Sunday, 21 October 2018

Election Results

Well, I wish it were over but it seems NPA leader Ken Sim will contest the result due to a narrow margin.

So how did it go?

Yes, Vancouver 1st, and the Coalition evaporated, thank god, so the remaining boogy-man for me is NPA.  They don't represent my interests typically, and the secured half of the council and some of the specific councilors are not the co-operative ones.. I truly hope Ken Sim (though I like him as a person) does not succeed in his recount attempts.

As I go through this process I find I'm less concerned with my bias against NPA on the school and parks board, but somewhat concerned about the council.


Kennedy Stewart was my #2 choice and I am disappointed Shauna Sylvester didn't win, and that she can't just be a councilor as a consolation.  I think we needed her.  If a recount means Sim wins things will be very, very, different,.. not only would NPA have 1/2 the council, the tie breaker vote too.  I will feel partially responsible because I do think the vote was split and I convinced several people I know to go with Sylvester.

A big thanks to Hector Bremner for splitting the right! (scary that Young beat him though..).  The Nazi beat rollergirl...also scary (and there are people below both of them?!)


Scary shit.  Aside form the 5 NPA folks, all of the other 5 were part of my slate.

Let's first look at my slate that didn't make it: 

Tanya Paz - Vision curse for sure, but also maybe her personality.  She 100% should be my top person given her stance on sustainable and logical transportation but I never felt moved by her as much as the data she presented and my alignment with it.

Heather Deal - I liked her for all the good things Vision did. With that party snuffed I think some momentum in key areas will be lost. I'm disappointed.

Blythe, Yan, O'keefe - These people deserved a shot. All of them were champions for average citizens (even more on the marginalized, mid-low income of us), imagine them in stead of 3 of these NPAs.

Elected, but I wish wasn't and not by my vote!:

Because they are so close to a majority, I just wish I knew how much guidance NPA council members get from NPA HQ (if there is such a thing), or if the good ones will just be free to vote with their hearts.  From their history, the term "Non-Partisan" is not accurate, but there weren't enough of them to really say for sure how that would work on a larger scale.  We do know that none of the NPAs responded to HUB's cycle infrastructure questions (At least Wei Young is honest), so I can't help but think that they were ordered not to do so and it shows they don't have the guts to stand behind what they think, or contradict their party if it means votes.

Melissa De Genova - like a bad rash, she just won't go away. Anti-bike lane, anti-cooperation, anti- reason.  Trump with an even faker smile. I think I've said enough about her.

Colleen Hardwick - it is not fair to judge someone on their inability to smile like us mammals, but there, I did it (she should work on that, it is hard to trust her!).  In all seriousness, I appreciate her roots in Vancouver and backing of heritage initiatives.  What little I know makes me a bit worried she may be more of an accountant and less city planner but I did see her try to revive talk about the LRT style transit option on North side of False Creek which I support.  I'm leaning towards thinking she is only neutral level on the NPA "bad stuff" .

Lisa Dominato - I feel she is one of the good eggs that lost her way and joined the wrong party.  If not for her NPA ties, I'd have considered voting for her from what little I know.

Rebecca Bligh - In many ways her bio and experience is less righty than I might think but I feel her work experience in general do not compare to the resumes of many that ran so wonder if she would have won as an independent.  She seems pleasant enough but when I see a candidate with a very thin platform AND resume.. I think they are just pale comparisons to the Jean Swansons etc. of the world.

Sarah Kirby-Yung - My first exposure to her was a post of a purposely unflattering picture of Shauna Sylvester. This is the stuff I feel is more prevalent on the right than left (of course I do this stuff,.. but I'm not running..). Nothing on paper is a red flag but I have never had a good vibe about her when seeing her speak.  Her resume and experience with tourism are assets though.

I aim to keep an open mind and hope these people are reasonable despite what I cannot understand,.. why they can associate with some of the people in their party and even their history.

Park Board:

5 of the 7 elected here were part of my slate.  Clearly noone took Mathew Kagis of the Work Less Party seriously (I wondered if his association with that party might burn him).  Similarly, the Vision brand probably hurt Cameron Zubko.

The 2 other seats went to NPA people and this was one area where I felt NPA wasn't so plainly right-wing but with these specific candidates was that the case?  Of note, the last board had 3 NPA people so it seems they may have lost ground here.

Tricia Barker - I like what I see about her generally.  She is focused on being a voice for seniors and we need that, plus she has a non-psychopath smile unlike some of the other people in her party. In her social media she did post a sunset picture with a Mobi bikeshare bike in the background so hopefully that means something. Like all NPA candidates, she refused to even reply to the questions posed by the cycling coalition (which concerns me).  Otherwise, no red flags.

John Coupar - This guy has experience on the board which I like.  Parks commission minutes show that he seems to play nice with others and his #1 area of focus in his campaign was "horticultural excellence". Coupar was the one that drove a revitalization initiative for the Bloedel Conservatory and his social media feed indicates a number of things he supports that I also feel strongly about: public pools, historic buildings, honouring the original names of Vancouver places, and even ensuring continuity of nostalgic institutions like the Kits showboat.  The only knocks against him I can find are no stance on bikes, and the party he joined.

