Monday, March 1, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
The deteriorating homeless situation in Vancouver magnifies this problem with thousands of people now living in makeshift camps, tents, and doorways that of course have no washroom facilities. This means they end up using playgrounds, private gardens, parks, or the streets and alleys to relieve themselves. An absence of public toilets means an absence of hygiene.
The public transit situation is even more shocking. There are more than 50 stations along the rapid transit route alone and not one has a public washroom and, of course, there are no toilets on the trains themselves. With rides that can easily last over an hour this can make for a very uncomfortable situation for some passengers but clearly Translink doesn't care about its customers either.
The Portland Loo is just one example of how the lack of public toilets could be addressed and maybe it would finally get the politicians to say to the people that it's worth adding say 1% a year to the property tax bill to pay for something we all need. For larger facilities we could even have a design competition that added more esthetics and style. But whether it is a utilitarian solution or something grander we can't stick with the status quo where there's no place to go.
Saturday, January 2, 2021
For British Columbians our New Year's resolution should be to finally do something about the salmon before there aren't any left. The millions of spawning salmon that used to make their way up the countless rivers and streams of this Province in an annual event that sustained thousands of fishermen, nourished First Nations people for over 30,000 years, and should have continued in perpetuity has been almost completely wiped out. Why is nothing being done?
Ever since 2009 when an estimated 8 million sockeye salmon failed to appear in the Fraser River, which is the most important salmon run in the Province, the finger pointing and speculation has continued with no definitive action being taken. Returns of sockeye have ranged from 2 million to 28 million per year but even the large runs that occur every 4 years have been steadily declining in what can only be described as a slow moving environmental disaster. This past year less than 300,000 salmon returned.
Scientists have come up with the so-called 4-H's to describe what has been the cause of the salmon decline all over the Pacific Northwest and it's hard to argue with the facts that we have over harvested the fishery, ruined many of the spawning streams (particularly in the Fraser River with all the industrial activity), built dams that block their route, and then try to compensate by breeding too many genetically inferior fish in hatcheries that compete with wild salmon for limited supplies. But there are other factors as well including the effects of global warming on the ocean and the spread of sea lice from salmon farms located along the migration routes of the salmon.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Ever since the COVID lockdowns began there have been nightly ringing of bells and banging of pots and pans in support of front line and health care workers. In Vancouver's West End it starts every night at 7:00 p.m. and there are many other cities around the world where this is also happening. It's a nice gesture that doesn't cost anything and makes the bell ringers feel good.
Ringing bells, however, doesn't do anything for the people they are supporting but money would. The doctors and nurses are reasonably well paid professionals but what about all the lower skilled health care workers and aides toiling for minimum wage who are also risking their lives? These kind hearted individuals often come from places like the Philippines where they have had to leave their own families behind and wait for years to get through the pathetically clogged and complicated Canadian immigration system before they can be reunited.
Then there are those workers deemed as essential who work in the food processing industry and as clerks in our grocery stores. Once again these people are working for minimum wage in spite of there being nothing more important than making sure we have food to eat. But just like the health care workers we can't find enough of them and in the Okanagan this past summer unharvested fruit rotted on the ground because there was nobody to pick it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Sometime ago a talented carver created a stunning piece of guerilla art in the forest of Stanley Park that paid tribute to the First Nations who originally lived here and to the ghosts of those magnificent cedar trees that were logged before 1890 to make shakes and shingles. The Parks Board never acknowledged this unique exhibit nor put up any directional signage as to its whereabouts, preferring to leave it for people to discover on their own and perhaps discreetly share the magic of the site with others. That it even existed was part of the Park's own urban folklore.