Me and Ford


Me in 1983 at the Ford Motor Co. in Oakville Ontario. A member in good standing of CAW 707. This is on the #1 trim line where the cars just come over from the body shop after all the robots weld the body of the car.

One of my dad’s best friends Curly Kennedy took this photo. He was lifer a Ford starting when the plant opened and retired after 30 years.

My dad got that job at Ford just before I was born. Our family really needed that job. I asked my dad why he stayed so long at Ford and he said ” he was tired of walking around in white shirts with no money in his pockets and I needed the job.”

My father was a smart man he went to grade 13. He sold cars, had a small garage and sold insurance door to door for a while. He was a life long learner. He was interested in electronics and become HAM radio operator. This was one of his great passions in life. After working the night shift he would talk to people all over the world in Morse Code in the corner of our unfinished basement, his “radio shack”.

As a young  man he work on the steam engines in Hamilton Bay as his other 3 brothers did. One uncle was a conductor and other two worked as auto workers. My uncle Frank worked at Studebaker in Hamilton, the plant is still there and empty. My uncle Bob started at the Ford Oakville plant when if first opened and fought in the first strike to get the union into the plant. It was a long and hard strike and they burned every piece of wood within miles to stay warm.

My father worked at the Ford plant for more than 30 years and was a proud member of 707 CAW now Unifor Local 707.  That was a great summer. I made killer money, got to ride with my Dad from Hamilton to Oakville and got to know him a little better as a person.

Our family depended on that good paying job. My father was the sole money earner in our family. My mom took care me and my two sibling and  was very active in our community.

Urban forest strategy at council

The Urban Forest Strategy report for council this week is possibly one the best looking reports the City of Vancouver has ever produce. The report is filled with interesting information on the city’s urban forest including some great maps that compare neighbourhoods tree cover.

City of Vancouver Urban Forest Strategy

62% of the urban forest is on private land. The tree canopy in Vancouver has been shrinking over the past decade. The city through its by-laws limits home owners to only cut one tree per year. In an effort to protect and expand the urban forest there is a proposal at council this week that will limit home owners from cutting down any health trees. To cut a tree down residents would need an arborist report and a permit from the city.

The importance of a healthy and expanding urban forest cannot be over stated. The simplest and most compelling reason is trees sequester C02s and produce oxygen. There a whole range of other benefits that trees give to the city from creating good habitat for birds to helping storm water management.

If you are passionate about trees and the urban forest please write Mayor and Council and let them know you support changes in the by-laws to protect them. You can also sign up and speak to council on Wednesday morning April 17  and let them know what you think.

The contact information for the Clerk is Nicole Ludwig, Meeting Coordinator, at 604.873.7191 or e mail or Laura Kazakoff, Meeting Coordinator at 604.871.6353, email:

Why an urban forest?


The City of Vancouver is setting ambitious targets in the Greenest City Action Plan to reduce the causes of climate change. From establishing new building codes that require more efficient use of energy in building to more and better infrastructure to encourage more active forms of transportation. There are many measures that local government can take to reduce Green House Gases (GHG). You can read the whole plan here

With regards to trees the city is planning on planting 150,000 more trees by 2020. This possibly could be the most simple thing that the city could do, but have the most impact in terms mitigating the affects of climate change. Simply, trees sequester C02 and produce oxygen.

The VPB has developed and “urban forest strategy”
From the Vancouver Parks Website:

To date, the objectives of the new strategy are to:

• Further develop our plan to plant 150,000 trees by 2020 and increase Vancouver’s tree canopy cover
• Ensure new trees are planted strategically across the city
• Update management plans, policies, and practices to address emerging dimensions such as climate change
• Address the whole urban forest life cycle: planting, maintenance, protection, removal, re-use
• Create an integrated urban forest inventory system
• Develop strategies for ongoing public engagement and connections to stewardship programs
Tree Canada

Tree Canada has embarked on a campaign to raise enough funds to plant 10, 000 trees by earth day on April 22, 2014.

From Tree Canada’s website: Here’s what 10,000 trees can do:

• Sequester about 5,775 tonnes of CO2, or
• Offset the carbon produced by about 1,700 mid-size cars in a year – or more than 25 million kilometres of road travel, or
• Remove the equivalent carbon of 1,925 round-trip flights between Vancouver, B.C. and Melbourne, Australia

The city of Vancouver has partner with a NGO to help enough residents to plant more trees on private land. Tree Keeps are offering trees for $10 and also providing training on how to plant a tree. There have a very informative website with a lot cool facts about trees and one can view it here

A huge area where the city could make gains on reducing GHG is where road space and reallocated for people away from cars and also increase tree planting in these areas. The West End is full of little pocket that were once road space for cars that now have trees planted in them. Also I am sure a systematic study of parks and green space in Vancouver would open up many more areas to take up asphalt use by roads and parking that could provide areas for more tree planting and habitat restoration.

