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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2013

Vol. 104 No. 104 • Established 1908

Theyearin sweets

19

WEEKEND EDITION

THE VOICE OF VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOODS

OPINION: Political paradox 10 NEWS: Sit-down with mayor 12

Yearin review photos Dan Toulgoet

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F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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year in review

Busy, contentious, celeb-filled year for park board SANDRA THOMAS Staff writer

T

he park board was either featured or mentioned in the Vancouver Courier 229 times between Jan. 1 and Dec. 19, which is one of the reasons it was named this newspaper’s 2013 Newsmaker of the Year. The conflicts between the park board and community centre associations about the joint-operating agreement and with residents over the proposed 12-foot wide, paved bike path through Kitsilano and Hadden Beach parks were detailed in the Courier’s Newsmaker issue, so let’s take a look at other events overshadowed by the board’s dramatic year. In January, the park board approved a move that saw Discovery Square on Burrard Street at Dunsmuir renamed Art Phillips Park, a year after Vision Vancouver vicechair Aaron Jasper brought forward a motion recommending the change. In July, the park board launched a “culinary makeover” of its concession stands by adding veggies and dip, yogurt parfaits, vegan fruit bars, salads and seasonal cornon-the-cob to its standard fare of hot dogs, burgers, and fish and chips. The move was just one part of the board’s Local Food Action Plan approved July 8. Continued on page 5

photo Dan Toulgoet

Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth successfully brought forward a motion in 2013 that will eventually see book exchanges created in community centres or at field houses..

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year in review

Ron Swanson pays a visit Continued from page 3 In August, the park board invited the world to celebrate all the wonders of Stanley Park with a two-day party to mark the city’s 125th birthday. More than 200 events took place at five main festival sites, drawing tens of thousands each day to dance, walk, drink and learn how experts get those tiny bands on hummingbirds. The weather cooperated, making it one of the most successful events in the park’s history. In September, the park board, at the urging of Vision Vancouver chair Sarah Blyth, found a permanent home for the “Dude Chilling Park” sign, mysteriously erected overnight in November 2012 in Mount Pleasant’s Guelph Park. As it turned out, the guerilla art installation had been designed to highlight the Michael Dennis sculpture of a lounging figure at the park. The sign was immediately removed by park board staff, but in September it found a new home in the Brewery Creek Community Garden in Guelph Park. Also in September, the park board officially opened Creekway Park on Bridgeway Street near New Brighton Park at a cost of $1.2 million. The former parking lot was transformed into an ecologically rich park including native plants, bird habitat, pedestrian/bike paths and a daylighted stream. The reclaimed section of Hastings Creek had been buried for almost 100 years. Not only was Kits Beach named one of the top 10 city beaches in the world in 2012 by CNN Travel, in September 10 new tennis courts opened at the popular park. The five courts to the north end of the property were built to meet International Tennis Federation tournament standards while all 10 were resurfaced with asphalt and Plexipave sports coating and had new drainage and fencing installed. The wheel-

In September, the park board officially opened Creekway Park on Bridgeway Street near New Brighton Park at a cost of $1.2 million. chair accessible facility replaced courts built in 1952. In November, Blyth had an opportunity to meet her fictional counterpart Ron Swanson from the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation. And while Blyth swears she’s never taken any of his “Ronisms” to heart in making decisions, you have to wonder if his new book Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals, penned by the very real Nick Offerman, may have been the inspiration for a motion she brought forward this year. In October, Blyth successfully recommended book exchanges be created at community centres or in field houses. Blyth also wants a mobile phone app developed through which book exchange users can post the titles and locations of their latest deposits. In December, Blyth was replaced as chair of the park board by Vision Vancouver commissioner Niki Sharma as part of an annual rotation, while Constance Barnes replaced Aaron Jasper as vice-chair. Vision Vancouver commissioner Trevor Loke was named chair of the park board committee, while Jasper was named vice-chair. The Newsmaker of the Year story can be found at vancourier.com sthomas@vancourier.com twitter.com/sthomas10

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

year in review

City dramatically changing, to the chagrin of some COMMUNITY UNREST, BIKE SHARE APPROVED, NO END IN SIGHT FOR HOMELESSNESS MIKE HOWELL Staff writer

S

ee, municipal politics isn’t so boring after all. Thank you, Toronto mayor Rob Ford. But here in Vancouver, where the big news about Mayor Gregor Robertson’s personal life was that he moved from one house to another, the year at city hall only brought scraps of the food kind — as in the latest phase of a program to recycle kitchen waste and have the garbage man pick it up. The year, however, wasn’t without unrest. As the ruling Vision Vancouver council heard in 2012 and continued to hear into 2013, many residents across the city don’t like the changes coming to their neighbourhoods. With new community plans on the go for Marpole, the West End, Grandview-Woodland and the Downtown Eastside, residents who have never banded together with neighbours or spoken to a reporter were suddenly protesting on their streets and taking their fight to the steps of city hall. The common beef: Proposed changes for the neighbourhoods, including adding more dense living spaces such as condominiums, are moving way too fast. So put the brakes on development, they say. “The city is going through dramatic changes and those are unsettling neighbourhoods a lot,” Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs told the Courier last month. “I understand that and I agree that the changes are dramatic. What I think has been hard for some people is to understand the attempts made to balance that change with some of the other objectives voters want us to tackle, including housing and affordability, access to rapid transit and things like that.” Meggs’ party claims it has added 1,021 new units of rental housing in Vancouver in 2012 alone, and another $81 million was set aside for affordable housing in the 20122014 capital plan. The city’s rent bank also celebrated its first anniversary this year, approving 137 interest-free loans. Homelessness, however, is still a reality for 1,600 people, according to a count the City of Vancouver led in March 2013. Of those 1,600, city staff said 1,327 were in shelters and 273 were on the street. The city’s 2012 count revealed 306 people were living on the street and 1,296 in shelters. Many of those people are mentally ill and

photo Dan Toulgoet

Homelessness is still a reality for 1,600 people, according to a count the City of Vancouver led in March 2013. Of those 1,600, city staff said 1,327 were in shelters and 273 were on the street. The city’s 2012 count revealed 306 people were living on the street and 1,296 in shelters. addicted to drugs and that topic, again, garnered the attention of the mayor and Police Chief Jim Chu, who urged the provincial government to address the “crisis.” Health Minister Terry Lake responded in November, outlining a $20 million plan that included adding psychiatric beds at St. Paul’s Hospital and increasing the number of outreach and community treatment teams. Though ending homelessness was the reason Robertson ran for mayor, he has also spent a lot of time ensuring more separated bike lanes were added to Vancouver and he continues to lobby for a subway from the Commercial and Broadway transit hub to the University of B.C. On that front, Robertson and his fellow mayors in the region were unanimous in op-

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mer of 2014, if not longer. As for the much-talked about Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, council agreed to delay a vote on whether the hulking structures should be demolished until after the November 2014 civic election. Also downtown, it appears the Vancouver Art Gallery will get a new location near the viaducts if the gallery can raise the $350 million required to satisfy city council. With next year being an election year, Robertson and his Vision team will seek a third term but will be met with a serious challenge from the NPA, which used to be the party of choice at city hall. So far, the NPA hasn’t named its mayoral candidate. mhowell@vancourier.com twitter.com/Howellings

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posing a referendum on transit funding that the provincial government says it will tie to the November 2014 election. The mayors say the province should simply go ahead and spend the big money for transit upgrades — as it did when it decided to build a new Port Mann Bridge and widen the Trans-Canada Highway. That new home Robertson moved into this year in Kitsilano factored in the mayor recusing himself from a controversial vote to support a $6 million plan said to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians — while decreasing traffic — in Kitsilano and along Point Grey Road. Around the same time, council approved a public bike share program of 1,500 bikes and 125 stations whose implementation will likely be delayed at least until the sum-


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feature story

THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

Word up: A look back at

PROTESTS, ELECTION SURPRISES, WHALE PORN, a lot of confidence and courage and hope is the big one there, just by accepting me for who I was and encouraging me that it’s OK to express myself in any way that I feel is myself. — Theo Cultum, Total Ed alternative school graduate and the Vancouver school district’s first openly transgender valedictorian. Hearing her walk up to other kids and asking, “What nation are you?” At six years old... that’s really huge. — Naomi Walser, who enrolled her five-yearold daughter Elora Waardenburg in the Vancouver School Board’s new aboriginal focus school last year when they moved from Burnaby to Vancouver. Walser is originally from the Beausoleil Nation near Georgian Bay in Ontario.

