Monday, August 12, 2013

Hudson's Bay's loss could be Brentwood's gain

There is a big IF regarding the title of this post.  I had to get that out of the way to ensure readers that this is pure speculation and dreaming.  I've mentioned the name Uniqlo in a previous post regarding what the streetscape might look like in the new Fashion/Entertainment District after the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  Uniqlo, a Japan-based clothing retailer appears to be attempting an entry into the Vancouver retail scene and has been trying to work out a leasing arrangement for space within the Hudson's Bay in downtown Vancouver.

According to the following articles, arriving at an agreement has proven to be difficult.  As the title of this post suggests, Shape Properties should be courting a company with the profile of Uniqlo to bring a store that would be unique in Metro Vancouver.  Although stores that already exist in other parts of Metro Vancouver would be good for Brentwood, a Uniqlo type of unique retailer would only make the place more prestigious as a retail destination.

Related articles below:

RETAIL INSIDER: UNIQLO Coming to Canada. Vancouver Lease Negotiati...: Image: Bloomberg News We've gotten word that Japanese cheap n' chic retailer Uniqlo is coming to Canada, and is negotiating a l...

RETAIL INSIDER: UNIQLO & BLOOMINGDALE'S CANADA UPDATE: HAPPENING O...: [ Image Source ] The National Post/Financial Post reports that Uniqlo could become a tenant within Hudson's Bay stores. Its art...



Vancouverites may rejoice everywhere for the rumours of Uniqlo moving to Vancouver are becoming more real each day.  According to Retail Insider, the Japanese retail company has been negotiating the lease for part of downtown’s Hudson’s Bay building.  The store would be set in the basement space of the building; directly below Topshop.
Uniqlo has five more American locations on its way and hope to open 20-30 American stores a year.  Vancouver’s location will be the first Canadian spot, with Toronto not far behind.  The store is said to launch in Vancouver in early 2013.
Uniqlo is an inexpensive retail company that began in Japan in 1949 and has stretched across the globe within the past decade.  There are nearly a thousand stores open world-wide including stores in France, London, Thailand and one in the Philippines which opened this past June.
The company hopes to be the world’s top apparel store by 2020 and so far they aren’t too far off the map.  “Thank god they’re coming [to Vancouver], I’ve been bugging them for a year on [Facebook],” said a Uniqlo customer on the Georgia Straight website. “They might not always have the cheapest or best designs, but they are real good qualities, fit like gloves, and look much better than the Gap and Hollister combined.”  Uniqlo has received praise all over the world for their clothes.
The store offers casual and fun outfits from dates to work and days on the couch. Retail Insider describes it as “cheap and chic,” clothes.
So far Vancouver’s location has not yet been confirmed, but hopefully they won’t keep us waiting for long.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Art versus working escalators

While TransLink misappropriates $250, 000 to commission art work for the Metrotown SkyTrain Station (story below), the Commercial-Broadway Station upward escalator has been out of service since May 6 for "maintenance".  I don't know what TransLink's excuse is for having an escalator out of service for over 3 months (let alone for 3 days) and I can't help but wonder how this transit authority is able to justify, with a straight face, the spending of $250, 000 on art work when it is unable to maintain the operational integrity of its escalators.  Now don't get me wrong: I love artwork but TransLink should not be in the artwork business when it is unable to make competent decisions regarding transit services.

To make this matter even more ridiculous, while the upward escalator has been out of service for more than 3 months, the downward escalator has been fully operational (at least until we get to August 12).  I guess it would have been too much of an effort for TransLink to reverse the downward escalator to help people make the more difficult upward trek to the Expo Line.

The question is this:  What is TransLink's excuse for such poor management?

The following bit is from TransLink's site.

Commercial Broadway Station: Station Alert                          SkyTrain          Minor         Aug 1 2013

Effective Mon. Aug 12th from 9:00 am until Wed. Aug 14th at 3:00 pm
The 'down' escalator at the overhead walkway from Broadway station to the ticket vending machine level out of service

Effective Monday May 6 9am until further notice.
The up escalator from Commercial Street ticket vending machine level to the Broadway overhead walkway will be out of service due to scheduled maintenance.

Commercial Broadway Station Escalator Out of Service for Annual Inspection.


