Happy Victoria Day Long Weekend: Outdoor pools set to open and hey, where are our three new outdoor pools that the NPA promised!


In the last civic election the NPA promised to build three new pools. The NPA mayoralty candidate said that Vancouver was “dramatically underserved” by the current three outdoor pools. Here is a Metro article from the election:Metro

It was a hollow platform promise for the NPA with no plans for where the pools would be located or how they would be paid for. But hey, it was an election and making wild promises seemed to be the NPA’s campaign strategy.

While the NPA was not elected in the majority on council, it did gain control of the Park Board. One has to wonder, how many folks voted for the NPA with the expectation that they would be getting three new pools in Vancouver. Also, the NPA’s election notion of the lack of outdoor pools does not seem to be burning concern for the current NPA majority on the Park Board.

While the NPA-controlled Park Board has been busy granting contracts to build zip lines and renting deck chairs in our parks, it seems curious that there has been no mention of new pools at budget time. Did the Park Board Chair go to Council at budget time and request that the Capital Plan be amended to include three new pools? No!

Vancouver has some pretty spectacular pools, both indoor and outdoor. New Brighton pool, Kits pool and Second Beach pool are all located in idyllic places where folks can swim in warm pool waters. We also have some incredible indoor pools like the Aquatic Centre and Hillcrest. Some of the pools are in need of updating and renovations. To this end the Park Board commissioned a consultant to develop a strategy for the renewal of pools back in 2011. You can read the study here: Park Board Pool Study

Interestingly, a key finding and recommendation of the report was to “Phase out of stand alone outdoor pools, build future ones in combination with indoor pools.” There is a plan and it is based on rational thinking around how to use taxpayer’s money in the most cost-effective way to obtain maximum recreational utility.

It is regrettable that the NPA made promises during the election knowing full well that there was no possibility of fulfilling these pledges based on the planning that was already in place and paid for by taxpayers dollars at the time.

City breaks ground on 135 units of affordable housing geared towards families

savewayDaviewr - 1 (1)Great to see the City of Vancouver use its resources to create more affordability for families. The city with the land that it has, the new housing authority and the political will to make affordable housing for families a priority is  doing some pretty impressive work. This first of its kind project for Vancouver will create more housing for middle income people who need an important boost to stay in the city. If the Federal and Provincial governments could participate in this project there would be further opportunities to develop more affordability.

City of Vancouver
News Release
March 15, 2016
This morning the City officially broke ground on a development with 135 units of affordable housing geared towards families, to be constructed on the 6.4 acre Southeast False Creek site being developed by Concert Properties.

Located at the northwest corner of Quebec Street and 1st Avenue, bounded by the False Creek seawall and Ontario Street, this 15 storey building will create affordable family housing, enabling families to live close to work, waterfront amenities and transit.
“We want to ensure that families are not just able to live in Vancouver, but to thrive here. This project is creating more homes geared towards families in a neighbourhood where they can access outdoor recreation, community centres, transit and jobs,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We recognize the affordability crisis our city is facing and City Hall is doing everything we can to increase a wide range of housing opportunities in Vancouver.”
Exceeding the Southeast False Creek Official Development Plan requirements, 54 per cent of the 135 units are targeted towards families with children: 44 two bedroom and 29 three bedroom suites. Two in-home daycare units will also be included. The housing units will meet both the Affordable and Modest Market housing requirements of the official development plan for the area, which means that at least 40 per cent of the units in this building will rent below the Housing Income Limits and the remaining 60 per cent at modest market rents for the area. Housing Income Limits will ensure that at least 40 per cent of the homes in this building are targeted to people with an annual income ranging from $36,500 up to $56,000.
This building is part of a larger master-plan community being developed by Concert Properties called The Creek, which also includes four market housing buildings containing approximately 450 suites, and a 2.7 acre waterfront park.
“We are proud of our plans for The Creek and the contributions it is making towards the provision for new affordable housing and a future waterfront park in Vancouver,” said Brian McCauley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Concert. “As a company who has been committed to building strong, sustainable communities across Canada since 1989, we are grateful for the opportunity to assist the City with the development of this important affordable housing project.”
The total development costs for the building are $38.75 million. Through partnerships like this one, the City is demonstrating success in creating affordable housing but needs both the Provincial and Federal Governments to support its efforts to expand affordability.
Completion of the project is expected by mid-2018. Upon completion the City will own the land and building and select a non-profit housing operator to lease and operate the building.

