A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘british columbia

[LINK] “B.C. supports feasibility study of high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Dominika Lirette reports on the support of the British Columbian government for funding a study looking into the feasibility of a high-speed rail route connecting Vancouver with Oregon’s Portland.

British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it’s “far too premature” to talk about a potential financial commitment to a high-speed rail line, but he said the province is interested in the idea.

“The Premier sent a letter to Governor Inslee recently, extending provincial support for the state of Washington’s decision to actually do some due diligence, some analysis on this proposed high-speed rail link, and we certainly support them doing that,” Mr. Stone said.

He noted that that an agreement signed last year between British Columbia and Washington State, known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, highlights transportation as a key priority.

The study will examine the design and cost of a high-speed rail system, the potential demand and whether it would be economically viable. A budget document outlining the study says the high-speed rail system, if built, could connect with east-west routes in the state, as well as a similar system, in California.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[LINK] “B.C. tech sector to get surge of talent fleeing Silicon Valley: insiders”

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The Globe and Mail features Mike Huber’s article suggesting that Trump’s existing border controls and the fear of more have triggered an exodus of Silicon Valley talent north, to British Columbia.

British Columbia’s burgeoning tech sector is set to get a big boost from entrepreneurs and their employees fleeing Silicon Valley to dodge U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, industry insiders say.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he spent this weekend conducting more than a dozen client consultations with high-level engineers, managers and PhD or master’s students working in the U.S. tech industry. These prospective clients now want to move to Canada after Mr. Trump’s executive order last Friday blocking entry to citizens from seven Muslim countries, he said.

Mr. Kurland, who publishes the Lexbase newsletter on the Canadian immigration system, said his colleagues across Canada are all reporting similar interest.

“I’ve never seen anything like it from the United States. The last time I saw something like this was 1989 China – where you had top minds and top families seeking exit from the turmoil,” he said. “There’s this sense of fear and anxiety because you don’t know who’s next on [Mr. Trump’s] list.”

Further uncertainty was added Monday after several U.S. news agencies reported that the President had drafted another executive order targeting a special class of temporary work permits that technology companies have relied upon to recruit highly skilled engineers into the United States.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On how Trump Tower in Vancouver may be an issue for the Trump Administration

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I have to admit to not being amused, as described by the National Post in the article “An early test of Trump’s ethics pledge: The glittering tower in Vancouver about to open its doors” written for the Washington Post by Drew Harwell, Alan Freeman and Jenny Peng, that Trump Tower in Vancouver is set to open and in so doing open up space for a whole slew of problems for the Trump Administration. I would prefer Canada not get involved at all in the political issues of our southern neighbour.

As President Trump settles into his first week in the White House, the first paying guests will begin checking in tonight into the lavish suites of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, a glass skyscraper developed by the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest business executives.

The tower, the first foreign business launch of the Trump brand during the new presidency, is an early test of Trump’s controversial decision to retain ownership of his businesses while promising to combat ethical conflicts by removing himself from the management. It also shows how Trump properties around the world are likely to become focal points for protest or other forms of expressions aimed at the U.S. president and his policies.

Trump and his family do not own the Vancouver project, but the president has a stake in its continued success. The developers have paid Trump’s company for the use of his name while they also pay fees for his company to manage the hotel, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Trump.

Developers say that the hotel, where workers pulled the covers off its imposing “Trump” lettering the day before Friday’s inauguration, has seen an “overwhelming amount of reservations.” Deep-pocketed buyers have also scooped up condos. Buyers include an American tech billionaire who paid $7.6 million for three luxury flats.

To many locals, the building is something of a political symbol. Some, including Vancouver’s mayor, have protested the name that appears in lights above the skyline. Eggs were thrown at a Trump hotel window during the Women’s March there on Saturday that filed past the property.

Trump’s association with overseas hotels was cited in a lawsuit brought this week by ethics experts, who argued that permits or other benefits granted to Trump-branded properties could violate a constitutional ban on foreign government payments to the U.S. president.</blockquote

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2017 at 11:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vancouver renters under pressure as landlords are persuaded to sell”

At The Globe and Mail, Kerry Gold describes the pressure faced by renters in Vancouver as their long-time landlords sell their properties to others, perhaps less invested in keeping their current renters and more interested in maximizing their profit.

Bob Wilson was an old-school landlord, the kind who’d rather learn how to fix a clogged drain himself than call in a plumber.

The retired firefighter owned and meticulously managed the character three-storey on leafy Barclay Street in Vancouver’s West End for 40 years, until he sold it last year for an offer he couldn’t refuse.

And he did refuse many offers. His love of his tenants, the building and his desire to keep working kept him in the landlord business.

“I am friends with almost all of them – even my new tenants I’d seem to become friends with,” says 80-year-old Mr. Wilson. “A fireman is always helping people, so you can’t change that. I love that stuff, doing them favours if they needed something. It was fantastic for me.”

