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

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,


What, another new park in Vancouver at Fir St. and 7th Avenue?

new park at 7th and FirWR
Vancouver has set the ambitious goal of ensuring that everyone lives at least 5 minutes walk (400 m) from a park, greenway, or other natural space in the Greenest City Action Plan (2011). Also the city has set the target of planting 150,000 trees by 2020. If the city is going to be able to achieve this goal more green-space will have to be transformed into parks.

The Vancouver Park Board has identified a site for a new park in a converted industrial site at 7th Avenue and Fir St. which is 0.13 hectare in size.

For more information on the development project: here

Here is the staff report from the Park Board on the park with a pdf of the approved design: PB staff report

The park does not have a name yet. The triangular site runs beside the the old Canadian Pacific rail lines and sit just east of a funky community garden. The park has gone through two consultation sessions in April and June of 2013 and the final design was presented in near the end of June to the public and was approved by the Park Board on September 23. The new park is scheduled be finished by the spring of 2014. The budget for the park is $400,000.

Here are some photos of the site:here

Another new park for Vancouver, Trillium North, to open in summer of 2014

Soon the east side of Vancouver will be getting a new park, Trillium North. The park is currently under construction and it scheduled to be open in the summer of 2014. The park is located on the north side of the new artificial turf on the brown-field just beside the train station on Malkin Street.

photos of the park under construction

The park is described by the site panels in the following way:

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is developing the 1.0 hectare of Trillium North park site as the final pase of park development, after construction of the two synthetic turf fields and the washroom/change rooms in 2010/2011. Park elements include a park gazebo, plaza, children’s playground, amphitheater, arts storage facilities, rain gardens, trees, shrubs and meadow, and a space to commemorate Jim Green, former Vancouver City councilor

Benefits to Park Users

This new park development will be an exciting new park for the general community, a venue for the showcasing of arts and culture, and a gathering place for sports field users and their families. The park will be constantly evolving as the arts and culture community continual enhance the site with art displays and new plantings.

Beaver Lake restoration open houses Nov. 21 and Nov. 23


From the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES)

Beaver Lake, one of the last remaining wetlands in the City of Vancouver, is rapidly declining and could disappear as soon as 2020 if no measures are taken.

The Vancouver Park Board and Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) have been working in partnership, under guidance from the Stanley Park Ecological Action Plan (2011), to come up with potential plans for restoration of the lake.  Earlier this year, consultants were brought in to complete an ecological assessment and to help develop recommendations that will ensure the long-term ecological viability and biodiversity of Beaver Lake.

The public are now being invited to a series of Open Houses to review and comment on the range of options developed.

This is your chance to have your say on the future of this special place!

Open House Dates

Thursday, November 21, 4-8pm
Coal Harbour Community Centre
480 Broughton Street

Saturday, November 23, 12 – 4 pm
West End Community Centre
870 Denman Street

Open house materials and comment forms will be also be available online after November 23 until January 1 at www.vancouver.ca.

Why is Beaver Lake shrinking?
Today the lake is nearly half the size it was in 1938. Although it is a natural process for lakes to fill in over time, for Beaver Lake this process has been rapidly accelerated by the introduction of invasive plants and the construction of the Causeway and other manmade impacts. Not only is the lake shrinking in area and depth, the quality of the habitat is also diminishing. If nothing is done to counter this, Beaver Lake will quickly become a forest meadow, and many species – including some species at risk – that rely on this much needed freshwater habitat will disappear.

Why should we save it?
SPES believes keeping this freshwater lake ecosystem is important for maintaining biodiversity in Stanley Park. Restoration of the lake may also allow for the reintroduction of extirpated wildlife like the western painted turtle and Pacific tree frog. Restoration would benefit many species of birds that currently rely on the lake and beavers, a species that recently returned here after a 60 year absence.

What can you do to help?
Attend an open house. Become informed and have your say!

What happens next?
Following public consultation, a final restoration plan will be created and brought to a Park Board meeting later this winter.

For further information about the Open Houses contact:
Alan Duncan, Project Manager

West End Community Plan at Vancouver City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 20.





From the City of Vancouver, The West End Plan is being presented to Council

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
9:30 am
Council Chamber
Third Floor, City Hall

The agenda for the meeting can be viewed at: Here

The relevant report can be viewed at :Here

Due to its large file size, Appendix A can be viewed separately at: Here

If you would like further information on this matter, please contact Brian Jackson at 604.873.7034.  If you wish to address the Standing Committee, please reply to this email, or call Leslie Tuerlings at 604.873.7015, by 1:00 pm on Tuesday, November 19, 2013.  Please note speakers are requested to limit their comments to no longer than five minutes.

You may also communicate your thoughts on the issue to the Mayor and Councillors by emailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and we will ensure Council receives all correspondence before the matter is considered.

For your information, all meetings of Council are webcast and can be viewed at: Here  The minutes for this meeting can be viewed at: approximately two days following the meeting.

