sounds of Four Strong Winds and my ears took me off to the left (this might be the unique bias created by being deaf in my right ear, but I’ll leave it up to you decide.) The Gertrudes were packing the stage with something like nine musicians. A definite find for the weekend, I’ll be at every one of their Vancouver shows when they make it back here.

Other highlights included Playing for Change’s African rhythms which are trying to do nothing less than change the world, Alex Cuba’s latin infused rock and roll, the beautiful voice of PEI’s Catherine McLellan and Matt Epp. Day two was a day for exploring and finding, and the Folk Fest didn’t dissappoint.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

Day Three

I slept in a bit on day three, and got to the festival grounds at about noon. This means I missed a performance by The Gertrudes, but I can live with that.

The highlights of day three were concentrated on Stage Five for me, with the United Steelworkers of Montreal, The Gertrudes, Matt Epp, The Deep Dark Woods and the Malahat Revue all playing on the secondary stage. It was a definite home for the local indie rock crowd: there were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd.

Hannah Georgas at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Jeremy Fisher at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Aidan Knight at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010The United Steelworkers of Montreal at Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010The Deep Dark Woods at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

All Things Must Pass

Three days of sun, fun, lovely people and wonderful music in the glorious sunshine of Jericho Beach are no exception, and all things must come to an end. Will I be back next year? Count on it.

July 25, 2010
Illuminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum Building

Illuminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum Building Illuminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum BuildingIlluminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum BuildingIlluminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum BuildingIlluminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum BuildingIlluminares 2010 at the W2 Storyeum Building Vancouver’s annual Illuminares Festival is one of the events that makes this city a truly special place. Traditionally held in the beautiful outdoor space of Trout Lake, this year’s festival was moved to the W2 Storyeum building on Cordova Street.

The move was interesting. The Storyeum space’s high ceilings certainly feel less enclosed than many alternatives, but something of the magic of the outdoor gathering was missing. The lanterns were beautiful but hourly processions that made their way outdoors into a Gastown alley fell a bit short of my memories of years past.

While I’d still happily attend the event next year if it’s in the same location, I’m hopeful that the city does something here to help the festival move back to Trout Lake, or find another outdoor space for it (perhaps Crab Park, though parking and transportation would be a nightmare.)

More photos are on flickr.

Posted by skooter at 10:31 PM
Tags: Illuminares, Lanterns, Public Dreams Society

July 13, 2010
Don't Waste the Sunset

Don't Waste the Sunset

Posted by skooter at 4:28 PM
Tags: Creekside Park, Science World, Sunset

July 10, 2010
Chess Set at Ontario & 18th

Large Chess Set at Ontario & 18th Large Chess Set at Ontario & 18th

Posted by skooter at 4:06 PM
Tags: Chess, Ontario Bike Route, Public Art, Vancouver

July 3, 2010
Vancouver's Pantages Theatre will Disappear

Vancouver’s Pantages Theatre will be torn down, a victim of the savage environment that this city’s Downtown East Side has become.

Roof damage caused when thieves dropped a parking meter from the neighbouring building has allowed water to seep into the theatre, causing much of the interior to rot.

There was some hope to restore the theatre, though even without the current damage the cost would have been prohibitive and it’s hard to imagine where the audience might have come from. The Firehall Arts Centre is just around the corner: a tiny venue, it attracts a dedicated crowd of live theatre lovers. The restored Rickshaw Theatre now operates as a live music venue in the same neighbourhood, but the acts are far from the mainstream. Neither of these audiences would have been large enough to support a costly renovation such as the Pantages.

Advocates for the DTES like to point out that it’s a neighbourhood, a community like no other where people help take care of each other in a place where no one else will. It’s also a neighbourhood that continues to eat itself. It’s hard to imagine a solution to this. It’s hard to see the end.

Pantages Theatre, 100 Block East Hastings, VancouverPeople cite the Woodward’s building as an example of what can work, and how great buildings can can help build neighbourhoods. The problem is Woodward’s doesn’t work: it’s a falacious example. A seemingly impossibly tall tower of glass and concrete is not a part of the neighbourhood. The residents may walk its streets but that’s all they do: they aren’t part of the community, sheltered in their half million dollar accommodations while people below them live in tents and out of shopping carts.

It would have been nice to have another theatre venue in town. It would have been nice to have another beautiful restoration in the Downtown East Side, because there are (or were) beautiful old buildings in the Downtown East Side.

It wouldn’t have mattered though. The theatre is too close to the street, and neighbourhood would have eaten it again eventually.

Stanley Park 9 o'clock Gun

Posted by skooter at 6:30 AM
Tags: Cannon, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Western Front's Sonic Playground at the Roundhouse Community Centre

The Western Front is one of my favourite Vancouver arts organizations. Located in Mt. Pleasant, the front providers rehearsal and performance space as well as runs arts education programs for children.

The Front stages events in other locations, and this weekend’s Sonic Playground is happening at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Centre. It’s a participatory art exhibit targeting the entire family, and also a whole lot of fun.

July 1, 2010
Klahowya Village in Stanley Park

Klahowya Village in Stanley Park Klahowya Village in Stanley ParkKlahowya Village in Stanley ParkKlahowya Village in Stanley ParkKlahowya Village in Stanley ParkKlahowya Village in Stanley Park The Klahowya Village is in the heart of Stanley Park, and celebrates the cultures of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations who once called the park’s lands home. There are more photos on flickr

June 28, 2010
Crab Fountain, Museum of Vancouver

Crab Fountain at the Musuem of Vancouver Crab Fountain at the Musuem of Vancouver The Crab Fountain at the Museum of Vancouver is one of Vancouver’s most prominent pieces of public art, and one of its largest. Located a bit off the beaten path at the rather underwhelming Museum of Vancouver, the dramatic sculpture is nonetheless a highly photographed object. I was particularly fond, on this day, of the way the crab’s arms framed the Canadian flag in the background.

A plaque is located at the base of the sculpture, and it reads:

This fountain sculpture, made by George Norris, was commissioned by the Women’s Activities Group of the Centennial Committee of Vancouver as a gift to the citizens of Vancouver.

Beneath this plaque is a time capsule to be opened on Canada’s Bicentennial, July 1, 2067

The crab was looked on by the Indians as the guardian of the harbour and is also the sign of he zodiac for the period beginning July first, Canada’s birthday.

Posted by skooter at 11:22 PM
Tags: Museum of Vancouver, Museums, Public Art

June 26, 2010
Vancouver Critical Mass - June 2010

Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010 Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010

Posted by skooter at 4:24 PM
Tags: Critical Mass, Cycling

June 21, 2010
Mondo Spider


Today was Car Free Day in Vancouver, so I wandered up Main Street. Mondo Spider was the definite highlight.

June 20, 2010
2202 Main Street, Vancouver

2202 Main Street, Vancouver, BC

Posted by skooter at 12:54 AM
Tags: Abandoned Buildings, Architecture, Main Street

June 18, 2010
Eddy Merckx Made Me Do It

Today is Eddy Merckx’s 65th birthday. Even at 65, I’m reasonably certain that Eddy could kick my ass on the average bike ride. Such is life. I’m working on it.

Since I own a Merckx frame (kitted out with Campagnolo Centaur, of course) I figured I had to do something to celebrate, so in the afternoon I saddled up and headed to North Vancouver intent of riding to the top of Mt. Seymour for for the first time.

“Why Seymour” you ask? What… “Because it’s there” isn’t a good enough answer for you? No matter. There was a reason.

Last week I connected with a small group of cyclists and pedalled to the summit of Cypress Bowl for the first time. I’ve lived here ten years, but I’d just never gotten around to climbing that mountain on anything with less than a 750cc engine. I figured it was about time.

So…having knocked off Cypress, I figured it was time to hit Seymour. I may have been a bit cocky: Cypress seemed…easier than I expected it too. Maybe it was a good day. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t raining. Maybe it is easier. Whatever the reason, it was time to move on. No resting on personal laurels here.

Seymour definitely felt harder. The numbers paint a story of two different mountains. The Cypress Bowl road stars at a higher altitude, and it’s longer. At 15km in length road has an altitude gain of about 1200m, for an average grade of 8%. Though there are a couple of short steep sections, it’s a pretty steady grind and 8% isn’t steep.

Seymour is a 12.5km road, and the first 6km have about 600m of altitude gain for a grade of 10%. Now 10% is where we start to get steep. Those additional 2% make a noticeable difference. It might not seem like it to you, sitting at home reading this but trust me they do.

After that thing level off a bit, though there are still steep sections and the average grade doesn’t change much. The problem with things levelling off after that, of course, is that the relentless pull of gravity has already been working against you for 6km. Plus those steep sections…blurg.

It wasn’t particularly helpful that it started raining at about the 6km point either. Far be it from me to complain. Let’s just leave it at…it wasn’t particularly helpful. The visibility got so bad that I actually just took my glasses off at one point. I see reasonably well without them, and at 7km/h I was pretty confident that nothing was going to sneak up on me that quickly (from the front, anyway.)

The bigger problem with the weather is that it reduced the fun factor of the descent quite a bit. Slick roads and poor visibility meant I had to be cautious. Wet rims on Campagnolo Skeleton caliper brakes also reminded me of exactly why I like the disc brakes on my touring bike: man those things stop like you won’t believe. Again, far be it from me to complain…the skeletons were great. It’s just that compared to discs…blurg.

I froze on the descent, because it’s June and I refuse to wear a long sleeve wool jersey in June, Vancouver. Are you listening? I should have worn my arm warmers though. I wasn’t anticipating the rain, but they would have been good to have with me.

Towards the bottom, below the precipitation line, I was able to let go and fly. To give you an idea of how much difference that extra 2% of grade can make when I descended Cypress I just barely topped a speed of 70km/h, and that involved some top gear pedaling. Today I hit 74.65km/h with no pedalling, and with roads still damp and a corner approaching I wasn’t even in a full tuck.

So in the last two weeks, I’ve ascended both of Vancouver’s mountain climbs for the first time since I’ve lived here. Have no fear, my mountainous foes, for I shall return—but I might wait for a sunny day.

Thanks for the ride, Eddy. It was totally worth it. And Axel: next time you’re in town if you need a riding partner, drop me a note. Your dad will be there in spirit anyway.

June 17, 2010
Parker Street Studios

The Parker Street Studios are home to some of Vancouver’s best artisans, and are a popular destination on the annual Eastside Culture Craw. Located in Vancouver’s old industrial lands, their rough interior is outdone by their even rougher and exterior. The buildings are in the perfect state of decrepitness that makes them a joy to photograph.

Posted by skooter at 6:18 PM
Tags: Architecture, Artists, East Vancouver

June 15, 2010
Vancouver's Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane Opens

The city has been busy installing a separated bike lane on Dunsmuir over the past few weeks (though the first step actually took place during the Olympics, when the Dusnmuir Viaduct bike lane was opened.) Today marked the bike lane’s official opening.

Mayor Gregor Robertson was joined by a group of cyclists for the inaugural ride, followed by obligatory speeches. Key points that were made:

It’s worth noting that while Dunsmuir is a one way street westbound the bike lane is a two way lane running on the north side of the street. This means that eastbound cyclists—normally accustomed to travelling on the south side of the street—will be immediately adjacent to vehicles. It can be a bit disconcerting at first, but once you get used to it it’s really no big deal. I’ve been told by city staff that Beatty Street is a good route for merging into the lane.

Posted by skooter at 7:59 PM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver

June 10, 2010
No Skating on Deer Lake Infographic

No Skating Infographic, Burnaby Lake I had a few minutes to spare in Burnaby the other day, and went for a short walk on a trail on Burnaby Lake. It took me about five minutes to figure out what this infographic sign was supposed to be telling me what not to do. At first I thought it meant no walking on the lake, which didn’t make that much sense (although I do have an iPhone, and it might have an app that lets me do that.)

The skate graphic is far too subtle here and hardly noticeable from even a moderate distance.

Posted by skooter at 4:35 PM
Tags: Infographics, Information Design

June 7, 2010
Parking Rates in Vancouver

Parking Meter in Vancouver It’s no secret that I don’t drive much, and lobby fairly seriously for people to cycle or take transit as much as they can. I’ve long argued that parking in downtown Vancouver was far too cheap and far too plentiful. Until about a year go there was such ample free parking outside the downtown Aquatic Centre (and near the ocean’s shore) that I never had to pay on the rare and inevitably rainy nights that I drove to swim. These spots were eliminated when parking meters were installed.

The rest of downtown still had meters whose cost paled in comparison to Toronto, but apparently things have changed a bit. I was downtown to pick up a friend from Germany and found a spot instead of continuing to loop around the block. You’d think $1 for 10 minutes would be sufficient to discourage people from parking, but the spots were full.

Now that I think about it, I wonder what a ticket costs? It might actually be cheaper to just leave your car here and get a ticket that it would be to pay for parking.

Now if only we started charging downtown residents more for their parking permits, which at $65 per year are ridiculously low in an area where private parking costs quite a bit more. People complain that the buildings don’t have parking spots but that’s sort of the point: if you live in a building that doesn’t provide parking, it’s not up to the rest of the city to subsidize you.

Of course the bigger problem is people who have private parking spots but continue to park on the road because its more convenient.

At least we’re taking steps in the right direction.

Posted by skooter at 3:17 AM
Tags: Cars, cycling, Environmentalism, Parking

June 2, 2010
Douglas Coupland's Pixelated Orca Statue

Douglas Coupland's Pixelated Orca Sculpture Douglas Coupland's Pixelated Orca Sculpture Douglas Coupland's Pixelated Orca Sculpture

Located on the western side of the new Vancouver Convention Centre, the Douglas Coupland created Digital Orca sculpture takes Coupland’s fascination with Lego to its natural extreme.

Posted by skooter at 1:54 AM
Tags: Douglas Coupland, Orca, Sculpture, Vancouver

May 26, 2010
Mt. Pleasant Photos

More photos from Mt. Pleasant below. The full (and still growing) collection is in the galleries.

Posted by skooter at 1:45 AM
Tags: Mount Pleasant, Photos, Vancouver

May 22, 2010
Beaty Biodiversity Museum Preview

I attended the first of five summer previews of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC today. The feature exhibit is an 85 foot long skeleton of a Blue Whale largest mammal ever to have inhabited our biosphere, hunted to near extinction by man.

The skeleton is stunning, and well worth seeing. There are more photos than the ones below in the galleries section.

Posted by skooter at 11:20 PM
Tags: Environmentalism, UBC, Vancouver, Whales

May 21, 2010
Sunset Over Downtown Vancouver

Sunset Over Downtown Vancouver as seen from Science World

Posted by skooter at 6:08 AM
Tags: Sunset, Vancouver

May 15, 2010
No Smoking

No Smoking sign at J.J. Bean's

Posted by skooter at 3:49 AM
Tags: No Smoking, Patio, Vancouver

May 13, 2010
Concrete Hat

Hardhat coated in Concrete, Mt. Pleasant, Vancouver

Posted by skooter at 5:23 PM
Tags: Construction

Ace Rides Gently Into the Night

Ace Cycles on Broadway in Vancouver isn’t a store that I spend much time in, but it once would have been. It’s overrun by mass market mountain bikes of the sort that parents buy for their teenagers.

Once, though, they had a vintage 1980s Miele in the window with gold anodized rims and a gold chain. Now that’s a bike I would have loved to have.

Ace is a cycling legend in town, and he will be missed. He died at 88 years old.

Lorne Atkinson kept cycling alive in postwar Vancouver
Tom Hawthorn, Published on Wednesday, May. 12, 2010 8:21PM EDT

Lorne (Ace) Atkinson’s name is synonymous with cycling in Vancouver.

He raced at the Olympics, coached Canadian teams and organized international competitions in his hometown.

Atkinson, who has died at the age of 88, was proprietor of a popular bike shop, where he outfitted generations of cyclists, from world-class racers to weekend sightseers.

Ace Cycles opened its doors in 1946 on West Broadway, where it remains a fixture of the Kitsilano neighbourhood. The owner lived in an apartment above a store in which he could often be seen doing repairs, his hands covered in oil and grease.

Posted by skooter at 3:20 PM
Tags: Cycling, Obituaries

May 9, 2010
Dan Mangan at the Vogue Theatre: May 8, 2010

To see an artist in their hometown is always a special thing. Playing at home in front of family and friends artists are at ease…more natural. Performances become more intimate because of the connections to the audience, usually a more established and obviously appreciative fan base.

Dan Mangan lives in Vancouver, and last night he played one of Vancouver’s premiere venues—the Vogue Theatre. Calling the night electric doesn’t do it justice. From the moment Dan took the stage, it was obvious that he was right where he belonged.
Dan takes to to the stage, opening with Sold

Opening with the uptempo Sold from last year’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice got the crowd started quite nicely. A more straightforward and rocking song than much of the material from the album, it was followed closely by Road Regrets, a song which has ended forever the debate over the age old question “What’s the best rock and roll road trip song?”
Dan Mangan at the Vogue Theatre

Most of Nice, Nice, Very Nice was played throughout the night, with Dan playing the occasional number solo on stage. About half way through the show he was joined on stage by Ivan E. Coyote who told a love story—her version of it at least—interspersed with verses from Pine for the Cedars. I saw Dan and Ivan at the Anza Club last year and it was one of the most interesting live events I’d attended. The crowd at the Vogue was more raucous than that intimate show, but no less appreciative.
Dan Mangan & Ivan E. Coyote, Pine for the Cedars Dan Mangan at the Vogue Theatre

Dan also played two new songs during the night: one inspired by travels through the small and dwindling towns of North Ontario which seems likely to be titled Oh Fortune; the other I can’t recall.

As the night went on and the clock approached the curfew time of 11:00, Dan left the stage and came down into the audience. Initially joined—tentatively, it should be noted—by two younger girls he was quickly surrounded and overwhelmed by an adoring fan base that rushed the stage (something I’ve never seen happen at many Vogue shows.) Playing from the audience floor for almost an entire number, Dan clambered back on stage at last. I half expected him to do a bit of Peter Gabriel Lay Your Hands on Me style crowd surfing.
Dan Mangan climbs back on stage, surrounded by adoring fans.

Reliable crowd pleaser Robots followed, with the crowd staying at the foot of the stage for the inevitable sing-along chorus of “Robots need love too” , ending the first part of the show at about 10:30. An encore followed, naturally, including the quieter and more contemplative So Much for Everyone from Dan’s first full length album Postcards and Daydreaming. Accompanied by the crowd—dubbed by Dan as the Granville Street Choir—the night came to a quieter close, followed by another round of raucous applause until the house lights went up.

Seeing an artist in their hometown is always special. When it’s an artist with the immense talent that Dan Mangan has, it’s not just special—it’s magic.

A quiet stage.

A larger selection of photos from the show is on Flickr.

Posted by skooter at 5:59 PM
Tags: Dan Mangan, Ivan Coyote, Vogue Theatre

May 6, 2010
One Grey Whale In All These Oceans

Much abuzz in Vancouver yesterday, as a Grey Whale was spotted in False Creek.

I was actually pedalling towards the swimming pool when I saw an enormous crowd on the False Creek Seawall and someone mentioned a whale, so I paused. Of course I’d left my camera at home and the camera on my iPod wasn’t enough to catch the very brief glimpse that I got of the amazing creature.

Christine MacAvoy has photos taken from the Granville Bridge that do a good job of showing the action.

Rumour is our friend is still hanging around today, though I’ve got a busy day and I’m not sure I’ll have a chance to see it. Perhaps if I walk home from downtown along the seawall.

Posted by skooter at 3:35 PM
Tags: False Creek, Whale

May 2, 2010
Posters on the Opsal Steel Building

Posted by skooter at 2:08 AM
Tags: Architecture, Vancouver

April 28, 2010
South East False Creek, Vancouver's Olympic Village

During the Olympics, South East False Creek was off limits. Home to the athletes village, only those with appropriate security clearances could visit. It’s since been opened up for public access, and one of the parks that was built is a necessary detour on my current bike route.

