A temporary space closes down and I gather up the garland and head out into the drizzle and gloom of a late October afternoon. Further down Powell, I find a small finger of scrub land clenched tight between the curb of the road and the high security fence that cuts off access to the train tracks. Dead grass, dying goldenrod and dropping leaves. The remnants of another fence. The grey sky is turning black and a slow creeping line of traffic stretches back towards the downtown core. The drivers are invisible, cocooned safely inside and their winking taillights peer back at me through the darkness, tiny red eyes, leading the next car forward and beckoning others away from the city and further on into the night. Outside now and in another place - Diana.
Earlier tonight, as a friend and I were cutting through Gastown, we were noticing, not for the first time, how much the area's changing. Water Street was full of people just hanging out and not because they were going to be sleeping there later on. There was music and laughter and a lot of money being spent in the restaurants, bars and stores and it wasn't all by tourists. There's a whole new batch of people living in the 'hood, which means a lot of added pressure on the people who are going to be sleeping rough. I suppose there's a few good things that come with the changes, but I still get touchy threading my way through the well dressed drunks and angry, when neighbourhood landmarks get reno'ed for 'loft-style' condos and incensed, when unofficial resting spots and the few remaining patches of untamed green space get razed or re-purposed.
Just off Main, at the dead end of Georgia, there’s a small, fenced in gravel cul-de-sac. In the daytime, it’s a makeshift parking lot. At nighttime, it’s used for other things. At the edge of the fence, there’s a small path that lets you slip down off Main and cut through into the alley.
On the South side of the lot, surrounded by a higher chain-link fence, there’s the Murrin sub-station, a 1940’s Art Deco hydro facility that currently supplies all the power for Downtown. It’s listed as a Class B heritage building, but with a new Mt. Pleasant sub-station and a re-routing of power lines in the works, who knows what'll happen.
On the North side of the lot, there’s a half empty,1980’s commercial building that looks a bit like a neglected villa, complete with walled courtyard and patchy upper verandas. The building and most of that block in fact, look ready for a major makeover or more likely, a complete tear down.
In the space between the two structures, Fireweed, Morning Glory and Alder keep cropping up and filling in the margins. Looking over the shoulder and back up the street – Kerry
For the last few days the constant thudding of Olympic security helicopters over the neighbourhood has been getting on everyone's nerves. Late afternoon and the sky is filled with agitated gulls, the trees all around the park alive with restless crows. A local resident wanders up and down Powell telling himself over and over again - "They want to play their games, They can keep their FUCKING GAMES!" Last night, the street was full of cruising Police cars, empty of people and the uptown spotlights and the beams from the circling helicopters overhead looked a bit like the Northern Lights, but I avoided going out. Today, just before sunset, under the watchful eyes of many crows - Marnie.