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The Province, Page A14, 23-Jun-2006

Aging roof at B.C. Place causes officials concern

By Kent Spencer

B.C. Place Stadium is refusing all contracts for events after 2010 until the fate of its aging roof is resolved, general manager Howard Crosley said yesterday.

"We have not been given any indication what is happening post-2010," Crosley said.

The building, which loses about $5 million annually, is run by the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, a Crown corporation.

The stadium, which marked its 23rd birthday Monday, will need a new roof soon because its original one is nearing the end of its life.

A service report dated last Feb. 21 noted that "no reserves are carried to replace the roof."

Crosley said a new roof -- in the same marshmallow style as the current one -- would cost $20 million to $30 million, but the "sky's the limit" if other designs are considered.

"The roof was predicted to have a lifespan of 25 years. At that time, it was a brand-new process and there was no real history to check for the life-span," he said. "It is one of those things to keep an eye on."

The roof is inspected every year and is in "good condition." Work is under way to cover the support cables.

The stadium was erected for $130 million in 1983. In the fiscal year 2004-05, the value of the building underwent a $75-million capital writedown "to reflect an impairment in value," the report noted.

Crosley said the "impairment" referred to the fact "the stadium hasn't been making a profit." He said its value today is in the $300-million-to-$400 million range.

Crosley does not think it likely the building will be demolished because, he says, it has not come to the end of its useful life.

And the alternative -- building another stadium in downtown Vancouver -- would not come cheaply.

"Finding the land and building a replacement facility would not be very easy," he said.

The downtown building is under contract to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Awards ceremonies will also be held inside the cavernous chamber.

In preparation for the Games, washrooms, kitchens and the scoreboard will be upgraded in 2009. The building will also undergo a "general cleaning," and access for the disabled will be improved.

The 60,000-seat stadium hosts 10 Lions games each year and numerous trade shows in the spring and fall.

Lions president Bobby Ackles said yesterday that he couldn't predict the stadium's future. The Lions' lease does not extend beyond 2010.

"Every time I see the premier, I tell him how important it is. It's a great building in a perfect location. There isn't a bad seat in the house," Ackles said.

But he noted the building needs "some upgrades to the lighting, sound system and concessions. It probably needs some work on the roof, but I'm not sure it needs a new roof," he said.

B.C. Place's white roofing material is designed to let in light, reflect heat and keep weight down. Called a "moon suit" because it is made of the same fibreglass fabric that astronauts wear in space, it can be supported by air pressure. The roof's weight is only one-30th as much as a conventional structure. Pound for pound, it is stronger than steel.


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Vancouver to host 2007 FIBA U19 men's world championship


Vancouver is already preparing to play host to the world for the Winter Olympics in 2010. Now the city is going to have to make room for some international basketball as well.

In what is being hailed as a coup for Canada, Vancouver has been selected as the site for the 2007 under-19 men's world championship from July 12 to 22.

“Canada Basketball is extremely proud to host an event that has always been a showcase of the best young basketball talent on the globe,” said Fred Nykamp, the executive director and chief executive officer of Canada Basketball, the organization that spearheaded the winning bid.

The last event sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Basketball to be held in Canada was two years ago, when Halifax was the site for the Americas zone under-21 men's qualification tournament. The last time the country played host to a world championship was in 1994, when the men's world championship was held in Toronto.

FIBA had also received bids from China and Italy before choosing Canada to host the premier tournament in the world for players under the age of 19, and Nykamp believes Vancouver will be the perfect city to hold the event.

He said the pre-Olympic excitement unfolding in the Vancouver area made it the sensible choice for the basketball tournament, which will involve 16 countries, including Canada, which qualified just last week.

The tournament will be held in the Pacific Coliseum and the Agridome on the grounds of the Pacific National Exhibition, with the semi-final and final to be played at General Motors Place.

“We kind of played into the Olympic fervour that is currently going on in the West Coast,” Nykamp said. “It was one important factor.

“We were also inclined to go there because of the higher level of interest on the government side that wanted to see some summer events there leading into the 2010 Olympics. That was really attractive for us to consider Vancouver.”

Hosting such a high-profile world-scale event also plays neatly into the hands of Canada Basketball, which is in the midst of its massive Be One concept, which entails trying to persuade all levels of basketball in Canada to play using international rules.

“I think it's going to raise the profile of the international game in this country,” Nykamp said. “This tournament will give us a real focus and the whole country a first-hand exposure to this type of game — the fast pace, the more inspirational play, the higher level of decision making by the athlete on the court.

“This is a real opportunity to display that.”

Leo Rautins, the coach of Canada's men's national team, said the under-19 tournament will provide fans the opportunity at seeing NBA players of the future. At past tournaments, players such as Vince Carter of the United States, Pau Gasol of Spain and Andrew Bogut of Australia have all participated.

“That's what it all really boils down to,” Rautins said. “When you look at the under-21, under-18 tournaments, you're talking about some of the premier international young players in the world. If you're looking at the NBA today and where they're starting to pick kids out of, that's where they're looking.

“It's a great opportunity for Canada, not only to see who their best young players are, but who's around the world.”

Nykamp did not want to divulge too much of the financial implications of hosting the tournament in Canada, but said the operating budget is more than $2-million.

He said the federal government, through Sport Canada, and the B.C. government are both financial supporters of the endeavour.

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Airport aquarium planned

INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL: Part of $4.5-million beautification scheme

Matt Carter, The Province

Published: Sunday, July 16, 2006

Starting June 2007, people passing through Vancouver International Airport might think they've accidentally wandered into a nature theme park.

After posting record profits in 2005, the airport authority is spending $4.5 million to beautify its international terminal.

The project includes thematic lighting, an indoor creek and a $3-million aquarium.

"We do know that it's very important for passengers that we get the ambience right. And we've always done very, very well with that over the years and we want to continue that trend," said Bob Cowan, the airport authority's senior vice-president of engineering.

