Meet Gil Kelley

Don’t forget:  Urbanarium’s sold-out event at the Vancouver Playhouse, Wednesday Sept 28 5:30  – 9:00.  You’ll get a chance to hear from Gil Kelley, Vancouver’s new General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability. If you’ve ponied up your $10, don’t miss this opportunity.

Gil will speak on: West Coast Cities: On the Leading Edge of Change. Followed by a Q and A and a reception in the Playhouse lobby.

5.30 – 6.30 Networking and No Host Bar
6.30 – 8.00 Talk and Q+A
8.00 – 9.00 Reception

Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC

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Daily Durning: How Seattle should avoid Vancouver’s crisis

We seem to have missed this when it first came out in Seattle’s “The Stranger.”  Fortunately, Durning picked it up.


A City of Empty Towers 

Amos Latteier, a tech worker in Vancouver, British Columbia, is talking about what everyone in Vancouver can’t stop talking about: the city’s skyrocketing property values and its seemingly endless construction boom, where one luxury condo after another has been built, is being built, will be built.

It is a story that should now sound familiar to Seattleites.

“All property holders in Vancouver literally won the lottery,” Latteier says, sitting in a restaurant called Havana, with decor meant to reproduce the four-decade-long architectural decay that defines the Cuban capital. “This has created a huge divide between property owners and renters.” …

“It’s not just that you are locked out of the middle class, but it turns out that being a renter sucks in Vancouver,” Latteier says. “There are few renters’ rights. Evictions are common, and there is very little social awareness that this is a problem. I’ve had multiple property owners tell me that it’s not bad to be evicted: ‘Hey, change is good.'”

Latteier describes the general mentality of Vancouver’s landowners as that of resource extractors. They may be fine with paying extra money for fair-trade products in the grocery, but they are totally cold when it comes to the lives of their renters and making big deals on their properties. They want to get paid as much as possible and as soon as possible. And what’s of little or no consequence is how their rapacity might affect the city or the people who live in it. …

But how did the property market get so bad? Local market urbanists like Roger Valdez, the director of Smart Growth Seattle, and real-estate developers often place the blame on a lack of supply. Like San Francisco, the city is not building enough homes and apartments to meet demand. If the market becomes less restricted by rezoning certain sections of the city, it could meet this demand, prices would fall, and everyone (developers, the rich, the workers) would be happy.

The supply-and-demand model seems so reasonable, so logical, so rational. But the forces at work in Vancouver seem anything but that. Something totally insane and even monstrous is happening in this city.

In 2005, according to Yan’s research, around the time Vancouver’s housing market started heating up, just 19 percent of single-family homes were worth C$1 million or more in Greater Vancouver. Ten years later, 91 percent of single-family homes are worth more than that.

Yan’s research shows Vancouver’s real-estate market has growth rates far beyond what is normal. …

Vancouver is not unique. It is only exceptional in the speed at which it has been transformed. Vancouver is the neoliberal city we are all structured to become.

What is the solution? How can Seattle avoid the same fate? Kerry Gold recommends muscular regulation by the government of the real-estate market. She says that Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia, has, though belatedly, begun moving in this direction. Clark and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, recently proposed taxing vacant apartments. And in late July, she surprised everyone by imposing a 15 percent tax on foreign home-buyers (the tax does not apply to immigrant residents).

Lastly, Gold thinks there should be much higher taxes on international capital flows, transactions, and events—a recommendation most likely to be efficacious. Without capital controls, all is lost in our globalized world. Why? Because if capital can go where it pleases, leave when it pleases, it can and will evade democratic accountability.

Full story here.

Housing: Re:Address Week

The City of Vancouver invites you to get involved in discussions on housing. Monday October 24-29.


The key principles and themes of Re:Address will be focused on exploring ways to best deliver a diversity of long term housing solutions that are resilient, future focused and most importantly, targeting the needs of those people who live and work in Vancouver.

