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Bus passengers get the royal treatment on Halloween

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi indeed! But this isn’t Gloria, this is Her Royal Highness Kim.

For much of Halloween morning and afternoon, passengers boarding the Number 9 bus on Broadway Avenue, whether heading east to Boundary or west to Alma, were greeted by a queen-size smile and a demure wave from Kim—ruler of all she surveyed (or, the “bus operator”—as her employer, the Coast Mountain Bus Company, would have it). Read more…

The living colour of the Fairmont Apartments

The south and west facades of the ivy-covered Fairmont Apartments.

On the marvelously warm and sunny afternoon of October 26th I couldn’t ride by the Fairmont Apartments at 2570 Spruce Street—not without pausing to admire and photograph the colourful spectacle of reddening ivy that could be seen spreading up the west and south stucco faces of the building. Read more…

A classic car in one of the many autumns of its life

On Monday (October 23) I spotted a Ford Galaxie 500 Sunliner convertible parked on a residential side street on the eastern edge of the Fairview neighbourhood. This classic 1960s car has apparently been a stationary fixture in its block for a good, long time—or so I was told by neighbour out walking their dog.

Galaxie 500s are few and far between on the streets of Vancouver. My last sighting of one was in April of 2016 on West Broadway Avenue. I determined that one was a 1963 model, using the distinctive body styling around the taillight. In the same way, I believe I can say with certainty that the Galaxie 500 I saw on Monday is a 1962 model. Read more…

Rain hasn’t washed away all the colours of fall

Fwoosh! A tree spontaneously bursting into autumn on 12th Avenue.

While the sun was still out on Friday, October 13th, I managed to take a few choice photographs of autumn along 12th Avenue in the Fairview neighbourhood.

Frozen four-alarm fire rising nine storeys up the west face of the Windermere Care Centre at 900 West 12th Ave.

Vancouver’s now sodden, grey skies certainly make everything seem drab and dingy but not to worry. This week’s heavy rain can’t possible have washed the vibrant colours of last week down the drain.

Read more…

The new Santa Fe development may not be all it’s cracked up to be

The main entrance of 2975 Oak St. looks bad from a distance but it’s worse the closer you get.

Developer Francesco Aquilini’s Santa Fe apartment tower at 2975 Oak Street has only been finished for a handful of months now. The brand new property, located on the northwest corner of Oak Street and 14th Avenue, should look quite impeccable.

But it doesn’t. The massive concrete steps of the main entrance way, for example—one of the first things a prospective tenant will seeare already cracked through in many places and some of the worst cracks show rusty stains suggestive of rain water reaching exposed rebar.

Looking straight down on one crack in a step riser, showing what may be rust seepage from wet rebar.

The sidewalks on the south and east sides of the building are also cracking.

The only excuse for this, that I can think of, is that both the steps and the sidewalks were already finished in November of last year and therefore had to suffer much freezing and thawing over the unusually harsh winter of 2016-2017.

Whether unfortunate timing alone accounts for this cracking or if poor quality materials and/or work played a role, I am not qualified to judge.

I will hazard to say that by November of 2016, there was some incentive to make up for lost time. The new Santa Few was scheduled to open in seven or eight months—during the summer of 2017. However, a friend of mine, who had a position of some authority on the project, was telling me at the time that the project was months behind schedule. As I noted on November 28, 2016:

“The concrete skeleton of the new tower on the northwest corner of Oak Street and 14th Avenue has long since risen to its full height of 11 storeys. And now, after a delay of several months (to iron out the kinks of installing and water-proofing the new Texas-sourced window system) the glass, steel and aluminum curtain wall of the building is also almost completely installed.”

The Santa Fe is located squarely in the footprint of the area where I bin for returnable beverage containers so it’s been easy to keep track of construction developments such as the felling of trees, or the pouring of concrete. Read more…

Face-to-face with a happy construction site in the 600 block of West Broadway

The east face of 686 West Broadway Ave. seen October 15th.

Pedestrians in the 600 block of West Broadway Avenue may have noticed the white shrink wrap construction rain-screening that is covering most of the east face of the otherwise glass and aluminum-clad eight storey office building at 686 West Broadway Avenue.

It’s been poked full of…wait a minute!

Various holes have been cut into the drum-tight plastic to allow ventilation. Most of these holes are simple two-stroke X-cuts. However, those with especially keen eyesight will notice that at least two of the holes have been carefully fashioned to look like happy faces.

Funny seeing that there.

The largest and most obvious face is cut into the east face side of the plastic at the level of the sixth storey. The cuts are cleverly and cleanly done and convey an instantly recognizable mirthful expression.

My new Twitter avatar?

A second face can be seen in the plastic that wraps around onto the north side of the building, at about the level of the fourth storey. This face has big, open-cut eyes and both its nose and smile appear to have been poked into the plastic with a blunt object–perhaps a finger in a construction glove.

Detail showing a smiley face in the building wrap on the north side of 686.

Presumably these happy faces are the work of a construction worker with a sense of humour and a deft hand. I’d also like to imagine that they were also created with the intention of at least putting a smile on the face of anyone who happens to notice them.

They actually made me laugh out loud, so “Good Job” to whoever is responsible for them!

* * *

After such a nice, fluffy little post, I almost hate to mention the sad recent history of this building and I recommend that you stop reading if you are at all concerned about experiencing an instant buzz-kill.

Some people may remember 686 West Broadway from May of 2012, when an arson attempt gone wrong saw a gasoline-fed explosion rip through a ground floor retail unit occupied by the Taco Del Mar restaurant. The blast caused millions of dollars of damage to the building—not to mention serious burns to 40 percent of the body of the convicted arsonist.

It also led to the suicide of one of the two owners of the restaurant both of whom, it developed, were personal friends of the arsonist. (A judge cleared the other owner of any involvement in the arson.) Like I said, very sad. Click the images to enlarge them.