Affordable Housing: Councillor Bassam wants a referendum

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
September 1, 2018
725 words

Councillor Roger Bassam used the last District of North Vancouver Council meeting before the summer to present a central part of his election campaign: a non-binding question added to October’s ballot asking District voters to endorse a plan to invest $150 million to create 1000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.

Bassam describes the question as “a test for the community”; a proposal to “tax the local property owners and invest that tax in non-market housing to the benefit of the broader community and families in need.” Continue reading “Affordable Housing: Councillor Bassam wants a referendum”

Music at home: When art gets social

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
July 12, 2018
435 words

Jack Li, clarinet and Scott Meek, piano (Music Friends past event)
Jack Li, clarinet and Scott Meek, piano (Music Friends past event)

When Tamara Leger launched Lions Bay House Concerts in 2015 she wanted to create an event that would allow neighbour to meet neighbour in the town of 500. Since then she’s found that her mix of folk, jazz, and art events has become an artistic success as well. Her concerts include a potluck dinner in a different home each time, and are as much social as musical.

In coming weeks she’ll be presenting award-winning Fingerstyle guitarist Jordan Brodie, regarded as “one of the best young guitar players in Australia”, at a private home in Dundarave on Saturday July 14th, and Montreal-based musician Cécile Doo-Kingué at a home in Lions Bay on Saturday July 28th. Continue reading “Music at home: When art gets social”

CACs: Track the money that funds the heart and soul of the District

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
July 12, 2018
850 words

Sewer Pipe
Photo by: eutrophication&hypoxia

“My favourite thing about living in Lynn Valley are the excellent storm sewers!”

I’ve never said that, and neither have you. The reasons for living here are always the mountains and trees, or maybe the library and the music outside in the plaza. For some of us it’s the Panto at St Martin’s Hall, biking the trails on Mount Fromme, or just enjoying the dogs playing in Princess Park.

If the roads and sewers and water pipes are the bones and sinew of North Vancouver, all of these other things are the heart and soul of our community. They are the things that get people out of their houses and cars and bring them together to enjoy the place where we live. They’re also the things that are too easily sidelined as “frills” or “luxuries.” Continue reading “CACs: Track the money that funds the heart and soul of the District”

DNV proposal for $7 million worth of developer funded public art failed to get rave reviews

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
June 9, 2018
817 words

Lawrence Argent’s “I See What You Mean,” the great blue bear that is part of the Colorado Convention Centre

An ambitious plan to fund a decade of Public Art in the District of North Vancouver faced heavy criticism when presented to Council during an April Council Workshop. The draft plan proposed an investment of $7 million between 2018 and 2031, funded primarily by property developers through their Community Amenity Contributions (CAC).

The plan presented by Public Art Coordinator Lori Phillips and Heather Turner, Director of Recreation & Culture, included $5 million for site specific works in each of the four new “town centres “– Lynn Valley, Lynn Creek, Lions Gate, and Maplewood Village – and $2 million for works placed in areas like Edgemont, Queensdale, and Deep Cove, as well as alongside trails and in parks. The increased funding would also ensure that existing and future works can be maintained. Continue reading “DNV proposal for $7 million worth of developer funded public art failed to get rave reviews”

Transportation: the lost DNV Committee

Published: The Global Canadian  (pdf)
June 9, 2018
750 words

DNVThe single biggest issue for many District of North Vancouver residents is traffic. Any discussion about local politics quickly turns to complaints about the two overcrowded bridges, the inevitable impact of increased population density, and the near legendary “gridlock” on Lynn Valley Road.

As we speak the District and Province are spending millions of dollars to build new traffic interchanges at the the bottom of the Cut, Translink is planning to add a new B-Line bus from Phibbs Exchange to Dundarave, and traffic patterns, bike lanes, and sidewalks are being changed around each of the new “Town Centres.” But if transportation is such a critical subject, why has the District disbanded their Transportation Consultation Committee? The one committee that allowed ordinary residents to work directly with District transportation planners? Continue reading “Transportation: the lost DNV Committee”

Will the new parks bylaw prove to be a ‘gigantic hammer’?

Published: The Global Canadian
April 1, 2018
714 words

Barry Rocks OnThe District of North Vancouver is preparing to adopt a new Parks Regulation Bylaw, the first update since 1961. The new Bylaw is nearly four times the size of the old one, growing from four pages to fifteen, and promises “public safety through regulation.” During last week’s Council Workshop District staff explained that the new Bylaw is needed to give them “teeth” to enforce and regulate the use of District parks, but promised that rules would only be enforced some of the time, for some activities, by some people. Teenage partiers are a particular target for the new Bylaw’s enforcement.

Much of the new Bylaw is devoted to either prohibiting or regulating almost anything that you might want to do in a public park. It governs where and when people can play “organized sports,” cook a burger, rent a kayak, or cycle, and prohibits residents from erecting a “memorial or other object” commemorating a family pet. The Bylaw includes a list of more than dozen commercial activities that will require permits and fees. As well as film shoots and dogwalking, the Bylaw now designates bus tours, exercise classes, “providing instruction,” and even walking tours as regulated activities. Continue reading “Will the new parks bylaw prove to be a ‘gigantic hammer’?”

Moving people away from oil isn’t just a question of cost. Consumer behaviour is complex, often contradictory

Published: North American Energy News (link)
June 2, 2017
828 words

Dear Reader, here is my question for you: how much extra are you willing to pay to speed up the Energy Transition? How much risk are you willing to assume?

