Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kirk LaPointe easier to know than Gregor Robertson: Vancouver Courier September 10, 2014



As a result of his limited participation in electoral debates and media interviews, I think most Vancouverites do not really know a lot about Mayor Gregor Robertson's views on most issues other than bike lanes and being green. Photo Michael Geller

I will never forget the first time I met Sam Davis, a former mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick. I had just been introduced to him as the new federal government project manager for his city’s Market Square Project when he looked at me and said “10D.”

“I beg your pardon” I replied.

“10D, that’s your shoe size. I used to be in the shoe business.”

I have not forgotten the first time I met Gregor Robertson. He had just won the Vision mayoral contest and a mutual friend invited us to meet over breakfast at Paul’s Omelettery on Granville Street. I have no recollection of what we discussed, but I remember what he ate.
 
While my friend and I ordered omelettes, the future mayor ordered pancakes with whipped cream and fruit. But first he enquired whether the fruit was fresh. The server returned to say the fruit had been frozen, but he ordered it anyway.

Subsequently, I have run into the mayor at various occasions and found him to be a pleasant person, but cannot say I have gotten to know him.

Media acquaintances who have often interviewed him over the past six years have told me the same thing. Despite their interactions, they, too, do not feel they know him at all.

I first met Robertson’s opponent Kirk LaPointe at his summer NPA mayoral announcement. We have subsequently been together on a few occasions. I attended a session he organized to discuss housing affordability with neighbourhood planning and housing experts, and one of the many breakfast meetings being arranged so others can get to know him.

I invited him to speak to a lunchtime discussion group I belong to — the Vancouver Roundtable — which has been meeting every Tuesday since 1926. Yes, 1926! There he did not need to be introduced. He knew most of the people in the room.

I greatly enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink and like many of the characters in the book, think I can generally assess situations and people from first impressions. However Kirk LaPointe is not so easy to typecast.

My first impression was of an intelligent, urbane guy who probably grew up in an affluent neighbourhood. I subsequently learned he is quite cerebral but was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was raised by a single mother and did not meet a brother who was put up for adoption until later in life.

I was also surprised to learn he coaches girls’ softball, which did not quite fit with my first impression.  I should add this was a pleasant surprise.

Just prior to our recent breakfast meeting I heard Bruce Allen ranting about bicycle lanes and asked LaPointe if he knew Allen. “Quite well” he replied. “I met him when I was writing for Billboard Magazine.”

It turns out he was Canadian editor of Billboard in 1983 and stayed for eight years, reporting weekly on the music industry. I did not ask if he played the tuba, but somehow doubt it.

While Vancouver media may not feel they know Gregor Robertson, they know Kirk LaPointe. After all, many worked for him when he was managing editor of the Vancouver Sun. Others know him from CTV where he was senior vice-president, news or the CBC where he was host on Newsworld in the early ‘90s, and more recently the network’s ombudsman.
 
Given his very impressive background in Canadian media and other activities, one of the questions LaPointe is often asked is why he decided to enter politics. He responds that politicians and the media have much in common in that they both want to change society. They just go about it in different ways.

Moreover, many media personalities have gone on to be very successful politicians including Rene Levesque, Ralph Klein and Winston Churchill.

I am sure we will all learn much more about Kirk LaPointe in the coming months. Hopefully we will also learn a more about Gregor Robertson. But first we need to end the school strike which unfortunately, but quite rightly, is dominating the news.

© Vancouver Courier
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-kirk-lapointe-easier-to-know-than-gregor-robertson-1.1349447#sthash.nmr80ADQ.dpuf

Passions flare over parking problems: Vancouver Courier September 3, 2014

At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers

When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.

“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.

I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.

While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.

We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.

Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.

I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.

I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.

I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. 

In Spain parking lot operators charge by the minute, not the hour or half hour
While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour. That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.

Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.

Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Many of us get quite upset when others park their cars in front of our house!
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.

Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.

While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?

Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.

On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.

And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
As more of us drive electric cars, it is going to create new problems, especially for those living in condominiums
 See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf

Opinion: Passions flare over parking problems

Michael Geller / Vancouver Courier
September 2, 2014 02:33 PM
At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers
When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.
“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.
I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.
While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.
We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.
Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.
I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.
I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.
I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour.
That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.
Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.
Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.
Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.
While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?
Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.
On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.
And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf

Opinion: Passions flare over parking problems

Michael Geller / Vancouver Courier
September 2, 2014 02:33 PM
At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers
When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.
“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.
I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.
While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.
We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.
Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.
I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.
I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.
I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour.
That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.
Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.
Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.
Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.
While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?
Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.
On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.
And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf

Upcoming Heritage Vancouver events! Check them out!

