Governance & Politics
January 19, 2021

Making it Harder for Mr. Peanut to Run for Vancouver Mayor


It’s no secret that when election ballots were alphabetized in the City of Vancouver that they seemed to favour people who had names at the top of the alphabet. You can take a look at this list of Mayors and Councils dating back to 1887. From my unscientific examination that there appears to be a heck of a lot of Councillors with last names beginning with the letters  “A” to “D”.

In 2005, six councillors had their last names with the initials “A” to “D”. In 2008 there were four Councillors that had their last names starting with  “A” to “D” initials. The City of Vancouver Council has ten members, as well as the Mayor.

If you have a slate of councillors you want to get elected with, knowing that their last name started with a letter from the front of the alphabet has historically helped.

It made sense to randomize the ballot, but what to do with the very long slate of names, many names people voting for Councillor might be unfamiliar with?  Alex Strachan reported in a 1993 article in the Vancouver Sun  that “studies show voters choosing a slate from the list of 40 names or more may choose several selections at the top of the list before realizing they have a few choices left”. 

Sadly it appears to be human nature that people go to the bottom of the list and then work their way up~”overlooking the names in the middle”.

In 1993 the ballot was randomized, with the order of ranking on the ballot being decided by names being drawn from a ballot box. The successful mayor, Phillip Owen was number two on the ballot; his main opponent, Libby Davies was in the 11th spot.

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The Duke of Data at Simon Fraser University’s City Program Andy Yan suggested it first: if you have Christmas lights up on your condo railing or your abode, why not keep them up longer this year to get through the dark, dull, rainy part of each Metro Vancouver winter. No one will judge you, especially this year.

This idea of bringing in more light in the darkest part of winter is feasible too with the energy efficient outdoor lighting now widely used. And the idea of keeping Christmas lights up (or jazzing them up with colours that are not so directly Christmas festive) has been adopted elsewhere.

The City of Kitchener Ontario’s mayor Berry Vrbanovic is encouraging people to keep their Christmas lights up through January stating: “Seeing our neighbourhoods lit up with lights and decorations has been a wonderful way to feel connected as a community – I love the idea of stretching that festive atmosphere into the new year as we continue to get outside for safe neighbourhood walks and physical activity.”

And in Salem Virginia, residents are urged to keep Christmas lights up to honour the front line healthcare workers through January. This is part of a national campaign urging municipalities and organizations across the United States to keep Christmas lights up until January 31, and to spread the word on social media with the hashtag ##LightsUp4Heroes. In Colorado,the initiative is being embraced state wide.

There is also a historical precedent~in Great Britain, the feasting, decorations, Christmas cakes and puddings used to continue for a much longer period than what we typically do today, in tucking everything away by early January.

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A quote I don’t remember from “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” but, thanks to Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times, one worth repeating:

“Cities were once the most helpless and devastated victims of disease, but they became great disease conquerors …

“All the apparatus of surgery, hygiene, microbiology, chemistry, telecommunications, public health measures, teaching and research hospitals, ambulances and the like, which people not only in cities but also outside them depend upon for the unending war against premature mortality, are fundamentally products of big cities and would be inconceivable without big cities.”


For those who believe populous cities of massive density are, um, toast because of their pandemic vulnerability, one word:


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If ever there was a year that threw out most predictions, this is the one. On November 20, 2020, what do we know will happen by this time next year? We are asking readers to let us know.

We are all nine months into living differently and working from home. Everyone knows what a Zoom meeting is. We worry how public transit will survive, keep six feet apart from people we don’t know for physical distancing, and think about wearing masks and washing hands a lot.

Nine months in there are also some surprises. Even though there are less people that have secure salaries, and the borders are closed housing prices in Vancouver have still stayed constant, perhaps reflecting the last flurry of activity before mortgage rates and lending tighten up.

But what will things be like one year from now on 11.20.2021?

That was the subject of conversation at a physically distanced meal  at the legendary Pink Pearl restaurant on East Hastings with the Duke of Data, Simon Fraser University’s  Director of the City Program Andy Yan.

Take a look at the predictive predilections forecast over dim sum at the Pink Pearl Restaurant on East Hastings below.

Agree or disagree?

Now is the time to offer your own predictions in the comments section.

What changes do you perceive will happen by this time next year?

We will of course take a look at all the predictive  predilections, and invite you to a Dim Sum predilection party to discuss what was forecast/what  really happened to be held at the Pink Pearl restaurant in one year.

Here’s our 2020 Dim Sum Predilections for 2021:

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If you have not been on a walking tour or an event and met Vancouver historian John Atkin, now is your chance to hear him moderate a fascinating panel on the impact and outcomes of the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic.

The 1918-19 influenza outbreak and our current CoViD-19 pandemic have many parallels in government action, public reaction, and a concern for the economy.

Join our panelists Dr Margaret Andrews, Professor of History at Washington State University  and  Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan for an enlightening discussion on pandemics then and now.