TONY’S THEME I get a life no trouble. All the people no fight, all the friendship, how good, how excellent. — Tony Fung, who co-owns and staffs Master Chef Cafe on East Hastings Street near Nanaimo with his wife, May. Both are in their 80s.

OLD HAUNTS photo Dan Toulgoet

WALDORF SCHOOLED

The arts are important to our city because it creates a culture and a meaning. We’re able to express what we stand for and I would hope that it’s something more than just condos. — Burlesque dancer “April O’Peel” on the demise of the Waldorf.

Now if you want to go to the Pumpkin Patch, Aquarium, it doesn’t really matter where you go, nothing’s free anymore, nothing’s really relatively inexpensive. — Brad Leith, co-founder and co-organizer of the Dunbar Haunted House that was by donation in the beginning and raised money for charities later on.

PSYCHEDELIC CITY

F

Compiled by Courier staff

rom community outrage to agile rabbits, the past 12 months in Vancouver were as colourful as they were quirky. We’ve selected the best comments from the past 12 months of the Vancouver Courier to present who said what about the most prominent news, community, entertainment and sports stories of the year.

EBY DOES IT I don’t think it’s fully hit me, yet. We’ve been sitting in that hot little room [at a nearby restaurant] watching the numbers come in for so long. It’s been intense. — NDP candidate David Eby, standing in his campaign office on Broadway moments after learning he beat Premier Christy Clark in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey in the May 14 provincial election.

THE WAR AT HOME IwanttofeelhealthyandIamworkingoniteachday. I have the scars that forever remind me of my suicidal path. I have memories of pride, memories of death and memories of how it was before my injuries. It’s hard on me. Almost every day, I break down in tears. — Afghanistan veteran Mike Pehlivanian.

INSITEFUL COMMENTS Anybody in the medical profession or policing or anywhere who dares to say anything that’s less than supportive, you’re widely criticized and they attack your credibility and accuse you of all kinds of terrible things.

—Vancouver Police Union president Tom Stamatakis on his doubts about researchers’ reports that show the Insite supervised injection site is doing some good for drug users. The draconian, Machiavellian manoeuvres emerging from Stephen Harper’s office have been able to prevent implementation of these types of programs across the country at the cost of many lives that, ultimately, they are responsible for. — Dr. Julio Montaner of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS on the Harper government’s criticism of the Insite supervised injection site.

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN Maybe we should go back to empowering staff in the departments to be able to communicate quickly when questions arise. It keeps the politics away from the issues that I think are important. — NPA Coun. George Affleck, while introducing a motion to have staff look into restrictive communication policies introduced by city manager Penny Ballem that many reporters complain make their jobs much more difficult.

IN TRANSIT [We] expressed our interests and concerns about a transit corridor. We’re powerless in it anyway. If TransLink decides they’re going to do it and they get the funds, the city’s all for it because they hate cars and they could probably tag some bike lanes along up the hill. — Michael McBride, owner of the 25-year-old Michael McBride Menswear at 4426 West 10th Ave., about rapid transit to the University of B.C.

IT’S EDUCATIONAL The people at this school have really given me

It was almost like a psychedelic city of glass in front of a big mountain. You go over the water and see this dense, dense downtown of green glass towers with wide mullions. It was very, very futuristic. One of the things that still amazes me when you come to Vancouver is everything looks brand new, like you have the feeling that it’s done 10 years ago. — Internationally known Danish architect Bjarke Ingels on his impression of Vancouver’s skyline when he first visited in 2004

ONE SERVING OF ANARCHY, HOLD THE OLIVES

We will not stop until we are free from class, the state and all others who oppress us. — Anonymous, while claiming responsibility for breaking the windows of a Commercial Drive pizzeria on the website anarchistnews.org.

NEIGHBOURHOOD COALITION It seemed logical to make a much larger group because every neighbourhood seemed to be having the same trouble and that’s proven to be the case. They came together very quickly… it’s strength in numbers and I think it’s to try to explain to the council that their relationship with the neighbourhoods has simply failed for a number of years, but certainly this summer. It’s going to be more difficult for them to try and divide and conquer — picking off one neighbourhood after another. We will be working together, making sure that we act as a group. — Jak King, president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council and a spokesman for Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, which is comprised of 18 residents groups that want to influence city planning, Oct. 24.


F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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Vancouver’s2013inquotes INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS, PARK BOARD BROUHAHAS

photo Dan Toulgoet

‘FORGOTTEN WAR’ REMEMBERED I received a medal from the Commonwealth and the U.N., but none from Canada. I got this one 43 years later. — Vancouver veteran Bill “Newt” Newton, 83, talking about his service in the Korean War, often referred to as the “Forgotten War.” Compiled by Courier staff

WHALE PORN It just kind of exploded. And every time we think we’ve hit the peak, there’s another level, and I think The Colbert Report was our climax. — Vancouver Maritime Museum curator Patricia Owen on the media attention surrounding a patron’s online complaints about so-called “whale porn” at the museum’s Tattoos & Scrimshaw exhibit.

PARK IT To be clear, this decision will not be reversed. —Vision Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper on a controversial decision to construct a 12-foot-wide, paved bike path through Kits and Hadden Beach parks. The park board says this was one of the largest consultations ever done. This was nothing compared to other consultations over much less problematic issues. —Lynne Kent, a member of the Kits Point Residents Association, regarding the public consultation prior to the park board approving a paved bike bath through Kits and Hadden Beach parks. Essentially the plaintiffs want to keep doing what they’ve been doing for decades. They have suffered irreparable harm and are worried about losing potential members. People come in, see signs for the OneCard and nothing about membership. —Lawyer David McWhinnie while addressing the Supreme Court of B.C. in a case against the park board brought forward by Hillcrest, Killarney, Hastings, Kerrisdale, Kensington and Sunset community centre associations. Sixteen associations have agreed to the implementation of the OneCard and, in my submission, that is relevant to the plaintiffs’ argument that somehow the implementa-

tion of the OneCard will be the death knell for community associations across the city and would cause them irreparable harm. The fact that all the other community associations seem to be OK with it would suggest it is not particularly harmful to them. —Ben Parkin, assistant director of general litigation for the City of Vancouver while addressing the Supreme Court of B.C.

DON’T THINK VICE, IT’S ALRIGHT

Obviously this is something that is up to the restaurants themselves but if they are carding 80-year-olds, that seems kind of goofy. — Sandra Steilo, a spokesperson for the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, responding to news that restaurants are starting to ID customers regardless of age in response to the government hiring underage workers and sending them into bars and restaurants. The vast majority of British Columbians want to see a change to the marijuana laws and don’t want to see their taxpayer dollars going towards arresting and convicting people for possession but our politicians in B.C. aren’t responding to the people on this issue. — Drug reform activist Dana Larsen, on Day 1 of an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to sign up at least 360,000 people — or 10 per cent of voters from all 85 electoral ridings — asking Elections B.C. to put the questions of legalization to a provincial referendum. That’s the thing about donairs. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you’re like hmmm, what if it had a little pineapple on top, or this and that. There’s a lot of donair shops out there. It’s kind of like The Littlest Hobo, you know. There’s a donair shop just around the bend — am I right? — Former professional wrestler and selfdescribed donair connoisseur the Honky Tonk Kid on his endless search for the perfect donair.

photo Dan Toulgoet

CLARK COMEBACK Well, that was easy. — Premier Christy Clark’s opening remark at her May 14 victory speech after defeating the NDP despite opinion polls suggesting the Liberal party was headed for a landslide defeat. It’s really more of a nudie erotica film that’s also hardcore — it’s got hardcore — but more often than not it’s got a bunch of nudity and skits. Then there’s a girl who does an interpretive dance with a gorilla. It’s got someone in a gorilla costume, so that tells you a lot right there. — Self-described “porn archeologist” Dimitrios Otis on the locally shot adult horror film Sexcula, which had been gathering dust in the Canada Archives since it was shot in 1973.

BOLD WORDS Strikers think they’re cocky with their flashy, mercury cleats. I got my black, plain boots that I buy in bulk for 30 bucks each and I’m going to shut them down. — Provincial team soccer player and centre defender Kathryn Baker on the cusp of graduating from Kitsilano secondary to play for the Oregon State Beavers. They’re not great athletes because I’m a great coach. They made me want to be a better coach. — Speaking about the athletes on the Killarney secondary cross-country team, Bob Solmes, who was named the 2013 B.C. School Sports male coach of the year. Whenever I see someone I know, I always want to beat them and they always want to beat me. If that means getting physical, getting up in his face, then we’ll see what happens. — Vancouver College linebacker Andrew Pauls, one of a record eight graduates attending university to play football, on playing against his former teammates. Soccer is not just about soccer. — UBC women’s soccer coach, Andrea Neil, on developing the program and well-rounded student-athletes after she was hired in January.

ANIMAL LOGIC

Mista Muggins was a true co-worker that understood the dynamics of the job. He was the best worker. He never got burned out and he never had to call me at 3 a.m. —New Fountain co-manager Zoran Barazanci on the death of Mista Muggins, a stray orange tabby cat considered the mascot of the homeless shelter prior to its death in March. We started it because we wanted to show that rabbits aren’t just things that sit in cages… They’re kind of like little horses. —Olga Betts, Vancouver Rabbit Agility Club.

COMMUNITY LOSSES That’s going to be one of the hardest things for the community — to see somebody else driving the bus is going to be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people. — Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow on the death of former chief, Ernie Campbell, who drove kids to school on his bus for 40 years. It’s a sad, sad story for him. It was like a war for him every day. — Jean Hakizimana, a former political refugee from Rwanda who operates the Neighbourhood Care International Association, on the death of former Downtown Eastside resident John Salilar. I always hoped that he was married somewhere and he had a life. To hear he was homeless was hard. And having to identify his body was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to do. — Louise Wilson on the death of her brother, Rick Hofs, who died homeless behind a dollar store in Marpole.


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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

THE VANCOUVER COURIER

1574 West Sixth Ave., Vancouver, BC V6J 1R2 604-738-1411 Twitter: @vancouriernews vancourier.com

Vision rides high as Vancouverites fume

T

his year in Vancouver politics presents us with a paradox. While the pushback by citizens through protests and litigation aimed at the ruling party and its bureaucrats has been unprecedented, Vision’s popularity persists. The Courier chose the park board’s contentious year battling with various community groups as our Newsmaker of the Year. In fact, a number of departments from park board to planning to police managed to tick people off. Just look at the unusual number of citizen-driven court actions. Most recently the West End Neighbours petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court out of frustration with the city’s seemingly arbitrary spot zoning and handing out of benefits to create vaguely defined “affordable rental housing.” That petition forced Vision to be more transparent. Court action caused the Vision park board to pull back on the reins too. First, there was an injunction granted to halt their actions to eliminate a number of community centre volunteer boards who won’t go along with plans to enforce a new joint operating agreement. It would strip them of much of their independence and pool all community centre revenues. Even those community centre boards negotiating with the park board are complaining that too much of the discussion is still dominated by threats from the board about seemingly arbitrary deadlines for decision making. A second court action involves another ill-thought-out decision by the park board to carve a 12-foot-wide bike path through Hadden Park and Kits Beach. It seems that when Harry Hadden bequeathed the land to the board back in 1928 he had a covenant placed on it that it be maintained “as near as possible in its present state of nature.” That was enough for the Supreme Court of B.C. to support objections from residents and issue a temporary injunction on the park board’s plans. There was no court case against the Vancouver Police Department about the inordinate number of tickets for minor offences being handed out in the Downtown Eastside. But Pivot Legal Society did take that matter to the police board chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson, only to have it dismissed. Pivot had more success when it appealed to Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe. This month Lowe chastised the police and the board asked them to develop a policy more in line with the Missing Women’s task force recommendation and reduce the number of tickets, which cause an unnecessary burden on our most vulnerable citizens. The issue I spilled much ink on this year was the clumsy attempt by the planning department to impose its will when developing community plans for the West End, Marpole, Grandview-Woodland and the Downtown Eastside. The most vociferous resistance came from Grandview-Woodland and Marpole, both saying that stuff turned up in the plans that was never talked about during the so-called consultation with city staff. The city agreed to defer deadlines for all but the West End plan. And the battles aren’t over yet. Finally there is the standoff with the Ming Sun Benevolent Society. It is the latest in citizen appeals including the Waldorf Hotel, The Ridge and The Hollywood to save a heritage buildings. The society is made up of a group of seniors of Chinese descent who have happily occupied their modest but historic building on East Pender for decades. They rented a few rooms at below welfare rates to needy folks and some artists until the building was damaged by a crew contracted by the city to demolish an adjacent building. The city ordered their building vacated and demolished while refusing to pay for the damage its crew caused. The seniors are fighting back and gathering community support. But our bubble-wrapped mayor and his party have managed to rise above much of this fray. If there is flak to be faced, Robertson dispatches a councillor to catch it. Meanwhile opposition parties proliferate in number but fail to gain traction or even, in the case of the once mighty left of centre COPE, lose supporters. And I leave you with an Insights West poll done last week measuring who has been “naughty” or “nice.” It had Toronto mayor Rob Ford scoring 96 per cent on the naughty scale. Robertson stood out as the only politician who was considered “nice.” Sixty two percent polled thought so. agarr@vancourier.com

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F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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photo Dan Toulgoet

SNOW DAY

Raphael Uriostegui (7, left), his father Rafael Uriostegui and Ethan Maijer (9) and his younger brother Ben Maijer (6, behind) enjoy a day off from school and work last Friday tobogganing at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree After the holiday season, recycle your live, cut Christmas tree. Remove all the decorations and tinsel from the tree and use one of the following options:

Lions Club Chipping Events: Saturday, January 4 and Sunday, January 5, between 10 am - 4 pm at these locations: • Kerrisdale Community Ice Rink parking lot 5670 East Boulevard north of 41st Avenue • Kitsilano Beach parking lot Cornwall Avenue and Arbutus Street • Sunset Beach upper parking lot Beach Avenue and Broughton Street • Rona Home & Garden Grandview Store 2727 East 12th Avenue – overflow parking lot north of Grandview Highway, south of 12th Avenue

Residential Collection: You may set out your live cut Christmas tree before 7 am on your Green Bin collection day until January 31. Trees should be set out on their own, 1 metre clear of your Green Bin(s) and laid on their sides. Do not place your tree inside your bin or bag or bundle it.

Drop-Off Depots: You may drop off your tree at no charge until January 31 at the Vancouver South Transfer Station, 377 Kent Avenue North, or Vancouver Landfill, 5400 72nd Street, Delta. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Phone: 3-1-1 TTY 7-1-1 vancouver.ca/christmastree

There’s a revolution taking place in the way consumers shop and browse for information, and the Vancouver Courier is at the forefront of that revolution. With mobile usage set to overtake desktop Internet usage in 2014, now is your chance to stand out from the crowd by having a mobile optimized site created by our in-house team of digital specialists. To learn more about this and other opportunities to stand out among the upwardly mobile, contact Ailish O’Keeffe today at 604.630.3516.

Donations of cash and non-perishable food items will be accepted and distributed to local charities.

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

year in review

Mayor talks bikes, homelessness in year end interview Mayor Gregor Robertson said recently in an interview from his office that he couldn’t provide a launch date for the program, which calls for 150 stations and 1,500 rental bicycles. “It’s not dead yet,” Robertson said. The mayor described the program as being in “a holding pattern,” pointing to financial concerns raised in other cities that have implemented public bike share programs.

