Vote For Neighbourhoods and a Mixed Slate!

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!


The Wave

October 20, 2014

wave-2


An All-Female Council? Why Not?

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!


Wise Words

October 20, 2014

Wise Words 10_19


Time & Transformation: An Art Event

October 19, 2014

Today’s the day that Famous Empty Sky previews her new exhibition on the Drive.  The details are on the poster below.

time  transformationPlease check out her show.  It is guaranteed to be interesting and, as one of our very finest local artists, she deserves all our support.


A Lack of Vision On The Broadway Corridor

October 19, 2014

Vision Vancouver, the developer-funded incumbent regime at City Hall, have decided to make a subway under Broadway, from Commercial to UBC, a major plank of their re-election campaign. Apparently it is beside the point that they don’t have the money to do it, nor any control over the funding, and that it is a bad and unimaginative idea, suited only for the profits of the regime’s crony partners. A subway we shall have, they say.

Let’s begin by looking at some of the yawning gaps in Vision’s proposal.

First, to claim this is a subway to UBC is simply false.  The subway, as currently proposed, will be dug from Commercial & Broadway only to Arbutus where westbound commuters will have to leave the subway, climb up to the street level and then wait for a bus to UBC to complete their journey, one way.  So, any commuter time savings discussed must take into account the time and inconvenience needed for this transfer. And, of course, the same inconvenient transfer will be necessary when leaving UBC to travel eastwards.

Second, all expert opinion suggests that putting the financing together and then building the tunnel will take eight years at least before delivering one second of improvement.  I suppose we must hang around in long lines waiting for an already-crowded 99B Line for another eight years, as there are no plans to improve the service before then.

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In fact, under Vision’s plans for Commercial & Broadway, the commuting situation will get much worse.  They plan to add about 10,000 more people to that neighbourhood, mostly housed in huge 30+ storey highrise towers at the intersection, without any increase in transit. Those 10,000 people will simply add to the congestion and line-ups that already annoy so many travelers; and which can only be aggravated by years and years of subway construction work.

Third, what would this new communter paradise look like?  Under Vision, there is little doubt Broadway will consist of islands of massive towers separated by barren wastelands between the stops.

MAIN.Marine-Gateway600px

Even the pro-subway Urban Land Institute, in their Final Report in July, warned that Vision had gone hog-wild over towers. It is worth noting that there will still need to be street-level buses to move people between the stations and their high-rises; so the subway becomes not a replacement, but simply a very expensive addition.

Finally in this review, let’s take a moment for an overview of this $3 billion, 8-year project: Question: did you ever see a government-run mega project go over-budget and/or over-schedule?  I can’t think of one that didn’t.

So, after all that complaining, are there alternatives?  Yes, of course. And there are alternatives whether the $3 billion falls like manna from heaven or whether we have to do this without such largesse.  The prime failure of Vision’s plan is its lack of imagination.

For example, should that kind of money be available, Patrick Condon (who elsewhere has pointed out the contradictions in Vision’s plan) has already described the magnificent transit system we could have all across Vancouver for the same cost of $3 billion that Vision wants to waste on a single line between Commercial and Arbutus. Why would we not want to improve service everywhere rather than service a small slice of our needs?

What else?  We could move large sections of UBC to, say, the Post Office building downtown, and the Emily Carr site on Granville Island.  This would spread the transit load geographically and, at least in the case of the Post Office, would build upon existing transit infrastructure.

And/or we could insist that UBC and the high-tech companies the Mayor and Geoff Meggs have said will dominate the Broadway corridor move to flex-time scheduling, thus spreading the traffic load across the system throughout the day and thus reducing “rush hour” congestion.

And/or we could divert automobile traffic off Broadway to 4th, 12th, 25th and 41st, for example.  Personally, I would be happy to see the entire Broadway corridor become a pedestrian/transit/cycle-only street.  A mix of short-haul and express buses would speed along their own dedicated lanes, as would bicycles, feeding retail along the entire street rather than just in towering shopping centres.

Finally, we can consider alternative technologies for moving people along Broadway.  An at-grade Light Rapid Transit system, costing about a third of the tunnel project but going all the way to UBC, is an obvious candidate.

OffLRTproposal

There are plenty of other ideas floating around.  What we know is that the three billion dollar hole in the ground is the least viable, the least effective, and the least neighbourhood-friendly option and, besides, it cannot be ready for almost a decade at best.  It is time to be creative and make better decisions for our commuters and our City today.


Happy Birthday, Laura Nyro!

October 18, 2014

Today would have been the birthday of the incomparable Laura Nyro.


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