There’s a new kid on the development block

Appeared in the North Shore News – December 5, 2014

If you loved the Weegies, as I tenderly call the West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government, you may adore the West Vancouver Housing Association.

The WVHA is a new kid on the development block. Literally. It has a storefront in Dundarave. Two well-placed, mystified West Van town hall personages agreed with the undersigned that, as of last week, they’d never seen it open. Nor did it have a website. Or any Googleable reference.

Agent Tj3s8 – a development skeptic, so take the opinion with a large grain of NaCl – says the WVHA consists of “the worst” real estate heavies, the most powerful developers and salespeople. Meaning the best, biggest, most successful, by positive interpretation.

And why is the WVHA springing into life now?

Because next month West Van council begins serious debate on an updated official community plan, which will take many months to pass.

In that time gap, so goes the cynical view of Agent Tj3s8, the real estate business will put foot to the floor to rush town hall development approvals before a possibly more stringent OCP is passed.

Pretty much like the self-interest of all of us when our dollar is at stake.

Fittingly next up, gloomy retail news: Baracos + Brand is closing – a quality men’s store that would have attracted well-heeled residents of Grosvenor Ambleside, steps down Bellevue, had it held on for a few years.

Christine Baracos and late West Van councillor John Clark co-owned the store under the smartly named The Mensroom. Its successor’s closure supports Mayor Michael Smith’s case that many Ambleside businesses are suffering near-death experiences, and Grosvenor is a major step toward rejuvenation.

So Smith (and Grosvenor) must welcome the reborn Shell station across Marine Drive, long an inglorious mudhole entrance to Ambleside that hardly enhances sales of condos – which, Agent p49scR, a new agent whose accuracy is untested and is only on the apprentice list, declares are projected to start at $1.6 million and, for the two penthouse-type terrace homes, will be north of $15 million each.

Michael Ward, senior vice-president and general manager of Grosvenor Americas, responds: “Price lists are not something we distribute, but rather we provide those that are interested in purchasing specific residential units with the individual pricing for that unit.” Grosvenor Ambleside’s presentation centre will be completed in February, Ward adds.

As Constant Reader knows, my only journalistic fault is an abiding kindness.

So I’ve been musing about my words, last time at bat, about Coun. Craig Cameron’s pain that council duties were costing him – he has to take time off from what we might call real work. He’s right.

Most present councillors are either retired or aren’t principal or sole breadwinners.

Exceptions are Cameron, a government lawyer who has lost income due to council demands, and newcomer Christine Cassidy, a financial adviser, who may find herself in the same financial boat – a metaphorical leaky 12-foot rowboat. Councillors are paid about $30,000 a year for running a municipality where top staff get up to seven or eight times as much.

So vote-topping Cameron isn’t whining. He’s just more open than others about the sacrificial realities of council service in 2014.

I allow myself one sports comment per year. This is it: My deep distrust of contact sports – football and, yes, hockey, about which I have a puckish sense of humour – deepened last weekend.

Hamilton, my home town (only 51 years away from it, seems like 52), crushed favoured Calgary with a touchdown in the last 35 seconds of the Grey Cup game … but for an interference call that wiped out Brandon Banks’ classic 90-yard run to the end zone. And left Calgary’s 20-16 lead intact. From my seat in Section 444, the referee instantly resembled the man who ain’t got rhythm, nobody’s with him, he’s the loneliest man in town (that’s Irving Berlin, kiddies).

Vancouver Sun sports writers mocked the illegal block call. Iain MacIntyre doubted that Taylor Reed’s infraction influenced Banks’ spectacular run: “By CFL standards, deciding the Grey Cup on largely innocuous contact was absolutely predictable.” Cam Cole: “That’s not to say there wasn’t a foul on the play. The problem is that there’s a foul, or two, or five, on pretty much every play in football.”

(Canada’s real gridiron drama was Saturday, when my school, Hamilton’s McMaster, bowed 20-19 to University of Montreal Carabins on a dying-seconds blocked field goal. Two hometown losses in a weekend!) Back to the point: In hockey, as in football, the line between fair and foul is often so subjective, so arbitrary – penalties commonly aren’t called in overtime, f’r instance – that refs have huge power to determine winners and losers.

Which is why baseball is my game. The umpires – suitably black-clad – are clearly God clones. Never wrong. Sort of like old newspaper columnists.

© Trevor Lautens, 2014