Advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver's public spaces

By vancouverpublicspace

December 2, 2011 at 12:12 AM

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VPSN Public Space News & Events – December 2, 2011

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Bursts of light eminate from the trees on Beach Avenue.

Month 12 of 12 has arrived, December is here! The days are shorter, but the streets are beginning to feel a bit brighter. The lights adorning the trees at Beach and Bidwell have been switched on, and there is less Movember and more anticipatory liveliness on people’s faces.

This year has been a big one for public space issues in Vancouver and around the world. Between now and the end of the month, we’ll be rolling out a series of posts and articles that review the happenings of 2011 and look ahead to 2012 and beyond.

In the meantime here’s a snap-shot of some current items and editorial stuff that we hope will be of interest….

  • VPSN Winter Gathering – Saturday, December 10 @ 8pm
  • Advancing the public space agenda at City Hall. The next three years.
  • Ask Gregor – Spacing Magazine
  • Urban Screens and CityBuilding- A public talk with Mirjam Struppek – December 2, 7pm at SFU Surrey. 
    Winter Wander: theVanierPark cultural hub – Saturday December 3
  • Lessons in Urban Wayfinding – Thursday December 15, 2011
  • GenWhy. Worklife. Help needed.
  • Vancouver’s polar bears, Fraser salmon feature in new public art
  • Funding – City of Surrey– small grant program


VPSN Winter Gathering – Saturday, December 10 @ 8pm

Bon fete! Join us for some end-of-year fun in the upstairs lounge of the W2 café (inside the Woodward’s atrium). There will be a jolly assembly of all the things you love most in life: food, drink, music, dancing, games, friends, quirky urbanists… and perhaps even a public space intervention or two, if the weather permits.

Details on the event can be found on Facebook and our blog. Colleagues, loved ones and neighbours welcome. The event is free, but for the sake of party planning please RSVP so we can get a sense of numbers. Looking forward to seeing you there!

:: Tell us you wouldn’t miss it for the world – events [at]
:: Facebook Event Page
:: VPSN Blog Winter Party Blog Post (additional details, etc.)

Advancing the public space agenda at City Hall. The next three years. 

As many of you know, the VPSN was paying close attention to the recent municipal election. In addition to maintaining our popular election blog, we also staged the second edition of Last Candidate Standing, our election debate mixer. This year’s event saw 30 mayoral and council candidates face-off in a rollicking, high-stakes event.

We wanted to say a BIG public thank you to ALL the candidates who ran. Regardless of one’s political orientation, signing up to put your name on the ballot takes a lot of guts and a lot of commitment. We’re grateful that there so many people (61 in for Mayor and Council alone) who were willing to consider representing Vancouverites at City Hall.

Now that the new Council, Park and School Board are being formed, we wanted to make an affirmation of our own. The VPSN will continue to work hard in advocating on behalf of a wide range of public space issues with all elected officials. We are, and always have been, non-partisan… and we use our position to champion the tenets of good urbanism with all parties and all politicians.

The next three years promise to be interesting ones for people interested in the city’s public realm. The Vision Vancouver platform gives a sense of the direction to come. In addition to the majority-elect’s commitment to improved and expanded pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, enriched greenspace, an expansion of street food, and more, we note one promissory item that will be of interest to many of you:

Create a new public square downtown. Building on the lessons of the 2010 Olympic Games, and the City’s ongoing consultations on the City’s Transportation 2040 plan, we will work to create a new public square in the downtown.

:: Read the Vision Vancouver platform (pdf)

Ask Gregor – Spacing Magazine

Our friends at Spacing Vancouver will be holding an in-depth Q & A session with Mayor Gregor Robertson that will be published in the magazine’s second National Edition.

They’re looking to make the process an inclusive one and are giving readers the opportunity to add to the list of questions and issues that they’ll be raising with the Mayor. Here’s your chance to pose a query via the Spacing team. Bike lanes? Laneway housing? Public realm? Future visions for the city? Send’em their way. (A disclaimer though: they won’t be able to ask every question directly and plan on teasing out common themes wherever possible). 

:: Submit your question by Monday, December 5 – Erick [at]

Urban Screens and City Building – A public talk with Mirjam Struppek – December 2, 7pm at SFU Surrey.

With any luck the Province of BC will send representatives to this event. Their recent foray into video screens –four of them ring the newly reopened stadium – could use a serious re-think.

Screen installations, public projections, interactive facades and shop windows or networked communication-sculptures have emerged as a recent art form in the urban public space. They are a venue for creating new visual experiences and engaging cultures, as much as they might further the agendas of consumer culture.

But how do urban screens positively engage audiences and contribute to the experience of a civil society? What do they actually contribute to the character of their urban surroundings, and what is their potential for interaction and creating personal or shared experiences? This presentation will look at crucial issues such as rethinking content, ownership, infrastructure and the careful integration in the urban environment.

Note: This talk will be is preceded by the opening reception for Electric Speed (, a new work for the Surrey Urban Screen, taking place at the Churck Bailey Recreation Centre at 13458 – 107 A Avenue, (next to the Gateway Skytrain).