MIKE HOWELL Staff writer

T

he much-anticipated $6-million public bike share program championed by the ruling Vision Vancouver council continues to be in limbo because the city has yet to finalize a deal with the selected operator.

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Ensuring operator Alta Bicycle Share has found a solution to providing helmets with the bicycles — to adhere to B.C.’s mandatory helmet law —has slowed the pace of negotiations, Robertson said. “There’s no deal struck and, therefore, no financial commitment by the city to a bike share program,” the mayor said of the system that was supposed to be in place this year. “But staff are still working on it and watching closely what’s happening in other cities and making sure whatever deal we can get is totally solid.” In Toronto, for example, bike share operator PBSC Urban Solutions, whose program in the city has run into financial trouble, has asked the City of Toronto to buy its bicycles and take over the service. PBSC is the same company that Alta Bicycle Share agreed to provide the stations, bikes, helmet system and information systems in Vancouver. Alta is to serve as the program’s operator, with the City of Vancouver providing a one-time $6 million investment to buy the equipment and implement the system. Robertson discussed the bike share program in a year-end interview with the Courier. He also reiterated the city’s need for more affordable rental housing and talked about his continued drive to end street homelessness by 2015. The mayor said the city is on track to get people off the street and into shelters and homes by 2015, with at least six more social housing complexes to be built before that year.

The former Ramada hotel on East Hastings and the former Biltmore on Kingsway will also serve as interim housing for people living in shelters, he said. But, Robertson acknowledged, the variables of people being moved out of singleroom-occupancy hotels under renovation and people released from hospital and prisons make the homeless population difficult to predict each year. The city’s warmer climate, which attracts people from across the country, is also another variable in calculating street homelessness. The mayor said he will continue to lobby the provincial government for a second phase of social housing for Vancouver. Robertson said the city is prepared to offer city land in exchange for provincial funding to build the housing. December marked the end of the last full year that Robertson and his ruling Vision Vancouver team will serve in office until going into an election year in 2014. The mayor, who was first elected in 2008, confirmed he will seek re-election but couldn’t say the same for his seven Vision councillors. “They’re all making their decisions independently,” he said. “I expect to have a strong team with tons of experience. We’ve been very stable and productive for five years and I’d love to keep providing that here at city hall.” The election is November 2014. mhowell@vancourier.com twitter.com/Howellings


opinion

F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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Six censored Canadian news stories: part one

GEOFF OLSON

L

ooking for newsmakers of the year? Project Censored annually calls attention to the top 25 news stories that were marginalized or unreported by North American mainstream outlets in the previous year. Founded as a media research program by Dr. Carl Epstein in 1976, the Sonoma State University project began with a focus on media literacy and critical thinking skills. Today it connects “hundreds of faculty and students at colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world in the collective effort of identifying and researching each year’s top censored news stories.” In anticipation of their top 25 for 2013, here is my humble proposal for news stories that fizzled in Canadian media. Due to space limitations, the choices are limited to a dozen: six this week and another six next week. 12. Where’s the missing billions? Although this story initially got a bit of traction in newsrooms, it was soon trampled underfoot by reporters chasing Mike Duffy and Rob Ford. In April, auditor general Michael Ferguson confessed he was unable to locate $3.1 billion earmarked to anti-terrorism programs that was spent between 2001-2009 — a full quarter of the terrorism budget for that time period. Did the money go deep into the bowels of the military-industrial-security complex, with its gravy train of private contractors conjuring Islamofascist nightmares? Or somewhere else? Our media is no longer asking. 11. Canadian banks can freeze investors’ money. Critics say the 2013 Canadian Budget includes a clause that allows banks to recapitalize on the backs of customers in the event of a financial crisis. This development followed on the heels of the Cyprus “bail-in,” a partly successful attempt of international bankers to impose a “haircut” on the deposits of Cypriots after the credit crisis in the Eurozone. Here is the key federal budget paragraph: “The Government proposes to implement a bailin regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers.” (In bank lingo, customers deposits become “liabilities” on the books when they are lent out.) 10. Gag rule in Japan. It’s a good bet this one will make the Proj-

ect Censored top 25 for 2013, considering it was just reported on its website. In December of this year, the Japanese government (“with the blessing of Barack Obama”) rammed a bill through parliament which will make whistle-blowing a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The reason presumably has some passing connection to the ninth item, below. 9. Fukushima represents a national and international health threat. High thyroid cancer rates have been found among children from the Fukushima area, according to Japanese media. And in a study published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Open Journal of Pediatrics, health researchers claim that babies born in California have shown a significant excess of hypothyroidism linked to Fukushima’s radioactive material travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. I am going to go out on a limb and predict this newly released study will do a Where’s Waldo in North American broadsheets and broadcasts.

The Japanese “ government rammed a bill through which will make whistleblowing a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

8. The TPP is not primarily about trade. Of the 29 chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a bare five cover traditional trade matters. The rest of the document represents concessions to transnational corporations, allowing them to trump the decisions of democratically elected governments. This applies to regulations on food safety, natural gas extraction (fracking), job and wage security, drug prices and intellectual property. It is also a great gift to international bankers, by removing some key legislative barriers to further Ponzi scheme practices. Obama and Harper desperately want to fast-track this sucker without public input, for obvious reasons. 7. Occupy’s rolling debt jubilee An underreported good news item: since late last year, Occupy’s Strike Debt Group has been purchasing millions of dollars of personal debt from banks and then abolishing it, freeing up Americans from indentured servitude to financial institutions. As reported in The Guardian, by purchasing the debt at fire sale prices the group has freed almost $15 million of personal debt — mainly medical — at a cost of only $400,000. geoffolson.com

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year in review

F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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photo Dan Toulgoet

Marpole residents were among those who gathered outside city hall to protest the city’s community plan for the neighbourhood.

Development and dissent NAOIBH O’CONNOR Staff writer

N

eighbourhood dissent was our Newsmaker of the Year for 2012, but dissent didn’t quiet down in 2013. Vancouver residents battled several proposed developments, as well as the City of Vancouver’s planning process, while calling for improved consultation. Members of the Dunbar community fought proposals for two projects, over height concerns, and prevailed. Dunbar’s community vision calls for a four-storey limit on buildings. Last March, based on affordability concerns the city rejected Pacific Arbour Communities’ rezoning application to build a six-storey seniors’ facility just south of Stong’s. In late October, city staff rejected another rezoning application for a six-storey mixed-use building on the Stong’s site given residents’ opposition and because there isn’t a current city council policy basis to consider a six-storey market condo building in commercial areas on major arterials. Henriquez Partners Architects had filed the rezoning application with the city on behalf of the landowner Harwood Group. It’s unclear whether a revised application will be filed or what the decision means for Stong’s grocery store. In August, plans to redevelop the old Avalon Dairy in Victoria-Fraserview were put on hold after the city asked the developer, Avalonna Homes, to rethink its rezoning application because two city advisory groups — the Vancouver Heritage Commission and the Urban Design Panel — rejected its proposal. The property is zoned single-family residential, but the city is willing to consider extra density to preserve the farmhouse. Hywel Jones of Hywel Jones Architect Ltd., which submitted the application on behalf of Avalonna Homes, is refining the scheme. The year’s most hard-fought battles centred on four community plans being updated for the West End, the Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland and Marpole — particularly the latter two. City council extended Grandview-Woodland’s timeline in order to create a “Citizens’ Assembly,” whose members will offer input on all areas of the hotly contested plan. Council also granted the Marpole Community Plan a short extension to allow for consultation on proposed revisions. Staff had earlier dropped a

