November 24, 2014
Tonight, all but one of Vancouver Park Board Commissioners step down from their elected posts, having performed a service in the public interest that will not soon be forgotten, a service that should both be cherished and celebrated, as well as publically acknowledged on this blog, and elsewhere.
No mean feat placing yourself in the eye of the storm that is elected office, particularly in the maelstrom that is Vancouver politics.
Aaron Jasper — outgoing Chair of Park Board — Sarah Blyth, and Constance Barnes have sat on Park Board since December 2008. Their fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners, Niki Sharma and Trevor Loke, joined their Vision colleagues around the Park Board table some three years later, complemented by a contingent of two Non-Partisan Association parks & rec commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova, the former of the two of this latter group about to become — as of December 1st — the new Park Board Chair, and the ever-doggedly political Ms. DeGenova on the cusp of joining Vancouver City Council, where she is just as likely to drive her Vision Vancouver opponents at City Hall around the bend as has been the case this past three years at Park Board — with the added delight to those political observers among us who care about such things, where we will see her tear strips off Vision Vancouver city councillors Geoff Meggs and Kerry Jang, in particular, in full public view. Fun times await.
Aaron Jasper. Truth to tell, I think of Aaron as a son, someone I love, and for whom I have the deepest affection. Despite Aaron's deserved reputation as a bully, this past year at the Park Board table, Aaron has impressed, performing his duties as Park Board Chairperson not just with aplomb, but with an unerring commitment to the democratic process, and with a respect for the right — nay, make that obligation — to hold fellow Park Board Commissioners to account. I am not entirely certain that Vancouver Park Board will soon again witness as skilled and compassionate a Chairperson as those of us who have attended Park Board meetings this past year have witnessed this past 10 months, with Aaron Jasper at the head of the table.
Despite the recent provocations of VanRamblings — and this blog's sometime commitment to hyperbole — with Vision Vancouver "in charge" at Park Board this past six years there has been much to celebrate ...
1. Just yesterday afternoon, at the Dunbar Community Centre Vancouver Quadra NDP nomination meeting, outgoing Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth was telling those assembled about the pride she felt in moving forward Park Board's "Arts in the Park" initiative, where more than 30 local artists — including internationally renowned visual artist Germaine Koh and composer/double bassist Mark Haney — were selected in 2012 to participate in the Vancouver Park Board's artist studio residency project in seven park locations, taking up residency at field house studios in Hadden, Strathcona, Slocan and Memorial South parks and at the Burrard Marina, in addition to Elm and Falaise parks. Let us all hope this worthy initiative is renewed by the NPA-dominated Park Board that is about to take office.
2. Langara Golf Course. Following a seemingly extemporaneous remark by Mayor Gregor Robertson in the spring of 2012 that he was in favour of "hiving off" half of the Vancouver Park Board-operated Langara Golf Course, so that the land might be sold off to developers for the construction of "affordable condominiums", as so often happened at Park Board, the beleaguered Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners found they'd have to deal with the fallout, with much public opprobrium.
There was politics to be played with the issue of the disposition of the Langara Golf Course — "Don'tcha know, those damned elitist golf-playin' richy-riches, they don't deserve no golf-playin' "subsidized" by our parks board" — but, following a heart-rending presentation by members of the under-parked Langara neighbourhood, Aaron Jasper moved a "metrics" motion, and lo and behold, just a few months later when Park Board staff presented the Langara Golf Course Metrics Report, Aaron Jasper moved adoption of the report, and following the unanimous consent of Park Board, work began on remedying field drainage problems, enabling year-round usage of the course by families, teenagers, seniors, and all of the other folks in the city who, just like you and me, are not "rich", but who see the efficacy of enjoying the open air and our green spaces.
3. Hastings Park. In the past three years, never was I more proud of our Vancouver Park Board than I was when Park Board unanimously adopted a motion to seek the return of jurisdiction over Hastings Park to the Vancouver Park Board — where it rightfully belongs — tearing it away from the hands of Raymond Louie, who seems for all the world to view Hastings Park not as a park, but a development opportunity.
Relating to the above, in a special August 1, 2013 meeting of Vancouver City Council, Raymond Louie (Chairman, PNE Board of Directors) led the charge to block Park Board control of all park or green spaces in the 62-hectare Hastings Park site — but not without hearing from an articulate, impassioned Aaron Jasper, and the two NPA members of Park Board.
4. Trans-and-Gender-Variant policy. By far, the most moving Vancouver Park Board meeting this past three years, was the late April 2014 meeting of the Board where all 77 recommendations of the Trans* and Gender Variant Inclusion Working Group were unanimously adopted by Park Board. Thank you to outgoing Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke for having moved the motion one year earlier that resulted in the striking of a Park Board committee that would report out, as Trevor hoped, and serve to "greatly improve the quality of access to recreation and active health in Vancouver, and help make Vancouver the most inclusive city in the world." Mission accomplished, Mr. Loke. Mission accomplished.
5. Local Food Action Plan. The food available at concessions, and on food carts, in Vancouver parks, is of so much better quality than was the case previous to Vision Vancouver assuming control of Park Board in 2008.
Special thanks should go out to of all members of Vancouver Park Board's Local Food Assets Task Force, starting with task force co-chairs, Aaron Jasper, and Niki Sharma, the Board's Commissioner representatives.
Thanks — and a big round of applause — is also due the community members of the Local Food Assets Task Force: Park Board's Lindsay Cole; the ever-wonderful, Trish Kelly, representing the Vancouver Food Policy Council; Ian Marcuse, of the Neighbourhood Food Networks (one of my favourite people in the city); the City of Vancouver's Wendy Mendes; former Vancouver School Trustee, Kevin Millsip (also an amazing person); Ross Moster, Village Vancouver; Jamielee Ong, Rangi Changi Roots, and Kathryn Perkins, Grandview Community Centre Association.
