Thursday, September 28, 2006

Best of Best of Vancouver

Seven days ago, the Georgia Straight released their eleventh annual Best of Vancouver edition. I have gone through it and made some painstaking edits so that I can now present to you jblue's first annual Best of Best of Vancouver. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Best overlooked resource

Sometimes our distinguishing features are the hardest to notice. Take our tap water. The reason it tastes better than others’ is because it is. As far as collection points go, it doesn’t get more idyllic than the Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam reservoirs, where rainfall and snowmelt are captured. Our water is then treated with kid gloves to avoid contamination, with the holding watersheds being off limits to people and clear of any agricultural or industry runoff. Technically, it rates as soft, which means no calcium carbonate and, more to the point, no scummy film settling on the surface of a glass. It gets bonus points for aftertaste—there is none, despite receiving the standard chlorine treatment. People seem to accept that it’s safe to drink, and restaurant and bar staff don’t make a point of pushing bottled alternatives, so it’s amusing to see every other person in town carrying around a bottle of the bought stuff.

Best example of a municipal politician failing to keep a promise

Sam Sullivan on bus fares
Last month, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan fessed up to the Straight that he couldn’t keep his pre-election promise to reduce one-zone transit fares to the "pre-COPE" level of $2. Just 10 months ago, in his inaugural address as mayor, Sullivan claimed that the city’s three TransLink representatives would "champion options" to increase bus service and reduce fares. We shouldn’t be too surprised by this broken promise. His predecessor, Larry Campbell, also pledged to reduce transit fares before he was elected in 2002. After joining the TransLink board, however, Campbell voted for fare hikes. Bring out a polygraph the next time any Vancouver mayoral candidate makes a pre-election promise to cut bus fares.

Best example of a federal politician failing to keep a promise

David Emerson on being a Liberal
David Emerson ran as a Liberal in Vancouver Kingsway and never warned his constituents that he would cross the floor to join the Conservatives. As lawyer and political analyst Peter Dimitrov told the Straight last year: "In my mind, there was a legitimate expectation within the minds of the citizens of Vancouver Kingsway that if elected, Mr. Emerson would sit as a Liberal." On February 6, the day that Emerson was sworn into office after the election, he joined the Conservative caucus and cabinet. When it comes to broken promises, this one belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Prettiest fantasy for our city

On weekends and in the summer months, the roads to and through Granville Island are choked with cars on the hunt for parking. (We could tell you our secret spot, but then we’d have to kill you.) The resulting traffic jams and fumes detract from the enjoyment of one of the city’s most popular destinations. There’s clearly no simple solution. Better transit? A footbridge to connect the island with the downtown core? A pedestrian/cyclist path slung beneath the Burrard bridge? Somehow, the island needs to become vehicle-free, except for bikes, buses, taxis, and delivery vehicles. Much of the sprawl now occupied by parking spaces could then become cafĂ© terraces, squares, and green enclaves filled with elves and fairies. European cities such as London and Paris have shown that keeping cars out of key tourist areas greatly improves the quality of social and cultural life while stimulating economic activity.

While we’re at it, we’d also like the rain to come down only at night.

Favourite local time to sort through cellphone messages

Relaxing with a Venti coffee while waiting to make a left at a major intersection.

Best reason to expand the pride parade route

The annual queer celebratory parade had the streets lined several deep on either side from the beginning (and before) to the end. Organizers stated that about 300,000 people attended, which is almost double the attendance of the previous year (185,000). The huge numbers send an important message of acceptance and tolerance, particularly in a city where a gay man, Aaron Webster, was brutally murdered. In this case, yes, size does matter.

Best new example of "padding" a bank account

The Canucks’ new backstop, Roberto Luongo, has a contract that promises him $6.75 million for his services this year. If he plays, say, 70 games (and he is a workhorse) and in each of those faces about 25 attempts on his net, he’ll rack up an average of just over $3,850 earned per shot. That’s U.S. currency, too, by the way. Yes, Luongo is one of the best in the world at what he does. But here’s what he does: he deflects, knocks down, or grabs at fast-moving rubber chips with plastic armour and custom-built pillows strapped to his body. Every time he performs one of these actions—even when it’s a routine stop-and-clear with the stick on a trickling shoot-in—he makes more than you do in a month. Thank God we took that whole freaking year off to regain our perspective on the game.

Best reason to fear the rocks

The neatly stacked columns of rocks that appear along English Bay’s shores are Vancouver’s equivalent of crop circles. Stock up the basement—the invasion is imminent.

Best place to ogle Stepford Wives

Not Google, ogle. Waltz into almost any trendy Lower Mainland restaurant chain and check out the female wait staff, who are all blonde, white (in spite of living in one of the most multicultural Canadian cities), and Jessica Simpson. And your wife thought you were salivating because of the food? When dollar bills roll out of their mouths, resist the temptation to ask when that upgrade hit the market.

Best colour for coffee

Next time you buy a cup of coffee or iced drink, imagine your paper or plastic cup (not to mention paper napkin, plastic lid, and wooden or plastic stir stick) as a raindrop, one that is joining thousands of other raindrops throughout the city to form a river. Eventually, this river runs into an ocean’s worth of coffee cups discarded by people around the world, piling up in landfills everywhere, which you, your family, or your offspring will have to deal with in the years to come. Then enjoy your drink. Bottoms up.

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