. . .  The City of Vancouver’s first international housing summit will bring together 500 thought leaders and experts from around the world to explore ideas and solutions to accelerate housing affordability in cities. The full day of activities will include opening and closing keynotes, mayors’ roundtable, panel discussions and short presentations. Topics of discussion will include Indigenous housing innovation, new global economic models, shifting generational needs and wants and the growth of the non-profit sector.

Paris: Carmaggedon fails to appear – again

Alarmists keep predicting massive traffic failure and gridlock whenever a significant step is taken to reverse Motordom – most  recently in Paris where, on September 25, the Right Bank quais were closed to traffic.

Doug Clarke passes this along from Le Monde, in a translated version:


Revealed by The Sunday newspaper (JDD) of 25 September, the first figures measuring the traffic in the heart of the capital, three weeks after the end of Paris Plages and the non-reopening to traffic lanes on shore banks right, turn out less alarmist than forecast.

While the decision to approve the pedestrianization of the Georges Pompidou road tunnel between the Tuileries (1st district) and the port of the Arsenal (12th) will be submitted to vote of the Council of Paris, Monday 26 September, these observations are a surprise to the mayor (Socialist Party, PS) of the city, Anne Hidalgo, who will face a rising opposition strongly against this project. …

… it appears that a significant number of motorists have already integrated measurement and have adapted by changing the route or mode of transportation. …

In the end, Anne Hidalgo assured, on RTL, the pedestrianization of the banks had already resulted in “decreases in circulation,” called the evaporation of the movement-, of the order of 10% “.

Rewiring City Hall

Former Mayor of Vancouver (and current BC Liberal MLA for False Creek) Sam Sullivan wants to revisit how decisions are made at City Hall. This triggered by past battles over — you guessed it — density. Thanks to Max Fawcett at Vancouver Magazine for the article.

sullivan-sam. . . he’s now pitching a major change to that system’s design, one that would see the legislative and judicial functions at city hall separated from each other. As it stands, city council does both, a vestige of the Baldwin Act of 1849 (which laid the legal groundwork for cities in Canada). He’s not the only one who finds the arrangement unusual either. “It is the weirdest thing in the world that councils sit as a policy-making body in the day, and people will come and make presentations to them on that basis,” says Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer. “But then, at night, they come and it’s the same people sitting there, and suddenly we’re a regulatory body.” . . .

. . .  According to Sullivan, the current arrangement makes the urgent conversation around development in Vancouver impossible to navigate. “Right now,” he says, “it’s easy to bully the council.” And he’s not alone in thinking this. Beau Jarvis, a local developer who’s been the target of disgruntled residents, says the city is stuck in what he calls the “paradox of planning”—that the people who are most likely to come out to public meetings and be vocal about planning decisions are the ones least likely to be affected by them over the long run. It’s older residents—“people who don’t have kids in the house any more, people who are retired”—who have the time to show up, he says, whereas young parents and busy professionals do not.

Meanwhile, on a related topic, the Province may release a report shortly on transit and land use.  Idle but reasonably well-informed speculation is that transit funding increases may be tied to a requirement to turn over any CAC-like upzoning fees to the transit cause.

I am reminded of an earlier PT post on a vaguely similar transit/planning Provincial mandate in Ontario.  In this case, part of the plan requires munis to upzone before transit investments take place, to curb unhealthy and expensive sprawl.  We called it “Density Mandated In GTA.”

Of particular interest to me is Ontario’s tie-in between transit planning, land use and infrastructure investments, given the narrow transit funding tussle now in play in Metro Vancouver. Not to mention Ontario’s Greenbelt protection, in the light of BC’s apparent intention to enable good ol’ sprawl onto our ALR and elsewhere with a 1950’s debate-free program of building freeways and massive bridges.  BC may have some sort of plan, but I’m not sure what it is.

A broader look at the Ontario Gov’t material is HERE, and it pertains to shaping land use in the entire “Greater Golden Horseshoe” around Toronto. Driven, it seems, by Ontario Prov gov’t plans for some $31.5 B in transit investments, this represents steps towards a green and livable region, while making best use of the money.

Granville Island — Big Ideas Fair Oct 1


After decades of rousing success, it’s time to revisit Granville Island.