He worked for 30 years as a firefighter, but he managed several small properties around the city. When he was a teenager, his basketball coach advised him to buy real estate in the West End because it would always be desirable and it had nowhere to grow, surrounded by water and the downtown to the east. His investments earned him a decent income for a lifetime.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Cheque Day in the Downtown Eastside”

This multiply-authored feature in The Globe and Mail takes a vivid look at the worsening drug problem in the Downtown Eastside in the era of fentanyl and related opiates.

Deirdre is leaning against an alley wall, prepping a needle full of crystal methamphetamine that could be contaminated with fentanyl. She and a friend have paused to cheer as an employee of a nearby needle exchange rushes over to revive an overdosing man.

“Breathe bro, breeeeathe!” another bystander shouts as he gently slaps the man’s blue face while the employee preps oxygen and a syringe of naloxone that can reverse the deadly effects of opioids.

A small team of firefighters and paramedics take over. The first responders believe the man – Justin – is the one they revived in the same spot a day earlier.

Deirdre, who asked that her real name not be used, and her friend prepare their rigs and inject them into their arms, the scene in front of them no deterrent to the risk that could put them on the pavement in need of a similar lifesaving intervention.

It is 11:29 a.m. on a frigid Wednesday morning– the second-last Wednesday of December, when millions of dollars of social-assistance payments flood into the Downtown Eastside, or DTES. For recipients who regularly use drugs, this day – known in the neighbourhood as “Cheque Day,” “Welfare Wednesday” or “Mardi Gras” – dramatically increases their risk of a fatal overdose.

Though much of Canada has felt the effects of the fentanyl-driven overdose crisis, British Columbia has been hardest hit, experiencing more fatal overdoses this year than in three decades of record-keeping. The death toll is expected to climb to more than 800. Two weeks ago, eight overdose deaths were recorded in the Downtown Eastside in a single day.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vacant lot in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to house new rental building”

The Globe and Mail‘s Frances Bula looks at how even Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is sharing in the housing construction boom of the wider Vancouver metropolitan area, perhaps at the expense of the deprived people who live in that neighbourhood.

A prominent long-vacant lot on the edge of the Downtown Eastside is about to be developed by the company also building the Trump Tower.

But because of a city zoning policy put in years ago and the developer’s preference for something different, the new building at the rapidly transforming corner of Hastings and Abbott across the street from the Woodward’s project will be a rental.

“It is an important and underutilized corner of the city,” said Phillip Scott, the director of development for Holborn Group. He said rental residential is a good fit for the diversified company, adding that “the larger scale of rental building projects such as this helps to deliver amenities and …sustainable living space.”

The 132-unit building is being designed by architect Gair Williamson, who has done a number of unique projects in the Downtown Eastside, Chinatown and Strathcona, including The Keefer, the Paris Block and the Paris Annex, and projects that combine social and market rentals.

The Holborn lot, which used to house a one-storey building that had a food market in its last incarnation, has sat vacant for years. In the decade since Holborn bought the site, the area has changed dramatically.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 28, 2016 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vancouver’s live-work studio program helps artists in a city short on space”

The Globe and Mail‘s Marsha Lederman describes a program in Vancouver for artists that goes some way towards making the city actually affordable for them.

In a city such as Vancouver, high rents and a low vacancy rate do not paint a pretty picture – particularly for artists, who need a place to live as well as a studio space in which to work. Solutions can be trying and not always conducive to one’s artistic practice – finding a roommate, sharing a studio, getting a day job or, yes, leaving town. And size restrictions imposed by space issues can also limit the kind of work an artist produces.

Colleen Heslin currently has three works at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the recently opened exhibition Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural triennial featuring local artists.

Ms. Heslin’s works are dye on linen paintings. They are all large, but one of them, True Grey, 2016, is enormous – 330-by-244 centimetres.

The Vancouver-based artist says her studio “was very crucial” in creating the pieces. For one thing, it was big enough.

Her place has 1,075 square feet over two levels, with a bright living space upstairs and a studio space below with very high ceilings. In the living area, the windowsills are lined with plants, there’s a full kitchen – including a dishwasher – and room for a large dining table, couch, bed and more. Downstairs, there’s a large custom-built work table on wheels, generous storage space for paintings and sculptures, a shelving system for textiles and all kinds of floor space, where even large works, such as True Grey, can be easily laid out.

Her rent is $440 a month.

Ms. Heslin is one of the beneficiaries of the City of Vancouver’s Artist Live-Work Studio Awards Program, which grants spaces to Vancouver-based artists at low or no rent based on financial need and artistic merit.

There are currently seven studios in the program – two work-only and five live-work spaces. Two are awarded at no cost and the other five at significantly reduced rents for three-year terms.

It’s enough time, Ms. Heslin says, to make a difference in an artist’s practice – and the cost is liberating. Previously, she paid about $1,000 for her apartment and separate studio space, which she shared. In the new space, she’s been able to work with thicker, stronger materials. And the washer and dryer in the unit have helped enormously with the dying that is crucial to her practice.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm