Street Art

A lot of photo success depends on having the “eye” for what works and what doesn’t. Some people have it in spades (thinking of you, Fred Herzog).  Here’s someone else who does:  Loes Heerink.


Keen photographers have the ability to elevate the ordinary into stunning imagery and photographer Loes Heerink has done just that with her series about the street vendors of Hanoi. Waking up at 4 am, the vendors—often female migrant workers—pack their bicycles to the brim with fresh flowers and fruit, walking miles throughout the course of the day to peddle their wares. Heerink lived in Vietnam for many years and became fascinated with these street vendors, so much so that she sought to capture their beauty in a unique way.

Drive-by Planning

Peter Ladner writes in Business In Vancouver.

Topics?  The Metro 2040 Regional Growth strategy, now officially honoured solely in the breach.  Tsawassen Mills.  Massey replacement bridge.  And motordom.

A.K.A. freeways to farmland.  Which seems to be our de facto growth strategy.


The justifications for the [Massey tunnel replacement] bridge have a Trump-like ring: instinctive gut appeal to frustrated SOV drivers, but making zero sense to anyone who knows how traffic congestion is really solved. The transportation minister’s claim that a big new bridge will reduce emissions from idling cars unbelievably ignores the massive increase in emissions from the new traffic that will inevitably rush in to fill a 10-lane bridge. The bridge is a desperation move to make the SOV great again, orchestrated by the same traffic engineers who keep making up claims about projected traffic increases on the money-bleeding $3.5 billion Port Mann Bridge that have never come to pass.

No one is suggesting the maddening congestion on Highway 99 doesn’t need fixing. Just not this fix. Nor is it reasonable to expect a future without cars, but we can’t afford the 25% efficiency of SOV traffic.

Projects like Tsawwassen Mills and the new 10-lane bridge are cementing Metro Vancouver into a heavily subsidized SOV-dependent future, in spite of overwhelming evidence that this will come at a huge cost to the social, economic and ecological health of the region.

Want the Five Star experience with Airbnb? Find a senior citizen host.



There is one group that has been quietly benefitting from Airbnb and it may surprise you-seniors.

Currently about 10 per cent of Airbnb hosts in Canada are seniors, and half of that group say they  are using the income to supplement their pensions. And Airbnb have been collecting those statistics as reported in this Globe and Mail article. Hosts aged 60 and older are Airbnb’s fastest-growing demographic. Senior women make up nearly two-thirds of all senior hosts. They also get the highest ratings from guests.

“Seniors come to Airbnb to earn a bit of money to pay for extra expenses. But it’s not just the increased earnings. It’s the whole component of social inclusion that comes with being an Airbnb host. This is a generation that grew up in an era where travel was about meeting people. It wasn’t about scoring the perfect selfie.”

In this Airbnb report hosts that are 60 years and older receive not only the highest percentage of five-star ratings, but the percentage of five-star reviews increases commensurate with the host age. Over 62 per cent of trips hosted by seniors garner a five-star review. Food for thought on your next Airbnb booking.


New York City Councillor Takes a Stand On Pedestrian Safety-Can We Do This Too?


This article  from Next City shows what happens when you have a very successful walking city like New York City. Those sidewalks get full and people spill onto the streets, which is not a good thing with traffic in the way.

Recently a city councillor  introduced a bill that would require NYC DOT to study 10 locations with heavy pedestrian traffic and come up with a plan to alleviate the overcrowding. New York’s pedestrian fatalities sound staggering-over 85 pedestrians killed out of a population of 8.5 million  and 7,000 injured since the start of the year-or one fatality for every 100,0000 population. (Just a quick note that Vancouver  has a worse record with 11 pedestrian deaths this year and with a population of 603,000 has  had one fatality for every 54,800 population) .

With Vision Zero in New York City Council is talking about a new era where pedestrian (and of course tourism by foot) gets priority. “Streets and sidewalks are 80 percent of public space in the city,” says Caroline Samponaro, deputy director for Transportation Alternatives. “This bill really gets at the importance of really making the most equitable, sane use of that public space. Many of our streets and sidewalks haven’t changed in more than 50 years even as travel habits and patterns have changed. We need to be able to do more than just stay alive while walking and biking,” she explains. “I think this bill calls that out in a good way. It forces the city to keep doing what they’re doing with pedestrian safety, but also push beyond that and think about what we are doing to make really dynamic public spaces.”

