From CP Rail’s Community webpage:
“At CP we know that a railroad may serve as the arteries of a nation, but at its heart is community. That’s why through CP Has Heart, we’re committed to improving the heart health of men, women and children across North America. And along the way, we’re showing heart whenever we can.”
Thank you for completing the second annual Worst of Vancouver Survey. Your wit, wry observations and outright contempt are a ray of light, miraculously shining through a dense forest of construction cranes, glass towers and the persistent fog of obfuscation.
And on to the results …
1. The worst excuse for a public park
Winner, by a nose: Main & 18th Park (with such a name, and that is the official title, how could it be otherwise?)
Also known as: “Poodle-on-a-Stick Park” and “That thing at 18th & Main Street”
Dissenter: “I think our parks are pretty good.”
2. The most annoying branding or re-branding of a neighbourhood
Hands-down winner: “The East Village”
* Just making this shit up.
3. The most egregious example of lost heritage
The Legg Residence: “They saved the fucking trees but not the house?”
Of the many contenders:
4. The civic party most likely to split the vote in favour of the development coalition
And because there’s no oppositional consensus, it’s a tie: The Cedar Party & COPE
5. I know things are getting bad because …
6. If the scam in this town had a face, that face would belong to …
Winner, by a country mile: Mayor Gregor Robertson (specifically: “Gregor wearing one of Rennie’s argyle vests”)
Personal favourite: “One of the Real Housewives of Vancouver.”
Photo: Stephen Hui (straight.com/blogra)
7. “I’d check out ____________________, but there are just too many douchebags or hipsters there.”
“That’s a lousy attitude. The kind of attitude a douchbage or hipster would likely espouse.”
8. “The cost of living in Vancouver is so high, and the jobs so shite, that ____________________ is starting to look like a viable option.”
The big winner: “Toronto”
The also rans:
9. The motto on Vancouver’s coat of arms reads “By Sea, Land and Air We Prosper.” This should be updated to “By _______________, _______________ and _______________ We Prosper.”
“Safe to say ‘we’ should be changed to ‘some’ or ‘a few.’”
The purely subjective winner: “By Sea Glimpses, Land Values and Hot Air We Prosper”
Mix & match other contenders, as you please:
Scams Condos Sushi
TED Talks Real Estate Community Gardens
Condos $500 Rain Jackets Rudest Fucking Cab Drivers in the World
Heroin Condos Overseas investors
Crane Concrete Condo Pre-sale
Fee Development Permit Fine
Yoga Consumerism Political Apathy
Condo Townhouse Slumlord
Tanker Pipeline Condo
Rennie Pot Bullshit
Condo Bike Lane NIMBY
Developers Development Developing
Reductio ad adsurdum: “By Condos, Condos and Condos We Prosper”
10. “The one thing that gives me solace is … “
“River District is Southeast Vancouver’s newest and largest waterfront community.”
” … River District will offer a new way to live, work and play in Vancouver.”
“… fronting the river, will be Pier Point, aptly named after its iconic pier. Condominium apartments here will offer easy access to tree-lined trails by the water.”
“To the east is Avalon, named for the extensive park that repeat. [sic] The area has a great expanse of public greenspace for sport and recreation. Here, homes will be multi-family, many with excellent elevated views over the river towards Mount Baker.”
“The Future is Here”
Responding to the rampant speculation surrounding Mayor Gregor Robertson’s separation from Amy Robertson, his spouse of 30 years, undeclared Non-Partisan Association (Party) mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe declared:
“As a journalist, I have had many opportunities to report on the private lives of public figures. I long ago concluded that, unless there is an impact on duties, those matters are irrelevant.”
That’s a principled sentiment, one that both harkens back to a time when the Washington press corps kept schtum on a sitting president’s sincere and open interest in nailing anything in a skirt, yet allows space for the baroque excesses of Our Ford.
But what does LaPointe mean by “duties”?
My youthful civic lessons, “social studies”, imbedded in me the idea that the ultimate duty of elected officials was to balance prevailing and often contradictory forces -economic and civic, private and public, capital and labour, commerce and art, freedom and security etc etc etc- in a manner that yielded the most benefit, for most people, most of the time.
Of course, only a minority was so inclined, and fewer achieved The Delicate Balance -and then not for very long.
Still the expectation –or hope- is there, I hope, that some are still dedicated to the duty of bolstering the public good, that there still remains an ember of the great mid-century liberal consensus.
Local governance suggests that we’ve clearly moved in the direction of a post-democracy.
The governing coalition is heavily funded by development forces and advances their agenda shamelessly. Heritage, parks, social diversity, views, the integrity of neighbourhoods, and the even long-term viability of the local economy combined do not effect a counterbalance –they don’t carry much weight.
