November 5, 2019

No Days Off for Sarah Blyth or the Downtown Eastside

Sarah Blyth first started to see the spike in drug overdoses in the Downtown Eastside community in 2016.

From her vantage point as manager of the DTES Market, she couldn’t help but see it. People were literally dying in the street.

So she decided to do something about it. Rob sums it up: “You saw the need, set up a tent, and tried to save lives”. Yup.

Blyth’s role as founder and Executive Director of the Overdose Prevention Society is the latest in a series of contributions to the city by a person who, as much as anyone here, can speak to having lived a life of privilege, marginalization, social entrepreneurship, leadership, selflessness, and grace under extreme pressure. (And she’s not even halfway through.)

Blyth, the former skateboard advocate, Park Board Commissioner, and City Council candidate, fields the tough questions from Gord — specifically on the question of safe supply and induced demand. They circle around housing insecurity and authority in Oppenheimer Park, tangle on addiction, and there’s a quick tease about Tyndall’s machine.

And of course, the big question — will she run again? Maybe she should.

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Here’s a guest post from friend-of-the-blog Peter Ladner:

I recently got my most retweets ever, for agreeing with Patrick Condon and Scott Hein’s call in The Tyee to convert half the land in the City of Vancouver’s municipal golf courses into much-needed housing, and turn the other half into real parks.

Mmm, that warm feeling of people flooding in to agree with me! Like! Like! Like!

Then I read the pushback comments. Then I changed my mind.

I now agree with those who say we need to save the golf-course green space, that we have plenty of other space for more housing all over town in the single-family zones. I realized part of my enthusiasm for the golf course conversion was the prospect of converting those golf greens into more accessible and varied public parks.

I mention this because “changing minds” (advocacy, campaigning, rallying, persuading, writing op-eds, sloganeering…) is such a large part of what so many of us do these days. But it’s all push and no followup. Outing and celebrating our own mind changes is seldom practised. It’s not easy to do. But only we can do it.

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As reported by Sandor Gayarmati in the Delta Optimist and obvious to anyone following Delta Council, there’s been growing disagreement  between the Mayor of Delta, George Harvie, and  Delta Councillor Lois Jackson, who was Mayor of Delta from 1999 to 2018 and actually started serving on Delta Council in 1972.

The Delta council dynamics are daunting~Mr. Harvie was formerly Delta’s city manager from 2002 to 2018, and of course was hired by Mayor Jackson’s council.  When Mr. Harvie retired from his city manager job and then ran for Mayor, Ms. Jackson ran as a councillor on his campaign slate, saying she was going to act as an “elder” and also be Mr. Harvie’s guide on the side.

Municipalities unlike the Provincial and Federal governments still do not have a great deal of financial oversight, and that can be seen in the annual junkets to Ottawa and to Eastern Canada taken by Ms. Jackson, and last year by Mr. Harvie. In 2018 Lois Jackson’s contingent spent $40,000 for a few days in Ottawa and a few in Quebec, in part to plead for the Massey Bridge. Her Council also ponied up for Ms Jackson to go to Scotland to attend a bagpipe tattoo, as well as arranged remuneration for people leaving Council based upon years worked.

Former City Manager now Mayor Harvie went to Ottawa in the spring of this year  for four days at a cost of $20,000 taxpayer dollars  to deal with stuff that really could be dealt provincially and  locally by the Province or local Member of Parliament.

Harvie also hired his friend Param Grewal who ran unsuccessfully for a Delta city council position on the same slate as Mayor George Harvie. Mr. Grewal is the “Director of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs” on  a six figure salary with no public posting of the position.

Harvie and Jackson appeared to be kindred spirits, so it was a surprise when Lois Jackson was booted off the Metro Vancouver board by Mayor Harvie right before the crucial vote last week for the Massey Immersive Tunnel approval.

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Last week the Metro Vancouver Board met and approved the recommendation of their task force for an eight lane immersive tunnel to replace the Massey Tunnel crossing of the Fraser.  This has not been a seamless process, and as reported by Simon Little of Global News  the approval was subject to conditions.  Those conditions call for a thorough environmental impact assessment, addressing First Nations concerns regarding river habitat, and the development of a structured construction timeline for project completion in six to seven years time.

The other piece, and this is major, is conducting a full review of the traffic currently using the tunnel as well as the land-use concerns of Vancouver, Richmond and Delta. This also gives the Province and Metro Vancouver a chance to work with the Port to identify a more methodical way to schedule container trucks through the tunnel, and also consider going on a 24 hour schedule like every other major port in North America. Such scheduling would also have major implications for smarter use of the port, which is currently saying they need a new terminal without addressing the fact they are only open for business half of the day.

What also needs to be discussed is that allowing three lanes of traffic in each direction and dedicated transit lanes means that work must occur on getting more people on transit. Congestion in vehicular traffic is a good thing as it makes transit more timely and convenient in dedicated lanes. I have already written about  Marchetti’s Constant. “As travel times become shorter with more dedicated travel lanes through a new tunnel, commuters can locate farther out, with the “constant” said to be about one hour in travel time. Of course as more people locate farther away, more congestion will occur at the Massey Crossing.”

You can’t build your way out of congestion, and that will need to be emphasized in meetings with Delta, Richmond and Vancouver. This might be the time that road and congestion pricing are considered for this new Fraser River crossing.

