The Olympic Village has become a real destination for cyclists and pedestrians enjoying the seawall. On a sunny day like today, the area is overrun with bikes. Some of the cyclists are just passing by, but a lot of them are stopping to eat at Terra Breads, take a picture with the giant birds, and have a pint at the Tap & Barrel. I love the energy and life it’s bringing to the neighbourhood.
I, for one, welcome the invading cyclists and the new transportation future they represent. It’s much nicer having your neighbourhood overrun with bikes than noisy cars.
The Olympic Village is abuzz, and it isn’t (exclusively) because of the pretty ladies collecting food scraps. The newest restaurant/pub, Tap and Barrel, is open (at least for a soft-launch) and it has the best patio in Vancouver.
Yesterday, the restaurant opened without any advertising, but the word quickly spread throughout the village and soon the place was packed. The main floor of the restaurant looks like a sports bar, with a large outdoor patio. Upstairs is more restaurant seating with a great balcony overlooking False Creek. The patio and balcony have great views and get sunshine for most of the day. This is the patio that Vancouver has been longing for.
The beer and wine selection is excellent. We tried a few yesterday and I can recommend the 4 Fruit Ale and Whiskey Jack Ale. As for food, I was a bit disappointed in the vegetarian and vegan selection. There is only one vegan menu item, the avocado fritters, which were good, but not enough to keep us coming back for dinner. Even the yam fries are smothered in marshmallow fluff. Granted, most pubs lack vegan options, but I had high hopes for Tap and Barrel after seeing pictures of vegan chili dogs on their Facebook page.
Starting on Tuesday July 10, and continuing every Tuesday night until September 25, there will be a food scraps collection spot in the Bird Plaza in the Olympic Village. Between 6 and 8 pm you can drop off containers of kitchen scraps for a suggested $2 donation, and they’ll be taken to a compost facility in Delta.
We hope to see you on Tuesday.
This drop spot is made possible by a grant from the Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants Program. More information on Food Scraps Drop Spot. If you want to help volunteer, email email@example.com.
One of the key factors that influenced our move into the Olympic Village was the advanced features for conserving energy and water. In our old apartment we stealthily replaced the old thermostat with a programmable one, but heating was included in the rent so we never knew what impact it had. Now, our energy use is front and centre – not only do we pay for it, but we have a monitor beside our front door that shows how much electricity, heating, hot water, and cold water we’re consuming in real-time.
That information has allowed us to be smarter about how we consume energy and water, but it does come with a cost. 30% of what we pay BC Hydro for electricity and 50% of what we pay Enerpro for heating and water are flat monitoring/usage fees – $15/month.
Last week we signed up for BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart Reward Initiative which promises to pay us $75 if we can reduce our electricity consumption by an average of 10% for a full year. We’re already very conscious consumers, so normally that wouldn’t be an easy task. However, on May 7 we cancelled our cable account with Shaw and got rid of the PVR/cable box. It’s amazing how much energy the PVR used, even when it wasn’t “on”. Our PVR was consuming 60 watts of electricity 24 hours a day – that works out to $3/month, or 25% of our electricity costs.
Since getting rid of the PVR, our electricity consumption dropped 15% in May and 21% in June. Right now we’re in good shape to get that $75 (plus $36 in electricity savings).
Because of the Enerpro billing mess, the city has been paying for our heating, hot water, and cold water bill, but that changed on July 1. Now we’re responsible for paying it (except cold water, but that doesn’t cost much anyway).
Our water consumption is quite low, especially compared to the average British Columbian that uses 490 litres of water per day. We’re averaging 86 L/ day for two people – 52 L of hot water and 32 L of cold water. Now that doesn’t include our dual-flush toilet (which is flushed using rain water, or will be once they fix the system), and doesn’t include laundry (we don’t have in-suite). For the average Canadian, toilets normally account for 30% of water consumption and laundry 20%. So our benchmark for water consumption would be 245 litres per person. That puts our consumption at 18% of the average BC couple.
It’s been over a year since Emily and I moved into the Olympic Village. For the first 10 months, our home was was just another Vancouver apartment, in a highly politicized neighbourhood lacking retail and people.
But things have really changed in the past few months. The village has new life (with more people and more retail) and we’ve gotten to know many of our neighbours. Instead of living in a beautiful, but isolated area, it now feels like we’re part of a strong community.
Last month, I volunteered to organize a community garden on the rooftop of our building. It’s been hard work, but it’s great to see the results – a prospering garden full of flowers and vegetables, and more importantly (I think), over 20 neighbours who know each other a lot better now. Before the garden took root, I only knew one of our neighbours (and only her name). Now, I’ve lost the anonymity I once had in our building, with neighbours young and old stopping to talk to me in the hallways and on the street. It’s not an experience I’m used to in Vancouver, but it feels good.
In addition to the garden, I’ve gotten to know people living in neighbourhood through online networking. Technology is often criticized for isolating people, but in this case it has connected me to my neighbours. There’s a Facebook page for the area with an active community who’ve organized a potluck and quiz night.
It was great to meet other people in the village, and hear the same praise and complaints about our neighbourhood. The Olympic Village is home to a wide array of people – there are multi-million dollar condos, rental units, a co-op, and subsidized housing. And yet, we are all dealing with a growing neighbourhood, nearby construction, retail that is months behind schedule, and fancy heating systems that don’t work as expected. And yet, most of us feel lucky to live in such a beautiful neighbourhood.
I’ve also got to know some of my neighbours via Street Bank, a website that facilities sharing between neighbours. It’s a great idea. I haven’t borrowed anything yet, but I’ve lent out my drill and hand saw to neighbours.
In other community building news, Emily is in the midst of organizing a composting Food Scraps Drop Spot pickup for the Olympic Village. She’s busy recruiting volunteers and organizing the logistics.