Archive for the ‘Enviroment’ Category

Vancouver, in high-def and time-lapse, equals beauty.

I wish, I WISH, I could embed video into Metblog posts, but lacking that ability, please go here

The Innerlife Project has released their first, and hopefully not their last, video piece, blending HD time-lapse video of Vancouver and a dreamy ambient soundtrack into a love letter to the city. When people ask me why I moved to Vancouver, I’ll have to remember to send this to them.

Smile, you’re on Google camera!

Google Street View Canada went live today, which means that if you live in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, you can now spend countless hours looking online at all the places you can go look at first hand.

This is one of the better views of the Google camera car that trundled around Vancouver this past Spring (judging by the cheery blossoms), popping 360 vistas of city streets (and a few alleys). It hasn’t been a perfect launch however, as David Loukidelis, BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has already launched a number of complaints regarding Google’s privacy measures not working as promised (I caught a shot at Thurlow and Robson, where a cab license plate is visible. Nearby, a city bus’ plate is clear, but the automated blurring system incorrectly blurred the turn signal light.) It doesn’t sound like he’s looking to pull the plug however, rather he’s just pushing for people’s protection.

“We acknowledge that this tool may be of interest to people, but at the same time under the privacy law in B.C. there are issues that have to be addressed.”

See anything cool? Anything touristy? Google maps has a link tool that will create a link for exactly the view you’re looking at – just use a link shrinker. Google map links are huge!

CoV says, "No fire!" – Smokey the Bear says, "RAARRRR!"

Calgary grass fire (April 2009) by IYAcalgary

Calgary grass fire (April 2009) by IYAcalgary

The Vancouver Parks Board has taken a look at all the grass turning brown and made a proclamation; no fire please.

The fire hazard in all city parks has been rated at “extreme”.

As of today, smoking is banned in all parks and trails, and charcoal/wood burning BBQs are right out as well – gas BBQs, which do not produce sparks, ash, or coals, are not mentioned, though it’s not clear if that means they’re ok to use or not.

Also, campfires are a no-no, even on Vancouver beaches.

I’ve never see Vancouver as brown as I have in recent years – a effect I thought I’d left behind on the prairies, but we can’t have a Summer respite from Winter rains AND have green parks. And grass fires suck, so keep it on the concrete, yeah?

The seven-day forecast says nothing by hot and sunny for Vancouver, so this ban will likely be in effect for awhile.

Effective today, the following precautions are now in place:

* No smoking in parks or on trails
* No charcoal or wood burning barbecues
* Stay on trails

Fire hazard signage is in place in Vancouver’s heavily wooded parks — Stanley Park, Everett Crowley Park and Jericho Beach Park — which are especially vulnerable to fires.

Park visitors should take precautions against accidental fires and be alert to signs of fire or smoke:

* Campfires are not permitted at any time in any of Vancouver’s parks or beaches
* Report any signs of smoke or fire by calling 9-1-1 immediately
* Watch for forest fire hazard signs in some parks and additional fire safety information posted in parks and on the Park Board web site


It’s Bikes Baby!

Well as promised by the Mayor, here comes the Burrard Bridge bike lane! It’s great seeing the year over year improvement in terms of greening our city and encouraging awareness of alternative transportation.

We’ll see how this bike lane experiment pans out, but this coupled with BCAA’s fairly recent announcement of providing Roadside Assistance to cyclists are two definite strides in the right direction for cyclists I think.

These two things will hopefully encourage more riders and less drivers. Especially in the downtown core.

How BCAA “Bike Assist” works as quoted from their site:

  • The cyclist must have experienced a mechanical breakdown, which includes any issue that makes the bike inoperable during a rider’s commute, such as a broken chain or flat tire. No assistance will be provided to cyclists looking to avoid challenging terrain or inclement weather.
  • Service technicians will do their best to get the cyclist on the go, but if the repair cannot be made at the site of the breakdown, the technician will transport the cyclist and their bicycle to their destination, home or nearest bike shop. The kilometer allotment will be consistent with the member’s current level of membership (e.g. a basic member is entitled to a five kilometre tow).
  • Only two cyclists can be accommodated at a time.
  • BCAA cannot break bike locks, as bike ownership cannot be easily identified.

The Vancouver Sun currently has a more thorough view/opinion piece on the Burrard Bridge bike lane trial.

Springtime means two things…

…allergies and bike tuning.


So, I popped Loratadine for the allergies and took the bike to the local bike shop. Actually, being Vancouver, it turns out there are a lot of shop. Friends I quizzed each have their own favorite, but all shops appearing roughly equal, I ended up taking the bike to Our Community Bikes on Main and 17th – the closest one to my house. It seemed a decent place to check out, not only because it’s close, but because they open their workshop up to the public, helping to teach people bike repair. They also have an amazing amount of serviceable, but previously owned spare parts – so if you’re fixin’ on a budget…

I got my bike repair badge in Scouts, so someplace that had helpful brains to guide me through anything I didn’t fully grok seemed perfect.

