Thursday, 21 February 2008

ecosity- the laneways of vancouver

The laneway, intrinsic to any city, is semi rural Vancouver. The back alley, haunt of skunks, thieves, weekend putzers, racoons, coyotes, rats, cats, bottle recyclers, dog piss, pot smoking kids. Historically known as city owned right'oways, the original Vancouver laneways were deliberately configured in the famous "Jocose Style" imitating the arts and crafts hodgepodge emerging from a devastated logging site, which reminded early city planners of the London streetcars and sewer grates. Today these utility pole infested shambles have aged perfectly. A close inspection shows that their original design and purpose withstand scrutiny, especially considering the notion of Vancouver being a cluster of thirty odd "micro villages" , a bogus conception nonetheless, a tip of the hat honouring a First Nations notion of settlement within a harmonious natural environment. The bald truth, and it is rather bald by now, is the reality of a bygone real estate landgrab morphing into ongoing development schemes, where each generation of developer and consumer can feed off the simple basic need of a home.
But are the laneways home? Indeed. Note the typical garbage bins provided by the city, the lone car in front of a garage begging for a parking infraction. In summer the odourous stench of rotting trash and wormy compost is wafted into the local air, providing a tonic against the manfume of an aftershave overdouser, or the middle aged woman misting the block with her giant bottle of Chanel No. 5, or the sun uber UVing a patch of moldy artificial turf, unleashing a scorched rubber scent. And finally who can not be attracted to the caveman odour of the gas barbeque burning meat on the grill.
It is interesting to note that these neglected spaces are now being coveted and touted as the new in-fill option to East Vancouver's housing crisis. The lane way is now a sought after location to plunk in granny cottage, the combo garage/coach house, the duplex, maybe, heaven forbid, a triplex or more if it happens to be a corner lot. The zoning and planning people are confronted by neighbourhood garden forks. Not in my backyard! No to the © copyrighted ECODENSITY, a term coveted by our wheelchair bound ex-welfare recipient mayor now turned extra developer freindly SAMMY "the electoral fraudster" SULLIVAN. ( shame on his wee Irish blood). "To avoid the loaded political sense that ECODENISTY has become, let's call it ECO-CITY", suggested former British Columbia premier Mike Harcourt at a recent citizen's forum. Replace the "C" with and "S" and you've got ECOSITY, pretty darn close to viscosity. Yes sir ee folks add a little money to grease the palms of city hall and you have a well lubricated ECOSITY . And in the background you can hear the demonstrators chanting : "Up with laneways - down with anal lawns!" Up with student accommodation, down with basement suites paying an overleveraged mortgage!" Up with the no permits! Down with developers demanding thirty per cent on their money!"

No comments: