Being Canadian


Today  July 1, 2017 marks Canada’s 150th year since confederation.  Canada is a young country by all standards.  Some of the cities in this country of ours are much older.  For example, Montreal turned 375 years old this year.   Canada had settlements and industry established across this land long before we joined together in confederation.

Sir John A. MacDonald became the first Prime Minister of Canada on July 1, 1867.

Growing up I can recall this day being referred to as Dominion Day.

We are a diverse country and there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have fallen to arrive at where we are today.  We still have a lot of work to do in terms of peace and reconciliation with our indigenous brothers and sisters as well.

What we must remember, however, is that we are merely custodians in this land of ours.  The following article discusses the problems we are currently facing.

In Richmond, BC, which has some of the richest farm land in the province, urbanization has been eating up these lands.  Homes being built on these properties are alarming in size.  There was home on No. 5 Road that was 41,000 square feet in size and slated to have 21 bedrooms!

The owner, who has 13 other luxury properties in the area wanted it zoned as a hotel.  He was denied.

Below are a couple of articles that may be of interest.

by Tanya Brouwers

Canada is a nation of vast spaces and varied terrain. Nationwide, however, this seemingly endless land base has limited agricultural potential. In fact, 94% of Canada’s lands are unsuitable for farming. Of that small percentage of land that will support agricultural endeavours only 0.5% is designated as class 1, where there are no significant limitations to farming activity. Unfortunately, due to urbanization, poor farming practices and other non-agricultural activities, this small percentage of viable farmland is shrinking at an alarming rate. Statistics Canada, for example, reported that between 1971 and 2001, over 14,000 square kilometres of our best agricultural land had been permanently lost to urban uses.

The link below is for an article that was written in the Globe and Mail newspaper regarding the issue with Richmond’s current crisis.  You can see many of the homes that are now sitting on prime agricultural land that is not being farmed at all.  Blueberry bushes have been cleared and trashed.  And I can tell you the strawberries and blueberries produced in this area are so good!

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/farmland-and-real-estate-in-british-columbia/article32923810/

When I speak about being custodian of this land of ours we must be diligent in our use of natural resources and how we develop this land.

There are more lakes in Canada than in the rest of the world combined!  And in British Columbia, the province that I live in, contains over 20,000 lakes and an abundance of streams and rivers.

Make no mistake.. Every area of Canada is populated, however, the majority of the population resides in the southern portion of the country along the coast lines and U.S. border.

One of the reasons I pointed out the issue in Richmond regarding the agricultural land is that approximately 6% of Canada is arable land.  What this means is that of the vast size of this country, this is the percentage that can be farmed.

We must come together as a community and as a country and take care of this land.  In the spirit of the French President Marcon,

“Let’s make this planet great again!”

And it starts at home.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!

 

 

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Silver Linings


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I am a person who will experience an epiphany and suddenly the whole world and my existence in it makes perfect sense.  Yet as quickly as the insight arrived it sinks faster than the Titanic back into the abyss of my subconscious.  And for me it is a shadow that I will try to pursue, try to recover and analyze.

Usually I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m trying to discover.  And I just realized that is one of the absolute joys in living this life.

Being open and present.

1. Sunrise Steveston

I would like to say that I’m open to new ideologies. new thoughts, however, I really don’t think there is anything really new about much of the information that draws me in.   The thing that changes is perspective.  Of how we see something, of how we regard our place in this world and participate in it.

For example, back in the day…way, way back human sacrifice to the Gods was acceptable and considered necessary.  The idea of having angry Gods was a frightening factor no doubt.

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And I often have these questions that creep into my mind’s eye regarding our existence.  How is it that we came to chart the stars?  How is it that we came to understand that they would never change and guide us on midnight journeys across foreign lands and oceans?

Back in 1632 Galileo would be tried and found guilty of heresy regarding his findings that the Earth was in fact circular and orbited around the Sun.

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And mathematics has had a long history in this world and just as I ponder how the written word came into being I too wonder how it is that the science of math began its journey as well.  I would think some of the first measurements would have been made by our own appendages of fingers, feet and hands.   Of course cycles such as daily, monthly, seasonal and birthing became recognized.

But how is it that someone decided they wanted to measure the speed of light from one star system to our own?

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Unfortunately a lot of information has been destroyed and lost to us over the millenniums.  And there is apparently information that the powers that be feel we should not be privy to.

I look for the silver linings in pretty much everything.  There is always a lesson to be learned or a fascinating piece of knowledge tucked away.