One feature will be Creek Woman, a sculpture by B.C. artist Dempsey Bob.

"She's at the beginning of our creek, because we're actually creating a creek with real water," Cowan said. "On either side of the creek are landscaped areas. There's actually bridges across the creek.

"What we're trying to do is create a little bit of British Columbia right inside our terminal building."

The authority posted a $74.4 million profit in 2005, up from $44.5 million in 2004.

At the same time, the authority increased airport-improvement fees to $15 from $10 for North American flights. Revenue from airport improvement fees increased $29.6 million.

"It's been our policy for years to spend one to two per cent of capital costs on creating an experience," Cowan said. "Our building costs are very comparable to any [international airport] in the world."

Vancouver Aquarium staff will operate the aquarium, which will be 114 cubic litres, roughly the size of a tractor trailer.

It will house native B.C. species like sea anemones, moon jellyfish, rock fish and star fish, but no mammals, and will cost $250,000 per year to maintain.


© The Vancouver Province 2006

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From today's Vancouver Sun:

Simon Lim says he's ready to replace a West Georgia Street eyesore with an Arthur Erickson-designed tower that may rival the architect's iconic MacMillan-Bloedel building a block away at Thurlow Street.

City hall turned down Lim's first proposal for the site, but acquiesced when Erickson penned a building that twists 45 degrees in the 600 feet between sidewalk and summit.

That feature reflects the project's twisted history. The site still contains the gutted skeleton of the old Shell Oil building that was to have become the Newport City Country & Club until that Hong Kong-based project collapsed in 1995.

After the usual reworking, Erickson's reputedly costly design went through its sixth and final revision -- window mullions and structure -- in late June, and is now a go, Lim said.

Although the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain should announce its participation in the project momentarily, Lim remains mum. Meanwhile, he has acquired the Bay Parkade and Salvation Army hostel buildings, and is "talking" with architect Richard Henriquez about triple-use development of the Seymour-and-Dunsmuir sites.

No word on a time frame. "I don't want to put the city's knickers in a knot, like Greg Kerfoot," Lim said. He was referring to the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team owner's proposed $65-million, downtown-waterfront stadium, which caused considerable foofaraw before council gave it unanimous but conditional approval Tuesday.

As for Vancouver's continuing building and property-values boom, Lim sees it long beyond the 2010 talisman date. Picking a lucky number for Chinese, he said: "We're talking about the 2028 Olympics -- and then the crash."

The new modified and approved 1133 West Georgia design:



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July 20, 2006

City appoints new Director of Planning

The City of Vancouver has appointed Brent Toderian as its new Director of Planning, after City Council approved the recommendation of the selection committee.

Toderian has most recently served as Manager of Centre City Planning and Design for the City of Calgary where he led a team of 20 in visioning and policy; master planning; development design and architectural review; civic realm design; heritage planning, and special projects work (e.g. a new downtown library, the new university downtown campus, and the expansion of the Calgary Stampede) in areas of the city experiencing rapid residential, office and retail growth.

He has been heading the development of Calgary's new comprehensive Centre City Plan, which meshes design and planning issues with arts and culture, social planning, economic development, and other facets of successful planning. Toderian also spent four years setting the tone for neighbourhood design in Calgary as its Chief Subdivision Planner, where he was instrumental in introducing new approaches to sustainable design and growth.

Before joining the City of Calgary in 2001, Toderian spent nine years as an award-winning city planning and urban design consultant with the Ontario-based firm MacNaughton Hermsen Britton Clarkson Planning Ltd. At MHBC, he consulted on and managed a wide variety of residential, commercial, industrial and mixed-use projects throughout Ontario, and created many municipal plans and strategies for Canadian cities.

He holds an Honours Bachelors Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo, and has also been a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Waterloo, Guelph, Western Ontario and Calgary on the topics of planning and design.

The search process was guided by a cross-departmental committee with input from staff and key community stakeholders, including developers, who were invited to provide feedback. Members of Council and the Corporate Management Team also met the leading candidate before a decision was made.

"We are delighted that Mr. Toderian will be joining the City of Vancouver's award-winning planning team," said Mayor Sam Sullivan. "On behalf of Council and City staff, I welcome him to Vancouver and look forward to the contribution he will make in helping us continue to ensure that Vancouver remains one of the world's most livable cities."

Toderian will start work with the City of Vancouver on September 14.

The Director of Planning is the City’s senior representative in the planning and negotiation of major private and public developments and oversees more than 100 staff members. The Director will lead the Planning Department’s two divisions, City Plans and Current Planning, which advise Council on policies which guide growth and change in the city, with an emphasis on land use and built forms. The department considers the implications of a wide range of social, economic, physical and environmental issues on the livability of the city.

The Director of Planning will take the place of the retired Co-Directors of Planning, Ann MacAfee and Larry Beasley. The Director’s role has traditionally been filled by one individual but in the past decade, due to a unique set of circumstances, two Co-Directors were appointed.

^ this is great news! we had Larry Beasley, who focused on residential in downtown. now we've got a planner from Calgary.....he'll solve our office space, view cone, and height restriction issues! great choice!

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Channel links B.C. with mainland China

'Huge amount' of money expected to be invested when filming begins

Wency Leung, Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, July 17, 2006

Beijing's Travel Channel is opening its first North American office in Vancouver to produce television programs about Canadian travel destinations for the station's 300 million viewers.

By establishing a permanent presence here, The Travel Channel (China), owned by China's top film and television producer Asian Union Film and Media, is gearing up to become a leading source of information in China about B.C.'s tourism industry.

"Very few people in China know about where to go or what to do in Canada. It's not being promoted that well," said James Ho, owner of local Chinese-language radio station CHMB AM 1320 who is representing The Travel Channel.

The company set up its office at Ho's radio station late last month. It has yet to determine how many employees will work there.

