Agent of Change

As a result of my involvement with the West End Residents Association (WERA) as a former President and now as a Director I have had to think long and hard about proposed development projects in the West End and in the whole city.

Very early on in my thinking on proposed development projects I realized that it would be very important to have objective criteria to judge projects that would allow consistency.

One of the traps that community groups can fall into is being resistant to change, or not having a proactive concept of what kind of change they are advocating for.

A position that I have advocated for publicly is that any increase in density due to rezoning should respond to critical issues that are impacting the city. The most important issues for Vancouver are how is it going to be ecologically and economically sustainable while continuing to be a highly livable city. The questions that I ask myself when examining a proposed project are: “How will this project create more affordability? How will this project reduce the city’s carbon footprint? How is this project contributing to the city’s livability?”.

While very few project meet a positive review based on the criteria of livability, affordability and ecological sustainability at some point some projects will make a contribution in these areas. This goal of this position is to influence development to create a positive change in the city.

In Vancouver there is this false dichotomy between being “pro-development” and “anti-development” and if you don’t fall into one these camps one can be villainized by the forces of one of these camps or both. This veiled threat at the community level that if anyone speaks positively about increases in density, which conform to smart growth practices, will be perceived as being “pro-development”, is an impediment to responsible dialogue on how the city is going to respond to such critical issues as climate change and affordability.

1241 Harwood Proposed Project at Urban Design Panel on Wed. Jan. 26

The Development Permit application at 1241 Harwood Street (DE414280), has been scheduled for review by the City’s Urban Design Panel on Wednesday, January 26, 2011.  This item is currently listed as first on the agenda, and should begin at about 4:15 pm.

Public attendance at this meeting is permitted, however, the public may not address the Panel.  This meeting will be held in Committee Room No. 1 (City Hall, main building, 3rd Floor, 453 West 12th Avenue).

More information on the role of the Urban Design Panel, can be found at the following link on the city’s website.

Urban Design Panel
If you do not have access to the internet, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Scott Barker
Project Facilitator
City of Vancouver
phone: 604.873.7166              604.873.7166
fax: 604.873.7060</a>

Co-Existing with Coyotes, Sunday Jan. 23, Dunbar Community Centre

For those of you that may not already be aware, the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) is delivering a Coyote Zone Workshop that will provide participants with valuable insight into the lives of urban coyotes residing in the City of Vancouver.

The aim of this workshop is to educate and engage participants about:

What proactive and active measures they can individually and collectively take to reduce conflicts with coyotes,
How residents and community groups can work together as well as with the CWC program to reduce conflict with coyotes, and
How to start the process of developing a community action plan in response to escalating habituation levels in resident coyote populations.

Will 2011 be the year that capital dollars are invested in St. Paul’s Hospital?

2011 undoubtedly will be an eventful year for the on going process of the redevelopment of St. Paul’s Hospital.

In the fall of 2010 Providence Health Care (PHC) updated the Downtown community about their plans for redevelopment of St. Paul’s Hospital. A “concept plan” is being work on now by PHC and should be ready for community input eminently. This concept plan will be a good opportunity for the community stakeholders of St. Paul’s Hospital to be better educated about the future of the hospital and have input on the process.

With leadership races underway for both the BC NDP and BC Liberal parties now is an advantageous time to inquire what all the leadership hopefuls’ positions are on providing capital dollars to improve St. Paul’s Hospital.

The Save St. Paul’s Coalition will be developing a survey for the leadership candidates in the next weeks to explore which candidates are going to have the best plan for the renewal of the hospital.

Both Kevin Falcon and George Abbott are former Health Minister and know the that St. Paul’s Hospital is in urgent need of capital dollars for renewal. I have not heard Christy Clark on how much she would allocated for the a capital project on the Burrard Street site and I will be keen to know where she stands on this important issue for the province.

In the weeks ahead as PHC’s concept plan for the development of the hospital emerges it will be interesting to see what is in the plan and how receptive PHC is to suggestions and feedback from community members and community organizations.

Given the hyper scrutiny that development is being given in the city right now, it will be interesting to see how this will affect plans to redevelop the hospital. Will concerns over heights of a renewed hospital make the potential project problematic for all concerned?

This week on Wednesday there is another in the series of free community lectures on the great work that goes on at St. Paul’s Hospitals:


Join medical experts from Providence Health Care for monthly community forums at St. Paul’s Hospital. Each month features a different health topic with time to pose questions to the experts. The forums are free and open to the public and staff

Wednesday January 19, 2011
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Lecture Theatre Level 1, Providence Bldg.
Let’s Talk About: High Blood Pressure

Hypertension 101: Treating the Patient, Not the Pressure
Presented by:
Dr. Jake Onrot
Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine
Providence Health Care 
University of British Columbia


Dr. Nadia Khan
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine
Providence Health Care
University of British Columbia
Intended for patients (and their family members), who have been affected by hypertension, those who are at risk and those who just want to know more about this medical condition. The presentations will focus on the major risk factors for Hypertension, how to reduce this risk and how to help patients feel better and live more functional and healthier lives. The presentations will also highlight the latest in treatment and the ongoing research at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Better a Year and a Day than Never: Dr. Hedy Fry response to my Letter on Bill C-304

Dear Mr. Granby,

Thank you for your email concerning Bill C-304, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

Affordable housing and homelessness programs are an important part of basic human right to shelter.
The Liberal Party feels that the federal government has an important role to play in ensuring Canadians have equal access to safe, affordable housing.

