“I think there are people who say the Vancouver model is fine, and then there are others who don’t like the Vancouver model.”
Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General
“In this chapter, we introduce the Vancouver model to tourism infrastructure planning and development. The key characteristics of this model are (1) an emphasis on private sector participation in tourism project development with little or no direct public financial support, (2) the leveraging of tourist amenities and infrastructure through private sector developments, and (3) an emphasis on planning for a liveable region, with particular emphasis on housing.”
Dennis R. Judd, The Infrastructure of Play: Building the Tourist City
“Of course, the Vancouver model lacks the keen public relations touch of the other, more media-centric New Urbanism. But that may come. Within a matter of years, the Vancouver urban prototype will save more energy, house more people, and make finer urban neigh- borhoods than all the overhyped neo-nineteenth-century projects combined. Vancouver is the portal through which the twenty-first-century city is being conceived, for good, and sometimes, for ill.”
Trevor Boddy, “New Urbanism: ‘The Vancouver Model’”
“[T]he Vancouver model is socially and politically regressive, promoting a suburban homogeneity, complacency, and torpor that threatens the capacity of cities to function as sites that support vitality, difference, and invention.”
“I was advised that the particular style of money laundering in B.C. related to B.C. casinos is being called, quote, ‘the Vancouver model’ in at least one international intelligence community.”
Hon. David Eby, Attorney General
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.
“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.”
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 ….
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.”
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.
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.
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.