So it’s not just about using the street as transport whether you are on bike or foot, but actually using the space as public space to go to and linger in. Widening pedestrian spaces, providing places to sit in, and making a high quality pedestrian environment that everyone wants to use.

There’s still no date for when this bill will be going forward to New York City Council, but you can be sure it will be actively followed by many across North America, looking for groundbreaking ways to enact Vision Zero and enhanced walkability in our cities and spaces.


The Future of Classical Music in Cities


Image Credit: Groupmuse

As the son of a musician who has played in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for over 30 years, I couldn’t help plug this article from Wired. The future of classical music and the spaces in which we experience it may change forever because of an Uber-meets-travelling-symphony hybrid venture called Groupmuse:

Each Groupmuse consists of two 25-minute sets of instrumental music: the first set is always from the classics, and the second is up to the performers. “We’ve had Dvorak and then string quartet arrangements of Guns and Roses, we’ve had Chopin on the piano and then Brazilian choro music,” says Bodkin.

Professional musicians and those studying in conservatories can upload samples to a Groupmuse profile, which an internal team approves. Next, the Groupmuse team pairs performers with hosts who volunteer to host strangers and musicians in their home: a soloist for 10 people, a quartet for a house that can fit 50 listeners. Around 20 Groupmuse shows happen across the country every week, mostly in Boston, New York, Seattle and the Bay Area. Groupmuse suggests each attendee pays $10 for the show; musicians go home with an average of $160.

Added interest in the medium could provide financial stability for musicians and could provide opportunity for more interesting and substantial collaborations.



A Doctor’s Prescription for a Smart Seniors’ Laneway House


The University of Calgary has published an interesting analysis of some groundbreaking work between the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) and the Public Health, Nursing and Medicine Departments.Knowing that by 2030 four of every five new households will be by seniors, and also that older people will  make up 80 per cent of the housing demand, the university wanted to explore homes that allow seniors requiring monitoring  and those with limited mobility to age in place. These are not for active seniors, but those that require sophisticated design in order to maintain independence and live near families.

The senior architecture design studio incepted a very cool small laneway house that could be constructed in the typical Calgary back yard. The difference between what we in Vancouver call a laneway house? These are smart moveable adaptable spaces designed for older people with slower reflexes and not as good perception, created in consultation with health care professionals, planners and architects. And those spaces are going to be examined and trialled by oldsters. This Global TV video walks you through a smart seniors moveable unit catering to seniors requiring assistance.

While advances in home health technology have the potential to solve some of the housing obstacles facing Canada’s seniors, limited commercial success has been experienced to date, in part because the technology has been developed in isolation from the expertise of architects and planners, the realities of the residential construction industry, and the priorities of the housing market.

 The CBC reports that the 460 square foot living quarters locate on a single family lot would be cheaper than a hospital or long-term care facility, and allow seniors closer access to family. The homes could be self-contained or have an above ground “umbilical cord” that could tap into water, heat, electricity, cable and internet from main home. These units would require a medical note, and would be rented just as a wheelchair or other assistive device is acquired.

The intent is for the units to be leased and to be moved from property to property as they are needed.When the unit is no longer needed it can be moved to another property and used by another senior. The City of Calgary is looking at how to permit a temporary use designation for these units, seeing this as a way to allow infirm seniors to continue to age in place in their own communities.


Daily Scot – Worth a Watch: Streets by VICE


Always provocative and cutting edge VICE has put together a series of short films profiling some of America’s most iconic boulevards and their relationship with the neighbourhoods they transect.  The Streets by VICE series drops in on eight culturally and geographically unique cities ranging from Austin to Chicago and from Biscayne Blvd to Market Street.  The premise:

“…..take one American city and try to tell its story by the history of one single street.”


Spoiler alert….. Perhaps not surprisingly the tales told are predominately about cities undergoing change and gentrification as communicated by firsthand accounts from longtime residents and community leaders.  As expected the opinions are mixed depending on what side of the street you’re on, nevertheless it’s an informative journey VICE takes us on; thought-provoking, fun, unique, Porn for the Urban Geographer and City Lover in all of us.


I suggest starting off with Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.  From the Hipster epicenter of Williamsburg to the historic racial tensions of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood,  this episode is a great jumping off point for the series theme.  Warning, the language and content from the characters in the San Francisco episode (Market Street) is not suitable for children.

