scamcouver

fear & loathing in Lotusland

Refuge: Something Dreamlike

by Zbigniew

The sudden arrival of the unseasonal cold has sped-up the fig tree’s autumnal striptease.  Its bare limbs stand among a discarded shroud of leaves.

On this crystal clear Sunday I opt for the raking zen exercise.

Pulling the freeze-dried leaves into a pile, sunshine catches.

Something dreamlike: ice, molded by the corrugated skin and delicate veins of leaves.

 

The Cringe: Likey

by Zbigniew

“You may not have heard of the South Korean pop group Twice, but the nine-member K-Pop superstars have put Canada, and specifically Vancouver, on the world map with their new hit video ….

“In the video, the young women appear in locations around Vancouver, singing and dancing at several spots in historic (and ultra-hip) Gastown, along the Stanley Park seawall, in a famous downtown alley, at a favourite deli and more — as well as in the fishing village of Steveston, on the White Rock pier, and while taking a ride on the SkyTrain.”

CBC Radio Q

Seen in Passing: William & Glen

by Zbigniew

Summer Safety

by Zbigniew

Net Loss City

by Zbigniew

As reported in the Vancouver Sun, census figures for 2016 show 25,502 unoccupied or empty housing units in the City of Vancouver -15 per cent higher than recorded in the previous census of 2011.

According to urban planner and Director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, the bulk of the empty units were concentrated in Coal Harbour, Marine Gateway and Joyce-Collingwood. Following Vancouver were Surrey (11,195 homes), Burnaby (5,829) and Richmond (4,021).

*

From “Population Change 2011 – 2016” by CensusMapper (based on Canada Census 2016):

This map shows the relative population change between the 2011 and 2016 censuses in each area.

The population grew in all provinces except in New Brunswick, where population dropped by half a percent.

At the Census District level there is considerable variation, with strongest population gains in urban areas.

Even within Census Metropolitan areas there are parts with population decline, as can be seen well e.g. in Vancouver ….

canada-census-map-population-change-in-vancouver

*

Every year U-Haul International, Inc. presents “migration trends” reports, based on data collected from more than 21,000 locations in all 50 states and 10 provinces.

City growth rankings are determined by the net of one-way U-Hauls arriving and departing in a calendar year.

According to this information, Kamloops leads the country in growth -that is, it leads in net arrivals. The top-ranking British Columbia cities are, Chilliwack (9th), Vernon (15th), Penticton (18th) and Merritt (24th).

As Gordon Clark underscores: 52.9 per cent of one-way U-Haul trucks leave Vancouver, compared to the 47.1 per cent that arrive.

In other words, we’re a “net loss city.”

Seen in Passing: Main & Keefer

by Zbigniew

Gentrifried Rice

Horseshit

by Zbigniew

In case it’s not already evident from these ramblings, I have a certain pessimistic disposition that rejects hullaballoo, whether its source is real estate agents, politicians, in-laws, or spectacle.

Cavalia produces spectacles. The brain-child of Normand Latourelle, a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia mixes equestrian and acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts, live music, multimedia and special effects to realize “an equestrian ballet” that explores “the fundamental relationship that humans have developed with horses throughout time, a precious bond that enabled us as humans to build bridges between cultures” -discounting of course the Mongol horde, Cossack pogroms, US Cavalry-led genocides etc etc etc. Like I said: pessimistic.

For no good reason that I can discern, complimentary tickets to the opening night Cavalia’s production of Odysseo arrive in my in-box. Instinctively, I move to delete, hesitate, and succumb to a morbid curiousity. I offer the missus the gift of spectacle, and we have a date.

vancouver-b-c-january-16-2017-big-day-to-celebrate-asMark Manen/PNG

It’s hard to miss the venue. The show -billed as “the world’s largest touring production”- is housed in an enormous tent, itself part of a complex that includes smaller tents, trailers, a corral, gas generators, floodlights, and a harras of late model white automobiles. The compound takes up a good portion of the former city works yard –somehow undeveloped- between the Olympic Village and the Cambie Street Bridge.

As you would expect of such an event, it’s heavily branded and the branding is heavily Pattison: Save-on-Foods has top billing, along with Pattison Group subsidiaries Everything Wine, Sun-Rype etc. And, to mix things up, The Keg.

There’s a concourse, of course, featuring Everything Wine, Sun-Rype etc, windbreakers emblazoned with “Odysseo,” plush horse dolls and glossy $15 programs. Taped to my seat is an envelope stuffed with coupons for things I don’t understand.

I recognize a few people: artists. The lights dim.

This is opening night –there are speeches. In contrast to all the commerce, M. Latourelle pauses in the proceedings. He calls attention to the internationality of the cast, their diverse origins and religious practices. He addresses the violence at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. His speech is punctuated by at intervals by what sounds to me a cautious applause. Something like that.

Down to business: this production marks an unprecedented return engagement for Cavalia. Latourelle thanks the Vancouver audience and his local partners by relaying a long and not very interesting story of the business that closed the deal.

Out comes Jimmy Pattison. “Expo” Jimmy doesn’t look a day over 110 in his expensive Diefenbakeresque suit. Jimmy’s quick, and hands off to Darrell Whatisname, the beefy guy from the Save-on-Food commercials. He gets the biggest applause so far, so they’ve papered the house with more than artists. Reading from cue cards Darrel makes his way through his speech like an ox in Aisle 3.

Not yet the horses.

Because it’s election season Peter “the public school system can go fuck itself” Fassbender gets a kick at the can, too. He brings greetings from the Premier (Am I hearing groans?) He rambles on about the contribution the arts make to the economy, and all the jobs that Cavalia brings and whatever.

