Category Archives: Protest

Metro column: Sad end for Japantown’s field of memories

15 June 2009 05:27

Later this week, the Vancouver Canadians baseball team will play its much-anticipated season opener at Nat Bailey Stadium.

Expect the scene to be an upbeat one — from the singing of Take Me Out To The Ball Game to Little Leaguers cheerfully chasing foul balls in the bleachers.

But not far away, in the Downtown Eastside, a far less happy baseball story is being played out.

At Oppenheimer Park, in Vancouver’s old Japantown neighbourhood, the historic playing field of the Asahi baseball team is being demolished. The City of Vancouver is removing the ball diamond as part of its renovation of the park. Continue reading


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Filed under Culture, Environment, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Politics, Protest, Sports, Vancouver

Vancouver Province column: If meltdown hikes Olympic price taxpayers deserve a greater say

October 12, 2008

It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee.

Last week, at a Toronto forum on amateur sport, federal politicians scrapped over the long-simmering issue of including women’s ski jumping at the 2010 Games. This comes on top of Canadian ski jumper Zoya Lynch joining a lawsuit aimed at forcing VANOC to bring the women’s event into the Olympics mix.

But it doesn’t end there.

Many British Columbians were left shaking their heads in the wake of the recent decision to ban the charity Right To Play from the athletes village in 2010.

And now folks in Vancouver are coming to grips with the impact of the global financial crunch on the construction of that same athletes village — raising the grim spectre of taxpayers bailing out the project if funding dries up. Continue reading

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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, Architecture, British Columbia, Commuting, Culture, Gentrification, Neighbourhoods, Politics, Protest, Real Estate, Sports, Transportation, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns

Legacy Sakura on Powell Street

As part of the new City of Vancouver plan to redevelop Oppenheimer Park in the downtown eastside (and adjacent to the historic Japantown), “legacy sakura” (cherry blossom trees) are going to be removed to make way for a new field house.

This is not just any tree-clearing program, mind you. The memorial sakura trees were planted back in 1977 by first-generation Japanese Canadians to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Canada’s first-recorded Japanese immigrant. Adding more weight to the proceedings is the long relationship the Nikkei community has had with Oppenheimer Park.

Somewhat ironically, the parks board participated (and sanctioned) the planting three decades go. Today, however, they insist that the sakura trees have outlived their life span.

Hence the rise of the The Coalition for Saving the Legacy Sakura of Oppenheimer Park, which consists of various Japanese Canadian organizations committed to preserving this important part of Vancouver’s heritage.

Canadian Nikkei - Save the Legacy Sakura

Sign the petition here 


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Filed under Culture, Green Space, Heritage, Protest

Erickson’s “Graham House” demolition moving ahead

The latest on the Arthur Erickson “Graham House” saga is that the District of West Vancouver has decided to go ahead and issue a permit to the site’s owners.

A last minute request to have the house put on the city’s heritage registry was sadly denied this week. And according to the North Shore News, the city’s mayor, Pam Goldsmith-Jones, denied the plea because she was afraid of setting a precedent in her city.

Let me reiterate: this is a bad decision. Letting the demolition go forward is something West Vancouver will regret for years.

What’s surprising is the relative quiet over this matter, however. Perhaps it will take the sight of bulldozers to make people realize the significance of this matter?

December 3 UPDATE: The relative quiet is giving way to a bit of noise. West Vancouver resident Ari Mensurian has made statements to various media in Metro Vancouver that he will be chaining himself to the Graham House property before the demolition crews arrive — and invites like-minded heritage enthusiasts to do likewise.


Filed under Architecture, Heritage, Protest, Vancouver

Trek Park?

It seems the college sit-ins and protests of 2007 just don’t resonate like they did in the 1960s — at least on Canada’s West Coast. Case in point: Trek Park at the University of British Columbia, designed as a gathering place for students taking aim at construction developments on the campus.

