Monthly Archives: July 2006

Limo Shoot-out Stopped on Carrall

Sat night, July 29, 10:15pm.
So a limousine pulls up from god-knows-where to Maple Leaf Square, the east end of gastown, presumably to go to a club.
Two men in the limo start fighting one another, with the limo rooftop pulled back.
It gets aggressive enough that a cop who lives in a condo above them calls 911.
Another resident, disgusted, took a more active role, and tossed a water balloon at them.
The water balloon missed, splattering on the sidewalk, but one of the fighting men pulled out a gun and shot, twice, at the resident.
He did not get hit, but the building got some serious chips taken out.
Meanwhile, cop on the phone with 911 is relaying this play by play.

The fighting duo force the limo to take off (if limo’s can be said to ‘take off’) down Carrall street.
Eight police cars beat the limo to the intersection of Carrall and Pender (I think) and nab the men in question.

So, two men get arrested.
One sidewalk gets water-ballooned washed.
One building gets chipped.
One limo driver probably looks for another line of work.
All in all, another night in Gastown … and another tick on ‘the worst stuff that happens here comes from Other Places’ side of the ledger.

Reported by Nancy Zimmerman


Names…Carrall and Hastings

Intersections call history and future to our minds even as we sit just waiting for the light to change. The light always seems red at Carrall and Hastings, forcing a pause, asking you to notice. It demands an answer or a recognition. It’s a bear rustling in the bushes just out of your sight. It’s the possible animal shadow in the woods at night. It’s a familiar face disappearing in the crowd. It’s the history. It’s the past, it’s the future, it’s the poetry we ignore as we search for numbers and time, money and truth. Carrall and Hastings. The first of these to call. The strongest call, in many ways. The intersection isn’t just a place where traffic flows meet. Intersect is to pierce or divide at the point of crossing. A boulder in the river. Here. Carrall and Hastings.

The poetry here is Hastings, an evocative name, one of the few that actually does call something to mind. Or elicits a clever smile as those who remember their grade 9 history say ‘1066’ and all that… whatever that was. Well 1066 was a year of hardship for an elected king Harold and his soldiers, who first defeated another Harold, Hardraata by name, and at their celebration feast were called to a second war, marching across England to battle the Norman mercenaries and indentured serf-soldiers of William (the Bastard) of Normandy. And installed at the small fortress of Hastings after this time, to sit silently by as the Norman William (the Conquerer) burnt the fields and crushed the manhood of England, were those men whose surname was merely locative “de Hastings.” We don’t know, and I couldn’t make the link, but those Earls of Hastings and of Huntington generations later had a second son, a George Fowler Hastings, who would be called “Commander”.

Hastings saw action, a lot of it, once he got out of the coast guard. He commanded the Harlequin in the East Indies, Cyclops on the west coast of Africa, Curacoa in both the Mediterranean and Black Sea. After the Russian War he spent time on land (in Portsmouth) as Superintendent of the Haslar Hospital and Royal Clarence victualling yard, before queen and ocean asked him to captain the Hannibal and then finally, to come to the Pacific and home in Esquimalt. As Commander in Chief, flagship the Zealous, and later the Nore, he made his mark on our city. Stamp’s Mill was renamed Hastings Mill. And this street that cuts from downtown to Burnaby is called, after him, Hastings Street. There was even “Hastings Townsite,” which various folk hoped would become the real town. Thus we would all leave the rowdy unshaven men in Granville/Gastown. Those more civilized folk would inhabit the Vice Admiral’s town and not the town of vice.

There is a second stanza to this one, for our Admiral cuts and separates and breaks the flow of Carrall as it stretches from waterside to waterside. And here at the intersection of Hastings and Carrall, we see the history of war and famine, a scorched-earth of conquered man. And where Hastings may have brought it down, does Carrall lift them up? From waters edge, R.W.W. Carrall, a humble Ontarian doctor working in Ladysmith, BC, was one of three important men chosen to do the hard sell of Confederation between British Columbia and Ottawa. This Robert William Weir, a patriotic Canadian of epic proportions, spent a deal of time at war himself. He volunteered as a contract doctor for the Union side of the American Civil War, serving three years as a surgeon in military hospitals in Washington DC and New Orleans before requesting release from service. He returned to medical practice on Vancouver island. In his spare time, he engaged in local politics, organized a brass band and attended the Masonic Hall in Nanaimo. His street, and soon his greenway, unites waters, a tiny echo of his dream of a united Canada stretching coast to coast.

Big Green Metal Telus Box

by Nancy Zimmerman

Big Green Telus Box
Now here’s a unique-to-Carrall-street problem. It demonstrates the confluence of two Gastowns: the homeless, jobless and addicts eking out a survival of sorts, and the other half, young(ish), monied (ish), landed.