On Saturday, October 1st, 2016, from 11 am – 6 pm, the public is invited to Triangle Square (between A Bread Affair and the Net Loft) on Granville Island for a Big Ideas Fair, a series of fun, family-friendly activities to gather ideas about what people like best about Granville Island today and what they think the priorities should be for the future. HCMA Architecture + Design, the lead land use and planning consultant, will offer short presentations on Granville Island 2040 at 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm, and will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about the process and principles guiding the project.


It’s been 40 years since the island was changed from a derelict industrial slum into a busy cultural and recreational centre, with a popular market and entertainment options too.

The Granville Island 2040 plan, which will set out the future of Granville Island for the next 25 years, will make recommendations for the redevelopment of the Emily Carr University buildings, revitalization of the popular Public Market, and the advancement of the arts and cultural industry on the island. It will also examine the best governance structure for the continued long-term success of Granville Island.

Creaming the Cow: Grabbing the rezoning uplift from cities

For the provincial government, Metro is their lucrative cash cow – and they’ve been creaming off the dramatic uplift of real-estate values, most recently with the 15 percent tax on foreign buyers but more lucratively with the Property Transfer Tax.  It’s what balances their budgets.

Expectations are now high that the Province will imminently release a report that makes it clear that they want to grab the uplift from development around transit stations to fund expansion of the system – at a direct cost to the municipalities of money that would otherwise go for community amenities that mitigate the impacts of such growth.

 Charlie Smith at the Georgia Straight predicted as much in this May commentary, worth reprinting now:


Here’s what’s really going on between the B.C. Liberal government and TransLink’s Mayors’ Council

This morning, the B.C. Liberal government announced $246 million over three years to fund better bus and SeaBus service, more SkyTrain cars, and “initial work towards new major rapid transit in Vancouver and Surrey”.

The minister responsible for TransLink, former public-relations and advertising executive Peter Fassbender, added a positive twist, saying this investment could lead to construction of more affordable housing.

“Recognizing that public-transit investment results in increased property values near transit stations, the government wants to explore ways to ensure the public receives a benefit from land development in those areas,” the news release stated.

The public already gets a benefit. Traditionally, municipal governments have leveraged higher densities for more community-amenity contributions from developers. This funds community centres, libraries, parks, daycares, and other local services, as well as, on occasion, affordable housing in some cities.

Fassbender wants the benefits of higher density going straight into capital funding for transit and affordable housing, which are both largely outside the ambit of municipal governments.

In fact, transit capital funding and affordable housing more properly belong in the provincial arena, where the government has access to income taxes and other revenue sources unavailable to local politicians.

What we’re seeing in Fassbender’s announcement is a cash grab from municipalities.
It’s disguised as an act of benevolence tied to a $246-million transit announcement. And it’s what we should expect from a former ad man who can spin as well as any politician in Canada.

Continue reading

Daily Scot – Why Airbnb is Terrible

With incredible speed and somewhat under the radar, Airbnb has become one of the biggest influences on both short and long term accommodation in cities around the world.  The video below by Cracked breaks down the true costs to cities of the online rental giant through wit, satire and warning….some mild profanity.


Two of my friends in the last year have had their lives changed by Airbnb.  One an eight year leaseholder of a house in Strathcona was renovicted so the entire dwelling could be put up for more lucrative short term rentals.  The second friend massively over extended himself panic buying into a rising market, and left with the only option of renting his house on Airbnb for any hope in affording the hefty mortgage repayments.  What have your experiences been with Airbnb?  Is it good for Vancouver?

“It’s a Big Pile of Land”


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Local First Nations are focussing on long-term economic independence via a series of big-money property developments in the Vancouver area.

First: Mike Howell reports in the Vancouver Courier that the Musqueam FN has reached a milestone on its UBC project.  Its scale, look and feel give hints about the “big one” — Jericho.

The provincial government is about to give the 1,300-member band the green light to build a massive residential development on its land in the University Endowment Lands  . . .     The project includes four 18-storey highrises, several rows of townhouses and mid-rise apartment buildings, a community centre, a childcare facility, commercial space for a grocery store and restaurants, a public plaza, a large park and wetlands area. All of it will be spread over 21.4 acres of what is now forest along University Boulevard, bounded by Acadia Road, Toronto Road and Ortona Avenue.