Trek Park UBC

The UBC student newspaper, The Ubyssey, tells it best:

Erected on the first day of school, September saw Trek Park as a place where University Square and underground bus loop protesters could congregate to challenge UBC’s development. But once the rainy season hit campus, the fun filled protests turned into washed-out sod sitting in a parking lot.

Trek Park hasn’t kept up the well-maintained face it needs to be taken seriously. If the goal of the park was to change the course of campus construction, then it should have kept up its message. If the intent was to create a meaningful public space, more activities could have been planned. But it appeared to fizzle out, giving UBC developers the ability to say that Trek Park activism and student opposition to certain types of development had withered.

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Filed under Academia, Parks, Protest, Vancouver

Vancouver Province Column: Plan for higher-density housing isn’t about fighting political war


Published: Monday, October 15, 2007

These are troubled times for the EcoDensity Initiative, introduced with great fanfare by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan in the days leading up to last year’s World Urban Forum.

At the time, there was an enthusiastic buzz about creating more compact neighbourhoods in the city. The mayor held up his urban planning brainchild as a means of “reducing our ecological footprint as a city, and . . . to expand housing choices and improve affordability for all residents.” Since then, the cheers have given way to a vocal and persistent group of boobirds. Continue reading

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Filed under Neighbourhoods, Politics, Protest, Real Estate, Urban Planning, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns

Vancouver Province Column: Eco-density zealots must recognize that condo living is not for everyone

The Province
Monday, June 18, 2007

Greater Vancouver’s civic leaders are talking a lot about density these days — elevating the D word to almost mythical status. Indeed, there’s a lot to like about people moving into compact places like the downtown core, since land in our region is finite, while the population continues to grow.

But density isn’t for everyone — a point that some density boosters fail to see.

In their rush to squeeze everyone into a lifestyle of condominium living — complete with seawalk strolls, yoga studios and low-fat lattes — they run the risk of demonizing those who, for a variety of good reasons, opt for suburbia.

No doubt about it, there are many positives to urban densification. People living in these neighbourhoods use up fewer environmental resources, and are more likely to take advantage of public transit than those who live in sprawling suburbs.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan continues to promote his EcoDensity initiative as a means to creating “green, livable and affordable” housing.

At a GVRD forum on housing earlier this month, the pro-density argument again was put forward as a way of taking the froth off of prices in Greater Vancouver’s red-hot real-estate market by ramping up the supply of multi-family units. Translation: More high-rise condos are on the way.

But, before we overdose on density, we need to ask ourselves if the push to compact living is right for everyone.

The B.C. census numbers for 2006 seem to tell a different story than the one the density advocates would like you to hear. For one thing, the biggest growth in our region isn’t happening in the City of Vancouver. It’s in Surrey, Mission, Chilliwack and Abbotsford — where single-family homes still rule.

Between 2001 and 2006, Surrey alone enjoyed a population increase of 13.6 per cent. And the City of Vancouver’s growth rate lags behind not only Surrey, but that of the GVRD as a whole.

So why aren’t more Lower Mainland families embracing the high-density lifestyle?

For starters, there’s the perception, right or wrong, that compact neighbourhoods are the domain of childless singles and well-to-do retirees.

Also, raising kids can be a challenge in the inner city.

Yaletown has new schools and parks to bolster its case for being family-friendly. But other highrise neighbourhoods have not followed suit.

Then there’s the affordability issue for people with families. The cost of buying a two- or three-bedroom condo in central Vancouver can be astronomical.

So what can the density cheerleaders take from this picture?

Let’s hope a healthy respect for those who’ve taken a pass on the downtown lifestyle, for starters.

It’s about choice, really.

A family guy taking care of four kids and a dog is about as fond of condo living downtown as the hipster from Main Street is of living in an Aldergrove cul-de-sac.

In urban and suburban circles, the old expression still holds true: To each his own.

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Filed under Environment, Neighbourhoods, Protest, Real Estate, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns