Tagged: vancouver

There ain’t no Rolaids for sour gas

A sour gas pipeline has ruptured in the town of Turner Valley, south of Calgary:

A sour gas wellhead has ruptured in Turner Valley, Alta., at the same time as the town southwest of Calgary deals with fast-rising flood waters in the Sheep River.

An emergency alert has been issued for the hazardous materials release that is “threatening life and the environment.”

Of note to Vancouverites is that the expansion to the Kinder Morgan pipeline (whose terminus is in Burnaby) is to carry diluted bitumen, which the American Petroleum Institute defines as thus:

One of the types of crude oil derived from the Canadian oil sands is bitumen, a heavy, sour oil. Bitumen would not flow through a pipeline efficiently, so it is mixed with diluents to be readied for pipeline transportation as diluted bitumen, or ‘dilbit.’ Diluents are usually natural gas condensate, naphtha or a mix of other light hydrocarbons.

Every Vancouverite should wonder what the risks to life are of having a potentially poisonous gas transported through a major urban centre, especially one that is bowl-shaped like Burrard Inlet.

However, I do know of one Vancouverite who won’t

In 2011, there were 322 marine accidents; 1,023 rail accidents and five pipeline accidents. The safety record is 99.99 per cent*.  Are pipelines risk-free? The answer is No. Nothing is risk-free. Living is risky!

I risk injuring myself by training for the three half marathons I try to do each year. My physiotherapist can attest to that fact. Three thousand Canadians die each year plying our roads. Do we stop driving? The answer is No.

If there is a spill, pipelines firms are 100 per cent responsible for cleaning up the spill and the land has to be remediated to its original state.

I wonder if pipeline firms are 100 per cent responsible for burying the dead.

*Of note, Mr. Mihlar seems to have taken his stats unquestioningly from the TransCanada pipeline company, rather than, say, Transport Canada.  Whose stats aren’t quite as rosy. Mr. Mihlar also seems to have chosen a year with below average accidents for his example rather than the trend over time.

UPDATE: The leak has now been contained. Of note:

He said the pipeline ruptured when it was hit by river debris from rising flood waters in the area.

Shit happens.

UPDATE 2: Despite having to put a town on evacuation alert due to poison gas being released from a pipeline break caused by flood debris, the Albertan government insists the floods do not threaten the pipeline network. The Albertan government is awesome.

And by “awesome” I mean “irresponsible”.



Waldorf Salad

The latest little brouhaha in #vanpoli is the saga of the Waldorf Hotel, one which continues to twist and turn. So it’s probably wise to wait until the dust has settled and the, you know, full facts are out in the public domain before charting a course of action.

So Mike Klassen weighs in. He’s got some ideas on how cultural venues can flourish without taxpayers footing the bill.

The hotel’s staff is unionized, which likely removed the flexibility around pay and benefits that a small business needs to achieve profitability.

Gut wages and benefits!

Onerous building code standards have made renovating old spaces needlessly costly and cumbersome. No one can afford hundreds of thousands or even millions to bring buildings up to code.

Gut safety regulations!1

Only when business has the ability to build ramshackle venues staffed by minimum wage slaves will civic culture be unleashed.

Adios, NoFunCity! Hello, Artytropolis!

1Details, of course, pending.

Notable Linkage: BC Property Tax Comparatron – Visualization – OpenDataBC


This visualization was developed by citizens at an OpenDataBC hackathon.

The data for this visualization was provided by the Province of British Columbia under the Open Government License for Government of BC Information v.BC1.0

BC Property Tax Comparatron – Visualization – OpenDataBC

Charted: City of Vancouver Population & Dwelling Unit Growth – Projections

Source: Metro Vancouver 2040

The population of the City of Vancouver is, ever so slowly, growing faster than projected dwelling units.

What can we conclude?

We have a problem, I think.

A Ridge Too Far?

Ok, I’ll bite, in a stream of consciousness kind of way. As an actual movie theatre the building itself is unremarkable both architecturally and as a place to enjoy movies in. It’s value is more intangible. It’s longevity has bred memories, and memories become culture. But whose culture and whose generation? I, like many born and bred in Vancouver, have memories of The Ridge, some of them even fond. The long-running animation festival, the film festival and just regular old movie flicks, etc.