Thanks to the Vancouver Courier, photo by Dan Toulgoet

The Musqueam FN has hired former ban CFO Stephen Lee and former CLC employee Doug Avis to head up the Musqueam Capital Corporation, which offloads land development and other business activities from the band council.

[Chief] Sparrow, [Operations Manager] Mearns, Lee and Avis made it clear the end goal of the projects is to create opportunities for Musqueam’s young people and inspire them to pursue higher learning and take advantage of what’s in front of them. Lee and Avis are not Musqueam members but say they hope one day to be replaced by band members.

“We’ll make money on the developments, there’s no doubt about it,” Mearns said. “But that’s not really where the big value will come from. It’s how we raise the entire community capacity as a result of these projects and develop people to not only get careers as carpenters, plumbers, planners, engineers, doctors, lawyers — whatever — but it’s also to have people go out and develop their own businesses and get their own contracts.”

The Courier article is a fascinating journey along a trail that is shameful at times and hopeful at others.

Second: the 21-acre (8.5 hectare) Heather Lands, involving three FN and the Canada Lands Company (CLC).  The first open house will be tomorrow, Saturday Sept 24, 12:00 to 3 pm. Details HERE.  City of Vancouver launch events are to be Oct 15 and 17.

Apparently, the Heather Lands are also known as “Fairmont Lands”. Who knew?

Hints as to the planning outcome from the FN-CLC point of view are in THIS 25-page document from CoV, Appendix “D.  Joint Venture Guiding Planning Principles”. Presumably, many of these FN-CLC principles will also apply to the upcoming much bigger Jericho development. The principles, happily, include “…prioritize walking, cycling and transit…”, among many others. Cheesy car suburbs look unlikely.

The CoV document also lays out a big batch of overarching plans that will inform CoV’s Fairmont (Heather) Lands planning outcome.  Among them:  Land use, Density, Height, Public benefits, Transportation, Built form and character, Heritage, Sustainability, Development phasing.

Hopefully, the groups will meet somewhere in the middle of these various visions, which obviously differ in some areas e.g. affordability v.s. maximization of triple bottom line (page 18).  To me, at this stage, there looks like plenty of common ground.

Density will, of course, be the big hot public topic. Via its proxy — building height.  And let’s not forget the ever-popular vehicle storage (parking).


Thanks to MST-CLC Joint Venture and City of Vancouver

Thanks to Frances Bula for this in the Globe and Mail.  Note the possibility that the development will retain an existing 1920-era heritage building.  Note also the potential for City of Vancouver mandated affordable housing components, housing for FN members, and moderate to high density (as at nearby Cambie Street).

Tsawwassen Mills, tomorrow’s Mirabel Airport?


The Mirabel Airport was built  40 kilometers outside of Montreal and received great fanfare when it opened in 1975. Approximately 97,000 acres of land were expropriated for this airport, and many farmers were displaced for this venture. It was assumed that air traffic would flock to Montreal, and this airport would replace the more centrally located Dorval (now Trudeau) airport. But it was too far, too inconvenient, and the swarms of travellers never arrived. Planes also got more efficient too, not needing any refuelling stop after a transatlantic journey 

Today the airport is abandoned, occasionally  being used for some movie shoots.The airport terminal, which was carefully mothballed for a decade, took a year to demolish.


Enter Tsawwassen Mills, a 1.2 million square foot shopping mall  built on Class 1 agricultural land on Delta’s flood plain, 5 kilometers from the ferry terminal, 35 kilometers from Vancouver, 32 kilometers from Surrey. With 6,000 parking spaces it is branding itself as a destination fashion location and has a pop up trailer that goes to different locations and gives out free stuff. It appeared at the Burrard Transit station which was a little odd, given that there is no rapid transit route for transit users to get to the mall.