All of our electeds at Park Board, are owed a debt of gratitude from all of those who enjoy the beauty of Vancouver's parks, and the varied services available at our community recreation centres.
Constance Barnes. Consistently the most compelling orator around the Park Board table, a true woman of the people, advocating for families, and working to ensure ready access to all facilities in our parks. Let us hope that the incoming Park Board picks up Constance's cudgel, and works to ensure that more of our parks currently without washroom facilities will have them constructed this next four years.
Trevor Loke. The most sensitive to the public will of all of the Commissioners on the Board, consistently impressive in his reasoned presentation of argument, a first-rate chair of the very difficult to navigate Park Board Committee (where all the real decision-making goes on at Park Board), and quite simply, at 26-years-of-age (Trevor celebrating his 26th just yesterday) the single most impressive young politico in Vancouver politics.
Sarah Blyth: From the beginning, an advocate for skating parks, recreational opportunities for our youth, the most human-scale of all the "politicians" around the Park Board table, a champion of the community, and for each and every one of us, Sarah was always on our side, the Commissioner who always sought the views of the public, arose from the Park Board table at breaks, and engaged with the public. Sarah's commitment to the common weal was, at all times, impressive and demonstrative of a commitment to democracy unequalled among many who practice politics in Vancouver.
Niki Sharma. Wow! What is there to say about Park Board's most thoughtful, incredibly intelligent, best-researched, most articulate before the cameras, reporters' microphones and the print media personage, what a loss of tremendous proportion it was nine days ago that Niki Sharma was not elected to Vancouver City Council, one of my very favourite candidates for Council, a person of tremendous integrity, wit, political acumen, and just an all-around incredible human being.
Aaron Jasper. Much of what I wanted to write about Aaron may be found above. Aaron proved, consistently, to be the best "advertisement" for the many initiatives undertaken by a Park Board of which he has been a member for six years, that commitment a critical aspect of a democratic engagement with the community that elected he and his fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board to two consecutive terms of majority office.
Melissa DeGenova: Killarney Seniors Centre simply wouldn't have happened without Melissa, it's just that simple. Somehow finding a way to put up with the worst treatment of an elected official I've seen in all of my 45 years on reporting out on the political scene, Melissa emerged as a populist, a tireless advocate for the public good, perhaps the most "political" of our Park Board Commissioners, but when being political means that you're committed to achieving much for your constituents ... well, Melissa practices politics, as it ought to be practiced.
John Coupar: My favourite for last? Yes, I think so. By far the most consistently reasoned and non-political voice around the table, the Park Board Commissioner who earned the respect and admiration of all those who sat around the Park Board table, and the many thousands who attended Park Board meetings this past three years, in my three years observing John Coupar and Park Board, and in our many calls and the times we've spent together away from the Park Board table, John Coupar has proved always to be the fairest and most equitable in his judicious and humane commentary about Park Board, and his Park Board collleagues, John's outstanding commitment to the maintenance and growth of our parks and our green spaces, was more acute and impassioned than any Park Board Commissioner I've witnessed in Park Board history dating back decades.
Tonight at Park Board — amidst the hubbub of contention — will be a night for a public display of thanks, well-earned and well-deserving of gratitude, to our outgoing and very, very fine Vancouver Park Board Commissioners.
Thank you to each and every one of you. Job well done.
November 19, 2014
Ever watch the Academy Awards, or maybe the Golden Globes, or Emmy's?
Do you recall, that as the winner of the Academy Award approaches the stage, and finally makes her or his way to the microphone, staring out at the crowd, what happens next? That's right — the winner thanks everyone who got her there, usually starting off with the four other actors in the category with whom she was competing for the Oscar, everyone who starred in the movie with her, her beloved spouse and children, her parents, all the teachers who encouraged her, her agents and manager, and everyone in the crew on the set of the movie she's just worked on that helped her get to the moment where she stands before you on the stage accepting an award that was but a distant dream of her youth.
Thank everyone? An acknowledgement the 'winner' did not get here on her own, that it took a team of supporters and managers, the media, & more.
In the political sphere, as you might well imagine, the candidates on the campaign trail who challenge for office depend on the support of an army of volunteers and supporters, as well as the campaign team proper.
If I might point out one instance in particular, the John Coupar win at Park Board, whose candidacy I and many others encouraged and supported, as well as all the other Commissioners who were elected to Park Board this past Saturday, would acknowledge that theirs was not a "singular victory", but a collective win, arising from the work of a great many people.
In politics, how does one go about thanking all those who played a role in helping her or him secure victory at the polls? Well, one becomes a mensch.
Allow me to illustrate what I mean.
On election night, one of the winning candidates who just barely managed to sneak into office, set about to telephone each and every one of the candidates who had challenged for the position that my friend had just barely won, save the other 'winners'. My friend the candidate thanked the candidates who'd come forward, thanking them for their civic engagement, their challenging of all the other candidates on the campaign trail (including my friend), told them that he hoped they might run again, and finally said to them that he would be available to them should they wish to speak with him about presenting their issues before Vancouver School Board.
On post-election Sunday, my friend made a point of either visiting the homes of, calling or e-mailing or texting each and every candidate who would sit across the School Board table with my friend over the course of the next four years. In addition, my friend called, visited, e-mailed or texted every campaign volunteer, member of the media, member of the campaign team, and supporter my friend had met at all-candidates meetings, and on the campaign trail that could be reached — promising a thank you celebration during the upcoming holiday season. In addition, my friend is preparing hand-written notes, on specially-made cards, to be mailed out.
As you might imagine, following five months of campaigning, my friend was bushed — still, it was necessary my friend felt, to reach out. During the course of the campaign, I wrote about the nascent 2005 candidacy of Spencer Herbert-Chandra (who since has written to thank to your humble correspondent — would we expect any less from Spencer), writing ...
In the 2005 COPE campaign, at the tender age of 24, Spencer Chandra-Herbert first ran for political office, as a Park Board candidate. Everyone in the campaign office hated him, his fellow candidates, the campaign team, everyone. Everyone that is except the voters, and me — I loved Spencer, and the energy he brought to his campaign for office.
Spencer was the only candidate with his own website — which drove all the other candidates nuts. Spencer posted to his fairly rudimentary website everyday. Facebook was a new-fangled social media tool — Spencer had a Facebook account, to which he posted several times a day (remember now, this is just months after Mark Zuckerberg had taken Facebook live). Spencer didn't sleep, he was everywhere all the time, nattily dressed, with his every present chapeau, a big grin, a hand outreached to shake yours, looking right at you, deep into your soul.
Spencer remembered the name of every person he met on the campaign trail, and not just their names, but some detail about them, their family, or an event of consequence that had occurred in their lives. I am often surprised when I run across Spencer, not having seen him for a year or 18-months, that he comes up to me, shaking my hand, saying, "Ray, it's so good to see you. How have you been?" And you know, he means it, he wants to hear about you, what's going on in your life.
The secret to political success, and to getting elected, and re-elected again and again? Spencer Chandra-Herbert has written the book.
Spencer is a mensch, the friend of whom I've written above: a mensch.
Last evening, I received a note from newly re-elected to a third term Non-Partisan Association city councillor, Elizabeth Ball, who wrote ...
Weep I did at my victory on Saturday night, and send so many thanks for your kindness. I always enjoy your company and look forward to a chat soon.
Am having a wild fling with an end of campaign cold, so have no voice but should be back next week.
Isn't it great to see so much good and interesting theatre and music in town! Am looking forward to all the holiday shows, and then PUSH in the new year. Amazing growth eh?
Wishing you all the very best,
As busy as you might imagine our third term city councillor to be, and given the travails of a campaign cold, Elizabeth Ball still found time to reach out.
On Tuesday evening, I asked newly-elected Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon to reach out to a person with whom a great many of us had worked, on the Save Kits Beach coalition. About half an hour after receiving my brief note, Stuart wrote back to say ...
All things calm.
All thing bright and beautiful.
Among other thoughts that ran through my head, upon receiving Stuart's note, were, "Thank God we've got someone possessed of wit and intelligence, and a warming sense of humour (Vision Vancouver's Catherine Evans, as well, unless I miss my guess) in our civic life in Vancouver.
Over the course of the recent election campaign, COPE School Board candidate Diana Day reached out to me each day she was on the campaign trail; we ended up corresponding regularly, as we do to this day.
You know, Raymond, I hope the newly-elected School Board Trustees have the political will to do the right thing by the Aboriginal students — it's just heart breaking that there are no mini schools for vulnerable aboriginal youth to attends — but I am glad that newly-elected Green School Trustee Janet Fraser spent some time with us at the Aboriginal Mother Centre, and heard first hand about the racism and discrimination that exists, and is directed towards not only aboriginal students but staff as well.
On election night, Diana Day contacted me to thank me for endorsing her candidacy — we've corresponded every day since.
Next time, in 2018? I'll move the sun, the Earth, the moon, the stars to work towards a victory at the polls for Diana Day. We need a voice at the Park Board table to represent vulnerable aboriginal youth.
My neighbour, David Cubitt wrote to me last evening, writing, "Thank you, Raymond, for your untiring efforts to bring about change, and for the useful / invaluable information you have provided to me, and to all who read your informative blog during the recent civic election campaign."
As I've written on social media — politics is a people business.
Beginning in 2005, with the election of Sam Sullivan as our Mayor, a new, meaner, confrontational and less humane era began in Vancouver civic politics — utterly unique, and regrettable, the level of civil discourse reduced to an all-time low, with little civility shown for the opposition councillors.
The level of discourse at City Hall has not improved since.
Today, on VanRamblings, I call for a return to civil municipal government.
In 2014, let us enjoy a renewed civic discourse.
To our elected politicians in Vancouver municipal government, a plea: please, reach across the table to members of all the parties on the body on which you sit, who were elected to office and who are not your own, so that together you might work in the interests of all those who elected you, let us witness a return to an approach to civic government in Vancouver that once was, and can be again, an achievable and necessary goal.
Of course, there will be disagreements on policy — that is to be expected, and desirable. Socratic discourse, the exchange of ideas in service of the public good is a necessary component of a thriving and vital democracy.
Today, I call on John Coupar, a friend and one of the most humble and good men of my acquaintance — who soon will lead one of the two civic bodies where a civic party holds a majority — to reach out to the newly-elected Green members of Park Board, Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, and to Vision Vancouver newly-elected Park Board Commissioner, Catherine Evans, and assure them your administration will dedicate itself to a civil discourse, and respect for the opinions of all Park Board Commissioners who will sit around the Park Board table this next four years.
Let the divisiveness of the past be just that, in the past.
John Coupar: Ensure that your message of a new era of co-operation is a clarion one, one that safeguards against the utterly regrettable, perceived arrogance and meanness that for many defined the previous Vision Vancouver Park Board civic administration, that in the forthcoming John Coupar-led Park Board administration, all the elected NPA Park Board Commissioners will work towards a new era of co-operation and accommodation around the Park Board table, in the interests of all Park Board Commissioners, and in the interests of all the citizens of our city.
November 18, 2014
On December 1st, a new Vancouver Park Board will take office.
The Non-Partisan Association, with the support of VanRamblings and in support of incoming Park Board Chairperson, John Coupar, with a goodly number of the public, were elected to a majority position around the Park Board table: second-term Park Board Commissioner, John Coupar, will be the individual his majority NPA party colleagues — Sarah Kirby-Yung, Erin Shum, and Casey Crawford — will choose to lead them over the next year.
The remaining, newly-elected members of the Vancouver Park Board include the Green Party of Vancouver's Stuart Mackinnon, who held office on Park Board from 2008 til 2011, his fellow Green Party elected, Michael Wiebe, and lone Vision Vancouver Park Board elected, Catherine Evans.
The most politically astute politicos sitting around the Park table are Stuart Mackinnon and Catherine Evans, both veterans of the political wars, savvy, extremely bright, community-oriented politicos, Stuart Mackinnon's claim to fame his dedication to democratic governance and community involvement in Park Board decision-making, and Catherine Evans — appointed to the Board of the Vancouver Public Library in 2009, and most recently, Chairperson of the Board, and more than any other of the newly-electeds, an individual who throughout her adult life has dedicated herself to building consensus, in the community, as a member of Boards on which she sat, and in every other endeavour in which she has engaged, where it was necessary to move forward collectively, wholly, in the best interests of all.
Needless to say, Vancouver voters were wise to elect Catherine Evans — who topped the polls this Saturday evening past, with 64,707 votes, quite clearly, the consensus choice of the people — and Stuart Mackinnon (56,406 votes), the Green Party running their 2014 campaign for office on a shoestring budget, approximately 5% of that of the two mainstream parties, Vision Vancouver and the Non-Partisan Association, to Park Board.
As anyone who reads VanRamblings on a regular basis is aware, we are more than a little over-the-moon about the Non-Partisan Association's incoming Chairperson, John Coupar, for most assuredly, one of John's NPA colleagues will nominate him for the position of Chairperson of Park Board.
VanRamblings had hoped for a unanimous vote of support for the principled & utterly humane Mr. Coupar, a defender of Vancouver's parks system like no other — you may wish to read VanRamblings' profile of Mr. Coupar, for an insight as to why we have written so generously about the man, about his character and integrity, and commitment to public service.
As of Monday, November 18th, the prospect of John Coupar's ascension to the role of Chairperson, Vancouver Park Board, receiving the unanimous consent of all of his Park Board Commissioner colleagues sitting around the Park Board table would very much seem to be in doubt.
When John Coupar was running for a second term at Park Board, his platform was a simple, but transformative: restoration of a parks system that had been desecrated and allowed to fall into abandon under an overly politicized Vision Vancouver Park Board, and an early resolution of the almost two-year-old dispute between six of Vancouver's community centre associations, and the previous Park Board and City of Vancouver, the latter charge led by the — it has always seemed to VanRamblings — none-too-psychologically stable City Manager, Dr. Penny Ballem.
On this Sunday past, on the day following Saturday's surprising, and not-so-surprising, Vancouver civic election vote, VanRamblings had contact with Stuart Mackinnon, who indicated he was in partial agreement that ...
A majority Vancouver City Council will subvert everything that Park Board will attempt to do — which, of course, doesn't meant that a Park Board led by John Coupar and Stuart Mackinnon won't be a strong defender of our beleaguered parks and recreation system, but rather that Vision Vancouver will attempt to starve the Park Board of funds, and go to war with a Park Board no longer under its control, employing the ugliest of tactics, while undermining their own elected, Catherine Evans, who is a good person, and someone the entire Board will both enjoy working with, and from whom the Board has much to learn.
To be perfectly frank, Stuart, I have concerns in respect of John Coupar's fitness to lead the fight, and the possible consequences for his health. John's goals as a Park Board Commissioner have been simple ones, and are what brought him into public life: John Coupar wishes to serve the public, and to protect the integrity of our parks.
Certainly none of the other NPA elected are capable, or possess the political sophistication necessary to take the fight to Vision (at least not yet). In fact, it very well may be you, Stuart, who in the coming years emerges, at some point in the future, both as the Chair of the Park Board, & the public face of the defense of the interests of all of us who have a deep caring for our Vancouver parks and recreation system.
I have no doubt that you are up for the fight, if it comes to that.
I am concerned, at present, for the employment of Park Board General Manager, Malcolm Bromley, with whom I have very much been impressed since his arrival from Ontario, in 2010. At the time Malcolm was hired, City Manager, Dr. Penny Ballem, changed the terms of his employment contract, such that as had always been the case previously, and was the case with the outgoing Park Board GM, Susan Mundick (who was "dismissed" in 2010), the incoming PB GM would report not to the Park Board Chair, but to her — creating divided loyalties for Mr. Bromley.
Malcolm Bromley has proven in his short time at Park Board to be a forward-thinking, dedicated public servant, who has well-served the public interest, a person of integrity and character who in the most difficult of circumstances, has somehow managed to troll the roiling waters of discontent between the City Manager's office, and Park Board — even during the tenure of the Vision Vancouver-led Park Board — that did not always do the bidding of the notoriously demanding, brooks no dissent, it's my way or the highway, City Manager.
I believe that Vision Vancouver will almost certainly move to make application to the provincial government to change the Vancouver Charter, to convert the independently-elected Park Board into a Committee of Council, employing an argument of citizen indifference (bordering on hostility, among some members of the public, they will say) to Vancouver Park Board, the Park Board as just another level of government that "drains the taxpayers' pocketbook."
In such a scenario, Vancouver Park Board would certainly mount a vigorous defense of the interests of Park Board and all it represents, no doubt reminding Dr. Ballem and the members of Vancouver City Council that the Vancouver Charter clearly stipulates that dissolution of Park Board requires a 2/3 majority vote of Park Board Commissioners — to which Vision Vancouver would almost certainly reply, "Application has been made to repeal that particular section of the Charter."
Clearly, an action in Supreme Court would ensue, which would be funded out of the public purse. As anyone who has followed the decision-making thought processes of the estimable Dr. Ballem, and the elected Vision Vancouver members of Council, the office of the City Manager, with the full support of the Vision councillors, would move to deny Park Board the necessary funds to mount a legal defense of the position of Park Board, before the Courts.
Make no mistake: the next four years at Park Board may very well prove gruelling, indeed. Park Board Commissioners will have to keep a wary eye on those persons at City Hall who, to the public detriment, would use Park Board as their political whipping boy.
Job number one for the incoming Park Board must be to seek the support of the broadest coalition of members of the public, and to maintain and build on that public support for one of Vancouver's most cherished instituitions.
Now is not the time for division on Park Board, nor among members of the public who present to Park Board, and whose interests are many and varied. Park Board, with the generous support of the citizens of Vancouver, must become a united force in defense of Vancouver's much-beloved — and, perhaps, imperiled — Vancouver parks and recreation system.
Given the potential for a circumstance such as the one described above to unfold, VanRamblings was surprised and very disappointed to read of incoming Park Board Chairperson John Coupar's decision to, as his first order of business around the Park Board table to reverse a motion passed by the outgoing Vision Vancouver Park Board, to ban the breeding of cetaceans in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium, perhaps the single most divisive issue he might have chosen to engage as he and his Park Board colleagues undertake a restorative programme of change at Park Board, in defense of Vancouver's very much untended to and beleaguered parks system, and in defense of Vancouver's beloved community centres, which have suffered from the hostile actions of City Manager, Penny Ballem, and the Vision Vancouver majority administration at Vancouver City Hall.
VanRamblings posted the following to Facebook last evening ...
[Update: Apparently, John Coupar has left the employ of the company which put him into conflict. The NPA's reverse motion will pass 4-3]
Green Party of Vancouver Stuart Mackinnon's first public pronouncement related to the Supreme Court action this upcoming Thursday, as Mr. Mackinnon mounted a vigorous defense of Vancouver's community centre associations — one expects because it is the most important issue that should be of concern to the incoming Park Board Commissioners, an issue on which all Vancouver citizens are united, and one of the primary reasons there remains on the Park Board, only one lone member of Vision Vancouver, and the least partisan member of Vision Vancouver, at that — John Coupar, in all his infinite wisdom and lack of political astuteness — expounds on the single most divisive issue that has come before Park Board in 2014, an issue that reached compromise resolution this past July, following the presentations of more than 90 members of the public — and many, many more protesting outside — who expressed their reasoned opposition to the continued containment of whales, and other cetaceans, at the Vancouver Aquarium.
In respect of the about-to-become newly-elected Chairperson of the Vancouver Park Board, the estimable John Coupar, VanRamblings does not express concern that Mr. Coupar would act to fulfill a campaign promise that was made by NPA mayoral candidate, Kirk LaPointe, in the early days of his campaign for office — and a platform tenet about which VanRamblings expressed deep concern to Mr. LaPointe, as a divisive issue, and one that was ill-suited to a candidate for office who was attempting to present himself as a mayoral candidate for "all the people".
Rather, VanRamblings' concern relates to the inadvisability of John Coupar choosing as divisive an issue as reversing the motion on the ban of the breeding of cetaceans in captivity, as an issue of primary concern that he would express to the public (in a most unfortunate joking manner on Global TV last evening), as his first order of business at the Park Board table.
Surely, Mr. Coupar, the pending court case on Thursday must be of greater concern to you, and to your Non-Partisan Association colleagues, more deserving of your collective attention, and deserving of an outreach to the incoming Green Party of Vancouver Park Board Commissioners than moving forward a reversal of a motion — that had you left it well enough alone — would simply have died on the order paper. You should know better.
November 16, 2014
There was so much that was not published on VanRamblings in the lead up to Decision Night 2014, on issues involving the Mayor's personal life, the details of which we found to be sordid, and in consequence had decided some while ago not to publish or speculate on, despite many entreaties to do so, even by members of the mainstream media — and, quite honestly, if publishing allegations of moral wrong-doing, and an attack on the Mayor's character was to be a determinative factor in how voters were to decide on how to cast their ballot for a Mayoral candidate, while not focusing on the issues of the day, the primary focus of VanRamblings, then, this past five months, the raison d'être of this blog, would come to mean nothing more than VanRamblings as a disquieting, scandal-mongering tabloid, full of rumour, speculation and innuendo. Not for me, thank you very much.
Anyone who reads VanRamblings on a regular basis knows the site means to inform — and entertain — that while creating content and writing in what it is hoped you find to be a "readable form," there is quite often contained in the words before you, a tendency to employ hyperbole, which is done for effect, so as to engage the readers' attention on matters of import.
For weeks, there's a "story" that's been making the rounds that, pre-election, Vision Vancouver had cut a deal with Christy Clark's provincial government, and the feds, for the subway down the Broadway Corridor, which would involve developers contributing half the cost (about $1.92 billion), through Community Amenity Contributions, which would be put towards the costs of the construction of the subway line down Broadway out to UBC, a "deal" that was allegedly brokered by Bob Rennie — real estate broker extraordinaire, and both Christy Clark's and Gregor Robertson's best friend — that would serve the interests of Clark's and Robertson's developers-friends and funders, at the expense of the interests of residents in neighbourhoods all along the Broadway corridor.
The deal wasn't announced because there was an election going on.
Vision Vancouver was concerned proclamation of the deal would incite the residents of Grandview-Woodland. Leave well-enough alone until after the election, when Mayor Gregor could announce that he had secured the funding to build the subway, and out to UBC, at that! There would be rejoicing throughout the city, Mayor Gregor would fulfill a campaign promise central to his re-election bid, and all would be right with the world.
In the Kitsilano neighbourhood where I have lived for thirty years, 52.8% (6,018) of residents voted Vision Vancouver, while 37.9% (4,319) voted for Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association candidate team.
VanRamblings has a question to ask the residents of Kitsilano ...
What part of, "If Vision Vancouver is elected to a third term of majority municipal government, a deal will be struck with developers for construction of a subway line, and stations, all along the Broadway Corridor — on the west side, in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, Oakridge Centre-style developments will be imposed at Arbutus, Macdonald and Alma, where developers will move into the neighbourhood to purchase properties at double the assessed market value, and for those business or homeowners who won't sell, the municipal or provincial government will expropriate properties on each of the four blocks surrounding the proposed subway stations," did Kitsilano residents not understand?
What part of, "When the developers build the massive four-square-block-radius, greenhouse gas consuming, neighbourhood-isolating, junctions at Arbutus, Macdonald and Alma, in our Kitsilano neighbourhood — that will consist of 40, 50, 60 and 70-storey highrises in Oakridge Centre-style like developments at each of the station junctions, the massive, out-of-scale to the neighbourhood "town centre" towers will cast a permanent shadow over single family and multiple-dwelling apartment buildings throughout Kitsilano, in the process creating a permanent, overshadowing darkness for nearby residents," did those Vision voters in Kitsilano not understand?"
Neighbours and friends look at me like I'm crazy when I say things like the above — and I say, "Come back to me in 10 years, and let's talk again."
The difference between a Vision Vancouver civic administration, and the one that Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe would have led, is that a Kirk LaPointe administration would consult with residents before taking a decision about development in a community, and act on the developed consensus of the neighbourhood's residents, ensuring a form of responsive democracy that would prove satisfactory to residents.
Vision Vancouver, on the other hand — and all you have to do is speak with anyone who lives in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood, or Mount Pleasant, the West End, Dunbar, Marpole, and listen to their experience of "working with" Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver colleagues ...
"We worked on a community plan for two years, met regularly with city planning staff. When the community consultation had drawn to a close, and we had signed off on a visioning plan for our neighbourhood, the consensus plan was submitted for review to the Director of Planning, Brian Jackson, and to Vancouver City Council. When those of us who had worked on the community visioning plan appeared before Council to speak in support of the developed-consensus plan, rather than the neighbourhood development plan we had so painstakingly worked on over many, many, many months, what we heard and saw presented was arbitrary, unilateral, dramatic and disturbing changes made to our much-beloved community plan, a "new plan" that bore virtually no relationship to the plan we had carefully developed and signed off on."
However you felt about Kirk LaPointe, and those who ran with him on the Non-Partisan Association ticket, Kirk LaPointe would have listened, and acted on the community consensus, as would have his colleagues.
In municipal politics, we call that democracy.
Vision Vancouver, on the other hand, never listens, or adopts the community plan developed by residents in neighbourhoods across the city, and doesn't feel it has to, or as Geoff Meggs is so often wont to say ...
"After all, a majority of Vancouver residents elected Vision Vancouver to consecutive terms in office. We must be doing something right. Why change a good thing? Residents don't really want to be consulted, they know that our Mayor, Gregor Robertson, and our committed, hard-working Vision Vancouver councillor team, are better-informed than ill-informed, uneducated, visionless residents. That we're better able to make appropriate decisions on the residents' behalf, that to listen to residents would be to give away our power.
The residents of Vancouver voted for the Vision Vancouver team so that we could exercise our power, even if some residents across the city accuse us of abuse of power. What do they know, those whiners & complainers, that rent-a-crowd bunch? We'll do what we think is best, and damn those ill-informed, unsophisticated and uneducated residents, those NIMBYs who don't have the best interests of the city at heart. We're the electeds, don'tcha know — we'll do as we damn well please!"
And so it goes. Given all of the above, given that the Vision Vancouver administration will not consult, given that Vision Vancouver knows what is best, given that a subway line will be built no matter what the residents want, no matter the protests, given that businesses and family homes will be expropriated, given that residents don't know what they want, and Kitsilano residents voted in overwhelming numbers for Vision Vancouver — damn the consequences to the livability of the Kitsilano neighbourhood.
With an arrogant, newly-elected Vision Vancouver civic administration in office for a four-year term, with the prospect of a subway line cutting through Kitsilano's tree-lined neighbourhood, residents are well on their way to living the nightmare scenario of a DC Comics-style, Vision Vancouver dystopia, through and across the very heart of the Kitsilano neighbourhood, where residents in the future can all look forward to our Vision Vancouver civic administration spinning the line to us that ...
"Your children will do fine growing up in the darkness. Sun causes melanoma. We're your elected civic government. We're just trying to help them, to keep them safe. And to create a better tomorrow."
All together now, let us sing in chorus as we salute the gigantic wall mural of our once and forever leader, the one true profit, Gregor Robertson ...
The sun won't come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be darkness
Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Don't clear away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none
When I'm in luck and there's a day that's grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say, oh ...
The sun won't come out tomorrow
So why wait to hang on
'til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
You're always a day away.
Soon enough, and not so long into the future, Vision Vancouver will move to rename Vancouver, Gotham City. The difference between the newly-renamed Vancouver version of Gotham City, and the DC Comics version of Gotham City is that, unlike the comic and the Christopher Nolan movies we have all come to love so much, in the renamed Vancouver version of Gotham City, there will be no Batman-like figure to come to our rescue.
