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 @

Full letter to editior of Courier on Jericho Wharf

Dear Editor:

Re: Jericho Marginal Wharf and Mr. Hasiuk’s “Park board fires ‘green’ torpedo at historic Jericho Wharf “

The decision by the Vancouver Park Board on November 4, 2010 to remove the Jericho Marginal Wharf is a good example of evidenced based decision making.

After consultation and debate going back to 2008, involving two different Park Boards with different party majorities, no community or stakeholder consensus could be reached around the wharf. It was clear, however, that to restore the structurally unsafe wharf would cost almost one million dollars more than to dismantle it.

While Mr. Hasiuk is dismissive of information contained in a letter sent to the Park Board by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans – calling it part of a “modern green movement” – the evidence in the letter was very relevant to the decision that the board took at the November 4, 2010 meeting.

Habitat restoration encourages and promotes biodiversity, and ecological restoration in Vancouver’s parks will only enhance our enjoyment of these areas. Habitat restoration also recognizes and reconciles a profound history of natural habitat destruction in the city. Where there is the possibility of restoring an area back to its natural state, the opportunity should be taken.

Imagine what Vancouver could be like if all our long covered salmon bearing streams were “day lighted”, ecologically restored, and given a chance to start teaming with life again? Imagine what Beaver Lake in Stanley Park would be like if was restored to its previous rich biodiversity?

Vancouver was born out of plentiful natural treasures found in one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. Isn’t that is a history worth celebrating?

Brent Granby
Chair of COPE Park Board Caucus

Park board fires ‘green’ torpedo at historic Jericho Wharf

Alden Habacon recipient of 2010 Power of Peace medal

Alden Habacon at a dinner at the YMCA Robert Lee Building on Tuesday November 23 was awarded the Power of Peace medal.

Alden Habacon is described in in his nomination for the Local and International Peacemaker award in the following way:

“Alden is a peacemaker in the most active sense of the term. He engages Canadian of all ages and backgrounds in dialogue about diversity n a way that promotes understanding, mutual respect and equality. He is influential because hes ideas around “Diversity 2.0” are helping to bring forward a fresh approach to the national discourse that defines Canadians beyond race and ethnicity. His provocative assertion the that the mosaic model of multiculturalism is obsolete challenges us to think about the role we all play in deepening intercultural understanding. His ideas are influencing a generation of changemakers who are excited about the possibilities of creating a more respectful and peaceful world. Among his accomplishments, Alden is the founder and publisher of Schema Magazine. His work with the Asian Canadian Journalist Association, CBC, and now UBC reflects his impact. Alden is not only a thinker but a doer and is deeply committed to community service. He actively mentors young people and is a founding board member of RESPECT, a group working to create opportunities for Filipino-Canadian newcomers in Vancouver.

Schema Magazine

Congratulation Alden.

The power of peace

I have had the honour of being nominated for the YMCA’s “Power of Peace” award along with West End Residents Association (WERA). I won’t win as there are so many inspiring people in Vancouver doing impressive work that are more deserving, but still, I am proud to be nominated.

The YMCA describes the Power Peace award as: “… an opportunity to celebrate local individuals and organizations whose work strengthens communities through the promotion of peace. In every community, there are exceptional leaders whose work influences the lives of others. The YMCA Peace Medallion is your way to recognize and celebrate leaders in your community who are dedicated to finding peaceful solutions to violence, conflict and injustice. Peacemakers come from all walks of life and are united by their desire and commitment to create cultures of peace.”

More information about this award can be found at: power of peace

I am proud of the volunteer work that I’ve done with WERA over the past 6 years. Organizations like WERA serve an important function of being advocates for important issues that aren’t necessarily popular, but are nonetheless important and require informed policy responses. In this regard, WERA’s efforts of being one of the key stakeholders in the Downtown Transportation Plan led to WERA’s support of the separated bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge.

There may not be an appreciation that environmentally sustainable transportation advocacy is part of a peaceful culture given that heated debate on the Dunsmuir bike lane, perhaps the opposite is the dominant perception. However, there can be a compelling argument that protecting and enhancing the rights and safety of pedestrians and attempting to promote healthy and sustainable transportation is central to a peaceful culture because it forces us to interact with those around us. Not to go to way out there on this point, it is interesting that such great practitioner of peace, as Gandhi was such big walker.

WERA has been active in promoting a responsible, respectful and informed public discussion on important issues and these dialogues serve as a cornerstone of a peaceful civic culture. Rather than increasing the rhetoric on issues, which is a simple method for garnering attention, WERA has held many public forums that have engendered a high standard of public discourse with the goal of arriving at solutions that are based on sound evidence and reflect best practices.

WERA has focused on projects that make a difference in resident’s lives. From constructive participation in coalitions, promotion of community art projects, community gardens, community forums, community base celebration and the dissemination of information, WERA has been part of civic engagement process that does lead to more peaceful and cultural harmonious society.

Aaron Jasper: the legacy of Park Board, part 11

The power of Park Board, Sat. Nov. 20, 7 pm. 480 Broughton St.

Buy Tickets On line
Dear Friends,

I would like to invite you to a fundraiser for the benefit of the Coalition of Progress Electors (COPE) on Saturday November 20, 2010, at 7 pm at the Coal Harbour Community Centre.

The event is entitled the “Power of Park Board”. The benefit will celebrate the legacy of the elected Park Board to the citizens of Vancouver.

The evening will be a night to enjoy wine and refreshments while listening to past Park Board commissioners, Anita Romaniuk, current 3 term Park Board Commissioner Loretta Woodcock and by Skype Lyndsay Poaps and Spencer Chandra Herbert, speaking about the “Power of Park Board”.

The COPE Park Board Caucus will be presenting its “Legacy of Vancouver Park Board” video project which is a series of interviews with current and past Park Board Commissioners at the event. The interviews will be of such notable Park Board Commissioners as: Libby Davies MP, Commissioner Raj Hundal, Commissioner Constance Barnes, Commissioner Ian Robertson, Commissioner Stuart McKinnon, Councillor Suzanne Anton, Commissioner Aaron Jasper, Marty Zlotnik, Tim Louis and May Brown.

Tickets are only $20.

For more info call Brent Granby at 604 716 2824

Commissioner Loretta Woodcock: the legacy of Park Board, part 7

Councillor Suzanne Anton: the legacy of Park Board, part 6