23 November 2015

Blowing your leaves into the street could cost you

Ross McLaughlin and Lisa Green, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, November 23, 2015 6:00AM PST

In the last couple of weeks, heavy rains have caused many streets to flood and Vancouver city crews have had their hands full clearing out drains.

Albert Shamess, the Director of Vancouver Waste Management showed CTV News the problem in one neighbourhood.

“So what we’ve got here is we’ve got a catch basin that’s been covered over with leaves,” Shamess pointed out.

In some cases it’s just a consequence of a lot of trees but part of the problem is blamed on negligence – some people will blow leaves into the street to clear their yard and sidewalk.

“Well I think they blow them into the streets and expect us to pick them up,” says Shamess.
CTV News observed a number of people with leaf blowers in downtown Vancouver blowing leaves into the street without picking them up.

The City has a law against leaving leaves and yard trimmings in the street and depending on the severity, the fine can be up to $2,000.

“We haven’t handed out very many at all at this point but as things get worse in the future continue to get worse we may end up having to do that,” Shamess said.

In an effort to get ahead of the problem, Vancouver street cleaners are moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood to remove piles of leaves that have fallen from the streets or have been left behind by others.

The City of Vancouver needs you to do your part too to help out and reminds everyone to pay attention to the street cleaning signs. If you don’t move your car you could find it towed.

Right now the city is just giving warning tickets and towing the vehicle to a spot nearby. If the problem gets worse, fines may be issued in the future.

(c) 2015 CTV  

Grinch tries to steal Christmas, but the show will go on!

Vancouver Park Board
Media Advisory
November 23, 2015
The Grinch tried to steal Christmas, but the Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park will forge ahead for the 18th year in a row.

Thieves stole about $7,000 worth of extension cords, probably for the copper they contain, on Remembrance Day. Despite the setback, the seasonal attraction will be up and running as scheduled on November 26.

All front gate donations and a portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. More than $1.5 million has been raised to help burn survivors and their families since 1998. 

Eight hundred fire fighters volunteer more than 8,000 hours to set up, operate and tear down three million lights at the train and plaza.

Media are invited to learn more:

When: Monday, November 23, 1 pm
Where: Stanley Park Train, Pipeline Road
Who: Vancouver Park Board Vice Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung, fire fighters, burn survivors, Santa Claus
What: Train ride and fire fighters setting up lights

This year, the attraction includes a new station to protect visitors from the elements. Architectural features in the station reflect the previous structure, which was destroyed in a fire in 2012.

Trains depart every 4.5 minutes during peak periods for the 15-minute journey. It is one of Vancouver's most popular family attractions, carrying more than 200,000 passengers per year.

During Bright Nights, the train’s four engines and three sets of cars travel more than 5,000 kilometres—the distance across Canada. Bright Nights runs until January 2 and is closed Christmas Day. Visitors are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.

More information and tickets available at vancouver.ca.


Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board

19 November 2015

Vancouver to create a new parks and recreation master plan

The Vancouver Park Board is seeking experienced consultants to help it dream up a new, long-term master plan for all of the city’s parks and recreation facilities.

It’s been 23 years since the park board last updated the master plan that governs the more than 230 public parks and 55 recreation facilities enjoyed by more than 600,000 residents and an unknown number of visitors from neighbouring municipalities and around the world.

And given a lot has changed since 1992 – the year the Blue Jays won their first World Series, Justin Trudeau was an 18-year-old camp councillor and Vancouver councillors approved the design of the central library – the park board believes it’s time for a plan that reflects a new reality, said research and planning manager Dave Hutch.

“Our demographics are changing, we’re becoming an older city, and trends in park use and recreation are changing as well,” Hutch said Monday. “It will make sure we’re investing in the right things in the right places in the city.”

Fewer people play racquetball. Skateboarders have sanctioned city parks. Parkour exists. Baby boomers are more interested in walking instead of activities. 

But more drastic is the change in where people live given geography will shape where the park board focuses its resources, Hutch said. He cited the 60,000 additional people living on the downtown peninsula and the explosion of growth along the Cambie corridor as examples.

The park board wants to hire outside help because of the workload anticipated in refreshing the plan, which will involve significant consultation with the community, Hutch said.

It’s also looking for experts that have experience planning parks and recreation in other major centres in North America or even around the world.

It’s a competitive bid process so Hutch could not reveal how much the park board hopes to pay these consultants, but there is $1.5 million set aside for planning in the park board’s three-year capital plan.

It will take several months for the park board to select a consultant. If all goes well, it will start the anticipated 18-month master planning process by summer 2016. 

(c) 2015  Metro 

17 November 2015

Can we safely screen 25,000 refugees?