METRO NEWS story below


TransLink searches for artist to spruce up Metrotown SkyTrain station
By Emily Jackson  (Metro Vancouver)

Metrotown SkyTrain station is set to get prettier during its $35-million extreme makeover. TransLink sent out a call for artists to create public art for the station as part of the renovations at seven Expo Line stations, to be completed with federal cash by 2016. 
“Public art contributes to a more vibrant, well-used environment,” TransLink spokesmanDerek Zabel said. “It can result in safer and more well cared for spaces.”
Graffiti tends to drop when there’s public art, Zabel added, noting that lots of cities use art as a strategy to improve safety.
But public art at SkyTrain stations has a history of attracting the vandalism it’s supposed to deter.Thieves stole one of 42 aluminum replica Volkswagen Beetles as part of artist Sudarshan Shetty’s “History of Loss” sculpture at King Edward Canada Line station in 2010. Ultimately, officials removed the installation from the station.

Regardless, TransLink will go ahead with the art strategy as it starts upgrades.

A panel of local art professionals, TransLink staff, Burnaby staff and an art consultant will choose the ultimate artist.

Starving artists, take note: It’s a paid gig.

TransLink has $250,000 to pay for administration, paying the artist, fabrication and the installation – less than 1 per cent of the overall renovation budget.
Lower Mainland artists are asked to submit their resume and portfolio by May 14 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lack of bike lanes not only impediment to cycling

As the City of Vancouver battles with anti-bike lane elements over the sometimes inappropriate placement and location of bike lanes and now attempts to fund an expensive albeit well-intentioned bike-sharing program, it appears to be ignoring a major deterrent to both long and short-distance cycling trips; bicycle theft.

Like a plague, bicycle theft has arguably been one of the biggest obstacles to cycling in Metro Vancouver and the problem shows no signs of going away.  This problem exists because our officials not only lack the ability to consider practical, new solutions that exist outside the limited lens through which they perceive the world, but because they are unable to even see what other places around the world have done to tackle such issues.

If cities like Vancouver are willing to spend millions of dollars to set up and fund bike sharing programs that will inevitably struggle with the problem of theft and vandalism, perhaps they should first commit such funds towards partnerships with existing or new businesses to set up secured bicycle storage facilities that can be used by cyclists for a nominal fee.  For someone that has had their bicycle stolen while locked on 2 occasions, both of which have deterred me from using my bike over the past decade, I would gladly pay a fee to ensure that my bicycle will still be there in its entirety when I return to it.

Currently, the bus loop next to Brentwood Station (as do some other SkyTrain stations)  has rentable bicycle storage lockers provided by TransLink.  These lockers prevent thieves from even taking parts of bicycles as they are completely covered from view and reach.  The lockers cost $10 per month which is a reasonable price.  However, flexibility is limited as you are able to only use the one locker only at that one location which limits your possible destinations to that one area. Such lockers are essentially only good for those that need to bike to a SkyTrain station to commute for work on the train and if that is your only cycling need, this bike locker program is perfect.  But what about everyone else that would like to use their bicycle to get to various destinations?

In Tokyo the following types of pay locks exist where users pay per use to ensure that their bicycles are safe.  They are free for under 2 hours of use and cost $1 for every 6 hours of use.  Once the bicycle is rolled onto the rack, a lock is automatically triggered.  The user then goes to the pay machine where they receive a code after entering the bike lock number. When they return, they are able to enter the code given and take their bicycle either for free or for the appropriate cost if they've used the lock for more than 2 hours.  This might work in a place like Tokyo but in a place like Metro Vancouver where bike-theft-culture abounds, it wouldn't work so well unless the concept is tweaked to prevent bike part-theft and to prevent vandalism of the pay machines themselves.

Such a city program in collaboration with private security companies that can monitor a modified version of the above pay-per-use bicycle locks or a collaboration with TransLink to expand the current bike locker program would be a far better and safer investment of tax-payer dollars than a bike-share program that is open to various problems including theft and vandalism.

While creating more dedicated and designated bicycle routes to increase safety and cycling is a good idea, the issue of theft will only limit the use of bicycles to mainly recreational purposes instead of for other daily life uses.