If Streets by VICE ventured to Vancouver, what street should be profiled?  Keen to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Another take on the Massey Tunnel/Massey Bridge Replacement


First off, the Province still seems pretty resolute at building the Massey Bridge despite mounting concerns about how the project is being handled. MLA Vicki Huntington has written asking for information from the Province about gaps and assumptions about impacts on traffic, agriculture, wildlife and the community. The governments’ current application for an environmental certificate shows traffic estimates for a tolled new crossing would be approximately 40,000 vehicles less than one with no toll.

Ms. Huntington notes,  “Many of my concerns centre around both the government’s traffic projections, and the lack of progress on a regional tolling policy review that was promised three years ago. I have repeatedly pressed the transportation minister to honour his promise to undertake that review, only to hear the same response: “There is plenty of time to talk about regional tolling.” I disagree. And Metro Vancouver mayors disagree. A Massey bridge toll could cost South Delta commuters more than $1,000 annually. It will affect not only how much traffic there is at the new bridge, but how much of it diverts to the heavily congested Alex Fraser.

This is especially concerning because many businesses on Annacis Island are already affected by traffic congestion, and some are considering packing up shop in search of greener pastures. With the proposed Massey bridge in place, the government’s own application says we can expect an extra 33,000 vehicles a day at the Alex Fraser by 2045. So the situation is set to get much worse.”

Dermod Travis has written a compelling article in Business in Vancouver regarding the financial costs of building the tunnel replacement. The Executive Director of Integrity BC, Travis notes that on the Massey Bridge’s website:

” …accounting firm KPMG – it has been advising on the project – says it’ll be in the neighbourhood of “$2 billion to $3 billion.” What’s $1 billion between friends? The government says $3.4997 billion (you read that right).Given the precision of the government’s estimate, it’s a tad worrisome that the Transportation Ministry was out doing test pile drives this spring.”

“It might be interesting to see how the geotechnical data used for the $3.5 billion estimate compares with the latest results. No one is chomping at the bit to release them. After cost comes performance. Three teams made it to the requests-for-proposals stage. Flatiron Canada is a member of the Gateway Mobility Solutions team and Kiewit Canada is part of the Lower Mainland Connectors team.”

“Together they’re responsible for the new Port Mann Bridge. They overshot the $2.4 billion fixed-price contract by $424 million…FSNC-Lavalin, Kiewit and Flatiron have completed five transportation projects in B.C. with a combined initial estimate of $3.8 billion. Final price tag? $6.5 billion.

With Metro Vancouver and all but one of its mayors giving a thumbs-down to the Massey project, there’s not much public buy-in for it. So here’s an idea: hit pause.

B.C.’s auditor general, Carol Bellringer, announced last year that her office would conduct a performance audit “to evaluate the quality of evidence to support the decision to replace the George Massey Tunnel.” If the government’s numbers are all on the up and up, what could it possibly fear from taking a few months to let the auditor general do her thing and report back?

Better a cost overrun avoided than a cost overrun paid out.”

The full text of Dermod’s article is available here.

A Tower by Any Name other than…


BBC News reports on what happens when your brand and your name is Donald Trump. The Vancouver hotel designed by Arthur Erickson that was to open with the Trump name is now delayed until 2017, with the name covered on the front of the building. Local City Planner Brent Toderian was one of the first people to publicly call for the  building to drop the Trump moniker. In December 2015 the Mayor of Vancouver also wrote a letter mentioning a petition with 50,000 names asking for a name change for the tower. Even the Premier got involved saying “Donald Trump does not represent our city.”

And in Toronto, the Trump building which opened in 2012 is now facing a lawsuit from investors who claimed they were “misled” into investing in the project.

Typically the Trump organization does not own these buildings but operates and manages the hotel portion and licenses the Trump name for a fee. The Vancouver building opening had a contest with a prize being a meet and greet of the Trump family. That’s on ice now too.  

The BBC also states  “In Dubai, a firm building a golf complex with Mr Trump removed his name and image from the property. In Turkey, the developers of Trump Towers Istanbul have tried to distance themselves from the Republican hopeful. And there have been protests outside Trump buildings in the US.”

