History & Heritage
March 24, 2019

VHF Walking Tours with John Atkin

From the Vancouver Heritage Foundation: 2019 Walking Tours with John Atkin.

Starting in May, John will explore the industrial heritage and history found across Vancouver. John’s walks are extremely popular so we recommend signing up early if you’d like to attend. Both May dates are filling quickly and are close to capacity. A full list of May to October dates and topics is now up on the Walking Tour page.

Select Saturdays from 10am to 12pm

Register for all walks here, $16



In 2019 join John Atkin to explore Vancouver’s industrial heritage and history


June 8: Vernon Street

A lost waterfront, duck hunting ground, indigenous portage route and home to the arts and taxis.


July 6: From Creek to Trains

The eastern reaches of False Creek were filled for rail yards, passenger depots and a home for industry in the early years of the 20th Century and change is once again on the horizon.


July 20: Shipyards, Salt and the Olympics

The southeast corner of False Creek has become one of the city’s newest residential neighbourhoods leaving behind its heavy industrial past.


August 10: Beer, Boxes and Tents

Once home to a number of industries including a brewery, Jones Tent and Awning and a host of other firms attracted by the rail access, the district today is an interesting mix of modern construction and heritage buildings.


August 31: Vegetables, Furniture and Flowers

Chinese vegetable wholesalers and retailers rubbed shoulders with other small scale industry on the edge of Mount Pleasant and the fertile valley between Main St and Fraser St.


October 5: Foundries, Lumber and Baseball

Before the construction of the Granville Street Bridge, the area was home to the Capilano Stadium and the local baseball team. Foundries and lumber yards were mixed in with a collection of houses and churches in the surrounding neighbourhood.


October 19: Take Me to the River

For thousands of years the Fraser River and its shoreline has been an important food source and transportation corridor. It has long been a major industrial
artery and is now an emerging residential area.

Read more »


By the post-election decisions being made by some of the smaller, more affluent municipalities in Metro, the messages seem to be: no more density, no more height, no more affordable housing (and, rarely stated but assumed: the people who might live in it if they come from ‘outside’).

In North Vancouver District, as previously reported in PT:

District of North Vancouver council has spiked another affordable housing project, this time before plans for it were released to the public.

Council voted behind closed doors in January to terminate a proposal from the non-profit Hollyburn Family Services Society for a 100-unit, all-below market rental building on a piece of district-owned land on Burr Place.

In Port Moody:

A proposal to build 45 townhomes on six properties along St. George Street in Port Moody is “far too dense,” with not enough green space, said city councillors who rejected the project at their meeting last Tuesday. …

Mayor Rob Vagramov criticized the proposal for being too dense even though it’s located in Port Moody’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone, which encourages higher density living.

In White Rock:

Read more »

In a single day, a chilling winter turns to a summer-like spring.  The seawall is packed; the bikes are out.  We look to the patios and parklets for conviviality and amusement.

These are the scenes captured in the videos of the ‘small places’ team – Brian Gould and Kathleen Corey.  PT has featured much of their work over the years, but here’s another one that’s perfect for the moment:

Read more »

Only they call it the ‘pied-à-terre  tax.  

From the New York Times:

A plan to tax the rich on multimillion-dollar second homes in New York City has rapidly moved closer to reality, as legislative leaders in Albany and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have all signed off on the idea as a funding stream for the city’s beleaguered subway system. …

Under the Senate’s bill, a pied-à-terre tax would institute a yearly tax on homes worth $5 million or more, and would apply to homes that do not serve as the buyer’s primary residence.


Same arguments too:

Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, said the tax would not be well received within the business community. She suggested that such a tax … could further push the wealthy to reconsider living here. …

But Moses Gates, a vice president at the Regional Plan Association, disputed the notion that New Yorkers would leave the city. The association believes that most wealthy pied-à-terre owners would pay the tax. If they chose to sell, then the property has the chance of being purchased by a full-time city resident, who would then be subject to income and sales tax.

Read more »

Back in October, PT declared the new roof decks on top of the Vancouver Central Library “Best new public space in Vancouver”.  Spaces, actually, since the two top floors provide meeting rooms, quiet reading areas, displays, a theatre and three wonderful outdoor decks, along with gardens and amazing views.  But it is missing one key thing.


Without that caffeinated attraction, there’s less incentive to take elevators for a casual meeting or get-away.  Great public spaces do require some kind of programming or attraction to generate the ‘pull of other people’ – the sense that this is a good place to hang because other people are doing so too.

Otherwise there’s a sense of loneliness.