The Travel Channel won't likely begin producing programs from the new location for at least another year, since the company already has a list of projects committed for the next 12 months, Ho said.

Still, the establishment of a North American office is a sign of the company's willingness to invest here, using Vancouver as its springboard to the rest of Canada and the U.S.

"I haven't seen any other media company from mainland China set up offices in North America the way they have done," Ho said.

In recent years, B.C. has become a popular location for Chinese television producers to shoot dramas and other shows that are broadcast back in China.

In 2004, Tourism B.C. helped Shanghai's Oriental TV film its Driving Across Canada -- From Coast to Coast series.

Last year, Guangdong TV producers shot part of their Survivor Challenge -- Canada show in B.C.

But Chinese crews tend to stay for only short periods of time.

Ho declined to disclose how much The Travel Channel is spending on its new office, but he said it expects to invest "huge" amounts of money for each project when it eventually begins filming.

Ho said the station's executives are interested in putting together shows about B.C.'s golf courses, sports fishing and other tourism activities and hot-spots across Canada and the U.S.

The shows will be tailored exclusively for its Chinese audience and won't likely be shown on Canadian television.

Advertisement slots will also be filled by Chinese companies.

The station's executives are eager to begin doing the ground work for these programs, Ho said, especially since Canada is poised to receive approved destination status from Beijing, which will make it easier for Chinese citizens to obtain exit visas to visit the country.

"They can see the writing on the wall and see how popular North America is at the moment and how important it is to set a foothold in North America," Ho said.

Approved destination status is expected to bring about 700,000 Chinese tourists to Canada each year, compared with the 120,000 mainland Chinese who visited the country last year.

Negotiations on the agreement are taking longer than expected, but some industry experts believe talks will wrap up as soon as this fall.

The Travel Channel is a relatively new company. It was launched about five years ago as outbound travel from the Communist country began to skyrocket.

It has since become an important vehicle for international destinations to access potential Chinese travellers.

Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are already promoting their tourism industries in China through The Travel Channel.

While The Travel Channel's operations in Vancouver are in its early phases, the company has begun promoting local events.

Last month, it helped sponsor Vancouver-based ITM International Top Model Corp.'s modeling show, ITM Model Look North America 2006.

Canadian tourism experts are looking forward to the station's program production here.

Until Canada is granted approved destination status, the Canadian tourism industry's ability to market itself remains limited.

Beijing currently does not allow Canadian tourism companies and government agencies to advertise in China.

The tourism industry is permitted only to promote itself at trade shows, through editorials in the Chinese press, or by hosting Chinese media groups on tours of Canada.

Stephen Pearce, vice-president of leisure travel sales and market development at Tourism Vancouver, said he hoped his organization would be able to cooperate with The Travel Channel's new office.

"I think it's a tremendous opportunity to showcase the city," Pearce said.

Donna Brinkhaus, executive director of Asia Pacific marketing for the Canadian Tourism Commission, was also optimistic about Travel Channel's plans here.

Chinese media know what appeals to their audiences, and their coverage supplements the commission's own efforts to introduce Canada to potential Chinese travellers, Brinkhaus said.

"If there happens to be a TV station based here and that [can] reach our correct target audience, there's no reason why CTC wouldn't work with them," she said.


© The Vancouver Sun 2006

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B.C. hot and getting hotter

Last Updated: Friday, July 21, 2006 | 7:21 PM PT

CBC News

B.C. is in a major heat wave, with temperatures expected to hit the mid-to-high 30s in Greater Vancouver and the low 40s in some parts of the B.C. Interior in the next few days.

The heat wave is already affecting air quality in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, and it's expected to get worse through the weekend, especially further up the valley.

On Friday, the Greater Vancouver Regional District issued an air quality advisory warning of "poor."

GVRD air quality analyst Ken Reid said an extensive high-pressure ridge is building, with only light winds in the forecast.

"So we can expect over the next few days, the pollution is going to build up into the poor category for most of the Fraser Valley, but perhaps not all of it. There will be parts of Greater Vancouver that will likely have slightly better air quality than places further east."

Reid said anyone with chronic lung conditions should stay indoors, especially in the late afternoon when the air quality is at its worst.

'Hot, hot, hot'

Temperature records dating back more than 50 years are predicted to be broken across the province between Friday and late next week.

"You're looking at hot, hot, hot in three words," said CBC meteorologist Claire Martin

"I think we'll not only see records fall in Vancouver, but in the Interior in B.C. over the next few days."

That kind of heat is worrying public health officials. Emergency rooms are bracing to be even busier than usual, with more cases of heat stroke and dehydration.

"You start to feel weak, a little dizzy like you want to sit down. So get out of the sun," said Vancouver's medical health officer, Dr. John Blatherwick.

People are also advised to drink lots of water.

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Nash charity game a success in Vancouver

Associated Press

7/22/2006 11:23:09 PM

VANCOUVER (CP) - He had given a huge crowd what they wanted to see, plus raised money for charity, but Steve Nash still found time to worry Saturday night.

''I'm a little embarrassed,'' the two-time NBA MVP said following the Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic basketball game.

''I feel like some people might wonder if I just threw this event so everyone could pat me on the back. I really wanted it to be about everybody and not just me. I wanted us all to come together and have a great time.''

He need not have worried. Victoria's Nash and some of his NBA pals put on a pretty good show.

For the first three quarters there were rim-rattling dunks, slight-of-hand passes and grins all around. There was plenty of clowning, not much defence.

For the final 12 minutes, the two sides played for real. Despite Nash scoring 14 points his West team lost 46-41, resulting in his side doing 20 pushups.

The players had fun, the fans ate it up and the Steve Nash Foundation raised money to assist underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life.

''I'm exhausted,'' Nash said. ''Not only from playing but also from a very fulfilling week.