proposal for a so-called thin street in Marpole in the face of widespread neighbourhood opposition. A final draft of the plan is expected to go out to the public in late January. Council will vote on the plan by the end of March. No delays were granted for the West End Community Plan, which was adopted in late November, or the Downtown Eastside Community Plan. The proposed billion-dollar redevelopment of Oakridge Centre attracted significant interest in 2013. Henriquez Partners Architects and Stantec applied to amend the 28-acre site’s zoning on behalf of Oakridge Centre owner Ivanhoe Cambridge and Westbank Development in November 2012. In June, based on an interim staff report, council endorsed heights up to 45 storeys, as well as the general level of density for the project. In October, the developer unveiled an updated proposal. The development envisions 13 towers — ranging from 17 to 45 storeys — a civic centre, more than 2,900 residential units, including 280 social housing units, as well as 300,000 square feet of new office space. A nineacre open space is planned for the mall’s roof. The Urban Design Panel voted unanimously in support of the plans in early November. Critics oppose the proposed density and tower heights — the 2007 Oakridge Centre policy statement limits towers to 24 storeys. A staff report will likely go before city council in February and be followed by a public hearing shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, 18 community groups formed the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods in October over concerns about controversial city issues ranging from the Oakridge project to community plans. The group aims to influence the planning process and to “fix” what they consider a “planning mess.” Westbank had reason to celebrate in October. Council unanimously — and enthusiastically — approved its rezoning application for a development for the north end of Granville Street Bridge, following a public hearing. Councillors praised the architectural merits of the project designed by celebrated Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Vancouver firm Dialog is collaborating on the project. The approval came despite critics’ objections to the height of the 52-storey tower included in the plans, and the project’s density. noconnor@vancourier.com twitter.com/naoibh

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

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oney was so tight it was continually mentioned by parents and the Vancouver School Board in 2013. Alongside the balanced budget the province requires, the VSB passed a restoration budget last spring that contends the district would need an additional $41 million to reinstate the same level of service that it offered students a decade ago. In an effort to balance its budget, the VSB cut four teaching positions, in addition to the 38 full-time equivalent positions expected to be eliminated due to a declining school population. It cut two youth and family and two facilities maintenance staff positions. In another effort to save money, five school closure days will precede spring break. The board redirected $20,000 from its supplies budget to grants for programs that support vulnerable children on closure days. In its most controversial decisions, the VSB added $100,000 to its budget to hire a community engagement coordinator. That person’s job is to market the public school system to

photo Dan Toulgoet

Student trustee Nick Milum in the boardroom at the VSB. increase enrolment in an expensive city that’s seen an overall decline in its population of school-aged children. The $100,000 includes money for supplies. The board also chose to fund its money-losing Continuing Education program, which is more than a century old, for another year. In a school building preserving and income-generating scheme, VSB signed a 20-year leaseforGreenThumbTheatre to use the city’s oldest schoolhouse at Carleton elementary. A new kindergarten registration system started Nov. 1 that’s meant to streamline registration and provide the district with more information about parents’ choices. The VSB wants to know whether parents whose children don’t get into special programs such as French

immersion enrol their children in private schools. A subcommittee of the VSB surveyed schools for the first time on the amount of money they raise. Its report revealed schools and parents raised $3.45 million last year, with the greatest proportion of that money going to field trips, playgrounds and technology. Concern about equitable access to technology and its use in instruction is growing, as expressed by the district’s first student trustee who attends board meetings but can’t vote or move motions. Digital citizenship is a worry with the rampant use of social media. John Oliver secondary is working on a student-led digital code of conduct, and VSB trustee Mike Lombardi said social media literacy should be taught in

schools in a systemic way. Strathcona parents continue to wait for an announcement about a seismic upgrade of the 122-year-old school their children attend. Five schools are in the design phase to make them safer in an earthquake. These include Nelson, General Gordon, L’École Bilingue and Queen Mary elementary schools and Kitsilano secondary. Premier Christy Clark announced money for seismic upgrades of 16 Vancouver schools in April. The VSB wants 24 additional schools at high risk of significant structural damage in an earthquake upgraded in its five-year capital plan and another 15 lower risk schools to be upgraded after that. New J.W. Sexsmith and Sir James Douglas elementary schools opened in 2013 along with a new University Hill secondary. Norma Rose Point elementary is under construction. Education Minister Peter Fassbender suggested last month the VSB might have to consider closing under-used schools to afford imminent increases to hydro rates. Negotiations to see whether the government can achieve a 10-year collective agreement with teachers continue. crossi@vancourier.com twitter.com/Cheryl_Rossi

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F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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GOT ARTS? 604-738-1411 | events@vancourier.com

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OURPICKS DEC. 27 - 31, 2013

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Alberta Ballet’s THE NUTCRACKER returns to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Dec. 28 to 31 for three nights of sugar plum fairies and…. nuts?.... sorry, it’s one of our many pop cultural blindspots, along with the TV show Lost, Ulysses and 50 Shades of Grey. Tickets at all Ticketmaster outlets. Details at balletbc.com. Vancouver celtic rockers and seasoned road warriors THE TOWN PANTS host their 14th annual NIGHT BEFORE NEW YEARS EVE SHOW at Vancouver Fan Club Dec. 30, with guests Gold Stars Are For Suckers. Tickets at Zulu Records. For more info, call 604-689-7720.

L.A.’s STEEL PANTHER brings its sort-of-serious, sort-of-ironic take on ’80s hair metal to the Commodore for two nights of spandex, hairspray and guitar solos Dec. 30 and 31. Hillbilly Herald and Pigeon Park share opening duties. Tickets at livenation.com.

One of the hardest workin’ men in Vancouver rock and roll, RICH HOPE AND HIS EVIL DOERS kick in the new year Dec. 31 at the WISE Hall. Paul Anthony hosts the jam-packed event, which also includes The Razzle Tassel Tease Show, DJ Thee Swinging Creeper, food from the Reef Restaurant and a champagne toast at midnight. Tickets available at brownpapertickets.com, Red Cat Records, Highlife Records and the WISE Lounge. Details at wisehall.ca. For video and web content, scan page with your smartphone or tablet using the free Layar app.


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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

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arts&entertainment KUDOS& KVETCHES A LOOK BACK AT THE YEAR AHEAD

The year end has always been a time of gentle reflection for K&K, usually as we lean against a fireplace mantle, wearing a lamb’s wool turtleneck sweater and periodically sticking our snout into a brandy snifter to savour the aromatic bounty that is life and all of its wonderful and exciting potential. Which is why, rather than rehash the past, the forward thinkers and envisioners at K&K prefer to look back at the year ahead. • January: Feeling confident with his party’s fortunes and ability to pass just about whatever motion they desire, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver-dominated council approve a controversial provision that whenever Robertson is away on city business, the interim mayor will be none other than Robertson’s 15-year-old Rocky Mountain 18-speed with removable panniers. “The Rock,” as Robertson often refers to him, would be fair, balanced and not easily swayed due to its “smoothlink” suspension system and light but rugged body. And while some will no doubt lament the perversion of the political process where an inanimate object can be given so much power, at least it will be more of an active participant than Vision Coun. Tony Tang. Oh snap. • February: Vancouver’s other representative to the Sochi Olympics, Quatchi, will cause an international scandal after drunkenly inviting Russia’s polar bear, hare and fox mascots to perform a four-mascot luge with him. Consequently, Quatchi will spend three weeks in a Siberian gulag, where he will have a brief affair with a member of the re-imprisoned Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Upon return to Vancouver, Quatchi will get a high-paying job with the city’s communications department.