The mall’s opening is October 8 with about 160 of the 200 stores being occupied. The second mall, a more locally serving 550,000 square foot outdoor shopping experience will open later. Meanwhile family owned shops in Ladner and Tsawwassen join Price Tags in hoping that personal service, long-term relationships, and knowing their clientele means that they can stay in business.

The Tsawwassen Mills project has a Quebec connection too-the project is owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge and is a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec ( It remains to be seen whether this last ode to motordom  and  consumerism will be the 21st century version of the Mirabel Airport.


The local convenience store as Seniors’ Central


Those 7-11 corner convenience stores are a staple in North American cities and in Japan. Mimi Kirk in City Lab notes that the Japanese convenience stores provide the same items as North American ones-with one exception-

“convenience stores in Japan offer services that make them hubs of their communities. Customers can pay a utility bill, buy concert tickets, or make copies at a 7-Eleven or a similar retailer like Lawson or FamilyMart. In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, convenience stores even set up emergency support centers and sent employees to aid survivors, among other good deeds.”

As Japan’s seniors population ages, the stores have become street corner mini community centres with healthier food, home food delivery and  “seating areas so that older customers can gather to socialize and practice their karaoke skills.”

Elder friendly services are increasing with 100 new locations in apartment complexes offering these services as well as room cleaning, clothes mending and dealing with maintenance problems in apartments.

Ryota Takemoto, a researcher with an institute focusing on Japan’s real estate sector states “We must prevent [the elderly] from losing their access to a convenience store so that we can use convenience store networks…as an economic and social infrastructure where aging is advancing fast.”

It’s an interesting adaptive innovation that may find credence here as we encourage more seniors to age in place in their own communities.

Ohrn Image — Public Art


Another big and powerful oldie — “Knife Edge Two Piece“, Henry Moore, at Queen Elizabeth Park.  One of an edition of four made around 1962-65, it weighs 3-odd tons.


It was donated to the Park Board by avid modern art collector Prentice Bloedel and his wife Virginia along with the funding to build the Conservatory, the surrounding plaza and fountains.

moore_henryHenry Moore was the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and the most popular and internationally celebrated sculptor of the post-war period. Non-Western art was crucial in shaping his early work – he would say that his visits to the ethnographic collections of the British Museum were more important than his academic study. Later, leading European modernists such as Picasso, Arp, Brancusi and Giacometti became influences. And uniting these inspirations was a deeply felt humanism. He returned again and again to the motifs of the mother and child, and the reclining figure, and often used abstract form to draw analogies between the human body and the landscape.

Thanks to:   the Art Story.



Dealing With Disruption


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Here on Price Tags, we’ve published a few articles on pending disruption in the motor vehicle industry from autonomous vehicles. While it’s far from clear what will ultimately happen, at what rate, in which sectors first and which company will dominate — major disruption is no doubt underway.

The Economist has produced this nifty video on the disruption now facing fossil fuel-based energy companies. The video (length 14:48), looks at two large European energy companies, a village, their plans and the investments they all are making in transition to a post-carbon (or diminishing carbon) world. It’s the latest in a series they’re doing on disruption of industries.

Meanwhile, here is BC, we double down on production of fossil fuels, complete with fuss-free shipment facilities for any and all fossil fuels from anywhere. Never mind the possibility of massive stranded assets.  Presumably, BC’s coal shipment volume projections just rise and rise. Our thinking seems mired in 1957.

Noteworthy to me are the massive opportunities described here as part of the transition.

Thanks to The Economist for this video.

Alternative energy is forcing fossil-fuel giants to reinvent themselves. Find out how in the latest film in our new series, “The Disrupters”, which examines industries undergoing transformation.



Art and Transit in San Francisco


“Lightrail” would run for about 2 miles above downtown’s Market Street, one of the city’s busiest arteries, showing in whizzing, multicolored LEDs the pulse of the hidden BART system. Local artists George Zisiadis and Stefano Corazza designed it for Illuminate the Arts, the same nonprofit behind the “Bay Lights,” a humongous waterfall of sparkles flickering on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.