Funds raised for the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, whose contributions support the work of the City of Vancouver Archives, including making materials from its holdings available online.

This event is sure to be oversubscribed so get your reservation in. The suggested cost is $15.00 CAD plus tax, and if you wish to provide a donation over $25.00, you will get a tax receipt.

Date: Thursday December 3, 2020

Time: 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

You can reserve your space by clicking on this link.

Image: VIA


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In the last week I wrote about the house at 2825 Clark Drive and the family, Edith, Arthur and Willie Millachip who proudly stand in front of that house in 1913. I had purchased the card with this remarkable family scene  in Prince Edward Island. After finding that the house was still standing (although now devoid of its handsome shingle style wood exterior ) readers helped me piece together their Vancouver story and find the Arlington Virginia branch of the Millachip family.

Sadly the Millachip name has died out with the demise of Arthur’s son Willie who died of tuberculosis at Tranquille B.C. at the age of 39, and with the death of Arthur’s brother John in World War One. Called “The Great War”, this conflict wiped out four members of this extended family~John Millachip and his brothers in law, George, Edmund and James Spencer.

We stand in the 21st century with not a lot of first hand stories of what happened in the First and Second World Wars. Those conflicts resulted in over 103,000 Canadian soldiers being killed with  wounded soldiers numbering over 227,000. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of the city of Kingston Ontario being wiped out, and a population the size of Abbotsford B.C. being wounded. It was a devastating loss to the economy and to the social fabric of the country.

Richard Zeutenhorst in Arlington Virginia sent me the story of Arthur’s brother John Millachip. John  had settled in  Canada along with  his brother Arthur. John was born in Britain in 1883 and immigrated to Canada  in 1911. He had married Sylvia Frederick Webb in Winnipeg in 1911. John joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force for the Great War and was in France in 1915. In 1916 He was reported missing at the Battle of the Somme and his body was never found. His widow Sylvia was an active volunteer in Vancouver and remarried in 1924.

But it was not just Arthur’s brother that died in the First World War. Arthur’s younger  sister Grace Emily Millachip had married Lieutenant George Spencer during the war, in 1915. George survived being torpedoed on a ship in February 1918 only to be fatally wounded on His Majesty’s Ship Iris in the raid on Zeebrugge. He died that day. A month later, his widow Grace had a daughter named Iris, after the ship’s name.

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You have seen it in Vancouver~long lines of vehicles  in the drive-in lanes at McDonald’s in Kerrisdale when there’s no one inside the quick serve restaurant. You may have wondered why there were so many people  idling in a queue, and just assumed it was an anomaly. But apparently it is not, and as News 1130’s Monica Gul reports Dr. Sylvain Charlebois who is the director of Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University is studying this phenomena. Dr. Charlebois has called it “the fake commute”.

It does make sense in that Tim Hortons and McDonalds have been reporting a doubling or tripling of business at some drive-in locations, and the locations that expected a 30 percent drop in revenue quickly gained ground. Sadly the drive-in quick service chains have been able to adapt well to the pandemic and will emerge with healthy profit margins unlike the independent retailers and restaurants that are not set up for quick serve window accessed meals.

There is a psychological reason that people are leaving home to pick up a coffee whether by foot, bike or vehicle. As Dr. Charlebois notes, people don’t just get up in the morning and sit to work at the home office station, and leaving to get coffee elsewhere creates a regularity and a “commute” to the home office.

Which means that even though people aren’t necessarily going to work, physically, or going to some place, people are still basically driving around or busing around to get their morning fix…A lot of people are struggling to physically distance themselves from their work.

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Cruise ships have a life of thirty years before they need to be revamped.

But in Liaga Turkey which is just north of Izmir on the Turkish coast there has been a surprising increase in cruise ships being beached here to be wrecked.  One of the cruise ships being scrapped is the former Sovereign of the Seas, the first mega cruise ship launched in 1988 with 2,278 passengers.

Other ships being wrecked include the MS Monarch, Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Inspiration.

In March 2020 American authorities issued a no-sail order for all cruise ships that remains in place.”  Cruise ships were one of the first places that the Covid pandemic appeared.

Where  previously the wrecking yards at Aliaga focused upon freighter ships, cruise ships have become a major part of the dismantling operation. It takes 2,500 workers six months to take apart a passenger ship, with ship’s furnishing recycled to hotel operators.

The volume of dismantled steel has almost doubled to 1.2 million tons since January.

The cruise industry generates about 200 billion dollars in global economic activity and provides one million jobs.

This YouTube video below by Chris Frame describes the scrapping process and how some of the items from ships, including full panelled dining rooms are reused ashore.


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Some observations and commentary on these curious and conflicting times, as seen on a ride from Kits to the West End.

On Overdose Awareness Day, hundreds of shoes tied to the Burrard Bridge ballustrade:


Under the bridge, a notification, with overlaid commentary, on the Squamish Senakw project:


Under the Cambie Bridge, some rhyming, scathing observations:


In the West End’s Jim Deva Plaza, colour-coordinated opinion:


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