Mysteries of a feasting forest, Monday Jan. 13, 8 pm, WECC

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From Stanley Park Ecology Society

Like us, trees enjoy a great feast. But in the great Canadian Boreal Forest, nitrogen for proteins is hard to come by.   Nicole Linfoot, a biologist from Alberta’s Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory, has been brought to the Lower Mainland on a very special opportunity to share  a visual presentation about this ecological mystery.

Date:     Monday, January  13  2014
Time:     7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: West End Community Center,  870 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L8
Free to attend; donations appreciated.   

Bring your friends, but please call to register so we’ll have enough seats ready:    604-257-8333

We hope we’ll see you there!

Patricia

Patricia Thomson
Executive Director
Stanley Park Ecology Society
PO Box 5167
Vancouver, BC   V6B 4B2
P: 604-718-6523 F: 604-257-8378
exec@stanleyparkecology.ca
www.stanleyparkecology.ca

A little new park at Main St. and 18 Avenue with no name.

new park
Over the holidays I took a little ride with my daughter to check out a new park in Vancouver on Main St. and 18 Avenue. Curiously the park does not have a name yet, which would really help to create a sense of place. The park is a little plaza in front of some commercial and retail space. While being a small area the park is good example of what can be done to activate a space with some landscape architecture and street furniture. The Park Board describes the little park “…as a gateway to the mid-Main district and serve both the Riley Park and Mount Pleasant communities.”
You can read more about the park here on the Park Board website.

The park is also home to a work of public art which is designed by Gisele Amantea, “The Main St. Poodle”. You can read more about the artist and the project here .The Main St. Poodle also has inspired a Twitter account, @MainStPoodle, which is has a very caustic sense of humour and is worth a follow.

Here are some more photos of the park here.

Bikes, snow and Vancouver

north east side of burrard bridge
It’s always exciting when it snows in Vancouver. It doesn’t happen very often and when it does, it is a real test for transit users, pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and city staff. The buses are more packed with wet and soggy people. It is hard slogging for pedestrians with the extra force of the snow to be overcome and there is always the real threat from cars, directly or in what they splash up on the sidewalks.

Cycling in the snow is doable, but it is hard. In north Europe like in Copenhagen biking in the snow is no big deal. They do it and they are proud of it. Also, in Copenhagen the bike paths and sidewalks are cleared of snow first. I think Vancouver is getting better with removing snow on bike routes and paths, but we are not Copenhagen yet. Some areas were rough and I had to walk my bike. But I was pleasantly surprise with the Burrard St. Bridge and bike tracks downtown they had all been cleared.

Here are some photos that pop off with my phone on my little ride. photos

Urban Health: My community, my health. The city wants your feed back

The city wants your feed back on its “A healthy city for all: Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy 2014 – 2025”
city survey
If you fill the survey out you have a 1 in 500 chance to win a iPad. More importantl,y you will be giving important data to the City, regional health authorites and Metro Van that will give a better understanding of income, health and city building.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival this Saturday, Dec 21


The days are certainly becoming short. I’m really feeling the darkness of winter closing in on me. Good news after Saturday the days get longer so we have gone through the worst of it. It is the 20th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival this Saturday produced by the Secret Lantern Society and their artistic director Naomi Singer. As the society likes to describe the event, “one festival, many neighbourhoods”. This year the festival is at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, False Creek and Roundhouse Community Centres. New this year is a late night dance at Astorino’s. The event always needs volunteers and please make a donation, these events run on a shoe string budgets and they are professional artists who need to be paid.

Here is link the Secret Lantern Society’s website for more info:here

Letter to the Port of Metro Van opposing expansion of coal terminals

coal
You can submit your own comment to the Port here

Port of Metro Vancouver

Re: Expansion of Coal Terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks

As the son of an autoworker who was the sole financial provider for our family, I am familiar with the sense of being dependent on an industry. Growing up in Hamilton, Ontario has also given me a keen insight to the importance that a particular industry can have to the economic livelihood of workers and their families.

We know that coal is a huge contributor of Green House Gases (GHG) that are causing climate change. It is clearly evident that the use of coal will have to be dramatically decreased. With the proposed idea of a “carbon budget” and many realizing that much of the resources that produce GHG should not be used, it is imperative that alternative sources of energy need to be used. To expand the port’s capacity to ship coal at this time is short-sighted and significantly problematic on many levels.

