Rally At City Hall

May 3, 2022


GWAC and CoV’s Head of Planning

April 26, 2022

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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?


Broadway Plan Public Engagement

March 3, 2022

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The Broadway Plan is almost upon us. It will be going before City Council in May for approval. Before then, the public is offered one last chance to make comments until March 22nd.

According to an email I received, you can:

  • Learn more: Detailed information on the Draft Plan, planning process, and engagement opportunities are available on our Shape Your City website.
  • Take the survey: Provide feedback through the online survey which is open until March 22, 2022. Take the survey here.
  • Attend the open houses:
    • ​March 2:  Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House (800 East Broadway) from 4:30 – 7:30pm 
    • March 5: CityLab (510 West Broadway) from 10:30am – 1:30pm
    • March 7: Kitsilano Neighbourhood House (2305 West 7th Avenue) from 4:30 pm – 7:30pm
  • Talk to the team: Book a time to chat over the phone with a member of the Broadway Plan team through our Office Hours.

If you have any questions, please email us at broadwayplan@vancouver.ca.

Of course, those of us who have seen the utter futility of so-called public consultation in this City for the last dozen or so years may wonder whether it is a worthwhile exercise. Clearly the Planners have already decided what they want, and this is just a PR operation.

In a report about the development at 1477 W. Broadway, the Fairview/South Grandview Action Committee noted that:

“7 times throughout the Report, City staff state that the proposed height and density of the proposal aligns with the Broadway Plan Refined Directions, even though the Broadway Plan is not finished, nor has it been approved by Council.

In other words, the fix is already in, and these “consultations” are basically just to make us all feel a bit better about a process we have no control over.


Building For Whom?

March 2, 2022

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Elizabeth Murphy, an experienced observer of the Vancouver housing scene for many years, has written a well-argued piece in the latest Business in Vancouver delving into the recently-published census figures.

The pro-developer supplyists in this town keep on and on about our rising population providing, they claim, an urgent need to keep building more and more housing. However, as Murphy points out, the census shows Vancouver’s population continues to grow only at a modest 1% per year, just as it has done for more than a generation.

It is this kind of real data that infuriates the pro-developer crowd. They do their best to ignore it, as do their buddies in City Planning and City Council who have forced through building growth more than 20% greater than actual population growth in the last five years.

This extraordinary rush to build is at least partly responsible for the incredible rise we see in land prices as developers vie for lots to build on, leading us to a situation where the average household can no longer even dream of owing a home (absent a lottery win or a rich parent) nor even, indeed, of renting a place big enough to accommodate a family.

And still the developers and their shills want more even though as Murphy notes: “Development in the approval pipeline is already decades ahead of population growth, contrary to the supply deficit narrative.” This is far from a new problem here. I wrote a similar story back in 2016.

Not only is this frenzied building creating vast numbers of empty homes (about 23,000 according to the latest figures) and destroying all hope of affordability, the City has been unable to keep up with the basic infrastructure required to service these properties. As Murphy writes:

“The city has not kept up with promised amenities for rezoned areas such as Norquay, Fraser Lands, and Marpole. The Cambie Corridor doesn’t have enough servicing , such as sewers, for the rezoned capacity. There are billions of dollars of infrastructure and amenities required for even what has already been rezoned, plus what is proposed … Development only covers a small percentage of the actual costs of related infrastructure. And in the case of rental housing, most development fees are reduced or exempted. So most of these costs must be carried by property taxes and capital debt financing.”

She also comments on a possible solution:

“While growth is inevitable, there is a choice as to how this is done. The challenge is to do it in a way that provides the needed housing, without overwhelming  existing infrastructure. This requires incremental growth at a scale that new needed infrastructure can be affordably provided without inflating land values. These are the fundamentals of planning for a livable, affordable and sustainable city, not just unlimited growth promotion.”

As my Twitter handles states: we need to build for need not for greed.


Local Improvements?

February 6, 2022

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It’s an election year in Vancouver, so we can expect a steady stream of announcements from City Hall showing how well the administration is managing your tax dollars. These are usually delivered in the form of small local improvements or planning exercises. And sometimes they are used to take peoples’ minds off more important matters such as housing affordability, the opioid crisis, money laundering, and the developers’ hold over City business.

