fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: December, 2015

2015: The Scam Reviewed

by Zbigniew

As 2015 draws to a close, the New Year is being heralded by the chorus of chainsaws and bulldozers -regularly punctuated by shouts of “RACISM” Blue skies and sunshine, sure, but it’s pretty chilly in the long shadows of residential towers and supply-side solutions. Feeling the cold? Well, you can always warm up with a dish named for the greediest man in town. Or, work harder.

In 2015 news of Our Scam made its way to some new and exotic lands, including Belize, Croatia, Cyprus, Macau SAR, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Senegal. Also, China.

The most popular posts of 2015:

My personal favourite, virtually ignored, was Sphere of Influence, wherein an attempt was made to define the extent of Vancouver socio-poleconomic influence through the use of FM radio transmissions.

The most “clicked” media in 2015:

Pedestrian AccidentsCrashes Involving Pedestrians, 2009-2013, Insurance Corporation of BC

Ski and Knife FightRod Filbrandt, Tar Paper Town

Bruce Stewart: Dollarton Pleasure Faire, 1972

Bruce Stewart: Dollarton Pleasure Faire, 1972


Beyond “scamcouver” and “gregor robertson and/or bob rennie plus colourful adjective,” some of the more interesting search terms driving traffic to this downbeat blog included the following:

  • “astoria rent cheque”
  • “maplewood flats squatters”
  • “2968 mathers crescent west Vancouver”
  • “’lotusland’ branding strategy”
  • “why is vancouver so fucked up”
  • “why is north vancouver so lame”
  • “west vancouver people are stuck up”
  • “developer nick bosa is an asshole”

Some of the comments left here in 2015:

“Do you think bjarke is on coke or meth?”

-Jenables, on Bjarke Ingels in Gesamtarbeits Scheiße

“Wanting? More like ‘Lacking’”

-kasimirkish, on the Mayor’s canto-pop star Wanting Qu in The Cringe: Love Birds

“Oh man, this is painful to watch. It’s almost hard to tell if it’s a parody or not. I thought university was supposed to be fun. Where’s the ultimate frisbee and alcohol poisoning?”

-Mark, on squeaky-clean kids and the transit referendum in The Cringe: Plebiscite Hell

“[I]t’s also pretty hilariously entertaining to think these city planners and staff take their jobs so seriously, yet are so consistently bad at what they do.”

-Jennifer, in Sub-Area Monopoly


“Good job, Vision! Now you can bump up the ‘new parks created’ number on your next re-election brochure.”

-Fred Victer, in The View from Here

Alas, Fred was not totally satisfied with my efforts, as noted n the response to At the Margins: “There are plenty of things to critique about public transit and land policy in Greater Vancouver; your cutting but pleasing writing style is underemployed in this case.” Fred, your critique, nestled in praise, is much appreciated.

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 douchey behavior. 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” –although the development permit is still awaiting City Hall approval.

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

  1. For unashamedly and with a straight face promoting a complete pile of steaming shit as a “complete work of art” in a northern European accent, Bjarke Ingels.
  2. For camping out for four nights in the midst of the Welfare Challeneng in order to purchase a $36,000 bottle of scotch, and for appearing in a Uwe Boll film, Delta Group factotum Bruce Langereis.
  3. For watering lawns in the midst of a drought and a ban on such activity, the University of British Columbia.

And the winner is … Bjarke Ingels.

Green Growth Leaders Paneldebat med erhvervsledere

The Last Word


2015 in an image: international capital, local capital, and the front.

Wishing you better in 2016,


Soul Crushing

by Zbigniew

“Each of those casements opened onto a room where how many comedies had transpired! And how many dramas, for that matter! Their shudders had been closed in times of mourning, they had been bedecked with bunting and hung with fairy lights on occasions of victory. For the first time there came to me the vague thought that houses have a soul, composed of the joys and sorrows and labors of those they have sheltered, and that all have their history: secret, romantic, or joyful.”

G. Lenotre, in Luc Sante’s The Other Paris



“When these old homes come down, a whole history goes with them—the materials that were used to build them, the gardens, the successive owners and their secrets. These old houses and apartments are repositories of narrative. The story of our city is diminished every time one disappears.”

Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition & Revival, Anvil Press


Good Luck City

by Zbigniew

From National Geographic, “Vancouver – Good Luck City,” April 1992:

Good Luck City 1

Good Luck City 2


by Zbigniew


“The World Soundscape Project (WSP) was established as an educational and research group by R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It grew out of Schafer’s initial attempt to draw attention to the sonic environment through a course in noise pollution, as well as from his personal distaste for the more raucous aspects of Vancouver’s rapidly changing soundscape.

“The project initiated the modern study of Acoustic Ecology. Its ultimate goal is ‘to find solutions for an ecologically balanced soundscape where the relationship between the human community and its sonic environment is in harmony.'”

The World Soundscape Project


Excerpt from “harsh noise” performer The Rita’s response to Pietro Sammarco’s Vancouver Noise & the Harmoniously Productive City, December 9th, 2015:

Seen in Passing: Stanley Park Dr. & Avison Way

by Zbigniew


Strictly by the Numbers

by Zbigniew

1884-east-end-priv-subdivHistoric Atlas of Vancouver & the Lower Fraser Valley (Douglas & McIntyre, 2005)

1897-1901 - Key Map AKey Plan to the July 1897 Fire Insurance Map of Vancouver (updated to 1901)

406ldff4a-1926-4573-8c0e-63065e3fc0c6-MAP343City of Vancouver Archives, AM1594-MAP 343-: MAP 343.01

CFD_NGwW0AETW31.jpg_large_aBrewery & China creeks, source unknown

bab1d482-5b72-4aa3-893a-c2c9ab241fed-MAP420City of Vancouver Archives, AM1594-: MAP 420

Postal Zones

Vancouver Postal CodesSarnia Flowers

STC94-943_Vancouver_map2aCensus of Canada (1981) Geography Files


districtsVancouver Police Department, Patrol Districts


CVAGzbNUwAAFxal.jpg_large1988 Electoral Boundaries Commission






MarketTrends-Residential-Detached-Homes-Vancouver_AUGUST-2015Urban Vancouver Properties, Market Trends



The Lifestyle Bubble

by Zbigniew

“For the port authority, a key issue is the dwindling supply of industrial space near marine terminals. Municipalities in the Lower Mainland have responded to soaring demand for real estate by re-zoning commercial land for condos and retail. But [Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin] Silvester warns the trend will soon begin to choke off the port’s operations if big companies … can no longer find adjacent land to build or expand their distribution centres. ‘We’re at a risk of hitting an economic brick wall,’ he says, adding that it’s not just a local issue since one out of every five dollars of trade with Canada moves through Vancouver. ‘We think there’s less than a 10-year supply of industrial land left in the Lower Mainland.’”

What’s the point of Vancouver?“, Chris Sorensen, Maclean’s


From Port Metro Vancouver’s Port 2050, “Local Fortress” scenario:

“Toward the end of this scenario, the Lower Mainland looks very different than it did in 2011. In many areas, including Burrard Inlet, waterfront industry has given way to residential uses and tourism amenities.

“Some people view this transition as a positive outcome. For those who can afford it, the Lower Mainland is still a pleasant place to live and visit. But something important has been lost in this urban experiment. The region has become a lifestyle bubble for many; a place to retire and retreat.

“While ethnically still diverse, the region is paradoxically less global, more inwardly focused and less tolerant of different worldviews. Looking back, that creative tension between business and community was an important source of balance and vitality in the region. By pushing major industry outside of the Lower Mainland, the area lost some of its character, vibrancy and its sense of authenticity.”



Walking north, across Venables and along the tracks. It’s industrial-strength Sunday quiet.

No one’s around at the moment, but it’s clear people live here. There are rudimentary shelters, waste (a diverse assortment of empty containers, a disemboweled flat tube era television) and photos -although these seem to lack a personal connection and are only remotely decorative.

Moving on. A few steps north, just on the other side of the Hastings viaduct, and I am suddenly disoriented. Something’s missing. I take in the pit, the excavation, the crane standing at the ready, and I know that more people will be sleeping by the tracks, many more. But officially: legally sanctioned, neatly demarcated into numbered rectangular parcels, with decorative prints, flat screen TVs, and scheduled rubbish removal.

The assembly is just a formality. This is old. The pressure front has already moved on. Immediately to the west and north, in the crane’s shadow, encroaching on that narrow strip between Hastings and the water, the mistakable signs of the advancing bubble.