Archive for March, 2008

Missing Person: Kellen Charles McElwee

Kellen Charles McElweeThe news can sometimes seem so anonymous.  Some of you may have heard about a missing Burnaby man, Kellen McElwee.  To me it has struck a little closer to home having personally met and hung out with Kellen on numerous occasions.  It’s with this strange disappearance that I reach out like so many other of his friends and family for any information that anyone may have that could possibly help

The police have been looking for him or the whereabouts of his vehicle. In case you missed out on the news coverage here’s a link to the Vancouver Province.   He’s 5’10 – 220 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. He wears his hair in a slight mohawk and has a large black-and-white dragon tattoo below his left shoulder.  If you’d like to help out there has already been a facebook group started that will be posting flyers around town.  He drives an ’06 Honda Civic that is bronze with the plates 959 HPB.  If you’ve seen this vehicle or might have info about his whereabouts or any clues please give the Burnaby RCMP a call @ 604-294-7922.

Richmond Fruit Tree Farm

Richmond Fruit Tree Farm, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

I was out cycling on the south dyke this morning and spotted a great blue heron. Now there is a flickr group just for gbhs, so of course I got his picture. He was all hunched up and static. Not a great shot really. But when I raised my eyes a bit this is what I saw. Now I have been writing recently about how we need to grow more food, and how homes in Richmond increasingly have no yard. So the home plot seems to be vanishing – and with it a useful source of physical activity. Back in England I used to work an allotment -and at first I thought that is what this is. But of course not. It is a brilliant idea of Mary Gazetas to get people to volunteer to grow food for the needy. It started off when they began collecting unwanted fruit from backyard trees that always produce a surplus to immediate requirements. Then they started growing vegetables here – and have also expanded to Terra Nova. And this will become an orchard.

Winter Farmers Market at Wise Hall

Winter Farmers Market until April

I had to see for myself what kinds of items were available at the Winters Farmers Market today. I was happy to support our local farmers by picking up some Russian Blue Potatoes, a big bag of carrots, apples, honey and some free trade coffee. I have plans to make some whipped blue potatoes for Easter dinner tomorrow.

The farmers market will be open a few more times at the Wise Hall at Adanac between now and the end of April. There are more details about the dates on this newsletter at the eatlocal website.

Have a good long weekend…

Richmond Council votes for ALR exclusion for Garden City Lands

No surprise here really. As the accompanying opinion pieces made clear, the general feeling was that they had no choice. But perhaps is more interesting, simply because it is so unusual is that Linda Reid, the local MLA is taking an independent view. She has always opposed lands being removed from the ALR and this site, which is in her constituency, is no different. She even points out that for many of the things the City wants to do like parks and community gardens, exclusion is not even necessary, although the ALC would still need to consent. The problem is that the deal does not allow for the lands to be split – so it is all or nothing as far as exclusion goes. The other two MLAs for Richmond are busy distancing themselves from Reid, but I admire her for stickling to her guns and representing the wishes of the people who live here.

Food security is going to be a big issue here, as oil prices rise and water shortages start to threaten the areas in the US where we currently get most of our vegetables from. And many people who have no real choice but to live in high density apartments and town houses would love to have a small plot they could work. Their health would really benefit from fresh air, exercise and fresh vegetables. In fact if people became more physically active we might even begin to tackle the frighteningly rapid rate of growth in our “healthcare” budget which is about treating diseases which are easily preventable.

Vancouver Art Thief

Who would’ve thought that there are everyday art thieves.  I mean don’t they pretty much only exist on film these days?

Thieving art, isn’t exactly like stealing tools, money, candy, or transit fare.  I’d imagine stolen art is pretty hard to get rid of. First of all art is pretty unique and hence traceable through sales quite  easily, especially if it’s famous art.  Art is also in the eye of the beholder, much like beauty. So finding someone who likes it would be hard too. (more…)

supersunday at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery

If you’re looking for something to do with the kids one Sunday, why not head to the Vancouver Art Gallery for their supersunday event, which is held on the third Sunday of each month.

Artists, staff and volunteers help kids to discover that there’s more to art than just drawing and painting.  The event covers writing, dance and even video creation, opening kids’ eyes to forms of art they may never have considered before.

The last event featured snippets from each of the exhibits currently on display at the gallery.

Truth Beauty covers photography from 1845 – 1945, and allowed you to pose for a family portrait.

The Kutlug Ataman: Paradise and Kuba exhibit encouraged families to go on camera and explain what they love about where they live.  The videos may be shown at future supersunday events.  Kids could also make their own TV, and put the photograph that they had taken at the gallery on to it.  What kid doesn’t want to be on TV, after all?

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social looks at the impact that trees have on people and how the forest can be used to awe and inspire us.  Sketching of trees was encouraged, and they were also apparently giving potted trees away that you could replant, but although we found the indoor growing room, we couldn’t find anyone who was actually handing the trees out.  There was also a dance workshop and a story writing workshop on trees that we unfortunately get time to attend.