''I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the support. I feel like we've really proved this community means a lot to one another.''

The game was about four minutes old when the crowd got what it wanted to see.

Nash sailed a behind-the-back pass high toward the net so Jackson Vroman could slam it home. Nash grinned and the crowd cheered.

It was the first time NBA basketball had returned to Vancouver since the Grizzlies migrated to Memphis but Nash was the person most people came to see.

The crowd of 16,112 at GM Place - more than attended most Grizzlies games - gave the Phoenix Suns guard a standing ovation before and after the game. There were chants of ''MVP, MVP.''

Andrew Risch was thrilled to get a Nash autograph and enthralled by the game.

''It's awesome,'' grinned the 12-year-old, decked out in a Phoenix jersey. ''It's so fast, back and forth.''

Yahya Nickpour came so his son Andrian could see Nash play.

''He's Canadian and he's proud to be Canadian,'' Nickpour said about Nash.

After the game, Dallas Mavericks guard Michael Finley, a former Nash teammate, said it was good to be back in Vancouver.

''Vancouver has always been one of my favourite cities to visit and play in,'' he said. ''The fans truly love the game. They come out and cheer for all the right reasons.''

During halftime Nash was presented with the Naithsmith Foundation Sportsmanship Award. It's the 39th time the family of basketball inventor Dr. James Naithsmith has given out the award and only the second time to an active player. The first was to former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.

Nash arrived in Vancouver with his trademark long, flowing, black hair gone, replaced by a buzz cut. He quickly dashed any speculation he shed his skills with his locks by hitting teammates with blind passes and knocking down a couple long shots.

Tickets for the game ranged from $500 at courtside to $10 up high in the rafters.

Playing on Nash's West team was forward Walter McCarty of the L.A. Clippers; Finley; Vromana, a centre with the Hornets; forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili, a free agent who played for Phoenix; guard Devin Harris of Dallas; and one-time Vancouver Grizzlies guard Felipe Lopez.

On the East team was guard Jay Williams, a former member of the Chicago Bulls; guard Raymond Felton of Charlotte; guard Fred Jones of Indiana; guard Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors; former Raptor Charlie Villanueva, a forward now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks; and guard Denham Brown, a Toronto native recently drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics; and centre Steven Hunter of Philadelphia.

For Williams, it was his first game against NBA-calibre talent since a motorcycle in June 2003 that fractured his pelvis, tore up knee ligaments and damaged nerves in his left leg.

The former No. 2 NBA draft pick out of Duke has worked out for about seven teams, including Toronto, but still hasn't signed.

Inuk singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark performed the U.S. national anthem in English, then surprised many in the crowd by singing O Canada in her native language.

Victoria-born Nelly Furtado, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who mentions Nash in one of her latest hits, was on hand and threw small, autographed basketballs into the crowd.

Bedouin Soundclash played at half time.

Nash, recently named one of Time Magazine's ''100 most influential people,'' said he didn't know how much money was raised but called the event a success.

''It gives it legs for the future and allows us to build on what we started,'' he said. ''It allows us to continue and get bigger and better and help more people.''

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Listening comes first for planner

Heather Travis, with files from Emily Chung

Vancouver Sun

Friday, July 21, 2006

VANCOUVER - The city's newly appointed director of city planning, Brent Toderian, says planning for the Olympics looms prominently in his future. But first, he will be attending to the city's more immediate problems of homelessness and affordable housing.

Toderian, whose appointment was announced Thursday, said he had no specific plans to deal with those issues, but wants to talk with city residents and city council before formulating them.

"I suppose I would worry about anyone coming from outside of Vancouver suggesting they already know the answers," he said in an interview. "To me, I'm really more interested in a really creative and open-minded dialogue before we come to any conclusions."

Toderian, 37, has been a city planner for Calgary since 2001, and will begin his work in Vancouver on Sept. 14.

"I am really excited to come to Vancouver," said Toderian. "I'll be moving to an urban mindset that more matches my ethic."

Toderian said he is inheriting a strong planning team that is capable of making the mayor's vision of Vancouver a reality. He said his first job will be to listen to Vancouver residents and city council to find out the city's priorities.

"I think focusing on the issues that are important to Vancouverites now is going to be job No. 1," he said.

In Calgary, Toderian said he made a name for himself by making suburbs more "urban" -- encouraging services and small businesses in neighbourhoods so residents wouldn't have to travel downtown for all their needs. He also pushed for higher density and more walking, cycling and public transit use.

In the downtown core, Toderian said he used a holistic approach to ensure social health by including enough social housing and elements that make a place fun to live in, such as parks, community pools, well-designed streets, community centres and schools.

He said a holistic planning approach to the city's architecture encourages the growth of arts and culture through the creation of more public squares, more festivals, and ensuring public infrastructure such as bridges, lamp posts and benches are themselves works of art.

"Calgary is at a very interesting point in its history where it can move rapidly towards greatness or rapidly in the other direction," he said. "It has been really exciting being here right now, helping tip it in the right direction."

Larry Beasley, one of the city planners Toderian will succeed, said: "He is an excellent candidate.

"He is a very sophisticated urbanist ... [and] is very committed to public consultation."

Beasley has co-chaired city planning with Ann MacAfee for 12 years, bringing many changes to Vancouver's inner city.

Beasley said Toderian's most difficult challenge will be implementing Mayor Sam Sullivan's eco-density plan to develop Vancouver, without encroaching on the natural environment.

Beasley said Toderian will also have to adjust to the geographical and social differences between Calgary and Vancouver.

"This city has a very different attitude about its neighbourhoods and downtown," he said.

Gordon Price, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University, said the new city planner needs to have an understanding of the Greater Vancouver area, not just Vancouver proper.

He said Toderian has completed SFU's urban design certificate program and is well experienced in suburb development.

Sullivan said Toderian's qualifications, as well as his youth make him a welcome addition to the city.