Toronto Pearson International Airport processed 38 million passengers last year. 23 million international and transborder, so that's over 11 million arrivals per year, or 32,000 per day, all being security screened by CBSA. That's one airport. Every single day. Sure, screening refugees is more in depth, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the number of people entering Canada every year. The suggestion that our ability to conduct security screenings is a legitimate reason for turning away 25,000 people fleeing a brutal war zone is a smoke-screen.

13 November 2015

Sunset Park set for $3 million upgrade

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Vancouver Park Board is proposing to spend $3 million to update the city’s Sunset Park — with new pathways, a playground, skateboarding, and a basketball facility in the books.

Board commissioners are expected to vote on Monday on whether to approve the plan after a pair of open houses were previously held for nearby residents.

The vast majority of the feedback had suggested the park needs more natural forest areas, particularly around the historic stream that runs through the park, and that new paths were needed to take park around the 3.4 hectare property.

Currently, the park has a large area to its northeastern quarter that’s relatively unused and being proposed as the site of the new playground, a relocated dog off-leash area and an exercise circuit.

The skatepark and basketball court, meanwhile, are being proposed adjacent to the community centre along the park’s Main Street face.

The Park Board currently has secured $700,000 of the funds it requires to make the upgrade happen. It expects additional funding to be accessible in the 2017 budget. Construction is also expected to begin in 2017.

 (c) 2015 Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

11 November 2015

Andrew Wapachee: Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute

Year after year we wear poppies to commemorate Remembrance Day and give thanks to all of the fallen and wounded soldiers who served their country. First Nations soldiers played an important role in both World War I and II and today we are honoured to bring you the story of Private Andrew Wapachee.

Andrew Wapachee was born in 1900 in a Hudson’s Bay trading post that later became Hannah Bay Goose Camp located about 45 km east of Moose Factory. His father was William Wapachee from Nemaska. His mother passed away within a few hours after his birth, and he only survived as result of the other women at the post, who graciously cared for and fed him. Andrew’s father was a trapper and spent his time in the bush and as a result, Andrew was raised by his Grandmother.

At the young age of 17, Andrew heard about the Great War and left to enlist. He left his Grandmother and paddled to Moose Factory to answer the call to fight in the war. Andrew didn’t speak English and enlisted with the help of a translator named Bertie Morrison. Andrew was sent to the east coast of Canada, then to England for training and then to the European battlefields of France, Belgium and Germany.

During one battle, after an explosion, Andrew found himself under a pile of bodies. After trying to crawl out he saw the enemy advancing and shooting his comrades who were still alive. In order to survive, he played dead and after this ordeal, Andrew was able to flee and return to his battalion where he continued to serve. When the First World War ended, Andrew was on the outskirts of Bonn, Germany and when they entered the city and marched through the streets, Andrew and his battalion were greeted with roaring cheers from both sides of the streets.

Andrew later mentioned to his son Bert Wapachee that he often prayed during the war and attributes his survival to this. When the 2nd Great War started, Andrew once again tried to answer the call to fight, however by this time, he had a family and was prevented from leaving after his wife convinced him that he had served enough.

This is one shining story of many from the Cree Nation; if you have a story about your family serving, please share it with us. We would love to hear them. Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute 

09 November 2015

Aboriginal veterans march in Vancouver as part of national day

B.C Grand Chief says many Aboriginal veterans highly decorated

CBC News Posted: Nov 08, 2015 5:22 PM PT Last Updated: Nov 08, 2015 5:32 PM PT
An veteran who attended National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Vancouver on November 8, 2015.
An veteran who attended National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Vancouver on November 8, 2015. (CBC)
Aboriginal veterans marched through downtown Vancouver to mark National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Canada, which was first was celebrated in Manitoba in 1994 and is now held every year on November 8.

In Vancouver there was a ceremony Sunday morning at Victory Square. Dozens of veterans from a variety of combat missions took part.

"A lot of people don't know how many of our people have actually gone," said Robert Nahanee who served in the Canadian Army in the 1960s and 1970s and is from the Squamish First Nation.

Robert Nahanee Aboriginal Veteran
Robert Nahanee, a member of the Squamish First Nation, served in the Canadian military in the 1960s and 1970s. (CBC)

Nahanee said it is important to honour older relatives who went off to fight overseas. He said a large percentage of people from his village, in the area known as Lower Lonsdale, fought for Canada.

"During that time out of 250 people the way I understand it, 50 of our people served in the Canadian army and the American army, and the remainder of that was at home, that were able to work in the shipyards ... building warships. So they played a major role in who we are as a free country, as Canada."

Nahanee says National Aboriginal Veterans Day helps create awareness of the role Aboriginal people played in military service throughout Canadian history.

It's something Grand Chief Stewart Phillip from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs agrees with.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip at Victory Square
Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says First Nations people have willingly served in Canadian military operations to protect values of democracy and freedom. (CBC)

"Many of our aboriginal veterans were highly decorated and we take great pride in that fact and we commemorate this very special day, here on November the 8th to draw public attention and to pay respects to the families," he said.

