With both Vancouver and Calgary recently announcing exciting expansions to their transit networks, I thought it would be interesting to compare Vancouver’s Skytrain extension along Broadway to the new Green Line LRT project in Calgary.
Is it summer yet? I’m not sure how much more of cold and flu season I can handle.
The new year started off well enough. We spent the first Saturday snowshoeing up on Mount Seymour. Astrid had fun playing in the snow, making snowbabies, and sliding on her bum. We had to run back when Astrid announced she had to pee (the new reality of being diaper free) and I couldn’t convince her to just pee in the snow. I was impressed she was able to hold it in with me bouncing her up and down the whole way.
Then she knocked a tooth out that night and it has been all downhill from there. She was drinking water from a bottle with a hard straw when she tripped. There was lots of blood and a few tears, and then she spit out a tooth. I was distraught but Astrid was back up running around like nothing had happened within no time. I kept worrying about the implications of losing a tooth that early (compounding all my personal anxieties about teeth). Yes, it’s just a baby tooth, but one that isn’t supposed to fall out for another 5 years!
We saw a pediatric dentist a few days later and he assured us that it would be ok – no speech impediments or tooth spacing issues, but there was a piece of the root left that needs to be extracted – Astrid’s first dental surgery.
The dental extraction hasn’t happened yet because Astrid has been dealing with colds and asthma. We ended up in the hospital with one of the worst asthma attacks Astrid has had in a while. It hit really fast before she had any cold symptoms and we couldn’t keep it under control at home.
Normally they give Astrid a big dose of dexamethasone at the hospital to reduce inflammation, but this time they gave us a half dose of dex and a 3 day prescription for prednisone to give her more time to recover. But the prednisone came in bitter pills that we couldn’t get Astrid to take no matter how we disguised them (crushing it in yogurt, frosted sugar, chocolate pudding, ice cream). After some desperate conversations with pharmacists at 3 different pharmacies, we managed to get ahold of an emergency doctor at BCCH who switched our prescription to prednisolone – same drug but in less bitter liquid form. It was still a bit gross on its own, but she guzzled it down when we masked it with a strong ginger beer, which she luckily loves drinking.
The next few days were not fun and we almost went back to the hospital on a few occasions but after sleepless nights for everyone and lots of drugs we got through that virus, although I ended up getting sick at the end of it and still haven’t fully recovered.
Astrid was mostly healthy for a few days before she picked up a new bug that lead to nasty cough and 4 days of periodic fevers, which were usually mild but one day she was feverish for over 12 hours and her temperature hit 39.9 C before we gave her ibuprofen. Luckily this latest virus hasn’t caused any serious asthma problems, which might mean her newest medication, Advair, is working better than the Flovent she was on before, although it’s probably too soon to tell.
Emily has managed to escape all of this mostly unscathed. Astrid is almost back to full health and we’ve rescheduled the dentist for 10 days from now if she can stay healthy.
I’ve gotten really good at pretending to be Doctor Daddy. I can now calculate Astrid’s asthma PRAM score on my own using the stethoscope we have and the oximetry sensor on my Samsung phone that measures oxygen saturation. If I can’t keep the PRAM score below 4 then it’s time to go to the hospital.
All of our health concerns have us contemplating more drastic lifestyle changes – like pulling Astrid out of daycare, getting a nanny, spending our winters in Mexico, or going full hermit in rural Manitoba with my parents. If I was more confident that any of them would prevent Astrid’s asthma attacks, I would do it now.
On the positive side, Astrid is now sleeping in a bed and is almost fully potty-trained. She still wears a pull-up at night, but wakes up dry most mornings. Moving out of the crib and into a bed was a bit of a transition. The first week worked miraculously well, but then she got sick and was waking up more at night and discovered she could just walk into our room whenever she woke up. But we bought a Gro Clock and she’s doing better about staying in bed until the “sun comes out”.
