28 March 2010

“A Little Night Music”

Bloedel Floral Conservatory Fundraiser
Wednesday April 28th 7:30 - 9:30 pm
$20 per ticket

Join the Friends of Bloedel Floral Conservatory for a glass of Champagne, some tropically inspired chocolates and live performances at “A Little Night Music”, a mini-fundraiser under the dome, on Wednesday April 28th from 7:30 – 9:30 pm.

The West Coast Symphony trio, viola sensation Nathaniel Wong and up-and-coming Opera soprano Lucy Smith will perform throughout the Conservatory while participants sip their libations all under the watchful eyes of Bloedel’s chatty parrots and over 100 free flying birds.

A Little Night Music will be a perfect after dinner event to enjoy, sans overcoat, while getting reacquainting with one of Vancouver’s iconic public facilities. Located at Vancouver’s pinnacle at 501 feet above sea level, The Bloedel Conservatory is the crowning glory of the city’s public horticultural jewel, Queen Elizabeth Park (33rd & Cambie Street).

Tickets to A Little Night Music can be purchased in advance for $20 each or at the door the evening of the event for $25. Funds will go to saving the Bloedel Conservatory which was targeted as a Park Board budget cut late last year.

Purchase $20 Tickets in advance, in person or by phone at:
Hobbs Gift Store
2129 West 41st Avenue

For further information please phone Terri Clark at 778-866-9875

27 March 2010

Stuart Mackinnon a beacon of hope for Green Party

Post by Daniel in

Would Stuart Mackinnon's Green Party slate stand a chance in "green" Vancouver?

It took him a while to get his feet wet, but Canada's only elected Green Party official Stuart Mackinnon seems to be hitting his stride lately. As a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, Mackinnon has increasingly found himself as the lone voice holding the government's feet to the fire.

When it came to Vision slashing the budget for parks and recreation programs in Vancouver, it was Mackinnon that spoke out the loudest in opposition to the cuts. I happened to be in the council chamber when he made a presentation to the elected officials begging them to protect funding for Vancouver's parks. They didn't. Rather, the Vision representatives peppered him with a series of petty questions which were greeted by jeers and "boos" from the audience.

Just last week Mackinnon voted against his Vision/COPE/NPA colleagues to oppose what he called the corporatization of city parks. He was the sole commissioner to say nay to the proposal to open up a new Milestones restaurants on English Bay. Although I don't happen to agree with his position, Mackinnon speaks for a lot of people who simply don't support putting any additional corporate presence in city parks. I know from experience he represents a large portion of the electorate in Vancouver who support this view.

With Mackinnon standing up for traditional "left" issues and COPE regularly voting in unison with their Vision brothers and sisters, he is cleverly carving out a niche for himself with voters. This has some wondering if Mackinnon has bigger plans to either run for Council, or to perhaps run for the top spot himself. It's not that inconceivable (based on his voting pattern) that Mackinnon could make an argument that Vision has moved too far to the right and no longer represents Green Party values. Afterall, planting a vegetable garden on the front lawn of city hall and installing a bee hive doesn't qualify you as green. If the Green Party were to run seven council candidates in 2011 and put Mackinnon as their top council candidate (perhaps even their mayoral candidate), they stand a real chance of making a breakthrough at Vancouver Council.

Admittedly the Green Party's chance of winning all seven seats would still be slim, however, with the right candidates, they could elect one or more people to council. Given that COPE is a spent force (even Vision and some COPEsters would agree with me on that), perhaps it's time for a fresh face like Mackinnon to come on the scene and bolster the profile of the Greens in Vancouver. Most political scientists agree the only chance they have at breaking through provincially or federally is if they begin winning seats on the municipal scene. This certainly isn't going to happen if they hang back in the shadows of corporate-friendly Vision.

Now before everyone in Vision sets their hair on fire claiming that I'm trying to split the vote in order to get the NPA re-elected in 2011...think again. I've already stated quite publicly that Gregor Robertson has this one locked up and nothing short of a MAJOR scandal is going to knock him off his perch. Not even an independent Green slate would knock off an incumbent mayor as long as both COPE and Vision continue to remain as one party. I'm merely commenting on how effective Mackinnon has been and how he could translate this profile into something bigger...if he were interested. And I'm not convinced that he is.

Mackinnon is certainly acting as a very effective voice for the moderates on the left who are not comfortable with Vision's budget slashing and "corporate agenda" for the city parks. The big question is whether the Greens will be prepared to hop back into bed in 2011 with the very politicians that implemented the agenda they opposed.

from citycaucus.com

25 March 2010

re: Continuing Commercialization

One of the many notes I have received concerning the new restaurant at English Bay beach:

"So awful. Thank you for being the one opposing vote; I can't understand what happened to the other 6, but this is EXACTLY why I voted for you." HW

24 March 2010

Continuing commercialization of public spaces

On Monday night I voted against the proposal for a Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay beach. I have nothing against the Cactus Club Cafe as a restaurant, I just don't think they, or any other corporate entity should be part of our public beach front. A concession is one thing, but a chain restaurant is another. I was genuinely surprised the vote was 6-1, as I was sure other commissioners shared my views. There are plans for more restaurants at Sunset, Second and Spanish Banks, and I fear that we will soon see not pristine shorelines but commercial ventures hugging the beaches.

Staff do a fine job planning what the elected officials ask them to do. I think it is time to tell staff to stop the commercial exploitation of our public spaces and find other revenue streams. Better yet, imagine if the Park Board was properly funded by our taxes. What a concept.