School Board:

First thought: I'm disappointed Carrie Bercic didn't get in.  4 of the 7 people I picked (I had 2 undecided) got in and from a party perspective I probably cannot complain about most of the rest... but I could be happier with the individuals from those parties.  One other comment, at least the school board doesn't look like a random sampling of Scandanvian citizens,.. (like the all white council!)

Green - 3
NPA - 3
COPE - 1
Vision - 1
OneCity - 1

My few comments here.

Allan Wong - Despite his past importance here, squeaked in by a super slim margin (and I"m glad)/ Time to go independent Allan, your low score here can only be explained by the your toxic party brand.  Erin Arnold was not so lucky which is too bad.

The Greens - I'm glad Gonzalez got in, but I feel there are stronger candidates than Chan-Pedley in several parties.  Clearly the voters really like Janet Fraser,

Jennifer Reddy - I voted a OneCity slate because they oppose private schools getting public money (amongst other things). She is great, but I wish her teammates had made it.

Barb Parrott - I just discovered now that she is undegoing cancer treatment, I wish her the best of luck.  This woman is the Jean Swanson of the school board regarding poverty and for that I'm glad she is there to champion that.  Her biography shows what a powerhouse she is in that arena.  I remember now why it was so important to vote for her.

The NPAs - 1/3 of the school board (but thankfully no Coalition folks n the further right), and none of these people were supported by any teacher based slate that I saw. I don't know, but when I need a knee replaced, I talk to a surgeon,.. for me same goes for teachers...they work with kids and aren't some parent with too much time on their hands.  That said,.. these are not those people and I kind of wonder if they might balance out the fiscal responsibility of the board.  All of them prioritize inclusion (first nations and SOGI for example), and none of them in their public platform, push the "more options" mantra which means all of us funding private schools for the already rich. Lets look at the individuals.

  • Oliver Hansen - Lawyer, businessman, parent. Social media shows he really is about art and inclusion.. (just pick a better party buddy)
  • Carmen Cho - nothing to wrote home about, and no social media presence at all,.. she's a ghost. I struggle understanding how she got in except maybe her party brand and the other 2 NPA non-elected just seemed less to people's liking. On paper, there were way better choices than her outside of NPA in any direction. 
  • Fraser Ballantyne - Was the chair of the board and has many years in this sector,.. many.  I have a nagging memory of hearing something negative about this guy but I can't find any red flags.  His wife was a music teacher which wins him points for me.

We'll see, if they all play nice, this could be a really nicely mixed board.  I actually am starting to think I like the NPA is this area for their frequent mentions of funding allocation and governance.

Sunday, 14 October 2018



This year, and maybe because you can't help but become more politically aware in a time when the American empire seems to be crumbling,.. we decided to do more to educate ourselves about the candidates in this year's municipal election.
I want to share it in case you also are confused and a summary gives you more hints than wading through hundreds of articles and city council meetings.  Know this, I am no expert, and I cherry pick what I like.  In the past I tended to vote along party lines and focused on a few issues that are important to me but this year I've done more research and generally have more exposure to city workings through my job and my network than ever before.

Who am I politically? Before you bother to put any weight into my words, you should know where I stand generally (or what areas I tend to be more up on).. I've found that people I seem to get along with often surprise me with their political leaning,.. you might feel the same about me.
  1. I lean left - pretty far left. I'm prepared to pay more taxes to get the things I want implemented at the city level.  I simply can't ignore that the pockets of the world that are more socialist have more of the stuff I like (Holland, Finland, even Portland!).  
  2. I believe in evidence based research. I have a social sciences education background: critical thinking, statistics, etc. and I think systemically.  I cannot stand isolated anecdotal claims that people use to justify a case for a policy opinion or people think that systemic changes happen overnight especially when a cultural shift is required.  I respect academics, their methodology, and their potential contribution to policy..
  3. I love the science around city planning and how it impacts happiness and city health. I understand operations based concepts and have a mid level understanding of when tough choices are made for the good of a bigger system.
  4. I respect the history of my city. I am sad when businesses I care about close and their buildings torn down.  On some level, I don't like change (but most specifically in that area).
  5. I am not as unhappy with the current city council as most people seem to be.  I think most people have not done enough homework. I've read a little bit about how council issues were voted upon, I don't think most people have.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy with much of what is going on in the city, but people are placing blame often in places where the control does not exist.  I also have observed the different parties on council vote more similarly than one might think but Vision gets 100% of the blame for the controversial ones.
  6. I'm not a fan of the impact of cars on cities and communities but I drive one, and I'm not really an environmentalist,.. I just dislike noise, congestion and things that isolate people especially when totally unneeded and far less efficient.  I believe in sustainable and active transportation as a solution to city congestion where the geography is challenging AND I work in that industry and study that topic locally and globally (especially cycling). Bike paths and Translink projects weigh heavily in my voting choices but more than I'd like. I think they are actually way overemphasized on a city budget level as a divisive tactic by populist politicians (and sometimes the media) to distract from bigger issues. To me the data is clear on these topics I've managed to dive deeply on. To me, the ignorance around the potential benefits of transit and active transportation infrastructure is verging on anti-vax and climate change denial.  The real big ticket items really are housing and the decimation of our communities along with the opioid crisis.
Based on that, how to pick candidates to vote for?

