BEST OF VANCOUVER
AN AWESOMELY IN-DEPTH GUIDE TO OUR CITY’S FAVOURITE THINGS
Sometimes, it seems there just isn’t enough time in the day for many of us. With school, work, commuting, and family duties—not to mention the high cost of housing and relentless taxation—it can feel like the fun is being sucked out of our lives in Vancouver. We’re like hamsters on a wheel, running ever faster just to stay in the same place.
This year, there are elections taking place in municipalities across the region, but it’s hard to keep up with who’s running when there are so many candidates. Some of us might like to relax and watch more Canucks games this season, but that’s not possible if you’re working two jobs to make ends meet. Others, no doubt, want to see more screenings at the Vancouver International Film Festival, which remains one of the marquee events on the city’s calendar. It’s hard to believe that VIFF is approaching middle age, but if you think of it in another way, this smorgasbord of cinema is just reaching its prime.
In this year’s Best of Vancouver issue, our 23rd, we’re featuring no shortage of Vancouver residents and organizations that can also be considered to have reached their prime. Our annual online ballot elicits a massive response every year—in fact, the number of votes exceeds those that will be cast in quite a few local elections taking place across the province on October 20.
The winners of our election are listed in readers’-choice boxes throughout this issue in broad subject areas ranging from city life to food and drink, and from lifestyle to media, arts, and culture. When you come across these lists, remember that these are the people’s choices.
And the Straight is 100 percent for the people—to paraphrase one of our local mayoral candidates.
But the Straight is also populated by writers with their own takes on what’s best about our city. The Best of Vancouver is not merely populism run amok. For them, there’s considerable thought that goes into highlighting what’s worth celebrating and cherishing.
In the following pages, you can read their reflections on what inspires, amuses, encourages, enthralls, shocks, and even appalls them about living in our village by the sea.
These writers recognize that people don’t always have the time to explore every neighburhood or sample cuisine that came from recipes developed a half a world away. On occasion, they just want to read about them.
So set aside a few minutes, grab a cup of java or tea, and forget about all your stresses as you take in this year’s edition of the Best of Vancouver.
NEWS & POLITICS
BEST POLITICAL CIVIL WAR
The NPA bloodbath was a sight to behold this year. First, former Conservative MP Wai Young declared that she had no faith in the process, so she didn’t even seek the party’s mayoral nomination. Coun. Hector Bremner jumped in, only to be told that he hadn’t been green-lit to put his name before the membership. The eventual winner of the NPA mayoral nomination, businessman Ken Sim, now risks going down to defeat because traditional NPA voters have migrated to Bremner’s Yes Vancouver and Young’s Coalition Vancouver. Neither party would have existed had these candidates been persuaded to remain inside the NPA tent by the party board. At the start of the year, it looked like the NPA directors had this election in the bag. By October 20, we’ll know if they’ve blown it bigtime. If so, it will be the NPA’S fourth straight loss since 2008. And you thought the Canucks were bad.
BEST DOUBLE-DOG DARE YA Vancouver mayoral candidate Hector Bremner made a first-class dare in this year’s election season. Rejected by the Non-partisan Association as an applicant for the NPA’S mayoral contest, Bremner left and formed his own party, Yes Vancouver. Asked if there was a chance he would go back and run for city council with NPA mayoral pick Ken Sim’s team, Bremner didn’t hesitate with an answer. “If Ken [Sim] would face a [NPA] runoff against us,” Bremner said. “You know, we were unfairly excluded from the race.” Sim would not comment on that issue.
BEST SIGN THAT VANCOUVER’S NEXT MAYOR MIGHT BE A NERD These days, nerds have become hip. It’s evident all over the place, and not just on The Big Bang Theory. The Storm Crow Alehouse brags that it’s the city’s hottest nerd bar. Later this month, Fan Expo Vancouver will bring hordes of geeks to the Vancouver Convention Centre, some in costumes, in a celebration of sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica. But the biggest test of the city’s nerdiness will come on October 20, when an SFU electoral-system researcher and former MP, Kennedy Stewart, will find out if he’ll replace Gregor Robertson as Vancouver’s next mayor. Last year, Stewart coedited a book with Conservative MP Michael Chong and Scott Simms called Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy. Stewart’s chapter is entitled “Empowering the Backbench: The Story of Electronic Petitions”. In politics, things don’t get any nerdier than this. In light of the current mania around nerds, it’s surprising that Stewart’s campaign isn’t capitalizing on this with T-shirts proclaiming that Vancouver needs a geeky mayor to solve its most wrenching social problems. Enough of those pretty-boy politicians. Justin, Gregor, and Barack are so passé. And everyone knows that Trump is plain obnoxious. But Kennedy Stewart: hey, that’s someone who’s a little different from the norm. SECOND-BEST SIGN THAT VANCOUVER’S NEXT MAYOR MIGHT BE A NERD
Shauna Sylvester is another bookish SFU policy wonk running to replace Gregor Robertson. The professor of public practice is not quite as nerdy as Stewart, and it’s inconceivable to think of her showing up looking like an X-files character at Fan Expo Vancouver. But she still has a geeky side when it comes to researching solutions to the climate crisis. And she once supervised a group of students who compiled a “Green History of Vancouver Timeline” using Timeglider software. It highlighted everything from the creation of Harland Bartholomew’s original town plan to the establishment of the Agricultural Land Reserve and Greenpeace to the protection of Metro Vancouver’s watersheds from logging interests. That’s kind of nerdy.