In fact in Stanley Park Ecolocal Plan, Pipeline Road in Stanley Park has be identified as a redundant road that is not necessary for transportation needs in the park and should be taken up and the habitat restored. You can read more of the plan here

Roads and parking spots are a from of “induced driving”, which means that if you build them cars will populated them. If you don’t build roads change them traffic will disappear. Any opportunity where the city can reduce car traffic and plant trees is going to have a huge impact on the livability of the city and also reduce GHG and mitigate the affects of climate change.

Vancouver Park Board Open House: John Hendry Park (Trout Lake), all day April 15

2VPB_logoWRFrom the Vancouver Park Board

The public is invited to attend an open house to review and comment on a draft master plan for John Hendry Park.  The plan was developed in consultation with community stakeholders and through input received at three open houses and online over the past seven months.

Time:     Tuesday, April 15, 5-8pm – drop in anytime
Place:    Trout Lake Community Centre – Grandview Room, 3360 Victoria Drive

To learn more about this project, visit:herehere. For more information, contact Debra Barnes ( or 604.718.5852).

Please share this invitation. Help us build awareness about the open house by sharing this invitation with people in your community, including colleagues, neighbours, friends and family.

VPB open house on mid-size skate park in Mount Pleasant, April 3, 1 Kingsway


Want your park to be safe? Build a skateboard park. Every skateboarder in a park is connected to a family that is invested in keeping that park safe. Part of great parks is the activities that are possible in these parks. The design acts as a program for the space that invites folks to participate in different activities. Having exciting features to challenge skateboarders is a important project of the Vancouver Park Board but finding the right location for them can be a challenge.

The Vancouver Park Board wants your help in finding a new home for a skateboarder park.

From VBP:

The Vancouver Park Board has identified the need for a mid-size skateboard facility in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.

The public is invited to attend an open house to consider which of the two proposed parks is the most suitable location for the new facility – Jonathan Rogers Park (Manitoba Street and West 7th Avenue) or Robson Park (Kingsway and St. George Street).

Time:     Thursday, April 3, 4-8pm – drop in anytime
Place     Mount Pleasant Community Centre lobby – 1 Kingsway near Main Street

Open house materials and questionnaire will be available online April 4-17  here.

For more information, contact Debra Barnes at 604.718.5852.

Please share this invitation

Help us build awareness about the open house by sharing this invitation with people in your community, including colleagues, neighbours, friends and family.

Being car free supports the local economy

carfree“According to AAA, Americans spend on average $8,485 each year on their cars. Seems like a lot of money, doesn’t it? And most of that money leaves your local economy. What if you were able to get rid of a car and spend-or invest-that money in your community? what if 12,000 people decided to make the same decision? That’s exactly what happened in Washington, D.C. From 2005 to 2009. The District’s population increased by 15,862 people while car registration went down by close to 15,000 vehicles. Living in a walkable city has value beyond personal convenience-it also allows more of your money to stay closer to home while reducing your carbon footprint. With better information, can we make our cities more intelligent? We can. What makes a city intelligent? You do. “

Some news, an invitation and a request for feedback


I hope the dawning of the Year of the Horse finds you well and happy. It’s also an election year, so I wanted to say again how grateful for all support that I received in my bid, three years ago, for a seat on the Vancouver Park Board. While I came up short, that support establish a strong base and I am now considering another run. But before I request your advice, some news and an invitation:


As many of you know from the media coverage I have joined Vision. I believe that in the next election we must continue to make progress on affordable housing, ecological sustainability and fostering a vital urban economy that will contribute to the health and happiness of all Vancouver residents. For a more detailed explanation of the reasoning behind my decision, please see my web site:statement

An invitation

I hope you will join me – and Vision Vancouver – for a fun and inspiring evening, called “Next Up”, Feb 28, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This will be enjoyable night out and a terrific opportunity to meet other Vision-eers, sip wine and see the VAG collection for the incredibly low price of just $20.

And… if you buy tickets to this great event you will be entitled to take out a membership for FREE in Vision Vancouver.

Yes, please consider joining now, as the election is little more 8 months away.

Purchase your tickets Here
Please advise…

“Should I run again?

And, if you answer Yes, “Would you support me?”

Also, please let me know if there are any issues pertaining to the Park Board that you are concerned about.

Please add a comment to this post.

Does the NPA really believe this stuff or is it just good politics? Either way it goes to the issue of trust.

The NPA has been attempting to frame traffic calming measures and safety upgrades in Kitsilano all summer as a wedge issue against the Mayor and Council. The synopsis of their message is “the Mayor and Council don’t listen and they are creating a private road for uber-rich along West Point Grey”.

In a television interviews on the traffic diversion in Kits with the CBC, has Councillor Affleck gone over the line of clean political rhetoric by unfairly maligning and personally attacking the Mayor? It is ridiculous to think that the Mayor and Council make decisions on some sort of hidden agenda. The work that is being done in Kits has been planned for years by different City Departments. Moreover, it is insulting for an elected official of the City of Vancouver to malign the office of the Mayor and Council with such a ridiculous claim.

