Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mt. Pleasant Community Centre delay

According to a Vancouver blog called Shane's World the new Mt. Pleasant Community Centre that's being built on the triangular corner of Kingsway and Main, between 7th and 8th Avenues, has experienced more delays and will not be finished until 2008. Meanwhile, the children who drew the pictures on the fence around the site are probably graduating from high school by now.

The current Mt. Pleasant Community Centre will be closed when the new one is finished. The old Mt. Pleasant Community Centre (not to be confused with the Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House, at Broadway and Prince Albert) is in Mt. Pleasant Park at 16th and Ontario. It has a fitness centre, gymnasium, racquetball courts, several multi-purpose rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. (Of course they're all closed right now, while we wait for the city to settle the strike.)

The new Mt. Pleasant Community Centre is supposed to house a new public library, and when it opens the old library in Kingsgate Mall is destined to be closed. (Of course it's closed right now, too, while we wait for the city to settle the strike.)

I hope you checked out lots of books before the strike.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Skunks and Dogs

There are a lot of skunks walking around Mt. Pleasant. This evening one walked through our yard, was chased by our dogs, and sprayed them. Things I have learned about this situation:

1. Don't call your dogs into the house. It is already too late. Make them stay outside until you are ready to bathe them outside or march them straight into the bathtub, because if you let them in they will rub skunk smell all over everything - either trying to get it off, or because they like it, I'm not sure which.

2. Skunk smell that is sprayed on doesn't smell like skunk smell lingering in the air. It smells sort of like a combination of gasoline and sesame oil. I didn't think it was skunk when the dogs first came into the house, I thought maybe someone had sprayed chemicals on the dogs.

3. If you have young, dumb dogs, chances are great that they will get sprayed. Best to be prepared. According to a chemist's site I saw (too late) online, tomato juice doesn't work. Even though the report last week on CBC radio said it does. However, if you go into Mac's at 10:30 pm and buy six liters of tomato juice, everybody will know that your dogs got into a skunk and be sympathetic - if their dog got into a skunk, they will recognize the smell.

3. This nice chemistry professor in California has posted a site that explains what the main ingredients of skunk spray are - even shows the molecules - and what will work to neutralize them. You can find it at http://www.humboldt.edu/~wfw2/deodorize.shtml

Basically, he says, they have to be oxidized, and you can do that with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid detergent - or chlorine bleach (but don't use the bleach on the dog).

Another site said you could use vinegar instead of the peroxide, and that it wouldn't bleach the dog's coat as much. Here's the operational part of William Wood's advice:

For pets that have been sprayed, bathe the animal in a mixture of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and a teaspoon of liquid detergent. After 5 minutes rinse the animal with water. Repeat if necessary. The mixture must be used after mixing and will not work if it is stored for any length of time. DO NOT STORE IN A CLOSED CONTAINER - it releases oxygen gas so it could break the container. This mixture may bleach the pet's hair. I have heard of one black Labrador retriever that was chocolate colored after this treatment. (Paul Krebaum's Recipe from Chemical & E ngineering News , October 18, 1993, p. 90).

Some additional tips. Do this outside so the volatile skunk spray does not contaminate your house. To remove residual skunk odor from your clothes and any towels or rags used in this clean up procedure, wash them with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water.

For buildings, decks, etc., a solution of liquid laundry (Chlorox®) bleach (1 cup per gallon) will work. CAUTION - THIS MAY BLEACH THE BUILDINGS, DECKS, ETC. Try it on a small area if bleaching may be a problem. The bleach must come in contact with the spot where the secretion was sprayed Repeated applications may be necessary for large amounts of the skunk spray. DO NOT USE THIS ON PETS. It will not work for skunk spray that has drifted over a large area or is trapped in a house. Only time and adequate ventilation will help in this case.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A small lesson

The young child who lives across the street came outside today in company of an older man, perhaps a grandfather. They made a paseo around the house to examine the flora and fauna. As they walked back my way, the boy was chanting "too - many -bees." I, too, was watching bees in the flowers in my front yard. There were many. The grandfather chanted "lots - of - bees" and the boy changed to the same.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Means of Production youth want your opinion

The Environmental Youth Alliance has a project called Means of Production that does a lot of work in North China Park. Over the past few years, young people have terraced the north part of the high sloping part of the park and have put in many kinds of plants. They also built a tool shed and recently added a sturdy bench and some fencing made from willow branches. Sometimes they host events like the recent two-part series on herbal medicines. The EYA says the goal of this project is "to bring urban youth into closer contact with natural spaces and food production." You can read more about it on the website www.eya.ca. A week or two ago they added a big sign asking people to comment about what Means of Production means to them. There's a box with a slot at the bottom left, and some paper - and a string that probably used to have a pencil. Be sure to comment when you stop by the park, about how interesting and heartening their work is. And don't forget to bring your own pen or pencil.