Bike Shop Owner Speaks On Bikey Stuff


Rob Venables owns Dunbar Cycles, and has lots of thoughts on things bicycle here in Vancouver.  Thanks to Kate Wilson at the Georgia Straight.

A few selected quotes from this industry expert It’s a good perspective from someone who runs a small business, and is in touch with the big shifts now taking place in transportation in Vancouver.

Best spot to grab a mobi bike share

“It’s all pretty new, but I’d say the Cambie Street station—it’s really conveniently located. There are great setups all over town, though. By my house, for instance, at 16th and Arbutus, there’s a big station in front of the new Loblaws that always has loads of bikes available.”

Best Vancouver neighbourhood for cycling

“With all the new cycling lanes, it’s probably Kitsilano. The traffic is generally quieter to begin with, and with the new infrastructure it’s very nice and relaxed out there.”

Best downtown bike lane

“The new Burrard Street path will be fantastic when it opens. Until that’s done, though, I’d say Hornby Street—the one with the segregated lane, with potted plants all along it.”


Best thing to say to businesses that oppose bike lanes

“You just have to look at the statistics—everywhere there’s a bike lane, business goes up. And that’s all over the world, not just in Vancouver. Cycling provides a different way to see the city, so you notice more stores, and because you’re going slower, you’ve got more time to look around you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about parking—if you want to visit a shop, you can go right in.”

Best way to get people out on their bikes

“The Mobi bike share is such a great idea for just that. If somebody is thinking about starting to ride their bike to work, or just using it around town, it’s possible to get the app and just do a pay-as-you-go service. When people try cycling and realize the huge benefits, they get hooked.”

Los Angeles: Similar Stories from our Sister City

Yup, LA is a sister city of Vancouver.


In Cranes’ Shadow, Los Angeles Strains to See a Future With Less Sprawl – The New York Times

The powerful economic resurgence that has swept Southern California is on display almost everywhere here, visible in the construction cranes towering on the skyline and the gush of applications to build luxury hotels, shopping centers, high-rise condominiums and acres of apartment complexes from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.

But it can also be seen in a battle that has broken out about the fundamental nature of this distinctively low-lying and spread-out city. The conflict has pitted developers and some government officials against neighborhood organizations and preservationists. It is a debate about height and neighborhood character; the influence of big-money developers on City Hall; and, most of all, what Los Angeles should look like a generation from now. …

But the debate this time has reached a particularly pitched level, fueled by a severe shortage of affordable housing, an influx of people moving back into the city center and the perception that a Southern California city that once seemed to have unlimited space for growth has run out of track. “What’s that old cliché?” Mayor Eric M. Garcetti said in an interview. “The sprawl has hit the wall in L.A.” …

A number of factors have contributed to the tensions. Los Angeles, like many other big cities dealing with traffic, has been encouraging development along mass-transit lines, such as the one that cuts through Hollywood. The city has also been roiled by a wave of developer tear-downs of picturesque homes in well-established neighborhoods, making way for big houses and stirring sharp opposition in many places.

Full story here.

West End: The Meaning of a Memorial



Pete McMartin in the Sun covers a contentious issue:

Last Friday, at the corner of Jervis and Pendrell in the West End, a ceremony was held to unveil what is known as the West End Sex Workers Memorial.

It’s a Victorian-style lamppost with a red light honouring the neighbourhood’s sex workers who plied their trade from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. “Today, we commemorate and honour their lives,” its inscription stated. The City of Vancouver paid $28,000 for its construction.


Unstated on the memorial, but not left unsaid in speeches at the memorial’s unveiling, was its censure of West End citizens, politicians and the provincial legal community who, at that time, acted to force sex workers out of the neighbourhood.

“Censure,” however, is too watery a word in this case, since the memorial’s proponents drew a line of causation between the sex workers’ exile from the West End and, ultimately, murder. They claim the sex workers’ forced migration out of the West End to the Seymour and Richards strolls, and to the Downtown Eastside, left them vulnerable to predators like Robert Pickton.