Listen to NPA Councillor George Affleck in his own words on the traffic diversion measure on West Point Grey on Jan 20, 2014 on the first Monday after the traffic calming. You can view the video clip here: CBC

NPA Cl: Well today you can see we have several people here who are concerned, as is the NPA about closing Point Grey Road. We feel this a road for all Vancouverites and it is unfortunate that Vision rammed this through and decided to close this and keep this for their personal supporters. I believe.

Reporter: Do you believe that is the motivation for closing this road?

NPA Cl. I don’t think that it is a surprise, not a surprise, that we have several of their biggest funders living along here. And  the Mayor himself is just three houses up here. I think that this is very interesting to say the least.

Reporter: So who is it that suffers from this closure?

NPA Cl: The people who suffer from this are all of Vancouver. This is not only about, this is not about bikes, this is about access. This is about the beauty of this street. This is also a concern of mine, which is the access of emergency vehicles and transit. These are the other issues that we have about closing off a main arterial in the city.

Reporter: And what is (inaudible)?

NPA Cl: Really this is to draw attention to the fact this is closed and is closed permanently and we want to get a sense of what the people of this city want. And as you can see today we have a lot of people out and a lot of honking, a lot people saying “open this back up”.

Reporter: And what will you do if you are voted back into the majority in the next municipal election?

NPA Cl: Well our plan is to absolutely look into reopening of this street. There was another alternative plan that was presented to us as a council that we could have gone for that included a one-way street that is one alternative. There are many others. There is a better way to do this and that is what we will do.

Reporter: Why would anyone one of these other alternatives been taken up, why (inaudible)

NPA Cl: Well for the hundreds of people who showed up a council to say: “don’t close this street”, Vision Vancouver simply rammed this through. The Mayor of this city who lives a block a way said, “No, I want a private street for a few of my friends” and for himself and ah that is why they closed the street.

Reporter: Is there anything you want to add?

NPA Cl: No, I hope we can make some impact here. Maybe Vision Vancouver will start listening to the people of this city and if not we will see you at November 15 at the election time.

Notice of rezoning/development permit application, open house for 1155 Thurlow st. Febrary 3.

photo from CoV website

photo from CoV website

City of Vancouver Online survey on the projectHere

This project would not come under the new West End Plan as the application was submitted before the planning process was started. 1155 Thurlow St. is the site of Central Presbyterian Church between Pendrell St. and Davie St. across from St. Paul’s Hospital . The church is home to two congregations that share the chapel, a good size meeting hall and a Montessori pre-school.

More information on the church: Central Presbyterian
Continue reading Notice of rezoning/development permit application, open house for 1155 Thurlow st. Febrary 3. →

Can we trust the NPA?

new parkWR

When the city traffic calmed West Point Grey Road there was a media frenzy fuelled in part by the NPA. On the first Monday after car traffic was diverted off West Point Grey Road, the NPA staged a little demo with around 50 people attending with placards displaying a coordinated message “West Point Grey Road is for everyone”. One of the NPA Councillors was there and he used the message in his media spots. Clearly the idea was to try and paint the traffic calming and safety measures as some huge conspiracy by Council to exclude all Vancouver residents from using West Point Grey Road, and to create increase property values for the exclusive properties on this street.

Here is Park Board Commissioner John Coupar on Breakfast TV Jan. 20, 2013:You can view the full clip here

Reporter: Why is the bike route and the closure a bad idea?

John Coupar: “Well I think Point Grey Road is for all of Vancouver. You know I am a long time resident and grew up in Dunbar and it was my way of getting to downtown and very often on my way back from downtown and on the weekend with my kids I would stop and visit these parks and you know there is a seniors centre at the other end at Jericho Beach. Access is really important to our parks. That is my biggest concern and I really feel that we could of come up with a solution that would have kept both sides happy. Ah, there were easements that were wide enough here that would have allowed both traffic and a bike lane through here and this to me is just over kill. Ah, we have created some very expensive side yards for the very wealthiest in Vancouver and I think these parks and this road are for all Vancouverites.”

Serious stuff, sounds like seniors won’t be to get to their centre and Commissioner Coupar, won’t be able to “access” the parks with his kids anymore. But this not the case, all the parks and senior centre are still accessible just not by West Point Road. Just like Chilco Street is closed to commuter traffic in the West End.

What Commissioner Coupar does not say is that by doing the traffic calming at MacDonald and West Point Grey Road a whole new park could be created by joining Tatlow and Volunteer Parks. Tatlow Park has creek that has been recently day-lighted and has the potential to be a salmon-bearing stream. Now that two parks are being joined the creek could have access to the ocean and salmon could once again spawn there.

photos of Tatlow Park and Volunteer Park

Seems strange that someone who has the mandate for parks complaining in the media about traffic calming that would allow a new park!

For years the Park Board was trying to purchase property along West Point Grey Road to create continuous seawall around the city. That is why there are a number of little pocket parks along this street. The plan was abandoned as property in this area became just too expensive and the Park Board focused their attention to other areas in the city where the creation of parks would have better value. Given the prohibitive costs along West Point Grey Road, it is exciting that Vancouver will soon have a thriving salmon-bearing creek in a larger park area along this stretch of road that will be accessible to all Vancouver residents.