Winnipeg, summer 2017

By six p.m., they’ll be lined up 15 deep.

“I don’t think Winnipeg is underrated,” says my brother Brian. “I don’t think it’s rated at all.”

He moved here about 10 years ago after an extended time in Canada’s far north. He and his wife Lorraine (she grew up in Winnipeg) decided that living the south would be better for the kids. They traded a three-bedroom house on the permafrost for a five-bedroom house on a quiet, shady crescent, and they made money in the process. Continue reading

Metro Vancouver’s homeless report: where to from here?

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With a growing number of homeless camps (now estimated at 70) dug into Metro Vancouver communities, conversation on the issue has veered into a world of personal attacks and draconian proposals. One sample “solution,” endemic in community news chat threads, would re-establish the vast 1905-era asylum on its hillside in Coquitlam and lock homeless people inside.

This is a waste of time, of course. There’s no cheap or easy route to rolling back the homelessness problem. In fact, a new report from the Metro Vancouver regional authority is daunting in describing the actions that would be required even to hold the status quo. Continue reading

From village to town

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Friesenheim

Vicki and I recently enjoyed the hospitality of friends in Friesenheim, a village of 7,000 people set in the wine hills of southwest Germany near the French border.

Rathaus historyOur hosts Alexander and Ingeborg live in the house that Ingeborg’s father built, where I first visited them in 1975. Friesenheim’s central area has hardly changed since those days, and the village council apparently sees this as a problem. The council has approved a controversial   development plan for the main street — to make it more like Kitsilano, let’s say, or Burnaby Heights — with a four-story mixed-use complex, apartments upstairs, commercial space at grade, across from the 400-year-old municipal hall. Continue reading

Time to plant onions

Garlic tops, Pitt Meadows, March 30, 2013

Garlic tops, Pitt Meadows, March 30, 2013

The West Coast has warmer winters than the rest of Canada, and a relatively long growing season. The Lower Mainland, as I’ve mentioned before, generates two-thirds of the agricultural value in British Columbia.

Metro Vancouver, the more urbanized half of Fraseropolis, has the biggest area of any B.C. county devoted to potatoes, beans, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, beets, carrots, spinach, rutabaga/turnips, pumpkins, shallots and green onions, blueberries and cranberries. Continue reading