Aquarium Concept Plan

At Thursday’s March 3, 2011 Planning and Environment Committee meeting at the Vancouver Park Board, the Vancouver Aquarium updated the Commissioners on their new expansion plans.

John Nightingale, from the Vancouver Aquarium, started the presentation by stating: “we are going low tech”, referring to the scaled-back footprint of the proposed expansion relative to earlier plans.

Last August the Federal and Provincial governments committed a $25 million capital investment in the planned expansion. Mr. Nightingale stated that funders asked the Aquarium to “cut back” the proposed scope of the new expansion.

The proposed footprint of the expanded Aquarium would be 20% smaller than was approved in the original development permit granted by the City of Vancouver. The expansion is being done in a phased manner, with the first phase potentially beginning in September 2011 after the peak summer season.

Mr. Nightingale also reaffirmed the Aquarium’s commitment to upgrade lighting from the number 19 bus loop in Stanley Park to the Aquarium despite not having taken action on this issue for the past four years. Of note, the problem of the inadequate lighting in this area was flagged by Spencer Chandra Herbert when he was a Park Board commissioner.

The Park Board committee was sufficiently supportive of the new concept plan to refer it to the April 4, 2011 Board meeting at Park Board Head Quarters on Beach Ave. There will be a staff report of the proposed expansion posted on the VPB website prior to the meeting.

A Straight article about the funding announcement last summer:Matt Burrows article

Is it possible to coexist with wild urban coyotes?

Stanley Park Ecology Society in collaboration with the Pacific Spirit Park Society is putting on a workshop this Thursday on coexisting with urban coyotes.

There are an estimated 2000-3000 coyotes living in Greater Vancouver. Coyote encounters are common and the need to better understand Vancouver’s urban dwelling wild dog population is growing. Come join the Co-Existing with Coyotes program coordinator for an informative presentation and interpretive walk. Explore the complexities of living together with these clever wild canines in the urban environment.

Understanding Urban Coyotes

Thursday, March 3, 2011 – 7:00 PM

Fireside Room, St. Philips Church 3737 W. 27th Ave.

WALK: Sunday, March 6, 2011 – 2:00 PM

meet at the corner of 9th Ave. and Blanca

For more information: 604 681 9453

I have seen a few coyotes in my time in Vancouver and it can be a pretty exciting experience. I have never had any problems with them. Whenever I saw a coyote they were always going in another direction. To live in a city and see one of these animals is one of the thrills of living in Vancouver.

While I have not had any scary moments with coyotes, I do often see signs posted on hydro poles out and about the city looking for lost cats, so I know coyotes are out there doing there work.

I went to a workshop once before and it was worth the time to go to find out what one should do if one is confronted with a coyote.

Coyote encounters can be navigated in a safe and effective manner and there is a lot less to remember than wild bear encounter with trying to remember which course of action to do for the different types of bears.

With a few new skills and tactics it is possible for us to coexist with urban wild animals in most normal cases.

Vancouver Park Board approves monument to the Komagata Maru Incident

At the Monday, February 28 meeting of the Vancouver Park Board a monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru incident was approved in an unanimous vote.
Here is a link to agenda and staff report: VPB

The Komagata Maru incident is described in the VPB staff report:

The Komagata Maru marine vessel arrived in Vancouver harbour in 1914 carrying 376 British citizens of South Asian heritage. Due to exclusionary immigration policies of the time, 356 of these people were denied entry. The ship was in the harbour for two months and the passengers relied on the generosity of private citizens for food and water. The ship was eventually escorted out to sea. In 2008, the Canadian government and Province of British Columbia issued formal apologies for the Komagata Maru Incident.

Wikipedia on Komagata Maru

Diversity of Park Users

Our public spaces and parks provide opportunities for a variety of activities. In many respects the activities defines the space itself. Parks are places to exercise dogs, for kids to play, to read a book, talk with friends, play tennis, kick a soccer ball and to garden to name a few activities. But parks are also places where we mark with art installations and monuments.

The process of constructing history, of remembering and documenting is not always the noting of triumphs and success. The discourse of history includes speaking the truth and the process of reconciliation. Having a monument to the Komagata Maru allows us to formally acknowledge crimes of the past and own the responsibility of making the present more just and equitable.

Can our public spaces speak truth to power?

During the Olympics there was much debate about the nature of public space. Am Johal, the spokesman for the Impacts on the Communities Coalition(IOCC) hosted a series of public dialogues of different panels discussing varies discourses around the rubric “The right to the city”. “The right to the city” is a concept introduced by French social theoretician Henri Lefbvre ( describing the social construction of space.