So, it was in this rather cynical frame of mind that I read two such announcements from this week.

The first was about the distribution of $2 million in grants to groups — such as the BIA and the Kettle — to help with street cleaning functions using homeless folks. Hard to argue with the utility of that, and it helps employ some of the Kettle’s neediest clients.

The second item involves the beginning of a four-year plan to upgrade the City’s 44,000 street lights, many of which are old and faulty. There is now an app you can use to report lights that are not working.

Much of the talk among my local group when this was announced was about replacing the current lights with ones that dim or switch off when not needed. It was noted that the energy savings alone should be enough to cover the costs of the relevant sensors.

Your tax dollars at work.


Steamrolling The Drive By Stealth

December 15, 2021

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In a short while, if the small business human scale vibe that is Commercial Drive is erased in favour of a homogenized street from anywhere, these are the names you will be able to blame:

The so-called Streamlining Rental report that I have discussed here and here was approved in full last night by all Councillors other than Cllr. Hardwick. It makes a great deal of the Vancouver Plan meaningless by pre-zoning huge areas City-wide.

More immediately for those of us in Grandview — and nothing to do with “streamlining rentals” –, it plants yet another boot in the groin of the Grandview Woodland Community Plan by encouraging greater height and retail spaces more suited to chain stores than local owner-rent-payers. This goes entirely against the Plan’s insistence and promise that:

“Zoning will remain unchanged [on Commercial Drive] … Because of the area’s significance to the community and the strong desire to maintain its low-scale character and form, the plan will ensure that other City policies that may otherwise allow for additional height will not apply.” (p.40)

The Mayor and the nine Councillors who voted for this Motion have obviously decided that promises made to East Vancouver about development hold as much water as their broken promise to keep taxes below 5%. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Let’s make sure we remember at the next election those who voted today to ignore and disrespect the long-considered opinions of the local residents.


Yet Another Parks Board Mess

December 14, 2021

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Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon of the Vancouver Green Party has introduced a Motion at Parks Board that advocates the “co-management of parklands” in Vancouver with the local First Nations. That sounds like a fine idea but, as with some other of this Board’s choices this term, it is being handled about as ineptly as one could imagine.

For all its reconciliation positivity, this Motion is illegal, impractical, and grossly undemocratic.

The Vancouver Parks Board operates under the Vancouver Charter which states, without ambiguity:

The Board shall have exclusive possession of, and exclusive JURISDICTION and CONTROL of all areas designated as permanent public parks of the City in a manner prescribed in subsection (5) of this section, and such areas shall remain as permanent public parks, and possession, jurisdiction and control of such areas shall be retained by the Board.”

As local filmmaker and activist Elvira Lount points out in a detailed response to the Motion, the definition of “exclusive” is “not shared”. Therefore this Motion is illegal as it seeks to share management and control. The Motion should be called out of order and withdrawn for this if for no other reason.

But there are all sorts of other reasons. Impracticality, for example. Quoting Ms. Lount once again:

“Adding a whole new layer of bureaucracy to the management of our 240+ parks is impractical, unnecessary and unrealistic. We already have a management system in place with an elected Board and the means for the public to have input through both electing Commissioners and providing feedback on various proposals …

“Adding a new layer of co-management bureaucracy is an expensive proposition … [with] all the staff and advisors working with that Co-manager in order to provide informed input. The additional cost would likely be in the many millions. How would this be funded?

And that brings up the issue of the undemocratic nature of the Motion. Again, Elvira Lount gets to the point:

“Adding a co-manager for all our parks would completely circumvent the democratic process, not only by ignoring the Vancouver Charter, but by favouring one group of voters over another, whomever they might be. It is no longer a consultative and advisory role, but a much more hands on, behind the scenes management role, and quite possibly not transparent and not subject to full scrutiny by the public … Who makes the final decisions when it comes to matters of management – the management staff answerable to an elected Park Board, or the co-manager answerable to no one?”

We are less than a year away from civic elections and a change of this importance needs to be decided by the entire electorate after a full debate, not just by the temporary majority on the Parks Board today.