BEST SIGN THAT THE NEXT MAYOR MIGHT ANTHROPOMORPHIZE INFRASTRUCTURE
Coalition Vancouver candidate Wai Young is waging a war on “ideological bike lanes”. Hmmm… We never knew that civic infrastructure had a political disposition until now. What’s next? Ideological community centres? Ideological sewers? Or our favourite: ideological heating and ventilation systems? Don’t you just love it when political candidates ascribe human characteristics to concrete barriers? Thanks, Wai.
BEST EXAMPLE OF CITY HALL FIGHTING CITY HALL
The City of Vancouver cannot always be taken at its word. It says one thing and does the other. It claims to support building new rental homes but acts like it does not. The circumstances surrounding a rental development in Marpole may be the best example. On account of lot frontage that was 42 inches short of qualifying for a certain floor-space ratio, city hall took its own board of variance to court to stop the development of a four-storey rental building at 308 West 62nd Avenue. Never mind that the board of variance has the authority under the Vancouver Charter to
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decide appeals to decisions by the city’s planning department. Fortunately for the property owner, the court ruled against the city, allowing the rental project to proceed.
BEST POWER FOR RENT CONTROL THE CITY DOESN’T USE
When it comes to landlords and renters, have you ever wondered on whose side the City of Vancouver really stands? Nathalie Baker, a litigator specializing in municipal law, seems to have a spot-on example. According to her, the city has the authority under the Vancouver Charter to enter into housing agreements with developers of rental housing. Section 565.2 of the charter provides that these agreements can include terms on “rents that may be charged and the rates at which rents may be increased over time”. But Baker notes that the city doesn’t use this particular section. The result is that developers get to charge practically whatever they want.
BEST PLACE TO OBSERVE THE SPEED LIMIT
The West Vancouver Police Department has one of the lightest workloads of any law-enforcement agency in Canada. Sure, there’s the occasional fraud case and sometimes they have to respond to domestic disputes in Canada’s richest community (average household net worth: $4.5 million). But what really keeps the West Van cops busy is impounding speeding vehicles on the Upper Levels Highway. On one Monday night in February, three of them were hauled away, including one that was clocked at 187 kilometres per hour. Incidents like this get the happy drops flowing in TV newsrooms because they attract larger audiences. Who doesn’t love seeing some young punk losing his Lamborghini for a while after disrespecting the rules of the road? Especially when the cops are so eager to show the
offending vehicle in the impound lot. But the lesson is clear to motorists. Don’t put your pedal to the metal in the region’s sleepiest burgh unless you want to rely on Translink to help get you around in the future.
BEST REASON NOT TO CONSUME CANNABIS BEFORE GETTING BEHIND THE WHEEL
At the Georgia Straight’s recent Grassroots Expo, former traffic cop
(and court-recognized expert in police radar) Grant Gottgetreu was asked about drug-impaired driving. He boldly predicted that the B.C. government will eventually allow officers to dish out immediate roadside prohibitions to those suspected of being high on cannabis while behind the wheel. That will avoid the hassle of having to drag people back to police stations to determine if they’re truly stoned. But there’s a problem
with IRPS, as they’re also called. They’re attached to people’s driving records, which means this information is available to law-enforcement officers who merely punch licenceplate information into a database. Gottgetreu explained at the conference that U.S. border agents have access to these types of databases. That means anyone with an IRP for driving high could be prevented from entering the United States for life without even being convicted in a court of law. Ouch!
BEST B.C. CANNABIS TWEETER The honour goes to Kirk Tousaw. The lawyer for all things cannabis understands that Twitter has become an ideal public forum for responding in a concise way to the news of the day. And there’s no shortage of cannabis news as the country heads toward legalization on October 17. Follow him @kirktou saw. You’ll learn a great deal, and not just about cannabis.
MOST AMUSING CANNABIS TWEETER WHO USED TO LIVE IN VANCOUVER
That’s easy. It’s Tommy Chong. The world-famous stoner, comedian, and director regularly skewers Donald Trump, to the delight of his 480,000 followers. “I do enjoy trolling the Donald,” Chong declared in May. “So obvious and so evil.” Follow him @tommychong and find out why he thinks Agent Orange is going to end up in the crowbar hotel. BEST REASON TO HOPE OUR HISTORY CAN CHANGE AMERICA The dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl arrived in B.C. in 2013. Since then, fatal overdoses have soared, from 333 across the province that year to more than 1,450 in 2017. Vancouver experienced an epidemic like this once before. Though not as severe, a drug crisis in the 1990s killed thousands in Vancouver. The city responded in incredible ways, establishing North America’s first sanctioned supervised-injection facility, Insite, and successfully reducing overdose deaths. The Georgia Straight’s Travis Lupick asked himself what lessons from that crisis of the ’90s could be applied to save lives today as he wrote the book Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle With Addiction. It shares the stories of Downtown Eastside activists
like the Portland Hotel Society’s Liz Evans and Mark Townsend, and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users’ Bud Osborn, Ann Livingston, and Dean Wilson, recounting how they marched in the streets to demand that the government respond with the urgency that was required. Lupick won the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and has gone on to tour parts of the United States where harm-reduction advocates are being inspired by Vancouver’s experience. BEST UNEXPECTED LOCAL BESTSELLER Who would have guessed that a primer on 19th-century legislation could become one of B.C.’S most popular local books of the year? Educator Bob Joseph wrote
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality
to help Canadians better understand what led to cultural genocide, the residential-school system, and other horrors inflicted on First Nations. Joseph, a member of the Gwawaenuk Nation, lays it out in crisp, clear prose in a small book that can fit in someone’s back pocket. According to the Read Local B.C. website, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act