Carrall and Cordova is the address of two early-adapter condo buildings full of lofts. Target market: techno types. To accommodate the i.t. savvy residents, Telus had to build a Big Green Metal Box, which contains all kinds of wire for high-speed etc. It’s on the south east corner of the intersection. You can’t miss it: It’s the size of a kitchen table, waist high.

But the drug crowd found its own purpose for the Big Green Box: weighing drugs. Yup, nice flat surface for scales, four sides around which to congregate, while allowing for obstruction of vision should law enforcement turn the corner. Needles, a crowd of addicts and dealers, everything we find uncomfortable, all in front of some poor guy’s convenience store.

Apparently enough complaints have been made that Telus is fabricating a dome of sorts to place on top, eliminating it as a weigh scale.

Hmmm. I wonder how much that will cost, and if the Gov’t were to match dollar for dollar, would that be enough for one more treatment bed? (probably not, but let’s do the thought experiment anyways) And if that meant one more person per year was able to reintegrate with the labour force, would that result in enough income tax from said person to have covered the costs?

Parking Spot Opening: Film at 11

“Film At 11”  Paintings by Paul Carr and Jordy Hamilton, Curated by Sharon Bradley
The Parking Spot – 8 East Cordova July 22 – August 2, 2006, Opening reception July 21, 7:00, Viewings July 22 & 23, 12:00 – 6:00, or by appointment

“Film At 11”, an expression originating from television newsbroadcasting, follows a promotion aired earlier in the evening for a breaking or remarkable story to be elaborated upon at a later time.  The phrase has now evolved in popular culture as a joke where trivial or obvious incidents are inflated into momentous, life-or-death situations.  “The American Dental Association announced today that most plaque tends to form on teeth around 4:00 p.m.  Film at 11.”  Adversely, the joke can be told with a life-threatening emergency that is mentioned but not expanded on, leaving the hypothetical viewers in a panic.  “A common product in your home can
kill you while you sleep.  Film at 11.”  In both contexts, the idiom comments on the sensationalist and frequently ridiculous manner of contemporary news reporting.

Paul Carr and Jordy Hamilton use images from the media to similar effect, by taking photographic images from news sources and reinterpreting them as paintings.  Living and studying in a city famous for its innovative work in photography, their works also function as a response to the prevalent practice of eschewing painting in favor of more “contemporary” mediums.  While many Vancouver artists have created photographs based on classic paintings, Hamilton and Carr conceive paintings inspired by the deluge of photographic images produced by the mass media.

Hamilton draws inspiration from the glossy, technically beautiful photographs of National Geographic magazine.  He paints large-scale reproductions of the visuals on printed linens placed across canvas stretchers.  The content of the magazine pages represent a kind of pseudo-news; iconic images manufactured for a  predominately Western audience, that highlight both our dominant relationship with nature and the exoticism of other cultures.  His paintings explore ideas of human ideology and perceived progress while simultaneously examining construction and selection of media.  Presented in a large format on old bedding, and without the slick presentation of print,  the scenes become less heroic and more comical.

Carr confronts the rapidly expanding world of Internet news and images in his series “Tell Me What To Paint”.  By soliciting phrase suggestions from individuals, he establishes a kind of artist-patron relationship with his audience.  These phrases are then entered into an Internet image search engine, and he paints a composition based on selected results.  The end product is usually something completely misrepresentative of the original intention and meaning.  While the abundance of information available on the Internet is often associated with an ease of exchange and flow of ideas, Carr’s works posit that unfiltered information and electronic communication can cause a breakdown in connection and reception.

Access ARC News

Lost and Found
Haruko Okano, Judy Chartrand and Wayde Compton

July 22- August 26, 2006   Opening: July 21, 2006 at 8 pm   Artist Talk: August 6, Sunday at 2 pm   Access Artist Run Centre, 206 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Gallery Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-5pm

Access Artist Run Centre and the Powell Street Festival Society are pleased to present Lost and Found, a group exhibition by artists Haruko Okano, Judy Chartrand and Wayde Compton. Lost and Found is a multi-disciplinary, collaborative project that endeavours to give contemporary expression to many of the histories and stories of the Downtown Eastside that have been, in current perceptions of the area, largely overlooked.

Lost and Found is concerned with Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as a place of overlapping social and cultural histories. The communities of Japantown, once stretching along Powell Street; Hogan’s Alley,Vancouver’s first and last African-Canadian neighbourhood; and the various First Nations communities that continue to exist in the area comprise the three main focus areas for the artists’ investigations. Consisting of residencies, an exhibition at Access ARC and presentations at the 2006 Powell Street Festival, this project seeks to give a diverse expression to Okano, Chartrand and Compton’s work.

Haruko Okano’s work is a multi-faceted installation investigating the fluid barriers of language and communication in Vancouver’s Japanese Canadian communities. Judy Chartrand’s ceramic installation deals with historical representations of race and ethnicity in consumer products, while Wayde Compton’s work investigates the importance of oral tradition of Black Canadians through the use of audio performances using turntables.