Media Contact:
Corporate Communications

Community Open House for redevelopment of 1661 Davie St.

savewayDaviewr - 1From the City of Vancouver:

Community Open House

Monday, February 29, 2016,

5:00-8:00 pm

The Coast Plaza Hotel

1763 Comox Street

Details of the project

Henriquez Partners Architects has applied to the City of Vancouver for permission to develop this site with a mixed-use building consisting of :

-a 3 storey podium with three retail units on the lower and upper ground level

-a retail grocery store on the upper ground and mezzanine level

-two residential towers containing a total of 319 dwelling units (market rental)

-3 levels common underground parking, accessed off Davie St. and the rear lane

-Total floor area of 28,405 m sq

Under the site’s existing C5-A Zoning, the application is “conditional” so it may be permitted: however, it requires the decision of the Development Permit Board

The Development Permit Board will decide on the permit at a meeting on; Monday, May2, 2016 at 3:00 pm, Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12 th Ave., Ground Floor, Town Hall Meeting room.

Any may register to speak on this item at the meeting. For details, visit: vanouver.ca/dp-board

Written comments on this application are accepted till March 29, 2016. For more information and updates visit: vancouver.ca/devapps

or contact Wendy LeBreton, Project Facilitator at 604-871-6796 or wendy.lebreton@vancouver.ca

The Ford Pinto

Pinto, 48"x48", acrylic, on recovered plywood.

Pinto, 48″x48″, acrylic, on recovered plywood.

My memories of the Ford Pinto are from my Dad’s car pool pal “Curly” Kennedy who owned one. Curly was a giant of a man in many ways. As a boy, when I was sent out to tell him that my Dad would be right out, I would tease him about his car, which he always took with grace. I have a memory of his knees being at his chin sitting in the front of that Pinto. But the real joy of the job was to sit on the curb and talk with Curly before him and my Dad went to work when they were on the afternoon shift.

The 1970s were a hard time for the auto industry in North America. Cars where big, poorly manufactured and gas-guzzlers. The oil embargo in the Middle East and the strengthening market share of foreign imported cars, which were better on petrol with higher quality techniques in manufacturing, necessitated a massive rethink of car design in Detroit.

The Ford Pinto was a response to cheaper more fuel-efficient imports. The Pinto was Ford’s car to counter the enduring popularity of the Volkswagen Beetle, which is a testament to the enduring power of the bug which was designed in the early 1930s in Germany.

The Pinto was marketed as a “carefree” fuel-efficient car, like the pinto horse, a high utility animal with little demands. The car was piloted through the design phase by auto industry legend Lee Iacocca. Iacocca was also the driving force of the Ford Mustang and pushed for a minivan at Ford too, but had to realise the idea when he move to Chrysler with the Caravan. The Pinto was intended to be a car 2000 pounds and to sell for $2000. A car that was more affordable than a VW super beetle.

You can read more about the pinto here: Wikipedia on Ford Pinto 1971-1980 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto

Of course, the most infamous part about the Pinto was the exploding gas tank. Ford became aware of the design defect, but decided against a recall of the car. A cost benefit analysis was done comparing the cost of recalling against the potential cost from the lost of life and property. Ford executives made the decision, that not recalling was a better business decisions despite the loss of life and suffering. One of the worst business decisions made by the auto sector it is used as a case study now on business ethics.

You can read more about it here, The Ford Pinto Case;


1970 Pontiac Station Wagon


There are a plethora of stories embedded in every car. Whether it’s the thinking behind the design or our personal tales of our relationship to the car, memories and histories are the substance of a fascinating narrative.

One of the more exciting cars that my family owned when I was growing up was the 1970 Pontiac station wagon. My  uncle Vernon had  a station wagon and it was a favourite activity to be allowed to rattle around in the back of that wagon on family visits. So when my Dad brought home a big green station wagon my sister, brother and me were thrilled. Our huge green wagon was no disappointment with an automated rear tailgate and even a rumble seat that allowed us to sit backwards and look out the rear window!