has remained a B.C. bestseller for 24 weeks. Perhaps this will encourage publishers to produce similar books on laws that kept South Asians and Chinese from moving to Canada, as well as other legislated acts of white supremacy in Canadian history. “The legacy of the residential school system continues to impact Indigenous people, families, and communities,” Joseph writes in his book. “On its doorstep we can lay the responsibility for the high poverty rates, the large number of Indigenous children in foster care, the disproportionate number of Incarcerated Indigenous people, and the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women.” BEST JUSTIFICATION FOR MOVING TO MARPOLE Vancouver’s 2019–22 capital plan includes plenty of goodies for what has traditionally been seen as the city’s only West Side neighbourhood with an East Side feel. If voters approve the capital plan on October 20, the city will spend $23.8 million renewing the library branch near Granville Street and West 67th Avenue. As part of the upgrade, the city is adding social housing and a 69-space childcare centre. There’s also $15 million earmarked for an outdoor pool in Marpole. Plus, another $36.7 million will be invested in the Marpoleoakridge Community Centre in Oak Park. Consider it hush money for those angry NIMBYS who didn’t want temporary modular housing for the homeless in that part of town. Change is coming. And won’t it be wonderful knowing that those formerly homeless people will have spanking new recreational and reading rooms in that part of the neighbourhood? BEST WAY TO PESTER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT For the duration of 2018, Dan Small has been on a one-man mission. The cofounder of North America’s first supervised-injection facility, Insite, has obstinately pushed the federal government to convene a royal commission for a detailed examination of Canada’s opioid epidemic and the root causes that have contributed to a sharp rise in overdose deaths. Small, a medical anthropologist and adjunct professor at UBC, began his efforts with a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office. From there, he was referred to Canada’s health minister. Her office suggested that Small direct his request to the governor general’s office, so he did. If a royal commission is eventually established to investigate the causes of Canada’s opioid epidemic, it will likely focus on the years that former prime minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party held power in Ottawa. “We need a royal commission that accountably investigates our nation’s values as they have impacted, and continue to impact, societal approaches to opioid use,” Small continued. “A royal commission would allow us to look backwards at the mistakes we’ve made.” BEST REASON TO GO TO WAR WITH YOUR NEIGHBOUR To children visiting a zoo, peacocks are big, colourful animals that elicit fascination. But to some residents of Surrey, B.C., the bird’s resplendent plumage isn’t so impressive. A number of peacocks have apparently roamed wild in Surrey for some time, creating noise and, in some residents’ yards, a good deal of excrement. In May 2018, one homeowner became so frustrated with the animals that he cut down a tree on his property where peacocks were roosting. That attracted the ire of some neighbours, who said they enjoyed having the sizable peafowl around. With more than 100 of the animals occupying the Surrey neighbourhood of Sullivan Heights, tensions simmered among residents. Then, in June, things came to a boil when a city bylaw officer claimed to have been assaulted after responding to a report of someone feeding the peacocks. “It’s a very intense situation on all sides,” Surrey’s public-safety manager told media. “The community is definitely divided on this issue. BEST NAME FOR A NEW POLITICAL PARTY No, it’s not Yes Vancouver or Coalition Vancouver. This honour goes to Proudly Surrey, which is the brainchild of former B.C. Green party leader Stuart Parker and Fleetwood resident Dean Mcgee. It unabashedly borrowed British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s slogan, “For the Many, not the Few”, to advance a vision of social justice that’s not been articulated before by politicians south of the Fraser River. Corbyn himself modified the final line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem “The Masque of Anarchy”, which included this stanza: “Rise like lions after slumber/ In unvanquishable number!/shake your chains to earth like dew/which in sleep had fallen on you/ye are many, they are few!” Proudly Surrey is urging residents to support its vision of becoming “Masters in our Own Domain”, which involves pulling out of Translink and rejecting provincewide teacher bargaining in favour of negotiating its own contracts. Proudly Surrey also pledges to invest in arts “like no previous administration”, making this an economic engine of
the city. Imagine that. A political party that puts culture at the top of its agenda. In Surrey, no less.
BEST VANCOUVER VERSION OF JEREMY CORBYN
This honour goes to Derrick O’keefe, who is running for city council with the Coalition of Progressive Electors. A tenants’-rights activist and ardent proponent of a rent freeze, O’keefe shares some of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s views about the Middle East. Think of O’keefe as the city’s friendly leftist. He smiles more easily than Corbyn and has a quick wit. O’keefe writes wellresearched articles and books. And unlike many politicians, he eagerly picks up a placard and participates in protests against militarism and imperialism. If he’s elected to council, the NDP government in Victoria will soon realize that it will be facing new demands for social justice from an elected official. He’s not one to simply ask for what the province is prepared to give. Instead, O’keefe seeks what he thinks the province ought to provide. So do his fellow COPE candidates for council, Anne Roberts and Jean Swanson, who also have things in common with U.K. politician. But O’keefe’s the only one of the trio who had lunch with Corbyn in Britain’s parliamentary cafeteria before he entered politics.
BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD TO ESCAPE THE CROWDS
Mellow and low-key, Dunbar sometimes seems like it’s frozen in time— unlike so many other parts of the city. Refreshingly devoid of chain stores, chain restaurants, and even chain movie theatres, this patch of the West Side is an excellent spot for those who just want to get away from it all. Grab a bag of popcorn at a single-screen cinema house. For lovers of cookbooks, the Dunbar library branch is an ideal destination. Serious readers can head south on Dunbar Street to Lawrence Books, where B.C. titles from bygone eras are available at bargain prices in its narrow aisles. And while the new and improved local Stong’s Market has all the deli delights found in modern grocery stores, it hasn’t lost its quaint touch. For proof, check out the historical images on the wall in its coffee shop.
BEST WAY TO LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE
Visit Vancouver’s property-listings websites.
