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!