Bedtimes are still a bit of a struggle. When she got sick, one of us would often sleep next to her bed for comfort and now she wants that every night. Emily tried to go back to the ‘put down and walk out’ system when Astrid was healthy again, but that just lead to an epic sleep battle one night. Emily would put Astrid down to sleep and leave the room, and Astrid would lie down for 10 seconds before getting up to find her. They did this for 90 minutes! I eventually had to intervene and find a compromise where I sat in her room (but out of sight) until she fell asleep. That’s been our new normal for the past 2 weeks. We’ll have to slowly transition back to where we were before.
Astrid’s imagination has really blossomed in the past month. She likes to play make believe and pretend she’s cooking or shopping. She makes up new words to songs. She changes the diapers of her dolls and pretends to flush their poopies down the toilet. Yesterday she invented a bear family that had joined us for dinner and was shooing them away so they wouldn’t eat her pizza. It’s awesome.
Over the Christmas break we were looking for a getaway close to Vancouver. Parksville has been on our list of places to go for a while and we got a really good deal at the Tigh Na Mara resort.
The hotel was perfect for us. Our suite had a bedroom for Astrid, a lovely view of the ocean, a cozy fireplace, and a full kitchen where we cooked almost all of our meals. We spent a lot of time at the resort hanging out in the room, splashing in the pool, and enjoying the beach and playground.
Parksville is more of a summer destination but it was also fun in the winter.
We’re looking forward to going back in the summer when we can check out the amusement parks, play mini golf, and swim in the ocean.
2018 was Astrid’s 3rd Christmas, but the first one where she really got into the swing of things. She spent most of November saddened that Halloween was over and missing the giant inflatable Frankenstein at the community centre, but once the Christmas decorations went up she was super excited about Frosty the Snowman, singing carols (like Jingle Bells), and Christmas trees.
We tried to get some good Christmas photos this year by doing a professional photo shoot, but it was a bit of a disaster as Astrid was in a foul mood. We still got a few decent shots out of it, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
Astrid had a Christmas party at daycare, featuring a visit from Santa Claus. She was really excited about it, until it was her turn to sit on Santa’s lap. Then it was all tears and acrobatics to try and escape. She wouldn’t even open the present Santa gave her, long after we had left the room. She’s not wrong though – there is something creepy about sitting on a funny looking stranger’s lap.
We’ve decided that as Astrid grows up we’re not going to pretend that Santa is real and that he only gives gifts to well behaved kids. The lying and blackmailing just doesn’t seem worth it. She’ll still get presents and a stocking on Christmas morning, but the presents will be from her family. This year, it wasn’t an issue as she never asked where the presents came from, she was only concerned that they were for her.
On Christmas Day we opened our stockings, made latkes for breakfast, opened the bigger gifts from relatives, and then played with toys. Astrid got the perfect amount of toys – a few new things to keep her interested without overwhelming her. She was most excited about her new toothbrush, the playdough ice cream shop (which was actually a present from last year that we kept in her closet and rewrapped this year), tinker toys, and penguin book.
In the afternoon we went over to Grandma’s for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas dinner with our extended Vancouver family, complete with kutia, borscht, perogies, cabbage rolls, beans, bread, pickles, sauerkraut, and non-traditional (but tasty) pumpkin pie. We were supposed to host the event, but with Grandma still on house arrest we brought all the food to her.
Astrid had fun playing with her cousins – they read stories, played doctor, and ran around playing hide-and-go seek. The age difference shrinks every year.
Emily and I have been thinking more about the Christmas traditions we want to establish. We’re pretty happy with stockings on Christmas morning with latkes for breakfast, and a traditional Ukrainian dinner with our extended family on Christmas Eve. I’m also committed to making an ornament each year with a photo of Astrid holding last year’s ornament – the recursion makes me happy (although I’m sure it will annoy Astrid at some point). Next year we want to start two new traditions – buying matching pajamas and a new family board game.
The big news here is that Astrid is now diaper free, at least during the day. She’s been wearing underwear at home since October but we weren’t sure how to make the transition at daycare. She would never tell her teachers when she had to go and we didn’t want to burden them with a toddler peeing her pants several times a day.
Then suddenly on November 8, she said she wanted to wear underwear to daycare. It caught us by surprise, but we wanted to capitalize on her enthusiasm. So we sent her to daycare with 7 extra pairs of pants, socks, and underwear and pre-apologized to the teachers for the mess she was about to make. We were shocked when she came home in the same pair of pants.