This is not at all a simple question.  Would we be likely to retrofit our current townhouse to be super energy efficient, much less pull out the gas furnace and hot water and go all-electric?

Probably not, because we have other places to spend tens of thousands of dollars, and the payback period would, for us, be far too long.  There are also the questions about how much hassle it would be to get approval from our strata for this scope of work, and whether a forty year old wood structure is worth that kind of investment.  If we’re looking to sell, a new kitchen and bathroom is better choice. Continue reading “Moving people away from oil isn’t just a question of cost. Consumer behaviour is complex, often contradictory”

Sidewalk poles make for an obstacle course

Published: North Shore News (link)
December 16, 2016
800 words

Pole in SidewalkLate last month, in a meeting at the District of North Vancouver, a cyclist, a pedestrian and a disabled person found common ground. Instead of discussing the broad visions of the district’s official community plan, or initiatives like Vision Zero or Barrier Free BC, talk turned to one of those mundane problems faced by anyone travelling without a car: telephone poles in the middle of sidewalks.

It sounds like a small thing to complain about if you compare it to the daily jams on the Upper Levels highway, but for anyone trying to travel the district on foot, by bike, or in a wheelchair, these poles can be as big a barrier as a stalled semi on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. Continue reading “Sidewalk poles make for an obstacle course”

Bicycles are not a North Shore Panacea, Transit Might Be

Published: Price Tags (link)
August 30, 2016
1135 words

For three years I’ve been part of the District of North  Vancouver’s Transportation Consultation Committee. Few things have enjoyed more discussion than cycling infrastructure.

The cycling community, including HUB, have done a tremendous job of lobbying local governments for better bike paths and lanes, and for the inclusion of bike specific amenities in major developments. When these discussions happen, bicycles are almost immediately proposed as the solution to traffic jams.

Good though that is, it isn’t about to solve the problems of the daily traffic jams on the Upper Levels highway. The problem is that our most avid cyclists don’t seem to understand the motivation of all of the thousands of people driving to and from their destinations. Continue reading “Bicycles are not a North Shore Panacea, Transit Might Be”

A Dog With No Name

Published: Black Cat White Dog News (PDF)
March 2013
775 words

See the lovely dog riding beside me in my truck? Do you know her name? I don’t.  I had just finished loading six dogs into my truck after an hour and a half on the trails.  This happy girl became an extra passenger.

I met her as she wandered down Millstream Road in West Vancouver, following her favorite mail carrier.  He even knew where she lived, so I tried to take her home, but the house was locked, and no-one answered the door.

Finally I dropped her off at the West Vancouver SPCA.  All in all this little girl cost me an hour or more of my time, a side trip from the British Properties down to Park Royal, and her owners the time and expense of recovering her.  Plus who knows how much worry when they found that she was gone. All for the sake of a five dollar name tag.

As a commercial dog walker I’m handling dogs all of the time.  And like most other walkers, I also wind up taking care of lost dogs on a regular basis.  Whether it’s the time of day, or the truck, or just a positive doggy “vibe”, you can bet that the dog that’s been wandering your neighbourhood all afternoon will come up to me and say “Hi! I’m lost! Please take me home!” And truly, I’m delighted to do it, but first I have to know who she is and how to find her owners.

If you own a dog it needs a collar.  A collar that’s around his or her neck, and fastened securely.  And on that collar you need a name tag, with the puppy name, and the phone number to call when I find her. Yes your dog has the proper municipal license tag, and possibly a rabies tag as well. He or she is likely micro-chipped  and tattooed to boot, but none of these are much use to me, or to most people who might meet your dog on the street.  What we really want is your phone number so that we can bring Rover home.

Now, about that collar.  It has to be on the dog.  All the time.  Yes, I know that Fluffy likes to lounge about sans collar at home, but he’s just not organized enough to put it back on before leaving.

I’ll repeat: the collar has to be on the dog. All the time. Just because your dog is at home – even if he or she is inside the house, with the doors locked and the alarm set – you should still assume that a Great Escape is imminent, and leave the collar on.

Having your dog escape is not a reflection on you, or your worth as a dog owner.   Sooner or later every dog finds a reason to wander off, chase a squirrel, check out the neighbor’s garbage.  It’s a dog thing, like shedding, and drooling, and snatching that piece of toast of the kitchen table when your back is turned.

Our poster girl? She wasn’t wearing a collar or tags, but she was wearing a electric fence “shock” collar.  Was it turned off? Were the batteries dead? Was she just happy to ignore it as she dashed off of her property?  I have no idea, but it didn’t slow her down.

Nine times out of ten when we find a lost dog it’s slipped away from home – through the back door, under the fence – you would be amazed how many ways a dog can escape.  Trust me. My own dog has been known to sneak out of the house and go play in Princess Park.

As an owner your obligation is to expect it, and be prepared.  It’s good to check your fences and fix holes.   It’s good to teach your dog recall, and encourage her to respect boundaries.  But it’s also good to plan for the worst – just the way you would with a young child. The dogs that we find are only a block or less from home,  and half the time the dog owner is at home too, but there’s no way we can know that.

The first step is always to look for a name tag, and call the owner. So do yourself, your dogs, and your local dog walkers a big favour and add a tag saying “My Name is Fang, and my phone number is 555-1212.”

Special hint: If your dog does get lost while you’re hiking the North Shore trails you can ask any commercial dog walker for help – we’ll spread the word to everyone walking that day to keep an eye out.