June 11, 2021

Lawsuit of the week: Manufacturer’s display cases contain ‘volatile’ compounds harmful to museum artifacts, UBC claims

More than 10,000 artifacts at Museum of Anthropology at risk from storage in Italian manufacturer's cases, university says in civil claim

artisteer/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is suing Goppion SpA, a Milan, Italy-based museum display case maker, claiming the company supplied defective display cases to the Museum of Anthropology that began forming crystals of chemical compounds that were harmful to the museum’s artifacts.

The university filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on May 25, naming as a defendant Goppion SpA, which does business as Laboratorio Museotecnico Goppion. According to the claim, UBC began searching out museum storage and display cases in December 2007, inking a deal with Goppion in March 2008 to “design, manufacture, supply and install visible storage cases … for the purpose of storage and display of artifacts in a sealed non-oxygenated environment.”

In 2009, UBC claims, it tested materials and compounds Goppion was going to use to make the cases and approved them before the company supplied 200 cases in May 2009. Months later, the lawsuit says, the museum “placed in excess of ten thousand artifacts from its fine arts collection” in the cases supplied by Goppion.

But nearly a decade later the museum found that crystals were forming inside the cases, which “were composed of a substance called tetramethyl-piperidinol … containing chlorine and sodium, both of which are damaging and harmful to the preservation of the MOA Artifacts being stored.”

The crystals, the claim says, formed due to the “presence of volatile organic compounds” in the cases caused by the use of an automotive adhesive known as Terostat, which didn’t show up in the initial tests by UBC years earlier.

The university claims other museums had the same problems with crystal defects in display cases made by Goppion, which allegedly produced a white paper report on the issue in October 2015.

“Goppion was aware of the deficiencies related to the TMP Crystal Formations, and did not at any time disclose the associated risks, nor provide a copy of the 2015 report, to UBC or the MOA,” the claim states.  

UBC seeks unspecified general and damages for negligence, failure to warn and breach of contract, and damages for repair, replacement and remediation costs. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and Goppion SpA had not responded to the lawsuit by press time.


Vancouver aiming to add to its arsenal in city hall’s war on drivers

It is called an RFP. It does not stand – but could – for Really Freaking Perturbing.

Rather, it is an acronym for Request for Proposals. Two of them are the latest battlefield weapons by the City of Vancouver in its war on the driver.

The collateral damage posed to the city’s economy is anything but friendly fire.

The first salvo comes next year, when your vehicle will need an annual pickpocketing permit to park anywhere there isn’t already a meter on the city’s streets.

The city requests a proposal on licence plate detection technology for three vehicles soon, up to 14 later, to tour and determine if we are permitted where we are parked – violations sent gently at first by mail, vigorously later by windshield notice to offenders.

As much as this is annoying enough as a surcharge of sheer greed and solves no problem anyone can define, it is a mere appetizer for the main course.

Salvo 2 comes about three-and-a-half years hence, in 2025, when Vancouver will demand drivers pay for the privilege to keep entering the city core. Possibly they’ll be taxed even if they don’t.

The core is defined generously to ensure healthy cash flows (Burrard Inlet to the north, English Bay and Burrard Street to the west, 16th Avenue to the south and Clark Drive to the east), but leaves open the possibility of a broader geographic reach. The RFP asks the winning applicant to identify “applicable vehicles” that might be subject to a distance-based fee, regardless of whether they enter that zone.

Indeed, the Vancouver-first effort is designed to set the stage for a vast regional play.

To say the least, it is a curious way to encourage the local economy so necessary to pay for the services in the city, rather like affixing leeches instead of injecting Pfizer.

But fear not, the RFP argues there are virtues aplenty.

So-named mobility pricing, if you did not know, would “enable more people and goods to move into and through the city centre with more reliable travel times.” Which stands to be true about travel, in that more people and goods will be repelled to move into and through the city centre, so are bound to be more expeditious when they dare.

It’s not as if the city core is snarled, except by construction crews to meet new demands for housing and offices, nor is the downtown the only place to shop, work or tour. Just watch consumption behaviour change to bare-knuckle the core.

“The fee may vary based on vehicle type, distance, time of day, user type, how busy the roads are, or other factors. If done thoughtfully, it will provide the city with the opportunity to work towards resolving inequities in the current transportation system.” That If is in the Big If category. Spoiler alert: there is no happy ending for drivers or the businesses that either pay them or need them to come into town.

If you’re wondering about the basic method in this burgeoning madness, the RFP hints: “Our wealthiest residents are typically responsible for more carbon pollution and have greater access to the solutions for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy or lower energy use.” Thus, the need to “focus regulatory and pricing actions on those most able to afford them.”

