October 22, 2014
I’ll admit I have a thing for fire fighters. In a world where we are taught from birth to run away as fast as you can from dangerous situations, like burning buildings, these people do the exact opposite, and they do it every day. Everyday heroes. So, when they say they need something, I’m happy to listen.
They are concerned about the level of fire saftey in our over-developed City and have issued the following open letter to the citizens of Vancouver.
I guess our City Council has other priorities for our money. We can change that on 15th November.
October 22, 2014
Last night I was privileged to be part of a Langara College class being held by Australian planner and community engagement expert Wendy Sarkissian with whom I have been in contact throughout this year. She is in Vancouver this Fall to teach courses on planning at Langara and at UBC SCARP.
Last night’s class brought together a number of long-time neighbourhood activists (Eileen Mosca of Grandview, Gudrun Langolf of Marpole, Ned Jacobs of Riley Park/South Cambie, former mayoral candidate Randy Helten, Little Mountain documentarian David Vaisbord, and me).
Over the evening, we each discussed our own histories, our specific focus of activism, and often enough, how the history of activism in Vancouver and elsewhere informs potential solutions for today. I told a few a few stories, and then was happy to sit back and listen to the wisdom of the other “elders”. I hope the students got as much out of it as I did.
Many of us made the point that planning disputes are rarely ideological in a traditional political sense. The problems tend to arise through faulty process, and inequality in the servicing of that process (often appearing as “cronysim”.). Many of us still have the belief that an improved and equalized process can produce an improved result, to the benefit to the neighbourhoods, the City, and the building industry; and that a continuatuon of the current process will inevitably deliver a city that is unaffordable and without many of the features of livability.
It is the choice between these conflicting systems, one supportive of corporations and the other supportive of people, that makes the result of the upcoming election so important.
Most of the class was facilitated by students April Crockett and Elona Saro, who did a marvelous job and deserve congratulations. Well done for an interesting evening!
October 21, 2014
I was at the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP) pre-election all-candidates’ meeting last night. It was a well-attended and well-organized affair and I’ll probably write more about it later.
What I wanted to pass on straight away was my impression, after the “debates” and interviews and op-eds so far, that we neighbourhood activists — individuals, community associations (OCOP, for example), and the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods — have managed to get “neighbourhood control” deeply embedded into this year’s campaign. It is mentioned in almost every response to every question from every party — except Vision, of course.
Vision’s utter failure to allow any form of neighbourhood control over our own futures — in very public statements indicating a desire for autocratic top-down control — has enabled the call for increased neighbourhood engagement and decision-making to become a vigorous meme representing a more general anti-Vision feeling. It fronts arguments for more transparency, accountability. and responsiveness in civic governance, calls for less cronyism and more open tendering — all areas where Vision has been woefully deficient throughout its period of dominance on City Council. They are weak and vulnerable in these areas, and the other parties are hammering away at it.
It is noteworthy that only Vision is being booed and heckled at these meetings. We can only suppose their candidates have received special training in keeping a straight face while uttering the lines — believed by few in the audience — that Magee and the organization has prepared for them. There is a certain kind of haughty arrogance needed to keep peddling this BS in the face of such loud and consistent opposition.
Second, and of equal importance at this point in the campaign, are the clear convergences emerging from the Greens, Cedar, COPE, OneCity, and others, even the NPA, on many polices (not all, to be sure, but enough). This ability to come together on matters of vital importance helps solidify the call for a mixed slate with no overall majority. We certainly do not need a majority on Council — either Vision nor any other — to get things done in this town; there are enough co-operators around to ensure good governance and good decision-making from shifting coalitions.
So, let’s make 15th November a referendum on local control (as opposed to City Hall diktats) and coalition building as routes to a finer future. We can do this!
October 20, 2014
The irrepressible Ray Tomlin has today, on his VanRamblings blog, suggested a Mayor and 10 Councilors selected from the women running for office this year — and only the women.
My own specific picks might be different, but this sounds like a swell idea!
In all seriousness, this exercise shows the remarkable breadth and depth in our pool of potential civic politicians in terms of gender, as well as age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, economic circumstance.
We are a city of diversity — and proud to be so!