No, Vancouver residents, given that you did not awaken from your Vision Vancouver, cult-like, drug-induced slumber we are, all of us, doomed to live in the forbidding and ominous gloom to follow, a creation of a once-and-forever Vision Vancouver, with no prospect of any help on the distant horizon, a hero-like figure who might rescue us from ourselves, and the decision we took last evening to vote Vision Vancouver back into power.
Forgive us, dear Father, we did not know what evil lurked. Please save us!
Soon, the wise ones will look around them, and in time to rescue themselves and their families, they will seek to leave the city, to find order and something akin to a quality of life that was once available to all citizens of Vancouver, for such no longer will exist in the city we once called home.
In electing Vision Vancouver last evening to a third consecutive term of majority power in city government, we have consigned ourselves to the torment of the dystopian nightmare that will come to pass, a permanent, perpetual, gloom-filled agony that will become the Vancouver that we once loved so much. For its has come to pass that thoughtless, uninformed, if well-intentioned citizens of good-heart, voted for a Vision Vancouver civic administration to a determinative, destructive and ultimately city-destroying third-term in the seat power where all decisions, mostly bad, are made.
November 14, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver School Board Endorsements may be found here.
Polls open at 8am Saturday for the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
Most voters will likely be taken aback at the 121 names on the civic ballot, the 29 contenders vying to fill nine slots on Vancouver School Board, the 31 contenders who want to fill one of seven vacant spots around the Park Board table, or the 48 Council candidates who fancy a job at City Hall.
As a service to readers, VanRamblings today will present a truncated Vancouver City Council Endorsements Rationale, the third and final in a series, that started out with VanRamblings' choices for Park Board, and went on to explore VanRamblings' choices for Vancouver School Board.
Vancouver City Council is the place where decisions will be taken over the next term of government at City Hall that will impact on the quality of life of every single citizen across every neighbourhood in our city, for whoever holds office and the seat of power in the upcoming four-year term of office.
For the past five months, VanRamblings has argued long and loud that Vision Vancouver has abrogated its right to a third consecutive term of office at City Hall (and Park Board), as perhaps the most developer-driven, dismissive of community concern, aggressively tyrannical civic administration since the hoary days of Mayor Tom Campbell, in the late '60s & early '70s.
In it's last-minute bid for a majority Council at City Hall, Vision Vancouver has ramped up their fear-based campaign against Kirk LaPointe, pointing out his non-existent ties to The Fraser Institute — the totality of the allegations so off-putting and egregious they hardly warrant a repeating in today's VanRamblings endorsement post for Vancouver City Council.
Quite franky, VanRamblings finds Kirk LaPointe to be a gentleman of the old school, and a thoughtful man of integrity and character — traits that are sorely lacking in our current Mayor.
Vision Vancouver's 2014 campaign of character assassination and their dedication to the politics of personal destruction are little short of despicable. Vote for Kirk LaPointe, if for no other reason than the discomfort you feel in the pit of your stomach when you hear terrible things being said about him, a decent person — as you've probably assessed for yourself — a loving husband and father, a well-educated man of great experience and accomplishment, who has in some great measure created his own success through hard work and determination, the love and support of those around him, and a dedication to making a difference.
When you go to the polls on Saturday, you will want to make sure that Gregor Robertson, and his Vision Vancouver team, hear the message loud and clear: enough is enough, we are not fools, we don't believe your last-
minute mea culpa — so many crocodile tears those, a mean and dishonest tactic designed to create sympathy for an administration that has, more wholly than any civic administration in a generation, given itself over to the interests of greedy developers, than any reasonable person could possibly have thought imaginable. We want a City Hall that will govern for us.
Vision Vancouver has painted the Non-Partisan Association as the BC Liberal farm team, died-in-the wool right-wingers who will turn the city into some kind of romantic, Benzedrine-popping Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, dystopian nightmare. Thus the dozens of fear-mongering, we're oh so sorry, we're bad but they're worse, telephone calls you've received this week that have invaded your home like so much acid rain.
Do you see the picture above? You're looking at BC Liberals' Executive Director Laura Miller's tweet of Vision Vancouver's very own Director of Communications, Marcella Munro, sitting right beside Laura's good friend, Don Millar, Vision's head of for-profit flack company FD Element, the guy who "manages and promotes" Mayor Gregor Robertson whenever he can.
And that @diamondisinger mentioned in the tweet? Could that be the very same Diamond Isinger who was Christy Clark's key online strategist in the Premier's bid for office last year who, don'tcha know, is now working for Clark's best friends, Vision Vancouver, performing the very same function?
And wasn't it former Non-Partisan Association President, Michael Davis, a spin doctor for big oil who was endorsing Gregor Robertson last week?
Let's see if we can make sense of all this: almost the entirety of Vision Vancouver's 2014 campaign strategist team are performing identical roles to the ones they played in Christy Clark's bid for the Premier's office in last year's British Columbia provincial election. Strange "coincidence", huh? Make no mistake, Vision Vancouver have painted themselves as the anti-tanker defenders of the environment. What utter nonsense: it's Vision Vancouver who are the BC Liberal farm team, all dressed up in 'green liberal', progressive New Democrat Party clothing. Just look at the picture above.
VanRamblings Enthusiastically Endorses Kirk LaPointe for Mayor
As Grandview-Woodland's respected community activist Jak King wrote in his endorsement today, "Kirk LaPointe represents a return to the glory days of the NPA, the days in which the NPA introduced both CityPlan and the Four Pillars strategy. By his very public endorsement of the Principles & Goals planning document of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, LaPointe has grasped the future of collaborative planning. LaPointe's demeanour and quick intelligence on the campaign trail and in smaller meetings leads many of us to believe that he is a man one can work with."