The Emily Carr and the Group of Seven exhibit encouraged families to paint their own winter landscape, and to learn about some of the most famous painters in Canadian history.

The price was a little steep ($15 apiece for parents) although children under 12 are free, and they do ask for a small donation to help cover the costs of the materials. 

While the event runs from noon to 5pm, which should give you enough time to see everything, chances are your kids will just tire out before seeing it all.

All in all, though, it was a great experience, and a nice change from just another weekend trip to the mall.

Not much response

Translink 2135 on wb 9 Broadway Vancouver BC 2007_0108

Translink held a public meeting last night at the Burnaby Firefighters’ Hall. It was intended to elicit input on a proposal to increase property tax by $18m a year to replace the parking tax.

Raising taxes on anybody cannot be expected to be popular, and Translink has been taking a beating in recent months as it was rearranged by the Province to be even less representative and open than it had been. A new Board has been appointed and intends to hold its meetings in private.

Clearly they expected a bigger turnout. That hall holds three times the number that attended. The Sun reports that about 50 people attended and 11 spoke in a meeting that lasted about an hour. So whatever the outcome, we can hardly complain. An opportunity was missed by those who said they who wanted more input, and those who don’t like paying more tax than absolutely unavoidable. (Mind you if you read the cbc coverage, they make it sound like a different meeting although the facts they report are the same.)

Or maybe we have become cynical. And thought that attending a meeting about an issue that has only arisen because the Province listens to businesses (mostly) was a bit of a waste of time, with a foregone conclusion. Or perhaps “cynical” is too harsh a term and “realistic” is closer to the mark.

The sum in question, by the way, is less than 2% of Translink’s annual revenues

Vancouver Metblogs welcomes our newest blogger

Waterfront station

In hopes of getting more great content up on Vancouver Metblogs we have been recruiting for new authors for the last little while [mbv], and we’re still looking.  However our first new author in quite some time has came aboard yesterday with a stellar first post [mbv]. 

Please stop by his post and welcome Stephen Rees, who has had a very authoritative blog about transportation [sr] for as long as I’ve been reading local blogs.  I’m very excited to have him on board, and judging from his first post I think he’s going to bring a strong voice on transporation and urban planning issues. 

The Submarines in Vancouver: Win tickets

submarines, originally uploaded by Orrin.

Los Angeles pop rock band the Submarines are coming to Vancouver and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away thanks to Nettwerk. They’re playing at the Plaza Club [pc] on Saturday March 29th, with Bell X1, and you could be there if you win these hot tickets. The Submarines started in Los Angeles, and so did Metblogs with Blogging.LA [bla], so a Vancouver Metblogs contest with the group seems natural.

So how do you win these tickets? Answer a bit of trivia and we’ll do a draw on Monday the the 24th from all the qualifying entries. Post the answer to the question in the comments of this post, and I’ll just have to be diligent in checking the comments and deleting the answers so you at the very least have to go to their Wikipedia entry to answer this.

Question: The Submarines first album Declare A New State was mastered by a friend as a gift for what special event?

Answer in the comments. Entries have to be in by Sunday March 23rd.

Edit: This contest has been relaunched.  See this post [vmb] for details.

Places without cars

Zhongyang Pedestrian Street - Harbin

Turning Robson Street into a Pedestrian Mall was listed as No 5 of the things we could do. I think No 1 would be where I would put it.

Streets and squares have been pedestrianised all over the world. The image I chose for this piece happens to be Harbin in China. But there are many others I could have chosen – Monmouth (Wales), Lima (Peru), Las Ramblas in Barcelona Spain, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod – I could go on for pages like this but you get the idea.

But for some reason Vancouver doesn’t. We seem to be highly reluctant to close streets to traffic. Vancouver only had part of Granville St as a bus only mall, and I am pleased that when Canada Line construction finishes, it will be again. Wider sidewalks, and a straighter alignment for the buses, but also places for permitted vehicles to park out of the way. So it may work a bit better.

But I still do not see it as the equal of any of the huge variety of pedestrian streets around the world. I have started a flickr group just to collect images of such places. This was partly inspired by Jan Gehl’s recent lecture in Richmond. He is the Copenhagen based architect who early on in his career decided that it was the spaces between the buildings that made the difference between wanting to be there or to get through it as quickly as possible. I cannot imagine a better plan than one that reduced the amount of space in Richmond devoted to cars.

Many places use pedestrian streets to help established retailers compete against modern shopping malls. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t have pedestrian streets is that developers and retailers here have been more successful in protecting their shopping centres. There is no doubt in my mind that for a long time Pacific Centre was winning their battle with Granville Street. But a good pedestrian street is about much more than shopping. It is about having a good reason to stop and look around. To enjoy the place and the people there. The place becomes a destination, not just a thoroughfare. And somewhere to sit and people watch turns out to be the common denominator of all the really good places without cars.

As as others have noted there are other places we have where removing cars would be a huge improvement: Granville Island for starters. CMHC may even put in an extension to the heritage streetcar to serve it.

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