And that, I think, is the demographic upset about its impending demolition.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Pretend we have the power to save it. How long do we preserve The Ridge? Because it’s not the Pyramid of Giza…at some point it will come down. But when?

20 years? 50 years? 100 years? 1000?

Lindsay tweets later that the West Side is “culturally sterile”. I’m not sure I buy that entirely. There are many kinds of culture and the “foodie culture” is well-represented. But in terms of the arts I suppose that’s true. But the arts is also changing. There will probably always be a form of theatre – where human beings get up on a stage and perform for other human beings. And live music will always exist. But how much longer will “film” – a 2-dimensional image projected on a screen – last? I think the end of the line for this format is well in sight. So-called “3-d” films are not a game-changer. Some sort of art transmitted via virtual reality will be the future and it will be here sooner than we know. And it will likely not require specialized buildings and certainly not buildings like The Ridge. (And yes, it could be a shared experience, perhaps even more so than physically occupying the same room as an audience of a movie).

I don’t think film as we know it today has 20 years left.

But I also sympathize. Because this too is true…

Personally, I’d be all over this.

A friend of mine who returned from a sojourn in Toronto had what I think was a great insight into the culture of Vancouver. Cities like Toronto have “inside” cultures. People go “inside” for their social life: Other peoples’ houses, bars, theatres, and so on. It is by nature highly social and friendships are quick. Vancouver has an “outside” culture. People go “outside” for their social life: Hiking, kayaking, skiing, etc. It, by nature, is if not solitary then done in small groups that share the same interest and required skills to participate in that activity. It lends itself to cliques. And this is one of the reasons people feel alone in Vancouver.

Not sure what that has to do with The Ridge…but I said this was stream of consciousness.

The Life and Death of Colonel Ferry

Jon Ferry is mad. The government is thinking about experimenting with social engineering again and he hates it. Why, oh why, can’t we go back to a time when the government didn’t engage in social engineering and everything was tip top. Like it was during Jon’s childhood in Victorian London. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the best example. Anyway, talking about the Vancouver Housing Task Force’s report he gets to the crux of the matter:

But where is it written that select, politically favoured income groups have a divine right to subsidized housing in one of North America’s most expensive cities?

This select, politically favoured income group is, you know,  the poor. You can identify them easily by the fact they have very little money. The advice Jon give is, of course, for these children of privilege to learn to stand on their own two feet [actual quote] and move to Surrey. Not like those crybabies in Quebec [actual quote]. The matter of one’s poverty being a morality play, and all that.

Oh sure, Jon concedes, there are problems with affordability but it’s a problem from too much government meddling…

Misguided government meddling in the housing market, after all, is one of the reasons why Vancouver housing is so unaffordable in the first place.

See? And also: Indeed! At times like this I like to turn to my personal bible – the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World 2011 Annual Report. At the top of the list of economically free countries is Hong Kong and Singapore – and you certainly won’t find subsidized housing in either of those places. Gotcha there!

So as Jon so deftly shows as he argues with someone in 1930, this is a failure of government and not the market and/or this:

For couple families (with or without children), the largest increase [in family median income] occurred in Guelph (+2.6%) and the largest decrease was in Vancouver (-2.4%). Among lone-parent families, the largest increase in median total family income was in Thunder Bay (+6.6%), and the largest decline was in Calgary (-3.2%).

For people not in census families, the largest increase was in St. John’s (+2.3%), and the largest decline was in Vancouver (-5.6%).

Lalalala…Jon can’t hear you! Besides…

One of the biggest obstacles to owning or renting a home in Vancouver is government and government taxes.

Of course, that the property tax rate in Vancouver is lower than in Surrey is unmentioned.

Own goals

Mike Klassen has a bone to pick with the Canadian Journalism Foundation. See, they gave an award to The Great and Auld Enemy, The Vancouver Observer. For “excellence in journalism” in the small/local media category. The CJF, Mike says, is “coming under fire” for this outrage, though fire from anyone other than Mike Klassen is a mystery.