Haruko Okano is a third generation Japanese Canadian artist whose practice is interdisciplinary. Her installations involve audience participation in order to bring them to their fullest potential.
Judy Chartrand is an urban Manitoba Cree who grew up in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. She received a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute, and an MFA from the University of Regina. Chartrand works within a contemporary First Nations art tradition where many of her works focus on First Nations and white relations in Canada.

Wayde Compton received his Masters in Arts (English) from Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature, published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2002. His artistic work involves audio performances using recorded poetry and mixing with the use of turntables.

For more information about this project or the activities of Access ARC or the Powell Street Festival, please call Miko @ 604.683.8240 or visit or

The Project Room –
July 22nd to August 5th
Organized by Linda Henningson

“Somba Ke – The Money Place”

This exhibition highlights the process of the making of a documentary film.  It is a multi-media show featuring film, animation involving Google Earth, and research notes.

David Henningson Cinematographer, Director, Producer, and Writer
David will be showing a promotional piece involving a 3-minute film highlighting scenes shot in Canada’s NWT, Shanghai, New Mexico, and New York City.

Jason Rempel  Known as “Jwicked” Jason’s music is described as hybrids between
Electro and Hip Hop. Featuring a composition “Walk Through Shanghai”, the theme song for Somba Ke, Jason describes this piece as  “Ethnic Down Tempo”.

Petr Cizek Currently working on his PhD in 3-d landscape visualization at UBC,
Petr is an environmental consultant specializing in the integration and analysis of traditional knowledge and natural resource data using geographic information systems. Petr will be showing animated maps integrating Google Earth technology.

One Year ago a proposal was submitted to ‘Global Currents’ a new documentary strand featured by Kevin Newan for Global Television.’Global Currents’ features documentaries concerning unique blends of Canadian socio-political, Environmental and Scientific documentary filmmakers.
Accepted by Global in July 2005, production for Somba Ke started immediately and has been on going where currently a 2nd rough-cut has been submitted and where the final version is due to air in Fall 2006.

Somba Ke is a documentary film involving an abandoned Uranium mine in NWT, an aboriginal Committee seeking compensation for Dene ore carriers who died of cancer,  the current Nuclear Renaissance and the rush for Uranium, and the entrepreneur ambitions of a Vancouver based mining company currently reopening the NWT mine.

Carrall Greenway Goes Ahead

This Greenway has been an idea since the early 70’s, and has had many tries before reaching this current level.

City Staff brought the detailed design and implementation plan before council last week. Jessica Chen-Adams and city staff presented the plans so far. Jack Chow expressed concern over the parking near his insurance company and the Blarney Stone shared concerns over loading zones, but most speakers were in favour of the presentation as it stands. After many presentations, including an eloquent and moving  history of the Greenway initiative by Roger Bayley, City Council approved the following:

A: That Council approve the construction of the Carrall Street Greenway as detailed in the Adminstrative Report dated June 27, 2006, at an estimated cost of $5,073,500, with funding to be provided as follows: $1,500,000 from 2006 Streets Basic Capital for the Carrall Street Greenway; $73,500 cost sharing from the 2006 Translink Bicycle Program; $3,500,000 from the 2007 Streets Basic Capital for the Carrall Street Greenway subject to approval of the 2007 Streets Capital Budget.

B:That Council approve an increase of $76,500 for maintenance costs to the Engineering Operating Budget, without offset, beginning in 2008 and subject to an annual budget review.

C. That Council approve the conversion of the temporary landscape designer position to regular full-time to further develop the Carrall Street Greenway and other on-going greenways projects at a total annual cost of $63,700 including Fringe Benefits. 2006 funding to be provided from the Carrall Street Greenway Capital Budget while subsequent year fundign to be provided equally from the Operating and Street Capital budget, resulting in a $31,850 increase to the Engineering Operating Budget in 2007.

D. That Council instruct staff to review the usage of the Carrall Street Greenway after construction.

What does all this mean? It is actually happening! Off the table and onto the street – into reality. Construction starts in October, and will begin around the Keefer area first, then move up to Maple Tree Square.

Two more years

Well it will be two more years of city planning and attempts to find solutions to the difficult (insurmountable) problems that city planners identified in the Whitecaps Stadium proposal. From the community side of things, the game is not over yet.

While mainstream media trumpets the news that the stadium has been approved, this is not exactly the case. There will need to be resolution on the issues city staff identified, and this resolution will have to be complete before the go-ahead will be given for building. I’m hopeful. Half the people speaking at city hall over the protracted meetings were for the stadium, many only for the idea of a soccer stadium somewhere in the city. The other half: members of the Gastown and greater community, who for good reasons, found issues with the stadium in that location and as proposed. Those issues are all still outstanding, and may not be easy to resolve, no matter how much money is tossed into the process.

The Central Waterfront Coalition has been meeting regularly on  Tuesday evenings at Blake’s on Carrall (221 Carrall exactly). Next Tuesday will be their last meeting of the summer. 6pm. All welcome.