Monthly Archives: September 2008

Performance on Carrall Street this Tuesday

Art on Carrall – literally about Carrall Street. This is the kind of thing I’ve been thinking about for years, and now it looks like Althea Thauberger is making art about this street and its complexities.

Can’t wait to walk out my door and see what she has put together.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008
8-11pm in the 200 block of Carrall Street, Vancouver

Carrall Street Public Forum
Thursday, October 2, 2008
7pm at 33 West Cordova Street

Althea Thauberger’s one-night performance, Carrall Street, will present the
street (brightly lit like a film set at nighttime) as a stage, or zone of
illumination where the roles of performer and spectator blur. The
interweaving of organized performers, passers-by and audience members will
allow for unforeseen interactions to take place that reveal something of
the street’s history, its current issues, as well as its future. Carrall
Street is planned in collaboration with local directors, performers and
community members.

Carrall Street is one of the oldest streets in Vancouver. It can be argued
that the entire history (and pre-history) of the city can be mapped along
its six blocks. Caught between urban gentrification and decay, the street
marks transitions from the most touristic parts of the city to what is
often described as the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. In ways that are
both unique and similar to other inner cities, it has been affected by
development, public policy neglect and polarized politics.

A publication accompanying the project will be available in 2009.

Althea Thauberger is an artist based in Vancouver. Her work involves
research and collaboration that result in performances, films, photographs,
audio recordings and books.

The performance and forum are free and open to the public.

This project has been supported by Arts Partners in Creative Development,
The Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver and the Portland
Hotel Society.


Pennsylvania Hotel

This archival photo shows the Pennsylvania Hotel on the corner of busy Hastings and Carrall Street. Now that the hoarding has been removed, the building is looking much closer to its original form. Good news is that there is a possibility that the neon sign can be replaced too. Shouldn’t be much longer before this grand restored building provides much-needed SRO housing in the area.

Electrical Infrastructure Upgrade

We really need it. There was a major power outage a while back, always shakes us up. The grid can’t take it, and won’t be able to handle much more when the new developments like Terminus are up, running, filled with people using power. Not to mention all the urbanites plugging in their new Volt electric cars (oh right, those won’t be available here in Canada until after the Greenway is completed, say, 2015? not really, I’m just bitter.)

At any rate, the need for more power is increasing, so BC Hydro will be upgrading the entire Gastown area, sinking a large new-fangled switcher gizmo into Blood Alley, underground. Good news is it will be underground. Bad news it has a name like Vista (hmm… will we need the soothing bathsalts and herbal teas I’ve seen on those Mac ads?)

We’ll also need more power for the many public realm events and activities that will be happening all along the Greenway, and outlets and transformer kiosks are planned for key nodes along the path.

Urine Smell Overpowers Me

All right, I’m Back

Every year or so I come back to this blog about Carrall Street and report on the same old things. It wasn’t inspiring me, so I put my energies elsewhere. Still living here, still involved but it was so much the same old same old, I had no reason to tell the story again and again.

I’ve been somewhat reinvigorated in the past week or so and instead of making excuses, I’ll just continue on with this blog, adding my view of the place into the mix.

Smell of Urine Overpowering

Big news is the very strong smell of urine, worst ever in all the years I’ve been here.

One day this August the smell was so strong and pervasive it came right into my home through the window. This is the first time this has happened.  I’d noticed it all along Carrall Street when walking through Gastown, particularly at intersections. I was alarmed, thought there was some kind of chemical spill, and called the Health Department. Then when it was also in my home, I was really concerned. Imagine my dismay when the woman from the City Health Dept. who came out to check it told me it was strong urine. “It will rain soon” she said.

Well rain won’t do it, folks. It smells like a stable in the laneways, like an 18th century London street, like some kind of zoo. This is unhealthy and extremely unpleasant. We need more cleaning from City Engineering down here. When the needle exchange was on Hastings, they used to pressure wash the lane between Hastings and Cordova, and that did make a big difference. Remember, there are people in those laneways, lots of them. Some are sleeping there. This is not the way a normal city cares for its people or for the city itself.

And today, yes, it was as strong as ever. You can only burn so much incense!

Everything Takes a VERY Long Time

I was disheartened to hear that the Carrall Street Greenway project won’t be completed within this current capital budget, and instead will have to wait until (drum roll) 2012. WTF?

The budget status is as follows;

In July 2006, Council approved a budget of  $5M for construction of the Carrall Street Greenway (2006-2008 Capital Plan). Due to an increase in construction costs and other factors, this amount is insufficient to complete the full Greenway, including Maple Tree Square. To ensure functionality of the Greenway in advance of full construction, incremental and interim improvements will be made where necessary. Consultation with the Gastown community will take place this Fall regarding the Cordova to Water Street block and preferences for incremental construction in advance of Maple Tree Square completion.

An additional $2M for the Carrall Greenway has been requested in the 2009-2011 Capital Plan. If approved, these funds will cover cost increases incurred to date, incremental construciton of the Cordova to Water Street block and other interim improvements. Funding for Maple Tree Square , and any other blocks requiring full construction, will be requested in the 2012-2014 Capital Plan.

So where does this leave us? With the Hastings to Cordova section slated for completion by the end of this year, and then…. perhaps a few cosmetic changes. But what about the third row of trees, the space on the street for events and outdoor cafe life? Hmmm. Seems to me this whole project has taken longer than I could ever have imagined. I was totally naive about the city and its workings.

But then I remember a meeting where someone said the idea for had been around for over 20 years.