Over the next few weeks she had a bunch of accidents and sometimes came home with 2 pairs of wet pants, socks, and even shoes. But she quickly got better at letting someone know when she had to pee, and it’s been a few weeks now since her last accident. We cancelled our cloth diaper service a few weeks ago and use disposable pull-ups at nighttime.
The next big achievement is Astrid had her first sleepover at Grandma’s. Again, we weren’t ready for it but our hand was forced when our only babysitter (Grandma) was under house arrest (backstory) and we had plans to celebrate Emily’s birthday. So we dropped Astrid off after dinner and prayed we didn’t get a phone call to come get her overnight.
We expected the worst – Astrid hadn’t napped that day and was a bit grouchy, she was still on Ventolin for asthma, and she had been waking up at night coughing and wheezing. But she had fun, slept through the night on the futon, and was brushing her teeth after eating a yummy breakfast when I came by the next morning to pick her up. If grandma is up for it, we hope to try it again in the new year.
Astrid’s health has been pretty good lately. A few minor colds and the accompanying asthma, but no hospital ER visits. We saw our respirologist and pediatrician, who told us to keep doing what we’re doing. They were impressed with the data and charts I’ve been collecting. The goal is to see less hospital visits and drugs this winter.
Astrid loves singing. Her favourite songs right now are Puff the Magic Dragon and Frosty the Snowman.
She also likes helping cook and bake, especially pancakes on Saturday mornings and popcorn at night (the perfect snack for a blanket fort).
Astrid’s newest obsession is clothing with pockets. She loves having pants, jackets, and shirts with pockets on them.
Thanks to a healthy peanut butter addiction (I go through a kilogram every 2 weeks), I’ve been steadily acquiring large Adams peanut butter jars that are perfect for storing staples like beans, nuts, and flour. The only problem is our small kitchen doesn’t have enough storage space to fit them all.
I’ve looked for shelving units online that would fit our jars but have never found any. Luckily my father is a talented carpenter (you can see his other work here) and I sent him the dimensions for the shelves I wanted – wide enough for 8 jars with a 1/2 inch lip around the edge to make sure the jars stay on.
Now we have extra space for 32 easily-accessible jars. They’re perfect for refilling at Nada, our local zero-waste grocery store.
It’s November and cold and flu season is officially upon us. That means all the kids at daycare are snotty-nosed germ carriers now. Our doctor told us that Astrid would likely get her first cold in mid-September – two weeks after kids go back to school. And like clock-work Astrid got sick on September 14. Luckily the first cold wasn’t too bad and barely triggered her asthma. A few weeks later she had another cold which took longer to get over. The third (and most recent) moved quickly to her lungs. She was wheezing and coughing, and Ventolin was barely making a difference. So off to BC Children’s Hospital we went for Astrid’s 9th emergency visit for asthma. We’ve since started Astrid on a new asthma drug (montelukast) that we’re hoping will get us through the next 5 months of cold and flu season without regular hospital visits. It’s going to be a long winter.
On the positive side, Astrid started gymnastics at the beginning of September and loves it. On Sundays, she gets to jump, swing, and climb for 45 minutes at the gym. Then she comes home does all the same moves in our living room with piles of pillows and our couch as a trampoline. She’s learned to do somersaults and has gotten much better at jumping with two feet and landing with bent knees.
Astrid had her first dentist appointment and it wasn’t a complete disaster. I was surprised she let the dentist poke around in her mouth. The feedback was mostly positive (she has all of her teeth and no cavities). She needs to stop sucking her thumb before it causes lasting damage, and we should be brushing her teeth twice a day and flossing them too. There is little chance we’ll be able to floss her teeth, but we’ve been more persistent since the dentist that she actually brush her teeth, instead of just sucking on a toothbrush before bedtime. The thumbsucking is going to be a harder habit to break, but we’re working on it.
