Best of Vancouver: City Life

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      Best argument against early parole

      For the intolerant among us, ex-prisoners being released into the community isn’t exactly a positive. But sometimes the hysteria is justified, and that includes concerns about the four-legged free-for-all going on at Jericho Beach.

      Spend 30 seconds or so in the park and you’re going to spot rabbits. Small ones, large ones, some black, some white—all with roots that trace back to Europe. Which is to say, they aren’t from around these parts any more than Burnaby Lake’s red-eared slider turtles or the Fraser Valley’s American bullfrogs.

      While insanely cute, Jericho Beach’s critters are invasive European rabbits and their numbers have been mushrooming since the first colonizers arrived at least 15 years ago.

      Pet owners get tired of cleaning rabbit cages and decide it’s better for all concerned to go the wild-release route. Except the former inmates upset the ecosystem by chewing the crap out of trees, starting with the bark. Thinking about releasing your European rabbit into the great wide open?

      As any proud Kits conservative will tell you, sometimes it’s better for the community if an inmate stays behind bars for the full life sentence.

      Best place to avoid being splashed

      “Please wash hands after playful splashing.” As idyllic as John Hendry Park’s Trout Lake might seem, with almost four hectares of calm surface area and a shoreline swimming beach at the south end, danger lurks in its placid waters.

      We don’t mean introduced piranhas (as were found in a Nanaimo-area lake in 2019) but pathogenic strains of the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterium, which regularly forces wading and swimming closures every summer when its levels rise in tested samples (contact with E. coli by humans can result in skin and eye infections and gastrointestinal illnesses).

      The main culprit was thought to be waterfowl that forage on the shoreline of the former bog, but a 1994 test seemed to implicate seagull feces as the major source. Et tu, Jonathan?

      Best nude zoom-bombing

      Adjusting to the pandemic’s new normal hasn’t been a smooth transition. Some of the most hilarious examples have come from Zoom-based chats on news shows.

      There’s the ABC reporter appearing dressed professionally in a sport jacket and collared shirt from the waist up but unprofessionally—sans pants—from the waist down, which he didn’t realize was visible in the frame.

      Then there’s the professor whose BBC interview was interrupted by his children marching into his office, then being dragged out by his wife.

      But one of the best is a homegrown video. Former Vancouver city councillor and urban planner Gordon Price appeared on Global News on October 28 for a Zoom interview about the city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.

      Although he was using a digital background, it faltered because something was moving in the background.

      That something was Price’s husband—who was walking around naked. Although viewers didn’t get a view of the full moon (it was partially eclipsed) or the full Monty, it was still a sight to behold. No ifs, ands, or butts.

      Best military museum in Vancouver

      Regimental Museum of the B.C. Regiment

      Yes, there is a spectacular military museum in Vancouver, though most of the city’s residents are unaware of its existence. It’s hidden away on the second floor of the British Columbia Regiment’s headquarters in the Beatty Street armoury. Here you can observe medals from the Crimean War, gas masks from the First World War, and captured Nazi propaganda leaflets from the Second World War, as well as memorabilia from the Korean and Afghanistan wars. Weapons and uniforms date back to the 1800s.

      For anyone who spends time in this shrine, the sacrifices made by our veterans are truly palpable.

      Here’s a fun fact: this regiment, formerly known as the Duke of Connaught’s Own, was once commanded by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan before he entered politics.

      Best missed opportunity for a celebrity couple to become local residents

      The city was in a tizzy when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were said to be considering real estate in Vancouver in which to reside, including a house in Kitsilano. Then the pandemic hit, and while everyone was distracted, the couple relocated to Los Angeles. However, our loss is our peace of mind: had they chosen to live here, we’d see a regular influx of British paparazzi staking them out.

      Best place to get that warm and fuzzy feeling, especially if it’s cold and clear

      There’s no denying that 2020 has been a tough slog. Between COVID-19 raging and Asian giant “murder” hornets cruising over to join in the fun, there hasn’t been much to feel optimistic about this year.

      One sure cure for the 2020 blues, though, can be found in the annual Festival of Lights, which runs from November 27 to January 3 at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

      Bundle up and head out to see what more than one million lights decorating four gorgeous hectares looks like. The term “winter wonderland” comes to mind. Pray for snow.

      Best NGO effort to level the holiday playing field

      One of the legacies of colonialism is our Christian-centric list of statutory holidays in B.C.

      We get Christmas off work, but not Diwali. Good Friday is on the list but not Vaisakhi, Eid, or Passover. And the government deems that Victoria Day, celebrating a long-dead British monarch, is worthy of a holiday but not National Aboriginal Day or Lunar New Year.

      Over at HUB Cycling, executive director Erin O’Melinn decided to shake up this status quo to demonstrate that her nongovernmental organization respects all faiths, religions, and backgrounds.

      As a result, HUB Cycling will no longer force staff to take four days of holidays during the Christmas season in its next fiscal year. Instead, staff will have five paid days off that they can take at any time during the year to celebrate their festivals and traditions.

      It’s yet another demonstration that decolonization can take many forms.

      Best Tik Tok grasp for fame

      For a while this year, two twins from Surrey, Chris and Patrick Vörös, became the most famous B.C. residents this side of Pamela Anderson. It came after they responded with “Da Vinki” on Tik Tok to their own question: who painted the Mona Lisa?

      Six million views later and after enduring online ridicule worldwide, they told BuzzFeed that it was their intention to mispronounce the famous Italian painter’s surname.

      In fact, they deliberately give stupid answers to obvious questions to entertain their growing fan base. And you thought Alex Trebek was a Canadian icon.

      Best proof of the East-West divide 

      There’s a long-entrenched line of thinking that there are two Vancouvers living under one Lotusland umbrella. West of Main Street, you have the crème de la crème of the city: doctors, lawyers, and tech geniuses who’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure all SkyTrain lines are underground, major roadways are designated for cyclists only, and halfway houses end up on the edge of the Grandview Cut.

      And then you’ve got the common, compassionate rabble on the East Side. Need proof that there are two Vancouvers? Ask yourself how long Strathcona Park’s tent city would last if it relocated to Queen Elizabeth Park. Exactly.