There was an Angus Reid Institute poll released last December showing that 56 per cent of Canadians wanted to have the Trump name dropped from the Vancouver and Toronto towers.  I suspect that percentage would be a lot higher if the poll was conducted today. The name controversy overshadows the elegant 63 storey building, one of the last projects from a brilliant architect.


Snapshots from France

Pictures of the self-driving free bus that runs around the Confluence district in Lyon…



It putters along the quiet roadway at a speed slightly faster than a wheelchair, making just one turn, and occasionally slamming on its brakes if a pedestrian ambles into its path…


… and has a minder, who also keeps statistics of the passengers. Confluence is the former industrial district in Lyon on the narrow strip of land where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet. It’s rather suburban or “office park” compared with other places in Lyon, and has some dramatic buildings…



Lyon itself is quite flat, with the exception of the Croix-Russes district on the north bank of the Saone, and is dotted with docking stations for the public bike-rent system (Confluence is at the bottom left of the map) …


In Paris, we walked the Promenade Plantée, also known as the Coulée Verte, from Bastille all the way southeasterly to the Bois de Vincennes, about 5 km. Inaugurated in 1993, it is much older and much less well-known than NYC’s HighLine, but an incredible respite from the noise and bustle of Parisian streets…


French towns and cities are still wrestling, if that’s the right word, with the problem of dog shit all over the streets …


… but Paris is much cleaner than it used to be. “Le slalom sur les crottes” is fading into memory.


…and Uber is trying to lure people out of the crowded Metro with the promise, ha ha, that they can smoothly make their way through the uncrowded Paris streets. Ads like this were posted in many Metro stations.

One final shot (only the French would do this, peut-être?) – the terminus of the RER at Paris-CDG. The functioning escalator is descending, forcing passengers to haul their bags up the staircase!


Policy Theatre

An old definition of a political liberal was a conservative who hadn’t been mugged yet. In similar fashion, the North Shore News reports that a lousy day on local roads turned the District of North Vancouver Council’s planned meeting agenda from its multi-modal Transportation Plan into a very old fashioned kvetch-sesh about traffic.

“The District of North Vancouver is preparing to embark on a major review of its transportation master plan.

Staff’s suggestions included a protected bicycle network, updating the district’s parking policies, a focus on the Main/Marine transit corridor, better co-ordination of traffic signals and whether the district ought to become a vision zero community – a growing movement among cities vowing to design their streets in such a way that there are zero traffic-related deaths or injuries.”


Phibbs Exchange redesign – on the agenda

Interesting stuff. However, this being a rainy day, a more poignant topic of discussion arose from the attendees.

“…the informal session quickly turned to an airing of grievances as the morning commute of many councillors had been particularly exasperating with near-simultaneous crashes on the Cut, Stanley Park causeway and Westview overpass.”

The story continues by noting on some uncomfortably-predictable exchanges between councillors.

“Coun. Jim Hanson said he faces the prospect of losing staff at his North Vancouver law firm, as their commute from across Burrard Inlet saps their quality of life. Hanson said the plan ought to come with some immediate steps that will alleviate congestion.”

  • Congestion hurts [my] business.


the steady drip of Quality-of-Life being sapped

“We need to integrate our efforts with the other civic governments of the North Shore, who are contributing to density without in any way contributing to infrastructure, which is overtaxed,” he said.

  • It’s everyone else’s fault.

Coun. Mathew Bond, who is a transportation systems engineer, said his morning commute to Coquitlam took twice as long as it normally would have with a lineup of stop-and-go traffic on Highway 1 stretching 20 kilometres past the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.

“People can change their behaviour today if they so choose,” he said. “Doing some small, incremental things over time over the next two, three or five years, will buy us some time to make those major infrastructure investments and do those plans that are going to provide long-term relief.”

  • Man who commutes 70 kms/day by car says [other] people should change their behaviour.

But Coun. Lisa Muri questioned whether residents could be persuaded to leave the car at home, especially when their work, errands or family commitments may require them to travel to several neighbourhoods, numerous times in the day.

“I don’t know how to change my behaviour to get from Lonsdale to Seymour without changing my whole family’s life,” she said. “It’s awesome to think that if you build it, people will get out of their cars and onto a bus or another mode of transportation but is it going to happen? . . .  People have cars. They want convenience. They want to be able to get to their destinations quickly.”