BEST WAY TO SPEND A FEW EXTRA HOURS WITH YOUR PHARMACIST
For a year or so now, patients of Pier Health Resource Centre, a pharmacy in the Downtown Eastside, have made regular outings with clinic staff. Pier’s director, Bobby Milroy, says the trips to Metro Vancouver’s great outdoors are all about mental health—and not only the mental health of his patients, many of whom struggle with addiction. Milroy notes the trips have also proven to boost the spirits of his staff. “This gave me a chance to get out in nature and just relax,” he says. Milroy gives all credit for the program to one of his patients, Alex Gibb. “One can easily become complacent or fall into a routine or negative rut,” Gibb tells the Straight. “So it’s good to change your environment .... It triggers positive things within yourself.” Milroy adds that a few hours fishing on the Capilano River or a hike up the North Shore mountains is just what the doctor ordered. BEST CHANGE FOR CHANGE’S SAKE
Little things can make a big difference in people’s lives. Take the case of parents who need to change children’s diapers in public. Not all washrooms are equipped with diaper-changing tables. Vancouver park commissioner Erin Shum, who is a new mom, wants to change that by having all washrooms operated by the park board installed with these contraptions. Shum has also suggested that all City of Vancouver washrooms should have the same.
BEST ADMIRABLY PROGRESSIVE APOLOGY
Blame Donald Trump and the MAGA red-hat horde (looking at you, Kanye!), but, increasingly, we’re in a world where apologizing is a lost art. Why admit you’ve messed up when it’s easier to return fire on Twitter? A big hats off, then, to Red Truck Beer Company for responding to criticisms that its Red Truck Concert Series this year was something of a sausage party. When the lineup for the 2018 edition of the three-weekends-in-summer festival was announced, local artists—including Juno Award– winning Jill Barber—questioned why almost all the acts were men. (The headliners were Coleman Hell, Allen Stone, and Michael Ray, the undercard almost exclusively dude.) Rather than ignore the issue, Red Truck showed that it was actually listening. It released a statement on Facebook that started with an apology for the lack of diversity, then included: “We have recognized our failure to be adequately sensitive and proactive with regards to the issues of diversity and inclusion in our programming.” This was followed by the announcing of support for Girls Rock Camp Vancouver and a pledge of “We promise to do better.” Difficult as it is these days to keep the faith, sometimes there are folks who seem genuinely determined to make the world a more equitable place.
BEST NEW PLACE TO TAKE AN OUTDOOR LUNCH BREAK DOWNTOWN
The Vancouver Public Library central branch’s newly opened rooftop garden is an oasis amid the roar of the urban core. Grab a book from one of the lower floors and head up to the tiled, leafy patio, high above the busy streets, with your lunch bag and thermos. At 7,400 square feet, designed by landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the expansive new deck—complete with tables and chairs—will make going back to work a little harder.
BEST REASON TO APPRECIATE THE RAIN
Have you ever had to sit on a bus on a steamingly humid day that’s full of men who haven’t showered in a week, aren’t wearing deodorant, and have just exercised? Think you haven’t? Well, if you’ve been in this city for any rainless stretch that has spanned more than a few days, you might as well have. Think of the rain as the shower that keeps the city not only clean and green but also smellable.
BEST PLACE FOR VANCOUVERITES TO STARE DEATH IN THE FACE
B.C. is pretty spoiled when it comes to suspension bridges, but the new Cloudraker Skybridge in Whistler may be the scariest one to cross. The long, swinging structure stretches 130 metres from Whistler Peak to the West Ridge, offering heart-pounding views of Whistler Bowl below. You can definitely feel that sucker moving once the wind picks up, creating a thrilling and terrifying experience once you’ve made it far enough to realize that turning back would take as much effort as just crossing the damn thing. Wanna keep your adrenaline up? Make a pit stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola—and maybe Whistler Bungee—on your drive back to Vancouver.
BEST NEW DANCE SPACE Left of Main
211 Keefer Street
What happens when a small indie dance company takes on the dream of renovating a 1,500-square-foot, 100-year-old abandoned dim-sum restaurant in Chinatown? A muchneeded affordable studio opens up not just for local rehearsals, but for inovative, intimate performances. Plastic orchid factory staged its 10thanniversary show, i miss doing nothing, here in the summer, a piece that revelled in its setting, with the Chinatown street noise and the natural play of sunlight through the windows. November 13 to 24, dumb instrument dance stages Public & Private, a work accompanied by thunderous live taiko drumming. At the same time, Left of Main studio is now headquarters and office space for not only plastic orchid factory but MACHINENOISY and Tara Cheyenne Performance. Funded by everything from a city cultural-infrastructure grant to Canadian Heritage culturalspaces funding, the four-year project proves that artists really can create their own spaces and come up with affordable solutions—and, unthinkably, that dancers can also be developers.
LGBT COMMUNITY’S BEST BEHIND-THE-SCENES PUBLICIST As the former cochair of Vision Vancouver, Paul Nixey helped elect Canada’s most Lgbt–friendly mayor, Gregor Robertson. Nixey has also advised Canada’s most LGBT– friendly Liberal MP, Hedy Fry, as she’s advanced many measures to bring about greater equality, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation. But what many people don’t know is that Nixey also quietly promotes important health initiatives benefiting the LGBT community by contacting media outlets to keep these issues in the public eye. This includes expanded access to pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis (known as PREP and PEP), which reduce transmission of HIV. He also tried to amplify the voices of young folks at Youthco to have their views heard on sex education. Vancouver is a world leader in measures to make a city a welcoming, healthy, and safe place for LGBT people, whether in the schools, at park-board facilities, or in various medical centres. Nixey is one of the reasons why. BEST NAME CHANGE OF A CIVIC SITE/ASSET
Strathcona’s Keefer Street Pedestrian Overpass—which connects Raymur Avenue to Keefer over the railway tracks—is being renamed the Militant Mothers of Raymur Overpass as part of a recent city initiative to honour contributions by Vancouver citizens. In January 1971, mothers who had demanded the railroad cease operations during the hours their children would be crossing the tracks to get to and from the school nearest to Stamps Place Housing—a social-housing complex that opened in 1968—took matters into their own hands when the city and school board stalled and the railroad reneged on its promise to do so. Twenty-five of them risked their own safety (and some were arrested) by sitting upon and then camping on the tracks until the various parties agreed to build an
overpass, which was completed later that year.
BEST EVIDENCE THAT YELLING INTO THE EMPTY VOID OF THE INTERNET PRODUCES FAST AND EFFECTIVE RESULTS
Despite what your parents and employer have been repeatedly telling you, complaining on the Internet isn’t a complete waste of time and, in fact, does get shit done—if said shit involves getting B.C. native and bawdy box-office star Seth Rogen onto the airwaves of our regional transit authority, that is. Take it from the Vancouverites who took to social media in May to propose Rogen as the voice of Translink after a Visa-backed campaign with Morgan Freeman was axed. The suggestions seemed only half-serious at first, but, two months later, Rogen was advising passengers to keep their feet off the seats of Skytrains. Never stop believing (and tweeting), kids.
BEST PLACE TO SMELL A ROTTING CORPSE
If you don’t want to spend your golden years in the B.C. Penitentiary, your best shot at inhaling the scent of rotting flesh comes from a trip to the Bloedel Conservatory. This year, Uncle Fester—the greenhouse’s Titan arum (or “corpse flower” to the gruesome)—surprised everyone by blooming four years early, releasing a stench that drew hundreds to the doors of the dome. There’s no accounting for curiosity.
BEST PLACE TO WATCH REAL-LIFE FROGGER
Before you start screeching about global warming, peak oil, and the indisputable fact that Gregor Robertson looks kinda hot in spandex
riding shorts, rest assured we’re on your side. As long as it’s not raining like monsoon season in Mumbai, we bike to work. That has given us valuable perspective on why people hate cyclists in this city. Criticize motorists all you want, but you don’t see four out of five of them running stop signs, roaring through red lights, and ripping through occupied crosswalks. The vast majority of cyclists, on the other hand, seem to think the rules of the road don’t apply to them. It’s on the False Creek seawall in front of Science World where things are at their worst. The city has made a noble effort to get cyclists to pay attention to the new designated crosswalks including setting up yield signs and installing barriers. But despite said crosswalk being perpetually busy with young families, tourists, and assorted others, eight out of 10 twowheeled idiots roar right through it without even slowing down. That forces those on two legs instead of two wheels to weave their way through the traffic like they’re crossing the street in Saigon. Dear cyclists of Vancouver: if you really want to make the world a better place, start by looking at yourself.
BEST FAKE SIGN
Commercial Drive’s Dude Chilling Park—site of multiple sign thefts and Jimmy Fallon jokes—saw a rival sign installed by a group of dedicated pranksters. Riffing on the art project turned bona fide location, organizers for Vancouver’s annual Dyke March installed a sign for Dyke Chilling Park in the same area. Although it has since been removed, a petition is still circulating online for its permanent placement—a move that organizers say will honour the LGBT community in Mount Pleasant.
BEST CALLING-OUT OF LOCAL TRANSIT RIDERS’ GROSSEST HABITS
After Vancouver-bred Hollywood star Seth Rogen did a guest spot voicing announcements on Translink services, he went on the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and chatted about it. Which recorded announcement shocked Rogen? Asking riders not to clip their toenails. In the wise words of Jimmy Fallon’s Sara: “Ew!”
BEST SHINE OF RAINBOWS Rainbow crosswalks and Pride celebrations serve numerous purposes. They offer visibility for LGBT people who may otherwise not be represented; they help to reinforce the idea that LGBT people are everywhere, not just in specific areas; and they’re uplifting in so many ways. That’s why it’s great to see that Burnaby held its first Pride festivities, and White Rock, Coquitlam, and Surrey joined the rainbow-crosswalk party. As for vandalism and defacement of crosswalks: well, that just reinforces why they need to be there in the first place.
BEST YEAR TO BE QUEER
When it comes to out LGBT history in this city, it’s only a few decades old. But with numerous LGBT organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries, it’s an encouraging indication of how far things have progressed. Among those celebrating this year were Out on Screen, Qmunity, AIDS Vancouver, Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium, Pride in Art Society, and the Vancouver Pride Society, just to name a few. So the City of Vancouver officially declared 2018 as the Year of the Queer. Cheers to all the hard work by local individuals, organizations, and businesses, and here’s to many more years to come. BEST REASON FOR VANCOUVER’S DUDES TO DITCH THE CARGOS AND SPORTSWEAR
Vancouver may not exactly be known for its trendsetting styles, but a couple of openings in Yaletown are giving the city’s guys one less excuse to reach for the sweat-wicking T-shirts and cargo shorts. Exhibit A: Emile Clothing Co., a men’sclothing boutique that stocks quality European labels and tailored yet casual and affordable pieces like
merino-wool crewnecks and cropped trousers. And then there’s Surmesur, a made-to-measure menswear store from Montreal that offers custom shirts and suits. Add the Indochino flagship into the mix, and it’s fair to say that Yaletown has become the gentlemen’s fashion destination.