Clouds Bird house on a steel girder Tunnel Condos in South East False Creek

Posted by skooter at 10:53 PM
Tags: 2010, Parks

March 28, 2010
Orange Bears

Orange Bears at the 49th Avenue Skytrain Station Orange Bears at the 49th Avenue Skytrain Station Orange Bears at the 49th Avenue Skytrain Station

Posted by skooter at 4:20 PM
Tags: Orange, Public Art, Sculpture

March 3, 2010
Stephen Brunt - On The Olympics

February 10, 2010
Edmonton, Baby!

I’m in Edmonton for work and—to answer the question, occasionally unspoken but always considered—I didn’t lose a bet. I actually volunteered, in part so that I could reconnect with friends.

It turns out that the only part of Edmonton I know is Whyte Avenue. It could be worse: it’s a pretty good part of town, with interesting sites to see. Of course, I’m hanging out in a Starbucks at Chapters with some free Wi-Fi. These are the compromises we make for connectivity.

I was last here in the summertime, about nine months ago, and things have changed. A nice small used bookstore I tried to spend some money in is closed. With Pages having closed in Toronto and Duthies closed in Vancouver, this is a trend that is becoming problematic for those of us who like the printed page.

I turned a TV on in a hotel room last night and lasted about a minute and a half. I haven’t had one for the last nine months or so, and the commercials and barrage of noise grate on me. The longer I stay away from it, the more annoying it gets. Back to CBC.

It’s snowy here, which is something I haven’t seen very much of this year. It makes me think that they maybe should have held the Winter Olympics here. In two days, Vancouver’s going to get crazier than it’s ever been. I fly home tonight, and I’m looking forward to it—and not just because of this Saturday night’s Wilco show.

Posted by skooter at 8:23 PM
Tags: 2010, Edmonton, Vancouver Olympics, Wilco

December 22, 2009
Really? In Vancouver?

Insured by Smith and Wesson

Posted by skooter at 10:19 PM
Tags: America, Conservative Party of Canada, Guns

December 18, 2009
2009's Best Albums

With the end of the year approaching, lists are everywhere. It seems rather silly for me to buck this rather benign trend, so some thoughts about a year in music.

Having gotten rid of my television completely early this year, I’ve had a year that’s been fairly saturated in music.

Picking a Best album can be a fool’s game. Is there ever a single best? Is one album so much better than others that it can really be singled out from the crowd? This list is far from a complete list of everything I liked this year, but it’s a good start.

Dan Mangan: Nice, Nice, Very Nice

If there was this year, for me, it would probably be Dan Mangan’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Coming in a year which had Neko Case releasing Middle Cyclone and Wilco’s Wilco (the Album) this is no faint praise. Dan’s album has a depth that’s just amazing, and it’s been on heavy repeat for me since late August when I discovered it. I first heard Dan being interviewed by Stephen Quinn on CBC on one of those extremely rare summer days when I had driven to work in the last week of August. I was immediately blown away, and bought the album as soon as I got home. Sadly, I missed the album launch that weekend at The Cultch on my birthday.

Fair Verona is quite possibly my favourite song on the album. It’s quirky timings lack the radio friendliness of Road Regrets and the crowd pleasing hand clapping of Robots but it’s a song that lingers in the mind. Basket is another, and after hearing Dan play it live it’s firmly in the category of music that reaches deep into me in a very personal way.

It’s an amazing album, and if Dan doens’t win the Polaris Music Prize next year…well, buy whatever does. It’s hard to imagine an album of this depth.

There’s no doubt that the fact that Dan is new to me is a huge part of the appeal, but an album this good would have blown me away regardless. If I do have to pick a single best of Nice, Nice, Very Nice is probably it.

Wilco (the Album)

A new Wilco album is always a treat and this year’s was no exception. Jeff Tweedy claims to be happier than he has been in years and it shows—the album is cheerful and upbeat when compared to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Summerteeth, and A Ghost is Born. If there’s an album this year that defies the notion that great art comes from sadness, this is it.

Standout tracks include One Wing, Bull Black Nova and I’ll Fight.

Wilco also released Ashes of American Flags on DVD and (as they have always done) offered the DVD’s music content for download. If there’s anything better than Wilco in the studio it’s Wilco live and Ashes of American Flags doesn’t disappoint. From the chimes of the opening track to the rediscovered vocal of It’s Just That Simple from A.M. this was the album that I listened to the most through late spring and beginning of the summer.

Neko Case: Middle Cyclone

It seems as if Neko can do no wrong: from the very early Canadian Amp through Blacklisted and all the way to Middle Cyclone her albums are so consistently good it’s hard to imagine her ever putting out a bad one.

Middle Cyclone, largely produced on her farm in Vermont, has been called the only animal rights album that doesn’t suck. Neko’s lyrics are full of the kind of wry humour that comes from the dark places in your heart.

Neko called Don’t Forget Me the saddest song ever the first time I heard her sing it, and it’s hard to disagree with that. On the album the much discussed piano orchestra she rustled up from Craigslist gives the song a big, rich sound.

She’s introduced the incredibly fun People Got a Lot of Nerve this way:

“Picture elephants, and killer whales, in a jeep…on a killing spree. They’re four wheelin’, they got rifles, let’s do it.”

and Middle Cyclone was recorded with a home made music box as the main instrument and it’s rough analog sound is just beautiful.

Topping it all off, the album ends with 31 minutes of frogs and crickets recorded on the farm. In an interview Neko said that it was actually about four minutes that was looped back on itself because that was about as long as she could stand still before her cords started making that “whup whup whup” sound. I wish I could find that interview, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

Amy Milan: Masters of the Burial

CBC radio’s Q has been the single best thing to happen to the Canadian arts & culture scene in the last year, and it’s how I found Amy Millan. On the way home from Dan Mangan’s show at the Port Moody Festival of the Arts I was listening, and Jian Ghomeshi was interviewing Amy. Struck by the interview, I thought I’d go see her live at the Biltmore. It turned out to be a great and memorable night out.

After the show I bought the album—with a photo of an elephant on the cover, it was almost mandatory for me—and its gradually worked its way into my frequent listening over the past month or so. Beautiful and introspective, its spare roots aesthetic has endless appeal. Between Amy and seeing Jason Collett I may yet become a Broken Social Scene fan (though I feel disloyal to Vancouver’s local supergroup The New Pornographers when I say that.)

November 22, 2009
A Day in the Life of an Indie Rock Tour

Dan Mangan - The CBC Sessions (2009) from Neil Mangan on Vimeo.

Well worth watching, even if only to see Jian grooving along to a beautiful performance of Basket.

Posted by skooter at 10:16 PM
Tags: CBC, Dan Mangan, Music

November 3, 2009
Positive Reviews for the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane

The Burrard Bridge Bike Lane trial has been a hit, apparently, to no one’s surprise but a few who seem to think that anything done to support the use of anything other than a car for transportation is bad.

Burrard bike lanes win public support: city survey
_Last Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009, CBC News#

The temporary bike lanes on Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge could be here to stay after a city survey found bike traffic was up, accidents were down and supporters outnumbered opponents nearly two to one.

Personally it’s been wonderful, making crossing the Burrard Bridge a pleasure. I used to occasionally take the road instead of the narrow split sidewal bike lane: I’m no longer forced to make that choice.

The report to council is online as a PDF file. The survey sample is small, but it’s larger than the chorus of cranky individuals who speak out against such things.

So, it appears as if bike lanes are here to stay.

Posted by skooter at 1:17 PM
Tags: Bikes, Cycling, Vancouver

October 7, 2009
The New York Times on Squamish

The New York Times’ Frugal Traveller visits Squamish and likes what he sees.

Really, what’s not too like? Squamish is a great place, if a little isolated.

Posted by skooter at 8:07 PM
Tags: Squamish, Travel, Vancouver, Vancouver Olympics

September 27, 2009
Last Days of Summer 2009

September 14, 2009
Live Every Week Like it's Shark Week

When the time comes for my personal day or reckoning—when the reaper is at my door just waiting for that last breath of air to come through my lips, and I’m looking back on my life and it’s highlights the weekend past is going to, without a shadow of a doubt, make the list of Top 10 Weekends Ever. Along with that first taste of freedom at the end of high school (marking the beginning of that liminal period between youth and full-fledged adulthood) and a spectacular birthday weekend sitting on the shore of Vancouver Island’s Long Beach this weekend will be there.

The weather was sunny and warm and glorious—rare for Vancouver at this time of year. Toronto was warmer, and some will point that out; to these naysayers I have only to say “Pacific Ocean.” I’ll take our slightly lower temperatures with that any day. This weekend—the first after Labour Day—marks the closing of Kitsilano Pool so it was time to get outside.

So, without further ado, from Friday to Sunday night a partial but reasonably complete list of what makes this weekend epic.

Friday night post work swim at Kits Pool; dinner at Go Fish; sitting outside at Stanley Park listening to the Skydiggers sing I Will Give You Everything; Saturday morning errand running at Granville Island; Saturday evening back to the Skydiggers at Stanley Park; Neil Young at Ambleside Beach; Immaculate Machine at the Biltmore Cabaret (including an awesome rendition of The Boys are Back in Town they claimed to have learned the night before at a Chilliwack karaoke bar); Sunday morning breakfast on the patio at Honey’s Doughnuts in Deep Cove; an afternoon hanging out with the always awesome Elizabeth & Benjamin Rogers (and their mother); a final, 12 lap, strong swim at Kits Pool with the sun’s rays getting longer with each lap; dinner at Moderne Burger.

It really doesn’t get much better than that. At the end of that last leisurely lap heading east in Kitsilano Pool I paused, and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps—just perhaps—-if all of us just decided to never get out of that pool…to just stay in forever we could, through shear force of will, make this summer last forever.

Out I crawled though, and up the hill to Moderne Burger. There may be another weekend like this one, but I suspect it won’t be for about another 12 months or so.

July 8, 2009
Momentum's Field Guide to Vancouver Cyclists

I’m surprised I haven’t seen the Field Guide to Vancouver Specialists. I suppose I fit more than one category there.

Posted by skooter at 1:56 AM
Tags: Cycling, Vancouver

July 3, 2009
Burrard Bridge Merchant Whine On

In 10 days my town starts a trial that converts part of the Burrard Bridge into dedicated bike lanes. Of course the merchants nearby are whining…still. They need to get over it.

But this is the real solution: go Gregor!

When he was elected, I said I wanted to see a commitment for this. He’s suggesting a referendum which is, frankly, a cop out. Council needs to have the strength and commitment to see this through, regardless of the cost. It’s part of building the Vancouver of the future.

Posted by skooter at 1:41 PM
Tags: Cycling, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver

June 26, 2009
Vancouver Might Get Curbside Composting

It seems like the City of Vancouver might finally get curbside composting. It’s about time, really. Toronto’s had this for about three years, and it’s a huge step in reducing garbage in landfills. I compost already, but too many people don’t…even when it’s easy.

One potential problem is the number of condominiums in Vancouver, and the private pickup requirements. By some estimates more than half of Vancouver residents live in condos, and these condos have private pickup. The end result may be a curbside composting that serves only homeowners, most of whom should be composting in their backyards already.

It’s better than nothing though.

Posted by skooter at 1:31 PM
Tags: Compost, Garbage, Recycling, Vancouver

June 10, 2009
Never Let it Be Said the Vancouver Sun Doesn't Know Hyperbole

The emphasis below is mine:

Bachelorette’s influence felt across Vancouver after episode filmed here
BY JEFF LEE, VANCOUVER SUNJUNE 9, 2009

VANCOUVER - Less than 24 hours after the latest episode aired involving Vancouver’s Bachelorette Jillian Harris, the city no longer seems the same.

Really?

Yesterday’s article on the topic was good too, stating that:

Filmed in April, the weather looked a tad grim when Jillian hit the water with Kiptyn for a hot “Vancouver-style” date of kayaking from False Creek to Granville Island.

Of course Granville Island is on False Creek but I guess I can’t expect every Vancouver Sun journalist to know that.

Posted by skooter at 3:22 PM
Tags: Television, Vancouver

May 24, 2009
UBC Museum of Anthropology at Sunset

Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009 Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009 Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009

Posted by skooter at 3:38 PM
Tags: Museums, Totem Poles

May 13, 2009
Vancouver's Olympic Loan Problem

When information about Vancouver’s Olympic village loan leaked, there was quite a bit of debate over how it happened. The documents were apparently identified by a unique number and rumour at the time said that it was Peter Ladner’s copy that had been leaked.

Then mayor Sam Sullivan called for an investigation. The results are in and the crack investigators at the Vancouver Police Department have come up…empty. It just makes me laugh.

Vancouver police quit probe into leaked Olympic documents
BY JEFF LEE, VANCOUVER SUN, MAY 12, 2009
 
Vancouver police have halted an investigation into who leaked confidential information from city hall regarding a $100-million Olympic village financing deal.

Saying they were unable to convince everyone who had access to a confidential document to take polygraph tests, police said they have no choice but to recommend not proceeding with charges.

“After a thorough and detailed investigation involving interviews with numerous city councillors and staff, and a review of any existing evidence, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to recommend charges in this incident,” said Insp. Les Yeo.

May 8, 2009
Making Cars a Lower Priority

The city of Vancouver today voted in favour of a trial to improve cycling on the Burrard Bridge. The bridge currently requires cyclists and pedestrians to share a narrow sidewalk, with only a curb to separate fast moving traffic. The speed limit is 50km/h, but traffic is moving much faster than that.

This is is a good move, and a forward thinking move. It’s a recognition that bicycles play a vital role in transportation strategy, especially in the densely populated downtown areas.

I still want a pedestrian and bicycle only crossing of False Creek. This is a baby step in that direction.

Meanwhile the now Seattle Post Intelligencer, now an online only publication, highlights a study that should be so obvious as to be unnecessary, although the quantification of the amounts involved is welcome. For what it’s worth, I spent CDN$18,035.98 on my car for the three calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008, an average of $6012 a year That doesn’t include a monthly payment, and I don’t drive that much.

Ditching the car saves thousands, study says
SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

A typical Seattle resident could save more than $10,000 a year by cutting out a car, according to a new study.

The American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Savings Report looked at the savings on gas, parking, maintenance, tires, insurance, registration, depreciation and finance charges if a household gave up a car and used transit.

Posted by skooter at 4:40 AM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Economics, Politics, Seattle

April 28, 2009
A Crack in the Armour

There’s not much doubt that the B.C. Liberals will win the next election, but John van Dongen’s essentially forced resignation shows a lapse in judgement on the part of Gordon Campbell and his team.

B.C. solicitor general resigns over speeding tickets
Delayed resignation reflects poorly on premier, says NDP leader
Last Updated: Monday, April 27, 2009 | 1:00 PM PT

British Columbia’s top law enforcement official has resigned from the provincial cabinet following revelations that his driver’s licence has been suspended for excessive speeding, adding a new twist to the provincial election campaign.

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety John van Dongen announced his cabinet resignation in a statement released Monday morning, but said he will continue to run as the B.C. Liberal Party candidate for Abbotsford South in the May 12 election.

The problem here is that van Dongen’s infractions related to his responsibilities. As the minister responsible for ICBC and driving safety, he should have resigned by choice the moment a court of law took away his driver’s licence. If he’d been (for example) the Environment minister…well, that would show terrible judgement but not create a conflict with his responsibilities and a resignation might be an option.

Posted by skooter at 1:13 PM
Tags: BC Liberal Party, Gordon Campbell, Politics

April 7, 2009
No Tour de Gastown for 2009

The good news here is that White Rock and Delta have both managed to hold great bike races year after year, over a variety of terrain. The bad news is that the urban cobblestone run Tour de Gastown with the hairpin turns is canceled.

It’s a fun event that draws a huge crowd, larger than the suburban ones. Here’s hoping it’s back next year.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM
Tags: Cycling, Vancouver

April 3, 2009
Vancouver Police's Grasp of the Obvious

This is such a sad story. It’s nice to see the VPD on top of things as usual. (Sarcastic emphasis added by me, not the Globe.)

Body of infant found in bag in East Vancouver
WENDY STUECK, April 2, 2009 at 5:29 PM EDT

VANCOUVER—The body of a dead infant was found in a plastic bag between two houses in East Vancouver on Thursday morning, Vancouver Police said.

Yellow police tape cordoned off the 2500 block of Charles Street, a tidy street of Vancouver specials and older, modest homes. Investigators were going door-to-door, talking to neighbours.

The body was found between two houses on the north side of the street. Police are treating the baby’s death as suspicious.

Posted by skooter at 1:52 AM
Tags: Crime, Vancouver

March 24, 2009
On the List of Things Not Likely to Help...

An agreement to share information seems unlikely to stop people from shooting each other in the streets of Vancouver. Presumably, the information to be shared was relevant several months ago.

Oppal and Mexican officials join forces to fight gangs
DIRK MEISSNER, The Canadian Press, March 24, 2009 at 3:52 AM EDT

VICTORIA — Criminal gangs don’t pay attention to international borders, a fact that spurred a meeting yesterday between the attorneys-general of British Columbia and the northern Mexican state of Baja California looking for ways to fight the transnational gang network.

Baja California’s Rommel Moreno Manjarrez and B.C.’s Wally Oppal signed a statement of intent pledging to share information to fight drug-trafficking gangs who kill to protect their turf.

The information-sharing statement could ultimately lead to B.C. justice officials working in Mexico to help catch and jail gang members, they said.

Posted by skooter at 1:14 PM
Tags: Gangs, Guns

March 19, 2009
Vancouver's Loss, Delta's Gain

This move makes sense. It’s always better when politicians represent the ridings they live in, or as close as possible. It’s a loss for Vancouver though. Wally was a good MLA.

Oppal to run in new riding in May
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 7:03 AM PT, CBC News

Attorney General Wally Oppal made it official Tuesday night that he would be running as a Liberal candidate in the Delta South riding during the May 12 provincial election.

Oppal’s move from his current riding had been anticipated, since Delta South’s current MLA Val Roddick said she would not seek re-election.

Posted by skooter at 2:34 AM
Tags: BC Liberal Party, Politics

March 4, 2009
So Much For Arrests

Just yesterday, Vancouver police arrested members of the UN gang and crowed about it loudly:

“We caught the bad guy,” said Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu at a joint news conference with the RCMP on Tuesday morning.

“To be clear, this is not your average run-of-the-mill bad guy. He is one of the top threats to public safety in the Lower Mainland,” said Chu. “This is a major blow, to the gangs generally and to the UN gang specifically.”

Last night, more people were killed. This time, just up the road from where I work.

It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the police.

Posted by skooter at 2:41 PM
Tags: Gangs, Guns, Police

February 23, 2009
The Finest Olympic Facilities Money Can Buy

My favourite part about this is the fact they they knew something was wrong but decided not to do anything about it. Lucky no one was on the chair when it fell.

Whistler chairlift crashes to the ground
BY KELLY SINOSKI, VANCOUVER SUNFEBRUARY 22, 2009 8:01 PM

Whistler Mountain technicians knew there was a fault in the high-speed Harmony Express chairlift late Wednesday night, but because the mountain was closed at the time, they didn’t follow protocols and inspect it.

In the morning, one of the chairs was found to have crashed eight metres to the ground. Nobody was on the lift at the time of the incident.

Posted by skooter at 6:15 AM
Tags: Articles, Vancouver Olympics, Whistler

February 10, 2009
Vancouver Cuts Downtown Ambassador Funding

Vancouver’s had these red clad Downtown Ambassadors wandering around, seemingly aimlessly, for a few years now. I can’t remember when I first started noticing them, but it was about three years ago that they started becoming more common.

I could never figure out what they were and who they were for. I sort of thought they were a summer tourist season thing, and presumably volunteer or summer students. I always thought it seemed like a decent way to create some employment at low cost.