I understand that this will now come up to the Board for consideration on 24th January, so there is plenty of time for you to get your comments about this proposal into the Parks Board.


The Olympics Is Obviously Not About Learning

December 10, 2021

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The City of Vancouver (or, rather, Mayor Kennedy Stewart alone), the City of Whistler, and four local First Nations today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to study the possibility of hosting the 2030 Winter Olympic Games.

You may recall that the 2010 Games led to the City of Vancouver incurring hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and, because of the machinations of Gregor Robertson, John Furlong, and Penny Ballem, the people of Vancouver are still not allowed to see the final accounting for a long time yet.

The 2010 Games were supposed to solve many of the City’s problems, not least of which was homelessness and affordability — but look at where we are today on those issues. The 2010 Games also led directly to a long period of austerity caused directly by the huge holes that the Games burrowed into both Provincial and City budgets. But we are supposed to forget about all that and cheer on another round of outrageous spending.

Councillor DeGenova, the Games uber-backer, says things will be different this time. Yeah, right.

I am not a great fan of the Olympics generally. However, I am content for them to happen here again but ONLY if there is a cast-iron guarantee that not one cent of Vancouver taxpayers’ money is spent, and that every service Vancouver supplies is paid for in full.


What Better City?

November 30, 2021

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I just received a mailing from Ken Sim for Mayor: A Better City. I suspect this went to every household as his well-heeled 1% backers can afford to spread their money around.

It is a full page letter in both English and Chinese, and in that full page there is not one word — not even a passing reference — to any policy statement. Nothing about housing and homelessness, nothing about development, nothing about the opioid crisis, nothing about transportation or economic development or public safety, nothing about schools or parks or indeed anything else.

Why would anyone want to donate to a candidate for Mayor who is only interested in talking about himself?

Our city is far too valuable to be put in the hands of someone who just wants to play personality politics.


The Broadway Plan: Wow!

November 19, 2021

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As time goes by we get better and more detailed analyses of the Broadway Plan. It sounded bad — a developer’s wet dream — from the very beginning, and ever-closer inspection reveals the horror show that could be inflicted on our city if it continues on its present path. With rumours afoot that the dreamed-up SkyTrain extension to UBC is getting pushed further and further back into the infrastructure priority queue, the entire Broadway Plan along with its attendant subway — the $3 billion hole to nowhere — seems more like development profit driving transit building rather than the other way round.

The always-diligent CityHallWatch have been digging into the bones of the so-called “shoulder areas” along Broadway which, they show, will soon “look like the downtown core.” And these are not insignificant little patches:

They further note that “most details” are still missing, and that Planners give no rationale for the identification of so much land as “shoulder areas.”

Their article goes into great detail about the problems inherent in this Plan and rather than try to summarize their excellent work I urge everyone interested in the future of Vancouver to give it a read.


Larry Beasley Talks to TEAM

November 15, 2021

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TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, the new civic political party led by Clr. Colleen Hardwick, held a policy conference a couple of weekends ago during which the party’s key policy directions were being finalised.

It was a great meeting for policy wonks to thrash out details, but it also allowed the party to make a statement about where it stands in terms of values. And this was most forcefully addressed in the speech given by the keynote speaker, former Vancouver City Planner Larry Beasley:

Sandy James Planner at Viewpoint Vancouver has written a good article about Larry Beasley and in particular about this speech, which I recommend.


Renters and the Broadway Plan

November 11, 2021

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The Broadway Plan — otherwise known as the gold-plated pension plan for developers and city staff — is deep in the midst of its “consultative phase” and this month it is the renters (the majority) who get the treatment. We are offered a free 90-minute Round Table which:

“will focus on rental housing in relation to the Broadway Plan. This session will consider the entire Broadway Plan area and will include topics like the creation of new rental housing, protecting existing secure rental housing, renter protections, and mitigating displacement impacts.”

You can register to join at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/broadway-plan-refined-directions-renter-round-table-tickets-204670774797.