A recent article in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives noted that, “As we move toward a low carbon future, encouraging workers to move into coal sector jobs is wrong.” full article. While there may be an increase in jobs in the short-term with the expansion of the coal terminal, it is wrong to encourage people to take jobs that have inadequate prospects.

We know that coal has limited future and recognize that coal is an important material in making steel and its not going to disappear. But also we know that its use will have to be substantially reduced.

Demand for coal in China is also dropping. It is a problematic business case to be spending capital dollars on expanding a terminal with limited market growth.full article

Not being an expert in Environmental Impact Assessment process myself, I read with keen interest the open letter from 35 experts who questioned the Ports methodology and conclusion. I would urge you to consider the points they have raised. Open letter to Port of Metro Van

I urge the Port of Metro Vancouver to critically examine your mandate to the people of Canada to consider the broader consequences of expanding coal terminals in British Columbia.

Brent Granby

Why I joined Vision Vancouver

buttons

I want to be in a position to affect progressive change in a way that aligns with my values and that is why I have joined Vision Vancouver. The policy initiatives that Vision Vancouver has embarked upon have been ambitious. I have been actively engaged in my own community and neighbourhoods throughout the City to making Vancouver’s economy more vital and ecologically sustainable, while putting a priority on the health and happiness of residents.

The challenges that face Vancouver require broad based consensus in finding sustainable solutions for the homeless, for supportive housing, and ensuring services for people with mental health issues. Affordability for young people and their families continues to remain a priority.

Our local governments receive only 8 cents out of every tax dollar paid. Cities need to be pressing senior governments on a range of issues from climate change, health and wellness, housing, and infrastructure investment.  A dialogue of cooperation and a willingness to work together is required to solve the issues facing our City.

I want to continue my work with community groups, activists, faith based communities, academics, the artist, the business sector and decision makers to grow our City in a sustainable and responsible way.

 

 

 

A park within a 5-minute walk from everyone in Vancouver: a new park at 17th Avenue and Yukon St.

newparkat18andyukonstWR
more photos of the site

Update April 22, 2o14, from the Vancouver Park Board:

Open House

Date: April 26, 2014, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: 17th Avenue and Yukon Street

 

The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board through the Greenest City Action Plan has set the ambitious goal of providing parks and green space to ever resident of Vancouver within a 5 minute walk which is around 400 meters. At the moment 92% of residents are able to participate in this goal. Clearly the city is blessed with an abundance of parks, but that is still more work to be done to top out at 100%.

In the Capital Plan the Park Board receives funds for land acquisition. Land is purchased for the purpose of building more parks. Case in point, the Park Board has bought a corner lot at 17th Avenue and Yukon St. This empty fenced lot has the potential to be a vital park in this area and represent an exciting process for folks to envision what the park will be like in the future. I would love to see outdoor table tennis or a community pizza oven, but that is just me. The park still needs to go through a consultation process with local residents and park users of Vancouver to develop a plan for it.

The Park Board notice Board states the following:

“The Park Board will engage the community and develop a park design in 2014. Park construction is anticipated to take place in late 2014. Park construction is anticipated to take place in late 2014 and early 2015 with work completed by spring 2015.

This first open house for this new park will be held at this site Janurary 18, 2014, 10 am – 3 pm.

Should you have futher question,, please contact Project Manager: Joe McLeod 604-2578474, joe.mcleod@vancouver.ca”

Post Script: Hi Brent! I’m Jhenifer from the City of Vancouver with a quick update on the open house – it’s going to be rescheduled to February 2014 now owing to available staff time. We haven’t settled on the exact date but I’ll make sure to keep you posted! The sign will be updated too.

 

A primer on the 2014 Operational Budget and Capital Expenditure Budget for Parks and Recreation

1revised 2012-14 capital budgetWr

The City of Vancouver has posted the 2014 budget which comes in at $1.2 billion in total with a property tax increase of 1.9%. The budget is a huge document with over 200 pages detailing all the different operations of the city with hard cold numbers, service plans and an array of metrics to measure different functions of the city. You can read the budget here

The budget is a combination of the Operational Budget and the Capital Expenditure Budget. The document states: “With the approval of the 2014 capital budget the 2012-2014 Capital Plan will be $772 million.” In 2014 the Capital Expenditure Budget is $285 million. Every three years residents of Vancouver vote on a Capital Plan in the municipal  election. The Capital Plan funds such things as repairing sewer, bridges, to building new housing, parks, green space and community centres.