It turns out I was wrong, and they were intended to be actual security guards, working on behalf of the business. As with any number of private security guards, the look of most of these ambassadors didn’t really inspire…confidence. It also turns out that the NPA led city was funding these security guards: your tax dollars going to work to create a private police force on behalf of the businesses downtown. Not police, mind you. A private force, not accountable the way police are. (Whether police are properly accountable is another discussion.)

Not anymore. The city’s cut funding in what seems like a rational, sensible move.

Of course with six shootings in Vancouver in the last six days, I hope they invest in policing.

Posted by skooter at 3:50 AM
Tags: NPA, Politics, Vancouver, Vision Vancouver

February 5, 2009
The Ants Go Marching 10 by 10

Ten lanes. Sheesh.

There’s an upside to this, if you want to look at it that way. Two lanes will be dedicated bus lanes. These aren’t HOV lanes these are bus lanes. I’m not sure if there’s going to be an HOV lane as well. There should be.

That’s the upside. The current Port Mann bridge is too narrow to provided dedicated transit. It’s three lanes each way. The new bridge at five lanes each way could actually be defined as adding HOV and Transit capacity only: three lanes for all traffice, one 24 hour HOV only lane and one bus lane only. The new bridge creates the ability to finally provide mass transit with dedicated road space to the Fraser Valley.

But sheesh. 10 lanes, with a budget that’s just growing and growing. I hope this goes well.

New 10-lane bridge to replace Port Mann
BY KELLY SINOSKI, VANCOUVER SUN, FEBRUARY 4, 2009

_METRO VANCOUVER—_The provincial government has scrapped its plan to twin the Port Mann Bridge in favour of building a new 10-lane crossing over the Fraser River, at a cost of $3.3 billion.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the new bridge, which will be built to accommodate rapid bus service, expanded cycling and pedestrian lanes and a possible light rail line, will ease congestion clogging the crossing and commuter delays by about one-third.

Posted by skooter at 1:42 PM
Tags: Cars, Gordon Campbell, Transportation

February 3, 2009
It's Like Vancouver, But With Better Architecture

London got snow, and the city ground to a halt. Almost the same thing happened in Vancouver in early January.

Our roads are finally clear enough to reliably cycle to work, which has been nice to be doing lately.

Storm Leaves London With a Rare Blanket of Snow and a Frozen Transit System
By SARAH LYALL and JULIA WERDIGIER
Published: February 2, 2009
LONDON—A fierce winter snowstorm crippled London’s roads, subways and buses and all but shut down many parts of Britain on Monday. It was followed by a barrage of complaints as stranded travelers asked why the government seemed so ill prepared for the bad weather, when everyone had known for several days that it was coming.

“I think it’s pathetic,” said Matthew Hickley, a writer in his 30s, who was fruitlessly seeking a train home at the High Street Kensington subway station in West London.

Posted by skooter at 1:43 PM
Tags: Snow, Vancouver, Weather

February 1, 2009
Yeah, Canucks Rule!

At this rate, it’s easier to be a Leafs fan:

Canucks lose their 8th in a row
Last Updated: Saturday, January 31, 2009 | 10:06 PM PT, CBC Sports

The return of all-star goaltender Roberto Luongo and addition of high-scoring Mats Sundin was supposed to turn the Vancouver Canucks into Stanley Cup contenders.

But at the rate they’re going, the Canucks will be lucky to qualify for the playoffs

Posted by skooter at 3:55 PM
Tags: Hockey, Vancouver Canucks

January 22, 2009
The Slippery Slope

I kind of liked living in one of the only cities that didn’t have a Wal-Mart. Having taken over an old Costco location, Vancouver now joins that slippery slope.

Wal-Mart conquers Bastion Vancouver
By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun, January 21, 2009
 
Just inside the front doors, there was a bin of navel oranges going for 44 cents a pound. Dozens of shoppers swarmed around the big pile, attacking it when they could, reaching in when they found an opening, then backing away, like a pack of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Only a fool would have waded into the middle of it.

Posted by skooter at 1:32 PM
Tags: Wal-Mart

January 14, 2009
That Much Vaunted Credit Rating

For years the NPA and senior Vancouver officials couldn’t stop raving about how well run Vancouver was, and the great credit rating the city had.

I never did like Sam Sullivan.

Vancouver’s credit placed on watch due to Olympic Village project
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | 12:07 AM ET, CBC News

An independent credit rating agency has placed Vancouver on a credit watch and may even downgrade the city’s AA+ rating as a result of potential debt coming from the beleaguered Olympic Athletes Village project.

Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday issued a bulletin about the city’s finances, saying the impact on the city’s debt could be significant if it borrows money to fund the remaining construction of the village.

Posted by skooter at 1:29 PM
Tags: Olympics, Vancouver, Vancouver Olympics

January 10, 2009
Vancouver's Olympic Village Funding

Ah, the Olympics. The sporting and athletic aspects of them always seem to come off so smoothly, and the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee assured us that the financial aspects of of Vancouver’s games were going as planned.

It looks like, perhaps, this was true from only the most selfish of perspectives: stricly speaking it’s not VANOC’s fault that the private developer behind the Olympic Village appears to have failed, but it certainly doesn’t put the Olympics in a good light. John Furlong can deny responsibility if he wants too, but a the moment Vancouver tax payers are on the hook for a whole lot of unplanned money. With a year to go, the potential for more is high.

Olympic Village may cost Vancouver taxpayers $875M: Mayor
Last Updated: Friday, January 9, 2009, CBC News

The Southeast False Creek development site comprises 32 hectares of land, seven of which will be temporarily transformed into the Olympic Village during the Games. (CBC)
Vancouver taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $875 million to complete the Olympic Athletes Village unless city council can reopen a loan given to the developer or find new financing.

The city has been forking out money to keep construction going since New York-based hedge fund Fortress Investment Group stopped advancing funds in September to Millennium Development Corp., Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday.

Posted by skooter at 4:49 PM
Tags: 2010, Olympics, Vancouver Olympics

January 1, 2009
William Gibson's New Year's Gift

A little gift from William Gibson on his blog which is, presumably, a snippet of text from his next novel.

Posted by skooter at 11:17 PM
Tags: Books, Science Fiction, William Gibson

December 22, 2008
Oh, the Indignity of the Sports Star

I’m not sure that $20 Million is enough to make up for the indignity of a front page headline discussing your groin, but to each his own I suppose.

Sundin says groin is fully healed
Newest Vancouver Canuck credits time off with injury recovery
Last Updated: Saturday, December 20, 2008
CBC Sports

Mats Sundin says the groin problems he suffered last March will not be a factor as he prepares for his debut with the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m also not sure that one player makes an offence, and this team needs one badly. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Posted by skooter at 12:56 PM
Tags: Hockey, Vancouver Canucks

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Vancouver Weather, according to Apple's Dashboard Widget, December 21, 2008 Today is shortest of days, in a city with a winter of short (and often gloomy) days. To add to the challenge, the city got several centimetres of snow for the third day in a row, in a city where a single day of a couple of centimetres is considered a log.

Blurg.

I spent a good chunk of the day driving, which was kind of A Very Bad Idea™. Our reasons were noble, however, with an Aunt from Osoyoos in the hospital unexpectedly, we visited and took Uncle Brian for lunch (though he paid, so technically I suppose he took us.) The streets were bad, and we decided not to park along the side of Broadway, for fear of not getting back out. I had already got stuck, albeit benignly, earlier in the day near Vancouver General Hospital.

With daily high temperatures forecast to slowly rise above 0 over the next four days, this city is likely to become a sloppy, slushy mess until Christmas day. The sun might help melt it, but it remains to be seen. I usually like this city in the snow, and head to one of our better outdoor locations to visit but todays’ weather was bad enough that I wouldn’t have dared the hills and valleys of North Vancouver without snow tires (which might have to be purchased next year as it turns out…

Posted by skooter at 2:33 AM
Tags: Family, Snow, Vancouver, Weather

November 30, 2008
Commuter Rail on Vancouver Island but not the Lower Mainland?

It seems strange to hear about the Provincial Government considering a commuter rail service on Vancouver Island and not in the Lower Mainland, stretching out towards the Fraser Valley. Twinning the Port Mann is all well and good, but without an investment in transit all it’s going to do is increase the amount of traffic.

In any case, one of the keys to success of mass transit if volume: you need to have enough riders to make it worthwhile. The population of the Lower Mainland is significantly higher than the Island. Of course we have the West Coast Express but it falls short of providing full service (and provides none at all south of the Fraser River.) An upgraded West Coast Express could be the equal of Ontario’s GO Transit system and could significantly reduce traffic all day long between the Valley and Vancouver.

B.C. considers southern Vancouver Island commuter rail service
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News

The B.C. government says it is considering upgrading the old E&N railway to create a new commuter rail service for southern Vancouver Island.

On Thursday, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon announced he will commission a half-million-dollar study to look at the options for commuter rail and freight on the historic route.

Currently a VIA rail passenger train makes one daily run along the old north to south line between Victoria and Courtenay on the island’s east coast.

Posted by skooter at 4:37 PM
Tags: Commuting, Environmentalism, Transportation

November 17, 2008
A Vision for Vancouver?

Ok, sorry. That’s about the most obvious and worst pun of a headline ever. I can’t come up with much else though.

Election results give Gregor Robertson the Mayor’s job in Vancouver, and every single one of his candidates was elected.

That’s the good news. Andrea Reimer made council, and it’s my sincere hope that she becomes mayor one of these days. Since living in Vancouver, there are few other people I’ve met who I’ve felt would be more capable of doing the job.

But what about our new Mayor, and the now unelected Peter Ladner?

Vision didn’t so much win this election as Ladner lost it. Generally speaking, the theory is that someone inside the NPA with nothing to lose from Ladner’s failure leaked Ladner’s copy of the Olympic loan documents to the media. Naturally, it couldn’t have been Sam Sullivan. Of course not. Citizen Sam showed Sam as a Machiavellian take no prisoners politician. Draw your own conclusions.

That $100 Million loan was the campaign’s killer issue, and it’s almost killed the NPA. With one councillor—the deliriously incompetent Suzanne Anton—the NPA will have a struggle ahead to remain relevant. Old habits die hard however, and I suspect they’ll be back for the next election (and shortly after adopt a policy of not allowing incumbents to be challenged.)

Gregor says he’s going to open up the talks about that Olympic loan. As I’ve said before, it would mean more if the four incumbent Vision councillors hadn’t voted with the council on the issue. It seems a bit hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is nothing new to Gregor. His sustainable juice business trucks tropical juices for untold miles to package them in Tetra Paks, which aren’t nearly as eco-friendly as the industry would have you believe in Vancouver. They’re shipped to China for recycling, the hyrdo-pulping recycling process is incredibly water intensive and much of the byproduct of that process goes to landfill. That one little hybrid company car driving around Vancouver doesn’t do much to make it sustainable (at least not in my books.)

Much has been made about Gregor’s lack of experience, a major concern of mine. A man who runs for provincial office and resigns before the end of his first term lacks both credibility and experience in my view. Some argue that Gregor saw the writing on the wall with no possibility of the NDP winning under Carole James, but Gregor ran with Carole James as his leader so that argument just shows a lack of loyalty. So he doesn’t have much experience, he lied to his constituents (by promising to stick around for a term) and he’s not loyal. Quite a guy.

Senator Larry Campbell was on CBC Radio One last night arguing that the days of requiring experience to sit as mayor were long gone, and citing his own bitter tenure as an example. Sure Larry: great example. You sat one term, had a divisive relationship with your own members which split the party into two, chaired meetings in an abrasive and aggressive manner, and then resigned saying you weren’t a political animal. Mere months later you accepted a political patronage appointment to the Senate—so much for not being a political animal.

You might want to come up with a better example to defend the lack of experience, Larry. That’s just my advice though. Take it with a grain of salt.

So, here we are in Vancouver with a new team at 12th & Cambie. I voted for Gregor, despite the fact that I’m doubtful the city will be better off in three years when we vote again. The thing is, I maybe be skeptical of Gregor’s ability to do any good for Vancouver, but I know that a Peter Ladner led NPA would just screw this city up more.

In this case, better the devil you don’t know than the one you do.

Good luck Gregor. You’re going to need it.

November 13, 2008
If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Highway 97, the major connector road or the interior, opens again after being closed for more than two weeks:

“Highway 97 in Okanagan Valley reopens”http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/11/12/highway-open.html?ref=rss
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 9:35 AM ET
CBC News

A major highway in B.C’s Okanagan Valley reopened Wednesday morning after it was closed more than two weeks ago due to an unstable rock face that threatened to collapse onto the road.

The reopening came as crews were able to stabilize the hillside along Highway 97 by blasting tonnes of rock off the top of the slope and piling it at the bottom to act as a natural doorstop.

But Highway 99 on the coast closes (at least partly) for the same reason.

Rockslide slows Highway 99 traffic
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 11:28 AM ET
CBC News

A small rockslide on the Sea to Sky Highway connecting Vancouver and Whistler has reduced traffic to a single lane.

The rockslide occurred one or two kilometres north of the junction with Marine Drive near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal early Wednesday morning.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 PM
Tags: Olympics, Roads, Sea to Sky, Travel, Vancouver

This Isn't a Contest for Mayor...

It’s contest to see who can be the most like the other. These two are spending some much time fighting over the middle of the road, everyone else is going to look like they’re driving on the shoulder.

Vancouver mayoral candidates return Millennium’s donations
Council’s $100-million loan to developer sparks controversies
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 10:48 PM ET
CBC News

Both Vancouver mayoral candidates have rejected campaign contributions from Millennium Development Corp., the builder of the controversial Olympic Athletes Village for the 2010 Games.

Non-Partisan Association’s Peter Ladner: said Millennium delivered a $2,000 cheque to him last week.

“Somebody at city hall notified me that there was a cheque there for me from Millennium and I said send it back,” Ladner, who is currently a councillor, said Wednesday. “This is too sensitive right now for us to be accepting cheques from Millennium.”

Vision Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson said he received Millennium’s $1,000 donation cheque Wednesday.

“The timing of it is troubling given that decisions have been made and driven in secret by the NPA and campaign donations are arriving after the fact,” Robertson said. “I think we need to ask hard questions about where the dollars come from and why?”

November 12, 2008
I Want My Own Damn Bridge

If this city is serious about increasing cycling, which also happens to be the best way to reduce greenhouse gas output, it needs investment. A single lane on the Burrard Bridge would be welcome, but ultimately there needs to be a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian crossing over False Creek to achieve the goal. Anything else is just a stopgap, even is BEST isn’t brave enough to say so.

If the city were smart, they would have had the developers of the (soon to be bankrupt) South East False Creek condos pay for the damn thing.

Vancouver cyclists pan Burrard Bridge proposals
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | 6:34 PM ET

Vancouver bicycling advocates are once again slamming mayoral candidate Peter Ladner’s plans for the Burrard Bridge.

The chair of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Lisa Slakov, said on Tuesday the best solution would be to dedicate one lane of the bridge in each direction for cyclists,

“The reason for it is because its cheap as borscht, it’s fantastic. We can put it up right away. We are looking at a reallocation trial, and that was planned a couple of years ago before the last government got in and nixed it,” said Slakov.

Posted by skooter at 3:13 AM
Tags: Commuting, Cycling, Vancouver

November 10, 2008
Advance Polls: Again

Remember what I said about advance voting? Turnout in Vancouver has been high, which likely means our next mayor will be the mega-watt smile.

Controversial loan boosts turnout at advance polls
ROBERT MATAS AND FRANCES BULA
Globe and Mail Update
November 10, 2008 at 5:10 AM EST
VANCOUVER Vancouver voters are flocking to advance polls, with some saying they were inspired to cast a ballot by the controversy over the current city council’s decision to provide up to a $100-million loan to the developer of the Olympic athletes village.

Many surveyed at the city’s advance polls on Saturday said the controversy didn’t sway them from views they already had. Instead, it made them more determined to vote.

But some acknowledged that the news made them actually switch their vote, which could make the loan a deciding factor in what had been predicted to be a tight election.

Here’s the thing that bugs me. Gregor Robertson has been viciously critical of the NPA over this loan and the secret vote that made it possible, but four Vision Vancouver councillors voted in favour of the loan. His argument would hold a great deal more credibility if they’d voted against it.

I voted for Gregor, but I held my nose while I did it. I think it’s going to be close, and I desperately don’t want to see an NPA council with Peter Ladner in the mayor’s chair.

Posted by skooter at 1:20 PM
Tags: Gregor Robertson, NPA, Peter Ladner, Vancouver

November 6, 2008
Gregor's Misstep

It was a stupid issue, but it was even dumber of Gregor Robertson to let this issue blow up the way it did. If he’d paid the fine earlier, the story would have been dead. I’ve called Gregor a hypocrite before for claiming his business is sustainable while packaging his juices in tetra paks that are shipped to China and only partially recycled. This is just another example that supports my argument.

Sadly, he might be our best candidate.

Robertson drops fare fight, pays up
Transportation minister has some choice words for mayoral candidate
Chad Skelton and Tim Lai, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008

Would-be Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said Wednesday he has paid the SkyTrain fare-violation fine that has been embarrassing him this week.
By paying the fine, he avoids a traffic court hearing in December.

He may also be able to escape more of the enthusiastic tongue-lashings Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has been sending his way.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM
Tags: Gregor Robertson, Mayor, Vision Vancouver

September 30, 2008
Sunset on English Bay from the Burrard Bridge

English Bay from the Burrard Bridge

Posted by skooter at 1:39 PM
Tags: English Bay, Sun, Vancouver

September 27, 2008
More on those Tolls

Missed, in my reading of the initial coverage of the toll situation on Highway 1, was Gordon Campbell’s announcement that tolls on the Port Mann would be imposed for 35 years.

This is, of course, a meaningless announcement. By the time that 35 year agreement is up, the average person voting in today’s election will be in their seventies, and the promise will be long forgotten. Gordon Campbell will be 95, and won’t have to answer for an changes to that decision.

I recall seeing a documentary about the Lion’s Gate Bridge which talked about Vancouver City Council providing a 60 year timeline for the removal of the road through Stanley Park. I wish I could find the reference, but even if I did I wouldn’t fall for it.

I’m not opposed to tolls, incidentally. I think the Port Mann should be tolled. I’m not a fan of artificial promises, and I’m somewhat amazed that the news media has been letting this one slide.

Listen to the Bell, Mr. Premier...It Tolls for Thee

Gordon Campbell today announced at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting tolls would be removed from the Coquihalla Highway as of 13:00hrs today. The Vancouver Sun provides sufficiently pedantic coverage.

The logic is pretty obvious here: the new Port Mann bridge is going to be tolled, which means this effectively just moves the toll farther up the highway. The route from Vancouver to the Interior will only be toll free for a short period of time. The Lougheed Highway provides an alternate, probably permanently toll free route to the Coquihalla but from Vancouver it adds quite a bit of time: for most people, it’s not practical.

The obvious question though, is what happened to the 2003 plan of privatizing the Coquihalla. At the time, Transportation Minister Judith Reed explained the decision by saying that:

“As the 17-year-old highway ages, maintenance and rehabilitation costs will grow. These improvements must be made in a way that ensures the 81 per cent of users from outside the southern Interior pay the largest share, and benefits frequent travellers - especially local residents.

The government—the same government—at the time insisted that privatization was the only way to keep the Coquihalla running effectively into the future. There was just no other way.

The government press release is archived here but I’ve excerpted it after the break in case that URL changes.

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2003TRAN0031-000436
May 6, 2003
Ministry of Transportation

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW FUTURE FOR COQUIHALLA HIGHWAY

MERRITT - A new maintenance and operations arrangement to manage the Coquihalla Highway will improve services, reduce costs for residents who are frequent travellers and create new infrastructure for the southern Interior, Transportation Minister Judith Reid said today.

Under the new arrangement, the Coquihalla roadbed and right-of-way will remain publicly owned, while a private-sector investor will be sought to assume responsibility for the operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the highway between Hope and Merritt. Legally binding service and safety standards will be set under a 55-year contract, ensuring long-term reliability and predictability in operations.

