fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: December, 2013

2013: The Scam Reviewed

by Zbigniew

This blog serves as a personal alter for eviscerating and laying bare the entrails of that overabundant local ruminant, the bovis sanctus siccus –the temperate sacred cow. It’s a messy job on a good day. But given the distended fecal sacks of our holy bovines, retching is not uncommon.

Has Scamcouver been successful in this regard? Probably not: at the end of the day there’s not much to be said about a slab covered in offal.

However, the audience for the gory spectacle is growing. In 2013, followers are up four-fold and readership has grown by a factor of five. There’s something of a world-wide audience, too. While the vast majority of readers are Canadian residents, Scamcouverites could be found in about 70 nations, from Albania to Viet Nam, from Iraq to Italy. The top ten non-Canadian sources are:

  • the United States of America
  • the United Kingdom
  • the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • the Netherlands
  • the Republic of France
  • Australia
  • the Republic of Korea
  • the Federative Republic of Brazil

Thanks for your interest and support -especially Lindsay.

Scamworld 2013

“Chimera” (an imaginary monster comprised of grotesquely disparate parts; a fanciful mental illusion or fabrication) was the most popular search term driving traffic to the blog. Some others:

  • arthur erickson graham house
  • arthur erickson house and garden
  • blandcouver almost afraid
  • bob rennie is an asshole
  • cash money
  • coronet theatre vancouver
  • deborra hope hopeless
  • dental building blown up vancouer
  • fake philanthropist
  • fine grained scam
  • fuck you gregor robertson
  • fuck you vancouver
  • generic cityscapes
  • gold cruiser resources ltd, gold scammer in georgia
  • gregor robertson is an arrogant asshole
  • lotus land branding strategy
  • northwest odour hastings
  • people in vancouver are fucked
  • photo violation technologies scam
  • pretty green$
  • rick cluff loves john furlong
  • technoschlub
  • vancouver crap housing
  • vancouver fire property disclosure statement residential
  • vancouver getting worse
  • vancouver real estate is fucked
  • vancouver scam infrastructure
  • vancouver stock exchange scams
  • vancouverization of los angeles
  • vancouvers worst
  • welcome to vancouver sign “buy now”
  • wind kingsgate mall
  • worst places to live in vancouver

The most popular posting in 2013 was The Worst of Vancouver Survey: “Winners”, the reader-determined shit-list of local persons, places and things. The next ten most popular postings were:

But a few of the entertaining comments received:

From Boom, in response to The Cringe: It’s You … Vancouver: “It’s you that makes me shit my pants on the skytrain. It’s you”

From Sister Jake, in response to The Worst of Vancouver Survey: “But i love vancouver! where else can you ski in the morning, play golf in the afternoon, and shoot up after a raw food dinner?”

From Ksk, in response to Welcome to Vancouver: “Truckers were considerably thinner in the 1970s.”

Scammer of the Year

To be eligible for “Scammer of the Year,” candidates must have been character assassinated in this blog’s “Scammer” category at some point over the course of the preceding 52 weeks. Candidates are judged for their ability to present themselves as stalwart citizens while simultaneously deforming the local psychogeography for their personal enrichment; extra points are awarded for overall douchebaggery. The winner will be notified of their victory by poison pen letter, which will be accompanied by the cash prize comprised of whatever Canadian Tire money I happened to have pinned to my refrigerator. A likeness of the winner will be installed in a future “Strip Mall of Shame” -development permit still awaiting City Hall approval.

The candidates for the second annual Scammer of the Year award are:

  1. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson
  2. Vancouver City Manager Penny Ballem
  3. Associate Professor, Real Estate Foundation Professorship in Real Estate Finance & Director, UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, Tsur Sommerville

For his tireless effort to shill for the real estate industry that pays his way, and the shear ridiculousness of his title, I declare Tsur Sommerville the 2013 Scammer of the Year. [Yawn]


Friends, the alarums have sounded. The New Year will immediately bring 439 Powell and the Hollywood challenges, and many others great and small. And then there’s a civic election ahead. I hope for the sake of our community that seizing the reigns is not a task beyond our grasp. I resolve to double my efforts, to dig deeper, to cut through that swollen fecal sack, if necessary. It’s a messy job and I hope see you there.

Best wishes,


Seen in Passing: Georgia & Glen

by Zbigniew


Refuge: Faraway/Close

by Zbigniew

While it takes a fair amount of time and effort to get here, by day -from some vantage points- you can see the city’s skyline in the distance. At night its glow -a dull, diffuse, orange- is an aurora urbanus marking North.

It’s on the periphery of what passes for the metropole’s economy, far enough away from the daily disruptions of place but still within the blast radius. Lately, a certain sub-species of mainlander has been making the rounds, peddling tired dreams.

But on a quiet weekend morning in winter, on an all-but-empty road doing a fair imitation of a rollercoaster, for a moment it’s a million miles away.

Like Today, Only More So

by Zbigniew


Speculative renditions of Vancouver’s future have manifested themselves recently in the popular culture, on television programs such as Continuum and video games like Mass Effect 3.

Despite the obvious dystopian elements –the giant, squid-like alien invasion fleet, the massive barriers holding back the rising ocean, the building boom that appears to have carried on uninterrupted for the next 50 years or so- there’s something reassuring and familiar about these images.

