Business & Economy
September 17, 2020

Jimmy Pattison, The Environment & the E-bike Revolution

Sometimes change happens when you least expect it~as Natalie Obiko Pearson  and Divya Balji write in the Vancouver Sun Jimmy Pattison who built a multi-billion dollar  “empire from a single, loss-making Vancouver car dealership” acquired in 1961 has done the impossible.

Looking at how to invest and protect money in the post-Covid world, this billionaire is now focussing on the environment. As Mr. Pattison stated “We have got to focus on the environment, the environment, the environment. Anything that is negative, in my opinion, to do with the environment is going out of business sooner or later.”

To back that claim, Mr. Pattison took a hydrogen fuelled car around southwestern British Columbia on a weekend and declared that he was surprised at the experience.
“All I’ve driven is engines all my life and so when you get something that’s this smooth and fast and goes like a dart and quiet. Boy, I never drove anything nicer.”

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Join John Bela, Founder of Park(ing) Day to discuss the event’s creation and evolution into what we are now all experiencing with COVID.

Park(ing) Day began in 2005 as a temporary, one-day experiment in rethinking how we use streets as public space in our communities. Since then, the movement has matured and expanded into the field of tactical urbanism and participatory placemaking. Park(ing) Day has evolved and been formalized as City led Parklet programs expand across the world.

As part of a response to Covid-19, temporary use of streets and rights-of-way have exploded. What is the future of these temporary spaces? Will these short-term changes have long-term impacts on the design and planning of our streets and public spaces? Join John Bela, partner, and director at Gehl San Francisco for a presentation and discussion.
Attendees will receive Zoom Webinar Invite prior to Friday’s Webinar.

Date: Friday September 18, 2020

Time: 12 noon Pacific Time

For further information and to register please click here.

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Yesterday Vancouver’s City Manager, Sadhu Johnston resigned from the City. This is a very big thing.

The job of the City Manager is all encompassing. The position manages the city budget, manages city personnel, and reviews staff reports going to Council. The manager sets the tone in terms of city policy, direction, and interpretation. It is in many ways a thankless job with endless meetings, tight schedules, and long hours.

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Mayor Robert Crowell (who is known by everyone there as Mayor Bob) passed away last week while serving his third term as Mayor of Carson City Nevada.  He was a lawyer who specialized in governmental relations, and a retired Navy captain. But he was also a Mayor that knew every member of Carson City’s staff by name, was very active in the community and single handedly steered his city to a remarkable change~he advocated and completely overhauled the town’s  main street, which was previously a commercial thoroughfare and a marked highway.


By stewarding a car centric downtown into a walkable, bikeable destination, Mayor Bob changed the culture and commerce of his community, and made the downtown a place residents flocked to and spend time in.

The state capital of Nevada is Carson City which has a population of 56,000 and is thirty miles south of Reno Nevada. Despite being a state capital, Carson City is a town that was  forgotten by development. There are  many Victorian era buildings in the downtown, a legacy of its 1858 settlement that serviced nearby ranchers.

Despite a downtown that contained a lot of important heritage buildings as well as the grounds for the state capitol, the  four lane highway barrelled through the main street, with  traffic proceeding at  speed requiring steel fencing to corral pedestrians along sidewalks. Even with the barriers, pedestrians were maimed and killed while trying to cross the street.

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Vancouver Heritage Foundation – Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow


VHF’s Evening Lecture series continues this fall in a new virtual format. Join us from the comfort of home to enjoy fascinating pieces of Vancouver’s history from a selection of speakers. If you are unable to attend the scheduled lecture time, you may register ahead of time and a link to access the recording will be sent to you. Please note the link is only active for a specific period of time.

Vancouver’s first and most prolific Chinese photographer, Yucho Chow, operated a commercial studio in the heart of Chinatown from 1907–1949. He chronicled life during a tumultuous and transformative time in Canadian history and captured the faces of early marginalized communities including South Asians, Black Canadians, Indigenous residents, mixed-race families and Eastern European immigrants. For some communities, he was the only photographer willing to take their portraits. Sadly, his negatives – and the individual stories and history they chronicled – were all discarded when his studio closed. Chinatown curator Catherine Clement spent over eight years uncovering Yucho Chow’s photographs – one family at a time, one photo at a time, one story at a time.

In 2019, Catherine mounted the first-ever solo exhibition of Chow’s work. That exhibit created a flood of new submissions which are now in a book. She will share the story of Yucho Chow and show some of these remarkable never-before-seen private photographs and stories of diverse, early communities. She will also explore what these images tell us about Vancouver’s history and the role Chinatown played in the lives of so many groups.

Date:Tuesday, October 27th
Time: 7pm – 8:30pm
Registration charge: $16 / $10 (incl. tax)

Please note: This lecture will be offered online. Information on how to attend will be emailed to registrants.

To register, click here for further information.

Images: YuchoChow

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We have a culture that makes excuses about the fact we don’t require a public basic service for a basic human need. Instead of providing public washrooms it has defaulted to businesses, restaurants and department stores to provide public washroom facilities.

It was Stanley Woodvine, The Georgia Straight  writer who wrote on his twitter account how dire the Covid pandemic was on the homeless throughout the city. Without libraries and community centres open to use washroom facilities, and with park washrooms closed, there are no options. Mr. Woodvine recalled what happened in San Diego between 2016 and 2018 when a Hepatitis A outbreak occurred. The outbreak was directly linked to the lack of public washroom and hand washing facilities, and sadly San Diego had been told by two grand juries investigating municipal government to install more washrooms downtown. The reason San Diego did not do it? Financial.