Astrid’s vocabulary has really exploded in the past two months. Unfortunately her pronunciation is lagging. We’ve gone from understanding 90% of what she was trying to tell us to 50%. Sometimes it’s like charades – “Astrid I don’t know what that means, can you point and show me?” She also likes to sing and make up new words to her favourite songs.
For Halloween Astrid dressed up as a cute monster. This is the first year she understood what was going on. She enjoyed the costumes, riding the ghost train in Stanley Park, decorating a pumpkin, making the hallway spooky, and going trick-or-treating. The hard part is now limiting how much candy she gets. Last year she didn’t eat any of it, but this year she knew what it was. We took away the really sugary stuff and have been letting her have one treat a night.
Loves: Jumping on the couch, running around with her daycare friends, building towers with blocks, helping daddy make pancakes on Saturday mornings, and her Mickey Mouse pajamas.
BC is having a referendum on how we choose our elected MLAs. This is a big deal. If the referendum passes and we move to a proportional representation voting system, it will fundamentally reshape voter engagement and politics in this province. So vote wisely. Your ballot should arrive by mail in the next few days, if you haven’t already received it.
There are two questions on the ballot.
Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections?
The current First Past the Post voting system
A proportional representation voting system
If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following systems do you prefer? (Rank in order of preference.)
Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)
You need to fill out your ballot and mail it back to Elections BC so that it arrives before November 30.
If voters choose proportional representation, the next 2 elections will be conducted under the most popular system from question 2. After that, there will be a second referendum to asking if British Columbians like the new voting system or we should go back to the old voting system.
The options might be overwhelming at first, but in less than 10 minutes you can learn the basics.
Here’s a 3 minute summary of what is wrong with our current system, from National Post columnist Andrew Coyne.
And a fun, easy-to-understand 4 minute video summarizing the options you’ll be voting for. If you only have 4 minutes to figure out how to vote, watch this video.
How I’m voting
Question 1 is easy. I’m voting for proportional representation. Our voting system is broken and needs to change. Too many people vote strategically for a party that isn’t their favourite. More people don’t even bother voting because their vote doesn’t seem to matter. Proportional representation should fix these problems, but if it doesn’t we can always go back to First Past the Post after 2 elections. So there is little risk of trying.
Question 2 is harder. Any of the options will be better than the system that we have right now, but they each have their pros and cons. As the video above points out, Dual Member is the simplest, Mixed Member is the most common around the world, and Rural-Urban gives voters the most power with ranked ballots. I used the survey at referendumguide.ca to explore the characteristics of each of the proportional systems and this is what it suggested.
Rural-Urban is clearly my preferred system. I like having a ranked ballot and power as a voter to pick candidates from a bunch of political parties. As an example of how this might play out for me in Vancouver, my ballot would probably rank a bunch of Green and NDP candidates with the best ones at the top. That level of choice might not appeal to everyone, so I’m glad there are other options like Dual Member and Mixed Member being proposed that offer simpler ballots.
If you want more details on the voting systems and how the mechanics work, this 24 minute summary goes into all the details:
If you’re curious what the results of the last election (2017) hypothetically would have been under the 3 proportional representation systems, checkout bcvoteoptions.ca.
If you have an hour to hear more about why we should keep our voting system or change it, you can listen to a debate between the Yes and No sides from the Politicoast podcast, featuring Suzanne Anton and Seth Klein.
If you want to read more, there are descriptions of the three PR voting systems proposed here:
Lastly, there seems to be a lot of fear mongering coming from the No PR side (especially with Facebook ads) so to counter it I suggest you checkout Fair Vote Canada’s mythbusters series (which tackles questions like will proportional representation remove local representation or lead to unstable governments) and this spoof ad below for a chuckle.
I have to say I’m happy the election is over. Now I can get some sleep. But first some analysis.
The key takeaway for me is that the next four years will be very interesting. A progressive slate won a majority yesterday but it is split between 3 parties and an independent mayor who have fairly different ideas in how to fix the housing crisis in Vancouver. The five NPA councillors will likely form a unified opposition, although there is a chance of some collaboration with the other councillors.
There were 5000 fewer votes cast in 2018. That’s disappointing.
