Local

If you’re in the Metro Vancouver area, you can find anything from dining, to shopping and other events. There’s lots to see and do in Vancouver, and you’ll find some of it here. Be sure to view the Events Calendar for local celebrations.

Carnaval del Sol brings Latin culture back for 2019

Latin American food brings everyone together at Carnaval del Sol.

Add some Latin American flair to your summer at Carnaval del Sol, returning for its eleventh year at Concord Pacific Place on Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th, 2019.

This two-day event is the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and incorporates food, fun, music and more from countries in Central and South America. Multiple plazas focus on many aspects of these cultures: food, arts, family, kids, health and wellness, kids, beer, and travel. Soccer is a huge part of Latin culture, so there’s also a soccer tournament during both days at Andy Livingstone Park.

Carnaval del Sol closes off the Latin American Week, which includes cruises, the Canada Day parade, a Latin film night, a look into Afro-Latin history, and wining and dancing.

Carnaval del Sol is hosted at Concord Pacific Place, 88 Pacific Blvd in Vancouver. There is a $2.00 admission this year for single day access (or a $15.00 VIP pass for use on both days, including access to the beer garden and VIP areas), and is easily reachable by transit with a quick walk from either the Stadium-Chinatown or Main Street-Science World SkyTrain stations.

TransLink fares set to increase on July 1, 2019

Compass Cards

TransLink fares are increasing on Monday, July 1st, 2019.

On Monday, July 1st, 2019 transit fares around Metro Vancouver will rise as part of TransLink’s on-going improvements to SkyTrain, SeaBus, bus and other services.

Single trip fares will see a five cent increase, while concession fares go up five cents; monthly passes will cost three dollars more (concession by two dollars). Stored Value Compass cards will go up by ten cents. Purchasing a DayPass will cost 25 cents more. The table below breaks down the cost per zone and fare type.

 

 

 

Single Use/Cash Tickets
Zone Current Fare New Fare
   Adult
1 $2.95 $3.00
2 $4.20 $4.25
3 $5.70 $5.75
   Concession
1 $1.90 $1.95
2 $2.90 $2.95
3 $3.90 $3.95
Stored Value Compass Card
   Adult
1 $2.30 $2.40
2 $3.35 $3.45
3 $4.40 $4.50
   Concession
1 $1.85 $1.95
2 $2.85 $2.95
3 $3.85 $3.95
Monthly Pass
   Adult
1 $95.00 $98.00
2 $128.00 $131.00
3 $174.00 $177.00
   Concession
All Zones $54.00 $56.00
Day Pass
   Adult
All Zones $10.25 $10.50
   Concession
All Zones $8.00 $8.25

Source: TransLink

BC Ferries fares to go up June 1st, 2019

BC Ferries vessel MV Queen of Oak Bay arrives at Horseshoe Bay.

The cost of taking BC Ferries is about to go up thanks to a new 1.5% fuel surcharge starting June 1st, 2019.

On routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, this is an additional 25 cents for an adult passenger and 85 cents for a vehicle. For the smaller inter-island routes, this is 15 cents for adult passengers and 45 cents for a vehicle.

BC Ferries uses fuel surcharges/rebates to offset the fluctuations in the price of fuel. Rebates are given at time of ticket purchase when the cost of fuel is low, while surcharges are added when the prices are high.

Sources: BC Ferries

Honda Celebration of Light 2019 dates and countries revealed

Japan’s performance in 2017

The Honda Celebration of Light returns to Vancouver’s English Bay this summer with three fun filled nights of fireworks synchronized to music. For 2019, the line-up includes two new participant countries are joining host country Canada – India and Croatia.

This is the 29th year the event has lit up the city, with India starting first on Saturday, July 27th, 2019, followed by Canada on Wednesday, July 31st, 2019 and then Croatia on Saturday, August 3rd, 2019.

Leading up to the pyrotechnic display, which begins at 10:00 pm, there will be live music and a selection of food trucks. For those wanting a more comfortable seat, there are three viewing lounges offering premium views (at a price); tickets are available online through the Honda Celebration of Light web site.

Source: Honda Celebration of Light

BC Ferries wants your feedback for new ships for Metro Vancouver-Vancouver Island routes

<em>MV Queen of New Westminster</em> manoeuvres into Duke Point in Nanaimo.

MV Queen of New Westminster manoeuvres into Duke Point in Nanaimo.