The horses.

They are beautiful creatures. Their handlers are attractive and talented, energetic and calm. The equine and human acrobatics are impressive, the projected images phantasmagoric, and the whole thing entirely pointless and repetitive. With so much galloping, trailing banners and shouting, I imagine myself watching a dress rehearsal for a Game of Thrones season finale.

By the time the interval comes I’m thinking about Fassbender but not just Fassbender. Peter alongside Jimmy and Normand, a confluence of oligarchs, of control, capital and spectacle; an unprecedented return engagement, in an undeveloped Vancouver lot just an aquabus ride away from the new casino.

I need air.

On my way out, past the stage, I witness one of those new creative jobs in action: shoveling horseshit.

Seen in Passing: Broadway & Prince Albert

by Zbigniew

Mask 1

Mask 2

Mask 3

Mask 3 Detail

The Squids Among Us

by Zbigniew

“The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone


 

Goldman Sachs’ kind walk among us. They’re definitely smaller, a little less conspicuous, but every bit as bloodthirsty. The Beedie sub-species are on display at the 105 Keefer rezoning application open house at the Chinese Cultural Centre. They’re here to observe and spin, in the face of community opposition, a positive impression of the latest iteration of their Chinatown condominium project.

Of course they’re playing the game, making revisions, changing designs. They’re all too willing to shave off a floor, reduce the number of social housing units, and plop some art, somewhere.

But it’s their forth kick at the can. They’re not here to engage in some kind of public dialogue about the cultural life of Chinatown. This is America: time is money. It’s the square footage they want and they’ll take it anyway they can. This is going to happen, by hook, crook, and campaign donation. Patience is running low. The beast must feed.

The tension level is set by the rent-a-thugs at the front door. Beedie’s security drones are thick of limb, thicker of skull, and dead of eye. I saunter past a lunk watching me with all the sentience of an upended chesterfield. Clearly, I’m too legit. With others they take a more hands-on approach.

I enter on a demonstration already in progress: a phalanx of placarded youth are rallying against. Meanwhile, community organizer Melody Ma is being harassed by the aggressively incoherent marketing subordinate Renu Bakshi.

A few City of Vancouver flunkies decorate the periphery, trying their best to blend into the displays. They’re doing well.

Judging by the architectural drawings, Beedie & co. are definitely not wedded to an idea, a “vision.” The concept, if we can call it that, is an out-of scale lump, sporting a few Chinese characters and staggered setbacks.

105-keefer-version-4

A street-level passage will invite porousness. It’s fun trying to locate it in the renderings.

And there will be retail and restaurants, if not exactly those depicted.

retail-restaurant

I thought myself early, but the intrepid Kevin Harding is already here the better part of an hour. He reports a large crowd of very-unlikely locals filling out comment forms and promptly leaving. Stooges, more like, of the lower company echelon variety.

But senior management, the squids proper, remain. In this crowd of the unfashionably but comfortably attired they stand out like highly polished carbuncles – artisanal warts. It’s mostly white male gym jockeys, in form-fitting suits and Italian shoes. I suspect they have lines of credit to accommodate their obviously intensive grooming regimes.

Perusing the bumf, I wander into earshot of well-articulated concern about the private wealth these projects produce for a few and the negative consequences they bring to many others. Bravo.

In response a little company twerp wannabe – sporting a tight suit, a tighter haircut and a flag pole stuck up his ass – offers, “Well, there’s the Community Amenity Contribution.” I snort so hard that I involuntarily power eject a glob of winter mucus out of my left nostril. Not very classy, I know, but I would argue a fitting contribution, given the circumstances.

I wander over the scale model. This is how they see Chinatown: a bland undifferentiated collection of beige polygons begging the gift of their cynical capital.

beige-polygons

Squids drift into view. They hover over Chinatown like a pair of outsized, well-healed, coldly calculating aliens, contemplating the lifeforce to be sucked dry. And if its blood they need, the empty lot at Keefer and Columbia is a bulging artery, all too exposed to the funnels that are steadily probing.

squids


Epilogue

Outside, beyond the models and the thugs of various description, in the cold, some other ideas.

keefer-park


Postscript

joe-wai

Joe Wai

1940 to 2017


Post-postscript

SaveChinatownYVR

From Depot to Bus Stop

by Zbigniew

oakridge_transitcentreGeorgia Straight

On December 20, 2016, Translink announced the sale of its Oakridge Transit Centre property.

Previously an army barracks, since 1948 the 5.6-hectare (13.8-acre) site bounded within 37th and 41st avenues and Oak and Willow streets served as a bus depot. At its peak the Oakridge Transit Centre accommodated 244 trolley buses, 182 diesel buses and more than 1,200 staff. By 2006 most services were moved out to TransLink’s Eburne, Hamilton (Richmond) and the Burnaby facilities.

At $440 million, the sale represents the second largest real estate transaction in the province’s history, behind the $480 Jericho land sale also concluded in 2016.

The property is to be developed by Vancouver-based Intergulf Development Group, Richmond-based Kunyuan International Group -a company linked to China-based investors that has acquired more than $740 million in Metro Vancouver real estate over the past three years- and Beijing-based Modern Green Development Co. Ltd. (Developers of the offshore-marketed-by-MAC “sustainably designed” Yu residential project at UBC; “yu” meaning “jade” and jade being green … get it? Cha-ching!)

Curiously, the closed captions of a youtube video on Intergulf’s “conquest of the Cambie corridor” suggests it’s vice-president goes by the moniker Fascist Bus Stop.

fascist-bus-stop