  • Woman counters with, ‘No, they shouldn’t.’

Instead, Muri suggested it may be time to pull up the drawbridge on the North Shore. “I envision there’s room for 100 people at the party and there’s 500 in the lineup out the front door and they all want to come into the party. I just want to say to the 400, ‘You know what? We’re full now. You’re just going to have to wait your turn.’ But we’re not doing that,” she said.

  • Let’s fix things by keeping others out.

Coun. Robin Hicks rubbished the notion that trying to stop population growth would solve any problems, noting that banishing the North Shore’s service workers to the farther-flung suburbs would only add more cars onto local roads.

“We can’t put up barriers or walls like Trump might try to do. People are just going to come here from everywhere,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to live with the population.”

  • That’s not a good idea; and we have to mention Trump.


eerily familiar

These are only reported snippets of conversation from the meeting. Perhaps it also included some thoughtful discussion on the notion of incremental change; and maybe participants went on to keenly demonstrate their understanding that traffic is not an ‘all or nothing’ concept and that ‘car vs. bus or bike for all trips’ is a false choice.

Once can only hope that such influential people employing such very old tropes was just a quick venting of understandable frustration at a stressful drive into work. We can further hope that their frustration does not translate into opposition for sensible change – even at the occasional expense of driving convenience and motorist entitlement. I certainly hope so; because at some point this winter, it may rain again.

POVs on the Sunshine Coast Connector


Two points of view on the Sunshine Coast Connector.  First up, Sun columnist Stephen Hume:


One group of Sunshine Coast residents wonders why not replace ferries with fixed links where that makes sense and make necessary remaining ferry links less expensive and more efficient? …

Gary Fribance of the Third Crossing Society says its economic study found that building two new spur roads from existing highways at a provincial cost of $667 million – around the price of a new football stadium roof or a convention centre – would yield actual savings of $1.3 billion over the first decade.

By comparison, the Coquihalla Highway cost $848 million to build and recovered $845 million from tolls. …

The links would boost a tourist economy that contributed about $60 billion to provincial GDP over the past decade and generates more than 127,000 jobs, many in small towns desperate for employment growth.


It argues that increasing, improving and lowering the cost of access with these road links will generate significant economic diversification in regions hostage to the boom and bust cycles of resource-based industry.

“The roads will connect ski meccas from Vancouver Island to Whistler and many Interior resorts,” the paper says. “On Malaspina Peninsula there is potential for a new resort at Triple Peaks (three peaks with more than 2.1 kilometres of elevation) currently accessible from the proposed Third Crossing in the Goat Lake area.” …

“Boldness in improving transportation has always been a hallmark of economic expansion,” the paper says. It points to the growth that accompanied the opening of a Hope-Princeton highway in 1949, completion of the Trans Canada Highway through Roger’s Pass in 1962, the building of the Coquihalla route to Kamloops in 1987 and a connector to the Okanagan in 1990.

The group foresees industrial expansion with road access to a proposed LNG plant at Woodfibre, better access to sources of construction aggregates from limestone and gravel quarries and so on.

“It’s not just about the Sunshine Coast,” Fribance says. “The Powell River/Sea-to-Sky road will create a new connection between the Interior and coastal communities. It will lead to efficiencies all along the coast. Congestion will be relieved in major ways on the North Shore, in Horseshoe Bay, Nanaimo and Metro Vancouver.


Worth bringing forward: Michael Gordon’s comment on “Do We Need a Sunshine Coast Fixed Link? – 1

Michael Gordon

This week our ‘Sunshine Coast correspondent,’ John Whistler,* begins a series that will provide background and comment on yet …

It’s clear to me why the Province is pursuing this as a possible major Provincial investment in road infrastructure linking jobs in metro Vancouver to these unique slower rural places and taking away our beloved ferries and replacing the experience of being in a car and not a shared passage, just like all that is offered to most North American folks…apparently what it is about is this: they want more bedroom sprawling communities on the Sunshine Coast communities that are now slower, rural, nice smaller communities and in a setting of nature.

Could we please refocus the Province on building rapid transit, walkable communities in the lower mainland? And continue to let the ferries provide the lovely passage, a journey across Howe Sound, to be enjoyed to the Sunshine Coast

I think it is a good thing that our Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast are more time consuming to travel to. There is a wonderful sense of passage getting on a ferry and it does temper the character of these places and respects them as slower more rural, small community places, rather than sprawling bedroom communities with folks commuting to jobs in Metro Vancouver.