20 March 2010

Friends of Bloedel doing the work of the Park Board

Below is a news release from the Friends of the Bloedel Conservatory. I applaud them for their hard work. I do wonder though, why instead of voting to close down the Conservatory, my colleagues on the Board didn't direct staff to find a solution like this. Teaming up with VanDusen is a win-win solution. The Bloedel stays in public hands and is better managed. Well done to the Friends. Thank you!

Friends of Bloedel Conservatory Define Expression of Interest

News Release

Friday, March 19th at 11:00 am
Bloedel Floral Conservatory
Queen Elizabeth Park

The Friends of Bloedel (FOB) invited the media to a brief news conference at the entrance to the Bloedel Conservatory Friday, March 19th at 11 am for an update on their efforts to save this iconic horticultural facility.

FOB Board President John Coupar explained how the FOB have been working closely with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association (VBGA) to develop an Expression of Interest Proposal that would see the Conservatory come under the umbrella of the VBGA while remaining a public facility under the management of the Vancouver Park Board.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is located a short six blocks from Queen Elizabeth Park at 33rd Avenue & Oak Street and is undeniably the epicenter of horticultural expertise within the Park Board system. The VBGA is a nearly 5000 member strong volunteer organization that supports VanDusen Garden in a multitude of areas including marketing, promotion, education, special events and fundraising.

“If we can craft a mutually beneficial model with the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Association that maintains Bloedel Conservatory as the green jewel it is while enriching and enhancing its education and revenue streams, I think everyone becomes a winner, especially the people of Metro Vancouver,” said John Coupar.

The Park Board issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) earlier this year so it could receive proposals for a continued or new use of the Heritage A building. This action by the Park Board was a result of a late November budget cut where the Bloedel Conservatory was targeted.

The Friends of Bloedel have worked tirelessly to save the iconic floral conservatory, positioned at the highest point in Vancouver in the city’s second most visited park. In late January the FOB staged a sold out gala fundraiser, Rumble in the Jungle, raising over $50,000 in support for the Bloedel Conservatory. Another moderately priced event, A Little Night Music, is planned for later in the spring.

For further information contact
John Coupar at 604-818-2756 or Terri Clark at 778-866-9875

16 March 2010

Watch the paralympics live!

Can't find Paralympic coverage on the TV? Watch live on your computer at ParalympicSport.tv

14 March 2010

You gotta be here!

A great video promoting British Columbia. For those of you who visit this blog from away...you gotta be here!

13 March 2010

Paralympic Joy

I was very fortunate to be able to purchase tickets for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic games. It was a fabulous evening celebrating the abilities and accomplishments of these incredible athletes. The evening was filled with music, colour and dance. The stars of the show were the hundreds of children who danced for hours, the dj's who pumped up the audience so they too danced all evening, and of course the athletes themselves.

Vancouver is very fortunate to be hosting this once-in-a-life-time event. I hope you will take this opportunity to get out to one of the venues and see first hand the courage, commitment and skill of these athletes. The tickets are very reasonably priced and there are still some available. And if you are an arm-chair spectator then catch some of the action on CTV (channel 9 in Vancouver) or on your computer.

08 March 2010

The Cove director argues against holding whales, dolphins in captivity

Director Louie Psihoyos (2nd R)  accepts an award with producer Fisher Stevens (L), producer Paula DuPre  Pesman (R), as cast member Richard O'Barry holds up a sign after  "The Cove" won best documentary feature during the 82nd  Academy Awards in Hollywood March 7, 2010.

HOLLYWOOD - The director of Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" said the recent death of a trainer at SeaWorld in Florida proved whales and dolphins should not be held in captivity.

Speaking after collecting his Oscar at the Kodak Theater, Louie Psihoyos said the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau last month supported claims made in his film that cetaceans should not be used in amusement parks.

"There's never been a wild dolphin or an in the history of man known to have killed a human being in the wild," Psihoyos said.

"And you have one killer whale here killing three human beings in one lifetime. This teaches us that these animals don't belong in captivity.

"Jacques Cousteau said the educational benefit of watching a dolphin in captivity would be like learning about humanity only by watching prisoners in solitary confinement.

"If you take a captive animal out of the wild and you force him to do stupid tricks for our amusement, it says more about our intelligence than it does theirs."

Psihoyos's film centers around the bloody annual cull of dolphins in the Japanese coastal town of Taiji, where the animals are herded into a naturally fortified inlet before being sold to amusement parks or killed for meat.

The main protagonist in the film is activist Rick O'Barry, the man who trained dolphins for the hit 1960s television series "Flipper."

O'Barry attempted to unfurl a small banner on stage at the Oscars on Sunday before television producers abruptly cut away to show audience members.

Psihoyos said the banner urged people to send a texted phone message DOLPHIN to 44144 to register support for the campaign.

He later denied his movie was an example of "Japan-bashing" and was intended as a public health warning to Japanese who are sold dolphin meat contaminated by unsafe levels of mercury.

"This movie is a love letter to people in Japan," Psihoyos said. "I myself have had mercury poisoning from eating the wrong kind of fish.

"Our hope is the Japanese people will see this film and decide themselves whether animals should be used for meat and for entertainment.

O'Barry added: "We like the Japanese people and there's no Japan bashing from this film. The Japanese people have a right to know.

"This film will do what the Japanese media failed to do, and that is inform the people so they can make up their own mind about what they want to do. We're not telling the Japanese people what to do."