1PB opertational expendaturesWR The 2014 Operational Budget for the Park Board will be $58 million dollars (p153). This represents a $1.6 million increase from 2013, which is a 3.3% increase.The Capital Expenditure Budget for the Park Board in 2014 will be $20,983,000 which will be spent on parks, open spaces, street trees and public art. (p.73) Some of the highlights of the budget are Hastings Parks Greening, $9.1 million and renewal of Sunset Park, John Hendry Park, $1.1 million.

Service Plans

Since 2013 the city has started to develop service plans and metrics for all the operations of the city. On service plans the budget document states:

“…in addition to being a significant part of the budget transparency, also represent the City’s commitment to itself and the community to measure and be accountable for its decision and action over the year. Starting in the summer of 2013, annual internal review of these commitments were and will continue to be conducted to track whether services and performing as promised and whether changes in course are warranted.” (p.83)

The Park Board

“The Park Board oversees the delivery of parks and recreation services for the City of Vancouver. It maintains a network of over 230 parks (approximately 1,300 hectares), including sport fields, playgrounds, five outdoor pools, destination parks, gardens and beaches, and is responsible for 24 community centres, nine indoor pools, eight arenas, and 14 fitness centres. The Park Board also manages public marinas, golf courses, concessions, sports fields and clubhouses, and service yards. “ (p. 145)

The Park Boards service plan is made up from its strategic planning process and includes 5 key areas which are:

-improved inclusivity and accessibility
-proactive service planning and delivery
-sustainable operations
-improved communications and engagement
-enhanced fiscal planning and management

The Park Board has 27 metrics to measure the services that are offered to residents of Vancouver. (p.158) The Park Board in the Greenest City Action Plan has set the goal that all residents will have access to parks or green space with in a 5 minute walking distance of 400m. In 2013 the Park Board achieved this goal for 92% of residents. Clearly, more parks are needed in Vancouver!

A bike lane rant and the 2014 operating budget

2014 public works budgetWR

The City of Vancouver has released the 2014 Operating Budget and it is a mammoth document weighing in at over 200 pages. You can read it here

I am going to ploughing my way through it in the next couple of days. There is also an information session and dialogue at City Hall on December 2 from 6:30-8:30 pm., that would aid in trying to understand this document and process.

A couple of quick points and then a little rant. 8 cents of all tax dollars spent by Canadians goes to local government. The total operating budget is $1.2 billion. From the Mayor’s website: “The 2014 Capital Plan will also see $72 million invested in better transportation, $19 million for parks and green space, and $17 million for new affordable housing.” Taxes will increase 1.9%, which is a modest increase. Considering all the strutting and bellicose rhetoric of Rob Ford about “ending the gravy train”, Toronto is projecting a 2.5% tax increase.

City survey of residents top Five issues:

1. Transportation: bike lanes, traffic, parking
2. Housing and homelessness
3. Garbage and clean streets
4. Social services: community centres, mental health, schools
5. Crime/criminal activity

Okay, here is the rant part. Public Works spends about 6% of the operating budget. That is roads, sewers and fixing blown water mains et cetera. 4% of the Public Works budget is spent on “active transportation” and 35% is spent on road maintenance and I am cool with this. I use Car2Go and Modo car sharing periodically, I ride my bike on the roads, ride on buses that use the road and even walk on sidewalks. So all the uproar about how much the city is spending on bike lanes seems contrived, over blown and politically motivated. The reality is the city is spending vast amount of its budget accommodating cars.

Dec. 2 Post Script

Post Script: The Math

The total Operating budget for the CoV is $1.2 billion.

Of this Public Works accounts for 6% of the budget or .06.

“Active Transportation” is allocated 4%,  0.06 X 0.04=0.0024 X 100 = 0.24%

Therefore Public Works cut of the total budget is $72 million and Active Transportation share is $2.88 million.

quod erat demonstrandum,