The Conservative government has failed to deliver a national housing strategy that addresses the significant housing needs of Canadians. In their 2006 Budget, the Harper government cut $200 million of the $1.6 Billion per year committed by the Liberals for affordable housing. The Conservative Party’s negligent approach to affordable housing and homelessness is a true reflection of their “fend-for-yourself” approach to social programs.

I voted to send this Bill to committee at second reading. The Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities introduced 17 well received amendments that make the Bill more effective. Currently, however the Bill has been stalled in committee due to a disagreement over a Block Québecois motion, which the Conservative chair had ruled out of order. However, regardless of whether our Liberal members continue to support this legislation at the committee level, when this Bill does come up for debate in the House it will most likely be ruled ‘out of order’ by the Speaker. The reason for this is that Private Members Bills is that aim to have the government spend money on an initiative, must be agreed to by the party in government, currently the Conservative party. As they do not currently support this legislation, so it will most likely be wiped off the order paper due to parliamentary procedure.

The former Liberal government did have a National Housing Strategy drafted in 2005. This strategy was agreed to by all of the provinces. When it looked like an election was looming, Prime Minister Paul Martin asked NDP leader Jack Layton to support the Liberal Party until they could get this legislation, and the Kelowna Accord passed into law. Mr. Layton ignored Mr. Martin’s request killing this legislation when the Conservatives won the 2006 election.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please feel free to contact me at any time if I can be of further assistance on this or any other issue.


Hon. Hedy Fry P.C., M.P.
Vancouver Centre
Chair of BC federal Caucus

Pre-wedding ritual to Agni and the making of the bride

I am here in India for vacations, but also to to witness Anita’s cousin Hitha’s wedding. This video is the pre-wedding ceremony. The priests from the temple were conducting a ceremony to bring auspiciousness to the house before the wedding. The deity that the ritual is directed at is the Hindu god of fire, Agni (I am going to ask my Anita’s aunt, Bharathy for confirmation on the correct identity of the deity)
Angi:”>Hindu Fire God

After the pre-wedding ceremony of asking of blessing of Agni the fire god, the next part of the pre-wedding ritual is “the making of the bride” This is were the women give presents and blessing to the bride to be. There is a lot of singing.

Then there was lunch on the roof of the family home.

Images of a Munnar morning walk high in Kerala tea country

More images of Kerala tea country

Images from Ajunta Caves

More images of Ajunta caves

First full day in New Delhi

My partner’s cousin Hitha, a major force in the blogosphere – check out her blog,Hitha On The Go is getting married in India and I am here with my family for the ceremony. Hitha’s wedding is in two weeks and we travelling around India before we go to Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and stay with family.

As soon as the plane landed last night I could smell India. I was here 15 years ago and one of my lasting memories is of the smells. There is a haze that permeates the air here and on the ride to the hotel – you can see some of the reasons: Little fires at the roadside to keep folks warm through the night. December is the cold season and people really bundle up.

This is my first time in Delhi. The other time I was in India I stayed with my wife’s family in Andhra Pradesh, which is more to the south. Delhi recently hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games and one can see the evidence of this with the posters throughout the city.

Even with the haze, the air quality is much better than 15 years ago. I am told that this is result of the use of compressed natural gas for a substantial portion of their vehicles (including auto-rickshaws). Delhi also has a new fleet of articulated buses that have both AC version and non-AC versions. Also there is the new Metro Rails, which is a subway system.

My last experience of traffic in India was an impression of total chaos. It just seemed so dangerous and made no sense at all. This time my impressions of the traffic are not nearly as overwhelming and it seemed to flow pretty well. Still, there is a lot of activity on the road to think about and at times the lines on the road and the stop signals appeared to be “optional”!

Traffic seems to flow from a complicated system of accommodation. Drives beep their horns when they want by or when another drive is getting too close, to signal a left or right turn. I think there are a lot of other deep messages in the horns because it is constant, but interestingly, it does not have the feel of anger that using your horn in Vancouver often implies. It’s more like a spoken language of the road here. Drivers don’t get all bent out of shape here with all of the maneuvering and that’s why it seems to work.

The city is very lush with mature trees everywhere. The history is incredible and diverse. The sights we saw today were breathtaking and some of the places were built as early as the 5th century AD during the Mughal empires. It was Sunday and the places were full of people, mostly locals enjoying their beautiful city.

The misery of India is just one intersection away where someone is holding their limp child for you to inspect with the doctor’s bill pleading for alms or little kids dancing in traffic for donations.

Here are the some of the photos from my first day in Delhi:
brent’s flickr

The status of Bill C-304

Bill C-304, an Act to ensure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians

Libby Davies’ private member Bill C-304 to enact an national housing plan, to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, has had one hour of debate of third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday October 20, 2010. The bill still needs one more hour of debate before it is called to a vote.

The BQ have amended the bill to require the bill to returned to committee to consider further amendments on the question of provincial jurisdiction.

As MP Libby Davies states on her blog: “Getting a Private Members Bill through Parliament is no easy task and there are many potential procedural and political roadblocks to overcome. C-304 is no exception, and it’s been an eye opener to navigate and resolve various issues and problems. But so far, so good!”
Libby Davies

On November 24, 2010 the following BQ amendment was passed in the House of Commons:

“That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-304, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities for the purpose of reconsidering Clauses 3 and 4, or to add new clauses, with a view of clarifying the role of provinces, specifically Quebec, within the jurisdiction of the Bill.”.

So, Bill C-304 goes back to a committee and still needs to come back to House for one more hour of debate and for another vote.

One can track the status of the bill on atbill c-304 @