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If you’ve already seen these posters around Vancouver over the past year-plus, then your Vancouver street cred is showing…

Coming Soon!” is a series of hand-made prints from artist and Emily Carr University instructor Diyan Achjadi, commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program.

Installed on fences and hoardings that surround construction sites in the city, these prints were created by Achjadi as she began to take note of the way construction sites interrupt pedestrians on their day-to-day travels.

As she says in a video produced for the project, she started to ask questions about these spaces, one of which was: can a hand-made artefact interact with commercially-made spaces that are about desire and selling things, and present images that aren’t about commerce, capital, or selling anything?

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In September, Michael Anderson, senior researcher with Sightline Institute (Cascadia’s sustainability think tank), and Kiel Johnson, founder and operator of Portland’s Go By Bike (North America’s largest bike valet) visited Vancouver as part of a two-family touring holiday.

Anderson and Johnson rented a van to get to Vancouver because, well, kids and stuff. Plus, it was much cheaper and faster than the train. Whatever to do about that?

Gord invited the duo to write about their trip, and they did — in dialogue form.

Says Anderson: “I think we could have gone on for pages about things we saw and thought about the city, but Kiel rightly suggested keeping it pretty narrow.”

First impressions about Vancouver? How is Portland doing for cycling? What were the disappointments?

(Canadian spellings added for clarity.)

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Councillor Tony Vallente sends in this post from the City of North Vancouver, in anticipation of the new RapidBus service to Moodyville and through CNV.  Click title for helpful illustration  

As previously suggested in Dan Ross’s post More than Enough in Moodyville, a multi-year transformation is underway in the North Vancouver.  The arrival of the Marine Drive RapidBus delayed from Spring 2019 to early 2020 is very much underway.

A complete street is taking place on East 3rd Avenue in the City of North Vancouver, with space allocated for walking on sidewalks, a Mobility Lane, a dedicated bus lane (currently used as parking, all hail Shoup!), and a lane for cars.

A Mobility Lane is CNV lingo for a space that serves bikes, electric mobility devices, e-scooters, and probably other stuff we do not know will exist in the near future. (Councillors McIlroy and I passed a motion in July asking staff to prioritize segments of the City’s AAA cycling network as Mobility Lanes.)

The City of North Vancouver has been very diligent about attaining adequate space along the East 3rd corridor for years and that vision is now coming to fruition as the new Moodyville will be well served by RapidBus and also have space for alternate modes.

If the change in Moodyville to complete streets seems insufficient, look at Chesterfield at 3rd Street where a new development included a segment of off road. This is the new standard for bike routes in the City.  As more people use them with an increasingly diverse number of transportation devices, we can expect the outcry for a more complete transportation network to grow.

Transportation options in North Vancouver are beginning to be plentiful.

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Competing meanings have been attached to heritage.  Some feel heritage has broadened too far while others feel strongly that heritage needs to continually re-examine its concepts. This comes at a time when there is increasing questioning of the usefulness of heritage due to its traditional focus on preservation. In this third installment of Shaping Vancouver, we will examine the disruption taking place in heritage and the challenges it faces in remaining relevant.

 

• There is a growing interest in heritage as a living system of relationships between people and place;

• There is an understood need for greater attention to cultural diversity and how different cultural groups value heritage (e.g. First Nations, women, LGBTQ);

• Classical heritage concepts around building preservation alone do not address contemporary societal needs and issues; resolution of these needs requires broader and more interdisciplinary approaches

Locally, the heritage field in general is just starting to consider these broader ideas.

 

These panelists to share their insights about their local places:

Angie Bain– Researcher with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Director with Heritage BC

Paul Gravett– Executive Director, Heritage BC

Aneesha Grewal- Vice-Chair Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective

Robert Lemon– Architect, Former Senior Heritage Planner for the City of Vancouver

 

Tuesday, November 5

7-9 PM

Free, donations appreciated

SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (SFU Woodwards): 149 West Hastings Street

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Last year I wrote about  the  University of British Columbia study that identified Halloween night as having a 43 per cent higher risk of pedestrian deaths than any other night close to that date. Using available traffic data from the United States, the researchers looked at 608 pedestrian deaths that occurred on 42 previous Halloween nights, and found similar findings to that of a study done 20 years ago.

The graphs below show the spike in deaths of children occuring on Halloween. The second graph is more shocking, showing that 25 percent of those deaths occurred around 6:00 p.m.(at dusk)  with the other 75 percent being evenly distributed between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

As the Vancouver Sun  wrote, even though vehicles  are equipped with better safety systems and lights, “car-pedestrian accidents kill four more people on average on Halloween than on other days…Kids aged 4 to 8 faced the highest risks…” 

I have previously written about the University of Iowa study that found that  children between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age were not able to judge the speed, distance, and  safe crossing time in moving traffic. The study found they could not  recognize gaps in traffic, and that skill was not fully developed until the child was around 14 years of age. Even a 12 year old crossing experienced a “fail” two percent of the time in the study.

Couple that with the current SUV obsession. SUVs (sports utility vehicles) are responsible for a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths and serious injury. Because of their high front ends, pedestrians are twice as likely to die if they are hit by one. Drivers of SUVs are also 11 percent more likely to be killed driving one, as the size and bulk encourages more reckless driving behaviour.

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