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If I rise each day with the idea that I’m open to learning, open to discovering more of what constitutes life and its infinite layers then this is a good thing.  And while I know that life has the bookends of birth and death…it is the fabric in between that we weave that fascinates and humbles me.

Namaste.

 

 

 

F*!*k the Economy!


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What is it about this God we call the economy that drives us to worship and follow it blindly.

Big business is tearing across this planet sucking every viable resource it can take to process and sell it to us in any number of ways.

The economy dictates that this be doen.

I can’t help but wonder what happened.  In my lifetime I’ve watched the economy take hold and alter how we live completely.  The industrial, then the technological revolution have had us running on the hamster wheel at breakneck speeds far too long.

Somethings gotta give.

What happened to our values?

I was born and raised in Vancouver.  I now live in New Westminster which is about a 15 minute drive from the city.  I can’t afford to live there any longer and  I certainly couldn’t purchase a home in Vancouver proper.  90% of the houses in Vancouver are currently well over a million dollars.

Condos are crazy expensive as well.

I have lived and worked in pretty much every corner of the lower mainland (aka Greater Vancouver Regional District) at some point in my life.  This beast called development has devoured Vancouver proper and is now beginning to spread its tentacles on the march  to the suburbs.

Towers, towers, and more condo towers are going on up!  Ten are slated in downtown New Westminster currently.  Five have begun construction.

And in truth much of the white hot market is being driven from off-shore buyers, namely Asian consumers.  Governments on every level state insist they have no way of determining how much of the market is being driven by off-shore purchasing here in British Columbia.

That, quite frankly, is bullshit. In a world with technology such as it is can surely determine  who is buying the properties here in Vancouver and where they live.

The trickle down effect has been devastating.  Seniors cannot afford to live in their homes.  Energy costs have skyrocketed.  People are making the choice between paying their utility bills or feeding themselves.

Rents are extreme and the rental market has deteriorated.

Daycare costs are insane.

The Employment Standards Act has been decimated.  A part-time worker here in BC has virtually no rights on the job.

Everything that generations before worked for, fought for is being dismissed rather handily by government officials of the day.  Gotta feed the economy.  Gotta create jobs.  Gotta inspire people to spend, spend, spend!

We need to change how we do business.  We need to change the concept of profit.

We need to consider what our individual footprint is on this world of ours.

I go to work in the morning and pass house that are 4,000 sq. ft and bigger.   I wonder who lives in these homes?  I never ever see lights on.  On occasion I’ve seen vehicles and a person or two. Do they work there or live there?

What happened to us?

 

Transformation…A City Grows Up, Literally!


 

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Springtime in the lower mainland finds us in the pink

Last week I began doing research on Vancouver for an article that I was working regarding the recent oil spill. It really is quite remarkable how Vancouver has in fact changed.  The thing now is the height of the buildings they are erecting in the downtown core.

Having worked in the architectural world for eight years the term ‘densification’ has been tossed about and embraced by cities throughout the lower mainland.  There is really nowhere to go but up.  At one time Vancouver had height restrictions regarding the view of the mountains.  As you will see the Vancouver skyline is being dominated by high-rise condo towers.  This is trickling into the suburbs as well.  I live in New Westminster and there are two 19 storey buildings going up.  One is on the corner from my building and the other is right next door. They are planning on building three towers down on the New West Quay which sits right on the water.  I’ve seen signs up in front of automotive shops over on Carnarvon Street indicating that application for rezoning has been made with the image of yet another tower to be built.

New Westminster has held onto many of her historical buildings.  And I am now wondering what is to become of this place?  Is New West going to follow in the footsteps of Vancouver with condo towers obliterating the river view?

The following photo essay is a then and now expose.

11.1  DT Van w Stanley Park 1970s11.  Burrard & Cambie Bridge 2015

Downtown Vancouver in the 1970’s and today

As you can see industry once ruled the waterfront.

2.1.  Quebec & Terminal 1970s

This location now houses Science World.  This vantage point shows the Georgia Viaduct at the top of the photo and we are looking at Quebec St. northbound

2.  Science World 20154. Science World 2

This is Science World today as it sits at the mouth of False Creek. 

Industry no longer exists on this part of the waterfront and a seawall has been built along the shore line.  You can now walk from Kitsilano Beach over to Coal Harbour.  Might take you a few hours.

10.  Burrard & Cambie St. Bridge

Above the Burrard Street Bridge with the Granville St. Bridge to your right looking at the downtown core in the 1970’s

6.1  DT Van 2015 312.  Cambie Bridge today 2015

The Cambie Street bridge which was built and opened in 1983 and the view of the downtown core now.  As you can see the difference over just a 20 year span is quite dramatic.

