Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours: A Multimedia Initiative about Temporary Foreign Workers in Vancouver

Thanks to Callista Haggis for this great introduction to the short documentary Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours, which examines the conditions and socio-economic impacts of temporary foreign workers in Vancouver, Canada. At the bottom of this post is a link to view the entire film!

In April 2011 The Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration launched a multimedia initiative to incite discussion and awareness about the socio-economic impacts of Temporary Foreign Workers in Vancouver, Canada.

The 20 minute documentary, Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours (FWLN), was one project component. It was born from a small project team (Devon Wong, Krystle Alarcon and myself), with critical input from temporary foreign worker community representatives, academic researchers, advocates and residents.

FWLN’s premier screening was at a public forum on May 28, 2011. … Continue Reading

Once in a Lifetime

Thanks to Moster Pete on Flickr for this great Creative Commons image of his friend's Jimmy the Cornman tattoo, which gets him one free meal per day for the rest of his life at Casa Sanchez restaurant in San Francisco (or until they go out of business!)

 For the price of a Jimmy the Cornman tattoo, a lifetime of burritos was a bargain for some Casa Sanchez customers. 

Tranvia de Murcia is offering a similar deal: trade in your car for a lifetime transit pass. The campaign is intended to spark use of the new trolley system and reduce driving in the city of Murcia, Spain. The charming promotional videos highlight the frustrations of driving downtown. 

Casa … Continue Reading

All Eyes

Designing for safety often relies on “eyes on the street“. After recent moves from Vancouver to Whitehorse to Toronto, I have been considering how living in a much bigger city affects my safety.

Rioters and vandals in Vancouver's Stanley Cup riots earlier this month have since found themselves tagged and identified using social media. Thanks to Dustan Sept on Flickr for this evocative Creative Commons photo.

The assumption that urban anonymity leads to more crime is likely true. It makes sense that safety in smaller places is due to tighter networks and the increased likelihood of being caught or ostracized due to actions.

Fortunately, the digital shrinking of the world is mimicking the surveillance of a small town. Paired … Continue Reading

5 Takes on Sustainable Local Economies

A significant component of sustainability is  developing and fostering strong local economies. Why? Well, people often conceptualize regional economies using economic base theory, of which one part is the idea of leakage. Basically, when people who live in a community spend money outside of their community or spend money with a business that takes money outside of their community, money “leaks” out of the area. Large retail chains and businesses owned by multi-national firms have high rates of leakage for local economies. Leakage also happens when people travel to another community and spend money there (i.e. tourism, but this helps bring in capital to the tourist destination). So, encouraging locally-owned businesses helps to stem leakage, keeps locally-earned dollars circulating within a community, and generally promotes prosperity and job-creation in the region. This is what makes it literally sustainable.

So what … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 4 – Changing Expectations

This is the final installment in a four-part series about the demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools. Here are links to parts one, two and three.

North Americans are culturally attached to the single-family house, especially for families with children. Thanks to Barrie Sutcliffe for this great photos of houses on the outskirts of Edmonton, Alberta.

In many core cities, insufficient affordable and suitable housing for families provides a push for young families to leave urban neighbourhoods for the suburbs.

The pull of suburban environments is the other side of the coin. 55% of Canadians live in a house, and many believe that young children have the best outcomes in a single-family house with a private yard. Cultural attachment to … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 3 of 4 – Intergenerational Neighbourhoods and Housing Diversity

105-year-old Sir William MacDonald Elementary School was one of 11 Vancouver schools threatened with closure in 2010. Thanks to Sqeaky Marmot on Flickr for this great Creative Commons photo.

Wrestling with the conundrum of why growing cities like Vancouver face declining public school enrolments, the first two posts in this series suggest links between municipal and regional populations of school-aged children and the affordability and suitability of family housing. Today’s post explores the value of intergenerational communities in both urban and suburban contexts, and considers how housing diversity may influence demographics at the neighbourhood scale.

Urban Context
Researching the dispersal of children across local neighbourhoods, the Curious Dad newspaper column found that Vancouver’s east-side communities house the most young children, while … Continue Reading

Pedestrian (and stroller) priority in Vancouver

Tim Barton is a transport planner, photographer, and dad in Vancouver, Canada. This informative reflection on stroller-friendly sidewalks was first published on his planning and photography blog Planning Picture here.

Thanks to Jennifer Rogers on Flickr for this amazing Creative Commons photo of her mother in a stroller, in 1949.

Being forced to push your baby out into traffic… feeling like the sidewalk has taken over control of your stroller and is determined to introduce your baby to the fast moving travel lane… having the impression I’m crossing a road when in fact its a lane way.

My wife and I have experienced all this and more in the past year or so as we adapt to life with a baby. We live in downtown Vancouver … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis: Part 2 – Family Housing

This is the second post in a series exploring demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools in the City of Vancouver and its suburbs.

Last week’s post showed that, though the proportion of Metro Vancouver’s population made up of school-aged children is declining, that decline is occurring more rapidly in the central City of Vancouver. More suburban in character, the City of Surrey (pop 400,000)  is home to the only public school district in British Columbia where enrolment is actually increasing.

Canada-wide statistics show that these trends are not unique to Metro Vancouver. One analysis of 2006 Canadian census data showed that “27% of first-time parents made the move out the city and very few moved in.” A Statistics Canada report suggests that “one of the explanations for … Continue Reading

School Troubles in a Booming Metropolis – Part 1

This is the first post in a series exploring demographic, housing and land use contexts of troubled public schools in the City of Vancouver and its suburbs.

Kids attending public schools in Vancouver, Canada are back in class today after an extended two-week spring break. In previous years, spring break was just one week long, but school districts around BC are experimenting with their instructional calendars in desparate attempts to save money on heating, school buses and wages.

Edith Cavell Elementary School in Vancouver sat empty for two weeks this year during an extended spring break. Creative Commons photo by author.

Recent years have not been easy for public schools in Vancouver. A local newspaper identified threatened school closures as one of the top news stories … Continue Reading

PICS Lecture – Climate Change and Health Impacts

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions hosts free monthly lectures from many academic disciplines that focus on climate change. This lecture by Michael Bower from UBC and Tim Takaro from SFU focuses on the intersection of climate change and health impacts.

The World Health Organization estimates that climate change causes 150,000 deaths a year (2000). The health impacts of climate change are direct and indirect. Direct impacts include temperatures, and indirect ones include asthma, infectious diseases, malnutrition, mental health, etc.

Climate change impacts in Canada include extreme weather, air quality, the spread of infectious diseases, and increased population from migration, drought, and sea level rise. Canada will also see an uneven distribution of impacts, with some areas being less able to adapt, like rural areas ability to adapt. Luckily we have good infrastructure and public health systems so we will see … Continue Reading

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