Tools for a just city

Demo at 138 Hasting, Dec. 1, 2011

Vancouver needs a form of development that is appropriate for the communities where the projects are being built. I have previously written about the idea of inclusionary zoning and bench marking a certain amount of units to the median income of a community as a method of ensuring that there is a tangible and real benefit to a community from the addition of more density in rezoning applications Read Story Here. But in the case where a proposed development project is not a rezoning the city’s tools for evaluating the merits of a project are limited. Continue reading Tools for a just city →

Landlord tries to evict tenants without having necessary permits

more photos
Today the Vancouver Renters’ Union held a rally in support and to bring attention to evictions occurring at 1850 Adanac Street to tenants of the building. MLA for Vancouver Hastings was attendance as well as city councilor Adrian Carr.

In a media release Vancouver Renters’ Union stated that the purpose of the rally was to, “protest illegal and hazardous renovictions by landlord Ashurwin Holdings, Lorenzo Aquiline CEO.” Continue reading Landlord tries to evict tenants without having necessary permits →

Is there a epidemic of renoviction occurring in Vancouver ?

On Tuesday, May 22 at 10 am the Vancouver Renter’s Union is organizing a rally to support tenants at 1850 Adanac Street who are being evicted. Activists are alleging that the tenants are being “renovicted”, a tactic that landlords use claiming the need to evict tenants in order to do major repairs to the rental unit, but in reality they are only planning minor cosmetic repairs. When the cosmetic repairs to the units are completed then they are placed back on the market at a higher monthly rent. This is also a tactic to increase rent in a unit that is rented by long-term renter given that the allowable rental increase is regulated. Continue reading Is there a epidemic of renoviction occurring in Vancouver ? →

Lake Sasamat-found object assemblage

This is like a little visual poem. The materials speak for what they are: : a brunt piece of wood, old chunk of painted wood, a machined stock of lumber, some old rusty cut nails, a dangle of rusty wire and a marble. The materials have associations and memories in combination with each other and in isolation.

I just love how burnt wood looks with moss. Beyond the visual effect of how the dark black of charcoal wood looks against the green of moss, on another level the combination of colours and materials speaks to a process of renewal from catastrophe. Part of the natural process of the forest is for it to periodically burn. This burning creates new growth as new nutrients go back into the forest soil.
I am constantly trying to emulate or capture the richness of the forests that thrives  in and around Vancouver.

I grew up back east in Hamilton Ontario. Hamilton is generally regarded as an industrial wasteland largely because most folks view the city from the Skyway bridge on the drive from Toronto to the United States, which has a pretty horrific view of Hamilton Bay and the two steel plants belching pollution into the air and water. Currently, Hamilton is more part of the rust belt of the declining Southern Ontario industrial machine. But some areas of Hamilton are very lush with the city surrounded by the Niagara escarpment. I grew up on the West Side of Hamilton, which had a number of opportunities for accessing nature. I am often struck how relative to BC’s Coastal forest how the forest of Ontario seems so stunted in scale.

Since moving to the West Coast in the mid 90s I have been constantly wowed by how big the trees are here and how wet and green the forest is. I love the look of green moss against the brown of the tree trucks. I spent numerous hours in Stanley Park taking pictures of this rich and fertile habitat. I am fascinated by the look and the idea of how a tree can fall over and in time it is transformed in the forest. Even in sometimes unrelenting winter rain, Stanley Park is just so green and this sight is makes the rain a bit more bearable at times.

Do you Rent in the West End? BC Renters Group needs your help

A group of West End renters are interested in building a web site and undertaking related activities to provide information to BC renters is calling out for your help.

In order to make sure the site meets a wide range of needs, they need input from apartment renters in Vancouver. The group is holding a series of focus groups to present the ideas and get feedback on the proposed web site, its content and other potential services and activities.

Would you be interested in participating in one of these focus groups?


West End Community Storytelling Event

West End Community Storytelling Event

Thursday at the “There’s no Place like Home” West End storytelling night.

Doors open at 6 pm, Denman Cinema, 1779 Comox st.

Here’s the storyteller line-up.

The evening will begin with a welcome by Elder Audrey Rivers of the Squamish Nation.

Hosted by the hilarious Morgan Brayton, with entertainment by Drag Divas Regent Empress CoCo and Miss Mandy Kamp. Experience your community through the eyes of your neighbours:
Long-time community volunteer Gail Brown
Artist and activist Tiko Kerr
Gordon Neighbourhood House Group Storytellers Dennis Wilkinson, Barbara Shaw, Irene Santos and Sandra Goodridge
MLA Spencer Herbert
Writer, grandmother, and avid walker, Melanie Ray
Graphic designer and long-time resident, Chloe Perron

Let’s make sure we fill the house! Please pass this invitation on to your neighbours and friends.