But with 444 cases of hepatitis and  the unwanted international attention,  the city installed new washrooms and initiated more street cleaning, bringing downtown San Diego’s public washroom total to 21. No matter what the cost, ensuring every citizen has access to a washroom is basic human dignity, and a tenet of public health.

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Another archival image found by Dianna Sampson of several people in Stanley Park on January 9, 1944. Each of the women have hats, and the child is bundled in a snowsuit.  It appears that the women with children have trundled their baby carriages in on the hard ground.

This was during war time and before the Battle of Normandy that waged on from June to August of 1944.

In July of this year the St. Roch would leave Vancouver to go through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic returning in October. For the first time this year a day care was set up for the children of soldiers, and the City of Odessa, Russia would become Vancouver’s sister city.

And in September? A new product was introduced in Vancouver, the contact lens.

You can read more about this year in Vancouver here.

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Earlier this year I wrote about “London Throat” which most people experience if you have stayed any amount of time in London England. It turns out that  vanadium found in brake dust and in diesel exhaust contributes to “London throat” and also has an adverse impact on human health and immunity.

A recent study showed that  55% of traffic pollution is from non-exhaust particles, and 20% of that is brake dust. The dust is caused by the friction of the brake rotor grinding on the brake pads when a vehicle is braked, and the dust becomes airborne. What this also means is that zero emission vehicles which have been vaunted as the environmental salvo to the internal combustion engines of 20th century vehicles are still going to contribute to brake dust.

Price Tags publisher Andrew Walsh also sent on this article by Thom Bennett in Air Quality News that found that it was not only brakes but also tires that were emitting particles.  The British Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) noted that particle pollution from tires was completely unregulated, and with the trend to  heavier vehicles like SUVs and electric vehicles, emissions from tires (called non-exhaust emissions or NEE) was problematic.

The BBC’s Roger Harrabin writes that brake, tires and road surface wear “directly contribute to well over half of particle pollution from road transport.No legislation is currently in place specifically to limit or reduce [these] particles.”

While European legislation is driving down pollutants from exhaust, as more vehicles are used on the road pollutants will increase from other unregulated sources. A researcher with Emissions Analytics found that tire particle pollution was one thousand times worse than car exhaust emissions.

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Word Vancouver is back from September 19th to the 27th and this year they have virtual offerings which can be viewed here.

The purpose of the festival is to “foster the joy of the written word and inspire creativity by bringing together readers and writers from all backgrounds in an annual, inclusive and free literary arts festival, connecting local communities and celebrating literary arts through the collective experience.”

There’s one event that will be of particular interest to readers, and that is “Where History is Headed” with four well known Vancouver authors.

“Vancouver has changed and grown so much in the recent years, that today, books published on the history of Vancouver it seems have never been more popular. But so has the spectrum of the histories presented, with a broader look at the people, events, and social histories of different cultures in Vancouver, and even before the city was here.

Crime histories, entertainment and business histories of the city add to the array and mythology of the city and Photography books on Vancouver from Herzog to Girard have come bestsellers: Vancouver history has never been more popular—and with a wide age group of readers.

How did it happen—and more importantly, where is it all headed? Will books remain the most popular medium, or will other formats of media take a greater role? With a panel of Vancouver history authors and writers, and guests, join what will be a engaging and revealing discussion: Where History is Headed.”

Moderator: Aaron Chapman, Vancouver After Dark (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Aaron Chapman is a writer, historian, and musician with a special interest in Vancouver’s entertainment history. He is the author of The Last Gang in Town, the story of Vancouver’s Clark Park Gang; Liquor, Lust, and the Law, the story of Vancouver’s Penthouse Nightclub, now available in a second edition; and Live at the Commodore, a history of the Commodore Ballroom that won the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (BC Book Prizes) in 2015. In 2020 he was elected as a member of the Royal Historical Society. He lives in Vancouver.


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Hank Robar lives in Potsdam, Upper New York State, a town with about 15,000 people. The main claim to fame for Potsdam is Potsdam sandstone  which  was widely used as a building material in the 1800’s.

Mr. Robar asked the town to rezone his property in the downtown of Potsdam in 2004 for a “Dunkin’ Donuts” location. That request was denied by the village, and Mr. Robar’s began his collection of porcelain toilets and urinals on three of the seven properties he owns in Potsdam, including of course the spurned site for the doughnut shop.

Of course the town tried to have the toilet bowls on the properties removed, claiming they were unsightly, a hazard, and not well maintained. Mr. Robar has argued that his toilet bowls are public art and free speech, and pointed out that he immediately replaces one of the toilet displays if they become cracked, and that he mows and takes care of the grass around his display.

In much the same way as Bill Heine argued for an art form when he stuck a shark on the roof of his townhouse in Oxford England Mr. Robar argued for his right for free expression and said he would take the town to trial if necessary.He then launched a lawsuit.

The story was subsequently picked up by Edward Helmore with The Guardian that provides some assistance to Mr. Robar’s art and free expression claim.”

As his attorney stated “Mr Robar’s art started as a political protest but it has expanded now into artistic expression. He still values the political protest nature of the art but it’s evolved into one of artistic expression.”

Journalist Edward Helmore points out that there’s a long history of toilets as sculpture commencing with Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “Fountain” which was part of the avant garde movement, and even Maurizio Cattelan’s 18 karat gold toilet. Produced in 2016, this American made toilet has had critical acclaim, and was recently stolen. It still has not been found.

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