With some of BC Ferries’ older vessels reaching the end of their life, the company is looking for input on the amenities and features for the next generation of vessels. BC Ferries is hosting both an online survey and in-person pop-ups on select sailing routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

These new vessels would replace four serving the routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island: MV Queen of Alberni, MV Queen of New Westminster, MV Queen of Coquitlam, and MV Queen of Cowichan. These vessels serve on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay routes.

BC Ferries is looking to maintain fare affordability, minimize environmental impact, adjust capacity based on demand and services provided on board. Feedback regarding accessibility, people travelling with children, pets or using bicycles, as well as outdoor spaces, food/drink options and other conveniences is requested.

The new ferries are expected to enter service in the mid-2020’s.

Welcome spring with Sakura Days Japan Fair 2019

Hojo Hand-Crafted Samurai Armor Corps from Japan appeared at the festival in 2018.

It just isn’t spring without a stop at the Sakura Days Japan Festival. Located in the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Gardens, this two-day event celebrates everything Japanese in a fun festival atmosphere. The gardens host this fair between 10:00 am PDT to 6:00 pm PDT on Saturday, April 13th and 10:00 am PDT to 5:00 pm PDT on Sunday, April 14th, 2019.

Spend the weekend with Japanese culture through live performances, music, food, arts, demonstrations and crafts and more under the budding pastel sakura — the Japanese cherry blossom. Two performers from Japan are scheduled to attend: taiko drummer Keita Kanazashi and shamisen players KiKi.

As the festival takes place in the outdoors, bring appropriate attire as it may rain or the fields might have mud. Parking is limited, so save the hassle and take transit (either the #17 bus, or walk from the Oakridge-41st Avenue Canada Line Station west along 41st Avenue, and then north along Oak Street) to reach VanDusen Botanical Gardens (about a 15-20 minute stroll).

Paid admission is required for entry; tickets are available for purchase online (includes discount) or in person at the door.

British Columbia conventions for 2019

You can be a hero or a villain at one of the many conventions in BC!

Kick off 2019 with anime, pop culture, comics, gaming, movies and horror by attending a convention this year in British Columbia. While there’s plenty of events in and around Metro Vancouver, the rest of the province still has a few places for fans to band together for fun on the island and in the interior.

For more information, lists of guests and to register, visit the links below to use each event’s web site.

  • AniRevo Winter – February 2nd – 3rd, 2019 at Lipont Place in Richmond, BC
    AniRevo Winter is a two-day event to bridge the year-long wait until their summer convention, filled with guests, artists, vendors and more.
  • Tsukino-Con – February 22nd – 24th, 2019 at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC
    Tsukino-Con celebrates everything anime and manga related for fans on Vancouver Island in a fun and friendly environment.
  • Fan Expo Vancouver – March 1st – 3rd, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC
    The west coast’s largest comics, pop culture and anime expo returns to the Vancouver Convention Centre with guests, panels, exhibitors and more!
  • Kelowna Fan Experience – March 22nd – 24th, 2019 at the Kelowna Community Theatre in Kelowna, BC
    There’s something for everyone at the Kelowna Fan Experience who are into all things pop culture, anime, manga, comics, sci-fi, movies, gaming and horror.
  • Vancouver Island Comic Con – June 9th, 2019 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, BC.
    Vancouver Island Comic Con is a smaller event in an inviting atmosphere for comic fans of all ages to share their love of this artistic medium.
  • Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo – June 22nd, 2019 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, BC.
    Relive the glory days of video games at the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo. Try out consoles from generations past, enjoy live entertainment and maybe pick up that extra game cart for old times’ sake.
  • Geektopia – July 6th, 2019 at the Harbour Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC
    Unleash your inner geek at Vancouver’s newest comic convention! Partial proceeds from this event benefits the Amanda Todd Legacy towards awareness and prevention of bullying.
  • AniRevo Summer – August 9th – 11th, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC
    AniRevo his quickly expanded to become Metro Vancouver’s largest Japanese pop culture festival with guests from North America and Asia, vendors, panels and more.
  • Vancouver Halloween Parade and Expo – October 11th – 13th, 2019 at Robson Square in Vancouver, BC
    Don your favourite outfit and join the “world’s largest cosplay stage” as you parade through Vancouver’s downtown core! There’s more than just a parade with guests, panels, and musical performances.