Here is some news on some very worthwhile Heritage Vancouver events:

Walking Tour: Historic Chinatown

Sunday, September 21st; 10am to 12:30pm
Tourguide: Larry Wong
Meet at Millenium Gate
$10 Heritage Vancouver members; $15 non-members

Join Larry Wong, who was born and raised in Chinatown, as he takes you on an intimate tour of Chinatown. Larry is a public historian for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. Find out how the World’s Narrowest Building came to be, visit the original site of the CPR Roundhouse before it was moved to Yaletown and find out the history of several heritage buildings such as the Chinese Freemasons and the Yip Sang building built in 1889.

Learn how the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association prevented the demolition of the Strathcona area and a proposed freeway which would have endangered Chinatown as we know it today. 

Purchase your tickets at www.heritagevancouver.org or purchase in cash 15 minutes before start of tour


Walking Tour: Behind The Scenes at The Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park


Saturday, September 27th; 10am to 1pm
Tourguides: John Coupar and Vicky Earle
$20 Includes Admission to Bloedel Conservatory

Heritage Vancouver Society and the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association invite you to join Park Board Commissioner, John Coupar and VanDusen Botanical Garden Governor, Vicky Earle for a tour of the Conservatory and Gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park. Find out about the history of the park and conservatory, the techniques used to restore the roof and life of the plants and birds that call Bloedel home. Purchase your tickets at www.heritagevancouver.org



Frances Willard Commemoration and Walking Tour of Stanley Park Monuments

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014; 11am to 2pm
Location: The Stanley Park Pavilion, 610 Pipeline Road, Stanley Park

11 am: Refreshments and Display
11:45 am: Introduction, followed by Talk by Chris Hay
12:30 pm: Walking Tour of Stanley Park Monuments with Donald Luxton (ticket required); meet in front of Stanley Park Pavilion. Tickets for Walking Tour: $10 HV members; $15 non-members

Join us for a historic commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the unveiling of the Frances Willard Plaque in Stanley Park. The plaque and tree planting on September 28, 1939 commemorated the 100th birthday of Frances Elizabeth Willard, founder of the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the organization that led the campaign for women winning the vote in many countries.

We will recognize newly-discovered historical connections between this site and events considered to be of National Historic Significance. Historian Chris Haywill discuss the historic importance of the plaque and these events to BC women winning the vote, and will mount a display of historic information. This is a kick-off event for October’s National Women’s History Month in Canada; there is also a remarkable connection between NWHM and this event!

Light refreshments will be provided courtesy the Capilano Group of Companies, operators of the Stanley Park Pavilion.Following the event, join Donald Luxton, past-President of Heritage Vancouver, for a lively and informative walking tour of some of the monuments in Stanley Park, including the Japanese Canadian War Memorial, which is currently under restoration.

Purchase your tickets at www.heritagevancouver.org


A Converation with Brian Jackson about Heritage in Vancouver

September 29th; 7:00pm to 9:00pm
The Town Hall Meeting Room, main floor Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue (enter by front door)
Admission $10, (all revenues from the event support Heritage Vancouver’s conservation initiatives)

Heritage Vancouver welcomes Brian Jackson, General Manager, Planning and Development Services for the City of Vancouver for our annual heritage review. This will include heritage priorities as seen in 2014 and looking ahead to the future of heritage in Vancouver. Heritage Vancouver works closely with the City of Vancouver to find solutions for the conservation of our heritage structures.

Discussions over the past year have included the The Heritage Action Plan,  the Vancouver Building Bylaw, Heritage Schools, the Hollywood Theatre, First Shaughnessy,  the demolition of the Legg House, and Heritage as part of the neighbourhood plans. We encourage you to submit questions prior to the event to info@heritagevancouver.org to ensure that your questions are on the agenda.  
Purchase your tickets at www.heritagevancouver.org

For more details, contact:
Helen Phillips

Program Coordinator
Heritage Vancouver Society
www.heritagevancouver.org