Council Candidates’ Forum

September 22, 2022

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Whose Community Is It?

September 21, 2022

As an architectural and social artifact I have no real issue with high-rise towers.

When I moved to Vancouver in 1979, I lived first at what was then the Plaza Hotel at the northern end of Lions Gate Bridge. I worked as a freelancer and so needed a corporation to invoice my services. My first company was called Twenty-Third Floor Productions, which accurately reflected the position of my apartment. I loved it up there. When North Vancouver became inconvenient for me commuting without a car, I moved to the West End and happily lived amid (though not in) the towering glass and concrete erections.  No, I have no issue with high-rise towers.

In fact, I have often said that if the residents genuinely approved 15-storey towers on every block on Commercial Drive, I would have no problem with that. I would definitely move because that’s not the Drive I want; but the point is that I will always support the right of the neighbourhood to make that decision.

From a planning point of view, I was deeply concerned in particular by the Boffo Tower proposal on Commercial Drive because of what the success of the developer against the expressed wish of thousands of local residents would mean for any concept of genuine neighbourhood control in the future.

It matters not whether we are talking about towers or townhouses or row houses or supported housing or a new transportation option or a change in the use of roads; the issue always comes down to where the power of approval lies.  Right now, the disproportionately asymmetrical power equation of developers + money + a developer-friendly City Council and Planning Department versus ad hoc volunteer groups trying to protect the right of the communities to choose means that the ability of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods to control their own affairs, in matters of zoning and streetscapes, business and housing, is slipping away at a fast and increasing rate.

It is vital that we re-establish the rights of the electorate by pushing powers down to the lowest, most local level.  In terms of municipal policy this means making “city-wide” policies subject to local opt-in or opt-out.  This would mean that the Interim Zoning policies enacted after the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, land use policies under Transportation 2040, and now the city-wide plans such as Broadway and Vancouver Plans currently being implemented and further devised by the Vancouver City Planning Commission would all be controlled and enacted — or not — by each neighbourhood in Vancouver.

This also means that regional groupings, such as the unelected Metro Vancouver, need to become operational liaisons only with no executive powers concerning local development, and certainly no authority to override neighbourhood decisions through Regional Context Statements and similar.  If necessary, the City of Vancouver should be prepared to withdraw from Metro in order to ensure this level of local control.

And we must oblige the Province to amend the Vancouver Charter so that we, the residents of Vancouver, have full control over the style of council we have, the financial terms under which elections are fought, whether or not we become members of larger groups such as Metro and Translink, and all the powers needed to ensure that we can at least address the pressing crises of unaffordable housing, homelessness, and the low salaries paid to Vancouver employees compared to other large cities in Canada.

In a Twitter exchange with me some while ago, Bob Ransford called “parochial decisions” and “endless debate” a problem.  No, it’s not a problem.  After so many decades of top-down control and crony management, parochial decision-making after legitimate local debate is exactly what we DO want, what this City needs.

Civic politics should not be about cult followings and strict ideological homogeneity.  It matters not that TEAM and I differ in some of the details of policy. What matters is it is TEAM and TEAM alone who understand that neighbourhoods are the vital partners in this enterprise of moving Vancouver forward, and it is only TEAM that will implement the processes of government that will strengthen that partnership.

On October 15th vote Colleen Hardwick for Mayor with a majority of TEAM Councillors!


2022 Mayoral Candidates Debate …

September 19, 2022

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Hopefully, all five will show up!


A Reminder: Tonight’s Debate is Off

September 19, 2022

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For the last few weeks, volunteers from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) have sought to put together a Mayoral Forum which was scheduled for 19th September at Britannia. It was to be an occasion for the people of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver to question the five leading candidates for Mayor specifically about community engagement, local development, housing affordability, and public safety.

Colleen Hardwick of TEAM agreed to attend, as did Mark Marissen of Progress, and Fred Harding of the NPA. I know CVN thanks them for their acknowledgment that ordinary residents are worth the effort of engagement.

However, both Kennedy Stewart of Forward Vancouver and Ken Sim of ABC decided they didn’t have the time or desire to speak with the people of East Vancouver and the other neighbourhoods. Even though they were given plenty of notice, they are probably too busy cozying up to their big developer buddies, planning the further ruination of our great city for the benefit of their well-heeled backers.

The rationale for the event was to listen and compare the five major candidates. With two of them refusing to attend, the rationale fails and so the event has been cancelled.

This is the second such opportunity to mingle with taxpayers Stewart and Sim have disdained in the last week. Twice bitten, forever shy, I say. The opportunity to show these characters the door once and for all occurs on October 15th, and you can do it with your votes. Take that opportunity and help free Vancouver from the clutches of the for-profit growth4greed mindset that has dominated our politics and created the affordability crisis for the last generation.