I would strongly urge everyone to read the excellent analysis of the rental implications put together by CityHallWatch. One of their important takeaways:

“Staff purportedly seek the “careful renewal of the aging rental stock” in the apartment zones (RM and FM) between 1st and 16th Avenue and Vine Street and Clark Drive. This is perhaps another way of saying that the City is looking to enable the replacement of affordable rental stock with expensive new rentals. Current renters in those areas should sit up, take notice, and get involved in the consultations.”


Is the Vancouver Plan Already A Bust?

November 7, 2021

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The Vancouver Plan — the much vaunted Official Community Plan for all of Vancouver — has just kicked off, with “consultations” on-going this month. I understand the projected budget for this Plan is $18 million, but you have to wonder what the point of it all is.

Major parts of the City already have 30-year Community Plans less than 10 years old: Mount Pleasant, Grandview, Marpole, the West End, and DTES. Oakridge and the Cambie Corridor are already heavily re-zoned. False Creek South, the Jericho Lands, the Senakw development, and the Broadway corridor are also subject to their own plans.

The “Streamlining Rentals” proposal that is before Council again this week rezones EVERY arterial road in the City plus makes changes to C2 zones city-wide.

And that doesn’t include the scores of spot rezonings for individual projects that continue to flood out of the Planning department on a bi-weekly basis.

What is left, then, for the Vancouver Plan to cover? Is the Vancouver Plan designed to over-ride all these other approved or in- process rezonings? I doubt it. It is hard to imagine developers making commitments without an understanding that their agreed zoning is guaranteed for some period. So what is the point of this much-ballyhooed expensive exercise?

It seems to me that Vancouver southwest and southeast are the two main areas that might need plans; and they could be handled more efficiently and with more focused consultation by individual Community Plans for those areas. Let’s scrap the Vancouver Plan and put the money saved to better use — such as affordable housing.

Postscript: Scot Hein was far more eloquent than I about this topic in an article he sent me from the Tyee from last January.


Another Sneak Attack By CoV Planning

November 5, 2021

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I have already written a piece about the so-called Streamlining Rentals proposal that is currently before City Council at a public hearing. My concerns there were city-wide and about the continuing elimination of public consultation in planning and zoning matters. I did not think that it applied to Grandview because the map that is so prominently used in public media about this proposal specifically excludes areas such as GW which already have Community Plans:

However, a closer reading of the entire proposal — as has been done, for example, by Stephen Bohus of CityHallWatch and GWAC — reveals that C2 zones within the Community Plan areas are also affected, including Commercial Drive.

The change, outlined in Appendix G, raises the maximum allowable height of a building to 50 feet if the commercial space on the ground floor has ceiling height of 17′. The purpose of the ceiling height change is to “improve flexibility and allow for more variety in commercial uses.” The change proposed raises the maximum height on most of the Drive from 35 feet to 50 feet, an increase of 40%.

There is a lot wrong with this proposal and the way it is being pushed through.

Specifically, it goes against the entire letter and spirit of the Grandview Woodland Community Plan’s statements on Commercial Drive:

“Zoning will remain unchanged in this area … Because of the area’s significance to the community and the strong desire to maintain its low-scale character and form, the plan will ensure that other City policies that may otherwise allow for additional height will not apply.” (p.40)

One of the enduring human-scale characteristics of the Drive is the small businesses operated mainly by local merchants. However, as Stephen Bohus has pointed out, the new ceiling height allowances are designed primarily for chain and other large stores that can pay the enhanced rents that such buildings will attract. This will inevitably change the much-admired character of retail on the Drive.

In his presentation to Council, Bohus also noted that the increased first floor height of new buildings allowed under this proposal will affect the older buildings adjacent to such spaces. The floor heights will not match and design will be compromised.

I am unaware of any consultation with locals about these proposed changes. I guess our views don’t matter.

More generally, this whole Streamlining Rentals proposal shows up a number of problems that have become endemic with this City Planning staff. The Report is 348 pages long and the public (and Council members) were given very little time to try to absorb the detailed technical aspects. This has been a typical tactic for too many years now.

The proposals to change C2 zoning in places such as Commercial Drive have nothing to do with streamlining the approval process for new rental properties which is the stated purpose of this Report. They are buried in the report and I don’t recall hearing about them when staff made their presentation.