Although I'm a data thinker, I'll admit right up front, a good portion of this is going to be emotional.  If, for example, for years I've witnessed first hand, and heard 3rd hand, NPA councilor Melissa De Genova outright lie, distort, manipulate, and belittle others,.. I have a hard time looking past that and she also taints her own party (for me). That is not fully rational, but it is how I will act.  
What I'm going to do is create a chart of traits/skills I want in a mayor and compare the known "realistic" candidates against that.  I will put weight on:
  • Academic credentials in one of these areas: public policy, city planning, sociology (or similar)
  • Business experience (any size): I think that is valuable
  • Not a total ass hat - yup,.. I need that (by that I mean, likable, honest, and not a self-serving narcissist)
  • A proven history of leading groups and bridging the divide between mixed viewpoints
  • Federal and/or Provincial level government connections or experience - HUGE (I'll elaborate more on that below).
  • Past city council or similar experience - Also huge. Don't learn how this works on my dime!  
(I'm not going to rate them, just put a yes, no, not sure/medium). 

Most of the "problems" people criticize about the current city council are largely not solvable just on a  local level.  Homelessness for example has much to do with our climate in relation to the rest of the country,.. Vision made stupid claims about solving it but no city can solve that without Provincial or Federal help on a large scale so I'm looking for candidates that do more than run a local business,.. I want to see experience working with all levels of government. Similarly the related housing crisis is a global economy issue,.. I suspect the city has very few levers to pull to make in dent in that on their own,.. I'll be looking for oversimplified, uneducated claims to "fix" those (and critical of them).

I likely will focus mostly on the mayor candidates and then look at the councillors that stand out only (below).


Subject matter expertise: planning. public policyBusiness experienceNot an ass-hatFed/Prov level govt. connections/experiencePast Council experience (or similar)
SylvesterYesnot sure/mediumYesnot sure/mediumYes
YoungNonot sure/mediumNoYesYes
Harding NoYesnot sure/mediumNoNo
StewartYesnot sure/mediumYesYesYes

Some quick further colour commentary on the candidates for mayor.

Ken Sim: I struggle with NPA's past but feel he seems like a nice guy. I also get the feeling like he is a responsible business owner. The city has a big budget to run, so his business experience should not be ignored though I think it is small potatoes by comparison.  A few interviews I've seen and read of his make me feel NPA is avoiding communicating any meaningful plans and that he also is just not the right person for the job in general due to political inexperience. In debates, he does not seem to shine against the other candidates.  I feel like he isn't NPA's leader, but their puppet and often thrust in front of the camera,.. not really prepared to defend policy. Although I'm told by friends more knowledgable than me on the topic that many great infrastructure things have been built under NPA times, they usually were driven and proposed by non-NPA council members, but that still does speak their past ability to co-operate.  Of note, Sim was game to join Stephen Quinn on the "election cycle" piece, but unlike Sylvester and Stewart that rode commuters,.. he rode a cruiser (I'm just not sure what to make of that! Maybe he sees bikes as less a form of transportation and more like a toy? I think I'm ok with that.). Lastly, I find it hard to look past some of the people NPA allows to wear their name: eg. De Genova.  If Sim were to scour his party of people like her,.. I'd be more likely to vote for him.

Shauna Sylvester:  I doubt she is the strategic vote but going through this process, she feels most like my choice.  She has it all and on top of that, people I trust have seen her handle opposing crowds (Young's supporters) handily.  I do fear the vote split... I wish she didn't have to forego running as a councilor to attempt the mayor run. She is a proven relationship builder (said over and over again by people exposed to her on various councils), and has credentials specifically in the areas that will be needed to solve some of these tough issues.  I feel her focus on co-ops as a partial housing crisis solution is something I like,... but sounds thin as a "bold policy" and fear that her real life experience in this area led her to a "reality based" solution and not as impressive a grand vision people will gravitate towards and vote for.  Sylvester also is very clear on her opinions, almost to a fault (bike paths for example - she has studied them abroad and has no bones about it..). I think her opponents avoid clarity and unfortunately this works against people in elections.  Her past ties to Vision will be leveraged against her despite the fact she essentially parted from them long ago (unlike Bremner who was NPA last week!)  IMO, she would bring the council together more than anyone else and I like her for her intestinal fortitude to take the arrows that would be inevitable.