• A controversial new restaurant will open in the Downtown Eastside, once again raising the ire of so-called poverty activists protesting what they see as the ongoing gentrification of the neighbourhood. Headed by self-taught French chef and former Maillardville Chuck E. Cheese dishwasher and blogger Gaston Gaston, Dumpster will focus on small plates and amuse bouches made from recycled food scraps “harvested” from nearby dumpsters. In fact, the compact restaurant space will consist of eight retrofitted dumpsters stacked in a stylish cube. The restaurant will also be mobile due to its built-in wheels and thus be able to spread its gentrification and economic destruction wherever it pleases. By the way, its grainfed sea otter cheek simmered in a balsamic reduction with quail’s egg and rootbeersoaked watercress will be to die for. • March: The Vancouver Canucks will meet the Ottawa Senators in the NHL’s Heritage Classic in the great, wintry outdoors of B.C. Place. The temperature will be a bone-chilling 18 C, with a slight chance of rain and UV index of 8. “It reminds me of my childhood,” a man wearing sunglasses and an oversized Tommy Bahamas shirt will say, “when we’d head to Arizona for the winter and play bubble hockey in the air-conditioned games room of my parents’ time-share.” • April to October: Not much exciting happens. • November: Gregor Robertson and his Vision-dominated councillors lose the municipal election in stunning fashion to a mob of old people holding torches and pitchforks in the air. The mob’s message “Enough is enough” and “Change will change things that we don’t want changed” resonates with the two per cent of eligible voters who bother to vote. • December: In another stunning move, the city’s communications director Quatchi will take over for Penny Ballem as city manager, ushering in an era of stability, goodwill and civility not seen at city hall for years, giving way to murmurs of “Quatchi 2017.” twitter.com/KudosKvetches


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arts&entertainment

Sweet resolutions for 2014 MORE ICE CREAM, DOUGHNUTS, SLEEP AND NICETIES ON THE HORIZON SWEET SPOT

with Eagranie Yuh

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t seems most New Year’s resolutions riff on more gym visits or fewer vices, but what happens when you work with sweets? I followed up with some of this year’s Sweet Spot story-makers to find out. • Jordan Cash (Cartems Donuterie): “To get more sleep.” • Ben Ernst (Earnest Ice Cream): “To go to sleep before 11 p.m.” • Erica Bernardi (Earnest Ice Cream): “I don’t make [New Year’s resolutions].” Both Cartems and Earnest opened bricksand-mortar locations this year, so little surprise that sleep is top of mind. At 2,800 square feet, Cartems’ new space at 534 West Pender St. is bright and airy and features sweet and savoury doughnuts, not to mention milk on tap. “There’s a lot more envelope pushing as far as doughnuts are defined,” says Cash. Case in point: doughnut versions of Japanese curry buns and South American sopapillas. In 2014, he hopes to reinstate bicycle deliveries for the downtown core, which proved too popular when they first opened in 2012. Where Cash is dusting off his bicycle, Ernst and Bernardi are parking their bikepowered ice-cream cart. They’ve settled into their new digs at 3992 Fraser St., where

you can get ridiculously dreamy Earnest Ice Cream by the scoop. Bernardi’s thrilled with the new location: “I love the neighbourhood. It’s been perfect… very friendly.” Currently open four days a week, they’re planning to expand to six days — and to unveil a scoop truck next summer. • Vince Piccolo, Lucky’s Doughnuts and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters: “I try to live my life with the same resolution every day: to be a better person, to offer better quality and never get too comfortable. I always stay on my toes.” Following the wild success of Lucky’s Doughnuts/49th Parallel Coffee Roasters on Main Street, Piccolo opened a second location in Kitsilano. He had doubts about putting a fried-dough joint in the middle of health-conscious Kits, but it was packed on opening weekend and continues to be. With the breakneck busyness of both locations, he hasn’t had much time to catch his breath. “We’ll try to step back, breathe and figure out our next move.” For now, expect more of the same: decadent doughnuts. New seasonal flavours will be coming in spring. • Eleanor Chow Waterfall, Cadeaux Bakery: “I start off strong but it dwindles off into the year. [This year] I would like to be more active, and I want to spend more time not working, so I can spend it with my daughter.” Chow Waterfall and business partner Slavita Johnson have been busy this year. They added ice creams and sorbets to the menu and also expanded their wholesale business. They now supply ice creams for Bao Bei, desserts for The Diamond, crois-

sants for Meinhardt Fine Foods and the majority of the baked goods for The Burrard Hotel. Next year’s focus? More cakes, especially custom cakes. • Andrea French, The Pie Shoppe: “I’ve been trying to make New Year’s resolutions for six years, the same one every year: to be nicer to people… My sister [Stephanie] thinks I should be nicer to people, but maybe she just wants me to be nicer to her.” Sibling rivalry never tasted so good. This year the French sisters hunted down local

fruit, started offering frozen meat pies and, of course, survived their first Thanksgiving. “We couldn’t take any more orders because we physically couldn’t do it,” says Andrea, who estimates she peeled 200 pounds of apples for the occasion. She and Stephanie are closing shop for all of January for some well-deserved time off. In the works for 2014: ice cream. As for me, I resolve to eat more ice cream, since it seems that I’ll have plenty of options. That’s one resolution I’m happy to work on. twitter.com/eagranieyuh

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

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Holly, a staple of Christmas wreaths, was once revered for its supposed magical values.

The pagan roots of Christmas greenery ANNE MARRISON Contributing writer

M

any Christmas customs still practiced today are permeating through to our time from a pagan world that was very different from ours. In their winter dwellings, rescuing greenery from the woodlands was believed to be a healing, protective and magical act. In those far-off times, evergreen branches displayed within warm walls were seen as a safe place for wood spirits to spend cold, dark winters. They were also living symbols of their hope that spring would return. It was also practical. People were linked closer to nature than we are today and they well knew the value of trees for providing fruit and fuel for cooking fires. These folk knew their fates depended on the welfare of trees. In those ancient days, holly, ivy and mistletoe were considered healing and magical plants. Today, these are still shown on Christmas cards but not so often brought into homes in real life. Although all three are extremely toxic, they were apparently put to many medicinal uses including skin ailments (ivy), infertility (mistletoe) and energy-building teas (holly). The stimulating tea Yerba Mate is brewed from a tropical holly. Their virtues also included protection against sorcery and evil spirits and, with ivy, protection of houses. Not entirely imagination: branches and trunks of ivy plants can grow very thick and when my grandmother’s house “Ivy Cottage” was demolished, the huge, old ivy plant turned out to be

holding the walls together. Then and now, cold weeks around the winter solstice were always a dark, depressing time — and the antidote was gatherings of family and friends where a fire provided warmth and much-needed light. Today our mood-brightener is Christmas lights. In those past years there was fortune-telling aimed at divining what fate had in store for the coming year — and happenings on that day were watched for omens. For instance, snow on Christmas day meant a green Easter. Also in late December, the Romans had a lively time with a raucous winter festival carnival called the Saturnalia where green branches and flowers adorned halls where wine flowed, morals were suspended and masters played at being slaves while slaves became masters. Then as Christianity gained acceptance, pagan ways which had proved uncommonly stubborn in the eyes of the church were gradually given much holier interpretations. December 25th became a joyous celebration of Christ’s birthday complete with rich and glorious stories of cattle kneeling, Magi giving gifts and angels singing in the heavens. The prickles of holly easily morphed into the Crown of Thorns and its red berries transmuted into blood that was spilled from the cross. Mistletoe, a parasitic tree sacred to the Druids (and used in fertility rites) was always banned from churches. Ecclesiastical authorities maintained that it grew on the tree that made the Crucifixion cross. Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them via amarrison@shaw. ca It helps if you add the name of your city or region.

EDITOR’S NOTE Due to early holiday press deadlines, Tim Stephens’ weekly Astral Reflections horoscope was not available for this issue. Please accept our apologies and visit astralreflections.com to see what the stars have in store for the last week of 2013. His annual, feature-length “The Year in Stars” will appear in the Jan. 1, 2014 issue of the Courier.


F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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GOT SPORTS? 604-738-1411 | mstewart@vancourier.com

submitted photo

Three women get down and filthy in the Dirty Dash, coming to Vancouver next July.