“The Coquihalla Highway is a major trade route for the southern Interior and has the potential to be an even stronger economic engine in the future,” said Reid. “As the 17-year-old highway ages, maintenance and rehabilitation costs will grow. These improvements must be made in a way that ensures the 81 per cent of users from outside the southern Interior pay the largest share, and benefits frequent travellers - especially local residents.

“By providing more efficient and reliable operations over the long term, the new model will help transform the Coquihalla to create new economic growth, improved infrastructure and new opportunities for southern Interior residents. The Coquihalla is a great asset. And it can be so much better, with new capital, new energy and a new focus on improved customer service.”

Tollroad News (a finer example of micro-marketing I can’t possibly think of) has an archive that includes a look at the economics of the B.C. governments proposal.

September 21, 2008
Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Canyon Park

Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Canyon Taken with a Canon EF20mm lens inside tunnel for 1.5 minutes at f8. Located near Hope, the Coquihalla Canyon tunnels are ideal for cycling.

Posted by skooter at 7:08 AM
Tags: Cycling, Tunnels

September 12, 2008
Sea to Sky Construction in 2008

Upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway have been going at a rapid pace, largely driven the the Vancouver olympics. These photos show the highway just north of Horseshoe Bay from the Bowen Island ferry. The colour one in July, the black & white in September.

Posted by skooter at 4:21 AM
Tags: Construction, Sea to Sky, Vancouver Olympics

August 24, 2008
Back from Clayoquot Sound

Six days of paddling including three days of rain were followed by a two hour motorcycle ride to the Departure Bay ferry terminal. Eight days of a beard came off this morning, laundry was done and dry bags have been unpacked.
Riding the ferry home after paddling for six days Vancouver Island from the Ferry

More pictures to come shortly. Patience, naturally, being the nature of shooting film.

August 16, 2008
Does this Mean Erickson will Stop Designing Buildings that Leak?

Pretty much every one of Erickson’s famed Vancouver buildings has leaked like crazy. Still, this does seem like a bit of a silly regulatory kerfuffle over annual continuing education requirements.

Famed architect runs afoul of regulator
FRANCES BULA
Globe and Mail Update
August 15, 2008 at 11:15 PM EDT

VANCOUVER—Arthur Erickson has been called Canada’s most famous architect and the first to put Canadian architecture on the world map.

But he is no longer allowed to call himself an architect, according to his home province’s regulatory body. Or at least not when it comes to buildings currently going up around Vancouver with his name attached to them.

The Architectural Institute of B.C. has sent him a warning letter saying he needs to clarify what he’s doing because local marketing and news articles about several prominent buildings under way make it sound as though he is working as an architect.

“This is a very dear and honoured member of the profession whom we want to celebrate. But he’s not entitled to provide architectural services without being registered. And he’s not,” said Jerome Marburg, the AIBC’s director of legal affairs and licensing. “We can’t make an exception for Arthur because he’s Arthur.”

Posted by skooter at 9:04 PM
Tags: Architecture, Design, Vancouver

August 1, 2008
Tolls are Good

There’s more than one way to cross the Fraser. Some of those bridges should be tolled, and we might as well start with this one.

New, tolled Pattullo Bridge gets green light
Last Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 9:00 PM ET
CBC News

More than 79,000 vehicles travel over the Pattullo Bridge, which spans the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey, B.C., every day. (CBC)

TransLink has approved the construction of a new, tolled crossing to replace the 71-year-old Pattullo Bridge spanning the Fraser River between Surrey and New Westminster, B.C.

Posted by skooter at 6:09 AM
Tags: Cars, Roads, Transportation, Vancouver

July 12, 2008
Fine Dining at its Best

Countertrop Swami's are still at Moderne Burger I’ve eaten at Moderne Burger three times since it reopened—my first opportunity was on July 2nd. Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel at home again. The burger’s haven’t changed, and are still the best on the coast. The staff is friendly, and busy, and Peter and Kathy are still there. The old chef isn’t, which is a shame.

On Friday’s I cycle to work then swim at the outdoor Kitsilano Pool which, at 137 metres long, is the longest pool in North America. Moderne Burger is two blocks east on Broadway once I’ve climbed the hill after my swim, and last night I couldn’t resist.
Kitsilano Pool, June 18, 2008

Sometimes, it’s not hard to remember why living in Vancouver is so special.

July 8, 2008
Coming Soon: The Federal Royal Commission

Given the history of Vancouver politics, I’m completely unsurprised by yet another delay. Paul Martin could make a decision faster than our civic government.

I’m expecting a Royal Commission followed by a judicial inquiry into it’s findings. After that, no doubt, the First Nations will launch a protest.

Stanley Park’s hollow tree gets reprieve
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 1:35 AM ET CBC News

The Vancouver Park Board has decided to study options to keep Stanley Park’s famous hollow tree instead of axing it this week as planned.

Board commissioners voted in a regular meeting Monday night to give a 150-day reprieve to one of Vancouver’s oldest treasures. Park board engineers will study options to possibly keep the dead cedar.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 PM
Tags: Environmentalism, Stanley Park, Vancouver

June 24, 2008
Giorgio Armani Should Visit Vancouver

In my town, polar fleece is considered a fashion statement (although I’m shifting to natural fabrics personally, both wool and organic cotton.)

Armani says italy is ‘too slovenly’
Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ROME Giorgio Armani, the godfather of Italian style, has excoriated his home country for slipping into “slovenliness.” As he unveiled a collection of trim blazers and sharply cut suits in Milan, Armani said Italians had let themselves go. “It is time to straighten ourselves out, we are too slovenly,”

Posted by skooter at 1:21 PM
Tags: Armani, Fashion, Italy, Wool

Best. News. Ever.

Moderne Burger Re-opens

Posted by skooter at 3:16 AM
Tags: Food, Moderne Burger, Restaurants, Vancouver

June 18, 2008
Galactica Season 4

Admiral Adama and President Laura Roslin Galactica Season Four has just ended and it was far far better than Season Three which, in my opinion got wrapped up in its own sense of self-importance with an obvious Iraq war allegory.

The finale was excellent, although the second to last episode was better (and written by Jane Espenson.) By far, my favourite moment came towards the end when the crew lands on Earth, and Adama reaches down to pick up a handful of sand.

I have seen the future salvation of humanity, my friends, and it comes on a wet, foggy beach in Vancouver.

Season Five in 2009 seems to be promising, with ten episodes to come.

June 9, 2008
Play It Again, Sam

…or not, as the case may be.

Sam Sullivan is out as the NPA candidate for Mayor of Vancouver, leaving him in office as a lame duck until November. Effectively, Peter Ladner is the mayor starting today.

Don’t believe me? Vancouver’s electoral system is not like those of most Canadian cities. There are no wards: all councillors are elected on a city wide basis, as is the Mayor. This makes the Mayor’s chair one of first among equals: every chair in that room has the same mandate. With Sam not running in the next election, he’s the worst kind of lame duck at the moment.

I’ve never been a fan of Sam, but I’m not convinced that Ladner’s going to be a huge improvement. He’s been lackluster as a councillor, and I see no reason to think this will change.

This city needs leadership from it’s Mayor, and that will only come with an overhaul of the structure of the city’s government. The appetite for that, unfortunately, appears to be a long time coming.

June 8, 2008
Fastest Boat in the Race

Blueback was the first boat home on Sunday, although Saturday’s lack of wind left us flailing. It did, however, give us a chance to put out our asymmetrical sail.

Posted by skooter at 6:36 AM
Tags: Blueback, Sailing

May 18, 2008
37 Degrees (not in the shade)

Yes yes, according to my Swedish Rocket it was 37 degrees celsius today. I think it lacks credibility, but it was a fun number to see.

Trails were hiked, pedals were pushed and I sparked up the motorcycle and headed to Richmond for some fish and chips. It’s officially summertime, at least in my life.

Posted by skooter at 5:41 AM
Tags: Vancouver, Volvo, Weather

May 6, 2008
Just An Average Weekend in Vancouver

Bear in Area

Typo on Sign at Lynn Headwaters I love the typo in the first line of the small text here. Some might not consider it one, but the sign should read ensure not insure.

Posted by skooter at 1:54 PM
Tags: Bear, Hiking Trails, North Vancouver

April 30, 2008
Trippy, But Kind of Cool 2010 Mascot Cartoon

Posted by skooter at 5:59 AM
Tags: Olympics, Vancouver Olympics

April 29, 2008
Eight New Universities in a Week

In what appears to be an attempt to remove all meaning whatsoever from the term university, the Campbell government has announced the eight university in just over a week.

Emily Carr to become university
Name change recognizes what the Vancouver art institute is already, president says
MARSHA LEDERMAN, April 29, 2008 at 4:26 AM EDT
VANCOUVER — From the comic strip sensation For Better or For Worse to Generation X to First Nations masks made out of Nikes, graduates of the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design have made significant contributions to popular culture - not to mention serious art.

Now the school can boast an achievement of its own: It will be granted university status to become the Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD)

Last week, the B.C. government announced it would grant university status to Capilano College, Kwantlen University College, Malaspina University-College and the University College of the Fraser Valley.

My personal favourite announcement was Capilano College. The Premier’s own commissioned report recommended against this change, based on the fact that both Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia were too closely situated. Despite this recommendation, Premier Campbell designated Capilano a university.

The Premier’s sister is on the board of the college. Think that had anything to do with it?

Pretty soon, there won’t be any colleges left, and there sure won’t be any value in a university degree earned in British Columbia.

Posted by skooter at 1:37 PM
Tags: Education, Gordon Campbell, Universities

Baseball Diamond, McGee Elementary School

Baseball Diamond, McGee Elementary School

Posted by skooter at 4:39 AM
Tags: Baseball, Kerrisdale, Numbers

April 28, 2008
Liberated Photos

So, in quite a random fashion, I discovered that one of my photos was liberated the other day. You can see it here and the original is posted here or on my Flickr profile here, which is where it was actually liberated from.
BC Mining Museum, Britannia Beach, British Columbia

It’s funny. It’s a good shot, that one. it was a gloomy day, and I’d driven up the road there. The tripod was deployed (of course) and the museum was wonderfully draped in the mist and fog that happens so often in that part of the world.

The museum’s seen some investment recently. In its current condition you’ hardly recognize the photo: gentrification has no limit, it seems. The entire community of Britannia Beach is going to look nothing like it did when I moved here. Somebody else opened the kayak store that I thought would be a great fit there: islands and a rocky coast offer endless opportunities.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the photo being used without my permission. I’m flattered on one level. On another, I wish they’d let me know. There’s an alternative view that says what they’ve done is theft, but I’m happy to see my shots in circulation frankly so I’m not going to kick up a fuss for now.

Posted by skooter at 7:14 PM
Tags: Britannia Beach, Sea to Sky, Squamish

April 12, 2008
Penguins in the Park

Penguin in the Park

Posted by skooter at 4:15 PM
Tags: Cycling, Penguins, Stuffed Animals

April 2, 2008
Sad, But Also Sadly Needed

The hollow tree’s been strapped together and held up by human means for some time now, and I think it’s time to let nature take its course here. That doesn’t make it any sadder. I’ll miss it.

Stanley Park’s hollow tree gets the axe
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | 2:19 PM ET

One of Vancouver’s oldest treasures will soon be cut down but its legacy as a tourist attraction will live on.

On Monday evening, the Vancouver Park Board voted to cut down the hollow tree on Park Drive in Stanley Park.

The 13-metre-tall stump is at least 700 years old, but storm damage in recent years has caused its decomposing hollow trunk to tilt dangerously.

Posted by skooter at 3:35 AM
Tags: Stanley Park, Trees, Vancouver

March 26, 2008
27.3 Kilometres

27.3 Kilometres is the length of a return trip on my new commute to work, largely along Vancouver’s Midtown bike route out to Boundary Road, crossing every major street in the city. It’s quite pleasant really, a bit hillier than I’d thought, but not too bad.

I pass a cemetery, several chinese restaurants, the Purdy’s Chocolate factory, the biggest liquor store in the city and the headquarters of Burnaby’s Electronic Arts Inc.

This is twice as long as my old commute, and it takes about twice as long to ride it (about an hour door to door, including time to get changed.) I’m not sure how it will feel when winter comes, with its relentless rain: new, more powerful, headlights might be a good idea but that’s a decision that can wait for a few months. Spring (with its promise of summer looming just around the corner), is a great time to change jobs for a bicycle commuter. It’s just nicer to ride with long days of sunshine (such as it is in Vancouver, of course.)

Tonight it rained on the way home, quite a bit as it turns out. I didn’t mind too much: at least I was on two wheels.

Posted by skooter at 2:01 AM
Tags: Commute, Cycling, Vancouver, Work

March 13, 2008
Looming TTC Strike

I bet this doesn’t last four months

TTC workers vote 99.2% to reject offer
AARON HARRIS/TORONTO STAR
Transit union chief had urged members to reject company’s bid for concessions on benefits
Mar 13, 2008 04:30 AM

Toronto Transit Commission workers voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject a contract offer, less than three weeks before reaching a legal strike position.

Posted by skooter at 2:39 PM
Tags: Politics, Public Transit, strike, Toronto, TTC, Vancouver

February 24, 2008
Spring Skiing...

in Vancouver is great not just because it’s only a 60 km. round trip from home, but also because of the view through your sunroof during the drive.
View through the Volvo's sunroof A few more weeks of this I think.

Posted by skooter at 3:13 AM
Tags: Cypress Bowl, Skiing, Volvo

February 19, 2008
I Want My Family Day!

It was Family Day in a whole bunch of places today (and Louis Riel Day in one) and i want my holiday!

It took me a while this morning to figure out why I didn’t get any mutual fund update yesterday, and why my monthly withdrawal didn’t happen. It turns out, Family Day in Ontario means the Toronto Stock Exchange was closed, so no trading.

Blërg. I think this thing should be national, just so that we don’t lose track of these things.

Posted by skooter at 1:51 PM
Tags: Holidays

February 18, 2008
Top of the World, Callaghan Valley, Whistler, BC

Whistler Olympic Park is open, with a huge network of new (and spectacular) cross country ski trails.

The Norwegian ski team was testing skis on the Olympic trails when we were there. A brief chat with the coach was fun, and I offered him a business card “in case you need an extra for 2010.” His smile and laugh were characteristic of what turned out to be a most amazing day.

Posted by skooter at 2:02 PM
Tags: 2010, Skiing, Vancouver Olympics, Whistler

February 16, 2008
Lessons for Translink?

Could a regional (as opposed to municipal) transportation strategy for the TTC work? Could an increase in service levels increase ridership by creating a better experience?

Maybe. Could it work for Translink? It seems worth a try.

Premier backs TTC takeover
McGuinty’s vision: A regional authority operating ‘seamless’ transit across GTA.
Feb 15, 2008 04:30 AM
ROBERT BENZIE , TESS KALINOWSKI, STAFF REPORTERS

The TTC should be taken over eventually by the province’s new transportation authority to provide “seamless” public transit in the Greater Toronto Area, says Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Posted by skooter at 2:25 PM
Tags: Public Transit, Toronto, Vancouver

February 10, 2008
Indigestible Bits of Anachronistic Gristle

An Evening with William Gibson The Vancouver Insitute sponsored a lecture with William Gibson last night. I’ve seen Gibson speak a few times, and he’s always an interesting guy.

He read an introduction to H.G. WellsThe Time Machine that he had written but had rejected by his publisher. Gibson calls this the first work of modern science fiction, published in 1895. It was preceded by both Frankenstein (1831) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The former is considered, by many, to be Victorian or Gothic in nature, and thus not modern. I didn’t get a chance to ask Gibson why he didn’t reference the latter.

No matter. The night was interesting.

I never fail to be impressed by how prominently the Cuban missile crisis figures in the minds of the generation before mine. Gibson drew a clear line from the cautionary tales of man’s self-destruction in The Time Machine and that event. “History,” he says, “is itself a work of speculative fiction.” We learn badly as badly from history as we do from its reluctant partner, fiction.

“Time moves in one direction, memory another,” and our digital world is extending the reach of the latter almost infinitely. The farther we look back, the less recorded history there is. It’s hard to imagine a world where the stone mason was a vehicle of mass communications, but such a time did exist. The revolution of the printing press is well documented, but the impact of newer technologies is still being established. Photograph—the precise recording of visual memory—is not even 200 years old (barely a blip relative to the 500 years of the printing press.) The motion picture is younger still, and with the addition of sound a veritable newborn.

“When we turn on a radio in a New York Hotel”, says Gibson, _”and hear Elvis sing Heartbreak Hotel we fail to be aware of the amazing fact that a dead man is singing.” It is a recent thing in our world, a function of the now omnipresent rewind button or our lives.

Gibson is correct when he says “I sometimes think the first pixels were bits of ochre clay”. The specific words may change, but ultimately we’re just communicating using the best technology we have. Over time tools are refined, revised, renamed and repurposed but the fundamentals remain the same.

In the Internet era—the all digital era—the earth’s materials are no longer applied to itself in form of markings: they are, instead, fabricated into silicon wafers which form the electrically powered heart of a world which is both fundamentally different and the same.

The tools exist to create an almost permanent and complete long memory, but I’m not sure we as people are ready for it. When history was sparse but vivid (as in the days of The Time Machine) humans failed completely to learn from its errors: I don’t think much will change in a world where history seems to be more complete but also more vague.

It’s interesting that Gibson (along with Bruce Sterling) appears to be uncertain of the future of science fiction, or speculative fiction if you prefer. The Time Machine served as both a warning and an inspiration to its readers. I’d like to see a return to more thoughtful speculation.

Recommend reading at the end of the night was Halting State by Charles Stross. I’ve got it reserved at the Vancouver Public Library where twelve people are ahead of me in line. I can’t wait.

Posted by skooter at 8:05 PM
Tags: William Gibson

February 4, 2008
There Is Nothing In This World That I Want More Than...

the reopening of Moderne Burger.

Posted by skooter at 11:08 PM
Tags: Food, Moderne Burger, Vancouver

January 29, 2008
Snow in Vancouver

It’s snowing in Vancouver, so I’m getting in on the real estate boom and becoming a developer.

Posted by skooter at 3:52 PM
Tags: Igloos, Snow, Weather

January 21, 2008
Lynn Canyon in the Snow, December 2007

Lynn Canyon from the Suspension Bridge 30 Foot Pool, blanketed in snow

Posted by skooter at 1:59 PM
Tags: Black and White, Lynn Canyon, Photos, Vancouver

January 10, 2008
Decaying Infrastructure

Remember this the next time your government (federal, provincial or municipal) tells you that privatizing assets such as highways or bridges will help to maintain infrastructure better.

Streets closed after sign blows off Toronto skyscraper
Last Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2008 | 7:24 AM ET
CBC News

Sections of downtown Toronto were closed to traffic early Thursday morning after high winds blew parts of a sign from a highrise building.

Portions of a sign near the top of the CIBC building blew off during the wind gusts, falling 58 storeys onto Bay Street on Wednesday evening.

No one was injured.

Posted by skooter at 2:14 PM
Tags: Infrastructure, Urban Development

December 28, 2007
Of Pakistan and Vancouver Traffic

I joke, sometimes (often if you must) about Vancouver’s Radio Moscow. The truth is I love the CBC, and hate that the CRTC forces me to continue to listen on AM radio in the city itself. Ridiculous. Shades of the 70s, but without Venus Flytrap or Dr. Johnny Fever.

There’s something surreal, however, about leaving Kelowna and hearing about accidents in Burnaby on the traffic report. It’s not hard to avoid them from there, a five hour drive away. I’m not sure if this is regular schedule or a holiday thing. It’s the 27th: I’d think we’d be back to regular schedule.

Travelling snow covered, damp, icy highways in the Swedish Rocket is always a bit of a pleasure, but today’s trip was dominated by the news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, sure to destabilize the region.

