December 5, 2018

Riding an early SkyTrain in 1986 with Jack Webster

There is an extraordinary video on YouTube with Vancouver television host Jack Webster taking an early ride on the SkyTrain from New Westminster to downtown in January 1986. The video has some funny angles~Mr. Webster whose Scottish brogue made him often undecipherable has to pay fifty cents for a senior’s fare on the bus, and does not have the change. He has to dismount the bus and walk across to the station, something he grouses about.

He is greeted by Michael O’Connor, who was the Chief Administrative Officer for the former “GVRD”, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver) and later became head of B.C. Transit.  Mr. O’Connor now heads up NaiKun, the project harnessing wind power off Haida Gwai. The “Mr. Hodgson” who is chairman of the GVRD board is actually the highly respected  Stuart Hodgson who was the first Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and worked at bringing services to run at the  community level in remote arctic towns.

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Christopher Cheung (one of the new generation of urbanist writers) asked the question in The Tyee.  The record says it’s in Edmonton:

… in Edmonton’s suburb of York, across from a Catholic elementary school, there is a cairn and a plaque at the Brentwood Village townhouses celebrating that project as the first condo built in Alberta and Canada in 1967.


In B.C., discovered Cheung, the first one is in Port Moody:

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There are two news stories from China that describe how much that country is changing not only global economies but world politics. From comes some startling statistics on how much impact China’s outbound travel tourism industry has globally.

Many hotels  now offer service in Mandarin, free wifi  (a feature that has been offered free for years in hotels in China) and hot water pots.

For the entire world travel industry, Chinese tourists leaving that country add 16.7 percent of the added value and create 25 percent of all the jobs globally related to tourism.

Not only did Chinese tourism boost international tourism by ten percent, 130  million trips were made by Chinese citizens last year. This figure is increasing annually by 7 per  cent, with tourism from China accounting for 20 percent of global travel revenue. It is a very big group of people travelling with a lot of spending power.

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In some commentary about our new council, ‘Vancouver’ has been referenced as though it was a dominantly white city – and hence the presumption of an underlying racism reflected in the complexion of council, where all but one member is white.  That reminded me to repost an item Price Tags ran in May:

Vancouver's New Majority

More than ever, facts matter – and the conclusions that follow from them.  If much of the electorate is presumed to vote on the basis of race, then why did not people of colour who comprise the majority, whether in Vancouver or Richmond, not do so in numbers that could have resulted in greater diversity?  Were there other factors that motivated them?  And does that justify interventions in how we vote or structure council sufficient to achieve some greater good based on identity?

Talking about race and ethnicity can be like treading across a field of land mines.  Emotions flare quickly, and damage can be done.  Civility, it seems, is as necessary as a willingness to confront our failures: a willingness to get along.

We’re the civitas.  We’re all in this together.

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Price Tags noted in this post that The Berkeley at 1770 Davie may be the first test for the new council on permitting ‘transformation by renovation’ (what some call ‘renovictions’) of the post-war highrise rental housing stock.

The green-and-tan tower was one of the first to be built at the start of the two-decade boom that saw more than 200 rental highrises constructed within the square mile of the West End – one of the largest concentrations of such accommodation in Canada.  Tens of thousands of modest units still serve a lower-middle-income population in a city where it is effectively impossible to replace such a housing stock without subsidy or massive bonus density.

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Despite the Mayor’s Council and its 10-year transportation plan that’s been around for a while now, along with a bunch of hard-to-get Federal and Provincial money, Surrey’s new mayor Doug McCallum wants to change it.

Mayor McCallum wants transit, but on a new route in Surrey to new destinations, using different (Skytrain) technology. Blow up the Mayor’s Council’s 10-year plan, and blow up the City of Surrey’s Community (Land Use) Plan.

And it’s sort of late in the game. More background HERE and HERE.

Not surprisingly, there has been reaction from several parties to this development:

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One of the more spectacular displays of  landscape and colour is at the Asian Centre just off West Mall at the University of British Columbia.


And to the east of the Asian Centre is the Bell Tower, commemorating the 2009 visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Like a jewel box, the Bell Tower frames the view from each side, presenting a different sculpted view. It is that kind of Fall in Vancouver.



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Catnip for Scot.  From The Globe and Mail:

People are still flocking to the suburbs. And the experts are still complaining about it. But after more than half a century, isn’t it time to finally admit Canadians would simply rather live in the burbs and figure out how to make that happen? …

Admittedly, suburban living creates significant issues around commuting time, energy use and municipal servicing costs that require careful consideration. But the suburb-as-pejorative routine is grotesquely overdone. …

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