2013wastheyearfitnessgotfun MEGAN STEWART Staff writer

R

unning isn’t just for runners anymore. And racing wasn’t something only racers did this year. In 2013, the stamina sport of barefoot purists, weekend trailblazers, lanky Kenyans and P.E. teachers found legions of new fans thanks to anti-establishment events that put the dance into endurance. Yes, I wrote that. The emergence of playful 5k runs is an answer to the punishing military-inspired obstacle courses like the half-marathon distance Tough Mudder and the Spartan Race. Only suckers sign up to suffer. (I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder next year.) Instead of boot camp abuse, repetitive circuits and urban fitness regimes to prepare for barbed wire, 10-foot walls, frozen water and electrocution, the preparation for these gentler, more playful events amounts to little more than lacing up a pair of shoes and showing up with a group of raucous friends, ideally without a hangover. The softer, light-hearted side of exercise doesn’t mean you can slack off. You still signed up to run; you just expect to keep a smile on your face the whole time. The most incredible development in Vancouver recreation this year, however, focused on mental exercise as much as physical exertion. Credit to Germaine Koh for founding League, an open-to-all sports organization that emphasizes problem-solving as a form of play.

photo Dan Toulgoet

Germaine Koh, the creator of League.

Koh is an artist who holds a three-year residency at the field house in Elm Park. On the last Sunday of each month, League meets at the Kerrisdale location at noon and everyone is invited to “drop in to exercise your strategic instincts, stretch rules and limits and workshop ideas for action.” December was dedicated to board games and League will meet, as always, on the last Sunday of the month. Join them Dec. 29 to play a newly invented game at Elm Park (at Larch and West 41st Ave.). For more details, visit league-league.org. Here is a run-down of one-off events you don’t want to miss in 2014.

Dirty Dash Brings its filth July 5, 2014 Strap on your piggy snout and your most sturdy cleats for this obstacle course through massive puddles and down grimy slip-n-slides. The Dirty Dash makes one of two Canadian stops in Vancouver in the middle of the summer when you’ll welcome the cooling sensation of heavy, wet mud coating your back and sliding beneath the top of your shorts. thedirtydash.com Color Me Rad Opens a box of Crayons August 2, 2014 Forgive them their U.S. spelling and rejoice in the motivational art of the colour bomb. If “Zoloft and animal balloons can’t seem to raise your spirits,” as these race promoters like to say, this technicolour walk-at-your-own-pace 5k course might do the trick. colormerad.com Night Race Shines a light November 2, 2014 This family-friendly 5 and 10k run begins at sundown in Stanley Park. Runners trace the course with headlamps and try not to trip or roll and ankle. Like eating a meal in the pitch black, this event tests your instincts and challenges you to keep a constant pace when you’re not sure where you’re putting your feet. nightrace.ca Electro Dash Turns up the voltage in fall 2014 This flashing neon dance party is spread over a 5k course that, in October 2013, chanelled brightly hued runners around the PNE during Fright Night. Racers waved glow sticks and danced to a live DJ. Electrodash5k.com

Zombie Chase The apocalypse hits Vancouver… sometime Launched in Calgary this past year, this Canadian event has ambitions plans to expand across the country but has yet to announce any dates. Numerous runs are tentatively planned for the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver.zombieproductions.ca mstewart@vancourier.com twitter.com/MHStewart

submitted photo

A Vancouver runner laughs as he’s pelted with pulverized colour. Color Me Rad returns in August.


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F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

A25

INTERESTED IN ADVERTISING IN DASHBOARD? Contact Janis Dalgleish:

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Yawning gulf between 2014 and 2015 Golfs

F

or the 2014 model year, Volkswagen is cancelling their perennial hot hatchback, the GTI. Don’t worry though, they’ll happily sell you a year-old one instead. Actually, there’s a rare bit of honesty going on here. The nextgeneration Golf is already on sale in Europe, and we know it’ll be coming here in the next year as an all-new 2015 model. The one we get won’t be exactly the same as the European model — likely, there’ll be a slightly softer suspension to deal with North America’s less-than-perfect roads — but it’s en route and slightly improved in almost every way. In the U.S., you can still walk up to your local Vee-Dub dealership and plonk down the cash for a 2014 GTI. In Canada, VW’s local

swooping style lines. Building on this staid shape, the GTI treatment includes bigger alloy wheels — 18-inches on my tester’s optional Wolfsburg package — a lowered sport suspension, a unique grille and red accents. It’s very subtle, and subtlety is what a proper GTI is all about. Flexibility, too, is apparent. If you want a showy pocket rocket, opt for of the GTI’s brighter paint schemes. If you don’t want the boss raising his eyebrows at what you’ve got parked in the corporate lot, go for one of the neutral colours and blend right in with the Toyotas and Hondas. The GTI remains one of the few sport compact cars that a grownup can get away with driving without looking like some sort of hooligan. See NEW on page 26

stretch until the new car arrives. Why can’t people wait? Just how good is this thing?

BRENDAN MCALEER Contributing writer

DESIGN

submitted photo

Still just a shoebox with a pointy end, the GTI’s hatchback shape has changed only slightly since the previous generation. management has decided to just order a bigger batch of new models and sell down from inventory until the new car arrives. There aren’t any changes for the 2014s the U.S. is selling, so

why not simply just tell people what they’re getting? It’s a strategy that seems to be working and at the same time looks like it might backfire as VW’s GTI inventories might not

Now in its sixth generation, the GTI could give the Porsche 911 a run for its money in terms of least-changed styling since new. Both cars have been on sale for decades, but park either one next to their first-generation ancestors and (while the modern equivalents are comparatively huge) the DNA is still there. Still just a shoebox with a pointy end, the GTI’s hatchback shape has changed only slightly since the previous generation and the new model that will replace it moves the puck forward only a few feet or so. Compared to competing compacts, the Golf platform on which the GTI is built is very conservative and is devoid of the famous

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FREE SERVICE SHUTTLE (DOWNTOWN CORE) COURTESY CAR WASH FOR ALL SERVICE CUSTOMERS **All effective untiluntil January 11,2014. applicable sales. Taxes not included.levies Environmental levies extra. °Not to with be combined with other offers. Please consult Alloffers offersareare effective December 31,Not 2013. Taxes to nottireincluded. Environmental extra. ˚Not to be combined other offers. Please consult Kingsway January 11,2014. Kingsway Hondadetails. for more details. Pleasecoupon present coupon during write-up. at Kingsway Honda person. Coupon does applytotoprior priorpurchases. purchases. Honda for more Please present during write-up. Valid atValid Kingsway Honda only.only. LimitLimit one one per per person. Coupon does notnotapply

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A26

THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

dashboard GTI is still the hottest of the hatchbacks Continued from page 25

Law Test — cram your fiancée’s mom into the butt-pinching Recaros of the Focus ST as a comparison and there’ll be hissed whispering behind doors. Tuck her into the optional leather-covered buckets of a GTI, and there’s little to find fault with. Having said that, the Fender-branded stereo in the GTI remains a bit behind the times when compared with the advances Korean and Japanese manufacturers have made in onboard infotainment. It’s powerful and the functionality is there, but this is a car that’s been on sale for several years, and you can tell. The trunk space qualifies as usable but not spacious. The four-door version is entirely workable as a family car - the way it’s used in Europe - but young families will likely find the GTI’s limited carrying capacity a bit difficult for a single car application.