Wai Young: People are going to think I dislike Wai Young due to her populist tactics of taking the divisiveness of bike paths and blowing them into an actual issue when,.. they aren't (bike paths carry more workers in and out of the city per square metre of allocation than they take up, second only to buses and skytrains) but I digress.  I dislike her because she is a Trump-style kook that probably even made Harper cringe with her shenanigans when working for the federal Conservatives (yes, under Harper).  I cannot deny she meets my higher level govt. and business experience criteria but look how she uses it! She is nothing but a tool that will do and say anything to get in and she clearly is pandering to the rich elite types in Shaunessy. I do not care for the rich elites. The deeper on dug on her I did find she has a heart, and might know a thing or 2 about the opiod crisis and was shocked to discover she was a social worker! That said, that is not what she puts forward at all showing just how 2 faced she is: one policy she means, the other just to drive votes.  She actually is campaigning on working against other council members and not co-operation (Trump anyone?).   I'm told she whipped up a crowd to boo Shauna Sylvester who hadn't even answered a question yet in townhall in Kerrisdale. Just do a quick search about her in any other province,.. it is both comical and dangerous.  Judge for yourself.  As I said: ass-hat.  If you feel an urge to vote for her,.. you may aswell stop reading this.

Fred Harding:  I don't know much about this candidate but a few things about him rub me the wrong way despite clear business experience and probably a good understanding of law enforcement.  First off, he called himself a libertarian. That title does not conjure good images for me. Second, I grew up in West Van, and never felt the police there were a force of good like I feel the VPD are.  I was a teenager so I'll let that slide though I do wonder if he'd tinker too much with one piece that we seem ok in here (VPD) compared to the broken RCMP and similar organizations. His policies seem heavy handed and punitive,.. not educational.  That said, he has glommed onto a few specific housing related levers that are maybe over simplified but he believes them and they exist in a real world, unlike the vague YES, and NPA statements on the same topic.  I think my big objection to this guy isn't about him, but rather he is politically opposite to me.  I do wonder if he might have insight (no pun intended) to opiod solutions in the DTES but I've not heard him say that.  I have, however, heard him talk about seasonal bike paths which shows his complete lack of understanding for what is going on there in year over year growth. Update: His party has taken an anti-SOGI stance on the schoolboard that doesn't just sound like a "I wish it was handled better" issue... but rather bigotry. Related article here.  That does not sit right with me.

Kennedy Stewart: In my table above, Kennedy Stewart comes out on top.  The fact is he has the chops and has "other layer political connections" to tackle the housing thing as much as anyone else.  Other places pay to consult on these topics (maybe not the opioids), to me than means something - he is an expert. His knowledge of Provincial and Federal politics and connections there appear to me like assets.  I find him likable, but not salesy and like his ability to casually convey complex ideas and make them understandable.  In many ways, I feel he is kind of like me - a renter, and pragmatic, but somehow I still like Sylvester more.  The reason I feel my vote may go to him is my fear of vote splitting and he obviously is perceived as the biggest risk to the right given the smearing dollars being aimed mostly at him.

Hector Bremner: Let's not forget that just a few months ago Bremner would have happily led the NPAs, and before that worked for Christie Clark. Instead, he lost that vote and starts a new party overnight like a self-entitled child, and honestly, I think that might be his base: iphone using millennial types that will look at window dressing over substance.  Sure the guy's suits fit well, but he isn't selling me a Hootsuite license, he wants to run the city.  I just don't feel it. To me he embodies the worst of the ghost of Gregor Robinson combined with a non-policy which I'm sure is more NPA than we'd all be led to believe.  I do not see any real actionable policy in what I've read that can compare to the experience the other candidates.  He's not in it for us,.. he's in it for his ego and probably a more right of centre world than I can back.

Notables Running for Council 

Adriane Carr and Pete Fry:  I wish one of these 2 were running for Mayor but the fact that they are not says something.  My take is the Carr at least is seen as a very collaborative and well respected member of council by many inside and outside the Green party. When I look at Green voting history they tend to reflect my beliefs, sort of, especially when they differ from the Vision people. Their platform here, covers much of the same ground as all parties this election but I feel like their track record shows it is not a significant deviation from their main concerns all along (Colin Stein from Pricetags disagrees and indeed, many think the Greens are less left than they used to be). Speeding up permitting and adding parking to FSR totals to reduce building costs speak to changes that were opposing Vision on and ones I support. I will be voting heavily Green despite the perception by some that they have moved more to center on transportation and even affordable housing.

Melissa De Genova: Be clear, putting her in this section is NOT an endorsement. There may be other candidates in other parties that go to Twitter and misrepresent facts to stir up support, but she is the only one I've seen do it first hand.  Although it has been enjoyable to see her get owned in social media by experts and educated citizens, she scares the shit out of me.  How people continually vote for her eludes me.

Michael Wiebe: On Mt. Pleasant BIA, small business owner, respects Vancouver history and diversity, supports multi-modal transportation, evidence based, into creating usable city space: I'm in.  He was also a past Parks Board chair so knows the system.

Jean Swanson: Sort of understated this time around, this Order of Canada recipient HAS to be on anyone's list that wants to address poverty. That doesn't mean DTES only,.. that means all of our rents, and fighting estate speculation etc. When I envision a well rounded council, I see someone like her ensuring we have balance in that important and specific area.