One of the many take aways from this series was from Jeff Derksen’s presentation about how space is constructed by what ones does in itUtube of Jeff’s presentation. Events like Car Free Day are gestures of community groups to attempt to create space for people rather than space for cars. What one does in a space in many ways defines it.

In this respect art and monuments are a way of creating public space as well. The marking of a structure of remembrance serves both to create the public space in a physical way and through our contemplation of history represented by the structure, we create a space in our minds to hopefully better understand our culture and society. It may be difficult to remember the Komagata Maru Incident as it is an unflattering part of our history, but it is, nonetheless, important to remember and mark.

Vancouver heritage expert wants St. Paul’s Hospital fixed

This week Donald Luxton, president of Heritage Vancouver Society in a article by Mathew Burrows in the Straight was quoted as saying: “ it’s an “opportune” time for “substantial investment in the buildings” at St. Paul’s Hospital.”

For the full Straight ariticle:Matt Burrows

If one thinks of how the earthquakes of this week have reek such destruction, loss of life and injury in New Zealand, its hard not see how it is imperative that St. Paul’s Hospital be renewed as quickly as possible.

One of the struggles of the Save St. Paul’s Coalition has been to demonstrate that the advocacy of keeping a fully funded public hospital on the Burrard St. site is not rooted in self-interest. There are a number of strong reasons why renewing on the downtown site on Burrard Street is most appropriate, possible and prudent. One of the compelling notions is the historical legacy of the buildings and social legacy of the hospital being on its current site for the last 117 years.

The Sisters of Providence open St. Paul’s back in 1894 as part of their mission to serve the poor and needy of Vancouver. If an institution as important as a hospital is on a site for 117 years there has to be very compelling reasons why it should be in that location. Over a 100 k folks live and work within walking distance of St. Paul’s hospital and depend on the services that it provides.

The hospital is ideally situated on the north side of False Creak to provide medical service to the downtown population. In the event of earthquake how the bridges would stand up is uncertain. It is of critically importance that the hospital be seismically upgraded to serve this downtown population.

While it is not well known, St. Paul’s has a sizable out of city patient population that comes to St. Paul’s for life saving procedures and treatment. The hospital being located downtown, it is easily accessible by public transit and there are many hotels for family to stay in while family and friends are receiving treatment.

There is also a whole host of medical infrastructure and businesses that have organically grown up around St. Paul’s Hospital. Pharmacies to have prescriptions filled, doctor’s offices and medical laboratories are located within a stones throw of the hospital.

The heritage value of the St. Paul’s Hospital campus has been among the strong reasons why the downtown site was the appropriate site for the renewal of the hospital. Some my argue that heritage preservation is a luxury and not an important critical factor in the debate of around the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital. But it is hard to underestimate the importance of preserving the older buildings of this relatively young city to the rich fabric of Vancouver’s future.

Heritage Vancouver is very vocal advocate for the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital on the Burrard St. site. St. Paul’s has been on the Heritage Vancouver’s top 10 most endangered buildings for some time.

$1 million invested in St. Paul’s Hospital to treat short-term electrical problems

Spencer Chandra Herbert, Brent Granby and Sue Hammell

Yesterday afternoon as the Vice Chair of the Save St. Paul’s Coalition’s I joined MLA for Vancouver –West End Spencer Chandra Herbert and NDP Health Critic Sue Hammell, in front of St. Paul’s Hospital to speak with reporters about the electrical blackouts at the hospital.

On Saturday February 19 St. Paul’s Hospital was plunged into darkness for 10 seconds when the ageing power system failed before emergency backup generators could be started.

For more back ground information this incident visit the Save St. Paul’s Coalition website:

Since Saturday, the Hospital has been running on backup emergency electrical power which is generated on site. Non-medical staff have been asked to cut back on the use of non-medically necessary electrical devices to conserve power.

Tuesday’s media briefing was organized in an effort to highlight the policy failure of the lack of a proactive investment in the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital has had the consequence of the failure of the main power supply of the hospital because of the aging electrical infrastructure of the buildings.

In response to the power outage situation at St. Paul’s Hospital yesterday Colin Hansen, the Minister of Health Services, has made an immediate allocation of $1 million to the hospital to help the it cope with the short term situation of the failure of the main power supply.