Additional events will be added to this list as dates and locations become available.

VanDusen Gardens glows for Festival of Lights 2018

With the holiday season in high gear, the VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver are decked out in millions of Christmas lights for another year of the Festival of Lights.

The Festival of Lights is on now until January 6th, 2019. Tickets are required for entry and available online or in person. Dress appropriately as it may be cold or wet. Parking is limited, but transit is always an option (either with the 17 bus or a short walk north from the 41 bus).

Can’t make it? Check out the photos from the this year’s event on Gallery.

Remembrance Day services for 2018 in Metro Vancouver

Remembrance Day 2017

Waiting to lay wreathes at the cenotaph in Victory Square on November 11th, 2017.

On Sunday, November 11th, 2018, communities throughout Metro Vancouver will hold ceremonies to honour the men and women who serve and have given their lives for Canada for Remembrance Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11th, 1918.

  • Vancouver – Ceremony and Parade at Victory Square (West Hastings Street between Cambie and Hamilton streets). Starts at 10:00 am PST.
  • Burnaby – Remembrance Day Ceremony at North Burnaby Cenotaph in Confederation Park (Willingdon Avenue and Penzance Drive). Starts at 10:40 am PST, followed by the ceremony at 11:00 am PST.
  • Burnaby – Remembrance Day Ceremony at South Burnaby Cenotaph in Bonsor Park (Imperial Street and Nelson Avenue). Parade starts at 10:30 am PST, followed by the ceremony at 11:00 am PST.
  • New Westminster – Ceremony at the Cenotaph in front of New Westminster City Hall (511 Royal Avenue). Starts at 10:25 am PST.
  • Surrey – Ceremony at Cloverdale Cenotaph at the Surrey Museum and Surrey Archives (17710 – 56A Avenue). Starts at 9:30 am PST.
  • Richmond – Ceremony and Parade at Richmond City Hall (6911 No. 3 Road). Parade leaves Minoru Park at 10:20 am PST followed by the ceremony at 10:40 am PST.
  • Coquitlam – A Remembrance Day service will be held at the Blue Mountain Park Cenotaph (975 King Albert Avenue) beginning at 9:45 am PST, followed by a parade from the Como Lake Middle School to the Cenotaph at 10:30 am PST and concluding with services at the Cenotaph in Blue Mountain Park (975 King Albert Avenue).
  • Delta – Ceremony at North Delta Social Heart Plaza (11415 84th Avenue). Starts at 10:40 am PST.
  • Delta – Parade and Ceremony at Ladner Memorial Park (5010 47th Avenue). Parade starts at 10:15 am PST followed by the ceremony at 10:45 am PST.

Metro Vancouver and Transit

Transit in Metro Vancouver is always a hot button topic. Anything and everything from fares, bus stops, right up to the technology used for transit vehicles. It seems that in the last decade or so, TransLink (the operating company behind Metro Vancouver’s public transportation system) and the government (both municipal and provincial) have proven they are incapable of effectively providing any sort of reliable operation to commuters in the Lower Mainland.

I’ve lived in the Vancouver area all my life and watched SkyTrain grow beyond the New Westminster station to Columbia, then over the Fraser to Scott Road and eventually out to King George, the Millennium Line when it only stopped at Sapperton, when there was no fare gates, and that you had to walk up steps when boarding a bus. Before the turn of the century, everything was branded as BC Transit, in its red, white and blue colour scheme of the Union Jack on our provincial flag. While there have been some major improvements and changes to the way we get around the region, not all of it is positive.

Many of those who live in Vancouver proper, Burnaby, New Westminster and parts of the Tri-Cities (Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam), transit is generally available and reliable. The story changes to the communities south of the Fraser River, where buses are frequently delayed or non-existent, and local governments ignore the advice of the people that elected them into office by offering unpopular methods of transportation.