Heather Deal: If you have a hate on for Vision, this will not resonate with you.  I simply cannot deny that she seems to be the more pure part of their "vision" and I feel she has been a positive force for the environment, the arts, and tricky issues like reconciliation. Over many terms as a councilor she has proven worthy of my vote and I do want some past councilors on-board (and not Bremner..) just to ensure the city workers themselves don't get munched and lose momentum because a council takes too hard a right turn without knowing how certain decisions were made and why.

Anyone in the Coaltion party: Aside from associating with Wai Young, these people should be put nowhere near city council. More than once I've found a candidate that interested me and been let down.  Ken Charko for example: champion of the arts and owner/manager of one of the last standing independent movie theatres: the Dunbar.  Do not be fooled though, listen to his spam phone calls or texts and he is more Wai Young, and less a champion of the working class than he might want you to believe.

Notables for School Board

My sister is a teacher and I do think teachers know more about who is doing what for the benefit of the board (or not). Their union gives them a list of people to consider and why and my own research (though limited) hit on some of the same people. 

Estrellita Gonzalez: I had the pleasure of speaking directly to this woman and my parting impression was  "I could work with her" (as in at my job). She comes across as collaborative and when I tried to dig up some dirt and ask what parties she felt she could work with, she cited an array of people from many parties (including NPA). She was unwilling to dish dirt, but did subtly give me a hint that I felt was worth applying to my research.  That hint was to take a look at the initiatives put forward. Some School Board members have done very little, but she is not one of them.  I like the fact that she is a small business owner and has a background in Business Administration. 

 Allan Wong: Long standing and well respected Vision trustee. This is probably the only Vision person I can stand behind at this point - his history stands alone from his party (which again, I don't have big problems with but the brand has been made toxic).

Pratpal Kaur Gill: She is from Vancouver 1st which I have concerns about but there is buzz about her. She is really pushing the financial and technical literacy in schools and personally I feel that is lacking from what I hear.  I see others I know mentioning her and they also would likely favour her party so I feel that says something and bears further investigation.  Update: See my anti-SOGI comment above under Fred Harding,.. I do not know at this time where she stands on this.

Carrie Bercic: In addition to wanting to increase childcare spaces and the usual stuff she has championed a push button topic for me while on council... putting a stop to public funds going to elite private schools. That alone gets my vote and reflects well on the OneCity party.

Yes party in general: Like the Christie Clark Provincial Liberals they come from, Yes supports public funds going to private schools (not only that - but disguised in the mixed bag of "more chioice"_.  NO.

Onecity in general: If your big issue is affordability,.. Onecity candidates seem to be really pushing the increase of childcare spaces,.. that seems like an interesting way for the school board to help with that issue and I support it.

Notables for Parks Board

Although for the first time in my life I spent time IN the parks board office in Stanley Park this year (awesome building!),.. I know very little about how it works and what the dynamics are there.  In my work, we've found them to generally not be open to cycling related initiatives despite being chaired by a Green person. There is probably more to it but if you read profiles of Parks Board people, they sound very similar regardless of party.  I love parks and want more,... I feel I should know more.

My high level observations reading profile and other slate speculators:
  • COPE has some people that speak my language here.  In particular they want more pocket parks and want to protect parks from other uses (I do suspect they may not share my views on the Cornwall bike lane issue - I don't want to see a bikelane in Kits beach but I think that strip of grass on Cornwall is bettert han routing through a busy parking lot!), I will be voting for Irwin and Giesbrecht none-the-less.
  • Coaltiton candidates focus on doubling cleaning crews due to needles,.. I'd rather they focus on the reason needles are found in parks...#populistpandering!
  • The Greens seem to be fielding people with some relevant skillsets like horticulture and urban farming - which I think we need but I do not know if that makes them able to juggle a budget.. 
  • Many of the IDEA candidates and independents seem to focus on single issues (eg. Nelson Park),.. I won't vote for that.
  • I feel the reduction of pay parking to be a pandering kind of tactic.  How about increasing bike parking, and access for multi-modal transportation? (I'm looking at you Vancouver 1st party!)
  • I'm not so anti-NPA in this area.  At least on paper, their candidates seem to have good ideas and good resumes for the job at hand.
  • When we are talking about parks, we are talking about land. I feel indigenous interests seem very unrepresented in an area where I'd expect them to be. I was pleased to see some candidates mention reconciliation policies.  Even better, some candidates themselves have indigenous ties and could bring their perspectives directly to the board.

My picks:

Shauna Sylvester (I still fear I might regret the vote split though...)