My money is that Pervez Musharraf, thug that he is, cancels the scheduled elections for January 8th and declares martial law, again. The chaos resulting from the assassination will be the facade: that Musharraf encouraged (and likely caused) the chaos will be ignored.

I’ve just finished reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. This is as good an example of its central thesis as any.

Perhaps the best example: stock markets around the world reacted with a shrug, nary a concern for those dead or the potential for one of the world’s nuclear powers to become a deeply unstable country, held together by the thinnest of threads and a madman.

Yes, friends, never let it be forgotten: Pakistan has nuclear weapons. It should also not be lost that Musharraf was an American ally first, before it was a world pariah. This is, sadly, a pattern that we have seen before.

Posted by skooter at 4:26 AM
Tags: Bhutto, Nuclear War, Pakistan, Traffic, Vancouver

December 10, 2007
The Seedy Downtown Eastside

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has a solid reputation for being one of the seediest neighbourhoods in the country…the nation…the world really.

Today that reputation got one person smaller: Robert Pickton has been found guilty of second degree murder on six counts, with a further twenty charges potentially waiting. Pickton isn’t likely to see the sun again.

It’s not enough: the neighbourhood is as bad, or worse then it was when Pickton prowled these streets. Much more is needed.

This part of Vancouver will not, I think, be welcoming the world in 2010.

Posted by skooter at 2:17 AM
Tags: Vancouver, Vancouver Olympics

December 5, 2007
That Elusive Beast: The Vancouver Rainbow

Rainbows over the Granville Bridge The words sun and rain don’t go together very much in Vancouver: when it rains here it tends be oppressive, and grey and long. Especially in December.

This makes rainbows, a function of the meeting of those two elemental forces, fairly rare and when they happen it’s worth chasing them. This was one of two—the other seeming to come from False Creek. It made for a nice ride home in a bittersweet sunshower.

Posted by skooter at 1:04 AM
Tags: Cycling, Rain, Vancouver, Weather

November 26, 2007
McKenzie Barge & Marine, Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver

McKenzie Barge, Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver

The McKenzie Barge building has always been one of my favourite sites to see along the edge of Dollarton Highway. Set into the shore on a dramatic slope, the front of the building it only ten or fifteen feet high, while the back is at leaset five conventional stories by my estimate. It has the feeling of a building that’s been there forever (because it has) but could disapper at any moment (because it will.)

It was pouring rain when I took this, and there was a single light on in the window on the right hand side of the photo. I was cycling out to Deep Cove and this was one of my few stops. I wish the light were visible in the photo, but I suppose you can’t win them all.

Posted by skooter at 2:09 PM
Tags: Buildings, Deep Cove, Industrial, North Vancouver

November 24, 2007
Tearing Down Kerrisdale

This was my favourite house in Kerrisdale. It’s not like I’ve lived here my whole life and I know the whole neighbourhood, but I walk past this house all the time on my way down to the Choices supermarket. I love this house, because it has a nice quaint cottage like feel too it. The couple that owns it sits on the front patio every once in a while and has dinner in the summer. It’s nice.

It’s certainly better than the 1990s architectural nightmares that dominate the area, and the newer faux-arts-and-crafts things that go up today with dubious construction.

This is probably why it’s disappearing:
and that’s a good thing, but I’m still sad to see it go.

Posted by skooter at 10:32 PM
Tags: Construction, Houses, Kerrisdale, Vancouver

November 14, 2007
Poking Holes in Lululemon

The New York Times pokes a few holes in Lululemon.

‘Seaweed’ Clothing Has None, Tests Show

One of its lines is called VitaSea, and the company says it is made with seaweed. The fabric, according to product tags, “releases marine amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture.”

The New York Times commissioned a laboratory test of a Lululemon shirt made of VitaSea, and reviewed a similar test performed at another lab, and both came to the same conclusion: there was no significant difference in mineral levels between the VitaSea fabric and cotton T-shirts.

In other words, the labs found no evidence of seaweed in the Lululemon clothing.

“Seaweeds have known vitamins and minerals, and we searched specifically for those vitamins, and we didn’t see them,” said Carolyn J. Otten, director for specialized services at Chemir Analytical Services, a lab in Maryland Heights, Mo. that tested a sample of VitaSea.

When told about the findings, Lululemon’s founder said he could not dispute them.

“If you actually put it on and wear it, it is different from cotton,” said Dennis Wilson, Lululemon’s founder, chief product designer and board chairman. “That’s my only test of it,” said Mr. Wilson, known as Chip.

That last paragraph, the one where Chip (a very nice guy) says “That’s my only test” is not promising for the future of a company that’s known for making extravagant claims about the impact its products will have on your life.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 PM
Tags: Investing, Lululemon, Sportswear

November 12, 2007
Bylaw City: Vancouver

This is my new favourite sign in the city of Vancouver. It’s better than that dog one out in Deep Cove, and it’s better than the other silly camel and moose crossing ones they have along the Seymour Highway.

The sign says (in case the flash makes it hard to read):

[No Parking] Except Residents of 1900 Blk. W. 47th Ave.

Why do I like this sign so much?

There is precisely one house in the 1900 block of West 47th Ave. It’s opposite Maple Grove school. There are in fact two residences, but one has an address on Cypress Ave. the corner, and the exit doesn’t front on 47th.

So there’s one house, but city council has somehow passed a bylaw that reserves this entire block for a single house.

That house, by the way, has a two car garage.

Posted by skooter at 2:51 AM
Tags: City Council, Parking, Vancouver

October 13, 2007
Hypodermic Shrimp

Shrimp Syringes

These are the shrimp hypodermics I wrote about at the art show I attended last Thursday.

Posted by skooter at 3:48 PM
Tags: Downtown Eastside, Pretentious, Shrimp

October 12, 2007
Before Live 8 there was Live Aid

Before Wilco, there was U2. One of the most famous performances of the greatest rock and roll song of the 1980s (despite that silly CBC 50 Tracks survey that chose With or Without You from the The Joshua Tree.)

As with so much great art, Bad was born from torment. It’s a song given birth by the plague of heroin that Dublin suffered in the mid 80s, not that different from the one that’s ongoing in Vancouver.

Last night I attended an art fund raiser on Granville Island where the catering company served shrimp on lemon gazpacho filled skewers. The idea was that you tipped your head back, ate the shrimp then squeezed the skewer to get the liquid into your mouth.

It was so downtown eastside, it was tragic. I met a couple of people who wer bright enough, and on top of it enough to get the irony…I suspect there were many more who just didn’t.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Does Anybody Hear?

Ancient Cedar falls in Stanley Park

This is good. This is why they call it nature. Let’s hope that the local Vancouver hippies don’t star a protest to get this thing propped up again.

Ancient cedar falls in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2007 | 1:35 AM ET

A red cedar tree believed to be almost 1,000 years old and reputedly the largest of its kind in the world uprooted and toppled from natural causes in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

On Thursday, a part of the tree’s root was exposed and clearly saturated with water and rotten. The top of the tree lies so deep in the forest it can’t be seen.

Posted by skooter at 2:13 PM
Tags: Forest, Stanley Park, Trees

September 25, 2007
I'm Going to Start the Quarter Mile Diet

As usual, I like the principal here but the implementation is just ridiculous. A 10 mile diet wouldn’t be sustainable for most farmers let alone city dwellers.

I did love the 100 mile diet though. Take it out to about 200 and I think it’d probably be pretty sustainable for most Canadians.

Taking the 10-mile challenge
By Bhreandáin Clugston
Editor

Sep 14 2007

You may have heard of the 100-Mile Diet.

For a year, two Vancouver authors, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, ate only foods grown within 100 miles of the city.

They found that most food travels thousands of miles from its source to supermarket shelves and sought to expose the challenges of eating locally and being environmentally-reponsible.

Their experiences were turned into a popular book, The 100-Mile Diet.

With topics of farming and food security often front and centre in Richmond, a group of residents has decided to take the 100-Mile Diet a step further. Actually, make that 90-miles closer.

Enter the 10-Mile Diet. For 10 days, a group of Richmond residents will attempt to eat only locally-grown food. While fruits and vegetables are aplenty, many participants will be challenged to find grains and a variety of meats.

I wonder how many of these 10 mile dieters are going to drive to pick up their groceries?

Posted by skooter at 4:36 PM
Tags: Environmentalism, Food

September 11, 2007
Public Companies Sell Stock, not Product

When companies go public, they very quickly transform from companies that make and manufacture products for consumers to companies that sell their stock in the interest of their investors. This is a necessity of the public market: if they don’t, investors flee and punish the stock. Stock price is the metric by which performance is measured.

Lululemon has gone public, and as a results it’s now selling its stock. This is a press release that will fuel a stock run, and not much else.

Lululemon stretched by demand
MARINA STRAUSS
September 10, 2007 at 9:10 PM EDT

Lululemon Athletica Inc., the Canadian yoga apparel retail phenomenon that went public in July, has run into what it calls a “class A problem”: Supply can’t keep up with demand, and its stores keep running out of products.

What is more, the 59-stores-and-growing chain doesn’t yet have the systems to keep track of just how much business it is losing by not stocking stores adequately.

It’s too soon to see the long term picture for Lululemon, but the company’s senior executives just got a bit richer today.

Posted by skooter at 5:44 AM
Tags: Business, Investing, Politics, Vancouver

August 26, 2007
Moderne Burger

Moderne Burger is to the hamburger what Pablo Picasso was the world of art: a work of genius, so different from all else that it needs to be savoured in person to absorb the true impact. Once you’ve done that, you won’t be able to look at anything else in quite the same way.

It’s been closed for almost six months now, undergoing some renovations and doubling in size at the current location at Broadway and Larch. I haven’t had a burger in six months. (I discount fast food as “not a burger” and it’s not like I’ve eaten that many anyway!)

On Friday, I had the good fortune of bumping itnto Peter and Kathy who own the place while they were walking around Granvile Island. My excitement was obvious, and they assured me that they’d be open before the end of September. This is good since The Craving was getting so desperate that I swore I was going to go to the vastly inferior Vera’s Burger Shack chain on September 1st if they weren’t open. Now that I know, I can hold out until the end of September.

The holdup, by the way? City council and the permit process. Vancouver takes permitting to an absurd level, and I can only say that this is the one thing that I would consider more important than getting the garbage strike settled: Sam Sullivan, for the good of humanity get Moderne Burger open again!

Posted by skooter at 9:03 AM
Tags: City Council, City Hall, Moderne Burger, Vancouver

August 25, 2007
Diez Vistas

The Diez Vistas trail at Buntzen Lake is sort of legendary around here, offering 10 viewpoints out over the stunningly beautiful waters of Indian Arm. It was raining today, as it was the last time I started this trail…two years ago…but we started anyway.

After a very rough ascent the trail levels out somewhat. The viewpoints are beautiful, although we missed (somehow) number 7, 8 and 9. The hike back along Buntzen Lake’s shore was nice and does offer a loop. Turning back and retracing steps is another option, and a good one.

Posted by skooter at 8:49 PM
Tags: Hiking Trails, Vancouver

July 9, 2007
Oak & 37th

I pulled up to the corner of Oak and 37th, heading West…away from Toronto and towards home, in a manner of speaking. 37th is a major East/West bike route in Vancouver, although it’s a weird one for me to take—I’m not sure why I chose that route home tonight, but I did.

I slid in behind someone and, as I so often do, started examining his bike. It was red…a Vitali frame. Probably a few years old, judging the its construction: there was no carbon fibre at all, and the paint had chipped a bit.

Mostly what I looked at was the components. There were Campagnolo Veloce parts. Campagnolo components are rarer than my Shimano and have the beauty inherent in their Italian pedigree. Say what you want, but the Italians know something about machines that move…they are things of beauty that come from the heart first, and machines of efficiency and reliability second.

They guy on the bike in front of me turned around. He was older than I thought, or expected…probably about 60 or so, although it’s hard to judge. He smiled and said:

“You better go ahead. I’m recovering from chemotheraphy.”

It was such a pure moment of open disclosure I didn’t quite know what to say, but I told him I was admiring his bike and as I rode off I told him to have a nice ride.

It’s moments like that that I love about commuting on my bike.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM
Tags: Bikes, Vancouver

July 2, 2007
Alexander Island, British Columbia

Three days of sailing the gulf islands have left me a bit sunburned, tired and knowing a great deal more about sailing than I used too.

I spent last night moored at Alexander Island, one of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s outposts in the Gulf Islands, pictured in the magnified view below.
Alexander Island, RVYC Outpost Location

The winds were light but the sails went up for a few hours through our weekend and we got to enjoy the absolutely beautiful feeling of carving through water at speeds in excess of 6 knots in virtual silence. It really is a magic feeling.

Tomorrow I’m back to life on two wheels rather than none, and I’m looking forward to it, but sunsets like this will be missed.
Sunset on Alexander Island

Posted by skooter at 7:37 PM
Tags: Sailing

June 3, 2007
Lack of Civic Identity

An interesting article on the Canada West Foudation’s compares the booms in Calgary and Dublin.

To my eyes, the most interesting part was this:

The rich cultural identity of Dublin is steeped with names that have impacted the world — Yeats, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde — giving the city a confidence and maturity in dealing with social change.

The boom there has spawned a healthy public debate about the pros and cons of the new socio-economic reality.

The slightest whiff of economic prosperity has a tendency to give Calgary tunnel vision, often resulting in intoxicating booms and painful busts. Unlike Dublin’s open discussions over the new socio-economic reality, Calgary has pushed forth a dogmatic sense of boosterism, making critical comments appear unpatriotic.

A local geologist stated: “In Calgary, you are what you own. All anyone talks about is owning real estate, their job, cars and stuff. People are becoming very selfish.”

Vancouver, of course, suffers from a similar tunnel vision—perhaps worse, given the derision with which people in live in “Vancouver Vancouver” regard the more suburban areas such as North Vancouver or Surrey. By virtue of not being, simply, Vancouver they are regarded with disdain.

In general, I think Vancouver has not yet defined itself. More accurately, perhaps, this most “livable” of cities has defined itself primarily by what it is not rather than by what it is. Vancouver is not Toronto and it is not American…but what is it?

A friend said last week that Vancouver was becoming like a resort town, where only those who don’t need to but choose to can afford to live in the city while those who must can’t afford it.

I’m not sure this is a healthy future.

May 1, 2007
One of my Favourite Buildings

False Creek, on First Avenue

Posted by skooter at 11:54 PM

March 19, 2007
For you...Ten Dollars!

Shimano Thumbshifters, $10 I had no idea Shimano ever made 5 speed thumbshifters.

Posted by skooter at 7:37 PM
Tags: Bikes, Cameraphone, Shimano

January 29, 2007
Vancouver makes the New York Times (again)

Once again, Vancouver has made the New York Times and what a great headline:

Its Wild Heart Broken, a City, Like Its Eagles, Rebuilds - New York Times
By CHRISTOPHER MASON
Published: January 29, 2007

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 24 — No matter how high the office towers and condominiums get in this fast-growing city, those who live here still cling to the laid-back way of life that draws so many to Canada’s west coast, where spandex and a yoga roll are as common a sight as a suit and briefcase.

Nothing symbolizes this dichotomy more than Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre forested oasis next to downtown Vancouver that juts into the Burrard Inlet.

The same article appears in the International Herald Tribune.

Posted by skooter at 12:28 PM
Tags: Articles, Weather

January 23, 2007
Brico Restaurant, Island Highway, Vancouver Island

Posted by skooter at 6:18 AM
Tags: Black and White, Boats, Vancouver Island

January 22, 2007
Reasons Not to Work at Starbucks

These days, pretty much every teenager works at Starbucks instead of McDonalds. It’s not always a good choice.

Man charged for stalking, threatening barista
By HECTOR CASTROP-I REPORTER

A man who tried unsuccessfully to buy an assault rifle pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he stalked and threatened to kill a teenage barista when she rebuffed his advances.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM
Tags: America, Articles, Starbucks

January 21, 2007
Pickton Trial

Tomorrow is the first day of the Pickton trial.

If the Gulf War(s) were the first wars with theme songs, and the O.J. trial was the first American trial with one, then this surely ranks as Canada’s first trial with one. It’s being sold as an event five years in the making on CTV, the trial of Canada’s worst serial killer everywhere else.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what the evidence brings to light, given that the mass media in Vancouver appears to have already come to its conclusion.

Posted by skooter at 10:00 PM
Tags: Media Bias, Pickton

January 14, 2007
Snow, Granville Island

Bike on Granville Island

Posted by skooter at 9:34 PM
Tags: Bikes, Granville Island

January 6, 2007
Seattle vs. Vancouver

There’s a fairly gentle rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver. Generally speaking the people who live in either city like the other equally well (if not more) but there’s a recognition that these cities are…twins. We share and we compete and the same time.

A large investment in Seattle’s port for cruise ships is not going to be good for Vancouver’s port.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Port files to build new cruise terminal
Plans $60 million site at Magnolia

By KRISTEN MILLARES BOLT, P-I REPORTER

The Port of Seattle has filed applications with the city of Seattle seeking permits for a $120 million project to move its cruise terminal from Terminal 30 to Terminal 91, reconverting Terminal 30 to container use.

Posted by skooter at 7:48 AM
Tags: Cruising, Economics, Seattle, Vancouver

December 26, 2006
Fred Bass for Mayor

According to the Georgia Straight

Former Vancouver city councillor Fred Bass says he wants to become the next mayor of Vancouver. In an exclusive interview with the Georgia Straight in a West Side coffee shop, Bass, a physician, revealed his intention to seek the 2008 mayoral endorsement of the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the Vancouver Greens. Bass, a keen environmentalist, ran as a Green candidate for city council in 1996, and was elected in 1999 and 2002 under the COPE banner. In 2005, he came 12th in the race for 10 council seats

Fred Bass would make a better mayoral candidate than Jim Green was.

Bass still won’t be able to defeat Peter Ladner, the likely NPA candidate.

Raymond Louie seems likely to get the nod from the Vision Vancouver folks, although his lack of experience and name recognition work against him.

Posted by skooter at 5:12 AM
Tags: City Hall, COPE, NPA, Vision Vancouver

December 21, 2006
Coming Home, Via Toronto

There’s a great song by Wilco called Via Chicago that’s rolling through my head now, and has been lately.

I painted my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white, dry pages
Was all I tried to save
But the wind blew me back via Chicago

I know I’ll make it back
One of these days and turn on your TV
To watch a man with a face like mine
Being chased down a busy street
When he gets caught, I wont get up
And I wont go to sleep
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Via Chicago

For a long time I’ve felt like I’ve been searching for a home, but not anymore.

Vancouver is home, but this Christmas I’m getting there via Toronto.

It’s 0400hrs and I’m up, drinking coffee and getting ready to head to the airport for an eleven day trip to Toronto, where I spent most of my first 29 years.

Christmas Day will mark the begining of my 7th year in Vancouver. I left Toronto on December 23rd of 2001 at about 1530hrs, and this will be the most time I’ve spent there since.

I was torn when I booked this trip. I get to see my Grandmother, who I haven’t seen in a while and may not get to again; it’s Maya’s first birthday and I’ve never met her; I get to see the friends in Toronto who are closer than my own family — the friends that I grew up with and have known for more than 20 years.

It also means missing a few things. it’s the first Christmas for Paige, Benjamin and Elizabeth and I won’t be there. My friends in Vanouver who are my family won’t be around.

It’s a trade off, and one that I haven’t made in quite a while. Paige, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Georgia have a lot more Christmases ahead of them, and I’ll be there to share many of them. There’s lots of time.

So this Christmas I leave Vancouver but only for a while.

I’m coming home, via Toronto.

Posted by skooter at 4:18 AM
Tags: Benjamin, Elizabeth, Georgia, Paige, Toronto, Wilco

December 18, 2006
Licence Plate

Alberta licence plate ENF 155

This is the licence plate of the uninsured Alberta driver who decided it was OK to cross 6 lanes of traffic on Cambie Street at full speed, without checking to see if lanes were empty.