Only TEAM has the right people and the right policies to ensure that residents of Vancouver have the final say in how our city and our neighbourhoods develop. I urge all my readers to vote Colleen Hardwick for Mayor with a TEAM majority Council.


Sign of the Times

September 18, 2022

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The view along Adanac Street has been greatly improved with some simple signage.


Are You Better Off?

September 14, 2022

The Arrogance of Front Runners

September 12, 2022

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For the last few weeks, volunteers from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) have sought to put together a Mayoral Forum which was scheduled for 19th September at Britannia. It was to be an occasion for the people of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver to question the five leading candidates for Mayor specifically about community engagement, local development, housing affordability, and public safety.

Colleen Hardwick of TEAM agreed to attend, as did Mark Marissen of Progress, and Fred Harding of the NPA. I know CVN thanks them for their acknowledgment that ordinary residents are worth the effort of engagement.

However, both Kennedy Stewart of Forward Vancouver and Ken Sim of ABC decided they didn’t have the time or desire to speak with the people of East Vancouver and the other neighbourhoods. Even though they were given plenty of notice, they are probably too busy cozying up to their big developer buddies, planning the further ruination of our great city for the benefit of their well-heeled backers.

The rationale for the event was to listen and compare the five major candidates. With two of them refusing to attend, the rationale fails and so the event has been cancelled.

This is the second such opportunity to mingle with taxpayers Stewart and Sim have disdained in the last week. Twice bitten, forever shy, I say. The opportunity to show these characters the door once and for all occurs on October 15th, and you can do it with your votes. Take that opportunity and help free Vancouver from the clutches of the for-profit growth4greed mindset that has dominated our politics and created the affordability crisis for the last generation.

Only TEAM has the right people and the right policies to ensure that residents of Vancouver have the final say in how our city and our neighbourhoods develop. I urge all my readers to vote Colleen Hardwick for Mayor with a TEAM majority Council.


A-Maze-ing Laughter

September 8, 2022

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We spent some time down at English Bay today. It was sunny but blustery, and a great change from our normal routine. We always enjoy the marvelous A-Maze-Laughter sculpture by Yue Minjun which I consider one of the great public works of art.


Another Mayoral Forum

September 4, 2022

Mayoral Debate in Grandview

August 24, 2022

A Mainstreeting Event for TEAM for a Livable Vancouver

August 17, 2022

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Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM campaign will be mainstreeting on Commercial Drive tomorrow (Thursday 18th).

They will be meeting at the Entre Nous Femmes housing complex on Adanac & Commercial at 4pm and then proceeding south on Commercial Drive until about 5:30pm.

Come down and meet the next (and first female) Mayor of Vancouver and her TEAM!


Barbecue With The NPA

July 19, 2022

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Want to talk politics? For those that may be interested the NPA campaign is holding a barbecue this coming Thursday (21st) at 2365 Kitchener (corner of Kitchener & Nanaimo) at 4:30 – 6:30pm.

Note that this notice is in no way an endorsement of the NPA campaign, just a PSA. I will be happy to post notices of any events from any other party if I am notified in advance.


Remaking The Poverty Industry of DTES

July 16, 2022

In my opinion, one of the major issues in DTES (especially but not exclusively) is the “industry” that has developed around the issue of poverty, homelessness, and addiction.  There are scores of organizations of all kinds, many with overlapping aims, and each with their own bureaucracies (small and large), a number of which are very highly paid.  Too much money that could be better spent on support and maintenance is drained into paying for the organizations and their “mini-empires”.  

While there may be a few outstanding success stories, it is plain to see that this poverty industry as currently operating has failed spectacularly and horrifically.

I do not have a magic answer to solve these issues. Rather, I would propose that a working conference be established including as many interested groups as possible to come up with new solutions. The conferees should include, but not be limited to, the homeless, the working poor, VANDU and similar groups, community groups, women’s groups, indigenous folks, social and health professionals. The conference needs to include all levels of government but not be controlled or managed by them. The governments should, within reasonable limits, agree to enact the recommendations proposed by the conference.

I have some suggestions about matters that could be included in the discussion (I am sure there are many others):

  • decriminalization of drugs and provide a safe supply, thus removing police and criminals from what is a social welfare and health issue;
  • bring in Universal Basic Income;
  • expropriate all SROs and similar facilities (including those operated by non-profits) and turn them into clean and safe livable spaces under transparent management;
  • prioritize the building of affordable housing in the neighbourhood;
  • significantly reform and improve health, welfare, education, and training services;
  • funding should come from the money currently paid to the poverty industry, plus a reduction in police budgets by x%, and more if needed.

None of this would be cheap. But if you think the present situation is affordable for any of us, then frankly you are nuts.