Monday, July 16, 2007

To get stop signs and traffic circles

The corner of Prince Albert St. and 8th Avenue has become pretty dangerous, because it is hard to see traffic coming along 8th Avenue. There are stop signs on Prince Albert, but none on 8th. Many large vehicles park on street near this intersection. When they used to park mainly on Prince Albert between Broadway and 8th, it didn't cause as much of a traffic hazard, but now for some reason the trucks and buses have moved to park mainly on 8th. Even a van or SUV can block the view of oncoming traffic, especially because of the curve of the hill in both directions. To see if anything is coming you have to pull way out in the intersection in your car, and you might get hit doing it. I have witnessed one accident recently, and been involved in several near misses.

Because of this, I wrote the City Traffic department, through their website, asking for a 4-way stop to be put up at this corner. Basically, they said we haven't had enough accidents there yet! But that we could get a calming circle if 2/3 of the neighbours want to pay. Here is the text of the reply:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kim, Dave
Date: May 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Subject: FW: Web Submission - Contact Form WO#4086
Thank you for your e-mail regarding traffic safety at the intersection
of Prince Albert and 8th Avenue.

4-way Stop signs are installed when the existing 2-way control is no longer adequate or efficient. When installing 4-way stop signs to improve safety the decision is made based on a number of factors including the accident history at the intersection provided by Police and ICBC records. We then follow guidelines for Stop sign installation as set out in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada. The M.U.T.C.D. warrant calls for 4-way stops if 5 or more right-of-way conflict accidents per year have occurred (right angle collisions, not rear ends or side swipes). Traffic volumes must generally be balanced, with 200 or more vehicles per hour on the lesser street. Another consideration for 4-way Stops is an average delay of 30 seconds or more to side street traffic. Efficiency problems would be evident by high volumes in all directions, and delays to traffic in the stopped direction.

The intersection of Prince Albert and 8th was previously examined and accident records for the intersection show three reported accidents within a 5 year period. A traffic count at the intersection found north/south vehicle volumes to be about 102 Vehicles per hour along Prince Albert and about 132 vehicles per hour on 8th Ave with delays of less than 30 seconds. Therefore, for the reasons explained above, 4-way stop signs are not recommended for the intersection of Prince Albert and 8th Avenue at this time.

A traffic circle is another traffic calming option which can be pursued through the local improvement process. This allows residents the opportunity to have a traffic circle installed on their street by agreeing to pay for the installation. The process for acquiring a property owner funded traffic circle is by obtaining a 2/3 majority of property owners to sign a petition in support of the traffic circle. If you would like an information package sent to you, please contact me by return e-mail or call me at (604) 871-6279. If you would like information on property owner funded corner bulges please contact John Jang of our Local Improvements Branch at (604)873-7183.

At an intersection, vehicles parking on the street must stop at least 6 metres from the back of the sidewalk on an intersecting street. If you notice vehicles parking within the intersection clearance, please call Parking Enforcement at 604-257-8727 to request enforcement of the Street and Traffic Bylaw.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

>Dave Kim
>City of Vancouver Greenways and Neighbourhood Transportation Branch
>453 West 12th Avenue
>Vancouver BC V5Y 1V4
>Phone: 604-871-6279 Fax: 604-871-6192
>Email: dave.kim[AT]vancouver.ca


The following was submitted through the Traffic Management website from

1. What is the nature of the comment?

2. What do you want to comment on?
Local Traffic

3. What is the location?
8th Avenue
Prince Albert

This corner has had crashes and many near misses, and much needs a 4-way stop or a circle. It is impossible to see past tall parked vehicles, especially because of the hill, and you take your life in your hands by pulling out without seeing nearly every time you cross 8th on Prince Albert. There are many van and SUV owners who need to park on street around there, and also some large trucks driven by residents, so this situation is going to stay bad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

John Graham - Canadian Rights Violated

John Graham was a resident of the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood until he lost his appeal to the BC Supreme Court of Appeal to stop his extradition to the United States, June 26th. He is currently in jail awaiting the decision to hear his case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Why should You be interested in John's case? It could happen to you, especially if you are a visible minority.