Beacause I was unable to stop, the front of my Volvo doesn’t look quite the way it used too and I have no car for the next little while, in addition to the pleasure of dealing with ICBC.

Posted by skooter at 9:45 PM
Tags: Cars, Volvo

November 28, 2006
The Daily Grind

I’ve done smarter things in my life.

Vancouver was battered by snow yesterday. This doesn’t happen often, and this is certainly the worst I’ve seen in my 6 years of living here. Faced with the prospect of a fresh snowfall and horrible drivers, I took the bus to work for the first time in…months. I’ve driven a few times, but basically I’ve been cycling every day since March. It’s The Better Way™ to get to work.

Not today, though. Not today. I woke up determined to cycle today.

I’ve done smarter things in my life.

Vancouver’s street cleaning eqiupment is minimal at best, and when snow falls the side streets—meaning the streets that are normally bike routes—aren’t cleaned at all. This left me with a choice of Granville or Arbutus streets.

Arbutus has a horrible hill between 37th and 33rd, leaving me with the incredibly busy Granville street. It was a bit slushy but relatively ice free, and downhill on the way to work.

On the way home, I had to climb the Granville hill. Cars passed within inches until I pushed over to the left side of the lane, forcing cars to change lanes to pass me. I followed buses as much as possible, trusting in the safety of large vehicles driven by professionals.

The air was cold, and burned my lungs as I inhaled and exhaled. I turned the pedals in lower gears than normal in order to keep my cadence up. My body was warm despite the cold air, and I kept pedaling until I got home.

I made it home, safe and sound. I can take whatever tomorrow presents.

Posted by skooter at 4:44 PM
Tags: Cycling, Winter

November 26, 2006
Snow in Vancouver

It doesn’t snow very often in Vancouver, and 10 centimetres in a single day is even rarer (we seem likely to get more.)

A trip to Lynn Canyon is always a good thing, but it’s even better on days like today.

Posted by skooter at 1:38 PM
Tags: Lynn Canyon, Snow

October 15, 2006
Olympic Logos

Vacouver & Chicago Olympic Logos Chicago’s Olympic logo has been released. Well designed, it evokes the Olympic torch while paying tribute to the host city and its legendary urban skyscrapers.

Vancouver’s Inukshuk, by comparison, is quite different with its bold, blocks of colours. The rationale of the Vancouver organizing committee behind the Inukshuk—a structure which means nothing to this region of the world outside of the context of hiking trail markers—is that it evokes Canada and these are Canada’s games, not Vancouver’s.

While they are certainly correct about evoking Canada, I can’t shake the feeling that these are this city’s games first and foremost. Chicago didn’t seem to have a problem.

Posted by skooter at 8:24 AM
Tags: Design, Olympics, Sports, Vancouver Olympics

October 4, 2006
Storyeum's Five Week Reprieve

Storyeum has been granted a five week reprieve.

Why?

Is five weeks going to be enough to turn around a business that’s considered “not viable.”

This is just silly.

It’s interesting though — one of the things that seems to happen consistently in Vancouver is these short term businesses. Would a museum sized attraction open in Toronto and close within a year? The Victoria based B.C. Experience also failed in a matter of months, around the same time. Retail outlets open regularly here and close weeks later — in prominent, high profile locations.

It just doesn’t make sense that the capital to do this exists without proper planning for longevity.

Storyeum will die, and arguably it should.

Posted by skooter at 9:50 AM

September 18, 2006
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Title Card Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premiered last night in Canada. Thanks to CTV, we get a 24 hour jump on the U.S. This is the new series from Aaron Sorkin — the man who’s brought the only two truly excellent TV series to the screen in recent memory (Sports Night and The West Wing.)

It’s a pithy show full of well written, witty dialog — Sorkin writes excellent dialogue, which I attribute to his past work in theatre. The first episode goes through the standard need to introduce a bunch of characters and back story, but was generally good.

My personal favourite line of the show was this:

MATT: So we make some budget cuts, we shoot in Vancouver.

DANNY: No, we’re not shooting in Vancouver. I’m drawing the line on the insanity. Vancouver doesn’t look like anything, it doesn’t even look like Vancouver. It looks like Boston, California

This is possibly the best, most accurate description of Vancouver I’ve heard in a very long time.

Posted by skooter at 6:20 PM
Tags: Aaron Sorkin, Television, Vancouver

August 15, 2006
Torn Down Today

Torn down today, this house was a great piece of Shaughnessy history. I rode past it every day along the Cypress bike path. This morning it was there — on the south west corner of 18th & Cypress — this afternoon it was reduced to a pile of rubble.

This picture was taken about a month and a half ago, just before the development permit went up.

(Double exposure is quite coincidental, and was provided by the quirks of a Lomo.)

Posted by skooter at 7:28 PM
Tags: Houses, Lomo, Photos

August 3, 2006
Countertop Swami, Moderne Burger

Countertop Swami, Moderne Burger

Posted by skooter at 6:49 AM
Tags: Black and White, Photos, Restaurants

July 16, 2006
Semantic Hairsplitting

Concern over Olympic costs running amok are legitimate, given the lessons provided by history. Jack Poole’s continual assertion that no additional funding will be required for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics is almost comical on its face, considering the cost of construction in this city is sprialing out of control

It is, therefore, with little surprise that I greeted this news.

Wood roof to cover Olympic oval in Richmond
When construction of Richmond’s Olympic oval is finished in 2008, one million board feet of pine beetle lumber will cover the roof.
(Black Press) - Richmond will make the biggest statement of B.C.’s number one resource when the Winter Olympics come to town in 2010. The provincial government will announce it’s contributing $1.5 million toward the engineering and design of a wood roof for the Olympic oval.

Richmond’s $178-million oval budget included the cash needed for a steel roof. The province’s ante now gives the city what it really wanted for a community legacy facility.

“The wood design is not only unique, it is also preferable to steel in many ways, including superior acoustics and sustainability,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

The emphasis is mine.

This is semantic hair splitting of the sort that public accounting is full of. Jack Poole and the IOC gets to say that they requested no additional funding, thanks to the fact that this request comes from the City of Richmond. The City of Richmond’s white elephant gets built with an even higher level of provincial investment…an investment which, I still maintain, would better serve the community at Simon Fraser University where the original plan had this facility located.

This won’t be the last of this. and it’s not likely to be the most egregious. It’s important to keep an open mind and an eye on the big picture. Intrawest will, undoubtedly, be a major beneficiary; this is offset by the enormous contribution to Vancouver’s economy Intrawest makes (not to mention the fact that Whistler’s economy is entirely derived from Intrawest.)

I find it hard to imagine a big picture benefit from a wodden roof on a skating rink in the wrong location, and Mr. Brodie’s arguments have not been convincing.

Posted by skooter at 10:31 AM
Tags: 2010, Olympics, Vancouver Olympics

June 28, 2006
Howe Sound under the Sun

Howe Soud under the springtime sun

Posted by skooter at 11:22 PM

June 27, 2006
C-GEUW, Delta Air Park, Vancouver

C-GEUW, Delta Air Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

Posted by skooter at 10:27 PM

June 17, 2006
This is not Good

I visited a store I used to shop at quite frequently today, and commented on the fact that they no longer had Patagonia products. This was the shocking news from the Mountain Equipment Coop.

Looking for products from Patagonia?

We will start carrying the Patagonia brand from fall 2006

Posted by skooter at 3:04 PM

June 8, 2006
Weather

People in Vancouver like to complain about the weather. A lot of people think it rains a lot here. This is not true: it rains a tonne, particularly when compared to places farther East.

Of course, we don’t actually get the most precipitation it’s just that ours all comes in the form of rain. Most places in Canada get snow of some sort but not here. Not often anyway.

Today, after about two weeks of glorious sunny weather and a couple of days that can only be described as hot (a term defined differently here than, say, in Austin, Texas) our weather forecast is calling for the sky to be Overcast.

Overcast is such a gloomy term, and on a day like today I’m not too fond of it. I’d rather have the rain pounding down on my hair, or my hood, or my umbrella depending on my choice of protection for the day.

Posted by skooter at 11:44 AM

April 26, 2006
The Lions, Coast Mountain Range, Vancouver, BC

The Lions, as seen from a Piper Cub, March 2006

Posted by skooter at 9:08 PM

April 20, 2006
Decisions. Decisions.

Suddenly, my decision to go to California instead of the Queen Charlotte Islands at the end of the summer is looking like a good one.

Ferry to Queen Charlottes ‘unlikely’ in 2006

Last updated Apr 19 2006 11:13 AM PDT
CBC News

BC Ferries says it is possible but “unlikely” there will be the regular summer ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands this year’s, following last month’s sinking of the Queen of the North

Posted by skooter at 8:32 PM

March 4, 2006
Artists as Stormtroopers

An interesting argument in the New York Times today talks about New York’s Bushwick neighbourhood and reminds me of an old saying: Artists are the storm troopers of gentrification.

The problem with Vancouver is, artists can’t afford anything here anymore.

Posted by skooter at 8:03 PM

February 24, 2006
Tiffany's

Why, exactly, is it considered newsworthy that Tiffany’s is opening a store in Vancouver?

Posted by skooter at 11:27 AM

February 15, 2006
I Am North Vancouver

For a bunch of different reasons — personal, a desire to be outdoors, and a bit of work — I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in North Vancouver lately. This has led me to one conclusion…

I am a very North Vancouver kind of guy.

Despite the fact that I lived ther for not very long (just over a year) I kind of have a whole North shore routine. From Deep Cove to Whytecliffe Park I can roam Marine Drive and stop at places that are like old haunts — Honey’s Doughnuts, Cates Park, Baden Powell trail, the Tim Hortons in the parking lot of Canadian Tire, the Save on Foods at Park and Tilford, the Saskpool trains along the Lower Levels Highway, Lower Lonsdale, the Savary Island Pie Company, Vera’s Burger Shack on Dundarave, the seawall with its dog walk, Trolls in Horseshoe Bay and the ferry leading to destinations farther afield.

These are all places I know well; all places I spend time living, visiting, and walking.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I will wind up living over there again. It has its disadvantages — most notably the fact that you wound up driving a lot — but, you know, I think it’s maybe the Best Place on Earth.

Posted by skooter at 11:30 PM

January 26, 2006
Hudson's Bay Company

Reaction to the news that the Hudson’s Bay Company has been purchased by an American business has been…interesting. What it hasn’t been is varied.

This from a self proclaimed political pundit:

This is just sickening. It is a Canadian tragedy of epic proportions.

Is a fairly extreme example, but only in its language.

Canadians are appaled that the country that’s perceived as a national institution is selling out.

The same Canadians, of course, never shop there.

So this is the dichotomy, and what a typically Canadian one. Our ill defined national identity haunts us still, and we protest it in commerce.

Business is business, and the wheels of commerce are turning here. The Bay has long since lost its status as a national institution, and this is not a national tragedy.

Yet.

The answer is simple: if Canadians had shopped there, the company might still be Canadian.

Posted by skooter at 8:18 PM

January 16, 2006
27 Days.

Well, mother nature pulled a fast one on us this weekend.

After enduring 27 days of rain in a row, Sunday was to be the big one; the record setting 28th.

I woke up in the morning to a glorious sun filled sky, with not a drop of rain to be seen. A trip to North Vancouver was in order, for my first Honey’s doughnut in over 6 months. Yum.

Lynn Canyon was next; that bridge is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and a little part of me is there. A great day to walk the trails out the back.

At this point I’m worried: still no rain. Nonetheless back to home for some aimless wandering around Kerrisdale and small item shopping until nightfall, at which point I settled into reading, cleaning up my small place and watching a bit of TV.

And then it happened.

2200hrs came, with less than 0.2mm of precipitation having fallen.

This means the current record stands, and Vancouver returns to normal…waiting for rain.

In one of those cruel twists of fate that nature often deals, it is — of course — pouring rain today.

Posted by skooter at 8:16 AM

January 11, 2006
I Am Canadian

Last night, while walking home from the bank — one of Canada’s big five — I realized something.

Getting screwed by one of the major banks on services charges is a fundamental right of all Canadians.

It feels pretty good to be paying that money every month again, with no interest in return. Sort of.

Posted by skooter at 12:20 PM

January 9, 2006
Weather

People in Vancouver talk about the weather a lot.

Of course, so do people every where. It’s a myth that we’re the only ones who do.

Today marks the twenty-second consecutive day of rain in Vancouver, and a heavy rainfall warning has been added for good measure. A couple of weeks ago a huge sinkhole opened up on a downtown street caused, in part, by — you guessed it — too much rain. (A dysfunctional civic government with poorly managed budgets for the last 3 years probably didn’t help either.)

It’s with this in mind that I have this to say: enough! We get it. Whatever we’re being punished for (it’s not our fault we live in one of the world’s most beautiful places) twenty-two days of straight rain (with a minimum of four more expected) is just not appropriate.

I’m going to start building an ark soon.

Posted by skooter at 9:28 AM
Tags: Rain, Tim Hortons

January 8, 2006
Santa Barbara Market

Santa Barbara Market I have only just discovered that my cell phone camera has a very slick little panorama feature.

This is grocery shopping, at the best little market in Vancouver — not as much of a secret as it used to be.

Posted by skooter at 3:04 PM

January 5, 2006
Anthony Von Mandl?

You know, I’m watching CBC news right now and there’s a huge puff piece about Anthony Von Mandl, the proprietor of Mission Hill wines.

Everytime I read a local piece about this guy, I’m appaled by the lack of reference to the real founder of Canada’s fine wine trade: Donald Ziraldo. Ziraldo and his partner Karl Kaiser were producing quality wine in Ontario in 1975, six years before Von Mandl started.

I don’t mean to diminish the man’s achievements: he’s become the leader of the BC Industry, without a doubt. The provincialism that ignores that which went before bugs me a bit though.

I worked for Ziraldo, and he was a passionate man who tried not only to build his own company but also to build an entire industry: nationwide, not only in Ontario. He was an early explorer in British Columbia, although his priority was always Ontario.

Give credit where credit is due.

Posted by skooter at 6:35 PM | Comments

Coffee: World's (2nd) Most Valuable Commodity

Many people don’t know, but coffee is apparently second only to Oil on the world market. It’s amongst the world’s most valuable commodities.

This, then, should come as no surprise.

Espresso Huts Are Target, and Barista Tips Police
By L. D. KIRSHENBAUM
Published: January 5, 2006

SEATTLE, Jan. 4 — The culprits were not after cappuccino, but baristas figured prominently in their robbery spree across the Seattle area - and in their apparent undoing.

Baristas at as many as 10 drive-up espresso stands, as ubiquitous here in the nation’s coffee capital as McDonald’s are, were robbed at gunpoint last month. In each case, less than $200 was taken and the victim was a young woman, the authorities said.

I was attending at these stands for quite a while: street-side coffee is to Seattle as a street Hot Dog is to New York. It’s not just coffee, it’s an icon.

Shame on these folks for preying on these young girls. They’re performing a public service, after all.

Posted by skooter at 11:11 AM
Tags: America, Coffee

January 1, 2006
Happy 2006

It’s 2006, and I rang the year in quietly with a few friends over on Bowen Island with a great dinner prepared in a Moroccan Tajine by the lovely Marie.

Don’t let the understated way that I rang this year in fool you: whether you’re aware of it or not, 2006 is The Year of Skot. As the aforementioned Marie said, it’s been other people’s turns for quite a while — now it’s mine.

This year’s going to rock - here’s just a small list of things that need to be done — presented not as resolutions (which can be broken too easily) but rather as commitments, goals and things that will happen.

So, in 2006 there’s: a baby to be born (not mine, but one I’ll be close too); an election to be won (though chances are long); a job to learn at and grow in; a motorcycle to be purchased; words to be written; a trip to Toronto to make (hopefully including a tent, a canoe, and the kind of solitude that Northern Ontario’s lakes can provide); a momentous birthday to celebrate; fitness to be regained; meals to be cooked; much learning to be done.

Onwards and upwards, I say.

Welcome to The Year of Skot. You’re welcome to play too.

Posted by skooter at 7:45 PM
Tags: Bowen Island, Resolutions

December 30, 2005
Coffee Economics

An interesting article at Slate Magazine about the economics of the modern coffee shop

Bitter Brew - I opened a charming neighborhood coffee shop. Then it destroyed my life. By Michael Idov

Very enlightening. Very informative. 18 cents of beans for an Espresso and it’s still impossible for a mom and pop place to make a living.

It makes me feel, frankly, a bit dirty for going to the Starbucks right next door. But it’s right next door, and the girls are so pretty.

Posted by skooter at 9:54 AM
Tags: Coffee, Starbucks

December 26, 2005
Six Years

Today marks the first day of my 6th year of living in Vancouver. Sometimes this is hard to imagine, but it is true nonetheless.

I formally had an address here as of the first of December in 2001, and spent a few days here but it was Christmas Day that I crossed the border in my overflowing Jeep Cherokee and officially called Vancouver home. I walked through the door at about 9:00 at night, and was greeted by a smile warmer than anything I’d ever seen, and a hug that I’d been waiting for since leaving Billings, Montana at 4:30 in the morning. I drove almost 1,600km that day alone. It was worth it.

It’s been a long, and occasionally hard, 5 years. In this time I have:

All of this has been amazing, and wonderful, and I have had the good fortune of sharing a lot of this with people I have loved and treasured, some new and some old; some now gone, and some still here.

Of these 5 years, the last 2 have been the hardest with personal events throwing my life into turmoil that I couldn’t have imagined, and uncertainty that I could not have anticipated. The last month has been different, and I feel like for the first time since 2003 I have solid ground under my feet, and for the first time since living in Vancouver I feel like I’m with a company that is solidly established and have a job that has a future that could last another 5 years.

I can’t wait until 2011.

Posted by skooter at 5:22 PM
Tags: Travel, Vancouver

December 22, 2005
Penguins, Rocky Mountain Chocolates, Fourth Avenue, Vancouver

Chocolate Penguins

Posted by skooter at 6:41 AM
Tags: Penguins, Photos

December 19, 2005
Now That's a Vancouver Christmas

For the past week or so, it’s been cold here - cold meaning below zero, but not by much, overnight. It’s crazy, I know…but that’s cold.

So there’s been frost on the ground, and I actually went shopping for a windshield scraper — an elusive item in this town (I didn’t find one, but I didn’t go to Canadian Tire only London Drugs.)

Today it started raining, genly and softly falling from the sky. According to my Google home page, it’s going to keep doing that for about 6 days.

And that’s a Vancouver Christmas.

Posted by skooter at 8:24 AM

December 9, 2005
Meet The New Boss

In what I can only describe as a bizarre twist of events that unfolded very quickly, I now have a new job.

A real one too, with a company who’s head office is in Vancouver with a manufacturing plant in Bellingham. (Bellingham is, incidentally, my favourite city in Washington State. It’s absolutely beautiful, and where you board the Alaska ferry.)

Words can’t quite explain how thrilled I am.

The job’s in a neighbourhood I’m familiar with, and one free from Junkie’s shooting up all day. I can, in fact, walk the sea wall right from work.

It’s all very surreal still, and I can’t wait to start this week.

Posted by skooter at 8:14 PM

November 20, 2005
Fog in Vancouver

Magee Elementary

Magee Elementary

Kerrisdale Birch Tree

Locks on a fence

Volkswagen Beetle Name Plate

Volswagen Beetle Turn Signal

Keys on a Newspaper Box

Posted by skooter at 8:39 PM

November 15, 2005
Does that look like snow to you?

See that there? On the left? That’s today’s weather report for Vancouver, according to my Mac OS X Dashboard.

That looks suspiciously like snow to me.

Posted by skooter at 8:48 AM

November 13, 2005
Hizzoner

On CBC’s Cross Country Check Up Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell just endorsed my long term gun control platform. Congratulations Larry - too bad you didn’t take your three years in office to pass a local bylaw. It may have been overturned by a court challenge, but it would have sent a message.

