2010 contributors' picks: City life

Best bet for getting a handle on neighbourhood crime


Sign up for the Vancouver Police Department’s free neighbourhood crime-alert service and you’ll be e-mailed weekly crime maps plus updates on unusual criminal activity in specific neighbourhoods, as well as crime-prevention information. (You can sign up by postal code.) The alerts are based on actual property crimes reported to the police. (An alert could be about, for instance, an unusual increase in theft from cars in your neighbourhood and specify the times of incidents, how thieves gained entry to vehicles, and what they snatched.) Maps show hot spots for residential and commercial break-ins, thefts from cars, and stolen vehicles.

Best indication of the VPD’s priorities

It truly warms the cockles—and maybe even the subcockles—of our hearts to see Vancouver’s finest doing their best to clean up East Vancouver. And how are they doing this, you ask? Well, as anyone who makes the daily commute from the downtown core to the ghetto knows, by frequently hiding on the eastern side of the Georgia Viaduct with their radar guns. Who cares that the residential alleys near the Cultch have become daily drop-off points for dial-a-dope crack dealers? Or that break-ins were so bad off the Drive this summer that you played Russian roulette every time you left your house with a window open? What really matters is that the police are keeping the streets of East Van safe by handing out a speeding ticket to anyone doing more than 50 kilometres per hour on a stretch of road with no stop signs, intersections, foot traffic, or traffic lights. To add insult to injury, you can usually watch folks tooting away on crack pipes just over the viaduct railing as you’re being lectured on breaking the law.

Best set of human teeth embedded in a sidewalk

In a fairly slim field, the prize goes to the perfect array of upper choppers nestled in the pavement on the south side of East 16th Avenue, some 20 paces east of Main Street. It’s a macabre little puzzle on first sight: is this the result of the world’s harshest curb stomping? “No,” says Robert McLaren, whose Metro Dental Laboratories (210b East 16th Avenue) faces the street. “They put in a sidewalk shortly after we opened, sometime in the ’80s,” he explains. “We had a denture, so we put it in. When we’re dead and gone, it’ll still be there.” Asked if he sits there making fun of alarmed passersby who notice the teeth but not the lab’s almost anonymous storefront, McLaren politely answers, “You wouldn’t believe how many people look at the ground when they walk.”

Best reason to consider collective living

An alternative to living alone, with roommates, or in a traditional family, collective living is touted by its practitioners as not only personally fulfilling but also Earth-friendly. Proponents of this lifestyle say they leave a smaller environmental footprint through practices such as sharing meals, which means they buy in bulk, discarding less packaging. They also tend house gardens, where they raise organic vegetables. Because they share accommodation, housemates make more efficient use of heating and electricity. To join the e-mail list of the Vancouver Collective House Network, go to vancollectivehousenetwork-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Best civic green initiative

As of Earth Day (April 22) this year, Vancouverites who live in single-family residences have been allowed to dump coffee filters and grounds, tea bags, uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, and eggshells into their yard-trimmings cart for pickup and composting by the city. The next phases of the initiative will allow all food scraps to be picked up and will include multi-unit buildings. It’s about time, and it’s something that Vision Vancouver can really crow about.

Best alternative to passive-aggressive Post-it notes

Thanks to local hackers Luke Closs and Kevin Jones—with a major assist from Vision Vancouver executive member and open-government activist David Eaves, who dared to dream of a “sexier, easier, and cheaper” way of getting rid of garbage—the days of nagging your neglectful neighbours down the hall until they take out their growing tower of trash are a thing of the past. Just sign them up for VanTrash, a free application that uses information from the City of Vancouver’s open-data site to determine when garbage collection takes place in your area and sends out weekly reminders by e-mail.

Best way to get in a trashy mood

Vancouver Landfill open house

Most of our garbage ends up at the Vancouver Landfill. For the past 10 years, the City of Vancouver has been throwing an open-house event (this year on June 5; next year on June 4) at the 635-hectare site, located at 5400 72nd Street in Delta. If you don’t mind the stench, you can learn about green initiatives, pick up free compost, and take a behind-the-scenes tour. There are also free refreshments and crafts for kids. Nose plugs optional.

Best place to find free stuff

The Kitsilano free corner

As anyone who frequents the neighbourhood will tell you, the free corner in Kitsilano (vacant lot at West 4th Avenue and Macdonald Street) is a treasure trove of discarded items. Our best discovery? A never-before-used elevated beehive. Coming in a close second are the Dumpsters near any UBC housing unit at the end of the year. Overseas students head home for the summer and leave enough furniture to outfit every home in Metro Vancouver. Thanks for the IKEA couches and faded movie posters, future leaders!

Best place to play Hipster or Homeless?

Bread crumbs and syrup streaks in a saliva-matted beard? Check. Coffee-stained floods? Check. Hair that looks like a rat’s nest after Hurricane Katrina? Check. Fresh-out-of-a-Dumpster sweatshirt? Check. Congratulations, you’ve found Main Street, where the only way to tell a street person from someone sporting street-person chic is the telltale Dirty Magic Black Bear Collective button.



Michelle Marin

Dec 1, 2010 at 11:13pm

You should have a "best business Christmas decorations" contest.
Granville Island Veterinary Hospital should DEFINITELY be a contender!!!