Station wagons back then were the equivalent of our mini vans: a domesticated utility vehicle. Like a contractor’s truck for carrying their tools, the station wagon is the workhorse of the suburbs and families, carrying kids and stuff. Not the most beautiful cars that were every built, but with a lot of cargo capacity to be sure.

The allure of the station wagon was based on its cargo capacity and mobility. This was a generation of cars that not just promised to get you somewhere, but also with the ability to bring a lot of stuff with you. Car camping and the family vacation were the dreams of this vehicle. The station wagon’s position in the suburb was a form of latent desire to escape to nature.

The expansion of freeways across North American induced a desire to go anywhere. The freeways paradoxically both transformed the landscape and gave us access to remote areas that for generations where inaccessible. The promise of the post war industrial culture was a well-paid job and leisure time and the station wagon was a symbol of this promise.

My Dad had 3 weeks off every summer, which was a real treat. We would go away camping often and it was a journey we looked forward to all year. We would carry a little sailboat on roof racks on the top, pull a small aluminum boat on a trailer, packed with camping equipment and fill the station wagon to its roof with our personal possessions. Essentially we carried a smaller more compact version of our home and take this on the road.

One of my fondest memories was when we were going on vacation and we packed up the station wagon the night before my Dad’s last day at work. My Mom would drive the car from Hamilton to Oakville and park it on the side of the highway beside the Ford plant. When my Dad was done his shift, he ran across the field and hopped the fence and we started our summer camping vacation. It was a beautiful thing.

Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings

put your pinto under a treeWRHappy Holidays and Seasons Greetings

Jim Deva Plaza and Davie Village public space improvements

photos of Jim and the plaza

Whenever I climb a ladder I think of Jim Deva and remind myself to be careful. Jim died in a tragic accident, falling off a ladder while pruning a tree at his home. His death was a shocking surprise to everyone.

Jim was a hero to many of us and the undisputed mayor of the West End and particularly the Davie Village. Jim was a trail blazer of human rights. There weren’t too many projects and issues in the West End that Jim was not participating in. I respected his opinion in all things and feel privileged to have known him and had the chance to participate in a few projects with him!

The city of Vancouver is proposing naming a public plaza after Jim on the south side of Bute St. at Davie St. The proposed plaza will be at the heart of the Davie Village and the LGBTQ community. The plaza is just half a block from Little Sisters Book store one of Jim’s legacy of his life.
CoV report the new plaza


I whole heartily support the naming of the plaza for Jim. I am also super keen on the idea of creating more public space in Vancouver for people.

This plaza has a “Living Legacy Statement” which states:

A safe space, inspired by Jim Deva’s lifelong passion for freedom of sexuality,

gender diversity, and the fight against censorship. Where LGBTQ people and

allies can meet, share ideas freely, dare to dream, and love unapologetically.

The plaza will have a speaker’s corner to commemorate Jim’s life long passion for the protection of freedom of speech. There will also be a drinking fountain and water bowl for dogs as Jim was a huge lover of dogs.

Two innovative features of the plaza that are interesting and could be models for Vancouver are the idea of an “outdoor museum” and a “plaza stewardship” group.

The proposed plaza in the West End will be an added asset creating more public space for residents and visitors. Think of all the new friendships and social connections that will be made in the Jim Deva Plaza!




What is going on in Kits?

kits_peoplepathCan anyone tell me what is going on here? It seems pretty vindictive, futile and a waste of staff time. Late in summer out of the blue the Vancouver Park Board put up barriers on a little path near the Kits pool that people have been riding and walking on for years. Rather than go to the corner of Balsam and Cornwall St. folks have been taking a little shortcut which is faster and safer to get to a paved path at the edge of the park. I wonder how much a little project like this cost? My bet is folks can be pretty stubborn about their favourite little paths.

Are painted lines enough for S.W. Marine Drive one of the marquee rides of Vancouver?

S.W. MarineDrUpgradesWR

The City of Vancouver (Cov) is proposing upgrades to the bike route on South West Marine Dr. Here is the staff report for the full details of the project. Here

One of the great cycle routes in the City of Vancouver is SW Marine Drive. S.W. Marine Dr. is designated a bike route by the city, connecting UBC and the Endowment lands to Granville St.. This iconic ride is one the best in Vancouver. But the bike path is fraught with unacceptable risk that need fixing.

