Uptown Live Gonna Give It To Ya

When it comes to New Westminster street festivals, one of our favourites is Uptown Live. This stellar event is returning to the streets of Uptown New Westminster on July 23 from 12-9 pm and we’re pretty excited. We got the press release in the mail yesterday with the complete lineup, and judging from the looks of things, it’s going to be amazing.

We love it when events bring attention to our city, and this one, like the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival, brings a bunch.

This year’s free music festival and street party is headlined by indie music darlings Good for Grapes and The Boom Booms. Other performers include the legendary R & B Allstars, Twin River, JP Maurice, Little India, Blue Moon Marquee, The Tourist Company, Field Study, The Katherines, Tonye Aganaba, Lydia HolBrandon  IsaakGabriela  GenevaTea  PetrovicSarah  Wheeler  and Gary  Comeau  &  the Voodoo Allstars.

In addition to these artists, performances by local acts like the New Westminster Secondary School Combo and Quayside Voices will also be featured.

Outside of musical entertainment, there will be artisans from New West Craft, a mini market from the Royal City Farmers Market, street performers, a Kids Zone, food trucks and more.

It’s sure to be a great day for the family and for Uptown New Westminster and we’re looking forward to checking it out.

For the complete schedule, head on over to the website 


Uptown New West Vegan Eats

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

šVirginia Woolf

I’ve heard Uptown New West referred to as something of a desert – a hostile land where no delicious food can be found. As a vegan who works in the uptown area, I decisively and adamantly disagree. Uptown New West is not a desolate area devoid of restaurants, but a wonderful bread basket of different types of cuisine, almost exclusively family-owned and run.

The difficulty is not finding something to titillate the taste buds, but in deciding which wonderful restaurant to sample on any given day. I’ve compiled a top 7 list of the best vegan food options in Uptown New Westminster. Continue reading “Uptown New West Vegan Eats”

Uptown Unplugged

You may have caught a piece in The Record or may have seen Councillor Jonathan Cote’s tweet regarding a “parklet” going in in front of Westminster Centre. A parklet is essentially a small, temporarily installed urban park. And by small, I mean teeny. Westminster Centre, in collaboration with the very busy folks at Hyack Festival Association, are working to liven up Uptown. This, together with their recent launching of www.MyUptown.ca, an investment into street banners, as well as the second (very successful) run of Uptown Live, is really doing its part to make the Uptown neighbourhood particularly liveable, lively, and inviting.

The parklet is but one part of Uptown Unplugged, a weekly summer series of music and street performers that launched July 13th and is ongoing on both Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 until August 25th. With an eclectic, varied, and interesting mix of performers, there is something for everyone. I mean, check out the line up for this weekend – it is pretty amazing.  You can check out the Facebook Page for details, but I guarantee, you should pop on buy, grab a beverage from one of the local shops, and enjoy the free entertainment.

(Disclaimer: the company I own with BrianaHyack Interactive, was hired to help develop a portion of content on www.MyUptown.ca, and the work, while mostly complete, is ongoing as new listings are added. I’d write this article no matter what though – parklets and free entertainment that make a community more liveable are my kind of thing.)

Amanda Marino belting it out
Amanda Marino belting it out
Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music
Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music



What does growing income disparity in Metro Van mean for New West?

I read an interesting article recently from Atlantic Cities about income disparity in Vancouver, based on a research paper produced at the University of Toronto.

The report findings reveal three ‘cities’ within Metro Van. City #1 includes higher-status areas in historically upper-middle-class neighbourhoods, gentrified urban areas and redeveloped zones within areas like New West that are close to parks, views or the waterfront. City #2 includes the traditionally stable middle-class neighbourhoods and City #3 includes neighbourhoods where the average income fell more than 15% relative to the metropolitan area.

While we do have our own issues with income disparity in New West, I found it interesting to see where we stand in contrast to the region. The blue-shaded areas are the areas where household incomes have grown 15-288% more quickly than the metropolitan average between 1970 and 2005. The white areas are neighbourhoods that have seen an increase or decrease under 15%, and the red areas represent income decreases of more than 15% since 1970. If you zoom into the map (which is unfortunately pretty grainy, making details hard to see), New West shows up as largely white & blue, while large sections of nearby Burnaby, Coquitlam and Surrey have seen significant declines in household incomes since the ’70s.

Map showing average changes in household income by neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver between 1970 - 2005
A map showing average changes in household income by neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver between 1970 – 2005

A map illustrating the change in average household incomes between 1970-2005 in the Lower Mainland shows incomes in New West increasing in the Queensborough and the West End neighbourhoods, while remaining flat in Queen’s Park, Downtown/Uptown and other parts of the city. Elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, affluent neighbourhoods seem to have seen incomes increase, while many formerly middle-income neighbourhoods have seen incomes decline.

According to the report, “The three neighbourhood groupings or “Cities” represent a dramatic transition from the old model of concentric social areas with poverty at the urban core and a solid band of middle income districts in the suburbs. Relative to metropolitan changes, significant income gains and losses are occurring in both city and suburban neighbourhoods. There is more inequality with 54 percent of the 2006 CMA population living in tracts that either gained or lost more than 15 percent of their income relative to the metropolitan average over the 35-year period. Equal numbers of people, about 565,000, lived in the gaining and losing tracts.”

So what does this mean for New West? Well, the report illustrates that in the current economic climate, to those who have, more will be given. And to those who do not have, even what they have will be taken away.

I think this illustration shows New West in a favourable position within the Lower Mainland. While the actual income numbers continue to show significant lower income populations here than in many other more affluent parts of the city, it shows that most citizens have either maintained their incomes or increased them – which is significant in an era when so many have seen incomes eroded. Income inequality in surrounding areas appears to be worsening, and that will result in social issues that will impact us all.

There are troubling implications when you look at who is gaining and who is losing. The report says: “City #1 is overwhelmingly the home of the native-born. In contrast there has been a marked increase in immigrants in the remainder of Metro Vancouver, and especially in City #3, which has shifted from a majority native-born in 1971 to an immigrant majority in 2006. City #3 also includes a plurality of visible minorities (61 percent) while City #1 does not (23 percent).” I don’t have enough information to be able to interpret this nugget, but it does raise questions whether opportunities for immigrants are shrinking or if some other factors are at play.

During New West’s renaissance, the City appears to have consciously tried to guard against simply pushing out lower income populations through protecting and supporting local nonprofits, protecting low-income housing and taking the initiative to house the homeless (rather than just complaining about how it’s the job of the Province to take care of that problem). As a result, we are likely to continue housing and caring for a large number of the region’s lower income families. Is that bad? While I think many people automatically think about the most abrasive marginalized people when considering the issue (those who are hardest to empathize with), we do well to remind ourselves that low-income families include seniors, new immigrants, single-parent families and others who have simply been dealt a raw hand. We can’t just pretend these people don’t exist, and we can’t write them all off as having ‘made their own beds’ to lie in.

Juxtaposed with regional trends indicating worsening income inequality, it’s good to remember that many of us in the middle risk sliding into that red zone, whether through corporate downsizing, developing health problems and being unable to work for a time, lack of financial literacy (leading to taking on too much debt – another significant problem), retiring with inadequate savings or any number of other misadventures. We all believe these things won’t happen to us, but the reality is that we’re not so special or so smart that it can’t. Every one of us could make a mistake or fail to spot and address a potential threat that could set our families back economically. Wouldn’t you prefer to live in a city where there was somewhere to turn for help, if the worst should happen?

Music in New Westminster streets May 26 at Uptown Live

Uptown Live

We’re set to have music in the streets of our city with Uptown Live, an event to take place on multiple stages in uptown New Westminster on May 26, from 12PM to 5PM.

The performances will take place an on four sponsored stages, free to the public. This includes a “kid zone”, making this a family event for children and adult music fans alike. Entertainers Gary Oliver of Cinemazoo, Gina Marie Frazier, Clare Brett, and Keith Bennett will be on hand on the VanCity Kids Stage from 1-4PM.

On three other stages, nine Vancouver-based acts will entertain crowds with music that spans the pop/rock spectrum. This is a chance to discover some of the incredible and versatile talent this region has to offer. Check the Uptown Live map to see where the stages are to be set up.

Many local vendors and businesses will be out on the street too. This is a great chance to show local business your support as you take in the music.