"[Toderian] recognizes how powerful planning can be in making high-quality communities," said Sullivan. "He is just the person we need to move Vancouver into its next stage of development."

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From the Richmond News:

Richmond in for new ‘urban style’ of living

By Matthew Hoekstra

Staff Reporter

Jul 15 2006

The man behind a proposal to twin a pair of residential high-rises with a new luxury hotel believes he’s entering the right market at the right time.

“I think people have come to appreciate that urban style of living,” said Bruno Wall, president of Wall Financial Corporation. “We’ve certainly seen it downtown...and we think Richmond’s ready for it.”

Wall is proposing two 16-storey residential towers and an 11-storey hotel in city centre north near No. 3 Road at the corner of Corvette and Sea Island ways. Estimated at $100 million, the project goes to a public hearing Monday at 7 p.m.

Wall bought the property in 1997 and proposed to build a single high-end 400-suite hotel. By the time he got approval from Richmond, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel opened and the hotel market dried up.

“We kind of shelved that and then we started discussions two years ago with staff if they would entertain a mixed-use application,” he said.

What followed were many discussions with the city and airport authority. He also had to wait for Richmond to finish its aircraft noise development policy.

The new proposal is for 218 new homes and 154 hotel rooms in a redeveloping area at the entrance of the Moray Channel Bridge.

Since its rezoning and development permit applications are both in process, a favourable council vote following Monday’s hearing will launch project designers into the detailed design phase. If everything goes according to plan, the homes will be on the market by September and the hotel complete before the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Many on council see the project as a catalyst for major change in city centre north.

Several of the city centre’s current and expected continuing boom in residential high-rises are proposed to surround the development. Wall noted an application for an office building to the north and another high-rise project from Pinnacle to the east.

“It’s truly the gateway site into Richmond, and so that in itself gives it lots of exposure, it gives lots of opportunity for access to the airport and obviously Vancouver.”

Wall’s group owns the Sheraton Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver, the first major project to combine residential units with a hotel in the region.

In a mixed-use development, both hotel guests and homeowners benefit from a greater selection of amenities, since the initial and ongoing maintenance costs are shared. In this case, guests and homeowners will be sharing a two-lane bowling alley and small lap pool.

Wall, who said his group is “well advanced” in discussions with Westin to bring its brand to the project, also believes there’s room in the hotel market.

“Two years ago I would have said no. We’ve seen the market both in Richmond and perhaps more so downtown...really pick up over the years.”

Greg Edgelow, director of sales for Tourism Richmond, said the demand for Richmond hotel rooms has risen steadily since 2003. This year, the occupancy rate is expected to hit 71.5 per cent—one per cent higher than Vancouver.

A motoring economy, the future arrival of the Canada Line and the airport expansion will continue to push the need for local hotel rooms higher. Once the rapid transit line is complete in 2009, people attending conferences at downtown Vancouver’s trade and exhibition centre will only be a short train ride away from a Richmond hotel, Edgelow said.

Richmond has 25 hotels in city limits, including River Rock Casino Resort’s newest 222-room hotel that opened last fall. Wall’s luxury hotel would be different than most in Richmond.

“We don’t have a lot of the type of rooms in our inventory of what they will probably be providing,” said Edgelow. “It will be a little more high end.”

It would join River Rock and the Fairmont in offering luxury rooms.


The great city centre overhaul

By Matthew Hoekstra

Staff Reporter

Jul 15 2006

Strip malls surrounded by asphalt. Long blocks. Nauseating traffic.

In the midst of the glaring reminders of a fast-growing suburban city, Gary Andrishak sees something different when eyeing No. 3 Road: a vibrant pedestrian-friendly urban centre. At least in the future.

Andrishak, an associate with the consulting firm IBI Group, is leading the city in planning Richmond’s future downtown and distancing the city from the branding of just another suburban town.

Spurring change is the Canada Line, as key to any urban centre in allowing people to easily move in and through without an automobile.

The thought of rapid transit connecting Richmond with downtown Vancouver and the airport has turned the heads of developers, who’ve submitted dozens of residential high-rise applications to the city. Other major projects—the Olympic oval, possible development of the Garden City lands and airport expansion—are also pushing the need for an overhaul of downtown.

Andrishak led the design team that planned the future downtown streetscape, a European concept that folds several kilometres of elevated grey concrete into No. 3 Road for function and aesthetics.

It will form the heart of the city centre area plan—an update to a 1995 document that is scheduled to be submitted for council approval late next year.

The plan will focus heavily on the Canada Line and what’s known as transit oriented development—designing neighbourhoods near the line as complete communities, where people can live, work, play and learn all within walking distance.

“I’m not suggesting for a moment by adhering to these city centre principles we are going to do away with the automobile, because that’s not likely to happen,” said Andrishak, who’s helped plan cities all over North America.

“But I think if we can even get to the point where families can operate comfortably and well with one automobile, rather than two, that takes more automobiles off the street and puts more money into people’s pockets.”

Although city council railed against an elevated line, opting for an at-grade system instead, Andrishak said at least an elevated line forces the city to grow upward to meet the towering concrete structure.

“That in itself will force thinking away from the kind of sprawl that we’ve done for a long time.”

Planners are also focusing the updated area plan around four goals of the city: to build complete communities, to build green, to create economic vitality and to create a legacy.

Andrishak said the future plan will be aimed at creating a vibrant waterfront, reducing long blocks with limited street frontage and designing more pedestrian friendly streets—areas cities such as Vancouver, San Francisco and Portland have found success in.

“Until Richmond can sustain the same kind of street vitality that Robson Street does, we’ve got a bit of a problem on our hands.”

Another issue weighing heavily on planners is balance. Andrishak said the city must avoid building a downtown that is focused only on residential, which pushes out the job base.

He said there is now discussion about holding industrial and other job-creating lands with the same degree of sanctity as people do agricultural land.