Winter Wander: the Vanier Park cultural hub – Saturday December 3

Vanier Park is a cultural hub that manyVancouver residents know little about, and on Saturday, December 3 the six cultural institutions that call Kitsilano’s biggest park home will be celebrating this hidden treasure with a significantly reduced rate for visitors.

Vanier Park is home to the Maritime Museum, the Museum of Vancouver, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Bard on the Beach, Vancouver Academy of Music, and the City of Vancouver Archives– offering visitors a fascinating range of cultural experiences within easy walking distance of each other.

The Winter Wander in Vanier Park is a one day event in which Vancouverites and their families can enjoy a taste of what all Vanier Park’s cultural institutions have to offer for one rate that includes all venues (Note Bard on the Beach will be located at the MOV, as the tents are currently down). Adult admission will be just $5 to visit all locations, and children 16 and under will visit for free. Venues open at 10am and close at 5pm.

:: More info – Museum ofVancouver website

Lessons in Urban Wayfinding – Thursday December 15, 2011

As cities become denser and more complex, there is a growing need for cities to be livable, accessible, efficient and optimized to reduce carbon. Benchmark projects like “Legible London” have demonstrated how wayfinding design can effectively contribute to these goals through multidisciplinary collaboration and innovative partnerships.

Learn how a holistic approach to identity, brand and wayfinding can contribute to a cities’ competitive edge. Project innovations will include dynamic technologies, landscape, gateways, public art and placemaking. The lecture will also include how interior designers, architects, landscape architects, and exhibition designers can also engage in the urban realm.

11:30am to 2:00pm (Lunch is included). The Ironworks Studios,235 Alexander Street,Vancouver. SEGD Members: $20, SEGD Non-Members: $25, Students: $10.

:: More Information –

GenWhy. Worklife. Help needed.

Our friends at GenWhy Media are always coming up with cool projects. They say their focus is on youth engagement, but frankly their work does a great job of engaging just about everyone who sees it. Nice work for this local crew! 

Anyway, the GenWhy team is currently looking for a few volunteers to help develop a participatory public art project that will re-imagine the relationship between work and life. It’ll be part of the upcoming XYBOOM conference on youth unemployment. Riffing off of the work of artist/urban planner Candy Chang, the idea is to crowd-source aspirations on work/life balance through a free-standing text-based scupture that spell the phase “worklife”. That’s where you come in. 

:: To lend a hand – info [at]

Vancouver’s polar bears, Fraser salmon feature in new public art

Closer to home, two new public art installations are rolling out at various locations throughout the city. 

Polar Bear: Native to Vancouver by Tony Pantages launches December 5 on Canada Line video screens

Polar Bear: Native toVancouverby Tony Pantages launches December 5 and runs to December 18 on the Canada Line video screens. The piece is a tribute to the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim inVancouver. Started by Peter Pantages in 1920 with ten members, this is the oldest and largest Polar Bear Swim and is the genesis of the worldwide Polar Bear Swim movement. Tony Pantages, a third-generation Vancouverite and a filmmaker, attaches a personal history to this public tradition. For half a century his grandfather, Peter, took his daily dip in English Bay 365 days a year through sun, rain, snow, sleet and hail. Polar Bear: Native toVancouverpays homage to his grandfather Peter, father Tony Sr., and uncle Basil, who all appear in this 10-second film.

Polar Bear: Native toVancouverlaunches December 5 on the Canada Line subway video screens and on & 

New public artwork animates Knight Street corridor. (Community launch, December 3 @ 10:00am)

A 43-metre-long steel sculpture has joinedVancouver’s streetscape atKnight Streetand33rd Avenueas the newest addition to the City’s public art collection.

Abundance Fenced by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas features a playful adaptation of contemporary Haida design and runs along the top of a concrete retaining wall besideKensingtonPark, serving as a decorative railing beside the pedestrian path. The piece was inspired by the plentiful 2010FraserRiversalmon run and Yahgulanaas sees the artwork as a tribute to the exceptional return and celebration of the resilience of the species. Yahgulanaas created the work in the Haida Manga style he developed which is a fusion of Northwest Coast First Nations design elements and Japanese graphic animation.

A community celebration of the work will be held on Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m. in the Kensington Community Centre, Seniors’ Lounge,5175 Dumfries Street.

:: More info – Chisaki Muraki-Valdovinos, City of Vancouver- chisaki.muraki-valdovinos [at]

Funding – City of Surrey – small grant program

Back to Surreyagain. The City has developed a small grant program which offers up to $3,000 to support planning, organizing and implementing projects that physically improve the appearance and engage residents with public spaces. Cool stuff – and not dissimilar to the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Matching Fund Program, applicants match volunteer time (to implement the project) with city grant money. The money is then used to cover the hard costs associated with the project (supplies, materials, even food etc.). 

 :: More info – Patrick Klassen, Parks Planning, Research & Design, pklassen [at]


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