COUNCIL (choose up to 10)
Christine Boyle - OneCity
Pete Fry - Green
Adriane Carr - Green
Heather Deal - Vision
Jean Swanson - COPE
Micheal Wiebe - Green
Sarah Blythe - Independent
Brandon Yan - OneCity
Derrick O'keefe - COPE
Tanya Paz - Vision

SCHOOL BOARD (choose up to 9)
Jennifer Reddy – OneCity
Carrie Bercic – OneCity
Estrellita Gonzalez – Green
Erica Jaaf – OneCity
Allan Wong – Vision
Erin Arnold – Vision

Barb Parot - COPE

*Noone from Yes

PARKS BOARD (choose up to 7)
Dave Demers – Green
Cameron Zubko – Vision
Gwen Giesbrecht – COPE
John Irwin – COPE
Camil Dumont – Green
MacKinnon, Stuart – Green
Matthew Kagis - Work Less Party

Other resources of interest:

Seriously, this is the best segment,.. you get a sense for the human and policy,.. it made me like Young slightly more (not hard), Bremner less, and question Ken Sim's knowledge.  Syslvester and Stewart didn't change my opinion, but I liked them to start with.
CBC -Election cycle - Kennedy Stewart - commuter
CBC - Election cycle - Shauna Sylvester - commuter
CBC - Election cycle - Ken Sim - cruiser
CBC - Election cycle - Wai Young (seriously big of her to accept this format and news outlet!)
CBC - Election cycle - Hector Bremner - fixie

I really enjoyed looking at this meta-slate compiled by someone so you can see how lots of little groups are leaning (mostly very far left so not much variation in there...). Examples: Fire fighter unions, the Cambie Report, and some podcast dude (links to their articles within).
The Meta-Slate 

Other articles:

Vancouver 1st VSB candidate quits over anti-SOGI video

Wai Young goes on Trump-style attack of journalist

Too many Vancouver candidates promising more than they can deliver

HUB's candidate survey on cycling 

Price Tags Editor Slate

CoV How to Plan your vote

Sunday, 3 June 2018

105 Hikes released! Do I need to change the name of my blog?

Never before have I felt so qualified to review a book.
I own every edition of 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia series dating back to 1973, I've hiked at least 1 edition in entirety, and called my multi-use blog,.. well,...

This month Stephen Hui released the near cousin of that series with 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern
The "stack" dating back to 1973
British Columbia
(I'll touch on the "In and Around" part later). Stephen is involved with a hike club that I started and someone I've hiked with so I was very eager to finally get a copy (my post about it here).

The press reception locally has been amazing so far but I find the depth of analysis by standard press outlets to be be lacking with this sort of thing.  The content and history of this book is the stuff of almost religious debate amongst my community, so in this post I aim to go deep, and give it the look it truly deserves.

I will say this, at first look, Jack Bryceland is running the risk of being the George Lazenby of 103 Hikes. George Lazenby is an actor played James Bond in one semi-forgettable film.  The Macarees are Connery and Moore, Hui would be Daniel Craig.  (Don't get me wrong I loved and hiked the 5th edition!).

I made a mental note to not to forget what my first impressions of the book are (as a super-fan). Hui had already released the Table of Contents on social media, which to me is the biggest mystery revealed for someone like me, so that part I knew but still have not had time to synthesize. These were my first 5 thoughts touching the physical book:

  • > the colour. never before has 103/105 felt less like a text book.  I find not just do photos resonate more with a reader in colour, but the tables and maps also are far more effective visually.
  • > the maps: although I loved the old cartoon maps,.. these ones look usable, not 2 colours, and have more points of interest.  Steve Chapman was clearly not afraid to break the pattern that had become the most criticized aspect the last several editions.
  • > the layout of the Introduction section looks less like that obligatory section in all hike books and something worth reading
  • > Ratings! Early editions never even took a stab at difficulty levels but eventually did (4th edition). Hui adds a "quality" rating which I'm sure will be equally controversial. 
  • >the list of hikes.  To me, the lists in these books always lent themselves to more of a table.  Now they have it, but with more data than ever, and colour plus a handy place to put your checkmark! Key new additions, and long overdue, are indicators for "best for backpacking" and "best for rainy day", plus a kid friendly column.
I'll elaborate on all of these and more and try not to make the review longer than the book.

The Intros
I won't lie, I typically skim through the intros of most hike books that I buy, especially if they are pages and pages of huge blocks of text.  I assume, and maybe incorrectly, that they contain something about safety, something about the author, and something about conservation.

This book's intro did not make me flip forward to the first hike.  The intro contains many of those regular elements but broken down into smaller pieces (1-3 pages each), and written by multiple authors.  That, and a few colourful photos or tables and I was drawn in to make sure I didn't miss anything and I was able to make a quick read of it.  Did I mention I enjoy the colour scheme of this book? I'm reminded of both glacier lakes and heather meadows.

Each intro section deserves its place in this book and I think really helps set the tone.

Foreword - Coast Salish ethno-biologist T'uy't'tanat-Cease Wyss was the perfect choice to ease the reader from their living room into the forest.  I feel it reads almost more like a blessing of the book (which I guess it is) but also like a gateway "you are stepping into more than a forest, but also a place steeped in history and worthy of your respect".  Do not read this book without reading this section first (if not just to enhance your experience), and do not hike these areas without acknowledging the people that have, and often still do, care for it.

Tribute to the Macarees - I'm a 103 Hike nerd so I just plain like this part.  It was appropriate and needed for Greystone to include these few paragraphs as an act of passing of the baton.  I was surprised that Jack Bryceland's contribution was not acknowledged though.