Notwithstanding the impending calamities of servitude to extraterrestrial overlords and/or ecological collapse, future Vancouverites will still be able to enjoy the beach, while sporting the latest fashions; they’ll still glimpse the majestic North Shore mountains -not yet entirely obscured by glittering ziggurats and Babel-scale condo (?) towers of tomorrow’s West End. Our troubles will not be so great that we can’t continue to ignore them.

If the speculators are correct, tomorrow will be a lot like today -only more so.



The Cringe: It’s You … Vancouver

by Zbigniew

In the Money

by Zbigniew

A few lessons from the compost that is our history:

Development is driven by the capital available.

Where omission and obfuscation are not possible, planning processes and politics can legitimize the exercise.

Community needs are irrelevant or must be squeezed into the pre-established framework.

These realities are not immutable.


From the mid-1950s through to the early ‘70s the money was in highways –or, more accurately, highways were in the money.

The federal government, with its jurisdiction over port lands, stood ready to back the construction of a third bridge over Burrard Inlet.

The CPR was prepared to hand over its Coal Harbour right-of-way for a new waterfront highway feeding bridge traffic to its Project 200, a dense shoreline forest of office highrises.

The National Housing Act made available resources for roads (that is, a freeway) to compliment the urban renewal (that is, destruction) of Strathcona.

Connecting all this, as well as a freeway along Main Street, would be an eight-lane highway, barricaded by 30 ft walls, running through the middle of Chinatown (Carrall Street, to be precise).


freeway68The pin in this urban grenade was the decrepit Georgia Viaduct. An obligation build of the CPR, it was constructed in 1915 in the classic Vancouver manner: quick and nasty.

“ … it was never a sound bridge. Streetcar tracks were laid but never used. Every second lamppost was removed to save weight. Much blacktop was used to fill mysterious sags and hollows in the deck. People passing below were injured by falling concrete, and concrete spans were propped with timber.” 1

It had to go. In 1965 Vancouverites were asked to vote on a $10 million by-law authorizing city council to replace the crumbling viaduct. While no mention was made of the new viaduct’s role as part of an extensive freeway system, council –led by reactionary mayor and real estate shill Tom “Terrific” Campbell- effectively had its green light.

“Yet none of the ‘components’ were officially adopted by city council, except for the waterfront freeway which had been approved in principle … council was committing $10 million of the taxpayers money to a project which was expected to fix Vancouver’s transportation system permanently in the direction of this freeway system without any public discussion.” 2

The shit hit the fan with the presentation to council of the Vancouver Transportation Study on June 1, 1967: “City council’s intention to accept the recommendations of the VTS sparked the strongest public protest Vancouver had ever experienced.” 3

The campaign to save Chinatown was led by local business, architects, and benevolent societies.

The Strathcona protests led to creation of the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association. (It also led, not incidentally, to the creation of CFRO Co-op Radio.)

The Citizens Committee for Public Transit and the North Shore Transportation Committee opposed the Third Crossing long enough and effectively enough to cause a rift among local Liberal MPs. The project was shelved and the Seabus was established instead.

Ultimately, the viaducts were built, but the freeway system was dead.  “The people had won. It was an exhilarating experience of popular empowerment …. Today, Vancouver notably remains one of the only major North American cities with virtually no freeways within its municipal boundaries….” 4


Gordon Price: “The story of how Chinatown and Strathcona were saved is now part of the mythology of this city – still insufficiently documented.”

That’s all too true. In the meantime, there’s the oral history.

A long, long time planner with the city told me once that the protests ushered in a community consultation process for development proposals that was largely respected by mayors Art Phillips, Jack Volrich, Mike Harcourt, Gordon Campbell (yes), Phillip Owen, and Larry Campbell.

He also told me that consultation system was effectively dismantled by Mayor Sam Sullivan –or, rather, it was taken apart by the then defacto mayor, City Manager Judy Rogers. Like all bureaucratic lifers, the democratic process was just too restrictive for her.

Enter Gregor Robertson and Vacuum Vancouver.


By the by, you can still glimpse the earlier Georgia Viaduct. Remains of the on/off ramp can be seen facing east from Georgia, just west of Main. It’s in that little unused space right next to the Murrin Substation.

And a condo development.


1 Chuck Davis (ed), The Great Vancouver Book. “Bridges of Greater Vancouver”, Robert Harris; page 214.

2 Donald Gutstein, Vancouver Ltd.; page 154

3 Vancouver Ltd.; page 155

4 Lance Berelowitz, Dream City; page 82

No New Thing

by Zbigniew

“The parties’ handling of the major issues for Vancouver –control of growth and citizen participation- shows that they have little dedication to interests of the present residents of Vancouver. Even the city hall bureaucracy seems structured to accommodate developers and is little able to preserve and maintain existing neighbourhoods or current value systems.

“Vancouver’s destiny has been in the grip of profit-hungry developers and speculators ever since there was a Vancouver –and even before.

“But it hasn’t been all bad. Time after time, average Vancouver residents have come to the rescue, to stop developments when they were seen to be harmful to the interests of the citizens or destructive to the environment. The recent history of Vancouver is rich in such actions …. As well as the big-name fights, there have been innumerable confrontations with bulldozers and unscrupulous landlords, unsympathetic city council and the indifferent bureaucracy at city hall. These actions demonstrate that the citizens of Vancouver are deeply concerned about their environment and living conditions.

“Nor is citizen action in Vancouver a new thing.”

Donald Gutstein, Vancouver Ltd., 1975

Harmony of Sea & City

by Zbigniew

HarmonyOmni, May 1980