Metro column: Community gardens: Utopian and utilitarian

Nearly five years and counting.

That’s how long I’ve been waiting for my patch of communal garden in Metro Vancouver.

A half-decade ago, before the popularity of high-minded movements like organic eating, food security or the 100 Mile Diet, I had registered for a shot at green-thumb glory at the North Shore’s Lower Lonsdale Community Garden.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for urban agriculture. To my chagrin, it turned out there were no plots available.

So I was told by an organizer that I would be put on a waiting list. And from that queue, annually, a few lucky folks would be selected for garden membership by lottery.

Year after year, I’ve been waiting for some good news about my new patch of green. But it has yet to arrive. Two weeks ago, I found out that, once again, I was a loser in the annual garden plot sweepstakes. I wouldn’t be growing carrots or cucumbers this summer.

It’s not just this one patch, mind you. There are waiting lists for community gardens across Vancouver. The supply of plots just can’t meet the growing demand. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Food and Dining, Green Space, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Urban Planning

Metro column: SkyTrain right choice for Metro Vancouver

For a party that’s fighting for the hearts and minds of urban voters in British Columbia, one would think the provincial NDP would be trading off of its strong legacy of endorsing — and expanding — SkyTrain across the Lower Mainland.

After all, it was former NDP premier Glen Clark who brought Vancouver the Millennium Line, which has enjoyed steady increases in ridership since its completion in 2002.

Another former New Democrat premier, Mike Harcourt, is one of the most vocal advocates of building light-metro for our growing region. In his 2007 book, City Making in Paradise, Harcourt cites SkyTrain as one of the legacies from Expo 86 that saved Vancouver’s livability. Continue reading

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Filed under Commuting, Environment, Nimbies, Politics, Transportation, Urban Planning

Metro column: North Americans hungry for ‘Kei Jidosha’

With Earth Day just around the corner, it’s a good time for some serious reflection on the part of North America’s troubled automakers.

It’s no coincidence General Motors and Chrysler are facing potential financial Armageddon at the same time consumer tastes in cars have changed radically.

Let’s face it: Last year’s sky-high gas prices have ushered in an era of unprecedented demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Buyers aren’t just focused on their wallets, mind you. Continue reading

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Filed under Commuting, Industry, Japan, Transportation

Metro column: Deeply troubling issues behind Seattle-Vancouver train expansion

It is astonishing that a long-awaited second passenger train connecting Vancouver to Seattle is still in serious limbo.
Why the hold-up? The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) wants $1,500 per day from Amtrak to serve this train. Not surprisingly, the U.S. rail operator refuses to cave to their financial demands.
British Columbians should be furious. Afterall, $3 million of their tax dollars helped provide extra rail capacity for this initiative. Continue reading

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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, Cascadia, Commuting, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation

Metro column: Time for smokers with kids to butt out

After midnight tonight, British Columbians who smoke in their vehicles with children present will face more than just social disapproval. They will become outlaws.

That’s because, to mark World Health Day tomorrow, our provincial government is putting new anti-smoking legislation into effect, which takes direct aim at this behaviour.

All I can say is, it’s about time. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Environment, Health, Law and Order

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. Continue reading

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

Vancouver awarded MLS franchise: The official announcement

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER AWARDS VANCOUVER
EXPANSION TEAM FOR 2011

League’s 17th Team to Play in Newly-Renovated BC Place

NEW YORK (Wednesday, March 18, 2009) – Vancouver, British Columbia, will be the home of Major League Soccer’s 17th team, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced today. The Vancouver MLS team will begin play in 2011 at the newly-renovated BC Place Stadium in the city’s downtown entertainment district. The venue will undergo approximately $365 million CDN in improvements before the new MLS team takes to the field, and will have a seamless 20,000-seat soccer-specific configuration. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Seattle, Sports, Vancouver