The actual "Introduction" - (and I'll include the "How to use this guide") Both sections are written by Hui and are the standard operating procedures for using the book. He touches lightly on back-country ethics and safety and how the rating systems work, but lets other authors go into a bit more depth.  I suppose if you have a short attention span this section could suffice on its own.  I like the fact there is a dedicated page with a coloured box to key links such as Adventuresmart, and the Washington Trails association (I hope people actually use them).

Being Prepared - I really like SAR volunteer Micheal Coyle's 2 page section on safety. From the outset he reminds us of the division between what we take and what we know. He walks the tightrope of making you keep reading while still waking you up to real life realities we all want to believe won't happen to us.

Ethical Hiking - Jamie Adams is an acquaintance of mine that I've always had alot of respect for.  She started and runs Forest and the Femme (look it up) which is an amazing program and I'm sure comes at great sacrifice to her personal and emotional life. When I read this section I can almost hear her familiar kind, caring tone in the words. I also hear a hint of her frustration with the growing trend of new clueless hikers that are not respecting the trails and the experience that others seek on them.  I share her frustration with this on a deep level despite knowing it was a learning curve for me too (remember I started Wanderung and at times in the past, we have had like a dozen or more people tromping along in a single trip).  Spoiler alert: She does manage to end on a hopeful note but asks us all to do our part to reverse the trend.
I'm going to repeat, I really, really like the sections by Coyle and Adams.  These days people are getting into hiking by the droves but are taking insufficient gear and abusing the trails.  Unfortunately, those that probably need most to read these sections, and the foreword, are exactly the people that never will.

The Maps
Steve Chapman, to me, will always be the guy that woke up in a bivvy encased in frost at Wigeon Peak.  That and someone, that as far as I was aware, transformed himself in a very short span of time from a guy like me with a few extra pounds and getting older,  into a multi-sport athlete and Coquitlam SAR powerhouse seen on the news all the time touting safety and navigation.

I'll have to rethink that, because his real talent is maps.  He actually went on Dragon's Den (I'm not joking) with a mapping product so for 105 Hikes, he was the perfect match to re-think one of the most criticized aspects of the series.

In the past the 103 maps were inspired cartoons, but known to have a bit too much artistic license and
Steve Chapman and one of his creations
only in the 5th and 6th edition did they even have a single 2nd colour.  As a navigation aid, they were hardly usable.

Chapman abandons that. The maps now have a modern topo map underlay, proper scale, and much more clear icons plus notable rivers and other terrain features that probably could get you out of a jam (though I suspect Steve would discourage you from depending solely on them especially at this scale).   The maps are oriented well too.. kind of hard to explain but I find them usable.  They also are more useful for planning camp trips and bathroom stops - finally those things are marked.

I just noticed now as I write this they also do a far better job of noting side lookouts etc... I mean after all, you did all that work getting there.. shouldn't you be made aware of all there is to see?

Well done Mr. Chapman.

...and the Hikes.
All one needs to do to see the changing landscape of Lower Mainland hiking is overlay the hike selections from 1973 edition onward into google maps.  - I know because I've done it -

All of the editions have the core 20 or so unchanged "Mt.Strachans", "Elk-Thurstons",  and "Rainbow Lakes". Editions one and two originally spanned further West to include Strathcona Provincial Park classics and a few others on Vancouver Island but those eventually dropped off and editions 3-5 hardly varied. They covered a bit of the Sunshine Coast, some Gulf Islands, and only a smattering of Coquihalla area on the Eastern end before doing the standard symphony of Manning Park hikes (and of course everything in between).

The 5th edition, the one I've hiked, was unique in that at that time (2001) there were a number of Wilderness Committee projects that emerged as short-lived hikes and never surfaced again due to disrepair.  The 6th edition had a notable burst of Coquihalla hikes, re-added a few Sunshine Coast trails, but otherwise was less than a 20% change from the 5th.

In 105, Hui doesn't just risk venturing into 1 new area with more than a few new hikes,.. but attempts 5 (1 being in a different country!).
  1. More extensive exploration of the Sunshine Coast (many are part of the Sunshine Coast Trail)
  2. More to the North on the Fraser Canyon
  3. More in Whistler area (not Pemberton but Whistler specifically).
  4. Victoria area hikes (never done before)
  5. US based hikes (also never done before).
When you write a book with over 100 hikes (or even 77 such as Dawn Hanna's classic), there are practical limitations as to how many you can "audition" for the book. Basically, I've often felt many hike books with the possible exception of the "Don't Waste Your Time"  authors kind of just explored areas and essentially journaled the ones they have most recently done in their next book (good or bad).  Hui's book feels a bit like this with the SS Coast and maybe Victoria but the past classic "ignoring of the US hikes that are closer than Pemberton or even Chilliwack" had to stop, and by letting the scope of the book grow in all directions (including adding some easier and kid friendly hikes), I feel the book is more well rounded than ever before.  It makes it easier to recommend it as the "one must have" book, because in the old days you had to mention a Washington book and probably one of the 3 Vancouver Island series books.  I also noted what I wonder may be part of Hui's next book,.. a foray into the Chilcotin (this is more of a request than an observation!).