In support, Mike quotes [supposedly] 4 “veteran” Vancouver journalists, none of whom wanted to go on record. Anonymity is granted. It’s an important principle of journalism that you grant anonymity when a source requests it….in this case, and by remarkable coincidence, 4 times in a row. Apropos of nothing, here is the New York Times policy on anonymous sources:

In routine interviewing – that is, most of the interviewing we do – anonymity must not be automatic or an assumed condition. In that kind of reporting, anonymity should not be offered to a source. Exceptions will occur in the reporting of highly sensitive stories, when it is we who have sought out a source who may face legal jeopardy or loss of livelihood for speaking with us.

Jeepers, the Vancouver Observer must have mob enforcers working for them.

Whatever. Also in support, Mr. Klassen cites BCBusiness Magazine. Mike states:

Linda Solomon was featured beside City Caucus in a 2011 feature article in BCBusiness Magazine titled “The Politics of Vancouver Blogs“. Vancouver Observer was cited as a site with “clear political allegiances” to Vancouver City Hall and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Although what BCBusiness magazine actually said was…

Much in the way that Solomon’s apartment merges workplace and home, however, the world of online journalism highlights the narrowing separation between politics and the media in a city where Mayor Gregor Robertson posts on Twitter regularly and a province in which a radio host, Christy Clark, left her job to become premier. Websites and blogs from writers with clear political allegiances, which once only commented on news from traditional outlets, are now breaking news and supplying stories for reporters. Consequently, they are inspiring accusations of biases and low standards from city hall, even as its staffers scan these sites for updates.

I guess City Hall doesn’t like the Vancouver Observer. Unless the phrase “clear political allegiances” was referring to [cough] another website.

Whatever. For me the interesting part is BCBusiness Magazine had no problem finding and citing veteran Vancouver journalists who, oddly enough, seem at ease going on the record about named Vancouver blogs. For example, here is a senior local journalist discussing one of The Vancouver Observer’s competitors:

In a Sept. 13, 2010, Globe and Mail column, Gary Mason described [City Caucus] as an “educational and useful blog,” but one that “is embedded with blatant bias, personal attacks, juvenile vituperation and hypocrisy.”


OWN GOAL 2: In the comments of this City Caucus blog post, Vancouver’s Poet Laureate writes in defence of allowing journalists to go off the record:

FYI, here’s one reason why journalists, people linked to the city hall, or in business with the city in general, prefer to speak from behind anonymity.
Remember how the Vision appointed Top Hack dealt with … The Press?
Here, for your enjoyment some extracts…

They then go on to describe the displeasure of named, on the record journalists over a “gag order” at City Hall for staff.


Compare, compare & contrast: The Great Green Conspiracy Edition, Pt XII

“When I go through tax returns, I try to find evidence to disprove my theory,” Krause said, adding that after several years of research, she is left wondering “whether American foundations paved [Robertson’s] path to power, in order to control the flow of Canada’s natural resources and trade to Asia, particularly oil.”

-Vivian Krause, Blogger: Tides Canada being reviewed by feds for alleged improper links to Vancouver mayoral campaign

Although the I try to find evidence to disprove my theory strongly suggests someone is starting with their conclusion first and works backwards, there’s, you know, this:

A huge pipeline spill has released 22,000 barrels of oil and water into muskeg in the far northwest of Alberta.

The spill ranks among the largest in North America in recent years, a period that has seen a series of high-profile accidents that have undermined the energy industry’s safety record.

Globe and Mail, May 30th, 2012

Why, oh why, would environmental groups be concerned about pipelines? It’s so unbelievable there must be some other rational explanation, like inserting a Manchurian Candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. A positions which holds no jurisdiction over waterways. [cough]

But, the piéce de resistance…

Do I have a conspiracy for you! Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is acting on directions from American oil companies to block natural resource development in Canada. It must be true: blogger Vivian Krause has seen the tax records!…

…This would be simply pathetic if this line of kooky thinking hadn’t been picked up by our prime minister and his top ministers.