Strava is an online site for logging and sharing rides and runs. The site uses data from smart phones and GPS devices and is very popular with road cyclist. Strava states that there where 140 million runs in rides in Vancouver between Jan. 2014 and May 2015! If you look at the “heat maps” that Strava generates you can see that SW Marine Dr. is a popular route the city.Heat Map

The bike path on SW Marine Dr. is non existent in some places and very narrow in other places. In addition to the variability of the width is the condition of the surface with many patches, bumps and holes that really require riders to pay careful attention to the road conditions. More importantly is the path’s proximity to the road and the lack of physical separation. There are many large trucks and buses that use this route. Also, there are high volumes of traffic on this road because it is an arterial road and is an important route in the context of Metro Van traffic management.

Particularly at intersections where there is no left hand turn bays, people driving cars regularly and recklessly drop to the right into the bike lane to get around left turning cars. This is one of the biggest dangers to folks riding bikes on this route. There is also a significant risk with the number of cars that park along this route and the potential to get doored.

The City of Vancouver states: “From 2009 through 2013 (5 year period),there were twenty-six (26) collisions that involved vehicle traffic and people cycling along Southwest Marine Drive approximately six collisions per year).The collisions attributed to factors such as vehicle dooring and parking in the bike lane, drivers passing too closely to people biking, and vehicles turning at intersections or in and out of driveways”

proposed road design for SW Marine Dr.WPClearly this route needs upgrades. In fact the bike route does not meet the CoV design guidelines and if not improved should be dropped as a designated bike path. However city staff are not recommending full separation and triple A upgrades that would be suitable for “all ages and abilities”. The reasons for the proposed upgrades to the route are because Metro Van is upgrading the road and it was view by engineering staff as a opportunity to improve riding conditions in the area in a more cost effective way.

CoV staff are not supportive of full separation because of the following reasons:

“Any widening beyond the proposed bikeway improvements would have significant impacts on costs, trees, and utility relocations as well as introduce substantial delays to project implementation”. (for more details see page 8 of the CoV report. Estimated cost for AAA path is $11 m! )

It is a bit disappointing at this time that a full upgrade is not possible, as this area would be great for families to ride around in, there are some beautiful rides down on the Fraser River. The proposed design upgrades will make incremental improvements to cycling conditions in the area. The city is planning on spending $3.1 million on this project. The proposed design is to construct a path that has consistent width of 1.8 m. $200 k is ear marked for high risk area such as intersections and corners where full concrete barriers will be deployed so cars can’t move right into the bike lane!



Expansion of bike lane network in Vancouver with the inclusion of skate boarders


Vancouver council is poised for another expansion of its bike lane network.

CoV Report

This is welcomed news for folks who are a bit tentative in their cycling through the city because they feel unsafe while riding. I know with my family that there has been a sea change in how much my wife and two daughters cycle with the separated bike lanes that have been built in the last couple of years. I can only imagine that they will be riding more with the new expansion of the bike lane network, which bodes well for a happy and healthy lifestyle for our family.

In addition to cycling feeling and being safer I think my family is riding more because riding to many locations is fastest and safest way to travel in Vancouver. Once you get your head around riding it’s a lot more fun than other modes.

My families trend of increased cycling is also borne out in the whole city where cycle trips are up 16%

A new feature for the expansion of the bike lane network is a recommendation for the inclusion of skateboarders in the lanes. Skateboarders will be welcomed to the bike lanes of Vancouver with some bylaw changes and new conditions of their use. I think there is still lots of room in the bike tracks for boarder so lets give it a try. With the construction of the bike network in Vancouver I have seen new users to the lanes like folks in wheel chairs and electric chairs. I think it’s cool and really speaks the triple A ambitions of separated bike lanes for all ages and abilities.

I am also encourage to see that the city of Vancouver are prepared to be nimble and create routes and enhance connections with new developments in communities. The reports states: “The City will also expand the network elsewhere as opportunities arise, for example through redevelopment, repaving, or other construction projects”

This is important because in the next five years there could be new rezoning developments that would require the building of new routes as new buildings are built. For example in the West End on Alberni and Georgia St. there are a number of re-zoning possibilities that are proposed or would come forward that would allow for funding for some good infrastructure for people walking and riding bikes. It would really be smart for the city to enhance the public realm before these buildings are completed and the DCLs and CACs could pay for the projects!