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Few surprises in announcement of Broadway subway station locations

The old RBC Royal Bank building at 1489 West Broadway, which will be making way for (among other things) the South Granville subway station.

The B.C. government has confirmed that the Broadway subway’s South Granville station will be located at 1489 West Broadway, as first shown in blueprints I published at the end of June.

Wednesday (September 18), the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced the location of the entrances to the six underground stations along the 5.7-kilometre Broadway extension to the Millennium Line SkyTrain, scheduled to commence construction in 2020:

  • Great Northern Way—east side of Thornton Street, north of Great Northern Way.
  • Mount Pleasant—southwest corner of Broadway and Main Street.
  • Broadway–City Hall—entrance to the Canada Line at southeast corner of Broadway and Cambie.
  • Fairview–VGH—southwest corner of Broadway and Laurel Street.
  • South Granville—northeast corner of Broadway and Granville Street..
  • Arbutus—northeast corner of Broadway and Arbutus Street.

While most of the announced locations were to be expected, there are a few surprises—at least for me. Read more…

Saudi oil field attack coverage feeds the new crisis mentality and vice versa

The Saudi drone strike is believed to be costing the most barrels of daily oil production ever.

The drone strike Saturday (September 14) against Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil field—said to account for as much as 70 percent of Saudi petroleum production—is being estimated to have removed 5.7 million barrels a day-worth of oil from the world market, according to media sources including the Guardian newspaper.

In terms of sheer quantity, this is the single largest disruption to the world oil supply in history—being a 100,000 barrels-a-day more than the previous largest loss of daily production—the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, which deprived the world of 5.6 million barrels of oil a day.

However, measuring Saturday’s attack on the Saudi oil field in barrels of oil alone is deceptive, if not dishonest, ignoring, as it does, the growth in oil production year-by-year.

In 1978-79, at the time of the Iranian Revolution, the world produced about 66.05 million barrels of oil a day. In 2018 (the most recent complete year) there was something like 94.7 million barrels a day produced globally.

The slice of pie (the size of the loss of the Abqaiq oil field in barrels) may be all important to the Saudi government but what matters to the rest of the world is the size of the slice lost in relation to the entire pie of global oil production.

It should not be ignored that between 1978 and 2018 that pie grew 43.37 percent.

This means that when seen as a function of total production, the loss of a 2018/19 barrel of oil is a much smaller thing than the loss of its 1978/79 equivalent, much the same way that a dollar has less purchasing power now than it did 41 years ago in 1978.

Forty percent less reason for catastrophic gas price increase

As a percentage of total world production the loss from the Saudi drone strike is not so striking.

The 5.7 million barrels a day-worth of oil lost to the drone attack on the Abqaiq field represents only 6.01 percent of global daily oil production in 2018, making it only the sixth-worst oil supply disruption in history.

Ahead of Saturday’s attack in Saudi Arabia is the Iraq invasion of Kuwait (1990-91), which took away 6.18 percent of world production; the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-81), which represented a loss of 6.44 percent of all production and the Arab-Israeli war and embargo (1973-74), which cut 6.83 percent off the world’s daily supply of oil.

Second place goes to the Iranian Revolution, which disrupted a whopping 7.81 percent of total oil production and led to a 161 percent increase in the price of oil between 1979 and 1980.

And the greatest single disruption to the oil supply remains the Suez crisis of 1956-57.

At a time when the global production of oil was only 17.64 million barrels a day, the 2 million barrel-a-day loss from the Suez crisis represented 10.18 percent of all production.

This makes Suez almost a 41 percent-greater loss to global capacity than the Saudi drone strike. At the same time, It is hard to find evidence of a Suez-driven price increase in the price of oil above 7 percent.

On Friday the OPEC basket price of 14 crude oils was US$60.02. And since the Saturday attack, the price of Brent light crude oil has already gone up nearly two dollars, to $61.92.

But these are early days. There are breathless predictions that the “Saudi oil crisis” could send the price of a barrel of Brent light as high as $150-a-barrel—something like 150 percent above its pre-Saudi drone strike price—if a crisis atmosphere prevails.

A crisis of communication

The hyperbolic coverage of the Saudi oil attack as the worst-ever disruption of the oil supply (when it certainly isn’t) seems to me to be symptomatic of a new and pervasive drumbeat of catastrophe coming from all sides.

Whether we are talking about people in politics, business, or media (social or otherwise), everyone suddenly seems to have an interest in building everything up to the level of a crisis.

Once we spoke of “global warming,’ then “climate change”. All of a sudden “climate change” has become “climate crisis”. At the same time, the opioid epidemic has become the “opioid crisis”. And there is the homeless crisis, the mental health crisis and the housing crisis.

And it can’t be overstated that the “Saudi oil attack signals an escalating crisis“.

But, if everything is a crisis…then nothing is.

Perhaps calling everything a crisis is just something that professional communicators have learned that you have to do now in order to attract the notice of a jaded, over-mediated and attention-fatigued audience.