Besides the wheres and whens of the event, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about the acts you’ll be seeing during Uptown Live, and to provide some links so you can preview some of the music you’ll be hearing, and plan out your day to catch each act.

Who: Dan Moxon Trio (1PM, CIBC Main Stage; 3PM River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: folk rock, baroque pop

Being a side project from his other musical outlet Bend Sinister, Dan Moxon Trio represents an earthy and melancholic side to Moxon’s songwriting, with a decidedly acoustic approach. Think Iron & Wine, and Elliott Smith for musical reference points here, and be prepared for a crystalline acoustic sound that will catch your ear for the unassuming, yet compelling melody.

Listen/buy: “The Corner”


Who: Earlstown Winter (2PM, CIBC Main Stage; 4:30PM River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: roots rock, country rock

Loose, free, and easy country-influenced rock which is not a million miles away from Blue Rodeo or Ryan Adams is what you can expect to hear from Earlstown Winter. The music suggests road trips taken in order to forget lost love, or the quest for one yet to be found.

Listen/buy: “Porch Lights”


Who: The Gay Nineties (3PM, CIBC Main Stage; 5:15 ,River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: post-punk, power pop

If you hear something of a Hot Hot Heat-style spiky-yet-sunny nu-new wave in The Gay Nineties, then it may be because this band follows a similar stylistic path. This is influenced in part by ex-HHHeater Parker Bossley who plays guitar and sings in this band, adding some joyous spiky sunshine that is unique to them.

Listen/buy: “Favourite Game”


Who: No Sinner (4PM, CIBC Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: classic R&B , rock n’ soul

Sweet soul music mixed with rock sounds has been a potent brew for decades. No Sinner continues the sacred tradition with a phenomenal handle on the kind of music that is perfectly suited for open air performance; funky, physical, primal. Fans of Etta James, Susan Tedeschi, and Bonnie Riatt take note.

Listen/buy: “Call My Name”


Who: We Are The City (5PM, CIBC Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: art rock, cinematic pop

We Are The City adds cinematic scope to texturally varied rock music along the lines of the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. The music from this band is in places hypnotic, lyrical, spacious, epic-scale, and is sublime all-around.

Listen/buy: “Mourning Song”


Who: The New Values ( 1:30PM, Safeway Main Stage; 3:45, River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: punk

Named (presumably) after an Iggy Pop record, this is the sound of energetic punk rock that changes direction at any moment, infused with the vigour  and spirit of early West Coast punk traditions for which this region is famous. The New Values continue in that tradition proudly, despite any misleading biographical information you might have heard about this band online.

Listen/buy: : “Axe On Your Doorstep”


Who: Fine Times (2:30PM, Safeway Main Stage )

What kind of music is it?: post-punk, new wave

There is something of ’80s post punk to be found in the music of Fine Times, mixing electronics, with jagged guitar, with big drums in the spirit of Echo & The Bunnymen, and Psychedelic Furs. Sonic contrast between light and dark will keep your musical ears interested.

Listen/buy: “Lions”


Who: The Left (3:30PM, Safeway Main Stage; 6PM, River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: radio rock, anthemic pop

If you crave big, radio-friendly hooks on an epic scale to shout along to, then the Left will deliver. Taking their cues from classic traditions of melodically-driven pop tunes in a rock vein made for heavy radio-play, this band is ready to become a part of your mainstream.

Listen/buy: “Love Don’t Work”


Who: The Zolas (4:30PM, Safeway Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: art pop

The Zolas musical home is held up by similar foundations to that of The Shins, mixed with the poptastic groove of Franz Ferdinand. A sort of Ray Daviesesque approach to songwriting that is laced with sumptuous irony are only one of the treasures to be found in the music of this band.

Listen/buy: “Cultured Man”


Music is an essential part of being human. It doesn’t matter who you are; you enjoy some form of music. It’s a necessity to life. Spiritually speaking, it’s how we nourish ourselves, and how we bring our communities together in celebration.

Music in the streets is how things should be, friends.

For more information about Uptown Live and the artists who will be playing, check out the Uptown Live official website. Also, don’t forget to investigate the individual sites of the artists above, and seek out their work to buy online!

See you all in the streets on May 26th!