A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘vancouver

[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

[URBAN NOTE] “Canadian families moving to escape urban housing prices”

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MacLean’s carries Alexandra Posadzki’s Canadian Press article looking at how high housing prices are driving Canadians out of major cities for markets with lower prices.

Julien Simon and his wife were living happily in their condo in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby when life intervened last year in the form of a baby on the way.

The couple — he’s an Internet marketer, she’s an environmental engineer — couldn’t see themselves living in a shoebox crammed full of baby stuff, so they pulled up stakes, put their condo up for sale and moved about four hours away to Kamloops, B.C., where they bought a four-bedroom house for nearly the same price.

“In Vancouver, this house would be in the $2 million range,” says Simon, who works from home while his wife now works for the government as a flood safety engineer.

While more detailed profiles will emerge in subsequent releases, the 2016 census data released Wednesday found that there were more than 14 million occupied private dwellings in Canada, a 5.6 per cent increase over the five-year period that ended in 2011. That growth rate, however, was significantly lower than the 7.1 per cent rate recorded five years ago.

Thanks in large part to a commensurate spike in population that was the largest in Canada, Nunavut reported the fastest dwellings growth at 13.4 per cent, followed by Alberta (9.9 per cent), Yukon (7.8 per cent) and British Columbia (6.6 per cent).

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2017 at 10:00 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] “Speculation likely still driving up house prices in B.C., Toronto, Hamilton, CMHC says”

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And so, as CBC reports, the housing boom in Canada’s cities goes on.

Three months after issuing its first red warning on the state of the country’s housing market, CMHC said Thursday that strong evidence of “problematic” conditions nationally have continued for a second consecutive quarter.

The federal agency said in its latest quarterly market analysis that those conditions persisted due to overvaluation and price acceleration.

CMHC said its assessment largely accounts for market conditions in Vancouver and Toronto, where strong price growth has been spreading to other areas.

“Price acceleration in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Hamilton indicates that home price growth may be driven by speculation as it is outpacing what economic fundamentals like migration, employment and income can support,” said Bob Dugan, the agency’s chief economist.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vancouver, Toronto take different approaches to policing pot shops”

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The Globe and Mail‘s hosts Mike Hager’s report contrasting the willingness of Vancouver pot shops to report crime to the unwillingness of Toronto’s, tracing this to the considerably more permissive police policies in Vancouver.

David Malmo-Levine has had numerous run-ins with Vancouver police in more than two decades fighting for the legalization of marijuana, the most intense being the time he says he was dragged by handcuffs while attempting to block a raid of a downtown cannabis seed store in the mid-1990s.

So, he said he was pleasantly surprised in May, 2015, when police returned several thousand dollars worth of bongs and cannabis products that had been stolen by a man who smashed a stolen minivan through the storefront of his illegal East Vancouver dispensary.

“It was the best they had ever treated me in my entire life of pot activism – in fact, they returned the pot and all the edibles, the hashish and everything [that was stolen],” said Mr. Malmo-Levine, who spent time in prison after losing a Supreme Court of Canada case stemming from being charged for running an underground cannabis vapour lounge more than 20 years ago.

[. . .]

Vancouver’s approach to regulating – not raiding – its 95 dispensaries stands in stark contrast to Toronto, Canada’s other largest market for these illegal stores, where police and politicians say an ongoing crackdown has become more urgent as these pot shops have become a magnet for violent thieves.

Earlier this week, Toronto police announced there had been 13 armed robberies of dispensaries in the past eight months – six of which were not reported by employees or owners of the businesses. Investigators said they believe additional robberies have gone unreported and that employees and operators of some of the targeted dispensaries have refused to answer questions or to hand over surveillance footage.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vancouver third most expensive in world for housing, Toronto 13th: study”

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The Toronto Star carried the Canadian Press report about Demographia‘s latest international survey on the affordability of housing.

An annual international survey rates Vancouver as the third least affordable housing market on the planet and it also has a warning about Toronto housing.

The 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey gives Vancouver a rating of 11.8, meaning median home prices are 11.8 times higher than median household income.

Read more: Toronto house prices climb more than 22%

Only Hong Kong, with a rating of 18.1, and Sydney, Australia, at 12.2, outstrip Vancouver.

Demographia says housing markets are affordable when median prices are no more than three times higher than median household income.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “When Your Art Is in Trump Tower”

Canadian Art‘s Rosie Prata talks with artists in Toronto and Vancouver whose works are now located in those cities’ Trump Towers. How do they react to having their art on display in these buildings?

Much has been made of Trump’s taste, or lack thereof. Though he has existed in the public imagination for nearly four decades, evidence of his interests or tastes in regards to art are scarce. We know he knows the word, at least, because the book attributed to him, Trump: The Art of the Deal (1987), uses “art” in its title. (But then again, maybe that was a contribution from Tony Schwartz.)

At Trump’s three-storey penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, a gaudy marble-and-gold rococo travesty lit by candelabras, there’s no art on view, except for a reproduction of Renoir’s La Loge in Melania’s office, and various depictions of Greek gods. “Part of the beauty of me,” Trump once explained, “is that I am very rich.”

One would expect to see a similar display of garishness at the properties that bear his name, but for the two in Canada—the aforementioned Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto and Trump Tower in Vancouver—it turns out that such expectations are wrong. Many of the artworks come from artists whose own political views are in opposition to all that Trump stands for.

Though Trump is a shareholder in some of the buildings that bear his name, including those in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago, he has limited involvement in many Trump properties, and very little decision-making power in regards to what art is housed in the franchises embellished with his name. The buildings themselves have been sites of protest, and the Vancouver Women’s March event on January 21 includes a stop at the Trump building on West Georgia Street.

A 500,000-piece mosaic themed on multiculturalism, created by Stephen Andrews, a gay artist who has lived openly with HIV for decades, adorns the covered driveway leading into Toronto’s Trump Tower. Andrews is an artist whose politics are sure to offend the delicate sensibilities of Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, who believes in the efficacy of electro-conversion therapy for LGTBQ+ people.

There’s also the Michael Snow–designed Lightline, a streak of light reaching to the Tower’s 65-story peak. When it was installed in 2012, the Toronto Star called it “a mix of bold flashing colours with a weird thing on top,” noting that “the skyscraper light appears to be the manifestation of Donald Trump himself.” Later that same year, Toronto Life reported that the artwork was malfunctioning, but conceded that at least it wasn’t “demanding its money back,” as its investors were, “or smashing on the street below,” as the building’s antenna and glass panels had. A 2013 profile of Snow noted that “Trump and Snow actually have a lot in common: unshakable ego, wilful disregard for public opinion and a knack for stoking controversy.” It’s a comparison that Snow would now likely contest.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 23, 2017 at 10:45 pm