BEST PLACE TO SHOP JAPANESE HANDMADE GOODS OUTSIDE OF JAPAN
Vancouver’s fascination with beautiful, handcrafted Japanese objects shows no signs of dissipating with the launch of Out & About, a boutique in Gastown that offers a wonderfully curated selection of ceramics, stationery, candles, and more—the majority of them designed and produced in the Land of the Rising Sun. Alongside the minimalist drip kettles, gorgeous glass jewellery, and recycledcotton socks, you’ll also find stacks of stunning design books and coffeetable tomes, making Out & About one of those one-stop, has-a-little-bit-ofeverything shops in which—despite its modest size—you can expect to spend hours.
BEST REAL SIGN
Having a bad day? Drive down Seymour Street to check out the Penthouse Night Club marquee signage. Displaying topical one-liners, including “Poles more reliable than CNN predictions,” “Rare Pokémon inside,” and, our personal favourite, “Less fake news, more fake boobs,” the sign boasts better jokes than some local standups.
BEST POP-UP BIKE STORE
Taking the plunge on a custom-made bike at a store usually means a waiting period of a week or more. For those
into instant gratification, there’s no better place to find a freshly assembled ride than on Union Street a block west of Main, sometimes under the viaduct and sometimes at the Murrin Substation. Sure, the hours are a bit spotty—there were times this past summer (usually after a police visit) when the on-site technicians would disappear for days. But when things are busy, they are super busy. Work typically starts around 9 a.m., when a ragtag crew starts breaking down what, weirdly looks like perfectly good bikes into random parts. Those parts are then assembled, mix-andmatch-style, into new bikes over the course of the day—unbelievably, in broad daylight. The new rides are quickly spray-painted right before they are ready to roll. That’s either because everyone loves a shiny new bike or so the poor guy who just had his Gestalt X10 boosted from his Yaletown luxury condo bike lockers can’t accurately identify the Frankenstein atrocity of which his prized purchase has just become part. Look for the blue tarps on the side of the street— especially if your bike has just been heisted. And remember to bring cash, because sometimes the last thing you want to do is give a stranger your credit-card number. BEST PLACE TO GET TINNITUS Ever wondered why the downtown core is plagued by ear-busting horns at noon every day? Spoiler: it’s not the cruise ships. The Heritage Horns, as they are known, were designed in 1967 to play the first four notes of the Canadian national anthem every day at 12 p.m. Originally placed on the roof of the B.C. Hydro Building at Burrard and Nelson streets, they were moved in the 1990s. Canada
Place Corporation fixed them up and attached them to the roof of the Pan Pacific Hotel, where they’ve been sounding every day since 1994. The horns are so noisy that the blast travels through downtown and beyond the North Shore—which, to be honest, is probably about as loud as the subwoofer at the back of Celebrities.
Warehouse was abuzz again In SPY BEST early ON back LOCATION with at AC/DC the August, in the Studio town, Bryan rumour FROM Vancouver recording Adams–owned in that WHICH Gastown, AC/DC once TO was where made made the its the past rumour legendary three particularly hard-rock albums. What band juicy was the AC/DC possibility singer that Brian both Johnson longtime and drummer Phil Rudd—who’d both been famously absent during the band’s last tour—were back in the lineup. (Johnson, suffering from hearing problems, had been replaced by Axl Rose, while Rudd had lost his spot behind the drum kit after running afoul of the law back in Australia.) The gossip caught fire when paparazzi-style photos of the ex-members, taken by local shutterbug Glenn Slavens, were published in the Georgia Straight. Lucky for Slavens, his friend Crystal Lambert has an apartment with a bird’seye view of the Warehouse’s outside deck, which is where the AC/DC members were spotted hanging out, smoking cigarettes, and sipping something from white coffee mugs. Rumours of an unexpected new AC/DC album in the works drew headlines worldwide. “Let There Be Rock”, indeed. BEST REASON TO DONATE CLOTHES TO CHARITY
If the idea of helping to save the Earth is too big for you to handle, cutting down on waste is a good place to start. Being mindful about wantonly throwing away clothes is a good example. According to a Metro Vancouver staff report, about 20,000 tons of unwanted clothes end up in dumps in the region each year.
BEST EXAMPLE OF CLASS SEGREGATION
It can be argued that “poor doors” are the perfect example of the divide between the haves and the have-nots. As the term denotes, poor doors are entrances in residential buildings used by people of humbler means. In Vancouver developments, it is common to have separate entrances for social-housing residents and condo owners. City council doesn’t seem to mind at all. For example, on July 31 this year, council approved a 30-storey high-rise project at the southeast corner of Burnaby and Thurlow streets. Condo residents will come in through the lobby on Burnaby Street, and people in social housing will enter through another passage on Thurlow Street. Developer plans have even called for children’s play areas to be segregated.
BEST PLACE TO GO INSIDE THE PARQ CASINO IF YOU DON’T GAMBLE
Parq Vancouver, the glitzy new hotel resort–casino–dining destination hybrid, opened one year ago. Most people visit the entertainment complex in hopes of winning some money; others check in because they are tourists who can afford Vancouver’s expensive lodging rates. But for those who don’t gamble and aren’t interested in upscale comfort food, there’s a charming little spot you can check out. Tucked away in D/6 Bar and Lounge on the sixth floor is a large bookshelf. If you push hard enough, it swings open and leads you into a speakeasy. The hidden space is usually a venue for private bookings, but when it’s not taken, it can be an intriguing place in which to hang out. BEST LOW-RISE TOWER OF BABEL A strata dispute shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of building harmony in multicultural settings. In October this year, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to hear a complaint by a number of current and former owners at a Richmond townhouse complex about the language used to conduct strata-council meetings. The meetings, apparently, are not held in English because it might sound foreign to some people of Chinese heritage. Rather, according to the complaint, strata business is conducted in Mandarin, which some speakers of English and other languages cannot understand.