In an article in the Vancouver Sun, Providence Health Care spokeswoman Bonita Elliott was quoted as saying, “ the money will be used to develop a business case for a longer-term fix that would include two new generators and a permanent electrical cable.”

Link to the full Vancouver Sun article: Kim Pemberton article

While the $1 million allocation will be helpful in the short term to remediate the current situation of the lack of power and the reliance on old back up generators, this incident strongly underlines the need for renewal of the Hospital and for the urgent necessity of the government to make a capital investment in the hospital for the long term.
More images

The Save St. Paul’s Coalition’s letter to BC Liberal Party Candidates asking for a Plan for the Renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital

Will 2011 be the year that Capital Funds be delivered to renew St. Paul’s Hospital? The Coalition ask Liberal Candidates for their plan for the renewal of St. Pual’s Hospital

Today the Save St. Paul Coalition sent a letter to all the candidates of Liberal Party of BC requesting a statement of their respective plans for the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital. The Coalition will also send request to the candidates of the BC NDP and will post all responses on our website.

Here is a list of the Liberal Candidates with their contact info:

George Abbott, 1-604-566-9700
Christy Clark, 604-681-0617
Mike de Jong, (604) 613-1157
Kevin Falcon, 1.877.9.854.854
Ed Mayne
Moira Stilwell,604 353-2549

The Coalition’s letter:

Dear BC Liberal Leadership Candidate:

Re: your plan for the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital

The Save St. Paul’s Hospital Coalition comprises organizations and individuals dedicated to ensuring that St. Paul’s Hospital remains in its current location on Burrard Street in Vancouver and that adequate consultation is carried out before any changes are made to the hospital.

For more information about the Coalition please visit our website at:

Given that the current leadership selection process for both the BC Liberal Party and the BC NDP is underway, now is an appropriate time for candidates to explain their plans for the renewal St. Paul’s Hospital to their respective party members and to the voters of British Colombia.

Providence Health Care (PHC) has announced plans for the renewal St. Paul’s Hospital in 2002.

St. Paul’s Hospital is an important health care service provider in both in the Downtown peninsula and for the entire BC Province.

PHC has developed a draft concept plan for the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital on the Downtown Burrard St. site. We are an attaching a copy of the PHC draft concept plan for your consideration and study.

Will you continue the government’s current position of support for renewing St. Paul’s Hospital at its present location? And further, will you take action to ensure the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital as laid out in Providence Health Care’s concept plan is completed by 2020?

The Coalition is requesting a written response to explain your position on the renewal of St. Paul’s hospital. The Coalition will be requesting responses from all the candidates seeking the leaderships of the respective organizations and will post the responses them on our website.

Yours Sincerely

Aaron Jasper
Chair SSPC

Brent Granby
Vice Chair SSPC
604 716 2824

Chinese New Year Parade, Gung Hay Fat Choy

I am getting ready for the Chinese New Year Parade. I am heading down to China Town with Malli and we are going to help COPE elected officials give out good luck for the new year.

Here is a little video that I made last year and I will take photos today of all the local luminaries and will post them here latter today.

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Update: I am back from parade and it was a lot of fun. The rain held off for about half of the parade and then it was just a drizzle. It was not as cold as past years and every one seemed to be pretty happy and having lots of fun.
Here are the photo that I got today:2011 New Year Parade photos

Nathan Edelson: The Right of the City

I am at the SCARP Symposium, Meteropolis: Growing Just or Just Growing and it has been a pretty interesting day thus far. I have gotten many new ideas on what to be reading over the next year.

Susan Fainstien was the keynote speaker this morning the author of The Just City

Nathan Edelson a former planner gave the keynote address at lunch about some of the history of planning in the Downtown East Side in Vancouver.

Here is a little back info on Nathan:Edelson

It was inspiring to hear some of the planning done by Nathan Edelson over his kitchen table back in the day before the Vancouver Agreement, The Four Pillars Plan and Insite. Anyways, I head Nathan speak before the Olympics and I thought I posted it here as it has only had 40 views in a shameless attempt to boost my page views.

Clean, Green and Healthy, Pedestrians first

Did you know that the City of Vancouver’s transportation priority is to put the pedestrian first?

Walking could be one of the most important forms of transportation for more because it combines fitness, which promotes wellness, but and it is also a sustainable form of transportation that will allow are allowing our city to grow economically.

In our cultural it seems that time is becoming more important as folks struggle with family responsibility, work stresses and the need to live an active lifestyle.