The practice of putting a disparate set of proposals into one omnibus bill serves no one except the Planning staff, and they do it over and over again. Council needs to step up and demand that each item be presented separately for proper debate.


Streamlining the Public Out of Business

November 2, 2021

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City Council will today receive a report called Streamlining Rental Housing which has the stated purpose of reducing the time it takes to approve rental housing projects in areas of Vancouver not covered by Community Plans. It is an aggressive policy that forces through significant increased density across the city without any local context and which eliminates most opportunities for public discussion of the projects before approval.

This is a complex and over-arching policy decision that I have not been able to devote sufficient time to deconstruct in detail. Interested readers could do a lot worse than follow the discussion at CityHallWatch where highly experienced city planners, architects, and activists have tried to explain the devastating pitfalls that will accrue from this policy. See, for example, what architect Brian Palmquist has to say; and read the critiques by Elizabeth Murphy and Christina da Marco.

Former senior City Planner and current adjunct professor at UBC Scot Hein, who may be familiar to readers here for a number of reasons not least of which was the long conversation he and I had on similar matters earlier this year, is also opposed to the plan. In a letter to Mayor and Council, he poses a number of questions which I will reprint here with his permission (the original is at CHW here):

Good evening Mayor and Councillors.

I am curious why you would consider, and possibly approve, the following under the proposed “Streamlining Rental Housing” policy:

1) A policy that compels land assembly with the costs of land passed on in higher rents.

2) A policy that compels underground parking (at combined hard + soft costs of $70,000/stall) with these costs of parking by-law compliance passed on in higher rents.

3) A policy that compels underground parking in concrete suspended slab systems that generate enormous, and unnecessary, environmental costs.

4) A policy that compels unnecessary building heights, and related shadowing/view impacts, for the anticipated density and related forms (a four storey building only requires 35 feet, not 45 feet, to be economically viable and meet building by-law/fire fighting requirements).

5) A policy that compels less efficient (net to gross) apartment buildings with the costs of excessive circulation systems, including interior corridors, elevators and exit stairs, passed on in higher rents and related operational/maintenance costs. Note: A 100% efficient, compact, 3.5 storey building form would be a better response to housing needs, especially for families as they would yield ground oriented, larger units. Such buildings would also be more contextually compatible to off arterial contexts. Considering 4 storeys, vs 3.5 storeys, opens the door to out of scale apartment buildings on assembled flanking street sites.

6) A policy that limits more innovative missing middle building typologies that can provide similar, if not more, unit yield per site frontage. The policy before you defaults to conventional (uninspired, not innovative) housing form. There so many other approaches available to you for arterial development, including more contextually responsive building forms on unassembled lots that could be more dense, and even modestly higher, towards even greater affordability than the policy before you could motivate.

7) A policy that discriminates between neighbourhoods with community plans, and those neighbourhoods without.

8) A policy that does not enjoy the insight, and ideas, of local community that a CityWide Plan process might reveal. The False Creek South delegations, and your thoughtful response, are informative at this moment.

9) A policy that does not secure true affordability, while giving away land value to market speculation after you have approved, as recently evidenced by the article “Vacant lot rezoned by Vancouver city council for rental project flipped for $5 million” (Georgia Straight 29-Oct-2021).

10) A policy that puts the future of rental housing in the hands of only those familiar with the system when you could democratize market participation through a more thoughtful policy that could also motivate changes to the approval process currently plaguing builders of smaller housing projects.

Thank you very much for considering the above.

I urge readers who are able to follow the debate today at City Hall through the city’s website at vancouver.ca


Provincial NDP Gets Into Bed With Developers

October 31, 2021

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Earlier this week, the Provincial government introduced amendments to the Local Government Act that will reduce public consultation on zoning and planning matters and increase even more (if that were possible) the insider influence of developers. To quote the government:

“The proposed changes will remove the default requirement for local governments to hold public hearings for zoning bylaw amendments that are consistent with the official community plan. The amendments will also enable municipalities and regional districts to delegate decisions on minor development variance permits to local government staff.”

The matter is well covered in an article in the Georgia Straight today, primarily with an interview with the always excellent Randy Helten of CityHallWatch.

