When I flipped my Hope in Shadows calendar over to July at the beginning of the month I read a quick story about two men and their involvement with the Downtown Eastside homeless soccer team, based in Oppenheimer Park.
Sandwiched between Powell and Cordova, the recently restructured public space (complete with a new lawn, washrooms, playground, and field house) hosted a Street Soccer Canada match this past weekend and our home team has sent players to the Homeless World Cup each year since 2004 [The Province]. With Oppenheimer Park being an Eastside hub for everything from street soccer to family picnics, I figured it would be worth profiling.
Oppenheimer Park is named after arguably the most influential Mayor in our city’s history. David Oppenheimer (born in Germany) was Vancouver’s second Mayor under whom much of Vancouver’s infrastructure was built and landscape was shaped. He was there to dedicate Stanley Park in Lord Stanley’s honor, oversee the setup of the streetcar system, and personally fund our water system installation that brought water in from the Capilano River.
“Oppenheimer personally paid the water fees, and liberally donated money for the construction of Alexandra Orphanage and the YMCA. He also donated land for city parks including East Park (later Exhibition Park, now Hastings Park, home for years to the PNE). The second-largest landowner in Vancouver after the Canadian Pacific Railway, Mayor Oppenheimer fostered industrial development when he donated land for B.T. Rogers to build a sugar refinery, the first manufacturing operation in the city. He established the B.C. Electric Railway Company (now B.C. Hydro).” [VancouverHistory]
Mayor Sam Sullivan proclaimed July 12, 2008 “David Oppenheimer Day” in the city of Vancouver.
1938, Oppenheimer Park. Photographer: Leonard Frank. VPL Accession Number: 13347
The park opened in 1902 as the Powell Street Grounds and was later renamed in David Oppenheimer’s honor.
Located in the heart of “Little Tokyo” in Vancouver, it was the home of the Asahi baseball club, formed in 1914. Composed of Japanese-Canadians the Asahi played their last game September 18, 1941 and following the Japanese attack on Coal Harbour in the off-season, the Little Tokyo community from around Oppenheimer Park was banished to exile on farms and within internment camps. The Asahi never played again [VancouverHistory].
Oppenheimer Park has a sordid history of politics and protests including being one of the settings of Vancouver’s infamous Bloody Sunday in 1938 that began at the Post Office (now Sinclair Centre).
Plagued with being known for drug use in recent decades, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association has worked over the years to reestablish the park as a safe place for all in the community. There is a story around every corner including that of the Sakura Legacy and I’m certain there are dozens if not hundreds more.
Since June of 2009 much of the park had been closed off with people and events relocated for about a year. The $1.37 million in upgrades have now provided a field house, washrooms, universally accessible walkways, children’s playground, sports court with basketball hoop, horseshoe pitch, patio spaces, picnic tables and seating areas, central lawn area, trees and flowers, sub-surface drainage and a new irrigation system. The grand re-opening and dedication celebration was last Saturday, July 24th.
The park hosts community events throughout the year including this weekend’s 34th annual Powell Street Festival – Vancouver’s longest running community celebration. “Taking inspiration from the Japanese notion of Koen debut, or Park debut, whereupon neighbourhood toddlers are introduced to their local community, the 34th Annual Powell Street Festival celebrates the idea of neighbourhood, youth, children, the park and its landscape.” It will have a free bike valet as well as a “zero waste” commitment to reducing the amount of garbage generated by the event. You can follow the festival on Twitter @PowellStFest.
My family and I were recently invited to tour Bakerview EcoDairy in Abbotsford. I am always interested in learning more about where my food comes from, so I jumped at the chance.
The EcoDairy is a demonstration farm, and its purpose is to teach the public about dairy farming. You can visit 7 days a week, all year round. A tour includes a short animated video about the farm, displays explaining the way that the dairy runs in the learning centre, a walk through the barn and a stop in the glass-windowed milking gallery. We learned a lot about cows, dairy farms and the EcoDairy. For instance, did you know that the average dairy cow produces around 30L of milk a day? And one cow licked me, so that was fun, if a touch gooey.