“Once it goes, it goes, and it’s hard to bring back. It’s really hard to advocate for industrial land when people say I’d far rather have this be a park or residential community. But in my definition of complete communities, you need all of these things,” he said. “It is a true balancing act.”

Andrishak invites the public to a presentation on the city centre area plan next Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at Richmond City Hall.

The public can also drop by city hall from July 19 to 21 from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. to view display boards and submit comments. City staff will be on hand to answer questions July 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Bridge costs escalate

Bridge will make $3.6 billion in 'user benefits' over its 35-year building, operating period: report

William Boei, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2006

The $800-million Golden Ears Bridge will cost TransLink more than $1.1 billion by the time it is paid off in 2041.

However, the report concedes the bridge is a good deal because TransLink will collect more in tolls during the life of its 35-year contract than it pays the private operator.

TransLink staff calculated that as a public-private partnership, or P3, the project has a razor-thin financial advantage over a completely public project, and project director Fred Cummings said Wednesday that's a conservative estimate.

NDP transportation critic David Chudnovsky was skeptical, saying that governments can always borrow money more cheaply than the private sector and that makes P3s more expensive.

The report says the bridge will generate $3.6 billion in "user benefits" over its 35-year construction and operating period.

The toll bridge, being built east of Barnston Island, will connect Surrey and Langley on the south side of the Fraser River to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge in the north. It is expected to spur development on both sides, cut driving times across the river and help ease the load on the congested Port Mann Bridge.

It is scheduled to open by the end of June 2009.

TransLink will collect the tolls on the bridge and make monthly payments to the operator to cover capital costs, interest, operating expenses and maintenance. The payments kick in when the bridge opens and will continue for 32 years.

TransLink will pay $1.126 billion over the life of the contract, the report says, but it will collect $1.229 billion, most of it in tolls and the rest from about $50 million a year it now pays to subsidize the Albion Ferry, which will be closed when the bridge opens.

"In . . . value terms, projected revenues exceed the costs by $103.3 million," the report says.

Without the subsidy from TransLink -- $160 million over 32 years -- costs would exceed revenue by about $57 million.

Staff calculated that if TransLink built the bridge as a public project, revenue would exceed costs by between $92.6 million and $97 million, depending on the timing of the project.

Cummings said that probably understates the P3 advantage because construction inflation for a public project was estimated at six per cent a year, and actual construction costs will likely increase faster than that.

With a P3, the report says, TransLink is insulated from B.C.'s "overheated construction market" because the contract makes the operator responsible for construction costs.

"The value of obtaining a fixed-price, cost-certain contract in this market cannot be overstated," the report says.

TransLink is directly financing $216 million in project costs such as property acquisition, planning and municipal road improvements. That is partly offset by a $50-million "licensing fee" paid by the contractor.

The rest is being financed by the operator through insurance companies, and the report says that arrangement has earned the project a triple-A credit rating, while as a stand-alone project it would be rated BBB. That resulted in attractive borrowing terms, it says.

But Chudnovsky insisted governments can always borrow more cheaply than private companies.

"Governments get those loans at the best possible rate, and when you talk about 800 million or a billion dollars, a difference of one or two per cent is tens of millions of dollars, which taxpayers have to pay," he said.

"I continue to be skeptical about that."

The private contractor is the Golden Crossing General Partnership, led by a Canadian subsidiary of the Bilfinger Berger Group, a German company that builds and operates major projects around the world.

Chudnovsky warned that the project could run into problems with toll rates. He said Toronto thought it had iron-clad guarantees that tolls on its privately operated Highway 407 would not increase, but the operator went to court and won a ruling that "it is the private procurer and not the government which controls the level of the tolls, no matter what was promised at the time of the deal."

TransLink's monthly payments will be ramped up from $500,000 per month when the bridge opens to nearly $4.8 million a month after July 2015. The low early payments allow time for traffic -- and toll revenue -- to generate.

Chudnovsky said that opens a possible conflict between the operator and public interest, because the more cars that use the bridge, the higher the revenue will be.

"The private procurer wants lots of cars to go across the bridge," Chudnovsky said. "We as citizens probably want fewer and fewer cars to go across the bridge because the cars create pollution, global warming, congestion, all kinds of stuff.

"So there is a tension between public policy goals and the private goals of the company."

The TransLink report says the bridge will see more than 20 million vehicle crossings per year by 2012. It says travel distances for bridge users will be reduced by an average of 12 kilometres, and trip times by 20 to 30 minutes.

Staff valued travel time savings over the term of the contract at $1.6 billion, vehicle operating cost savings at $1.4 billion and safety benefits at $600,000 for total user benefits of $3.6 billion.

The report predicts that by 2021, the bridge will "induce" the establishment of 735 new businesses on both sides of the river, construction of more than 7,000 new housing units, population increases of nearly 22,000, significantly more commercial floor space and property tax revenue hikes of more than $20 million.


- This story can be heard online after 10:30 a.m. today at www.vancouversun.com/readaloud.

- - -


Because of inflation, the tolls drivers will pay for crossing the Golden Ears Bridge are already slated to increase, even before it opens.

TransLink set the toll for automobiles at $2.50 per crossing, double that amount for small trucks, triple for large trucks and half for motorcycles.

By the time the bridge opens in 2009, TransLink expects the tolls to be:

Automobiles: $2.85

Small trucks: $5.70

Large trucks: $8.55

Motorcycles: $1.43

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

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By Janis Warren The Tri-City News

Aug 02 2006

The Tri-City skyline is about to get crowded

At least 14 new highrises are planned for Coquitlam's Town Centre, including two 19- and 25-storey towers approved Monday by city council for Bosa Properties at Glen and The High streets.

And the city's tallest highrise, called The Obelisk and rising 35 floors, is being built on Pinetree Way next to Henderson Centre.