BEST CULTURAL NAVIGATOR
Who can seamlessly interact with people from a multitude of countries while avoiding the type of faux pas that would trip up the best of us? There are a few candidates, including the mayor’s director of community relations, Naveen Girn, and Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie. But this year, our choice for the city’s best cultural navigator is Winnie Cheung, a former executive director of international services at UBC and a long-time champion of intercultural understanding. The Hong Kong–born Cheung’s mission in recent years has been to bring about a Museum of Migration so that stories and heirlooms of immigration across the Pacific Ocean can be shared with Canadians and tourists alike. Cheung, executive director of the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre–museum of Migration Society, doesn’t seek the limelight. She just gets things done. Pay attention to this initiative. We’re likely to hear a great deal more about it in the years to come.
BEST WAY TO GET THE LED OUT Other than that one time back in 2007 when he took part in a Led Zeppelin reunion as a tribute to legendary record exec Ahmet Ertegun, Robert Plant has always argued against the idea of “getting the band back together”. The singer has scoffed at the idea of touring with surviving bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones— and a replacement for late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, most likely his son, Jason—even though such an undertaking would certainly boost his bank account by several million dollars. But much to the delight of diehard Zep fans everywhere, Plant is not averse to rekindling the spirit of the band while on-stage with his current group, the Sensational Space Shifters. During their thrilling jazz-fest show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last June, Plant peppered the set with half a dozen tunes from his old band’s heyday, and the Zepstarved crowd responded with a whole lotta love.
BEST REASON NOT TO BLAME IT ON THE RIO
It took seven months of hard-core fundraising efforts, but the operators of the Rio Theatre managed to raise the necessary mountain of dough to purchase the $7.9-million property after the East Vancouver site at Broadway and Commercial Drive was put up for sale in January. Thanks to more than 190 community members, a grant from the City of Vancouver, a mortgage from Vancity Credit Union, and celebrity support from the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith, the deal was completed earlier this month. And how did they celebrate? By holding free screenings of The Big Lebowski, of course.
BEST REASON TO BEAT UP VANCOUVER
The first Deadpool spent $40 million on filming in B.C. Deadpool 2 then spent more than $100 million on production here. Besides a ginormous thank-you to Vancouver’s hometown star Ryan Reynolds, need we say anything else?
BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY VENUE
The future of the Hollywood Theatre has been unclear since the art-deco
Kitsilano venue, which opened in
1935, closed in 2011. On July 24, the
City of Vancouver approved plans to redevelop the site as an arts centre.
Thanks to a campaign by the Hollywood Cinema Network, comprised of local film-industry organizations and professionals, documentary screenings will be featured at the venue in addition to live music and arts performances. Happily, the show must go on. BEST LOCAL WAY TO RELIVE THE VIBE OF A LONG-GONE GUITAR HERO
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been slagged many times for refusing to induct certain artists that have had a profound effect on music lovers. For some bizarre reason, the much-ballyhooed institution in Cleveland has continued to overlook such legendary guitar heroes as Link Wray, Johnny Winter, and Rory Gallagher. They’ve all passed away, unfortunately, but in the case of Gallagher, at least, there’s still a way to experience what he was all about in a live setting. The Irish Stratslinger’s former rhythm section of bassist Gerry Mcavoy and drummer Ted Mckenna has hooked up with guitar wizard Davy Knowles to form a group called Band of Friends that performs Gallagher’s rowdy old tunes for the faithful. Lucky for Vancouver’s most devoted Gallagher fanatics, the trio’s itinerary includes a stop at the Fox Cabaret on December 14. Luckily, as well, that’s a Friday night.
BEST NEW THEATRE VENUE Upstairs at the Penthouse Night Club
1019 Seymour Street
It has housed a steak club, a boxing ring, punk-rock concerts, and, of course, strippers; now the storied Penthouse Night Club is about to bring you plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and John Patrick Shanley. Seven Tyrants has launched a full season in a new 45-seat black-box theatre in the storied club’s upstairs. How lofty has the loft become? There will even be a new Shakespeare adaptation by Camyar Chai debuting there next spring. Under the umbrella name of Tyrants Studios, the Seven Tyrants Theatre joins the adjacent lounge stage, which has been hosting comedy nights and concerts since May.
BEST WAY TO GET YOUR HORROR ON THIS HALLOWEEN
If you’re a fan of horror films—especially the stylish, old-school ones from the 1970s—then the Cinematheque is the place to be during the last week of October. The downtown Vancouver movie house is presenting the series “Don’t Lose Your Head!”, which features screenings of three of Italian fearmonger Dario Argento’s finest works. Between October 26 and 31, local fright-flick fanatics can check out restorations of Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975), and Suspiria (1977). On Halloween night, the screening of Suspiria will include a costume party, cash bar, and a specially choreographed, Goblin-scored ballet by Dancinema. As Count Floyd would say “That’s scary stuff, kids!”
FOOD & DRINK
BEST SLICE OF MOROCCO IN VANCOUVER If you go to Paris, Moroccan culture is on display all over the place. Moroccan mint tea with sugar is poured from on high by servers in many neighbourhoods. A bright traditional dress with hood and long sleeves, called a djellaba, isn’t hard to find in stores catering to Moroccan clientele. And the sounds of North African classical music waft through many restaurants. But it was only this year that Vancouverites could experience a true taste of Marrakesh in an upscale eatery catering to those with a love of tagines served piping hot under the cone-shaped Moroccan earthenware of the same name. Mimo Bucko’s Moltaqa (51 West Hastings Street) is unlike anything else in the city’s dining scene. And, yes, his servers will pour sweetened Moroccan tea from on high without splashing a drop, just like they do in Paris.