Rather than reason with people to ditch their cars – with, say, more efficient public transit, or incentives to work remotely like, say, a decade-overdue citywide Wi-Fi, or business tax reform to, say, fortify walking-distance merchant districts – Vancouver is choosing to punish drivers for doing what they feel they need to do, what they would do without if they thought it was a better idea. They are over a barrel, which is where the city seems to want them, particularly the wealthier among them.

What the RFP is light on is the mobility pricing motive. It can be painted as a saviour of our environment, as much-needed social engineering to mitigate inequity, as an epiphanous initiative that makes us realize we’ve been wrong to ever own a car, even as some sort of glorified traffic efficiency for those who do not come to their senses.

But what is it, really? Some clues: it moos, possesses udders and will fill buckets passively and regularly. As productive as it wishes its milch cow to be, the RFP also seeks as an alternative plan a “minimum viable scenario” of compromised objectives within the Vancouver charter.

Regardless, there isn’t much time. The RFP worries “vehicles volumes are expected to be one of the first modes of transport to reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels, further elevating the need to assess the feasibility of a transport pricing solution.” Heaven forbid that looming menace of resurgent activity.

Also on page 18, it makes the sort of generalized comments that in places are a bit of a reach. Parentheses are mine: “Equity-seeking communities are disproportionately reliant on transit service (true everywhere); women are more likely to use transit and run multiple errands in a single trip (not so true everywhere); older adults often ‘age out’ of driving (not often, but sometimes) or have fixed incomes that make financing a personal car difficult (but meaningful to their agency).”

No matter: “The overall societal cost of driving a car is high and is subsidized by the general population, while other modes of transportation are less subsidized or provide an overall societal benefit.”

The point of discussing personal choice is obviously of little value. If you choose to drive down the road, don’t say the city didn’t warn you. •

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.


Summer markets in Burnaby will have food trucks, art and entertainment

It all takes place on Fridays and Saturdays in the Brentwood area

It’s called Shop the Block presented by Grosvenor and it pops up in the Brentwood starting on June 18 | Grosvenor

A new community market in Burnaby is starting up this month to bring together local vendors, food trucks and immersive art installations on select Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer.  

It’s called Shop the Block presented by Grosvenor and it pops up in the Brentwood starting on June 18.

Shop the Block takes place at 2150 Alpha Ave. in Burnaby from 4 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays on the following dates:

•Friday June 18 and Saturday, June 19

•Friday, July 9 & Saturday, July 10

•Friday, July 23 & Saturday, July 24

•Friday, August 13 & Saturday, August 14

•Friday, August 27 & Saturday, August 28

Free parking will be available on-site for visitors and the Shop the Block site is located just steps away from the Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain station. 

The first 100 guests to arrive at the community market on opening day, Friday, June 18, and Saturday June 19 will receive a complimentary tote bag. Twp of the 100 tote bags will include $100 in food truck bucks redeemable throughout all Shop the Block dates.

Enjoy many of Vancouver’s favourite food trucks hosted by the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival at each market, including Tacofino, Aloha Poke, Mom's Grilled Cheese, Dos Amigos, Old Country Pierogi, I Love Chickpea and many more.

Visitors will be encouraged to engage with art installations by three VMF artists – iheartblob, Yuan Zhang, and Ngô Kỳ Duyên aka Jo – and bring each colourful piece to life using augmented-reality in July.

The neighbourhood market will also feature a pop-up art gallery, hosted by West Vancouver’s Benjamin Lumb staring July 9th.

Explore an immersive art experience room by Siloh and muralist Drew Young beginning July 9th.

Guests will be able to dine in a separated outdoor seating area with controlled entry and enhanced COVID-19 safety measures in effect such as temperature checks, hand sanitizer stations, and contact tracing.


Voxel Bridge installation will be one of the most ambitious art projects in Vancouver ever

The piece invovles Cambie Street Bridge, NFTs, and a lot of vinyl

A model of the final installation | Vancouver Biennale

One of the most ambitious art projects ever planned for Vancouver is being installed right now.

The 18,000 sq. ft. Voxel Bridge piece by New York's Jessica Angel (originally from Colombia) combines vinyl pieces in the physical world with an augmented reality component. The piece is part of the Vancouver Biennale; Sammi Wei, the organization's director of operations thinks Voxel Bridge may be unique in the world.

"This is very much groundbreaking, I don't think there's anything like this in public art right now," he tells Vancouver Is Awesome.

That's because of the augmented reality component, which will include 20 non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

"It's basically a whole other experience, a whole other reality in addition to the physical experience," Wei says.