That would be Peter Ladner. Gregor Robertson’s opponent for Mayor in 2008.


[Tides Canada] gets 30% of its funding from international sources. The biggest amount it ever got, $27 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, was mostly spent on a joint provincial-federal-First Nations-industry-NGO planning process for the central coast region, now known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Yes, a federal partnership, with the feds themselves matching with $30 million and holding hands with Tides Canada.

Compare and contrast: Right-wing urban development edition

Yesterday in the Vancouver Sun, Pete McMartin – in what I can only suppose is it’s important to give equal consideration to any crackpot idea as long as the crackpot idea originates from the right-wing – wrote an article on the urban development ideas of Wendell Cox. Mr Cox is described as a U.S. public policy consultant. This is true. What is also true is Mr. Cox is a a U.S. public policy consultant, visiting fellow of the Heritage Foundation and senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. The latter being infamously in the news lately. Anyway, Mr. Cox loves urban sprawl. To whit:

But densification, Cox maintains, rests on a mistaken assumption — that if a city is dense enough, we’ll get out of our cars in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

Instead, Cox wrote, densification does exactly the opposite. Most people continue to use their cars, but in a slower, less efficient flow of traffic.

But later that very same day, over the newswires…Gen Y doesn’t buy cars: study

For young adults coming out of school, many of who have incurred healthy debts, the idea of buying a car and adding to their debt leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Paying off student debts is seen as a priority, while owning a new car is a luxury. Add into the equation low wages and high insurance prices, and you’ve got a potent mix of reasons not to buy a new car.

But is it really that simple? For instance, a new Pew Research study finds that around 30 percent of Millennials move back in with their parents, freeing up more money for a vehicle. If kids aren’t paying rent, then why aren’t they buying cars?

Why indeed. Oops. McMartin ends…

Much of this in a city like Vancouver seems counter-intuitive, and given the ascendancy of the densification philosophy here, worthy of further discussion.

I look forward to a worthy discussion on whether the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Sorry, Pete. This was a dude.

UPDATE: See Gordon Price

Thoughtful, caring, civil clown too busy having fun to run your local PAC so quit asking, okay?

Mike Klassen would like you to know he is having too much fun doing what he’s doing now and is certainly not standing by, on the launch pad, waiting for the go order…[wink]

Having clearly ingested the autopsy report of his failed bid for City Council in last Fall’s election, Mike has cannily decided the best response is to ignore all that to have fun and go from being wingnut-curious to fully exploring/embracing the outer fringes of Canada’s right-wing. Because the hotbed of Senator Duffy mania is, as we all know, Vancouver.

So what does fun Klassen-style entail? Why hard-hitting exposes such as, oh, this one on how The Tyee, in response to pressure from former Rothmans/Benson & Hedges cigarette lobbyist Ezra Levant, has removed…hidden…blown-up it’s Donation button in a desperate bid to escape the tightening gauntlet of the citizen-journalist posse and associated Conservative Party of Canada and corporate-created grassroots groups exposing them. Because that’s how U.S. philanthropic organizations launder their ill-gotten gains into Canada – through online webforms. Do not despair these might be rash accusations made in haste for immediate short-term political expediency for, like another pundit whose work Klassen’s very much reminds me of, this is a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

How do we know The Tyee made changes in response to former Charles G. Koch Foundation intern Ezra Levant? Faster than you can say post hoc ergo propter hoc than short answer is because.

But the genius of this post is the multimedia part of it where, through the magic of animation, Mike clearly shows how The Tyee’s Donation button disappeared over time. Damning stuff. Unfortunately, faster than you can say citizen-journalist, this same animated image also shows the emergence of The Tyee’s donation link in a different spot. Over time. Yes multiple convicted libelist Ezra Levant made The Tyee move it’s Donation link from one part of it’s website…to another. Huah!

And Mike is proud to do his small part in exposing this nefariousness. Because it’s fun.

Tyee editor David Beers shows up in the comments and tries – with far too much patience – to explain how this isn’t true and, you know, doesn’t actually make sense.