At the same time they’ve abdicated their political authority. They’ve bought the old canard that the civil servants can be trusted. To the unelected they’ve handed over the political functions of consultation and the definition of the public agenda. With the city’s Planning & Development ruling the departmental hierarchy, the results are skewed, unrepresentative.
So, for the beholden, the self-neutered-but-still-nominally-in-control, what duties remain? Performance.
The play’s the thing. They’re characters in a spectacle entitled The City of Vancouver, a political soap opera of boosting, spinning, dodging, and –occasionally- damage control –as when the tower mania of the mandarins punches through the façade. Mostly, it’s endless campaigning for audience approval. Ringside are a bunch of guys in expensive suits, smoking cigars and throwing money onto the stage.
Politics as show business for ugly people -and Gregor: Mayor Handsome, the star of the show, and the hero: photogenic, green, and non-threatening. He’s had a long run, but the performance is looking old, tired, unconvincing, not quite so wholesome. And, for better or worse, that’s the issue.
It’s sunny and hot. I’m enjoying lunch on a patio, under the cool of an awning, in the shadow of cranes, by the water, with Inge Finge.
“So, who the Mayor boning?” she asks.
That’s a great question.
My bike has a high profile: I chose it for comfort, not speed.
I ride for convenience, when it’s convenient. It’s the fastest, and the most predictable means of getting to work in fair weather. I don’t wear spandex, or those rigid shoes that clop like hooves, but dress shirt, slacks and shoes. I can say, with confidence, that I am the best dressed cyclist on Adanac-Union. Of a sunny weekday morning, you can find me lagging behind the pack, on a leisurely fifteen minute door-to-door, near sweat-free commute.
I don’t wear earbuds, because they interfere with my senses and that’s unsafe. I don’t wear a helmet because I follow the rules of the road and it interferes with my Euro style and worldly sensibility: who wears a helmet in Amsterdam, or Rome, or even Toronto? Bureaucrats, maybe.
A beautiful morning: dry and sunny, with a light cool snap against my cheeks.
I ride north on Penticton. Turning left on Adanac, I get a bad vibe, an anxiousness, from a black, over-sized BMW SUV, turning to the same direction from the north.
With a solitary vehicle a half-block away heading east, the BMW pulls up right behind me, and instead of waiting for the oncoming vehicle to clear, pulls out, forward, and cuts right across my path. I brake, swerve, and shout in quick succession. To my surprise, the BMW stops.
I ride up to the passenger side.
Now, my usual approach in such circumstances is to engage the driver with the goal of exacting recognition of the fault and then move on. While this may be challenging given adrenaline levels, I tend to reserve a rather disagreeable temper for those popularly categorized as “assholes” –the congenitally unreasonable.
In the passenger seat: a surly teenaged girl. In the driver’s presumably her mother –she did not have a nuanced grasp of English. And so:
“You cut me off.”
No response. “You almost hit me. You know, with your car.”
“No,” says she.
“Uh … yes!” says I.
“You’re not wearing a helmet.”
I asked her whether it was okay to kill cyclists if they’re not wearing a helmet. Somewhere in there I apparently employed a “fucking” or two, like “fucking cyclists” or “fucking helmets,” or maybe both. I can’t recall this part precisely.
“Don’t swear: my daughter.”
At this point I pulled the pin on a grenade that I find effective when dealing with people from certain cultures; ie. those that do not have a strong tradition of democracy or embody an innate fear of authority.
“I’m going to report you.” This was ridiculous, of course, but I retrieved my phone and went through the motions of photographing her front plate.
This produced a prolonged verbal explosion from the driver. While the precise content eluded me, I was of the distinct impression that she was upset. She drove off -this time making a wide berth to avoid me. I was sorry to see her go, as we were getting somewhere.
She stopped for the light at Nanaimo, and again I cycled up to the passenger window. The daughter kept her eyes half-focused on some indeterminate point in the distance.
I suggested that given the obvious amount of capital available to her to purchase such an expensive vehicle, that she might want to consider directing a small portion to education on its proper use –something like that, anyways.
Apparently swearing in front of her child was no longer a high priority, as mom flipped me the bird, waving it about erratically, shouting “Fuck you!” repeatedly until the light turned green and she drove off, pulling into the Templeton parking lot.
My job done, I rode on.
My pace was leisurely. My senses were unobstructed.
I yielded as necessary. I halted at Vernon, for the dangerous dogleg connecting it with Union, even as other helmeted and iPod-enhanced cyclists blew off the stop.
Not for me, such indiscretions.
But I was wary -of the occasional car that sped by, or those that burst across Union to effect a rush hour shortcut.
I pondered the narrow physical gap and the wide social gulf, and questioned the rationality of my choices, for I don’t live in Amsterdam, or Rome, or Toronto, even.