The city needs to invest in more scantron machines. Even with less people voting on election day this year, almost every polling station had lineups throughout the day and there were several reports of people abandoning their ballots because they couldn’t wait an hour to have it scanned. Double the number of machines and the problem disappears.
Even though we didn’t elect our first female mayor, women did extremely well yesterday (8/10 councillors, 2/7 park, 6/9 school), but visible minorities struggled. School board is the only place where there is any diversity. The rest is very, very white, which is not reflective of Vancouver’s cultural diversity.
If you add Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester’s votes together and compare that to Ken Sim, Hector Bremner, and Wai Young you get remarkably similar results to the last election, at least for mayor.
The results for every race other than mayor were roughly:
Tier 1: Greens – thousands of votes ahead of everyone else
Tier 2: NPA, COPE, and OneCity – fought for the remaining spots and each elected multiple candidates.
Tier 3: Vision – elected 1 person, but was otherwise wiped out.
Tier 4: Everyone else – took lots of votes from the major parties but didn’t come close to winning.
The high number of qualified candidates running for council this year created wider distribution of votes than in 2014. The tail is much longer and fatter this election.
38% of the votes this year were for someone who wasn’t even in the top 20 (compared to 22% in 2014).
Vote splitting affected all the races and lead to some winners having very low vote percentages. We definitely need some form of electoral reform.
The night’s only big winner was the Green Party. They came within 3000 votes of having 4 city councillors elected. Adrian Carr, Pete Fry, and Michael Wiebe now form the bulk of the progressive slate on council and it will be interesting to see how they use their new power. Adrian Carr has spent the past 7 years opposing a lot of Vision’s actions, especially around housing. Now she has the challenging role of making policy.
They almost did it. After trailing badly in the polls, Ken Sim almost sneaked out a victory for the mayor’s chair, which would have given the NPA a majority. Instead they have the biggest block of councillors (5) and will see if they can swing someone to their side to get their agenda through or just oppose everything for the next four years. They did ok on school board and park board picking up a few seats but are outnumbered by the left-wing parties.
I’m sure COPE is happy to have broken onto council after a long absence but disappointed that their good polling numbers and Jean Swanson’s popularity didn’t translate into more success. Swanson will be another influential vote and it will be interesting to see how she applies her years of protesting to governing.
I’m disappointed OneCity didn’t do better but I think they’re happy to have broken into council with Christine Boyle’s victory. They also won a school board spot (Jennifer Reddy), but incumbent Carrie Bercic lost her spot which is a huge loss. Just like COPE, it was mixed results for them.
Vision Vancouver (1/10*)
Nearly shut out after 10 years of majority rule, Vision Vancouver was the biggest loser last night. Many people don’t think the party will exist in four years.
New parties and Independents (0)
For all the talk about it being the year of the independent, they struggled yesterday. The only independent who won was Mayor Kennedy Stewart. No one else finished even close, despite lots of attention and some really qualified candidates. The top independent was Sarah Blyth who finished 19th and almost 15,000 votes away from a spot on council.
The new parties also struggled. Vancouver 1st, YES Vancouver, Coalition Vancouver, and ProVancouver had a lot of hype and social media presence but it didn’t translate into votes. The closest any came to winning a seat was Kevin Low of Vancouver 1st who finished in 24th.
It was cool to be part of the conversation this year. I’ve blogged about elections in the past, and had some traction, but this year I had thousands of page views every day, was averaging 10,000+ impressions a day on twitter, and got mentions in the Vancouver Courier, Globe and Mail, and CBC.
More importantly, I got messages from friends and complete strangers thanking me for the election resources. That made all the late nights compiling charts and summaries worth it.
I’m glad that were thousands of people who took the time to educate themselves and read resources like this blog. But it’s clear from the results that most Vancouver voters vote based only on the party name. That’s why the NPA and Greens did so well, and the new parties and independents struggled. It wasn’t because their candidates weren’t as good. A great example of this is Rob McDowell. He ran in 2014 under the NPA banner and got 53,965 votes and finished in 15th place. This year he ran as an independent and only managed 11,839 votes. Same candidate, same experience, same ideas and priorities but 42,000 votes less.