The "7th" edition (if you can call it that), also does a great job of positioning itself as having value.  No one needed a 10th book with the Lions in it. You could just follow the trail of angry home-made, self-entitled, parking signs in Lions Bay and then take a left at the line of Lululemon pants for that..  With modern online resources, other hikes also probably no longer required a book but Hui ensures there are enough of the "I've never heard of that" cutting edge, or "Ya, that old one was due for a refresh" hikes are included. He also makes sure the names are up to date and appropriate (no more "Squaw" to be confused with 4 other "Squaws" around the province).

To clear room for these new areas, I did encounter some surprising omissions: The Lions, The Needles, Wedgemount, Outram, Russet Lake, nothing on Gambier Island, and more.  It needed to be done, the referesh is,.. refreshing, but those are some classics that should not be missed but can easily be found elsewhere.

Another major departure is the increase in  hikes under 4 hours (and easier ones too).  Triangle Lake, and Mt Daniel, for example, were staples of the Macaree's other series 109 Walks, which is more of a rainy day / dog walk book.  I "bagged" the 5th edition of this one also. This range shift actually positions the book to also cover more of what was the original Wanderung bible: Dawn Hanna's now aging Safeway purchasable classic Best Hikes in SouthWestern BC.

I estimate over 35% of the book is completely "fresh" in the 103 timeline.  To me, this makes it worth far more than just getting "updates" from the previous versions (as was the case for the last 40 years).  For me personally, a peak bagger that has religiously hiked the series, I have almost 40 that I have yet to tackle which suggests to me the amount of new content is nothing to write off.

Content and Style
As you might expect when a different person writes a book,.. it reads differently.  Stephen Hui was/is a journalist and on some levels it reads that way.  In a shorter amount of space he imparts more meaningful history and directional information than previous editions.
Hui thanks key contributor to the book. 

Hui's take is also a modern one that doesn't shy away from real history such as BC's dark history with Japanese internment camps, or frequent references to the original First Nations names and beliefs of areas in the book.  Overall it just feels more culturally sensitive in a time when it needs to be, and he also is ok with shining a light on the less flattering aspects of the trails such as the crowds that have now ruined Joffre Lakes etc. (if you read between the lines, or maybe that is just my take!).

Lastly, one of the true highlights of the book's content is where he acknowledges me and Wanderung alongside my friend Andy Gibb on page 248! (in all seriousness, I'm proud to be a part of this endeavour).

Areas to Improve:
I'm a critical person and I love this series, but I truly am pleased with this book. I'd be really reaching to find anything bad to say but this is a review so I'm going to highlight a few things other people caught that I didn't but once I clued in I can't believe I missed them.  I hope these might be considered in 7 years for the next edition :)

Overview map - The crease of the book obscures the bulk of the hikes shown on the large scale overview map. Someone should have caught that at the publisher level.

Sorted stats page - The 5th and 6th editions had a section at the back sorting hikes by hike time, driving distance, high points, elevation gains, round rip distances, and average gradients. Yes, that is 6 tables. For me as a peak bagger this was invaluable since I could compare on the scale I was interested in, if, for example, I wasn't in shape and wanted to do something "slightly" harder than last week. As a hike nerd, I did usually move the data to a spreadsheet that I could sort and filter as I pleased (but now I might have to ask Stephen for his raw data to save the data entry!).  My wife Laura caught this and she in not a hike nerd but felt it was a loss.  Contrasting and comparing hikes when you aren't doing them is half the fun.

Best time to hike: Recommended hiking months disappeared in the 6th edition and probably rightly so. This is a super controversial topic,.. because as we all know (or should) no 2 years are alike and people like Micheal Coyle would probably back out of the project if Hui were to suggest July-Oct for X hike, like the 5th edition did.  People should always be checking the current conditions. Still,.. I liked it, if only for the extreme cases as a guideline (eg. Gardner can almost be hiked year round, whereas Outram might have a tiny window.  I get it, but I miss it.  Maybe Hui could consider some reference to average past "best wildflower timings" or something?

Car-free: I believe the author himself is carless.  He does mention, in the descriptions, hikes that are doable without a car but could that have been another column in the table or at least a field at the top of the hike profile? One of my faves, BC Car-free, still remains unique it its effort get people to nature with minimal reliance on a car.  Outdoor recreation by the way, one of the most cited reasons for Vancouverites to own a car at all.

Why the extra 2 hikes? - Was something wrong with 103? Now my blog's name is outdated...

I find it gratifying to know that people I know and like have found a way to be part of the history of this community.  Jamie Adams, Steve Chapman, Stephen Hui,.. I know them and they have all been a part of Wanderung which is something that I had a hand in creating. For that reason alone, this book is special to me.

As a vocal 103 peak bagger and hike book lover I'm here to tell you, this is the new benchmark.  It is more than an update, it functions differently and is even more respectful to our local history, people, and the land than ever before. This is the default gift to give your friend that lives local and just started hiking.  While you are at it buy a copy for yourself, check off the hikes as you go, and plan a long fun season of hiking in this beautiful place you've chosen to live.