More problematic for the newly minted Liberal Senator, he just slurred the entire Indo-Canadian community.

Posted by skooter at 2:29 PM

November 12, 2005
The Lies that Politicians Tell

Everyone knows politicians tell lies, and the people who want to be politicians are worse than the ones who already are. Danieal Igali made Canada proud by winning a gold after immigrating to Canada.

Jesse Johl was fond of talking about how he and his family were Daniel’s first family when he came to Canada; I always thought it was a bit odd that Igali would never show up at any events, and that these guys couldn’t get ahold of him to save their lives.

With the announcment that Igali intends to open a school in his native Nigeria, this comes up:

As he struggled to adjust to his new life, Igali met his guardian angel - a mother and school principal named Maureen Matheny.

So I guess that answers it. More lies, half truths and omissions. Unfortunately entirely predictable.

Posted by skooter at 12:07 PM

November 10, 2005
That Giant Sucking Sound

One more head office says goodbye to British Columbia

This does not bode well for the future, although if the Cascadia idea ever launches we can all move south without going through immigration.

Utilities Commission approves Terasen sale
Last updated Nov 10 2005 05:54 PM PST
CBC News

A Texas-based company has been given approval to buy Terasen Gas. Kinder Morgan will pay nearly $7 billion for the company and its natural gas pipeline network.

The B.C. Utilities Commission gave its conditional approval despite a flood of letters from concerned British Columbians. The commission says it received 8,000 letters of comment about the sale.

Posted by skooter at 7:51 PM
Tags: Business, Economics, Politics, Vancouver

Trooper? You've got to be joking

From today’s Globe and Mail

The boisterous debate has attracted all kinds of voices, including Ra McGuire, the lead singer of the rock band Trooper, known for the song Raise a Little Hell.

Mr. McGuire, who has been living in White Rock for 16 years, fiercely opposes the development.

“In Trooper, I play in every city, town and village in Canada,” he said. “There are so few places left like White Rock in the entire country.” It’s a “cool place” that shouldn’t change, he said.

Trooper? What’s next - Platinum Blonde in the federal cabinet?

My favourite part is that last comment about White Rock not changing. Of course it shouldn’t change - why should cities, towns and communities change? The less change the better, right?

Umm…wait a second…the average age in White Rock is something 60. North Vancouver suffers from the same problem. Change will happen whether Mr. McGuire wants it to or not: people are dying.

The funny thing about White Rock is people are either really old or really young. I like the town personally - great place - but there is a huge age gap noticeable when you drive around the streets. It’s just weird.

Posted by skooter at 8:58 AM

November 6, 2005
Terminal City Weekly is Dead

Terminal City Weekly was followed closely by the political left, and not so closely by the political right. It’s death is a mere blip on Vancouver’s media radar, but one that should be noted on some level at least.

Posted by skooter at 11:01 AM

November 4, 2005
Salaries in Vancouver

The Cascadia Scorecard Weblog had a little tidbit about British Columbians and wages.

This refrain is not new - it is, in fact, one that is put forward everytime people speak about the differences between T-dot and Vancouver. The gist: people in Vancouver choose lifestyle over income.

I don’t see it as much of a choice. That jobs pay much less in Vancouver than in Toronto for the same career is simply entrenching the already enormous gap between the haves and have nots in this city.

Vancouver is home to the worst ghetto - perpetuated by the actions of our Mayor and City Council - in the country, known by that infamous acronym DTES (the Downtown East Side.) People buy condominiums in this neighbourhood in hopes that it will gentrify and their investment will appreciate. In the last 5 years that I’ve lived here, there’s been little movement. I worked in the neighbourhood - I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t face it.

A note on the comments made on the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog web site - people in Toronto are not unhappy. I guess this sort of punches a hole in the argument though.

Posted by skooter at 9:12 PM | Comments

November 3, 2005
What not to say in your Craigslist posting

I regularly cruise the Craigslist furniture listings, and was pretty tempted by this.

120cm x 170 cm in good condition. no stains, non smoking, no pets, vacumed on a regular basis. In fair condition 6/10. still pretty clean. used in bedroom. Clean enough to lie naked on for a minute or two. Originally sold at ikea at $20. Yours for $5.

Posted by skooter at 8:47 AM

November 2, 2005
Whales and Dogs

There has never been a more blatant vote grab than this.

Vancouver has two types of people - dog people, and people who complain about dog people. I lean towards the latter, as I’m fairly ambivalent about dogs.

The dog people have complained for years about not having enough off leash areas but I’m goin to let our elected Park Board in on a little secret: they’re never going to be happy. There will never be enough off leash dog areas.

It’s the same problem as Annelise Sorg and her campaign to keep whales and dolphins out of captivity. Why are we wasting our time putting what is, essentially, a scientific issue to a public vote? If Annelise and her whale lobby lose, she will not stop complaining just because you held a referendum.

As for dogs, I’ve got no inherent problem with off-leash parks except that many dog owners tend to treat all parks as off-leash parks. What’s the point in creating these zones, if the rules and regulations aren’t enforced? I relize they are, but not to any great extent.

Dog owners need to be made responsible for their dog’s behaviour, and this responsibility needs to be enforced. Creating more off leash dog parks isn’t going to change anything. It’s a blatant vote grab in a city full of dog owners.

Posted by skooter at 8:20 AM
Tags: Vancouver, Whales

November 1, 2005
Vancouver news in Toronto

When the Toronto Star is able to find Vancouver on a map you know the news is big.

Posted by skooter at 8:50 AM

October 25, 2005
Here We Go Again

That most famous of Canadian shows, Da Vinci’s Inquest is no more. It is now Da Vinci’s City Hall

I loved this show. For a while, when I lived in Charlottetown, it was a bit of a lifeline back to Vancouver. I watched an entire episode that was shot within a kilometre of the place I was living. It’s fun when dead bodies wash up near your house.

That was before it started to wear thing on me.

Da Vinci’s Inquest was set in the downtown east side, known to some as Canada’s poorest neighbourhood (and to others as its most entertaining.) Week after week, it broadcasts an image of Vancouver to the world as home to the homeless, the lost, the drug addicted.

It also, by association, portrays an image of now Senator Larry Campbell as its saviour.

In three years in office, Larry Campbell managed to fulfill quite a few of his commitments in spirit at least, if not in full. He held a referendum on the Olympics, putting the Vancouver bid at risk. He opened a safe injection site, although we don’t yet know whether it’s working the way it was supposed to (how could we? These people have been addicted for years - is three years really enough to get them off?) He supported slot machines at Hastings Park - oh…wait…that wasn’t a promise.

And now, we have to endure the public airing of three years of this stuff? I’m watching it, but I’m not sure I can stomach it. The show itself has a selective history, which does a nice job of glossing over the realities. There’s never been an episode where somebody’s house was broken into by a crack addict, while the police were unable to find them. There’s never been an episode with people walking down the street screaming at random people. There’s never been an episode where people used an ATM vestibule as a washroom. All of these things happen here everyday.

I love Chris Haddock’s writing; I’m just not sure I like his view of history.

And, by the way, I’ve been too City Hall and - this is no offense to people who work there - very few people are that good looking.

Posted by skooter at 9:09 PM
Tags: 2010, Larry Campbell, Politics, Vancouver Olympics

October 19, 2005
Parade of Lost Souls 2005

According to Beyond Robson this year’s Parade of Lost Souls has been called off, in part in order to give the folks that organize it a brief break.

This disappoints me on many levels.

The Parade is an event that’s uniquely Vancouver, and an annual event that I love to attend. I understand the need for a break, but what am I supposed to do for Halloween now?

Posted by skooter at 6:57 PM

July 5, 2005
The Emerald City and Independence Day

This combined Canada Day and Independence Day weekend marked my longest contiguous stay in Seattle ever. Four days of time spent in the Emerald City. I’ve been in the United State longer, but a great deal of this is usually camping time in off the beaten path places. This is a bit different.

So what did 4 days and 5 nights in Seattle teach me?

Independence Day in the United States is a very big deal; a (long) walk around the Alki beach area had us peppered with American flags - usually more than one at most properties. These people do wave their flag.

Having said that, I was a bit underwhelmed by the patriotism. The Capitol Hill gang celebrates differently than the Alki Beach gang. Signs were everywhere, but in a very understated way.

The most patriotic moment was attending a Mariner’s game, pitched by Kenny Rogers mid-appeal on his 20 game suspension. Not a popular man.

The singing of the National Anthem was astonishing though. I have never seen anything like this at a Canadian sporting event, although I’d bet a Stanley Cup final with a Canadian team (unlikely though that may be) and perhaps a world championship game. I doubt it though. Every hand and hat was held over heart without a trace of cynicism outside of my little bubble of Canadiana. I was, of course, busily pointing out the history of the song which celebrated a Canadian (O.K. - British if you’re going to be picky) attack during the war of 1812.BTW, any of my fellow Canadians proud of the fact that we’re the only nation to ever succesfully attack the Capitol? Anybody want to try again? C’mon. You know it’d be fun.

While we’re on that topic, how’s this for revisionist history. First, notice that the Americans were siding with the French. Regrets I’ve had a few. Should’ve seen that one coming anyway - when was the last time you heard “France has won!” being shouted in the streets? Anyway, we’re still here. I think we know who won this one folks. Deal with it.

The list of things to do in Seattle is substantially longer than any weekend in Vancouver. No Fun Vancouver? Absolutely.

A partial list of the things we didn’t do:

And here, a partial list of the things I did do:

A good weekend.

There’s a hot rumour that Seattle is not as safe as Vancouver. While one weekend does not provide a good example, two men were killed this weekend in Vancouver within steps of each other (at different times) near a Skytrain station, and Canada celebrated Independence Day by releasing Karla Homolka from jail.

I certainly didn’t feel unsafe in Seattle.

So go. Spend time. Our American neighbours are fun to hang out with.

I’ll be doing it again, I’m sure, although I hope the next time is on two wheels.

Posted by skooter at 6:28 PM

June 29, 2005
one year

A year ago today, I was recovering from the aftermath of a federal election. The election saw exerting myself far too much for the most humiliating job of my life, in the employee of a first time candidate who was neither worthy of my effort, my respect, or a single vote.

Unemployment was my reality. I had faint hope of employment from an election, but I did have a small glimmer of hope. I would have loved to live in Ottawa.

The same election saw the somewhat stunning defeat of an honourable man who understands this city, and his community, far far better than their current representative.

A year ago, I lived in the noisiest apartment in history, not knowing that soon I would go without power, and Internet service.

One year later, I am stil in the throes of the stupidest divorce in history. I’m living in a basement apartment that may not be perfect, but is surrounded by friends and love and an little two year old girl who makes my day almost every day; a house that has been home to me in Vancouver more than any other single house (despite not being mine, or even owned by family) is up for sale.

One year later I have a job which doesn’t pay me anywhere near what I used to, but it pays - somewhat reliably - and I like the guys I work with.

Life is better than it’s ever been, despite the people I still miss.

Posted by skooter at 11:02 PM

June 19, 2005
Finding Nemo

On the list of things you probably won’t find in Toronto, I was riding my bike along the seawall one day (try doing that in Toronto anyway) and found this tribute.
Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo
The display simultaneously made me cheerful and sad - it was full of touching, tender love but also sadness for someone lost. I’ve no idea who the tribute was for - a lover, a child or a parent, but the sentiment was real.

Posted by skooter at 10:56 PM

June 17, 2005
Riding in the Rain

Sometimes in the morning I look outside my windows and see the rain, and I just can’t imagine wanting to get on my bike and ride to work.

But this is Vancouver, and if you’re going to let a little thing like rain drag you down, you’re living in the wrong city.

Today, I had to wake up early too and the idea of that tiny little 10km bike ride (downhill, for god’s sake) to work just seemed wrong.

But I did it anyway, and man was it fun. There are those of us who, believe it or not, actually enjoy the rain even if only in moderation.

Rain brings life; renewal; it gives the Earth a slightly shinier all around cleaner look.

But mostly it brings life.

Posted by skooter at 8:11 AM

May 28, 2005
My Local Hardware Store

Posted by skooter at 7:49 PM

vancouver weekends

It’s a bit of a running joke here that if it’s raining, it must be Saturday. Vancouver is Canada’s rainy city, and since people tend to work Monday to Friday (wait….people in Vancouver work?) of course it rains when you’re not working.

But not this weekend.

This is one of those spectacular, stop you dead in your tracks weekends with glorious sunshine and warm weather and all those things that just positively scream “Get Outside!”

So I am.

I can’t think of a better way to start the Summer of Skot.

Posted by skooter at 8:17 AM

May 27, 2005
End of an Era?

I rode along the False Creek seawall today on my way to work - hammered down to Granville Island and then around the rest of the way - and in the process stumbled on what must, surely, be the end of an era for Vancouver, and the residents of the False Creek Waterway.

The Kmon Iwanna Lei-Ya is up for sale.
Kmon Iwanna Lei-Ya moored in False Creek

I’ll post a photo shortly, as soon as I get my digital camera back. This house boat’s been moored here since the day I moved to Vancouver, so the sale is potentially truly momentous.

Posted by skooter at 10:34 PM
Tags: Boats, False Creek, Vancouver

May 8, 2005
Moonrise, Bowen Island

Moonrise, Bowen Island There are people who would call this the sunset — the end of a day.

I prefer to remember it as the begining of a night.

Posted by skooter at 2:12 PM
Tags: Bowen Island, Moon

April 14, 2005
damn.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangster

You just don’t get bus stop art like this in T-dot.

Posted by skooter at 12:11 AM

March 4, 2005
So I quit a job

Which is astounding, really, because I spent so much time looking for one.

Of course, when one came along so did another - and it is, as the saying goes, the part I was born to play.

So here I am, no longer overemployed and underpaid - now I’m just underpaid.

But I get my weekends back soon, and a bunch of people are going to be happy because I’ll have more time to actually finish those things I’ve committed to. I’ll be happy because I finally have time to start doing things like running, and riding my bike, and maybe even getting out into the mountains a little bit again.

I need to prepare for South America, and those mountains are beckoning.

Posted by skooter at 4:09 PM

February 24, 2005
Branding Vancouver

As someone who’s worked in Marketing for a while, I was caught up in the whole branding insanity of the mid to late 90s. It, of course, fizzled miserably - who couldn’t see that one coming? Mutual Fund companies spent millions “building the brand” while their performance sank - sales did too, notwithstanding the brand.

Here’s a clue: the Coca Cola brand? It’s sugar and water in a can, not a fancy logo. You can change the logo, but don’t touch that sugar water - anybody remember New Coke?

Anyway, to the point - Vancouver’s tourism commission has decided to brand the city, and they were yammering on about it on the CBC this morning. I chuckled vigorously when I heard the new mission statement for this city:

The Vancouver experience will exceed visitors expectations and we will deliver superior value in a spectacular destination that is safe, exciting and welcoming to everyone.

What does that mean, again?

This mission statement is a wonderful example of the problem with a lot of marketing copy/text that gets written: it has absolutely nothing to do with anything these people can control.

Safe? That’s the cops job, and these guys have no say in that at all.

Spectacular? Well, God gave us the scenerey, not a marketing board.

Exeeding expectations? Your job is to build those expectations - build them low, and you’ll exceed them in a heartbeat. Swift Current, SK regularly exceeds expectations just because poeple have never heard of it.

I’m not worried though. The next time a tourist gets off a cruise ship and walks through the downtown east side to get to Gastown and get mugged, I’ll just remind them of how great our brand is.

Is it only me, by the way, who thinks it’s ironic that virtually every photo to support Vancouver’s brand is inevitably one of North or West Vancouver? Mountains; forest; streams. These are all in North Van. Maybe I’m cynical.

Posted by skooter at 8:25 AM | Comments

February 8, 2005
there's something seriously wrong here

it’s 3 in the morning, and i wake up. no big deal, except that this keeps happening earlier and earlier.

yesterday it was 4 a.m., and it took me two hours to get back to sleep. not fun.

so this morning, i’m sitting here doing some internet domain admin waiting to catch my ride to work. this is just wrong.

but i gotta go now. time to leave.

i need sleep. normal. regular. extended hours of sleep.

Posted by skooter at 4:46 AM

January 16, 2005
Snow is disappearing in Vancouver

The snow that’s been blanketing this city for a while is gradually disappearing, with out temperatures returning to more seasonable norms around here. 2 degrees today, and a forecast of 4 degrees for basically the rest of the week.

This means lovely scenes like this are disappearing, and who knows when next it’ll happen.
Point Grey Secondary

Posted by skooter at 11:35 AM
Tags: Snow, Weather

January 6, 2005
It's snowing in Vancouver

What a weird, wonderful city this is when it snows. A few days ago I woke up with a few inches of snow on my car, and it all disappeared.

Today, there’s a “snow warning”; I’m not sure exactly what qualifies this as a “snow warning” day, but someone, somewher has declared it so it must be true.

People like to joke about Vancouver drivers in the snow compared to Ontario drivers. Lemme tell you - I’ve done both (and quite a bit of the latter) and I’d rather be driving in Ontario. It’s not that people don’t know how to drive out here though…the snow here is slick and slippery and the hills are steep.

Better hope that ABS system works: you’ll need it.

Me? I’m letting Translink do the driving.

But this morning - what a beautiful day. I woke up just before 6 in the morning and popped right out of bed to take the dog for a walk. I love the sound of snowflakes falling on your head; this is the sort of almost non-existent sound that’s astonishing when you experience it. These types of noises are the pleasures that should be held onto, lest they disappear from life for unpredictable reasons.

Today I’m going to play in the snow a little, in the city where it never snows. It’s gonna be fun.

Posted by skooter at 7:07 AM | Comments

December 28, 2004
Your Heroes at their Best


Far be it from me to dismiss the importance of collective bargaining and union contracts, but I could help take a picture of this - one of Vancouver’s finest banking while on duty.

And yes, that’s a fire truck stopping traffic on 1st Ave. - the busiest street in the city - so that this guy can pull cash out of an ATM.

Posted by skooter at 8:20 AM

November 27, 2004
Welcome to East Vancouver


Found on the street in a supposedly upscale area of East Vancouver.

This is not a place to live; this is in fact a war zone. I grew up in the supposed wilds of Scarborough, and I never saw anything like this.

Welcome to fall in Vancouver; welcome to the fall of Vancouver.

Posted by skooter at 9:15 AM

November 18, 2004
The Best Commute in the World


There realy is no better commute in the world than this.

Posted by skooter at 4:53 PM

It's windy here today...

It’s windy here today; the kind of wind that makes large, old trees sway back and forth with ease. Leaves are coming down outside the window.

The best part is I have to take the Seabus today - not once, but twice. I used to do this almost every day, and crossing the Burrard Inlet on rocky seas is always fun; not the sort of thing you do in many places - very Vancouver.

Fall is slipping away and winter is settling in, and today feels like the tipping point. Tipping points are great, especially when you realize you might actually be watching them happen.

Posted by skooter at 8:42 AM

November 11, 2004
Remembrance Day 2004


Remembrance Day always makes me sad; it’s a set of memories that are slipping slowly away, drifting into nothingness.

Modern wars never go away. Grainy TV footage from Vietnam will be with us forever, as will the print and audio records created in the years since. I’ve no doubt that there are millions of video tapes around with world that include the opening of Operation Enduring Freedom - I know that I had an old man sitting on my couch skipping channels waiting for the world’s first scheduled for TV war to start, and I have no doubt that any number of people taped it. Enduring Freedom will likely endure forever, benefiting from the eternal life that comes from being nothing more than a set of 1s and 0s stored on an endless number of RAID devices with backups and backups and forwarded through so many SMTP servers that no one can possibly count. This particular collection of 1s and 0s has circled the world already, and will continue to do so for all eternity.

World War I and World War II are more elusive though; footage exists, but not in the same volume as these later wars. There were no embedded journalists in these conflicts, and the memories exist largely inside men and women like this; men and women who are dying rapidly at this point. My Grandfather is 84, and he’s considered young by some of these people. These memories are slipping away one by one, more and more with each passing day.