Bill Vanderkooi, who created the EcoDairy, has a background in animal science, specializing in dairy cattle nutrition and physiology. He grew up on a dairy farm, which is currently owned by his brother. When he graduated, he wanted to use his knowledge to develop innovative nutritional solutions for dairy farmers. In the process, he created Vitala milk, which contains DHA Omega-3 and CLA. Today, the EcoDairy is home to the Vitala cows, and also the hens that lay Vitala eggs.
The cows live in an ‘indoor pasture’. It is a large open space, with big windows, lots of light, rubber floors and special ‘cow mattresses’. The 40 or so animals that are currently there are free to roam around the space as they please. There are temperature and humidity controls, and the cows have access to an automatic brush and a robotic milker, so they set their own eating, sleeping, grooming and milking schedule. Each cow has a transponder so that they can track her milking, but Bill told me that most cows choose to be milked 2-3 times a day. We saw a line-up at the milker while we were there.
The robotic milker is quite the thing. There is grain in the milking booth, which gives the cows an incentive to come inside. The machine sterilizes the cow’s udders, and then starts milking. While cows are being milked, the machine monitors their output specifically, checking flow rate, volume, temperature and white cell levels. This lets them know if a cow is sick, in which case her milk is dumped and she’s attended to. They are able to collect a lot more information on each individual cow and the quality of her milk than a traditional operation would be able to.
In order to keep the quantity and quality of the milk consistent, the cows are kept inside while they are producing milk. While the barn was very clean and lovely, it kind of upended my traditional view of what a dairy farm looks like. I expected to see a lot of cows out roaming pastures, especially in July. But the Vitala cows live in temperature-controlled comfort all year round.
The barn that the cows spend their days in was built to be as environmentally friendly as possible. They used recycled tires in the rubber floor and low-energy environmental controls and lighting. They have a green roof on one of their buildings, and collect rainwater off another. They used pine beetle timber, and they are almost finished building an anaerobic digester. The digester will convert the cows’ waste into energy for the dairy and high-nutrient fertilizer.
The EcoDairy is also home to the Nutrifoods Market, which sells a variety of local products, including Vitala milk and Fraser Valley cheeses. They also have a deli and a gorgeous patio off the back where you can eat your food. There are some other fun touches for the kids, too. There’s a petting zoo, ice cream and goats on the green roof. My 5-year-old, especially, really enjoyed herself.
The Bakerview EcoDairy is located on Sumas Way in Abbotsford, about 1 block South of Highway 1. If you enjoy agri-tourism, you can continue on to the other stops on the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour when you visit. There are a lot of farms to check out in Abbotsford, and there’s a lot of great food and wine to sample in the process.
This post was written by Amber Strocel, who contributes to TheV3H.com, a blog that highlights news and events in and around Port Moody and the Tri-Cities. You can also catch up with Amber’s musings on life and parenting at Strocel.com.
I have been a guest of the Tulalip Resort for the last day or so as they have been hosting a group of media from the Vancouver area. Believe it or not, it’s my first trip to Tulalip and the Premium Outlets next door which are about a 2.5 hour drive from Vancouver, BC.
The big draw here is most definitely the casino. Open 24/7 it has all you would expect from a casino including a nightclub, buffet, fine dining, and cocktail lounge. The casino moved to this location in 2003 and the resort hotel (including the T Spa, shops, and pool) opened in early 2008.
Owned and operated by Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604.com (since 2004) provides daily information about life in Metro Vancouver, events, community happenings and local history. It also features music, film, and television interviews along with travel features for day-trips and weekend getaways.
Online since 1997, Rebecca also started podcasting RadioZoom in 2005, co-founded sixty4media, a WordPress website development firm, in 2008, and co-authored the book, Blogging to Drive Business in 2010.
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