There’s a catch-22 here of course: not enough people to justify a coffee bar, no coffee bar to attract more people. The economics would be hard to justify.  Perhaps a very slick stand-alone espresso machine might do the job.  Let’s ask Starbucks for a contribution for the greater good.


Addendum:  Michael Gordon added a comment to the first post on the Library Square roof that’s worth reprinting here:

I think among the key ingredients of a good public space are:

  •  a relaxed balance between gathering, socializing and movement
  •  movable tables and chairs
  •  sunshine and ideally a warm microclimate being protected from wind
  •  easy access to food
  •  people
  •  parents feel comfortable leading go of a toddler’s hand  and letting them wander a bit (need to be careful about folks on wheels riding through gathering spaces)

It seems that the Library roof has all of the above – except for  “easy access to food.”  Perhaps, though, the fact that it requires an elevator trip to get there is sufficient discouragement.


Another addendum: Dianna notes that there’s a small, elegant Blue Bottle coffee bar on the roof at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 




Read more »


One of the greatest things you can do is volunteer, and even better learn about your city while doing that. The City of Vancouver is now seeking volunteers for their Civic Advisory Committees for the following committees:

Arts and Culture Advisory Committee
Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee
Civic Asset Naming Committee
LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee
Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee
Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee
Renters Advisory Committee
Seniors’ Advisory Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee
Vancouver Food Policy Council
Women’s Advisory Committee
Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee
First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel
Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee

Read more »

A fundraising evening benefiting the Arthur Erickson Foundation programs and initiatives, including the Arthur Erickson House and Garden. Tickets are very limited, and will be released first come, first served.

. March 28, 5 to 8 pm

The Evergreen Building – 1285 West Pender Street

Hors d’oeuvres and first drink included; cash bar

Price is $125 each (with a $100 tax receipt).  Click here.


5:00 Reception and Tours in the renovated main floor IBI Group studios in the Evergreen Building. At 5:15 and 5:30 IBI staff will take optional small groups of guests to their studios on upper floors, visiting the restored decks with their spectacular harbour views.

6:00 Talks: “Telling the Evergreen Story”

Architecture Critic/Curator Trevor Boddy will act as host, giving a short critical introduction: “Evergreen’s Sources and Influences: Plan 56 to Bjarke Ingels.”

  • AEA Project Architect Barry Johns of Edmonton/Phoenix: “Evergreen’s Design in Detail.”
  • Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: “Keeping Evergreen: Planting and Replanting the Decks.”
  • IBI Group President David Thom: “Why We Chose the Evergreen Building and Fought to Preserve It.”
  • Francl Architects Principal Stefan Aepli: “Erickson’s Continuity: Shigeru Ban’s Design Rising Next Door.” 

Read more »

It’s worth watching what happens in Seattle today: Its council will vote whether to allow taller buildings and denser construction in 27 neighborhood hubs and some other areas – affecting about 6 percent of land zoned single-family.

But the more interesting story is the zoning proposal that didn’t occur, as told in the Seattle Times:


It was July 29, 2015, and Seattle stood at a crossroads. A panel convened by then-Mayor Ed Murray had recommended buildings in neighborhood hubs and denser housing options everywhere, angering some homeowners who wanted to shield blocks of single-family houses from development.

So Murray made a decision still resonating today. City Hall would leave most of those blocks alone and move ahead with upzones of one or several stories only in and around the 27 hubs and along arterials, he said, sacrificing the more controversial proposal in order to protect a deal with developers that could yield thousands of apartments for low-income households.

The strategy may have paid off, because the council is expected to approve the targeted upzone plan while requiring developers to include some low-income apartments in their buildings or pay into an affordable housing fund. …

“It was the smart move, 100 percent,” Councilmember Rob Johnson said. “I learned an important lesson, which is to have a controversial element of your plan that you can surrender.”


The whole story is worth the read: so many of the issues Seattle is dealing with are similar to (hell, exactly the same as) Vancouver.  

Read more »

Do you know who Seiichi Miyake is? With many thanks to City of North Vancouver councillor Tony Valente for passing this #Googledoodle along about Mr. Miyake and the incredible contribution he made for sight impaired people.

In 1965 Mr. Miyake who is an engineer developed “Tenji” or tactile blocks to warn vision impaired people where to stand when trying to board trains. His invention has been adopted globally and is part of the sidewalk and public realm in many countries. As well the Tenji blocks are known as “truncated domes”, “tactile warning surfaces”, “detectable warning tiles”  and “tactile pavement.” 

Read more »