Veterans Affairs Canada says the estimates are that as many as 12,000 Aboriginal people served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.

This year the Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (CAV) is giving out new medallions to recognize the contributions of aboriginal veterans.

Further remembrance ceremonies will take place at Victory Square in Vancouver on Wednesday, November 11.

(c) 2015  CBC News Posted: Nov 08, 2015 5:22 PM PT Last Updated: Nov 08, 2015 5:32 PM PT

07 November 2015

Skeptic says demolition doesn’t add up

Councillor questions where cash will come from; residents angry park is still years away

“The people of False Creek have been waiting 25 years for the delivery of Creekside Park.

29 Oct 2015, The Vancouver Sun, JOHN MACKIE jmackie@vancouversun.com

To listen to City of Vancouver staff, tearing down the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts will be a win-win.

There won’t be much effect on traffic, there will be a bigger Creekside Park, and the $200-million cost of tearing down the massive structures will be covered by a projected $300 million in community amenity contributions, development cost levies and land sales in the neighbourhood.
But there are skeptics, including NPA Coun. George Affleck.

“They’re saying that the costs will be underwritten by the project in a mysterious way,” Affleck said. “From what I can tell, it looks like they will be raiding the community amenity contributions from across the city to underwrite the costs of this.”

Community amenity contributions are fees the city collects from developers to pay for things like parks and daycares.

Affleck questions whether the city will be able to squeeze the projected $300 million out of a developer like Concord Pacific, which owns a big chunk of land near the viaducts.

“I don’t see that math adding up,” Affleck said. “The Concord deal is a provincial deal. There are limitations to what we can extract unless the province decides to change their deal with Concord.”
(The Concord Pacific land was purchased from the province in 1988, when the company bought the former Expo 86 site.)

Affleck’s concerns were dismissed by Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs.

“The staff gave assurances as well that the revenue opportunities are significant,” Meggs said. “They come from the site. They’re not going to be imposed on people from around the city.”

Most of the criticism of the plan for the viaducts was levelled at the timeline for Creekside Park, which may not be finished for another decade.

False Creek residents have been angry at the city and Concord Pacific for years because of delays in completing the park — there are an estimated 1,500 green lights hanging in windows throughout the neighbourhood as a protest.

On Tuesday, council voted in favour of a staff recommendation to tear down the viaducts. Green Coun. Adriane Carr tried to add an amendment that stated the park should be finished by 2024, but was rebuffed.

“The people of False Creek have been waiting 25 years for the delivery of Creekside Park,” she said. “Supposedly bringing down the viaducts will facilitate the faster development of that park, and certainly Vision has been lauding the park delivery as a key part of the viaducts decision.

“(But) when I put it into the form of an amendment, they said that would be a false promise, and they couldn’t necessarily deliver it, and it was out of our hands.”

Meggs voted against amendment.

“Coun. Carr’s motion would have required us to complete the park, whether or not the financial arrangements were in line with what Concord’s legal obligations are,” he said. “The delivery of the park is triggered by rezoning. And the rezoning can’t occur until the park configuration is confirmed, which we did last night. (But) there still has to be important negotiations with Carr’s Concord, and they have to satisfy staff and council that they’re making the appropriate contributions to the park, daycare, to whatever the other community amenity contributions are.”

That wasn’t good enough for False Creek resident John Murray.

“They keep saying, ‘Look, the viaducts come down and you are going to get this outstanding, beautiful, bigger, better park,’” Murray said.

“They don’t say that this is a park that is 25 years overdue, and actually all we’re doing is shuffling things around, and you’re getting the same size park except it’s going to be fragmented, and the developer is getting more waterfront property.

“That is basically what is happening, and we’re frustrated to no end with that.”

Murray said in 2004 the city rewrote a provision in the Concord Pacific deal that allowed it to delay building the park. He would like to see the city play hardball with the company and speed things up.
“Other developers have had to come up front with a park, or cash in lieu,” he said. “Bosa did that way back in the ’90s, and Concord has been able to keep going on (without building a park).

“They’re actually making money off all that land and not paying any taxes, and they’ve put nothing up front.”

Provincial Transportation Minister Todd Stone weighed in on the viaducts issue from Victoria, where he told reporters it has been “a number of years since the city took meaningful steps to reach out to PavCo, which owns and operates BC Place (Stadium).”

It is unclear what Stone’s issues with the city’s plans were. The proposed Georgia Street extension would go over top of Griffiths Way, a street that trucks use to load equipment at the stadium.

“What we have said to the city is any of these changes must take into account our load-in,” PavCo’s Duncan Blomfeld said. “The city came back to us and told us it won’t affect the load-in and load-out of the stadium.”

(c)  2015, The Vancouver Sun, JOHN MACKIE jmackie@vancouversun.com