Design & Development
January 18, 2019

The Friday File: When Feuding Neighbours are Rock Stars

It turns out that famous rock stars have similar neighbour complaints when undergoing renovations in their personal houses. The difference is they can add a dimension to the dispute that is befitting a rock star.

As the BBC reports Robbie Williams the best-selling solo artist in the United Kingdom lives next to Jimmy Page, the founder and lead guitarist for the group Led Zeppelin. All was relatively quiet until Robbie Williams after five years of permit applications and planning, obtained approval with conditions to build a swimming pool in the ground floor of his house in London’s Holland Park.

Jimmy Page has lived next door for 46 years  in a heritage Grade 1 listed mansion and was afraid that the excavating for the pool next door would seriously impact his foundation.

Normal people might go back and engage their municipalities, or lawyer up. But not these two rock stars. Robbie Williams turned up the volume of Black Sabbath music projecting to Mr. Page’s property, adding in Pink Floyd and Deep Purple songs, which “he knows upsets” Mr. Page.

Robbie Williams has also been dressing up as Mr. Page’s fellow band member Robert Plant, complete with a long hair wig and a rotund stuffing on his midriff.

All of this was documented in a letter to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. No surprise that a spokesman for Robbie Williams called the complaint “a complete fabrication and nonsense.”

You can take a look at the YouTube video below from last summer where Jimmy Page described the situation, and the restoration he has done on Tower House.

 

 

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Former Township of Langley Mayor Rick Green is advocating for 99km of passenger rail to connect Surrey to Chilliwack.

In a letter posted on Medium yesterday, Green’s proposal includes a map depicting a starting point at the Pattullo Bridge, with stops throughout Surrey, the Langleys, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, and ultimately ending in Chilliwack.

The image is notable for harkening back to the days of paper creases and highlighters (the cocktail napkin did not make publication), and for showing the world the lengths we may go to service Sumas.

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From our local correspondents Michael and Dianna:

Recently, in a break between rain squalls, Toronto transplant Himy Syed chalked an urban ‘labyrinth’, featuring our solar system.

With orbits looping across the pavers at the False Creek end of Manitoba Street, the elaborate chalk art includes a mysterious Kuiper Belt object thought to circle the sun, far beyond Pluto’s orbit.

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I have been writing about the fact that Vancouver has a dearth of public washrooms in downtown areas and also along the major transit routes.

Let’s talk about  Portland’s success in not only getting their very own designed bathroom available to the public, but one so cool it even has its own patent. And this is nothing new, Portland was busy installing their fifth public washroom in 2012, customized with art by students in a local primary school.  You can see the YouTube of the official unveiling of the Portland Loo below.

The design process for this washroom as outlined in CityLab was unique in that Portland looked at other municipalities’ public toilets and realized that the privacy of them allowed for “nefarious” activities to occur in them.

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You have to like any city planner who says the best piece of advice he has is to learn to “listen really well”. But Jason Thorne is no ordinary planner~as the City of Hamilton’s general manager of planning and economic development for six years he’s seen the historic downtown revitalized and Hamilton  emerge as a “music town” with venues and  enthusiastic performers coming to the city.

Located on Lake Ontario with a population on the plus side of 500,000, Hamilton has unique opportunities to reinvent itself with Mr Thorne’s very broad portfolio, which includes “land use planning and economic development, but also tourism and culture, transportation, bylaw enforcement, business licensing and parking” .

The Globe and Mail’s Alex Bozikovic describes how the small stuff like “live music, street festivals, helping cyclists get around creates a sense of place and pride.”

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In recent years, critics have accused both Liberal and NDP cabinets of rushing through inadequate electoral reforms via BC’s Local Election Campaign Financing Act, or LECFA. The most recent round of changes took effect last April, impacting the 2018 municipal elections across the province.

What were they all about? Are BC municipalities in-line with campaign financing limits and disclosure requirements at the provincial and federal levels? What is “the dark money”, and why is that still a thing in local politics?

John Whistler, financial agent for the Green Party of Vancouver, joins Gord in the studio to dig into the details of the recent changes — how they impacted candidates and voters last fall, and additional changes he’d like to see in how election campaigns are conducted in British Columbia.

Want more? In October, Gord published John’s 5-part series on “Failure and Reform: BC’s Local Elections Campaign Financing Act” — simply search for ‘LECFA’ on the blog.

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There are some pretty troublesome trends that are in a parallel universe to the direction that cities are heading. While towns and places are encouraging walking and cycling to enhance retail bottom line and to make citizens healthier and more connected, the automotive industry is involved in their last private ownership/carbon gasp. That involves trucks and SUV’s, colossal rolling living rooms insulating occupants from the surrounding landscape, and splashy new items just unveiled in Las Vegas.

Reuters.com reports on the trend of  vehicles becoming “a display centred world”. Part of that trend shows screens  expanding on car dashboards including one that is 48 inches (1.22m) long in the Byton M-Byte car.

“Besides the center console, instrument clusters, which house driving controls, and rear-seat entertainment displays are both growing in size. Automakers like Audi (VOWG_p.DE) that combine the center console and instrument cluster often refer to a “cockpit,” necessitating a wide, sweeping screen, like Byton’s, and more consolidated computing power.”

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When talking about pedestrian environments I am referring to walkable, inviting places that include the most vulnerable in our communities~the very young, the disenfranchised, those with mobility challenges, and the elderly. This is accessible mobility for everyone in the pedestrian environment.

Why is it so challenging to maintain good walking environments with smooth, continuous sidewalk, curb cuts correctly formed in the right locations at intersections, lots of visual interest and places to go to and through? Why do these pedestrian environments, which have been  proven to be great for enhancing retail’s bottom line seen as an add on in Council reports, instead of having their own distinct plan?

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Before we go any further into the year, I wanted to say how grateful I am to the folks that have been writing up a media storm about municipal issues. City hall is one place that is for all citizens, and everyone has a right to know what the city is doing, and how it impacts you. Writers like Jen St. Denis, Christopher Cheung, Melody Ma, Justin McElroy, Frances Bula, Kerry Gold, Dan Fumano,Daphne Bramham, The Cambie Report and many informed others have been discussing  municipal issues so that they are accessible to everyone. And with that knowledge comes how to have your voice and ideas heard at city hall.

In the City of Vancouver there is a new council following ten years of a council dominated by people under the “Vision” slate. A decade is a long time, and of course there were thoughts that the city would substantially change when that majority was robustly ousted in the last election. The Vision party was also part of the Americanization of City Hall   process, where long serving current City Manager Judy Rogers was  abruptly fired, and a new city manager, who would follow the new Vision political party direction, Dr. Penny Ballem brought in. This is how it works in many United States cities, where the city manager position is politicized.

In the past,  “Vancouver experienced great success with their city manager model, where the position provided a constant hand on the wheel at city hall, despite political changes. This has meant that policy previously approved by other councils could be directed and implemented.”

As Dan Fumano writes in the Vancouver Sun the new City of Vancouver council is working in a different way. Together.

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