If so, then that is a real crisis. Click the images to enlarge them.

For Vancouver-Granville candidates office space was perhaps the lease of their worries

A liberal number of phones seen through the window of Taleeb Noormohamed’s campaign office on West Broadway.

That roaring sound you hear is not the fast-approaching Canadian federal election, it is all the political parties contesting the election and their armies of campaign workers that have now hit the ground running in every federal riding in Canada.

Wednesday morning (September 11th) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Governor General Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament, officially kicking-off Canada’s 43rd general election.

The vote will be held on October 21st, the latest date that it must take place under the fixed-date procedures of the Canada Elections Act.

In the federal riding of Vancouver-Granville, where I spend most of my time, there are at least seven politicians in the running:

The densest part of the 100,000-plus population of Vancouver-Granville—and the best transit—is located on the northern edge, along the Broadway corridor.

It is hardly surprising therefore that the four Vancouver-Granville candidates with storefront campaign headquarters have all located them within blocks of each other on, or near, West Broadway Avenue, the axis of the corridor.

But, in addition to masses of voters, this stretch of West Broadway is also supposed to be home to blocks and block of the most sought-after and expensive real estate.

The shuttered property of 1535 West Broadway—only metres from one of the busiest corners in Vancouver—now empty for over three years!

In fact, thanks to steadily rising rents and a general holding-of-breath in expectation of the land rush that could accompany the commencement of Broadway subway construction in 2020, there are empty storefronts and “for lease” signs all along the 10 blocks of “campaign row”.

So lets see what the candidates were able to find, with their tight budgets and on short notice. Read more…

So long to Fairview’s Miniso store

“This location is now closed”. The front door of the Miniso store at 1256 West Broadway Ave. on August 18th.

The Miniso discount store in the 1200 block of West Broadway has packed it in after two years. As of August the 18th the doors were locked for good and the shelves were bare.

Not coincidentally, just over a month ago, on July 11th, Miniso Lifestyle Canada Inc. sought and was granted bankruptcy protection by the B.C. Supreme Court. This filing was made in conjunction between Miniso Canada (a.k.a., the “Migu Group”) and its Chinese parent company, the Miniso Group.

The court order, made under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”), granted an initial 10 day stay of proceedings in favour of Miniso Canada, appointed Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc. as CCAA monitor and allowed Miniso Canada to receive an interim financial lifeline of $2 million, from Miniso Group.

On July 22, the court-ordered stay period was extended until September 16th.

A July 12th news release stated that Miniso Canada planned to continue serving customers as usual at its 67 stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.

As of August 20th, however, the Miniso Store Locator map only showed 48 locations across Canada: 14 in BC, 5 in Alberta, 17 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec and 1 in Nova Scotia.

The locator map still shows the now-shuttered West Broadway location, as well as four other locations in Vancouver.

On Tuesday (August 20th) calls to the four locations, as well as Miniso’s B.C. head office in Richmond, went unanswered, but at least the phones rang. Calling the West Broadway store didn’t even result in a dial tone. Read more…

Lack of urgency over burned City property on West Broadway is calm before the storm of redevelopment

Trashed interior of 1443 West Broadway on August 9th, over four months after fire struck the building.

Four-and-a-half months after fire ripped through the Eat Your Cake meal service, at 1443 West Broadway Avenue, the insides of the City-owned, one-storey property—as visible through one of the front windows—are almost exactly as torn-up as Vancouver Fire and Rescue crews left them on March 31st.

Trashed interior of 1443 West Broadway Ave. on April 11, over a week after the fire.

The meal-prep-and-delivery service has long-since moved to a new downtown location. And the smoke-damaged remittance business that was next door, at 1441 West Broadway, is also gone.

International IRemit had advertised a move four doors east into a TransLink-owned property. However, that may not have happened; the company currently only lists one active location, in Richmond.

Trashed interior of 1443 West Broadway Ave. on April 1st, one day after the fire.

The only noticeable changes that suggest any passage of time since the fire was quenched are these: the complete absence of charred-wood smell (which took weeks to dissipate); plywood boarding of half the storefront’s windows and the recent application of paste-up graffiti art on the window boarding.

This last detail alone implies a good week’s-worth of effort on the part of an anonymous street artist.

Read more…

Pop-up bank vault takes shape in new South Granville RBC

View through the open doors of 2735 South Granville St. on August 12th, showing the vault, on the left. And beside it, possibly the safe deposit box room.

The can be little question now that 2735 Granville Street is being fitted out to be a new RBC Royal Bank branch.

Closeup of a notice on one of the glass doors associating RBC with the renovation.

Fine print on a notice affixed to one of the one-storey property’s glass doors explicitly identifies an RBC representative associated with the renovation project and an honest-to-goodness bank vault appears to rapidly be taking shape toward the back of the formerly wide open and undivided floor space. Read more…