Vancouver Blogger Profile: Stephen Rees

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

My 23rd blogger profile in the series features Stephen Rees – who is much more than a transit and eco-blogger. He’s someone that I would suggest everyone in the region (not just Vancouver) put on their list of regular reads.

Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

Who are you?
I am a 59 year old divorced, semi-retired economist and planner. I used to work for Translink but I am pleased to say they got rid of me, so that has left me more time to be a blogger, photographer, swing bridge operator, cyclist, anti-freeway campaigner who sometimes gets paid to speak to people about sustainability.

Where do you blog (which sites)? – which started off as “Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves” but has expanded its coverage quite a bit since then

In an attempt to give me some space to go right off that topic I started “Yet another blog for me” at which is – erm – eclectic, and has a smaller but more respectful following.

I also use my Flickr stream as a sort of photo blog.

Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

Are you originally from Vancouver?
No I moved here in 1999 after being downsized from the BC civil service in Victoria. Originally I come from London (England) but immigrated to Toronto in 1988. I had actually visited Vancouver several times before that but never thought I would get to live here. One of my uncles was the publisher of the Langley Advance back in the fifties and sixties (when it was a Real Newspaper, not a freebie ad sheet) so I have been following developments here for a while.

Why do you blog? and what’s your unique angle?
Originally to get some things off my chest that really bothered me about the way planning is done here – or rather NOT done. After a while it turned into more of a campaign, especially after I joined the Livable Region Coaltion. It has also become something of an education: SFU runs a very good City Programme, and I try to get to all the (free) lectures and get my notes on line as soon as possible afterwards (I cannot type well enough to live blog). I do not think I am unique, as there are a lot of people who care deeply about our environment, and how our politicians seem to be intent on wrecking what is left of it. But I do have the perspective of a long career across several related fields (transport, energy, land use) which I hope gives me some authority on the topic. I also try very hard not to make assertions, but reference my comments. As much as I can I do not simply pass along what I have found on line but give my own views. Everyone, I think, is entitled to *my* opinion.

What is the BEST part of blogging… or if you prefer, the worst?
Not being edited. Actually that is both the best and the worst. I tend to want to hit “publish” too soon and cringe at all the typos that have been missed by the spellchecker. And the occasional solecism, which I hope I can edit out before the trolls leap on it. But for many years everything I wrote got mangled by the bureaucratic process and made into pablum. Now I can produce my own chunky, chewy text – lots of fibre – really good for you.

There’s another worst. There are not a lot of them, but trolls are the bane of the internet, not just blogs. Oh, and spammers too. Though Akismet catches a lot, it also seems to pick up some of my regular commenters too, so I have to trawl through thousands of spams on a regular basis to find one or two genuine comments.

Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

Do you write for yourself, your readers, for Google, for a living?
I write for my readers. The only way to make a living would be to leave and set up my own domain and allow ads. But I dislike ads. They can appear on my other blog, but I have never made anything on them yet, and I refuse to go looking for ad revenue. One nice chap in Vancouver sends me small amounts if enough Vancouver voters pick me – but I live in Richmond, work in Delta and tend to be more concerned about the future of the suburbs. The City of Vancouver and its downtown gets more than enough attention as it is.

PC, Mac or Speak n’ Spell?
It’s a PC, mostly, running Ubuntu. Except for when I am out and about and then its an Eeepc running its own form of Linux. Except that now and again I resort to XP for some proprietary software that others need me to use

Blogs you read or would recommend

Well yours, of course. And Hummingbird604. And I am recently into bokashi.

Actually I spend less time reading blogs than email list servers like BCEN LW – because I am looking for things to write about and do not just want to recycle stuff already in the local blogs. Alex Waterhouse Hayward has a great blog (with no comments allowed) and like Rafe Mair ( is of my generation and gender. We all do great impressions of Grumpy Old Men – but we are quite cuddly underneath the gruff exteriors.

And I must plug The Livable Blog mostly written by Eric Doherty these days – a brilliant mind and a determined opponent of the Gateway

Without doubt the best experience I have had as a blogger was going to Northern Voice and meeting so many great bloggers.

Can I also put a word in for Bill Tieleman, Keefer, Thirteencent pinball… actually my blog has a very long blogroll. And we bloggers do tend to be very supportive and encouraging of each other. As this series attests.

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6 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. RaulMonday, October 13th, 2008 — 10:59am PDT

    Thanks for the plug, Stephen. I’m really honored.

    Stephen Rees’ blog is great for many reasons, but one of them is actually what he mentions (lots of fibre – his unfiltered opinion). He tells it like it is, and he cares deeply for the future of our region. He is definitely a must-read and I’m glad you profiled him 🙂

    He is also great at responding at comments in his blog, which makes for great conversation.

    And… Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Stephen ReesMonday, October 13th, 2008 — 11:08am PDT

    Thank you Rebecca and Raul.

    Here is Alex Waterhouse Hayward’s blog – and please correct my misnaming him (Doh!)

    Then you can delete this

  3. Alex Waterhouse-HaywardTuesday, October 14th, 2008 — 9:55am PDT

    Dear Stephen and Rebecca,

    Thank you for the plug. I have all kinds of second thoughts about blogs. My wife refuses to read it even though I have been at it for over two and a half years. She says it is free writing. I make money writing for magazines so she objects to my putting so much time into it.

    I have friends abroad who have told me it is no longer necessary for them to call me or for me to phone them as they read the blog and that is enough. On a positive side all kinds of relatives and friends that I had lost contact with (some for 45 years) get a computer, Google themselves and immediately locate my blog where I have mentioned them. This has served to bring in all those loose ends of my life and it feels satisfying.

    The blog has been very useful in giving me an idea of the depth of my 36 year old Vancouver photo files.

    I find the local aggregators very curious on how they do or not aggregate. I might have a whole blog on spending a day with our mayor and the blog will not be aggregated but if I happen to mention Bard on the Beach the blog will be aggregated as it has found the key tag of beach! I am fascinated by this distorted randomness.

    Sincerely yours,

    Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

  4. Barbara DodukThursday, October 16th, 2008 — 3:20pm PDT

    A great blogger. Good to see him featured.

  5. Rod SmelserMonday, January 26th, 2009 — 4:09pm PST

    “… I am pleased to say they got rid of me, so that has left me more time to be a blogger, photographer, swing bridge operator, cyclist, anti-freeway campaigner who sometimes gets paid to speak to people about sustainability.”

    I distinctly recall reading in one of Stephen’s blogs last year that he has no choice but to drive to work through the Deas Island (Massey) tunnel. His situation is therefore so much different than that of the thousands of people who drive in SOVs over the Port Mann bridge, but who could be using public transit, according to Stephen, who is an expert in the subject.

  6. Drina Read Candidate Interview » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittMonday, April 27th, 2009 — 7:16pm PDT

    […] profiled Stephen as a blogger but he’s also a Green Party of BC candidate in Richmond. During his talk Drina said he […]

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