ENVIRONMENT Inside, the GTI will please purists and disappoint those looking for high-tech gadgets. The plaid seat inserts that come with the base cloth seats look great and pay proper homage to the sprightly Rabbit of the 1970s. They’re also well bolstered and very comfortable. The rest of the cabin is a mix of spartan design and spacious — for a hatchback — layout. The small diameter, flatbottomed steering wheel is a nice touch and looks similar to the helm you might find in an S-model Audi. The dash, on the other hand, is bleak and black, and the centre section between the seats looks a bit plastic. But here again, the GTI sticks to its mission statement. It passes what I’d like to think of as the Potential Mother-in-

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PERFORMANCE

Start paper racing the GTI against more powerful competitors like the Focus ST or Mazdaspeed3, and the car’s focus on reserved performance starts looking like an Achilles heel. With just 201 horsepower from an iron-block, aluminium head 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, the GTI seems more pocket than rocket. What’s more, my tester for the week was the heavier four-door version, and it had been optioned with the six-speed DSG gearbox. This is a dual-clutch automatic transmission and it both adds weight and isn’t the snick-snick six-speed manual you sort of want in a hot hatchback. Add in front-wheel drive, and you’ve got what would seem to be a watered-down machine that’s competing in a segment filled with full-strength rivals. However, depressing the somewhat silly square starter button revealed something surprising, and yet at the same time not-at-all surprising. There are cars that are about numbers, and there are cars that are about feel, and the GTI is one of the latter. It always has been, and it certainly is so here. Despite the weight and the modest power, the GTI is happy to jackrabbit off the line with a generous dollop of turbocharged torque, and then keep things on the boil with the lightning-quick dual-clutch six-speed. Pleasing though VW’s golf-ball shifter manual might be, the DSG manages to impart the same directly connected feel of a manual with the everyday tractability of an automatic. However, this car is happiest with the shifter cranked over to sport, and the actual shifting handled by the too-small, steeringwheel-mounted paddle shifters. It lets out a “parp” on the upshift and gives a little backfire on the downshift, and generally gives you the feel that you’re driving a car built to make driving fun. The power might not be up to the levels of the Ford, or the Mazda, or all-wheel-drive rivals like the Subaru WRX, but none of those cars provide a dual purpose automatic like this, and the Mazdaspeed3 can feel overpowered in some situations. While more power for your GTI is just a software reflash and a voided warranty away, the driver often feels like more horsies might not actually be needed. Hittingthecorners,thisnimblelittlecarimpressesbynotwresting the steering wheel from your hand, and by having what seems to be just the right amount of go. The wrigglier the road gets, the bigger the smile on your face, as finding a rhythm with the GTI is all too easy. It’s great backroads fun. Get the GTI back on the highway and tuck it in the slow lane and, surprisingly, it’s happy here too. The 2.0-litre turbo has excellent low-end response, and even though the DSG gearbox upshifts quickly to conserve fuel economy, it also drops gears quickly if passing is attempted. In fact, the only flaw in the GTI’s do-everything mantra seems to come along when the rain falls. Off the line, even the stickier tires of the Wolfsburg package are momentarily overwhelmed and they scrabble briefly at the pavement. It’s easier to modulate this behaviour with the manual transmission, but in our wet, hilly city, something to be aware of.

FEATURES At a base price of less than $30,000 for the three-door model, the GTI isn’t a bad deal. That is, until you start adding options. The DSG gearbox is an extra $1,600 and while it improves the flexibility of the car, it isn’t necessarily going to bump the resale up much. The Wolfsburg Edition options on my tester (18-inch alloys, sport seats, touchscreen navigation, push-button start) are all bundled together for a reasonable 10 per cent price increase, and qualify as fully loaded. Pretty much the only option left on the table is a leather interior — spec the higher-end interior and you’ve got a bargain Audi. Fuel economy is rated at a scarcely believable 8.7 litres/100 kilometres city and 6.3 l/100 km highway. So don’t believe it. Mixed-use is much closer to the city mileage even if split down the middle in driving, but then that’s pretty much what you’d expect from a hot hatchback and a bit better than higher horsepower rivals. mcaleeronwheels@gmail.com


F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

A27

dashboard

Mustang celebrates early 50th anniversary BRAKING NEWS with Brendan McAleer

H

ere’s a piece of trivia for you: there’s no such thing as the famous 1964.5 Ford Mustang that kicked off the whole pony car parade. Ford dealers simply called them the 1965, even though they were delivered early in ‘64; only Mustang fanatics know how to spot the tell-tale signs that a 1965 model is the earlier debut variant. Be happy about this as Ford, with their love of specialedition ‘Stangs might otherwise have built a run of 1,964.5 launch models of their newest generation — meaning that some luckless sort would have ended up with half of a pony. Now going into its sixth generation, the much anticipated new Mustang is finally here. Or rather, it will be next year, just in time for the half-century celebration. Opinion seems split on the design, with some folks loving the more-modern sleekness and the toned-down retro factor, while others moan that the car looks like a Fusion coupe. Really, that’s not such a bad thing. The underpinnings sound even better. For the first time since the Cobra variants of 2002-2003, the Mustang will come with a fully independent rear suspension — better for handling, slightly worse at drag racing. The five-litre V8 will return, once again bearing the iconic 5.0 fender badging, and there’ll be both the excellent 3.7-litre V6 base engine and a new 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo putting out around 300 horsepower. Remember the SVO? What’s more, this is the model year the Mustang goes global, meaning that world-wide fans of Bullitt will soon be able to park their own pony car in their garages. Here at home, of course, we’ll be holding our breath for the return of the Boss and the mighty Shelby variants.

on a sec — that looks awfully familiar. Yes, Hyundai has decided to use an idea espoused by BMW, and totally differentiated by moving one letter further along down the alphabet. Entirely unique. Not derivative in any way. Still, the thought of an in-house tuning division for Hyundai can’t help but excite. They’ve always been a brash company, and with strong turbocharged engines that are easy to wring extra power out of, and a genuine rear-drive platform in the Genesis Coupe, a performance line to stand alongside their luxury-oriented Equus and Genesis Sedan makes a lot of sense.

RIP PAUL WALKER As if you haven’t already heard, one of the two main stars of the Fast & Furious franchise died in a car crash on Nov. 30. He was a passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT driven by

longtime friend and business partner Roger Rodas. Both men were experienced drivers, but the car Rodas was driving was both expensive and had a reputation for being a handful on-track. The tie-in with the films, which glamorizes speed in a cartoonish way, has proved only too tempting to news sources, which have erupted with wild, largely uninformed speculation about what caused the crash. Reactions have ranged from calls to ban high-powered vehicles, to postulating about what might have happened had bystanders been involved. In the midst of the frenzy, it would appear that fans of Paul Walker have not forgotten that the actor was a gearhead, a philanthropist and a devoted father. Regardless of the manner of his death, there’s a sense of loss, and makeshift memorials set up to remember the actor have gathered everything from handwritten notes to automotive trinkets. brakingnews@gmail.com

GM APPOINTS MARY BARRA AS CEO One day after the U.S. Treasury sold back its last shares of GM, Mary Barra took over from Dan Akerson as CEO of General Motors. She is the first woman to lead a Detroit automaker and, in fact, the first woman to head a major auto manufacturer of any kind. As such, much of the media coverage has been about what Barra’s gender means as an indication of changing culture in the boardrooms of Detroit. A pity, as most of what makes Barra such an interesting appointment is her unique qualifications. Trained as an engineer, Barra has been a GM employee for more than three decades, starting out on the factory floor in 1980. She has worked in manufacturing, engineering, and most recently, the human resources department. As former head of global product development, there is some evidence that she’s heavily responsible for the streamlining of production and the elimination of overcomplicated, wasteful administration. In short, Barra’s appointment marks a point at which GM appears to be focusing more on building good products, and less on the bean-counting aspects. Cadillac is hugely improved, Buick continues to grow as a brand, and Chevrolet finally has some compelling offerings. There is still much work to be done, of course, but with the bleeds-GM-blue Barra at the helm, GM could finally find themselves again worthy of the name of their head offices: the Renaissance Center.

HYUNDAI GOES ALL ‘N’

445 Kingsway near 12th Ave in Vancouver

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Hyundai has decided to go rallying next year, taking a turbocharged, flared-out version of their i20 hatchback and tackling the World Rally Championship. They’ve got a good team of drivers and if the car is as fast as it looks, a real chance of upsetting current champ VW. Ever on the move, the Korean manufacturer also hinted at a new high performance badge to be found on future projects: a stylized N, shadowed by light blue and red. Hang

call 604-292-8188

www.DestinationHyundai.com


A28

THE VANCOUVER COURIER F R I DAY, DE C E M B E R 2 7 , 2 0 1 3

WEEKLY SPECIALS 100% BC Owned and Operated Prices Effective December 26 to January 1, 2014.

We reserve the right to limit quantities. We reserve the right to correct printing errors.

Grocery Department Maple Hill Farms Organic Free Range Large Eggs

Meat Department

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Vancouver Courier December 27 2013