The Blindness of Vision

November 6, 2013

I should be honoured, I guess.  Clr. Geoff Meggs has devoted a whole blog post to blasting me and Grandview and the entirely accurate figures put out by the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods earlier this week.

Take a look — Geoff Meggs — and see the blind fury of a Vision Councillor scorned!

He takes me personally to task and so I write this as an individual and not as a representative of either GWAC or the Coalition — they are well able to defend themselves.

First, let us look at his attempted deconstruction of our media release about the rate of development in Vancouver.

  • He claims the media release uses inaccurate population projections.  The Coalition used a projection of 153,800 people over the next 35 years, a figure taken directly from page 9 of the Regional Context Statement approved by Clr. Meggs and the rest of his Vision buddies in July this year — just five months ago.  Now, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Clr. Meggs hadn’t read the RCS before he voted for it; it is a very long document after all.  The point of the media release was to contrast current development against the City’s approved projections — I stick by this number.
  • The second para in Meggs’ diatribe is itself full of errors.  It is true that there was a typo in the press release saying “two years” instead of “three”.  I personally apologize for that error.  However, it doesn’t make a spit of difference.   He notes in the first sentence that we used the phrase “proposed or approved” and then spends the rest of the paragraph ignoring the proposed figure and using only the “approved” one.  Why is that?  Is it because the approved and proposed figure of more that 21,650 doesn’t fit into the mis-information he wants to send out?  Is it because he simply wants to misrepresent what the Coalition said?
  • He finished up by simply making up figures, pulling them out of thin air, by once again deliberately ignoring the “approved and proposed” statements in the release.  The Coalition used a very conservative estimate of 2 persons per unit (21,650 x 2 = 43,300) even though page 9 of the RCS mentioned above uses an average figure of 2.2 people per unit.  Meggs’ numbers must have come to him in a dream, I guess.

Clearly Meggs just wants to spin and not deal with the reality of the numbers the Coalition put out.  I’m not surprised because the Coalition, though completely non-partisan, represents one of the biggest threats to Vision’s dictatorial hegemony in years.  And they need to try to knock it down before the truth it puts out about what is really happening in the neighbourhoods damages both the Vision brand and their electoral abilities.

I could stop there, but Meggs takes this opportunity to bash Grandview and its wonderful community. He claims our vibrant and highly successful neighbourhood is “dead in the water”.  Doesn’t he see the vibrancy that happens along Commercial Drive every day, doesn’t he witness the families that fill our parks, the incredible diveristy of our population in terms of both income and ethnic composition.  Is this representative of Vision really that blind?

Finally, somewhere, Clr. Meggs learned all about strawman arguments. You know, the arguments that he can knock down so easily because no one actually said them in the first place.  He suggests that we don’t want any growth here in Grandview.  No one in GWAC has ever said that. No one in the mass meetings we have had has said that. And I can’t remember anyone saying that in the thousands upon thousands of emails and letters and petitions that I have read this summer. He says these fantasies because he doesn’t want the public to hear what we do want:  appropriate development that fits the neighbourhood and which is acceptable to the community.

Supported by so much development company money, it is no wonder that Meggs and his Vision Vancouver pals want to build, build, build, rergardless of their own projections and regardless of what the residents want.  But we can see through his visionless rhetoric.

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Censorship at City Hall?

November 6, 2013

One of the jewels of municipal politics in Vancouver is the excellent site City Hall Watch.  They have a long history of putting out detailed information of city politics and development that it is hard to access elsewhere.

Today, they have a very important story on a form of censorship being used to hide the business of the Urban Design Panel, one of the most important City advisory panel that votes its approval on billions of dollars of development in Vancouver each year.  The Panel is stuffed with development insiders and their colleagues.

The UDP meetings are open to the public (if you can find them and their changeable schedules) but they will not allow video or audio recording of their proceedings.  As the CHW story indicates, there seems to be no regulatory or legal reason for this prohibition.

This goes along with City Council’s constant attempts to shut down public speakers who want/need to criticize City staff. Councilor Jang, for example, likes to indulge in buffoonery by waving in the air a City by-law that says Councilors cannot disrespect staff and using that against public speakers — in direct contravention of the freedom of speech clauses of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I guess that when a civic body makes so many decisions opposed by the citizenry that they would like to keep that as quiet as possible. But it sure puts a dent in democracy.