The FBI want to extradite a Canadian Citizen, for a CONTROVERSIAL murder of another Canadian Citizen (both are Canadian aboriginal First Nations People). The controversy is, the FBI may have been involved with the murder and they are 'covering' up their part in it. After all, they did the first autopsy and found the cause of death to be due to 'exposure'. After the family of the murder victim had an independent coroner do a second autopsy, it was learned the person was shot in the head. How could the FBI 'miss' something so obvious.

In the early 1990's, the National Film Board of Canada produced a documentary on the murder of Anna Mae Aquash. Even the family suspected the FBI involvement of this murder. Now the FBI have to change their story their story to save 'face'. Thirty years after the murder the FBI 'suddenly' have 'new' evidence, and John Graham's nightmare begins.

The following is written by the RCMP officer who had arrested Leonard Peltier. Peltier's case is very much related to John Graham's. Leonard Peltier was also extradited from Canada on fabricated evidence and sentenced to life imprisonment, also on fabricated evidence, and suppressed evidence would have shown his innocence. The same fate awaits John Graham unless the Canadian Government stops the extradition. If the US want a trial, let him be tried in Canada where he can receive a fair trial.

Letter by Bob Newbrook

The charge by the FBI against John Graham, a Tuchone Native of the Yukon, for a murder which occurred in South Dakota in 1976 is again a blatant fabrication of evidence.

According to FBI documents, the frozen body of a Native woman was found on private land near Wanblee, South Dakota on February 24, 1976. The following day, a pathologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Dr. W.O. Brown, performed an autopsy which included, by his statement, “the removal of the brain from the body” and determined the cause of death to be exposure. The corpse’s hands were severed and sent to FBI headquarters for further finger print analysis. The body was buried as Jane Doe and subsequently identified as that of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a Mi-Kmaq Native of Nova Scotia, Canada, who was a member of the AIM and a U.S. federal fugitive at the time of her death.

On demand by counsel acting for the family of the deceased, Bruce Ellison, the body was exhumed on March 11, 1976 and a pathologist of the families choosing, Dr. Garry Peterson, determined the cause of death as a bullet wound to the head.

Mystery and intrigue have surrounded the case for years. On September 16, 1999, a distant cousin of Anna Mae, Robert Pictou-Branscombe, convened a press conference in which he stated that FBI provocateur Douglass Durham had planted rumors about Anna Mae being an FBI informant. He further alleged that she was taken to a house on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, where she was interrogated by other AIM members, and a self-proclaimed Executive Director of AIM, Vernon Bellecourt, had ordered her execution. Branscombe also alleged that she was killed by Graham.

The FBI quickly responded by stating that new evidence would be put before a grand jury. In 2003, a homeless alcoholic named Arlo Looking Cloud was arrested, tried and convicted of being an accessory to the first degree murder of Anna Mae. The evidence was a video showing Looking Cloud being interviewed by police while in detention, stating that he and John Graham had taken Anna Mae in a car driven by a Native woman named Theda Clark to a place where he saw John Graham take Anna Mae to an embankment by a fence and shoot her in the head on December 12, 1975. Looking Cloud had visited the scene with police officer Bob Ecofy shortly before the trial, supposedly to re-enact the crime for police evidence.

There are many discrepancies associated with the evidence at trial, which the government appointed lawyer for the defense, Tim Rensch of Rapid City, did not broach. For example, the pathologist, for the BIA, Dr. W.O. Brown, had stated in his report of the autopsy which he had performed on February 25, 1976, that the body had been dead for 7 to 10 days, putting the time of death around February 18 to February 15, 1976, and not December 12, 1975 as stated by Looking Cloud. Also, had the body been laying in the cold open countryside for over 2 months, the flesh would have been scavenged by coyotes and crows. The owner of the ranch who discovered the body, Roger Amiotte, stated that the fence in question had not been erected until some 15 years after he found the body. Additionally, Mr. Amiotte stated that the body was wrapped in a blanket when he found it.