Eastside Cultural Crawl starts this Friday Nov. 15 at 5 pm.

landscape and memory #5Remebered Landscape

The annual Eastside Cultural Crawl is this weekend starting on Friday November 15 at 5p m. Drop in and visit me at my studio at 1000 Parker St., unity 146. Check out the paintings that I have been working on.

8 Stories About Cars: A Work in Progress

If we were to think of the time that we live in as a period of crisis, central to this is the private ownership of cars. It does not solely pertain to climate change, but more broadly involves issues of public heath, urban livability, international trade, governance, business, employment, social justice and equality across the world.

The narratives that connect these very diverse themes are an emerging discourse on the connection between ecological, economical and cultural sustainability on public health and urban planning. As an analytical discourse in their respective fields of study there is much needed work being done in these fields.

While on a cognitive level, there have been critical analyses of the car and its many impacts on urban planning, climate change and public health, our emotional attachment to the car merits more understanding.

How do our memories of places that we once walked, that have been transformed by the car and the planning for the cars, affect out consciousness? Equally important is how the car is transforming our bodies and for some, practically becoming an appendage that is part of what forms their identity and self-worth.

Many of us hold a narrative that is deeply embedded in our childhood memories and reconstructed family memories of how the private ownership of cars have influenced us and our culture. This narrative has been sold to us by companies and planned for by all levels of government. But what are the stories and images that keep us connected to cars and what will be the moment of rupture from this narrative?

The VW Bug

It is not an actual memory that I have, but a reconstructed one that was passed down to me from parents. I must have been 3 years old and my parents owned a VW bug. I still have memories of the smells from that car. I don’t know what it is about those cars, but they all smell the same. If I get in a bug now the smell brings me back to my childhood and sitting in the back seat. VW bugs, zippo lighters and Rothman cigarettes are my earliest memories.

The car was white with a red interior. No seat belts. Now in our über-safety conscious mind it scares me to think that my sister and I rode in this car. That was the way the world was then.

A public plaza, pedestrians and public transit?


Yesterday I attended a panel discussion on the idea of a public plaza on the north side of the Art Gallery in the 800 block of Robson Street. The idea has been around for a while. The area was closed to traffic during the Olympics and a couple of temporary closures have happened during the summer months. It seems like a pretty strait forward idea, but the problem is the street closure impacts public transit.

The #5 Robson bus goes through the 800 block of Robson Street. For folks in the West End the Robson bus is their main connection to the downtown. Is it possible to build a public plaza on the south side of the Art Gallery and have good public transit to the downtown? One of the ideas that was presented at the talk was having a public plaza that would have transit run through it. This is a very common idea in many European cities where pedestrian only areas also have streetcars running through them as well.

Translink is considering the idea as a possibility. Translink and the City of Vancouver are in the process of reviewing bus routes in the downtown area. You may have taken one of their surveys during the summer at a community event. Translink on their website states the purpose of the downtown bus route review as the following:

• better understand the current and anticipated transit service issues in the downtown core
• develop alternative scenarios for near and medium term changes to the downtown local transit network
• evaluate these alternatives and provide recommendations on preferred actions for infrastructure investment and transit service planning

You can learn more about the project here

The review is in “phased two” and will be proposing alternate routes and collecting more feedback early in 2014. Phase three will start in the spring of 2014 and recommend routes will be presented and I would think feedback will be gather at this time as well.

Conflicted Space? Robson Square, Viva Vancouver and the #5 Robson Bus-Do you care?

#5 bus on Robson St.

Do you care if the #5 bus runs straight down Robson St. or would you rather see a permanent public plaza in front of the Art Gallery? Personally I support the idea of a public plaza on Robson St., but I know a lot of folks in the West End have strong opinions on this issue. Folks with mobility issues really feel not having the #5 bus go down Robson impacts their lives. So, the on going debate of the public plaza at the art gallery and re-routing of the #5 bus debates continues.
Photos of the plaza


From SFU Public Square, City Conversations:
Conflicted Space?  Robson Square, Viva Vancouver and the #5 Robson Bus

For two years, the block of Robson St. in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery has been closed to traffic during the summer, becoming the popular Viva Vancouver pedestrian space. A consequence is that the #5 Robson bus is rerouted by three blocks. Few realize that this seemingly minor change is said to affect much of the downtown transit network. Some people want to close Robson Square year round. Must we choose between efficient public transit and enjoyable public space, or is there a way to accommodate both?

Starting the conversation are Lon LaClaire, Manager of Strategic Transportation Planning for the City of Vancouver, and Brian Mills, TransLink’s Director of Service and Infrastructure Planning. We’ve also invited a representative of the Vancouver Public Space Network. Then it’s your turn to question, comment, share your opinion.

When: Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Room 1600, SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre

Cost: Free

*Note* Guests are welcome to bring their lunch to City Conversations events.

Sponsored by Bing Thom Architects  and SFU Vancouver
Thanks to Wild Rice Restaurants