Meanwhile, in the more urban areas, we need more certainty on investments into transit, biking and walking to create more high and medium density walkable communities that respect the Metro Vancouver plan, as well as providing single family homes who prefer that choice of housing.

Could we please have some clarity on the intent and funding for Provincial and Translink investments in transit, renewals of our bridges like the Patullo, cycling routes.

So that is my take on this focus on building roads to the Sunshine Coast…it’s such a lovely place and some of that is a result of the ferry connection and riding a ferry somewhere to more remote communities of BC, defines a unique and valued experience of living here in our region of our world, a lovely sense of shared passage on the water anticipating where we are travelling to…why change that.

Migratory Bird Habitat versus Roberts Bank Port Expansion


City of Richmond Councillor Harold Steves has been circulating this article  written by Larry Pynn from the Vancouver Sun. While the Port of Vancouver has been saying the planned $2 billion dollar container expansion at Roberts Bank located beside the BC Ferry Terminal in Tsawwassen has minimal impact on migratory shorebirds, Environment Canada is disagreeing.

Indeed, Environment Canada is saying that the planned expansion can have the “risk of significant adverse environmental effects” to the habitat of migratory shorebirds, especially western sandpipers.

It turns out that Roberts Bank is one of the most important stopover sites for migrating shorebirds on this coast. A thin, but highly productive, layer of biofilm at Roberts Bank is unlike any other in the region and is critical to fuel the breeding migration of hundreds of thousands of sandpipers to Alaska.There are no equivalent habitats within the estuary or delta to support their migration in the event that biofilm within the project area were to be compromised,” the letter warns.

Ongoing research suggests that “omega-3 fatty acids produced (within the biofilm) may be critical for shorebirds to undertake long-distance migrations,” the letter reads. “If migration is compromised, the long-term viability of western sandpipers as a species would be adversely affected given that a large proportion of the species uses the Roberts Bank area as a stopover site during northward migration. “Biofilm represents an estimated 60 per cent of the sandpipers’ diet during migration. A flock of 100,000 slurps up about 20 tonnes per tidal cycle.”

The Port has responded that they would send a letter through the independent review panel process.  Are we overdeveloping migratory shore bird habitats in the metro region to the point that the migrations may cease to exist? When does sensitive habitat trump industrial expansion?


David and Goliath- those businesses in Tsawwassen and Ladner and the Mega Tsawwassen Mills Mall and Tsawwassen Commons Mall




There is a lot happening on that very sensitive part of Delta, the floodplain that houses Class 1 agricultural land, the Port of Vancouver and of course the new 1.2 million square foot mega mall on First Nations land.

Today, one of the first businesses in Tsawwassen Commons,  which is a locally serving new mall  to the north of the very big consumer mall opened for business. That mall is 550,000 square feet, roughly half the size of the mega mall. And it is specifically designed to capture consumers within a seven minute drive. What that really means is that it is designed not for regional attraction, but to take business from customers living in Tsawwassen and Ladner, people currently using local services there or elsewhere.


The South Delta Sustainable Business Strategy sponsored by the Corporation of Delta was released last  year and worked through 58 recommendations for businesses in Ladner and Tsawwassen. The bottom line-how to retain multi-use commercial buildings, and walkable and vibrant downtowns for the sake of the two communities.

The Strategy also noted that every business would be impacted by the Megamall and the more locally serving Tsawwassen Commons, especially in the hardware retailing area, where a decrease of 20 per cent of business was forecasted. The Home Hardware stores in Tsawwassen is renown for good customer service and advice, and a staff person is the first to greet you when you come to the door or are looking lost and need advice. Their course of action is to continue excellent personal customer service, which they know cannot be duplicated outside of the community. Several of the boutique clothiers in Tsawwassen have the same strategy. They are often first to market with top of the line clothes at very competitive prices compared to the Vancouver market, offer custom fitting and personalized ordering. You can’t beat that.


However the CBC reports that many south Delta business owners have seen their business drop by 50 per cent in comparison to last year at this time.“There is a lot less pedestrian traffic. There definitely seems to be an exodus of people that aren’t here.”  Merchants also reported that their existing leases in south Delta were up to two-thirds cheaper than the rents at the new mall location, allowing them to stay competitive in their communities.