"There's a real interest for people wanting to move to Coquitlam and to be in these towers," Coquitlam Mayor Maxine Wilson said. "These projects are pre-selling."

Bosa Properties' new development, called Westwood Village, calls for about 429 residential units in three towers. One of the buildings will house the new Glen Pine Pavilion, a 50-plus centre (part of Burlington Drive will be closed for a year to construct the underground parkade on the 4.9-acre lot, said city planner Jim McIntyre).

In Port Coquitlam, towers could also be popping up in the next few years.

The Onni Group is proposing to erect the tallest building in the city at the former site of the Shell gas station on Shaughnessy Street and Lions Way, next to Lions Park and the Rail Side Skate Park.

Onni spokesperson Daniel Diebolt said plans for the 26-storey tower have generated a mixed response.

Coun. Mike Bowen, acting mayor and chair of the city's community and economic development committee, said he has yet to see Onni's proposal.

"This is really something new for the city of Port Coquitlam and we're going to scrutinize it pretty good as we move forward with it," he said. "In terms of densification, it makes sense: It's close to transit, it's good for merchants downtown and it's good for Lions Park to have extra eyes and ears there."

Last year, city council rezoned the downtown core from single-family to apartments and highrises in an attempt to draw more people to the area, thereby spurring the need for more transit and a light-rail commuter system.

The PoCo Business Improvement Association declined to comment on Onni's tower as it has yet to see the proposal.

In Port Moody, where highrises already dominate NewPort Market Village, Onni is building a 26-storey highrise in the Suter Creek area, on the former Ipsco site, as well as 73 residential units in four-storey clusters at the old Toyota dealership at St. Johns and Moray streets.

Artist's rendering of PoCo tower:


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By Janis Warren The Tri-City News

Aug 02 2006

The Tri-City skyline is about to get crowded

At least 14 new highrises are planned for Coquitlam's Town Centre, including two 19- and 25-storey towers approved Monday by city council for Bosa Properties at Glen and The High streets.

And the city's tallest highrise, called The Obelisk and rising 35 floors, is being built on Pinetree Way next to Henderson Centre.

"There's a real interest for people wanting to move to Coquitlam and to be in these towers," Coquitlam Mayor Maxine Wilson said. "These projects are pre-selling."

Bosa Properties' new development, called Westwood Village, calls for about 429 residential units in three towers. One of the buildings will house the new Glen Pine Pavilion, a 50-plus centre (part of Burlington Drive will be closed for a year to construct the underground parkade on the 4.9-acre lot, said city planner Jim McIntyre).

In Port Coquitlam, towers could also be popping up in the next few years.

The Onni Group is proposing to erect the tallest building in the city at the former site of the Shell gas station on Shaughnessy Street and Lions Way, next to Lions Park and the Rail Side Skate Park.

Onni spokesperson Daniel Diebolt said plans for the 26-storey tower have generated a mixed response.

Coun. Mike Bowen, acting mayor and chair of the city's community and economic development committee, said he has yet to see Onni's proposal.

"This is really something new for the city of Port Coquitlam and we're going to scrutinize it pretty good as we move forward with it," he said. "In terms of densification, it makes sense: It's close to transit, it's good for merchants downtown and it's good for Lions Park to have extra eyes and ears there."

Last year, city council rezoned the downtown core from single-family to apartments and highrises in an attempt to draw more people to the area, thereby spurring the need for more transit and a light-rail commuter system.

The PoCo Business Improvement Association declined to comment on Onni's tower as it has yet to see the proposal.

In Port Moody, where highrises already dominate NewPort Market Village, Onni is building a 26-storey highrise in the Suter Creek area, on the former Ipsco site, as well as 73 residential units in four-storey clusters at the old Toyota dealership at St. Johns and Moray streets.

Artist's rendering of PoCo tower:


More Residential calls for more residents and people calling for SKYTRAIN AND NOT LRT!

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Whatever happened to the plans for that 90 story building in Surrey? I'm guessing it was just viewed as too unrealistic...

instead they're building two towers: a 39 storey and a 27 storey.

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A lot more... doesn't make sense to have a 90 storey tower, taller than the tallest building in downtown... =P

The pre-proposal name of that 90-storey monstrosity was called "King George Tower" and it would've been built across the street from Infinity. I got the number of floors mixed up, but the two towers that will now take the site of King George is actually 37-storeys each.



On the topic of buildings, Spectrum in downtown is nearly complete (should be done by early spring 2007). It's immediately adjacent to GM Place and BC Place (so the towers should liven the things up a bit), with four residential towers (710,000 square feet, 900 units) and a Costco store (144,725 square feet), with parking for 1,393 vehicles.


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Whitecaps win W-League Championship


In her heart of hearts, Christine Sinclair remains the girl next door who grew up playing soccer in her native Burnaby. It's what makes Sinclair so endearing in every conversation about her career in the game -- a still-young career that reached another milestone Sunday evening.

Playing in her first W-League final four playoff tournament, Sinclair scored the winning goal and played a part in the insurance tally, leading the Vancouver Whitecaps to a 3-0 triumph over the Ottawa Fury in the championship game at Swangard Stadium.

It capped an outstanding final four performance by Sinclair, who scored twice in the Whitecaps' 5-0 trouncing of the Seattle Sounders Saints in last Friday's semifinal round, finished with a tournament-best three goals, and was a unanimous choice as tourney MVP.

Where does the W-League crown rank in Sinclair's list of accomplishments in soccer? The 23-year-old striker didn't hesitate to answer.

"This is home, so it's pretty important," she said after the Whitecaps ran a victory lap with the spoils before 4,218 fans. "Any time you get a chance to win a championship at home, it's a little more special. This is right up there with anything I've won in my career."

