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Selling a West Broadway alley has unintended consequences for delivery drivers

By-law enforcement officer driving away at 9:33 a.m. after giving a No Stopping ticket to a truck delivering food supplies to a restaurant in the 1400 block of West Broadway–as seen from the blocked alley where such delivery trucks used to park.

A deal whereby a private developer will pay the City of Vancouver $3.7 million and change to buy a bit of back alley in the 1400 block of West Broadway could also force delivery companies to pay money to the city—in the form of No Stopping tickets.

That’s because the bit of alley is the only legal place where commercial trucks can park during the morning rush hour, when they deliver food supplies to the seven restaurants still in business on the north side of the block.

Now that the alley has been gated to all traffic delivery trucks have no choice but to park on the street and face being ticketed, like a delivery truck from the food services company Snowcap was Tuesday morning (December 11), at about 9:30 a.m. (with 30 minutes to go in rush hour).

Two more delivery trucks—one food services and one courier—that stopped in the same block between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. happily escaped the notice of by-law enforcement.

The Snowcap driver shrugged off the ticket. He wasn’t the one who would have to pay it, he explained. Read more…

Redevelopment of 1489 West Broadway takes over public alley ahead of city approval

Construction fencing at the mouth of the alley on the north side of the 1400 block of West Broadway at 10:53 a.m.

Since November 29, when almost all the RBC Royal Bank signage was removed from its exterior, the emptying-out of 1489 West Broadway Avenue has continued apace. So has the expropriation of adjacent public alley space—days ahead of any city approval.

Loads of furnishings and equipment—from filing cabinets to overhead projectors—have been hauled and carted out of the old office building on the northeast corner of West Broadway and South Granville, to be trucked to who knows where.

A closeup look at some of RBC’s high tech office equipment and the careful way that it was being moved on Thursday.

Thursday morning (December 5) the moving company Wingenback could be said to have redoubled it efforts to empty the old building when it wedged two large moving trucks, side-by-each, into the mouth of the alley on the north side of the 1400 block of West Broadway.

Within an hour however, a crew from the construction fence rental company Modu-Loc, complicated matters by erecting four sheets of green-painted, steel grid fencing across the mouth of the alley.

Fortunately for the movers and others involved in the redevelopment of the property, two of the four fencing sections erected are designed to function as leaves of a gate. Unfortunately for the general public, this gate is there to keep the rest of us out of the alley.

It is not clear whether the alley will be gated for just a few days or permanently, until the alley disappears altogether in 2020, as part of the proposed redevelopment. Read more…

First sign of Broadway subway demolition

The plexiglass facing of the “RBC Royal Bank” signage at 1489 West Broadway coming down at 10:30 a.m.

After working its entire life for the Royal Bank of Canada, the 62-year-old office building at 1489 West Broadway was officially retired on Friday (November 29), when its signage was unceremoniously removed.

The removal could be seen as the first modest step in the demolition of the old four-storey building on the northeast corner of West Broadway Avenue and South Granville Street. It is already understood that 1489 West Broadway—together with the next door land of 1465 West Broadway—will be redeveloped, beginning in 2020.

A development application (DP-2019-00704) encompassing both addresses was submitted to the City of Vancouver on October 1 by PCI Developments.

Taking away the lightbox sign reveals evidence of an even earlier Royal Bank sign.

PCI’s blueprints show a five-storey tower, as allowed by the current C-3A
zoning. According to the Vancouver Courier, residential storeys may be added if the city’s Broadway Plan (expected December 2020) significantly increases the allowable density.

As of now, the upper four of five storeys are slated to be office space. The ground floor will consist of retail space on the West Broadway side and the Granville entrance to the Broadway subway on the southwest corner. The South Granville side of the ground floor will be given over to the returning RBC bank branch.

In the meantime RBC is opening a branch at 2735 Granville Street, effective 12 p.m., Monday , December 2.

PCI’s development application for 1465-1489 West Broadway is scheduled to go before the city’s Development Permit Board on December 9, at a meeting open to the public, beginning 3 p.m., in Vancouver City Hall’s Town Hall Meeting Room. Read more…

With winter temperatures come flurries—of salt

Haphazard but unarguable salting on part of the north side of the 1200 block of west Broadway seen this morning after 7 a.m.