The Tsawwassen Mega Mall has been open two weeks and while very busy on the weekends and the Thanksgiving holiday, it is very lightly used during weekdays and evenings. Hopefully the local small businesses which are the backbone of Tsawwassen and Ladner will see returning consumer shopping patterns in the coming months.

Do We Need a Sunshine Coast Fixed Link? – 2


John Whistler provides background and comment on yet another massive road-and-bridge project proposed by the Province.


Sunshine Coast Fixed Link Options

After reviewing the various fixed link options, the first impression is the extreme costs and engineering challenges. This explains why a link over Bowen and Keats Islands did not even make the long listing of 13 options that were initially identified.

There is now a short listing of five options:

Powell River Road Link – Estimated $2.5 – 3 Billion.

This is a new 200-km highway from Squamish to Powell River, over Jervis Inlet, including five bridges and two tunnels. Surprisingly, this option anticipates that the existing BC Ferries services would be retained. It seems the only significant benefit might be resource development that would be opened up.  However this is unlikely given unsettled First Nations land claims.



Powell River Bridge Link – Estimated $1.5–2 Billion.

This would replace the Earls Cove to Saltery Bay ferry service with a 1.5 km suspension bridge from Earls Cove to Nelson Island and a 2 km suspension bridge from Nelson Island to Ahlstrom Point along with interconnecting highways.



Langdale Road Link – Estimated $1.5–2 Billion.

This is a new 58-km highway from Squamish to Port Mellon that would hug the west side of Howe Sound – 105 km from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay. Basically, this would be a mirror image of the east-side Hwy 99, which was a significant engineering accomplishment when it was built in the 1950s. This route would also be subject to the landslide and traffic safety risks that currently exist on Hwy 99.



Langdale Bridge Link – Estimated $2–2.5 Billion.

This would have a 1.5 km suspension bridge from Hwy 99 near Brunswick Point to Anvil Island and another 1.5 km suspension bridge to near McNab Creek, and then a new highway to Port Mellon – 50 km from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay. Is this option worth the extra billion or so in costs to save 55 km of driving?



Maintain existing ferry services – Status Quo.

In 2015, the BC Ferries Annual Report notes the Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route required a subsidy of $2,980,000, and the Earls Cove to Saltery Bay route made a profit of $2,128,000.


The BC Ministry of Transportation Infrastructure background material includes a Multiple Account Evaluation (MAE) of the various short-listed scenarios with a high-level review of the economic, environmental, social and service implications. Unfortunately the status quo option was not included in the comparison table in the MoTI posting.

As such it is confusing for the reader to determine which option is better.  However, based on cost only, the status quo with the existing ferry services is compelling.

The Friday File-That other public dating space-Ikea



For the Friday file is a story carried by The BBC.  If you are a senior in Shanghai you may be part of a twice a week phenomenon-meeting other seniors in the famous Swedish Ikea cafeteria. China’s state broadcaster CCTV News reported that the elderly patrons would often buy a cup of coffee or some bread and “spend an entire day just chatting with others”. They are believed to be part of a dating community, making use of their Ikea membership cards. This week, Ikea put a stop to it by imposing a strict “no food, no seating” rule to discourage senior citizens from occupying canteen seats for “extended periods”.

Yes those seniors are spending time in Ikea’s cafeteria and not spending too many kroners. Ikea staff have identified the oldsters as having an illegal blind-dating group with uncivilized behaviour. “It is having a negative implication for our canteen’s operation. From today, the restaurant will only be for people who purchase their food first.”

The news has attracted attention from netizens on Chinese social media, with many in support of the elderly. Weibo user Lee Xin slammed the move as a “draconian measure” and said it was cruel to elderly patrons. “What wrong are they doing? They are lonely and are probably hoping to find some company again. If anything, the store should practise empathy and at least sympathise with these old people,” she said.

When the seniors are asked directly why they frequent Ikea’s cafeteria, they come out with a truthful reflection about public space in Shanghai. We feel like aliens – surrounded by youngsters. If there is another place in Shanghai where elderly people can gather, we are more than ready to pay twice as much and travel further.”

Is public space for older seniors who meet and greet in person something cities are planning for? Is the lack of these senior friendly spaces only confined to Shanghai?