9.  DT VAn looking north 2015

8.1  DT VAN 2015 2

The Vancouver Skyline today is slowly obliterating the mountain view 

37.  Burrard St Bridge 2015

View of Burrard Street Bridge from Granville Island

1.  2nd & Cambie 1970s

Image of the old Cambie Street Bridge.  You can see the waterfront was used primarily for industry.  This would begin to change in the late 1970’s when the city began to buy back the land and redevelop  False Creek area West of the Cambie Bridge

Granville Island 1971

Granville Island 1971 was a rough area at that time. 

Granville Isle 2Ferry Terminal

Granville Island today is a tourist hot spot. 

the old island

A shantytown was set up on Granville Island when the sawmills began to struggle during the Great Depression

Granville Island at nightMarket shote

The marina now hosts houseboats and a yachts galore 

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The Mansion sits at Davie St. & Cardero St. just a few blocks up from English Bay.  It was built by Rogers who also built the Sugar Refinery.  This grand dame has served as a restaurant for many years and is currently sitting empty.  It is a heritage house though.  It is believed to be haunted.

Science world and BC Place 201516.  DTES, False Cr, Georgia Viaduct at Quebec & Main street

Quite the change to False Creek. 

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DT Granville Bridge 201533.  FC looking East

Some views of the City.  Top Left:  Downtown view from Granville Bridge circa 1970’s

Bottom Left: Aerial view of Granville Bridge circa 1990’s

Top Right: View from Hotel Vancouver looking North circa 1930’s

Bottom Right:  Science World looking East circa 2000’s

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Sunset Beach was developed back in 1977 and a photo of the Grey Whale that returned to False Creek in 2010

PC & Hotel Georgia 2015New Hotel Georgia 2015

The Hotel Georgia 

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Hotel Vancouver

The Hotel Vancouver, downtown Vancouver

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8th & Columbia in New Westminster

Commercial & napier thne and now

Commercial Dr. & Napier Street, Vancovuer

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1st & Clark Street in Vancouver

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Commercial & Broadway looking west

32.  False Creek, Fairview & Granville Island at Lamey's Mill Rd.21.  Downtown 1970

Industry in the City circa 1970’s

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The Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson St. 

Ocean Concrete

This is one of the few industries that still remains on Granville Island.  They have worked very hard, however, to conform to keeping their business practices environmentally sound.

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Commercial Dr. & 1st Ave looking East & West

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Granville Street Bridge heading North into the downtown core.

Well I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little photographic essay.  As stated I personally would like to see them slow down on the building. Vancouver’s transformation and her surrounding suburbs has been quite remarkable.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Oil and Water…They Just Don’t Mix


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 A duck covered in oil  and a pod of Killer Whales photographed a couple of weeks ago in English Bay, Vancouver, BC

I am fortunate to live in an area that is naturally beautiful with the benefit of rivers, lakes and the ocean within close proximity to my home.  We are sheltered by mountains here on the coast as well.  They too are easily accessible.

When the news broke that an oil spill had occurred in English Bay, I, along with everyone who lives here, became incredibly concerned regarding the environmental impact this would have.

The question has still not been answered, however, as to why this happened in the first place.  After all, it is a grain ship that is anchored in Vancouver’s harbor.  And bunker fuel was spilled?  How?

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We’ve recently been enjoying the return of marine life such as whales and sea lions to this area.  Otters can be seen quite often as well.  And we have ducks, geese, herons, kingfishers, gulls and an abundance of other marine bird life in all shapes and sizes calling these waters home.

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The whales drew quite a crowd and hung out in the bay for a few days

Still, upon reflection the explosion of technology in this industrial age of ours is concerning.  We have an oil company Kinder Morgan that wants to build an additional pipeline so that they can transport the stuff being pulled out of the oil sands in Alberta and transport it to places such as China.

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Over the last hundred years the changes to this world have been incredible.  And the impact that oil has had on us, well it has been a little more than frightening for this gal.  Considering that there are so many other clean ways by which to generate power, ideas and practices that have been in existence for a very long time as well, I know one of the reasons that oil and its subsequent affiliates have had the success they have is simply that in the beginning oil was not very expensive.  It was a cheap form of power and a dirty one.

Bulk Carrier

At the beginning of the industrial revolution we were wasteful as well.

Yet when I hear that the oil sands will produce enough energy and whatever else we use oil for over the next 100 years, it is concerning.  Hadn’t we best begin to look at some tried and true methods to produce energy such as wind and water and develop these on a large scale and sustainable one?

