Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for January 19th, 2008

The history of plans

with 7 comments

Back on topic – John Mackie provides a quick summary of earlier Vancouver transportation plans that were never built

What I think is interesting is his commentary – for example

Looking back from 2007, the big ditch looks completely ludicrous — the plan would have obliterated much of the West End and paved over what is now some of the most desirable and high-priced real estate in Canada.

I can only hope that in forty years time one of his successors will write something similar about the ludicrous plan to build a second Part Mann Bridge and more tubes at the Massey Tunnel just as the world was switching away from cars and gasoline to more sustainable alternatives. How at the last minute some of the most valuable farm land in Canada was rescued from being covered in subdivisions and feeds thousands every day with vegetables that used to be imported from the deserts of California.

My esteem of Dave Barret has gone up too. I did not know he bought a European streetcar. Does anyone know where it is now – and can we have it back again please? Or at least a picture of it for my collection.

My friend one42chrisp of Edmonton has a shot of the tram on his flickr page

Written by Stephen Rees

January 19, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Pete McMartin acts badly

leave a comment »

Today, I was going to do a column on either (a) the travesty that is our immigration system or, (b) the travesty that is our transportation system,

but fortunately he didn’t do either. You can read the rest here.

It always seemed to me – before I came to Canada, that is – that the whole purpose of the office Christmas party was to provide gossip that would last at least until the next one. Certainly that was the case in the last years of County Hall (1974-1984). I did not realize that Canada used to be like that too. Or at least Vancouver Sun office parties. What I had ascribed to the Canadian traditions of joyless Scots presbyterianism turns out be the results of the PC brigade.

I could tell you stories. The Very Senior Planner who was sick in his in-basket. The fumblings in the more distant stacks of the Research Library. The scandals that in rare cases made the pages on the Evening Standard, probably, I suspect, due to a mole in the Women’s Committee. And not only at Christmas. The Head of Statistics used to hold Norway Day parties – with plentiful supplies of aquavit – that are now a distant and merciful blur. I know I have been much more abstemious since. The staff of the Southern Railway at Waterloo Station certainly treated me more warily for some time after the last one. I have no idea why.

The reason for all this of course is that Christmas is actually a late bolt on to a much older and more raucous celebration of midwinter – “Saturnalia” in ancient Rome – Yule in Anglo-Saxon and so on. Indeed even Scots let their hair down on Hogmanay.

Your stories of office parties to dispel the midwinter gloom are invited.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 19, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Posted in off topic