Paradoxically, by slowing down a bit and making the time for walking – one gains time. For example, I know myself that the eternal struggle to find the time and the energy to exercise at the gym is usually the one activity in the day that does not consistently happen. Given that a trip to a gym can be typically a two hour block of time, it means one has to either get up early in the morning or making time at the end of the day for this activity. People are juggling numerous responsibilities to their family, to their work and other volunteer activities and for many exercise is the priority that falls off the back. On a positive note, I have discovered that I can get a lot of exercise throughout the day just by walking from one destination to the next.

I was surprised how little the time difference was between distance travelled using transit and walking. For example, I live in the West End and my kids go to school in Kitslano (no French immersion downtown) and I typically accompany them to and from school. We take the bus and for the most part it is a good time that I enjoy spending with my kids. Using public transportation with your kids always provides “ teachable moments” where we can have shared experiences to discuss (there is always some drama being played out on the bus). Anyways, the difference between walking and taking the bus from our home to my kids’ school is 10 minutes. It really isn’t that much time compared to what often feels like the mind-numbing minutes spent on stationary exercise equipment; maybe I need to download some better music.

The City of Vancouver is starting to get its collective head around walking. Check out this page on the city’s websiteClean, Green and Healthyand Park Boards websitesStep Out and Walk Program that have info about different walks of interest in the city.

Another great benefit about walking is it is almost free. A few observations from my own walking experiences.

1. You can even smile at people and say hi. (Disclosure: I am not so good at this but my wife is awesome at being friendly).
2. People who walk often have smiles on their faces.
3. One can actually have conversations with strangers and make smart observations about stuff. (People are pretty polite even with the banal issues that I sometimes talk about -at least they pretend to listen).
4. You meet a lot of your friends and take little moments to catch up. (This provides a feeling of being connected to one’s community).
5. Walking is good for thinking, reviewing yesterday and planning your day. (A recent study linked benefits of walking to reduced rates of Alzheimer’s disease:JAMA article )

By making improvements to the city’s built environment to promote walking achieves a number of concurrent goals including reducing green house gases, promoting sustainable transportation, promoting fitness, encouraging active lifestyles and finally the promotion of health and happiness.

This may seem like “nanny state” stuff to the more grumpier of you out there, but it really is going to way of the future. Our bodies need to be physically active. Many of chronic diseases that are the rise in our society such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are related to sedentary lifestyles and our diet.

If we can make the finer details of the city more interesting, it will encourage more walking. The pedestrian’s environment needs to be safe, engaging and fun. Jan Gehl, the Danish architect and city planner speaks of the 5 km/hr scale. Streets and public spaces look different from the 60 km/hr of the car to the human scale of walking of 5 km/hr.

More and more now we need our city’s built environment to be designed for people walking.

WERA’s pedestrian plan
Geoff Meggs speaking on the Coast about pedestrians

Commissioner Woodcock’s Letter of Support Senior Centre in South Van

Commission Woodcock has asked me to read this letter to Mayor Council tomorrow for the discussion on the next Capital Plan.

“ I join many residents of this city in applauding city council and the mayor’s office for responding to the need for a seniors centre in Southeast Vancouver. For many years community advocates such as Lorna Gibbs, John Pawluk, Tom Holmes and Keith Jacobson have spoken on behalf of the 16% of the city’s seniors who live in SE Vancouver. This area of the city has many lower income seniors as well as English as a large second language population of seniors who need a community gathering place where they can socialize and have nutritious meals.

The community has sought a senior’s centre in the area since the mid 1990’s. The City and Parks Board supported a centre at Killarney in 2001, however a provincial election changed the political landscape and the city’s funding went elsewhere. Since then there has been a history of efforts by park board and the city to locate adequate capital dollars which could then be leveraged to acquire provincial and federal government matching funds to build this long overdue facility.

In 2009 the park board expressed its support by passing a motion asking staff to investigate siting options at the existing Killarney community centre for adding 10,000 sq. ft. of program space to accommodate a seniors centre. Commissioners hoped that if park board could provide the land then the costs of building and operating this facility would be reduced significantly.

In my years of approaching both provincial and federal officials in seeking support for this seniors facility, what I heard was that it was crucial for the City to pledge funding and prioritize this on our projects list before other levels of government would consider pledging funds. So it is with much enthusiasm that myself as a commissioner, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, along with residents of this city, applaud this initiative to make a capital dollar commitment to the development of a seniors facility. “