This time however, I opted to get them to do the work – the bike in question (see above) is a fantastic, Olypmpic era (as in Montreal) Iverson that’s been sitting in an old shed for 20 years, and tires (not to mention the crazy, hub-enclosed 3 speed gear system) are beyond me at this point. Plus, paying them keeps them afloat – keeping them afloat means continued access to their skills and their programs of training and, for lack of a better term, pedal-empowerment.

Ideally I’d be familiar with several stores and could compare and contrast, so this wouldn’t seem so one-sided, but the fact is, I’ve been hear 10 years, I’ve only just gotten a bike again. But, to be fair – Vancouver is full of shops!

Got one you like? Don’t like? Isn’t on the Google map provided? Then comment!

Meanwhile, I have to go – I got a call today that my bike is ready. I want to try this wacky 3-speed out.

Ever had lunch on the City Hall lawn?

Yeah, me either.

And yet Mayor Gregor Robertson is in trouble for proposing to turn some of the municipal HQ’s lawn space, which is currently lined up for improvement, into a community garden.

It might be just me, but isn’t turning it into a garden an improvement, and a good one at that? And also, it seems a little hair-up-the-nose to pick a procedural slapfight over a chunk of land none of us have ever really considered let alone enjoyed.

Photo by Dave Ho

Photo by Dave Ho

Coming on the thematic heels of Herb’s recent post, in a town filled with community gardens, isn’t it a good idea to promote the idea on the most high profile lawn around? And do we really want the mayor spending even a half hour debating this in council session, all things considered? Which is to say, isn’t this a non-issue?

"It would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here."

via []

There’s not much to add really – I’ve always enjoyed Vancouver’s unique weather, and getting a week of fog has been a treat. I’m never sure how to describe it though – depending on the time of day, it varies between a Stephen King mist and a John Carpenter, pirate-zombie-filled fog, with threats of a Holmsian pea-souper.

I will say this though;

If you’re driving between here and Abbotsford… SLOW DOWN!

I was visiting friends in Chiliwack (makers of the fine fine Speedway Squad, no less) and as an experienced and comfortable driver, I was averaging 80-90kph in 110 zones. This was because brake lights were invisible a half klick ahead. This, nor the numerous crash scenes here and there, didn’t deter people from blowing by me at 120. Ess em arr tee.

Telus – keeping Vancouver clean, one ad at a time.

It’s a great loophole – if you spray your ad on a wall or sidewalk in paint, you’re defacing property. You’re graffiti! If you spray your ad on a wall or sidewalk in solvent, you’re… cleaning it? The technique has been gaining in popularity over the last half-dozen years, but it’s finally made a big showing in Vancouver… promoting something from Telus. I don’t know what, as the URL doesn’t take me anywhere. And it’s ironic (I think? I can never tell any more) that the ad, involving recycling and being nice to trees apparently, involves chemical solvents headed to the nearby sewer next rainfall.

Still, anything is more clever than their Koodo ads.


Is it just me, or is the city being undermined by ants?

About a month ago, I noticed piles of dirt and sand piling up around the cracks in the walkway to my front door. Those piles turned into little mounds, complete with dead-giveaway ant holes. Then, ants. Busy little antholes that they were, the sidewalk was being consumed pretty quick – then I noticed them by the retaining wall closer to my door. Out of curiosity, I pulled back a brick. Bad idea. It was alive down there, and even more cunning, they’d made their egg nurseries, or whatever they’re called, right underneath the brick. So very alien. Ew.

So, after doses of pink poison and corn meal – common wisdom says they can’t digest it, but they’ll eat it, thus killing themselves – common wisdom seems to be full of crap. They’re still there. And why would one of the oldest, most evolved organisms on the planet not be able to tell food from not-food?

I even used a personal loophole in my mildly Buddhist approach to life on Earth – “bugs are icky – if they get in the way, do what you’ve got to do.” I devised that one when I was 6, because dodging bugs while riding a bike never ends well, and my knees and elbows had filed a complaint. Anyhow, I turned to boiling water. It pushed them back, but not for long.

So, my question to you all – is this diving flag syndrome. as in you never notice all the cars and trucks with diving flag stickers until you take up diving yourself. Ants are pretty prevalent, but they seem more prevalent lately, at least in Mount Pleasant area. Is that because they are actually very active this year or is it because I’ve got bugs on the brain?

And if it’s the former, how do we kill them? Ok, ok – how do I kill them? “Take off and nuke them from orbit” is technically the only way to be sure, but a bit drastic, I feel.

[photo by poagao]

Outside my door.


This leaf is from a tree right outside my front door.

All the leaves, the pollen droppings and much of the pavement around the tree is covered in this shiny, sticky substance that clings to everything that the leaves, the pollen droppings and the pavement touch…

including the bottoms of shoes so all these bits of pollen droppings end up in my house.

What’s up with these trees?

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