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Kits Beach Street Car

Whiterock has proposed a seaside extension, as editorialized in Price Tags.  I was struck by Sandy James’s great suggestion: ride a train [streetcar] to the beach! Nice idea and good to remember it once existed as the #12 to Kitsilano. interurbanmap_web

Part of a big network!


The internet provides nice photos that give a good sense of what taking the beach tram would have felt like.  At present this former streetcar line raises the potential for a re-stitching of that link, also perhaps to serve the Vanier Park museum precinct?

While today’s planning would have this short spur extend further afield – perhaps terminating at UBC. It’s a nice reminder that public transit to parks and recreation spaces was once a goal of the system. TODs are good, but going by Skytrain from my high-density indoor living place to my high-density indoor work place to my high-density indoor shopping place does a hamsters’ life make.

[EDIT] Arnie makes a good point in his comment – we are certainly not building quality ground-oriented units in any great quantity, nor at affordable price points.  That said the point of “a hamsters’ life” comment is to identify the blind spot in transit stations planning.  There are few stations that access urban outdoor public resources, not just commercially-based recreational resources (shopping centres). This is not a judgement, it’s great to go to Metrotown and to get it all done, home again by Skytrain. It’s just our  high-speed, high-capacity transit stop, purpose-built for access to beach has not been re-built since the decomissioning of #19 streetcar line.

Two existing stations spring to mind for today’s park access- Patterson Station for access to Central Park, and Templeton station for reaching Iona Beach by bike (arguably Yaletown Station for beach access). The trolley-based terminus for park access would have to be #19 Metrotown/Stanley Park.

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk out of your West End tower, get on the train for Kits Beach, walk to Spanish Banks up the hill and back downtown on a UBC rapid transit link?


New taxation scheme to fund Metro Vancouver transit development

Gas taxes, property taxes, carbon taxes, vehicle levies… Translink needs cash, citizens need transit and there’s no blood from stones. The province and Lower Mainland municipalities are battling it out for where the funding shall come from, and on whom the political fallout shall settle.  The province insists that new taxation to fund Translink shall be subject to a referendum. Most Canadians are allergic to referenda, and the mayors of the region are (probably rightly) afraid a loss at the polls will force them to raise property taxes and fall on their swords politically. There is a tantalizing solution at hand – and probably in the hands of the province to enact.

That proposal is a hike in luxury car taxes.

At present ICBC PST rates are dependent on the price of the vehicle. The breakdown is as follows:

$55,000 to $55,999.99 7% plus 1%
$56,000 to $56,999.99 7% plus 2%
$57,000 and over 7% plus 3%

We can think of this as the normal PST rate of 12% on a new vehicle, progressively climbing from there.

The Australian government charges a luxury sales tax of 33% over and above the threshold of $60,316 AU (2013-14).  Their system accounts for the existing GST already paid and charges the 33% on the amount not already taxed. That threshold converted to Canadian dollars is $58, 630, to which the province would apply +1%.

There may be a revenue stream that is under-appreciated here. Not that 33% should be the target necessarily — but there is merit to creeping that up a bit.

Re-Drawn: Skytrain art with habitat potential

Embraced by our avian friends?

Embraced by our avian friends?

The Skytrain plinth near Brighouse station in Richmond is the site of a work by artist Carlyn Yandle. This installation was brought to my attention by Gordon Price on his blog PriceTags – and from “the Daily Scot”. Currently hailing from San Diego, Scot and I had a quick conversation about keeping our eyes open for good city “moments”.  Keep it up Scot!

A quick sketch gives the public art over to birds and replaces the parking beneath with bicycle racks. A what a wonder world the future would be!Public_Art_Birds

Amsterdam Noord – studio work

The scheme for Amsterdam Noord revolved around resettling the canal space… the re-enlivening of water organizes its programs and uses to match with water quality.

3.1 Floating Program

Public water spaces, such as floating bars and performance spaces, zoos or BMX barges sit on the water not yet remediated.

Water Definitions Final-01

Passing through floating bio-filtration modules using currents and stormwater flows, the water is cleansed. These floating green buffers allow the adjacent houseboat neighbourhoods to enjoy residential privacy.

C_Griffiths_Portfolio_2013 13

Mixed Heritage

For sure since the beginning the Netherlands has had a history of intermingling… mixed heritage is evident everywhere here. It’s not a theme of discussion though; nor celebration. 

I predict someone will make a splash with a big picture book of Amsterdam portraits as Kip Fulbek’s project “Hapa”. 

In the interim:



PS Eddie Van Halen – famous hapa – indonesian and dutch.



The Dutch do dessert like no other. There’s poffertjes – tiny puffy spheric doughnuts; stroopwaffles – syrup sandwiches; vla – pudding in a litre-sized tetrapak. But oil balls take the cake. They’re a traditional New Year’s Eve treat made by plopping a dollop of yeast dough in hot oil. They’re become little floating islands of donut that contain raisins, apple or currants and covered in sugar. This germanic traditional sweet was native to Holland and in the dead of winter eating oliebollen was a survival must.  If you feared the goddess Perchta – the wizened witch Bertha – then it was said her sword would slide off your greasy oliebollen belly and you could avoid evisceration. Nothing like pastry with imperative.

First Impressions

In a land variously at or under the level of the sea there is but opportunity to prick the land with trees and buildings. In all truth, the buildings are also a form of tree, as buildings are built, largely, on pilings throughout the country. If the great palaces of the hill-towns of Italy are accreted pathways and terraces of the everyday life of Italians — the Dutch sprouted their halls from the rich earth.

In a moment of need I wondered: how does plumbing work here? The cardinal rule of most plumbers is that water will always run downhill… I suppose it will run downhill, underwater, if need be. Questions to be answered.

The immediate and intimate truth it that the open window to the street exists! Often I saw frosted windows instead of lace curtains, but it’s indeed a “blinds-up” culture. Listing brick buildings crowd together along the street and canal. There is no shortage of lime trees… Although in Stockholm, the Tilia are still in flower. Here those little nuts are being formed. Against every major roadway, there appears to be a ditch, full of duckweed and reedgrass, and the best are bordered with trees.

The canals are remarkable. The low boats of the canal, the cogs, the tjotter, some converted as hotels, apartments and party-locales. A string of incandescent lights flicked on, as I passed a long barge. Sandwiched between a motorcraft and a canal barge, a nosey gull perches on a sunken hull in the morning grey.

It’s humid and my skin feels sooty.