See you on Thursday!

West End Planning Team

Food Scraps Drop Spot ready to expand with your help-community composting

This coming Saturday morning – May 12th around 10AM , there will be an informal ‘stand up’  meeting in the little park directly in front of Gordon Neighbourhood House for those residents interested in forming Drop Spot clusters for Composting in the Vancouver West End.

For the past few months on Saturday mornings @ Gordon Neighbourhood House there has been a Food Scraps/Compost program initiated by Louise Schwarz – The Recycling Alternative.
This program has been met with tremendous success and has substantially reduced the amount of waste that goes into our already overburdened landfills. This speaks volumes about the passion and commitment of West End residents in making our city and country a greener place to live and for our future generations. This also speaks volumes about the need for the expansion of this type of program especially for the multi family dwellings of the West End.

For More Info contact:

Sandra Goodridge
Coordinator, Neighbourhood Small Grants Project 2012
Gordon Neighbourhood House
1019 Broughton Street, Vancouver BC V6G 2A7

Tel 604 683 2554 stopped 5 coal trains and arrested stopping the 6th

Message from

Yesterday we prevented 5 BNSF coal trains from entering BC to unload coal at Westshore Terminals. We physically stopped a 6th train on the tracks at White Rock BC at 6 pm, at which point 14 good citizens were arrested for violating a court order not to interfere with BNSF operations.

Here’s what was involved: 14 people willing to risk arrest to stand up for what they believe in. The support of prominent people like Bill McKibben, James Hansen and Mark Jaccard, who were ready to speak up in advance and say this is the right thing to do. A stoked-up group of supporters who, through their actions, helped set a tone for the day that was peaceful, creative and hopeful, but also focused and determined. A network of people in Washington State keeping us abreast of train movements. One Twitter account.

That’s all it took to stop Warren Buffett in his tracks for a full day — a very important day for him personally. We were all overwhelmed by how beautifully everything unfolded. It all seemed a bit unreal at days end — but that may have been because of the sunburn, dehydration and overall exhaustion. Still, on a sunny Sunday morning, anything seems possible.
We were never worried about our physical safety because everything was planned out carefully and announced in advance. Our interactions with the police were incredible – respectful, candid and ongoing throughout the day. The White Rock detachment of the RCMP worked hard all day in the interest of public safety while also acknowledging our right to peacefully stand up for what we believe in. It was a good day to be a Canadian citizen.

That 100 car coal train we stopped in White Rock did reach the port eventually, but it did so under the watchful eye of hundreds of onlookers and media crews. Warren Buffett’s arrangement to ship dirty Wyoming coal to Jimmy Pattison’s port — the biggest exporter of global warming pollution in North America — is firmly in the public eye. We’ve started to connect the dots between coal exports and climate change. This is just the beginning.

Thank you everyone who took part!

Check out our twitter feed for live updates from the day and please link to your images through facebook for everyone to see:

twitter: @stopcoalBC
facebook: I can’t believe BC exports that much coal!

Home: an exploration of what makes the West End Unique

More photos of the walk
Guided Walk
I am helping my friend Christine with this Jane’s Walk of the West End.

Sunday, May 6, 2012
10:30 am
Meet at the front of the West End Community Centre

**This walking tour is part of the City of Vancouver, Museum of Vancouver and Spacing Vancouver’s special Jane’s Walk series.**

Join local resident Christine Ackermann and architect Graham McGarva to explore what makes the West End unique. A City of Vancouver planner will be on hand to answer questions about the West End Community Planning process and discuss opportunities to get involved.

Some of the walk will drawn from ideas from a WERA community workshop entitled “What makes the West End Great”.

There was a document produced from the workshop and it can be viewed here:What makes the West End Great

For more information on the West End Community Plan including opportunities to get involved, please visit West End Plan

SFU Professor Mark Jaccard to block the rails in White Rock to stop a coal shipment

Just in from

For Immediate Release:

May 3 2012

Mark Jaccard, Canada’s leading energy-environment economist, released the following public statement today in support of the citizen action to stop BNSF coal trains at White Rock BC this Saturday, May 5.  Full details on this act of civil disobedience at

Dr Jaccard is a professor of sustainable energy in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Donner Prize for top policy book in Canada with his book Sustainable Fossil Fuels and the BC Academic of the Year Prize. He is Convening Lead Author for Sustainable Energy Policy with the upcoming Global Energy Assessment, an initiative of the world’s leading experts in sustainable energy.  He is the former Chair and CEO of the BC Utilities Commission. Continue reading SFU Professor Mark Jaccard to block the rails in White Rock to stop a coal shipment →