The Broadway Plan: A Synopsis of Comments

May 31, 2022

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This afternoon and evening, Vancouver City Council will hear the last of three days of public comments on the Broadway Plan and Council will likely debate Councillors’ amendments and proceed to a final vote.

The Upper Kitsilano Residents’ Association (UKRA) has circulated a mailing to its members discussing the public hearings to date which, with their permission, I am sharing here as I believe it represents a fair summary of comments to date and the issues facing the Plan:

“For three days 160 Vancouver residents spoke to Council about the Broadway Plan, and the results show a city divided. With about another 30 speakers still to be heard, the schism is clear: on one side are those who believe the Plan calls for excessive change and ignores the voices of neighbourhoods; and the other side — young people who have the backing of organized groups like Abundant Housing, biking groups, and the development industry — who say the Plan doesn’t go far enough.


Council has a tough decision ahead of them to either accept, amend or reject the major planning blueprint for the future of the Broadway Corridor, a scheme that has taken staff over three years to complete. The Broadway Plan, already a densely populated area that includes 500 blocks surrounding the coming Millennium Line subway, envisions adding about 50,000 new residents in the next 30 years. Staff have proposed towers anywhere from three (low-rise) to 40 (at subway stations) storeys in most areas along Broadway, from Clark Drive to Yew Street, and from 1st Avenue to 16th.


Theresa O’Donnell, head planner for the City, called the Broadway Plan a “generational plan” that will likely bring discomfort to some. O’Donnell said there has been broad support for the Plan and that the public has had several chances to be involved in the planning process. But that’s not what Council heard over three days of meetings.

Opponents talked about the lack of engagement between the planners and neighbourhoods (residents were not asked their views about the height or built form of towers, which were only made public in the final draft plan). Dunbar resident Carol Volkart reflected on her community’s past planning involvement with the City, when she and her neighbours collaborated on their own community plan involving input from 1,600 neighbours. “Residents could be trusted” then, Volkart said, “their opinions mattered” to the City.


Vancouver resident Mark Battersby, Professor Emeritus at Capilano University and author of Is That a Fact? said the City surveys use “bogus methodology” that has nothing to do science. He told of his experience attending a Broadway Plan presentation, where staff were trying to convince residents of one particular point of view while offering no alternatives.


Critics of the Plan predict widespread displacement of tenants living along Broadway, home to some of the most affordable rents in the city. A recurring theme over the past three days of meetings is a growing lack of trust that the City would meet its own commitments to residents. Even with Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s beefed-up tenant protection plan, many renters say they can’t trust government to provide the help they need. The Mayor’s plan has been widely rebuked, even by the Vancouver Tenants Union.


David Webb, a renter in Fairview, said if housing affordability is the goal of the plan, why not keep what [older, affordable units] we have now? He said he and his neighbours don’t want to leave their community and move into new smaller apartments. “Renters stand only to lose. It’s a terrible plan, awful,” said Webb, arguing that the Plan will negatively affect renters for decades to come. Another speaker echoed Webb’s comments: “This isn’t a plan for renters. When I look at it, I don’t see development, I see displacement.” Regarding the huge increase in density planned for the area, one speaker complained he didn’t want to “live in Manhattan.” Vancouver,” he said, “needs to be treated with kid gloves. The Broadway Plan is a sledgehammer.”

Noting that the city’s population has grown by about one percent a year since 1986, retired architect Brian Palmquist called the envisioned density “a growth ponzi scheme.” Others criticized the lack of amenities planned for the area, such as schools, community centres, seniors’ services, and parks. Although one in five Vancouver seniors live in the Broadway area, the Plan makes no mention of adding seniors housing or amenities.


Supporters said Vancouver needs thousands of new homes now, preferably starting in the city’s low-density neighbourhoods, and that more commercial businesses should be built off-arterials. Some complained that the work should have started yesterday. “I was born after ’86 and I don’t have time for all the dithering, one speaker told Council. He pointed out that 3,600 citizens completed the Broadway Plan survey and over 50 percent of people said the Broadway Plan could make their lives better. Most developers who called in expressed basic support for the plan, with some minor adjustments.

Outspoken critic Patrick Condon, who teaches Urban Design at UBC, said the Broadway Plan deserves more than one consultant. He encouraged the City to meet with outside planners who can share ideas on how the Plan can be improved, particularly when it comes to housing affordability.


Whether or not the Plan can deliver housing affordability and livability has always been the burning issue at City meetings. The Broadway Plan envisions market rental apartments will make up 80 percent of the new housing, with 20 percent assigned to below-market rates. Many Councillors struggled with that number at the meeting, and asked speakers for ideas on how more affordable housing could be delivered.

