Susan's Super Citizen Showcase

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Roads Are For Hockey returns for a 3rd period

Roads Are For Hockey banner“Come One, Come All and Bring Yer Stick,” reads Charlie Latimer’s invitation to the community who together on Feb. 18 shut down a block of Commercial Drive and played road hockey – periodically yelling “bus!” and moving aside to avoid disruption to public transit.

This third annual “Roads Are For Hockey” event drew in about 20 players and 200 spectators who lined the sides of Vancouver’s Commercial Drive between Charles and William Streets, which were blockaded by supportive police leaning on their shiny Harleys in the sun. Organizers held the event to raise awareness of the British Columbia government's $4-billion Gateway project – widening of Highway 1 between East Vancouver and Langley and twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. The first road hockey event was held in 2005 when the Gateway project was announced. It also helped to ease the pain of a public suffering from hockey deprivation during the 2005 NHL strike.

Despite claims by the government that the expansion will reduce fuel emissions by keeping cars moving instead of idling, critics such as the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) say the expansion will actually increase emissions by 31 percent.

Charlie Latimer shares his spiel on citizens uniting to fight climate changeCharlie says local dailies The Metro and 24 Hours covered the day’s event, along with Global TV, and CKNW radio. I asked him what he told them.

“I said it was a community event. It’s to show how citizens can take part in the fight against climate change by raising awareness to their politicians – telling them, for example, the Gateway project is not something we want to see. Global was talking about the Port Mann Bridge and the Gateway expansion and they asked me what I thought of the government saying that by reducing congestion it would stop idling and would actually be environmentally-friendly – which was actually the green spin they presented – and I just told them that: ‘Well, with any highway expansion project, you’ll find that cars will fill those streets and congestion will come back in a year, so then you’ll just have double the idling. Create more roads and more cars will come basically.’”

Information against this project can be found at – and to be “fair,” here is some, a-hem, info for the project from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

running with both feet in the airWhile the message was undoubtedly important to the grown-ups, kids like my son Toby were mostly focused on the fun – and what a fun bit of chaos it was. With no one keeping score, every goal was pretty exciting! On the way home, my sweaty six-year-old carried his stick with pride – fielding questions from passers-by. One person asked if the game was organized into teams.

“Well, there were two teams but we didn’t know who was on each team. So it was pretty hard to know who to pass the ball to!” Toby explained.
kids playing at Roads Are For HockeyCharlie says we can expect an overtime game – probably some time in September. He urges more folks to take over their own roads and bring awareness to the importance of avoiding more traffic in our neighbourhoods.

“I think more people should do them. I think it’s important for the neighbourhood. It’s important for people growing up there and it’s just important for people to take action on things that matter,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of cars, myself and I’ve always thought it’s really important to kind of make a vision or show people what it could be like because a lot of times you talk about things and people can’t get a picture in their head. I think this is a really good way of doing that. You stop the cars and all of a sudden you realize how much quieter and more liveable the block becomes and you can actually have a conversation.”

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Selling candy and flowers on the big day

Georgia Temple of Dutch Girl Chocolates in Vancouver Canada“When you’ve got three or four of us working here behind the counter all at once and we’re all stepping all over each other, then you know it’s as busy as we were hoping it would be,” says Georgia Temple with a laugh, as she ties a bow on a box of delicious hand made treasures at Dutch Girl Chocolates at 1002 Commercial Drive in Vancouver, Canada. “It’s been really crazy. Yesterday in the evening was a lot worse actually – now today it’s all the last-minute people.”

Crazy, yes – in a good way, if you’re a retailer. According to a new study conducted for the Retail Council of Canada by POLLARA, 54 percent of a sample of Canadians intend to give candy and chocolates to their loved ones. Of the 1,885 people surveyed, the majority of 84 percent plan to give a Valentine's Day gift to their spouse/partner. Giving gifts to other family members, including children, is also very popular at 43 percent.

Interestingly, it is reported that B.C. residents are least likely to give gifts – with only 44 percent intending to buy. (I imagine the other 56 percent saying they express love throughout the year and don’t need a “special day” for doing so.)

Kim Webster manager of the flowerbox in Vancouver CanadaUp the street at the flowerbox (1704 Charles) a cluster of people are packed in amidst a rainbow of flowers poking their luscious heads out of their white plastic buckets.

“The men haven’t come yet,” says flowerbox manager Kim Webster, predicting an onslaught of men on their way home from work. She stands in a portable canopy of annexed flowers and buckets just outside the store, protected from the rain that's been falling all day. Kim says Valentines Day is one of the busiest times of year – along with Mother’s Day and the three weeks around Christmas.

Last-minute buyers have til 7 p.m. tonight – which is when the flower store staff will hopefully take a well-deserved rest after staying open til 1:30 a.m. last night and starting their last couple of days at 4 a.m. at the flower auction held by the United Flower Growers Cooperative Association in Burnaby (4085 Marine Way).

It’s news to me that such an auction exists - and Kim says it's the second biggest in the world. I came home, Googled it, and read this interesting fact on the cooperative’s website:

“The auction process starts in the early morning when truckloads of fresh flowers and plants produced by our local growers arrive at UFG's 26 loading bays. All floral products are visually inspected for quality before being placed in the wagon queue. Once accepted, pertinent sales data is sent to the main office where it is entered into the Auction's custom-designed, computer system. This information is later displayed for Auction customers on digital reader boards as products proceed through the sales gallery.”

Incidentally, I also learned from Kim that while most of the flowers are grown locally, the roses are from Ecuador, tropicals are from Hawaii, and orchids are from Singapore.

In any case, Happy Valetines Day – and please remember to be polite and patient and understanding to all people who work in stores, especially during these busy seasons when everyone is under pressure (shoppers and workers alike!)

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