Gulf Coast Struggles With Oil Spill And Its Economic Costs

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And it is imperative that we keep our water as clean as possible.

We’ve had an incredibly mild winter here on the south coast of British Columbia which won’t bode well for the salmon run.  With no snow pack all we can only hope for is a lot of rain this year to keep the water levels high enough.

Politicians are laying blame and pointing fingers. Then they raise taxes to  stop global warming but in truth I believe this world moves in cycles.  Oddly enough the east coast of North America was hit incredibly hard this year and they had a brutally cold winter with enormous amounts of snow accumulating.

Weather patterns are not really something we can change.  Perhaps we should study more of ice samples that are being taken from Antarctica. We can adjust how we live in this world, how we function and how we interact with this organic planet of ours as this is within our control.

By all counts, this planet can be a violent place.  It is the nature of the beast.

I saw images of Paris, France on the news the other day where the pollution hung thick in the air and was a major concern to the city officials.  Something to do with allowing free parking in the downtown portion of Paris, though having never been there,  I cannot say where that may be.  Still the images of the Eiffel Tower shrouded in air thick with pollutants is disturbing.

Was the cheap alternative of oil offered at the beginning worth it?

Here in Vancouver we at one time clouded the waterfront with any number of industries that polluted the waters to the point that they were something of a dead zone.  Marine life will not venture into such water channels as they will not survive.

Paris-Pollution

Beijing

Think of Paris and Beijing and how you feel breathing in these places then think of fish swimming through clouds of oil.  And like trees that die as a result of air born pollutants being caught in the rain that falls to feed them, hence the term acid rain, is it any wonder that barnacles and coral reefs are fast disappearing.

Politicians express outrage while the federal minister stands up and says ‘We dealt swiftly and effectively with this.’   Still no answer as to why it happened at all.

And it was just a small spill after all.  A few ducks and geese, a sea lion or two.  Somehow I feel like they are missing the point and the big picture all together.

This should not happen…ever…anywhere!  We have the technology, yet we don’t use it.

And today I feel such a deep sadness because despite the advances that we’ve made in so many areas, we still suffer from our own inhumanity on so many levels.

A host of isms still cloud our thinking.  When are we going to learn its not about us.

Vancouver is my birth place.  She has listened when I’ve screamed about indignities that were awarded me.  She has caught my tears on her sidewalks, in her grassy fields and on her beaches.  She has shared her quiet beauty with me time and again reminding me when I was in the depths of sorrow all I had to do is look around me to see the wonder of this world.

I’ve stood at the break of dawn being bathed is morning light watching the silhouettes of this city come alive.  I’ve sat naked on her beaches well past midnight letting a summer’s breeze kiss my skin.  I’ve run through her streets and parkways.

She is and has always has been a gracious and beautiful lay of land.

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The thing is this whole oil thing is a global issue.  The spill in English Bay could have happened anywhere.  If it happened out at sea would there be concern?  Would we know?

I would like to share a few images and history of Vancouver, particularly the waterfront.

Some poor decisions were made back in the day born more of need than anything else.  And I get it.  We do know better now and collectively we need to recognize and adhere to this.

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The following is an excerpt taken from historical accounts of Vancouver.  It is quite remarkable that city officials bought back much of the waterfront that was dominated by industry, converted it to shops and housing and began the slow process of restoring the water ways.

Archival photos were obtained from Flckr.

The following is in regard to False Creek:

‘During World War 1,  the easternmost part of False Creek, which formerly ran to Clark Drive, was filled in by the Great Northern Railway and Canadian National Railway to create new land for their yards and terminals.    For many years there was talk of draining and filling the inlet to Granville Street throughout the 1950s, but this never occurred.

The False Creek area was the industrial heartland of Vancouver through to the 1950s. It was home to many sawmills and small port operations, as well as the western terminus of the major Canadian railways. As industry shifted to other areas, the vicinity around False Creek started to deteriorate. In 1960, BC Forest Products plant and lumber storage facility on the south side of False Creek caught fire in Vancouver’s first-ever five-alarm blaze. Every piece of firefighting equipment and all of Vancouver’s firefighters fought the blaze for hours, but the facility was totally destroyed.

The future of False Creek south was subsequently shaped by debates on freeways, urban renewal, and the rise of citizen participation in urban planning. Through the 60s, the ruling NPA (Non-Partisan Association) city government and senior city bureaucrats had hatched a plan – with little or no public consultation – to run freeways through the city. In the same period, the City razed large portions of Strathcona under the aegis of urban renewal. A group of influential citizens formed The Electors Action Movement (TEAM) to oppose the freeway and to radically change the way decisions were made on land use. A key figure amongst these people was Walter Hardwick a Geography professor at UBC who envisioned the retrofit of this brownfield industrial site into a vibrant waterfront mixed-use community.