The temperature in Vancouver finally fell below zero in the early hours of Wednesday morning (November 27). Actual winter has arrived in the city and with it the dreaded white stuff!

I mean salt, of course.

Dashes of white could be seen all along the route from my parkade sleeping spot to my breakfast spot Wednesday morning. The unevenly distributed salt crystals glittered conspicuously under the street light shine, like heavy frost—but only on those stretches of sidewalk fronting the more commercial or businesslike of properties.

In places along the north side of West Broadway Avenue salt was strewn with such erratic abandon that it overshot the sidewalks entirely and could be heard and felt crunching under my bike tires on the roadway.

When the temperature is expected to dip a few degrees below zero, a thin, evenly-distributed casting of rock salt on sidewalks is a legitimate safety measure against the formation, overnight, of slippery black ice. However, when the salt is thrown and poured in enthusiastic sprays and clumps it begins to present a slipping hazard in its own right.

This is not just to complain and I am not saying that buildings shouldn’t salt their sidewalks. But, as is said, a little goes a long ways. You can have too much of a good thing. And when you miss most of the sidewalk you kind of miss the point of salting in the first place. Read more…

Microsoft wins latest battle to build U.S. war cloud

The U.S. military has its head firmly in the clouds—computing-wise—a fact that is increasingly profitable for select American tech company.

In the war to win lucrative U.S. military cloud computing contracts, Amazon just lost the big battle for the hotly-contested $10 billion JEDI contract—to Microsoft.

The massive Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract (JEDI, for short) is part of the U.S. military’s ongoing effort to shift an enormous amount of its computing needs into the so-called “cloud”, a.k.a., computer servers hosted over the Internet.

Moving to cloud computing allows the Pentagon to concentrate exclusively on its data and leave all the complex issues of computer hardware and scaling to experienced third party providers.

The awarding of JEDI—to “provide enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to support Department of Defense business and mission operations”—was announced October 25, by the United States Department of Defence:

“Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington, has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of $10,000,000,000 over a period of 10 years, if all options are exercised.”

Microsoft took a whole day to release a statement crowing about the win that makes it “an integral partner in DoD’s overall mission cloud strategy”.

Amazon Web Services, however, waited a full three weeks before announcing, on November 14, that it would formally challenge the Pentagon’s decision to award the military cloud computing contract to Microsoft.

Amazon has reportedly filed its complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims, citing “Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias.”

The irony here is that, back in 2018, the JEDI contract was seen by many as having been tailor-made by the DoD specifically to be won by Amazon—long the world’s top provider of large-scale cloud computing services.

However, chances of Amazon just being handed the contract on a silver platter were delivered a blow in August, when U.S. President Trump suddenly ordered the DoD to put the contract on hold and investigate charges of favouritism toward…the perceived favourite.

At the same time, there was Microsoft—having built up its own enterprise cloud computing division, called Microsoft Azure, to the point where it can apparently compete on an equal footing with Amazon for the biggest of cloud contracts.

Read more…

City resorts to its old anti-homeless tactic of closing Oppenheimer Park washrooms

Three of the 80-plus tents that I counted in Oppenheimer Park on September 3.

Tuesday evening (November 5) the City of Vancouver suddenly blocked overnight access to the only washrooms in Oppenheimer Park.

The otherwise homeless people living in the Downtown Eastside park have been forced to occupy the washrooms in an attempt to keep them open.

A November 6 email news release from the Carnegie Community Action Project outlined the previous day’s sudden closure of the washrooms and indicated that city-employed security was again trying to close the washrooms, as of 2:13 p.m.

“The washrooms were closed at 5 pm on November 5, apparently by order of city staff, and opened about 1:30 pm. Security have now arrived to close them again. Activists are occupying the washrooms so that they remain open.”

“We’re sick and tired of these games that city hall is playing,” the news release quotes tent city liaison Chrissy Brett as saying.

“These games are impacting the lives of 150 people and adding additional stresses and pressures on already vulnerable people,” a clearly exasperated Brett adds.

The park board has since blamed the washroom closures on a sewage backup but as homeless activists know this is a familiar tactic that has been used against previous homeless encampments at Oppenheimer Park. Read more…