BEST PLACE TO SEE PICASSO
The 75-seat Bodega on Main is like taking a trip to Spain. The walls are festooned with photos celebrating life in the country that Spaniards sometimes refer to as La Piel de Toro. But what stands out for anyone glancing up at the south wall are the eyes of Picasso—intense and filled with intelligence. He’s still the most famous person from Málaga. Oh, and if you want to see some of his art, head off to Oakridge Centre’s West Gallery, where it’s on display alongside the work of Salvador Dalí until October 14.
BEST REASON FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS TO JUMP FOR JOY
2145–12191 Hammersmith Way, Richmond
Local chocolate makers Dominique and Cindy Duby are among the best chocolate makers in the world. Most chocolate shops are “melters”, meaning they purchase their key ingredient from global industrial manufacturers. The Dubys, pioneers in the molecular-gastronomy movement, call their process “bean to bar”: they make their own chocolate right onsite, using cocoa beans they source from direct-trade farms all over the world, including Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Madagascar. In fact, Wild Sweets is the only science-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Canada. The company collaborates with UBC in research into the intensive procedure. You can visit their factory to watch or even book a session
at its lab for a better understanding of where chocolate comes from and what goes into creating the world’s most popular treat.
BEST SIGN THAT VANCOUVER HAS ITS EATING-AND-DRINKING PRIORITIES IN ORDER
When the City of Vancouver announced earlier this year that a plastic-straw ban would go into effect in 2019, many environmentally minded locals rejoiced. But then came the questions: what will this mean for people with disabilities who rely on such tools to eat and drink? And how will we consume our bubble tea—the beloved Taiwanese beverage that, thanks to the inclusion of tasty toppings like tapioca balls, grass jelly, and pudding, often requires the use of an oversized straw? The city has yet to offer answers to either inquiry, though it’s nice to see that Vancouverites have their priorities in order. Now does anyone know where one can go to buy a stainless-steel straw?
BEST NEW PNE FOOD
For the first time, the 2018 fair featured a Granny Smith apple smothered in thick caramel sauce then dipped in whole, dried crickets. The Sweet Mind Candy Co. crew got the idea after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to the preceding season’s cricket burger at Gourmet Burger. The crunchy candy apples will be back next year.
BEST NEW VEGETARIAN TREAT INSPIRED BY THE PNE
Veggie corn dog
Colony Northwoods (2100 Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver)
Why should carnivores get all the deepfried fun? The newly opened Colony Northwoods bar has launched a veggie corn dog, battered in-house and served with ketchup and mustard. BEST THING TO EAT IF YOU’RE NOT ON A GLUTEN-FREE DIET
No disrespect to those who have to (or choose to) maintain a gluten-free diet, but this is what you’re missing out on: Lee’s Donuts. Specifically, the honey-dip doughnut from the venerable Granville Island Market vendor. It’s like a slice of heaven when you get your hands on one of these freshly made treats, identified by its warm and flakey exterior, with a cloudlike interior. They’re so sweet and delicious, you can’t really blame non–gluten-free folks for raving about these deep-fried goodies.
MOST WELCOME REBOOT OF A WEST END HANGOUT
With all the neighbourhood-favourite eateries shutting down due to redevelopment, it’s always heartening to hear that an establishment is finding ways to reinvent itself and continue on, even if in slightly different
forms. One of the most encouraging was in the West End when the uncertain future of Hamburger Mary’s
Diner finally found footing and it was reborn as Mary’s on Davie. It revitalized the Mary ol’ social heart of the Davie Village, aside the Jim Deva
Plaza and the rainbow crosswalks.
With new ownership, a revamped menu of burgers and milkshakes, and fresh pink-and-turquoise décor, the party is back in full swing to keep the LGBT community spirit going strong. Because, after all, isn’t everyone a little Mary? BEST REMINDER THAT METRO VANCOUVER HAS SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST CHINESE FOOD Repeatedly, international critics and diners have praised Metro Vancouver for the quality and diversity of our Chinese culinary establishments. The latest example came on June 4 when the New York Times ran an article by writer Taras Grescoe entitled “The Best Asian Food in North America? Try British Columbia”. Grescoe mostly explored the world of Chinese cuisine on offer, primarily focused on Richmond. Now excuse us as we run out to grab a bite of har gow and siu mai. BEST FILIPINO DINING TREND THAT’S CATCHING ON WITH THE MAINSTREAM Nobody needs serving dishes, cutlery, or plates when they go to a boodle fight. Legend has it that Philippine soldiers began the practice of dining communally with all the food spread on a layer of banana leaves. When they said “dig in” they meant it literally—with their hands. Now, boodle fights are a staple in several Lower Mainland restaurants and they’re becoming increasingly popular with people who don’t trace their
There was a new voice in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia last March. A very new voice, in fact. One that only managed a few squeaks and gibberish but which was still heard. It belonged to Dev Juno Chandra Herbert, who was only 13 months old when he took a seat in the legislature. Baby Dev was in Victoria with his father, Spencer Chandra Herbert, who is the NDP MLA representing Vancouver–west End. Chandra Herbert brought his son to work to illustrate a change in chamber rules that now allows MLAS to sit with children two years old and younger. “MLAS voted to change the rules to make the Legislature more friendly for MLAS with babies today,” Chandra Herbert wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of Dev looking slightly confused by the whole affair. “Infants under two in the care of their parent are now welcome on the floor and committee rooms of the legislature.”