In FBI documents titled “A summary of investigation of the murder of Anna Mae Aquash”, it is stated that “During the crime scene search, the earth below where Aquash’s head had rested was spaded in an effort to obtain physical evidence of which none was located and no earth was removed from the scene”. The documents also state that there was no evidence of foul play. This contradicts the evidence on tape given by Looking Cloud, which was used to convict him and indict Graham, that Anna Mae was shot in the head at the scene where the body was found. If this were the case, blood would certainly have been present. A separate document makes reference to certain staff members in the hospital where the body was taken who noted matted blood in the hair on the head of the corpse.

It seems clear that Anna Mae Aquash was murdered elsewhere and transported to the location where her body was found. After exhumation of the body and the FBI’s official statement’s loss of credibility, a different story was concocted and John Graham implicated. He was arrested in Vancouver in December, 2003. During an interview with me at the pre-trial detention center, he stated that he had driven Anna Mae to a safe house on the reservation in 1975 when she had told him that FBI Special Agent David Price had previously arrested her and taken finger prints, photographs and notations of body markings for future identification purposes. Also, she said Price had threatened her that unless she named the AIM members present at the Oglala shootout at the time of the deaths of the two agents, she would not live another year.

The onus lies with the prosecution to prove guilt. Court is not a crucible for truth, and witnesses are routinely coached prior to testifying in order to achieve predetermined results; nuances are shaded, memories reprocessed and vulnerable suspects can be intimidated into confessing to something of which they are not guilty. The FBI has power and privilege. The persecution of John Graham is a clear attempt by the FBI to vindicate themselves with respect to this shameful and abhorrent chapter of history.

John Graham was committed for extradition in appellate court on June 26, 2007.

--Bob Newbrook, June 26, 2007.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Where is Mt. Pleasant?

In a way, one might say that Mt. Pleasant is a state of mind as much as a geographical location. It's a neighbourhood that so far has few pretensions, a little down at the heels but well liked, a little laissez-faire but with people keeping an eye out for each other, a mixture of mainly older apartment houses and some remnants of older homes modestly cared for, a place of the greatest diversity of ages and ethnicities you can imagine. On the other hand, the City has designated an actual geographical area to be called Mt. Pleasant. Here's the map they provide on the web page http://vancouver.ca/community_profiles/mount_pleasant/ The southern boundary they designate is 16th Avenue. The Northwest part of the map seems to include the southern shore of False Creek. So our neighbourhood is in for some big changes, too.

Google Maps offers a hybrid of linear map and satellite maps. I focused this map query on the northern end of Mt. Pleasant, at Terminal and Main, but you can move around in it and find your own street.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Mt. Pleasant School's New Sprinkler System

Just curious about why a sprinkler system was being installed this week in the field on the east side of Mt. Pleasant Elementary School (2300 Guelph St.). In this rainy climate, the grass stays green anyway, and we've heard so much about the schools being strapped for funding. Community members do play soccer there (check out Issa and his teammates there on Wednesday evenings), so maybe the grass needs extra attention...?

But maybe, aha! There's an ulterior motive for the sprinkler system that has nothing to do with green and more to do with brown. An article last April in the Vancouver Courier is all about the doggie poopoo problem children have encountered in that field. Because the yard is largely fenced, it's an enticing and pretty safe place to take doggies for a run, and some days you see an awful lot of dogs and their owners gathered there. On Friday, there was even a class going on in the northeast corner of the schoolyard, teaching manners to dogs that get violent with other dogs.

According to the article - and I can tell you from observation that it's true - some dog owners don't scoop their dogs' poop, or do so incompletely, leaving a residue for elementary kids to slide in.

In some cities, like New York, you see signs that say "curb your dog." That means that the place for your dog to take a poop is in the street, just alongside the curb. Then it's easy to pick up - you don't have to take the grass with it - and it's possible for streetcleaning machines (or rushing rainwater) to wash up. I never see anybody curbing their dog in Vancouver, and we don't have any signs to that effect. But this might be a good thing to start teaching our dogs until a better alternative is devised.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Facebook group for MtPleaseAunt

If you want to upload photos of the neighbourhood, there is only a little room on this blog, so if you have several photos you might want to join the facebook group Mt. Pleasant Vancouver BC CanadaGlobal