The piece will transform the underside of Cambie Bridge at West 2nd Avenue, creating a cityscape that looks more like a circuit board.

"Most of my installations depict imaginary landscapes inspired in the micro-level of computers and its relationship to urbanism," says Angel on her website. "The way our cities are planned seem to correlate to the structure of a motherboard."

Voxel Bridge will integrate lots of bright colours to help convey that concept.

"Because of the colours it also looks like if you had an infrared scan of a heat pipe," says Wei.

The physical design's connection to the digital world doesn't stop there.

"She wanted to use the bridge as an opportunity to tell the story of blockchain," Wei says.

He adds while Angel is an experienced artist, this is her first outdoor piece of this scale.

"She always uses these sorts of colours and vinyl is her favourite material to work with," he says.

In addition to the scale, the ambitious piece will involve an augmented reality component where people will be able to find 20 digital objects which will be NFTs. They'll be using the Kusama network to do so. The NFTs will be sold using cryptocurrency and help fund the $300,000 project which has involved dozens of people.

"It's looking like 100 people; it's a huge effort behind this project and we've been working on it for close to two years," Wei says.

He adds that some contractors have accepted cryptocurrency as payment for working on the project.

Presenting blockchain and cryptocurrencies ideas in this way will help demystify the developing technology, Wei hopes.

With the additional digital components, he also hopes to be breaking new ground and allowing the art world to move into new areas of the digital world.

"With augmented reality, with all the layers of what we're doing, it's unique in the world," Wei adds.


'Gaming for Josh' fundraiser to help B.C. kids with cancer (VIDEO)

Pledge to play

You can raise money for childhood cancer just by playing video games.

Gamers will unite during Gaming for Josh from June 25 to 27. The virtual fundraiser, hosted by the West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation (WCK), will help support kids with cancer in B.C.

The event was organized in honour of an Abbotsford boy named Josh, who was diagnosed with cancer at 11 and died in 2013 at age 14.

He had a fondness for video games and coped with isolation during treatment by playing online with friends around the world.

Participants are encouraged to pledge donations and spend the weekend playing their favourite video games.

"Stream your play if you want to. You can send us a snapshot of you playing online and then just share it through social media," adds foundation executive director Shannon Hartwig.

A PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, donated by Best Buy Coquitlam, will be awarded to the top fundraisers. 

Funds raised will help support programs like WCK Hangouts, a safe virtual space where kids explore activities and connect with peers while engaging with volunteers.

Hartwig describes why the event is so important.

"I think, as a parent, when you have to go through the worst possible thing of losing your child, the biggest fear is that people will forget them and we're not going to forget Josh."


What are we reading? June 10, 2021

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web

J.A. Bracchi/The Image Bank/Getty

Kirk LaPointe, publisher and editor-in-chief:

Two r & r stories from The Atlantic are advisable for health purposes: why a good night’s sleep pays off profoundly, and why America has a drinking problem. – The Atlantic


When Canada legalized cannabis, someone had to start tabulating its activity. This is the story of the quest, which remains a little hazy. – The Walrus


This exceptional oral essay examines the historic journalistic decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. – The New York TImes


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

For deep history fans interested in knowing what was happening in their neighbourhoods prior to the Big Bang, this Big Think piece fills in a lot of blanks


And when you are finished pondering the deep past, here is a look ahead to the near future of work and the top 10 jobs heading your way. If you have ever dreamed of being an Algorithm Bias Auditor, start polishing your resumé now. – Big Think


A largely optimistic outlook on global economic recovery front from the World Bank.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

A study by University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation pegs the U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic at more than 900,000 – a number more than 50% higher than the official figure. – NPR


The accelerating pace of vaccinations has pumped up pressure on employees to return to the office. But many workers are quitting their jobs rather than go back to their pre-pandemic commutes and cubicles. – Bloomberg


Hayley Woodin, executive editor:
Retail may not be dead, but it is in for reinvention. From travelling show rooms, to luring customers with cafés and art galleries, retailers are experimenting with pop-up stores. – Bloomberg 


Two scientists in Canada who shared information and virus samples with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology remain under RCMP investigation. "This needs to be a wake-up call for Canada about how aggressive the Chinese have become at infiltrating Western institutions,” says one security expert. – CBC


Glen Korstrom, reporter

Was reflecting on the earthquake risk in Metro Vancouver and found this good long read from 2015. That may seem like a while ago, but part of its interesting thesis was around determining how frequent Cascadia fault line quakes can be. Their science determines that it would be around once every 243 years. Given that science and Indigenous oral history has it that the last massive quake here was in 1700, we’re about 321 years into an average 243-year interval between quakes. – New Yorker