“These actions,” said city councillor Andrea Reimer, near tears, “reflected how the community broadly saw safety at that time. We now know that that view and those actions resulted in great harm to others in the community, namely sex workers. Not just harm — that’s a very soft word for the abduction, torture and murder of many women.” She added that the memorial was “a reminder to me and our community that justice has to live for everyone or it lives for none of us.”

A few days prior to the unveiling, former city councillor and urban planner Gordon Price received a call from someone in the city’s social planning department. The call was a heads-up. In 1980, Price had been a founding member of CROWE — Concerned Residents of the West End — and as such, had organized efforts to deal with what many residents felt had become an intolerable public nuisance.

In the 1980s, the neighbourhood had become an open bazaar. Police had identified some 350 sex workers in the West End — 40 to 50 of whom might be working the streets at any one time. Non-residents came to gawk. There were complaints of noise, increased traffic, public urination, sidewalk confrontations and residents being propositioned for sex. Problems were exacerbated when sex workers, who traditionally had stuck to Davie, began working residential streets.

In 1984, when the attorney-general’s department asked the B.C. Supreme Court to grant an injunction against the sex workers, West End residents filed over 70 affidavits detailing their complaints. Even a lawyer representing a group of sex workers admitted that “no one questions that the residents of the West End are suffering of the conduct complained of.”

To Price, however, it wasn’t a question of eradicating the West End of prostitution. It was a matter of restoring peaceful cohabitation. That peaceful cohabitation, for him and other residents, had been shattered.

Said Price: “The point of CROWE — and we reiterate this constantly — we’re not talking about prostitution here. If government wants to legalize it and regulate it, great! But there is a fundamental question, about as Canadian as you get, of peace, order and good government. Do the people who live here have a reasonable expectation that there will be, you know, a fundamental level of civility? That their streets aren’t going to be effectively a 24-hour sex bazaar? And … if government can’t or isn’t willing to demonstrate to maintain peace and order, what happens then?”

With the law unwilling or unable to do anything about the residents’ concerns, groups like CROWE and Shame The Johns did what other resident associations had always done — they organized and fought for the integrity of their neighbourhood.

Coun. Reimer may feel the community interpreted the proper level of safety “broadly,” which, as I read her comments, was so broad as to be narrow-minded. But if “justice has to live for everyone or it lives for none of us,” as she said, then the question must be asked: If there was no justice for the residents which afforded them peace and civility, what were they to do?

“The way that the narrative is being written,” Price said, “and this to me seems to be what it’s kind of about, is that the diversity of the West End and the longtime presence of street-soliciting hookers on Davie was disrupted by a small group of people who were basically — as I read it, and I have read it, because I have seen it in one thesis, at least — in a moral panic and basically driven by concern about property values, forced the prostitutes out — and I’m not sure if they say it quite this bluntly, but, you know — into the hands of Pickton.

“And in a way, you know, there’s blood on (the residents’) hands. That’s the most provocative part of it, that they make that connection, which I find appalling and illogical. And this is where I feel very sad,” Price said, “because I’m apparently the bad guy. And I’m deeply hurt.”

Like all memorials, this one was made in hindsight. But this memorial stretches hindsight beyond its breaking point, and rewrites history to reflect a one-sided and unfair culpability.

Will the next memorial, to draw from just one of many possibilities, apologize for the thousands of people who have died from disease and overdose in the Downtown Eastside because they have been conveniently ghettoized there by the city, province and the hundreds of social welfare agencies concentrated there — with the tacit agreement of all the citizens of Metro Vancouver?

And by mentioning it, have I just given someone another wrong-headed idea?


PT: Three questions, at least, arise from this:

Did the City sufficiently consult with those in the West End impacted by the street-soliciting scene that moved onto their residential streets in the late 1970s and early ’80s?  

Would the City consider some recognition of those times and concerns, or is the judgment of Council now that the outcome was an injustice and the actions taken were wrong?

If there was a return of street soliciting to the West End (unlikely in the age of the Internet), or a movement into other neighbourhoods, or a continuation of those strolls where it already exists, would the City take any action – or, if not, affirm that a safe space for sex workers is a higher priority than the impacts on residents in those communities?