Finding Zen (Literally) in Vancouver: Inside Nitobe Garden

Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey | Flickr

Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey | Flickr

Nature lovers know Vancouver has more than its share of exceptional parks and gardens, from 1,000-acre Stanley Park to the tiny .3-acre Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.  But there’s one garden that even the most dedicated of outdoor buffs tend to overlook: the Nitobe Memorial Garden on the University of British Columbia campus.

The 2.5-acre garden, tucked away near a set of campus dormitories, happens to be regarded as the best traditional Japanese garden in North America, and one of the finest in the world.

Inside the gates, the garden – a circular pathway around a small lake, all set in the B.C. coastal forest – doesn’t look like much, at least at first glance.  But on closer inspection (and with a little help from the handy brochure), it becomes clear that the traditional Zen garden has been meticulously designed, right down to every leaf and stone. Continue reading:
Finding Zen (Literally) in Vancouver: Inside Nitobe Garden

Celebrate Earth Hour, Vancouver-Style

Lions Gate Bridge with the lights dimmed. Photo: WWF

Lions Gate Bridge with the lights dimmed. Photo: WWF

Vancouver will slip into obscurity this Saturday, March 29 at 8:30pm, as residents and businesses across the city switch off their lights for Earth Hour – the largest environmental event in the world.

Given that Vancouver a) knows how to celebrate, b) plans to be the world’s Greenest City by 2020, and c) is the 2013 winner – and host of the 2014 awards for – the “We Love Cities” Earth Hour City challenge, there’s no shortage of ways to spend Earth Hour in the city.

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Celebrate Earth Hour, Vancouver-Style

See a band, grow a tree

Lost in the Trees play the Media Club March 27. Photo courtesy Anti Records.

Lost in the Trees play the Media Club March 27. Photo courtesy Anti Records.

An American indie-rock band is teaming up with a Canadian non-profit to encourage tree growth.

On March 27, North Carolina’s Lost In the Trees will be giving away tree saplings at their Media Club performance in Vancouver.

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See a band, grow a tree

Vancouver’s Dude Chilling Park is Now Official

Photo credit: gak | Flickr

Photo credit: gak | Flickr

It’s official: Vancouver is now home to Dude Chilling Park.

Located in Mount Pleasant, not far from Main Street and Broadway, the park was known for the last 40 years as Guelph Park, after nearby Guelph Street. (Guelph, if you’re curious, is the family name of Queen Victoria.)

Then, two years ago, a prankster stole the official Vancouver Parks and Recreation sign. In a rather creative practical joke, the prankster (later revealed to be local artist Victor Briestensky) replaced it with an exact replica of the sign – except the name was changed from Guelph Park to Dude Chilling Park.

City officials would have none of it, at the time.  The real sign was quickly restored to its rightful place. But among area hipsters and other advocates, momentum gathered to have the park’s name changed to Dude Chilling Park. A social media campaign culminated in some 1,500 signatures of support from Mount Pleasant residents.

Last month, park officials finally caved and conceded to a compromise.   Continue reading:
Vancouver’s Dude Chilling Park is Now Official

Vancouver Bike Sharing Program Hits Speed Bump

Photo credit: Alex Pope | Flickr

Photo credit: Alex Pope | Flickr

Vancouver’s bike sharing program has already hit a speed bump – and there aren’t even bikes on the ground yet.

Bixi, the Montreal-based supplier of bikes for the plan, has filed for bankruptcy, according to the Vancouver Sun. Under a a $6-million initiative approved by the city last July, Bixi was to have supplied the city with 1,500 shareable bikes. Rental logistics and back-end support for the plan were to be provided by Bixi’s American partner, Alta.

But Bixi’s bankruptcy filings, initiated after the city of Montreal demanded repayment of a $37-million loan, threaten to put another snag in Vancouver’s bike-sharing dreams. Shareable bikes were originally due to hit the streets in early 2014, but the city had already delayed the launch because Alta and Bixi were unable to provide a solid business plan.

There is good news, however.   Continue reading:
Vancouver Bike Sharing Program Hits Speed Bump