Trailer parks for the homeless?

Gregory Henriquez, the Vancouver-based architect, isn’t afraid of challenging local defenders of the status quo.

Last year, the principal of Henriquez Partners Architects felt the wrath of some vocal North Vancouver residents, who railed against his proposal for an iconic 40-storey highrise on the sleepy Lower Lonsdale waterfront.

The boobirds eventually got their way, and Henriquez’ design was chased away.

And in 2007, when his firm made the case for a viewing tower at the top of Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park, area naysayers gave it the predictable thumbs-down.

This spring, Henriquez — whose work includes the visionary Woodward’s development — is making waves again.

In a recent issue of Business in Vancouver, he made the case for temporary trailer parks to address Vancouver’s homelessness crisis.

What a great idea. Compared to permanent buildings, modular housing is more flexible and cheaper to build.

Unfortunately, his proposal is sure to fire up the usual “concerned citizens” — people who are more focused on property values than community values.

But given this innovative solution to a staggering social problem, let’s hope the Nimbys can keep an open mind — if only this once.

• The now-underway Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a great way to celebrate the arrival of spring, and the city’s beautiful sakura trees.

It’s also an ideal time to reflect on their significance in Vancouver’s historic Japantown.

Last year, Japanese-Canadian community members were stunned by a plan calling for the removal of cherry trees planted in Oppenheimer Park in 1977 — marking 100 years of Japanese immigration to Canada.

A coalition formed to save the trees — accusing city hall of disrespecting “the social, cultural and historical significance of these magnificent Legacy Sakura.”

Fortunately, at least some of the trees have since been transplanted, and are now out of harm’s way.

On April 18, the festival will honour the Oppenheimer trees with a day of cultural performances, including the film Haru wa Akebono.

• Coastal Link Ferries has endured some challenges in recent times. But it is still hugely popular with passengers, judging by their passionate response to my column about the company last week.

Owner Ihab Shaker, meanwhile, informs me that customer interest is up, and that he’s closer to making a deal for a downtown dock. That’s great news for the company’s bottom line, not to mention its loyal coastal commuters.

Here’s to more smooth sailing ahead.

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Filed under British Columbia, Culture, Environment, Events, Gentrification, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Nimbies, Parks, Urban Planning

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