Developer Michael Geller has used his blog to criticize the Plan and is well worth reading. One of his professional correspondents opposes what he calls “the sterile and generic vision the Broadway Plan puts forward for Vancouver’s future.”

The speakers list has closed but you can still send your comments to Council and I urge you to do so this morning. Let them know what you think of this massive redevelopment of our city and the displacement of affordable rentals it will bring in its wake.


Rally At City Hall

May 3, 2022


GWAC and CoV’s Head of Planning

April 26, 2022

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Vancouver was ALWAYS Real Estate

April 17, 2022

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While doing some newspaper research this afternoon I came across this prescient front page cartoon from Province 1911 March 31:


WE Should Decide On An Olympics Bid

April 9, 2022

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Next Tuesday, Councillor Colleen Hardwick’s motion on getting voter approval for any new Olympics bid will come before Council. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has intimated that we should have no say in the matter even though it will likely cost Vancouver tax payers billions of dollars, and remembering that we still have no idea what the 2010 Olympics cost because of a secret deal to hide the figures until at least 2025.

Hardwick’s motion is simple: She asks that we all get a chance to have a vote on the matter during the October civic elections. The question she wants on the ballot paper is equally simple and neutral:

“Do you support or do you oppose the City of Vancouver’s participation in hosting the 2030 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games?

_ YES, I support the City of Vancouver’s participation.

_ NO, I oppose the City of Vancouver’s participation.”

The full text of the Motion is here:

 https://council.vancouver.ca/20220412/documents/b4.pdf

Given the Mayor’s opposition to public participation in this decision, there is a chance that even this motion might not be allowed to be discussed. That is unless we the public make sure the Council know that we want and need to be consulted on how our money is spent.

Therefore, whether you support the Olympics or not, I urge you to email City Council demanding that we have a say in this decision during the next municipal election and supporting the Motion. Your email must arrive before Council starts to sit on Tuesday 11th April. Please copy it to:

kennedy.stewart@vancouver.ca; CLRbligh@vancouver.ca; CLRboyle@vancouver.ca; CLRcarr@vancouver.ca; CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca; CLRdominato@vancouver.ca; CLRfry@vancouver.ca; CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca; CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca; CLRswanson@vancouver.ca; CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca


How Bloated IS Vancouver City Hall?

March 24, 2022

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The always excellent CityHallWatch has published the latest “sunshine” list of Vancouver City staffers. Almost 1,800 of them make more than $100,000 a year, and 19 make more than $200,000 a year. It is no wonder they seem tone-deaf to the needs of residents for whom the median income is closer to $50,000.

The publication of the list prompted me to compare Vancouver’s civic staff and costs against those of Toronto which has a population of almost 2.8 million, many times larger than the 663,000 in Vancouver.

  • Toronto’s staff costs for 2021 were $883,546,834 or about $317 per resident.
  • Vancouver’s staff costs for 2021 were $586,049,613 or about $885 per resident.

Toronto’s civic staff totals 7,239 employees, while Vancouver is budgeting to employ 8,798 in 2022.

Who do you think is getting a more efficient service for your tax dollars?


Translink is Tone Deaf

March 22, 2022

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I’ll state my position right up front: public transit should be a free service.

I’m certainly not alone in that belief. There are hundreds of transit systems around the world that operate without fares because the benefits are so obvious: increased ridership, reduced dependence on fossil fuels , faster and more efficient service, reduction in operating costs, decreased congestion on city streets, decreased air and noise pollution, and the social benefits that low income accessibility gives to those seeking work. The list goes on and on.

There are several free transit systems in Canada, particularly in Quebec and Alberta. And larger systems, such as the TTC in Ontario, have frozen their fares for a second year. Transit systems in Ireland, New Zealand, and elsewhere have significantly cut fares in recent times to encourage greater usage.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Translink in the Lower Mainland. Rather than follow the global and environmentally sound global trend, Translink increased fares last year and propose to increase them once again this year, while maintaining the unfair three-zone system that has Vancouver commuters subsidizing those from the suburbs.

Not only that: more than 50 bus routes have had their services reduced or eliminated completely in the last two years while all other big city systems in Canada have returned to pre-pandemic levels of service.

The unelected Board of Translink is well aware that living costs in Vancouver are sky-rocketing and they choose to do nothing but add to the burdens faced especially by lower income workers. They are tone-deaf to the needs of Vancouver’s residents, preferring to spend our money on hugely-expensive and unnecessary Sky Train extensions to nowhere rather than fixing the bus system.

What can we do? We can let them know in no uncertain terms our concern with their lack of proper focus. Call Brad Monette at ( 775) 375-6784 or ( 604)306-7182, or send an email to board@translink.ca and/or brad.monette@translink.ca with your comments.