Vancouver operates outside the Local Government Act but , as I mentioned in my own interview with the paper: “What [the Province is] doing is catching with what Vancouver has already done, which is to reduce public engagement as much as they can.”

The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, which the City now uses to cover a multitude of sins and as an excuse to restrict public engagement, was never a community-driven process. It began as a Planners’ plan and ended the same way as I described in my book “Battleground: Grandview“. Local activists say the same thing about the West End Plan, the Marpole Plan, the DTES Plan.

Pretty soon we will have the Broadway Plan and, eventually, the Vancouver Plan, all of which will be manipulated in the same developer-first way unless we radically change the membership of City Council and, they in turn, instruct Planners to heed the needs of local residents first and profit-driven developers a distant second.


Vancouver Plan

October 26, 2021

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Many of you will know that the City of Vancouver is developing a city-wide Plan for future zoning and development; this is the Vancouver Plan.

The next stage of this Plan includes a series of “neighbourhood” open houses. For Grandview, our sessions are scheduled for:

  • 8th November between 6:00pm and 7:30pm
  • 9th November between 10:00am and 11:30am

You can register at the Eventbrite site.

Given the way that the City of Vancouver is actively limiting or eliminating public consultation on many developments — and forcing through individual projects in advance that should be subject to the Vancouver Plan — these workshops may be one of the few occasions on which you can at least try to make your voice heard on the future of our city.

Therefore, I encourage everyone to register and attend whatever session makes sense for you.


Parking Fee Debate Review

October 8, 2021

As most of you will have heard by now, City Council voted 6-5 to not move forward with City staff’s proposals for a city-wide overnight parking fee and the establishment of a “pollution tax” on high-emission automobiles. The proposal claimed to be a key element of the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan but even the Mayor — who usually votes in lockstep with the Vision 2.0 coalition of One City and the Greens — thought it was ill-thought out.

The result emerged after many hours of debate with scores of residents speaking their piece. What was clear to me after all that was that staff had made a strategic mistake. They love to dump multiple items into Reports that are so long they recognize that most working folk will not have time to read them. On this occasion, though, they would have been much more successful had they introduced two separate motions: one on the parking fees, and another on the pollution tax. I suspect that many people like me opposed the proposed version of the first but support the principals of the second. I can hardly remember a single speaker referring to the pollution tax during the debate — the entire argument was over the parking fee. Staff’s decision to link the two consigned both to defeat.

Of course once the vote failed, the faux progressives immediately claimed that this was a disaster and had set back Vancouver’s efforts to face up to climate change. That is nonsense of course and it astounds me that anyone could actually think the parking fee would have made a significant dent in emissions. It would have applied to a minority of vehicles in Vancouver and it would have charged people for parking, not driving. It’s effect on emissions would have been less than zero.

I am told that I am missing the point; that the purpose of the tax was to shift people out of their cars and onto bikes or walking or transit. However, the proponents also claimed (as a debate selling point) that it would come at minimal cost to residents. They failed to explain how something with virtually no cost would shift attitudes in the way they suggest.

Much of the talk last night was about freeing up public space on the roads and yet the City bans parking on front yards and most new multi-family developments Council approves these days come with very restricted parking requirements; thus forcing more cars to park on the streets. Some might suggest that the parking fee was a revenue stream caused by policies already passed.

Councillor Boyle, after the debate, was vociferous in her criticisms of those opposing the plan. She claimed that we were simply being negative and had offered up no alternatives. Either she hadn’t been listening to the vast online discussion over the past week or she was choosing to misrepresent. Many of us have proposed putting the pollution tax (the far more important part of the plan) through ICBC. They are already set up to administer such a scheme and so no additional layer of city bureaucrats would be needed. It is true that this would require the City along with UBCM to lobby the Provincial government both to implement the program and to equitably share the revenues. Apparently Councillor Boyle didn’t like the idea of that kind of political hard work.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the three Green Councillors, who were aghast at this loss, had a chance to make a real difference back in January but chose, all three of them, to approve the purchase by Translink of additional high-emission gas buses rather than pushing for an electric option. Success in that venture would have made a far bigger dent in emissions than dinging a working Jane or Joe for parking their car on a city street overnight.