The North Shore of False Creek (NFC) was further transformed in the 1980s, as it took centre stage during Expo ’86. Following the Expo, the Province sold the NFC site to Li-Kai Shing who brought ideas of a higher density waterfront community to the downtown peninsula. Vancouver’s experience with South False Creek and the public participation that shaped it was key to developing NFC as a livable high-density community. For example, Ka-shing’s company wanted to develop “islands” of market condos on the waterfront but was soundly rebuffed by the public and by planners who favoured the extension of a 100% publicly accessible waterfront and seawall. The 1991 Official Development Plan enabled significant new density commensurate with the provision of significant public amenities including streetfront shops and services, parks, school sites, community centres, daycares, co-op and low-income housing. Since then, most of the north shore has become a new neighbourhood of dense housing (about 100 units/acre), adding some 50,000 new residents to Vancouver’s downtown peninsula.

On December 1, 1998, Vancouver City Council adopted a set of Blueways policies and guidelines stating the vision of a waterfront city where land and water combine to meet the environmental, cultural and economic needs of the City and its people in a sustainable, equitable, high quality manner.

Several decades following the suspension of industrial activity in the area, a number of shore and seabirds such as cormorants, ducks, herons, kingfishers, owls, geese, crows, and gulls have returned, as well as harbor seals. In an unusual sighting, in May 2010 a grey whale entered False Creek and traversed its length before returning to the open waters of the Strait of Georgia.

Factors working against the further return of wildlife include residual industrial contaminants, spillage from the sewer overflow system into the creek, and the seawall that constrains much of the shoreline with little habitat value. The city has attempted to recreate the natural shoreline in some areas and is working to phase out the antiquated sewer overflow system.’

I wanted to share this history with you because at one time Vancouver’s waterfront wasn’t particularly attractive over in the False Creek area.  English Bay has always been a jewel of sorts.  It sits next to Stanley Park and the area around the park has been protected over the years.  Vancouver’s Main Street runs from it’s northern most point south almost to the Fraser River.  In the downtown core of the street this was and still is a hub of industrial activity.

I want to look after what we have.  Let’s preserve it.  Oil and water do not mix.  And do we need more condo towers?  I have put together photo montage of Vancouver.  Enjoy.

Enlish Bay 19096085430331_d2a9022335_z6077703925_85dcff26e6_z

English Bay over the last 100 years…the gazebo still stands as does the Sylvia Hotel.  The Pier was removed in 1938.

Vancouver Courthouse 1930Vancouver Courthouse (VAG)Vag 2

 The Vancouver Art Gallery began has the city jail.  It still has cells in its bowels with brick walls a few feet thick.  It later became the courthouse and in 1983 has been the Art Gallery.
Vancouver Opera House (now Orpheum)orpheum-granville
The Vancouver Opera House and its subsequent transformation to the Orpheum Theatre.
Kitsilano Beach 1960kits 2
Kitsilano Beach and Pool then and now
Vancouver AirportVancouver Airport 1965Vancouver Airport 1950VIA
The Vancouver International Airport is growing every year.
Victory SquareVictory Square looking north 1913Victory SquareVictory 2
Victory Square through the years where all Remembrance Day ceremonies are held.
Hastings St., looking westHastings at CambieHastings at Cambie2
Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street.  The Marine Building was at one time the tallest building in Vancouver.
Second Narrows Bridge No 1"Yamahide Maru" under both RR Bridges at 2nd Narrows6475192929_f2fb850bb8_z
The Second Narrows (Iron Workers Memorial) Bridge and its many transformations.  19 men were killed in a tragic accident during the construction of the newest model back in 1958. 
Granville St. Bridge looking north6407149829_be1c8929d5_zGranville b 2Granville b 1
The Granville Street Bridge in her many transformations.
Burrard st. 3Burrard st2Burrard st. 4Burrard st 1
The Burrard Street Bridge under construction and on opening day on July 1, 1939 and today.  It has remained largely unchanged. 
Fire Station at Nelson & Nicola in West End.Davie St. looking toward Denman St.Davie to English
The Fire Hall No. 6 still stands and is pretty much the same at Nelson & Nicola.  The view on Davie St. toward English Bay then and now. 
Davie Street looking south from Denman St.Denman & Davie2
Looking up Davie Street from Denman then and now.
I hope you have enjoyed this.  I will offer up more but for the time being I must have some dinner.  Cheers!