That unpopular method is LRT (Light Rail Transit). For the last decade or more, the City of Surrey has been doing studies and waffling over the idea of how best to connect its many town centres (Surrey Central, Newton, Guildford) together with the existing SkyTrain network. In the last year or two, the city has made the firm decision to implement LRT going down King George Boulevard to Newton and out east along 104 Avenue to Guildford. I could go on and on about why this is a terrible idea (read my thoughts on this), but once the decision from the provincial and federal governments to issue funding for construction for the LRT, there has been a hard stance from all levels government that LRT is going forward. Their lack of vision and all the computer-generated imagery showcasing a happy community with less cars and more pedestrians is short-sighted. Surrey is a growing city and a decade after LRT is in place, the city and TransLink will again be petitioning the provincial and federal governments for expanded SkyTrain service, thus wasting more of our tax dollars which could have been spent efficiently from the get go. The LRT will eventually be dug up and replaced with an elevated SkyTrain guideway (akin to when the express bus lanes down No. 3 Road in Richmond were built to great fanfare only to be torn up a few years later for the construction of the Canada Line).

Now Vancouver is considering LRT along a major east-west thoroughfare: 41st Avenue. Yes, the 41 bus is always crowded and yes it takes forever to get from Joyce-Collingwood station out to the University of British Columbia. Here we go again. If you drive along 41st Avenue, you’ll notice it’s not very wide and always congested. Lined with single family homes, the city will need to expropriate a large number of properties to make this work, driving up the cost exponentially. While the city is trying to find ways to move people to their destinations with fast and affordable service, LRT, again is not the right idea. You’re basically moving the bus onto rails at additional cost with limited room for increased capacity. And with the Oakridge area undergoing major renovations to include high density residential space, this idea will fall flat on its face. A better solution would be dedicated HOV lanes for transit vehicles and cars with two or more occupants.

Furthermore to TransLink’s and the government’s poor knowledge on building transit is the Canada Line. Completed in 2009 before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Canada Line became too popular for its own good. Listening to the complaints of local business groups in Richmond that two tracks would make their establishments lose money because of an unsightly sterile concrete guideway, the line became single tracked after Lansdowne station (and out at the Vancouver International Airport). But it’s no joke now that the density in the island city is increasing with plans to tear down Lansdowne Mall to replace it with new high-rises and commercial space. But that’s not the worst of it. The Canada Line was crippled from the beginning with short platforms limiting the trains to two cars total. This lack of thought for future capacity has filled station platforms and crowded trains. TransLink has ordered more cars from Hyundai Rotem (the group that manufactured the first trains) to add more to increase service. There was even talk of making the trains into three cars, but that never materialized. Now Vancouver and Richmond are building up density along this rapid transit route which cannot possibly keep pace with that growth. Let’s not forget the clandestine construction which pitted local merchants along Cambie Street against TransLink and the builders over lost sales from lack of customers avoiding said construction (they’re now finally being awarded damages).

Then there was the Compass card debacle. How many transit systems around the world use fare gates/turnstiles and contactless cards for admission? Quite a few, and yet TransLink managed to drop the ball repeatedly because they didn’t redesign the fare structure beforehand. Trying to get proven technology to work with TransLink’s zone-based fare structure was a headache for the company and the public in general as costs spiralled out of control to the tune of $194 million dollars. The fare gates sat open almost four years before they were all closed in July 2016 finally forcing riders to tap in or out and ending nearly 30 years of the honour system.

The only recently positive news coming from TransLink and the levels of government is the extension of the Millennium Line out to Arbutus Street (and hopefully further out to the University of British Columbia). The Millennium Line has long been reviled as the “SkyTrain to nowhere” and its daily passenger counts are far less than the Expo Line, this has the potential to bring longer trains (no more two-car Mark II trains) as it connects with busy Broadway corridor. As long as TransLink plays its cards right and builds stations with longer platforms, this addition to SkyTrain becomes a much needed respite to the crowded 99 B-Line buses.

And to add a cherry on-top of it all, a TransLink bus stop in Pitt Meadows was named the worst in all of North America. Why? Because it’s on the paved shoulder of Lougheed Highway against a jersey barrier. Passengers are forced to endure speeding vehicles if they wait on the shoulder or they have lumber over the cement barrier to board their bus when it arrives. TransLink said they would address this, but why was it built in the first place? How could this ever have been a good idea from the beginning?

While TransLink continues to roll along like a sow in slop, it’s safe to say their executive leadership (along with the assistance of the Mayor’s Council*) will continue to draft up impractical and ill-considered plans to expand and “improve” the future of transit in Metro Vancouver.

*While TransLink is an independent entity, the Mayor’s Council (that’s 21 Metro Vancouver mayors, the Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and the elected representative of Electoral Area “A”) pretty much has final say over the costs of projects, TransLink board appointments, fare increases, and executive compensation plans.

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