In Ontario Remembrance day stopped being a holiday, in part because kids had stopped going to ceremonies. In short, the purpose of the holiday had disappeared.

Today’s ceremony in Grandview Park was well attended by kids, even though British Columbia has maintained this as a holiday. I hope these kids keep going, and I hope that at some point the lessons that were supposed to be learned from the Great Wars past will hold, and the world’s leaders will no longer feel compelled to start new ones.

Perhaps Yasir Arafat’s death was well timed; perhaps peace will come to the Middle East after all.

On a day like today, I try to remain hopeful. Sometimes it’s hard.

Posted by skooter at 5:05 PM

October 17, 2004
Vancouver Votes Against Wards

Results are in, and Vancouver has voted against wards by a slim majority - just 4%.

Most surprising was the turnout, which came in at 22.6%. As noted below Peter Ladner predicted either 10% or 15% (wrong again Peter) and to the best of my knowledge, both the Yes and No sides expected it to be less than 15%, although there appeared to be little polling done on the issue. 22.6% is appallingly low, but it’s less appallingly low than 15%.

I will readily admit to having mixed feelings, for reasons that may not have been obvious. While I think the concept of wards is a good one, the current ward proposal was so flawed that there was no way I could have supported it. It expanded government for no reason and failed to address the real concerns of the region.

The “No” team deserves congratulations here, as winners always do.

My question remains “What next?” How is Vancouver and the GVRD going to move forward?

Everybody knows this thing is broken, but no one’s brave enough to fix it. The years leading up to 2010 are going to be important ones for Vancouver, and interesting too watch. I’ll be playing a role in this somehow, on some level.

Posted by skooter at 10:09 AM

October 15, 2004
Letter to the Georgia Straight

I sent this letter to the Georgia Straight in response to “this editorial about wards:http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=5670, which distorts the facts wildly.

To the editor, Georgia Straight:

I read with great interest your editorial in favour of wards. I was especially amused by the glaring errors.

Your editorial states that “For the first time in almost 70 years, citizens can create a city government that listens a lot more to average people and perhaps a little bit less to the political and financial elites.” This is obviously incorrect, as Vancouver voted on the ward system in 1873, 1978, 1982, 1988, 1996 and 1935. Perhaps the Straight is implying that these past votes were all undemocratic?

You go on to discuss the impact that higher turnout on the west side has on candidates elected. Much research has been done on turnout in Wards vs. Non-Wards systems, and the ward system has been determined to have little impact on turnout. It will likely have little impact on the type of candidates who get elected as well; Candidates with the most media appeal will continue to get the best coverage, and are more likely to get elected.

Your comments on the number of names on the ballot ignore the fact that school board & park board will continue to be elected in an at-large manner, and the ballot size will remain substantially the same. Your claim that candidates without name recognition will have a better change of getting elected is also not born out by evidence from Provincial & Federal riding races, where name recognition remains a huge factor (as does incumbency, which in part drives name recognition for those candidates who have been elected before.)

You suggest that the city’s gay community stands a better chance of “electing politicians who reflect the aspirations of the gay community.” This suggests that the “gay community” essentially votes as a block, which is far from the truth. My gay friends are as diverse as my straight friends, and none of them would vote for a candidate on a single issue: it’s an insult to suggest that this community feels this way. Alan Herbert represents his own views very well, but can no more claim to recognize the concerns of the “gay community” at large than any other single gay man. His failure to get elected in two subsequent attempts (one of which I worked on actively) had nothing to do with his status as a gay man.

Amar Randhawa (and his colleagues) deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his work on behalf of UNITED in fighting violence in the Indo-Canadian community; I have attended UNITED events, and think the work they’re doing is perhaps the single most effective way to effect change. I’m not sure what action Amar wishes the mayor & council would take or what impact a ward system will have on this; if the suggestion is that this is a problem being ignored because it is ethnic in nature, there will be little impact made by wards - the Indo-Canadian community is far from a majority in any of the ward boundaries, and is perhaps even less likely to elect a councillor in the ward system than in an at-large system. Again, I think the implication that the Indo-Canadian community votes as a united block is an insult, but it’s a moot point: without a majority (or anything approaching it) the community would have a modest effect on any ward in any case. I too wish civic politicians would support Amar’s work, but I feel that it will have little impact on the effect of that work itself.

I personally don’t feel that there is any inherent advantage in Vancouver with either system; this city is very small, and can be effectively governed by either system. The reality is that the current ward proposal suggests adding 4 more councillors to a government that is already sufficiently large, where councillors represent (theoretically) fewer citizens than in most other large Canadian cities. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages; it’s simply a choice of choosing your poison.

Vancouver’s government needs to be reformed - the GVRD is clearly dysfunctional, and amounts to taxation without representation - but bringing wards into Vancouver is not going to repair the problems that we currently face.

Posted by skooter at 7:31 PM

September 23, 2004
Gestapo like? Hardly.

Only in Vancouver would shutting down a store selling marijuana over the counter be considered “gestapo” like.

Only in Vancouver.

It’s protests like this that make me wonder about people who think that being a police officer is an easy job. It’s not, and the occassional problem notwithstanding, these guys deserve a tonne of respect for doing one of the hardest jobs around.

Nobody ever protests against firefighters becuase they’re putting out a fire; paramedics and doctors rarely get criticized for saving a life; cops raid a store openly selling an illegal substance, and they get called “gestapo like.”

This town is crazy.

Posted by skooter at 3:50 PM

September 21, 2004
Our safe injection site is working...

According to today’s Vancouver Sun, our safe injection site has “exceeded expectations” and is “making a difference” after only a year of operation.

Tell that to the people who live in the area.

Lately, I’ve been riding my bike down to the corner of Main & Hastings late at night; if the safe injection site is working, the problem must be worse than we ever thought it was. This place really is a war zone.

Vancouver’s drug policy coordinator Donald MacPherson says that “anecdotal evidence suggests that the site is a success” according to the sun. The great thing about anecdotal evidence is that it’s easy to make it match your expectations.

This is one of those issues where I agree with Randy White: there truly is no such thing as a safe injection site. While I tacitly agree with the principal of “harm reduction”, one of the major problems here is that safe injection sites have been equated with harm reduction.

The first question that needs to be asked is what are the goals of safe injection sites?

In my mind, the goal is to get people off drugs: this implies that the safe injection site needs to be referring people to counselling and tracking their progress. No matter how you shake the statistics, a one year time period is simply not enough to evaluate success on this measure. Drug addiction is a lifelong problem, and a year is far from a lifetime.

Many define the goal as saving lives: if this is the case, it may be impossible to define success. It’s impossible to know whether or not people are injecting because they have access to the clean room, and impossible to know who would have overdosed outside. Over a period of years it may be possible to build up enough statistical data to demonstrate an overall reduction in overdose deaths, but again a year is simply not enough.

Some might define the goal as education: this is a placebo, and not one that needs to be achieved by a safe injection site.

Pot smokers are now looking for a safe inhalation room; other drug users are looking for their safe rooms. Quite simply, if the act is defined as criminal this is a slippery slope for police and the justice system. How can we tell children that drugs aren’t safe when the legal system has a loophole that permits people to use them?

To be sure, my anecdotal evidence is as invalid as MacPherson’s, but as I said I’ve been riding through that neighbourghood: it’s not safe. If the last year represents progress, I’m not sure I want to stick around for the next few. I don’t like getting caught on slippery slopes.

Posted by skooter at 11:25 AM

I still like the rain; a lot


It’s fall in Vancouver, and that means the rainy season has started. September’s not yet over and we’ve already broken not only the record for the month but also for a single day in Vancouver.

I like the rain though; I sought it out a few days ago, traipsing around North Vancouver with neither an umbrella or a rain coat on. Rain brings the forest to life, and it won’t be long until spring again.

Posted by skooter at 10:01 AM

August 22, 2004
Premier Ladner?

Bill Tielman, in the most recent Georgia Straight, suggests that Peter Ladner may be interested in making a run as Premier when Gordon Campbell’s time in office comes to a close (prematurely or not.)

Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights of Mr. Ladner’s time in office.

The NPA’s own site lists a number of them - Ladner wants the city to crack down on such serious issues as urinating in public, loud car alarms, and - wait for it - cycling on sidewalks. Add to this initiatives which will allow police to lay fines for fighting in city streets, crack down on aggressive panhandlers, an annual water sports festival and a bizarre proposal to “the placement of glass awnings over downtown lanes to create new pathways between blocks” and I’m not exactly seeing signs of genius here.

These types of initiatives at a civic level are not what greatness is made of.

I haven’t yet heard Ladner (who many think wants to be the next Mayor of Vancouver) demonstrate a vision for the city, nor a proposed solution for any of the problems our city faces. Cracking down on public urination won’t help solve the homeless problem here, nor will blaming the provincial government; cracking down on car alarms isn’t going to help the car theft problem, and excessive enforcement of cycling bylaws isn’t going to encourage people to get out of their cars. How is Councillor Ladner going to help to create a more robust and diverse economy in our city - something that we desperately need.

When Peter Ladner provides a vision for Vancouver, he may earn a vote as Mayor; until then, can you seriously think of this guy as Premier?

I can only assume that Tielman is having some political mischief with the suggestion, as he’s been known to do. I just can’t find a way in my head to take this suggestion seriously.

Posted by skooter at 12:37 AM
Tags: NPA, Peter Ladner, Vancouver

August 18, 2004
North Shore Views

West Vancouver at Night

Vancouver’s North Shore is probably the best place to live in the world; I miss it quite a bit, and hope to get back.

This is West Vancouver at night, taken from the pier near Ambleside Beach.

Posted by skooter at 10:58 PM
Tags: Long exposures

Wards & Vancouver

Wards are coming to Vancouver; at least, that’s my prediction. I think the “Yes” forces will win, and our next mayor will be Larry Campbell running as an independent. I’d put money on both of those things at this point in time.

But I’m enjoying watching the campaign happen, and staying somewhat non-partisan; although I think wards would be good for the city, I’ll likely vote no.

Why?

Today’s Vancouver Sun article points out some of the negatives of a ward based system: costs tend to be higher; councillors will certainly engage in some form of vote trading; lower debt loads in an at large system. All of these are compelling arguments in favour of an at large system.

Still, at large systems have a major flaw: a lack of accountability, and a ballot which is virtually impossible for the average voter to understand (at least in any reasonably sized city) becuase of the number of names on it.

My major problem with Vancouver’s current ward proposal is that it doesn’t fix the real problem of the region: the structure and function of the GVRD. As it’s currently structured, GVRD is taxation without representation. Look no further than RAV: a bunch of old guys I don’t get to vote for were deciding how much I would pay for this thing, or whether I would pay for it at all.

So far from worrying about councillors pursuing “pet” projects only for their wards, I’m worried about this entire region being poorly represented.

To those who say that the GVRD problem is a provincial one, not a municipal one, I say phooey. Yes, the provincial government created the GVRD and the provincial government can - and will - solve this problem easily by creating Van-Mega-Couver.

If the municipalities are smart though (and I have no reason to believe they are) they’ll band together and figure out a solution that truly works for the municipalities; given a sensible proposal, it’s likely that the provincial government would adopt it. Not guaranteed, but likely.

Instead, we’re mucking around with wards in Vancouver while Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Surrey and White Rock will continue to elect at large councillors.

That makes sense; absolutely.

Posted by skooter at 10:04 PM

August 16, 2004
50,000 Cars

50,000 cars; that’s the number, according to a friend of mine who works in Engineering at City Hall, of vehicles that pass by my window every day.

How is anybody supposed to live like this?

If you think about it, 50,000 cars is a lot of people. I recently applied for a job in Peterborough, which has a population in the range of 100,000 people. If you assume that there’s one car for every 2 people in Peterborough (probably a low estimate, given that it’s a somewhat rural town) that means that every car in Peterborough passes my window every day. That’s a pretty unbelievable fact really. Astounding.

The good news is that the City of Vancouver is experimenting with a noise-reducing pavement. I say good news with a grain of salt: reducing this level of noise by 5 to 10% still leaves you with an awful lot of noise; a bit like taking a few grains of rice out of a bowl.

Posted by skooter at 12:23 AM

August 7, 2004
A Special Ending to Fireworks from the Vancouver Police

helicopter.jpg

It was fireworks time in Vancouver again, with all of the paranoia from the Vancouver Police about kids (kiddz?) and the problems they cause.

No sooner had the last shell exploded in the sky than the VPD helicopter started patrolling the night sky with its searchlight, presumably to encourage the crowd to (as they say) move along.

Posted by skooter at 11:31 PM

March 23, 2004
Marpole: Under the Granville Bridge

Posted by skooter at 10:03 AM

March 7, 2004
Monoliths in the Fog


View from Grey Rock, Deep Cove

Before a meeting today, I headed for the short hike from Indian River Road to Grey Rock; the rain was coming down heavily, and the trail was soaked in water. When I got to the rock there was only one other person there - this place can be extremely crowded on sunny days and I took this picture before he noticed me.

I spoke to him for a moment, both of us saying we really liked the rain here: it’s the only time in some of these places you can get peace and quiet.

The next thing he said was the he loved the way that these stone monoliths came out of the constantly shifting fog.

That’s almost exactly what Toni Onley said in one of his last interviews.

Posted by skooter at 10:05 AM

February 14, 2004
Vancouver Rain

Rain on the Windshield

There’s nothing quite like waiting in the Tim Horton’s drive through line on a rainy Vancouver morning.

Posted by skooter at 9:23 AM
Tags: Rain, Tim Hortons

February 10, 2004
Vancouver is not Toronto


In the span of about 4 hours today, I watched an Eagle circle over the Burrard Inlet from the top window of this house, got on the SeaBus for a ferry trip downtown, caught a helicopter taking off about ten 100 feet away, took the SeaBus home through a stunning sunset and then went out for an after dark mountain bike ride with no gloves on.

But I understand why some people think Toronto is better
Really, I do.
Honestly.
I mean it.
Seriously.

Posted by skooter at 10:14 AM

January 19, 2004
Ghost Ships in the Burrard Inlet

At about midnight, I looked out of the upstairs window of this house at the view of Vancouver - fog was rolling in from the east, and the city was becoming enshrouded in mist.

A quick walk down to the waterfront for one of the clear benefits of living in North Vancouver (the view of the city) had me taking a bunch of timed exposures of the ghost ships in the Burrard Inlet and the city itself.

Exposures, all at f8

Ship: 90 seconds, Sigma 90mm
Ship: 180 seconds, Sigma 90mm
City with ships moving: 120 seconds, 50mm Macro
City: 90 seconds, 50mm Macro

Posted by skooter at 10:17 AM
Tags: Burrard Inlet, Long Exposures

November 6, 2003
Eliza Dushku still rocks

“There’s no fire at 84 Hastings”
- Tru Calling

So it’s not set in Vancouver, but apparently it sort of is.

Bad show; not enough leather on Eliza Dushku.

Posted by skooter at 9:29 AM

October 26, 2002
Carrot Juice is Murder

From the Terminal City web site

CARROT JUICE IS MURDER
On Tuesday night, Jon Ellis, a [vca]TEAM candidate for City Council, told an all-candidates forum on animal rights issues, sponsored by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), that plants, fruits and vegetables are sentient beings. Ellis, along with other council candidates, was asked if he would support an initiative to instruct City staff to purchase only free-range eggs for City operations that offer aborted fowl matter to Vancouverites. When two candidates told the audience they were vegetarians (one of whom opined that it would be prudent to explain to potential consumers that eggs come from a chicken’s ass, as a way of dissuading them from eating the cholesterol time-bombs) Ellis visibly shrugged. When it was his turn at the mic, Ellis stepped forward and told the animal lovers, “There is irrefutable scientific evidence that carrots scream in agony when they are cut.” Fellow TEAM Council candidate, Nancy Chiavario, was not available for comment at press time.

Yes, this is one of the people I am working with, and ostensibly supporting. Man am I proud.

Posted by skooter at 10:55 PM
Tags: Elections, Vancouver, vcaTEAM

August 6, 2002
If Al Pacino thinks its good, it must be good

From an interview with Al Pacino in the latest issue of the Famous Player’s magazine:

“…as far as Canada goes, it’s beautiful. Every time that I’ve been to Canada — Toronto and Vancouver — it’s been swell…I was popping down to L.A. on the weekends to see the babes, so I didn’t get to spend much time there. But Vancouver has to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It’s incredible to behold.”

I guess we don’t have a glorified T.V. antenna on our skyline though…

Posted by skooter at 8:35 PM
Tags: Al Pacino, Articles

May 22, 2002
Fairview doesn't even begin to describe it

Definitely on the arcane side of things, but a “link nonetheless to the history of the area that we live in”:http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/community_profiles/fairview/history.htm (which I didn’t know was called Fairview.)

Posted by skooter at 5:12 PM

October 10, 2001
Calgary is not Vancouver

When people from Calgary talk to people from Vancouver, they like to say that they can see the Rockies - at least when the weather’s good. I took this photo from the airport looking west the last time I was there.

Now it’s not that I think Calgary’s a cow town with not much in the way of good reasons to live there, but I dare you to show me the mountains in this picture. I can see trees (and, most importantly, enormous fuel storge tanks) but not a single mountain.

Posted by skooter at 8:36 PM

September 17, 2001
Barn, Richmond

Barn, Richmond, British Columbia

This barn was located on the side of Highway 99 when I took this picture, with horses grazing in the field. It was torn down sometime in 2002, although the big yellow house that sat beside it is still there.

I always liked the house, although it’s a little close to the highway now. I suspect it would be more accurate to suggest that the highway is a little close to it, and the house looks like it was there first.

Posted by skooter at 11:02 PM

May 11, 2001
Vancouver's port

Added pictures from Canada Place, taken just a couple of days ago. The Alaska cruising season has begun, and there are boats in the harbour on a daily basis.

Other pictures from Vancouver’s Port, which lives across the tracks from Gastown.

Canada Place - Vancouver

Constructed as part of the Vancouver hosted Expo ‘86, Canada Place is the premier business address in Vancouver The entrance is located just outside of the gates to Gastown, and is one of the first buildings that visitors arriving through the Burrard Inlet see.

The structure itself is quite striking, with a farily modest business tower connected to the larger conference centre area. The roof of the conference centre is designed to resemble five sails when viewed from a distance.

Canada Place

A small portion of the building’s roof, seen from below. The intended sail appearance is fairly obvious from here.

Construction at Canada Place

In the spring of 2001, major construction is underway with an extension being built at the north end of the building.

Cruise Ship Bow

Cruise Ship

Canada Place is Vancouver’s main cruise ship terminal, with numerous large vessels leaving all year round. Spring marks the beginning of the Alaska cruise season, with ships leaving almost daily.

All of these ships are enormous, with many of them almost as large as the building itself. The first ship to make the trip in the spring of 2001 was over 40 stories tall, and at first glance looked like the building itself.

The decadence of these monstrous beasts irks me somewhat, but they are a major economic engine for this city.

Posted by skooter at 5:14 PM

January 30, 2001
Vancouver Sky

Vancouver Sky

Yeah, so it rains a lot. Big deal. This is what we get for it. (The scan doesn’t even begin to do justice to the colours in this photo.

English Bay from Kits Beach

When I talk to people who’ve never been here, I tell them Kitsilano is like Toronto’s Beach, but bigger. The similarities are many: endless beaches, dogs absolutely everywhere, and overinflated housing prices are just the beginning.

Kitsilano Beach is the eastern-most ‘city’ beach in Vancouver, on the south shore of False Creek. Walking there from our apartment takes about five minutes by street, or 15 by the much more scenice seaside trail.

This was shot on particularly clear night at sunset. While the clouds aren’t very dramatic, the colours were quite vivid.

Posted by skooter at 7:55 PM
Tags: Clouds, Sky, Vancouver, Vancouver Olympics

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