Sinclair won NCAA Division I championships with the University of Portland Pilots in 2002 and 2005, and was twice named the Hermann Trophy winner as the NCAA's most outstanding female player. She established Pilots' and NCAA scoring records in the process, and was awarded the Honda-Broderick Cup as the NCAA's best female athlete earlier this year.

But all of those accomplishments were achieved away from home.

"This one was more fun," said Sinclair. "To be able to look up at the crowd and see your friends and family makes it a little more special. You want to play well in front of the people you know. It gives you a little more satisfaction."

Sinclair finished her first full season in a Vancouver jersey with a Whitecaps-best 12 goals and four assists. But a team effort was required to defeat the Fury in the first all-Canada championship game in the league's 11-year history.

Centre back Sasha Andrews made a major contribution, clearing a shot by prolific Fury striker Amy Vermeulen from an open net in the 17th minute and scoring the Whitecaps' third goal.

The Fury came close to scoring again in the 26th minute, when Vermeulen struck a rising shot into the side netting, with goalkeeper Erin McLeod beaten.

"It definitely would have been a different game if we had scored on those early chances," said Vermeulen, the runaway scoring leader in the playoffs with seven goals and one assist in five games. "We were unlucky not to have scored the first goal. We had the Whitecaps scrambling around a bit and should have taken advantage of those chances."

Sinclair had the fans breathing easier when she opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, toeing home a set-up pass from fellow striker Tiffeny Milbrett.

Fullback Martina Franko scored the insurance goal in first-half injury time, when she pounced on a rebound given up by Fury goalkeeper Leisha Alcia after she blocked a Sinclair shot.

McLeod preserved her second tournament shutout when she made a foot save on a breakaway shot by Fury winger Rhian Wilkinson in the 53rd minute. Then Andrews, who was the Whitecaps' best all-round player in the title game, capped the win with a header goal in the 74th minute.

It was the Whitecaps' second final four championship in three years. The 2004 team fashioned an undefeated record (17-0-1) en route to the title and this year's side was also unbeaten, at 13-0-1.

It was an especially satisfying win for first-year head coach Bob Birarda, who used 38 players during the season because many of his charges had commitments with Canada's senior national and under-20 teams. That list includes Sinclair, a veteran with the senior side.

"It was a great season for Christine and she deserves every honour she gets," said Birarda. "But this was also about our depth. I'm equally proud of every player that contributed to our success."

GOAL DUST: Midfielder Lindsey Patterson's goal lifted Seattle to a 1-0 win over North Carolina's Charlotte Lady Eagles in the consolation game for third place earlier Sunday ... Sunday's final game attendance was the second largest in the six-year history of the Vancouver franchise. The Caps drew a franchise-record 4,437 fans to their season-opening game against Seattle this year.

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Office vacancies hit 24-year low

Glen Korstrom | Business In Vancouver Magazine, Aug 07/2006

Downtown Vancouver’s office vacancy rate has hit a 24-year low – freefalling from 10.3 per cent, 18 months ago, to stand at a lowly four per cent today, according to new data.

Industry insiders expect that rate, which is for all classes of office space in the downtown peninsula, to fall further by the end of the year. The reasons: a dearth of new supply and continued surging demand fueled by B.C.’s economy.

The office vacancy rate for downtown could fall to three per cent by year-end, said Bill Elliott, managing partner at Vancouver commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young, which compiled the figures.

Elliott expects the space scarcity could prompt Vancouver’s central business district to crawl east as developers embark on new office projects in that direction.

“Downtown Vancouver will need more office towers in the future and the eastside is an area adjacent to the current business district that has underutilized sites ripe for development,” he said. “The downtown is fenced in with the harbour to the north and condo or hotel developments to the west and south. So, I see no way around the downtown core shifting east.”

Hillside Developments Ltd. principal Steve Hynes agreed. “The downtown crawl is not just moving east, it’s moving up,” he added.

Both Hynes and noted-architect Arthur Erickson have considered a proposal to develop a mixed commercial and residential skyscraper in the eastern part of downtown for the past few years.

“The building’s concept grows by a floor every year,” Hynes said. “It was originally set to 80 floors because that’s how old Arthur was. He’s now 83 years old so the proposal would be for 83 floors.”

For now, the duo lack a definite site for what they call the Fringe Building, a design concept which includes a titanium clamshell theatre at the site’s base.

Steel cables would run to the structure’s top floors to resemble a harp. Businesses could locate in entire floors or in groups of adjoining units.

While he and Erickson will have little trouble financing the project, city height restrictions and finding the perfect location could be obstacles, said Hynes.

The two partners have a track record of success that includes projects such as the West Side’s live/work Waterfall Building. They have passed the development permit stage and plan to break ground on a 35,000-square-foot office building at 1579 West 6th Avenue later this year.

Hynes expects Hillside to own the entire building and lease space to tenants who could move in by early 2008.

Such projects, however, provide small solace to tenants who want to locate or expand within the central downtown core.

Whitefish Group CEO Jay Garnett’s frustration at not being able to find space in the downtown core or Yaletown led him to lease 11,000 square feet of warehouse space at 2nd Avenue and Cambie Street in January.

it's awesome to know Arthur Erickson's Fringe Tower project, first announced in 2003, that it's not a myth.....or a complete joke. but he better hurry up, he's not getting any younger at 83 years old......*please don't die on us now Arthur*

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i love this city.....i'm proud to be gay.

Record Numbers for Fireworks, Pride

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

VANCOUVER/CKWX News1130 - The BC Day long weekend is over and the city has been buzzing after a pair of premiere events. Nearly 550,000 people took in Saturday's finale of the Celebration of Light while another 300,000 headed into the West End to watch the Pride Parade; both are records for the city particularly the pride parade, which attracted 115,000 more spectators than 2005. This particular long weekend is traditionally the deadliest one on our roads but it wasn't the case this time. The only fatality was a crash in Kelowna. The Mounties in the Fraser Valley say it appears crash numbers are down by about a third.











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