VanRamblings could not agree more with Jak King's expressed sentiment.
Kirk LaPointe could very well become the Vancouver Mayor of a generation. Meeting the needs and serving the interests of a broad cross-section of the community in every neighbourhood, addressing social issues like child hunger, focusing on the economy and a jobs strategy to strengthen Vancouver's economy, restoring civic government based on openness, transparency and intent of purpose, consulting with the public and acting on the developed community consensus, a Kirk LaPointe-led administration would restore public confidence and lustre in Vancouver civic government.
Tomorrow, at the polls, vote Kirk LaPointe and a majority Non-Partisan Association Vancouver City Council and Park Board, as well as a significant contingent on School Board. Create the conditions to allow Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association team to begin the transformation of our city in order that civic government be placed in the hands of the people.
Along with Adriane Carr, George Affleck is the conscience of Council, a tireless advocate for the people's interest, a Councillor who puts in 60 hour weeks and still finds time for his beloved wife and the children he loves so much. George Affleck is a gift to our political landscape, devoted to public service and to furthering the interests of the community, in every neighbourhood across our city. In the 2014 civic election cycle, George Affleck was the star of the all-candidates meetings, and flat-out the most sympathetic and compelling presence on the dais, week-in and week-out. There's a cynicism among some about politics and politicians — if you knew George as I and thousands of others have come to know George Affleck, the City Councillor, all doubt there exists a shining star in the maelstrom that is Vancouver politics would be erased, for George Affleck is a city councillor who knows in his bones what it is to be a democrat, to live it, to feel it, to practice it — and to do it all in service of the community, and for you.
Elizabeth Ball has, in two previous terms, gained the confidence of voters. First elected to Council in 2005, when she is re-elected to a four-year term on Saturday evening, she will embark on her seventh year of service to the people of Vancouver. I came to know Elizabeth Ball in the 1990s when I was an arts reporter and she was the Managing Director of the Carousel Theatre — which she had founded some 20 years earlier. Always ready with an open smile, Elizabeth was a fount of information — there wasn't anyone, or anything, in the theatre world with which she wasn't familiar. The same dedication to task that she brought to the management of the Carousel Theatre, and the mounting of my very favourite productions over the many, many years I visited Carousel, has been matched by Elizabeth Ball's dogged work on Council, her ability to get to the heart of any matter, her peerless research skills, her advocacy for the public unmatched by anyone other than her NPA Council colleague, George Affleck. Chair of the NPA caucus, it was Elizabeth — working with Fraser Ballantyne and Rob McDowell — who spear-headed the expulsion of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from the NPA caucus, and from any association with the Non-Partisan Association.
If you go to your dictionary and look up the word democracy, you will find Adriane Carr's picture next to the word — because Adriane Carr has come to define responsive, always on your side, honest, sincere, fight for what is right, democratic engagement in Vancouver municipal politics, her time on Council in her first term (when she squeaked in — I predict that she's going to top the polls in 2014) the most salutary manifestation of Abraham Lincoln's precept, as applied to our little burgh (with just the slightest change in wording) that in Vancouver "civic government is of the people, it is by the people, and it must always be for the people." Adriane Carr lived that axiom every single day of her first term of office, as she does each and every day of her life. You know it, I know it — Adriane Carr is the most beloved political figure in the Metro Vancouver region. How fortunate we all are to have Adriane Carr — a person of character, a person of integrity, a person of wit and intelligence and passion and reason, a tireless advocate always, representing each one of us, and ... within our midst. Vote Adriane Carr.
Nicholas Chernen has the royal jelly. In the 2014 vortex that was the run to secure office on our city's highest elected body, Vancouver City Council, onto our civic political scene there arrived a guileless, astute, sturdy and staunch, perceptive and charmingly innocent philosopher king, a dreamer who dreams as did Robert F. Kennedy that, kissed by the wind & good fortune, a boy who over the past twelve months was transformed into a formidably inspiring man of impossible grace and principle, looked around him & asked, "Why," and dreamed a dream of a thing that never was with Vision Vancouver holding the seat of power in our municipal government, and asked himself another question, "Why not," which, perhaps, in the fullness of time became less a question than an instruction, a call to duty, a re-awakening in him a long suppressed democratic commitment to the his family, and to our community. In 2014, Nicholas Chernen is one of two nascent political figures to emerge on the political scene whole (the other? the Greens' must-elect, Pete Fry). Nicholas Chernen: a leader, a future Mayor and Premier (as is the case with Pete Fry), brother to Glen, who arrived on the political scene in Vancouver and wrote the story of Campaign 2014.
Over the course of the past three years, working with her Non-Partisan Association colleague, John Coupar, in her role as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, Melissa De Genova emerged as the hardest-working, most dedicated to democratic engagement and populist political figure to emerge on British Columbia's tumultuous political scene in more the 40 years. If not for Melissa De Genova, there would be no Killarney Seniors Centre, if not for Melissa De Genova's tireless advocacy for the public interest, the voice of the people would not have been heard at the Park Board table — and our city, and parks and recreation system in Vancouver would be worse for the lack of Melissa De Genova's hourly, daily commitment to making our home the most livable city anywhere on this planet; which is not rhetoric, but rather a reflection on the efforts of a dogged and sincere public figure who aims to, and has, made a difference. Please, save a vote for Melissa De Genova at the polls.
The Green Party of Vancouver's Pete Fry has the best chance of any new candidate seeking the position of Vancouver City Councillor of any who have offered themselves for elected office in the 2014 Vancouver civic election. Pete Fry is the single most intelligent, pioneering, committed to democracy, engaged, generous, on your side political figure to emerge on Vancouver's political scene since ... well, since the emergence of his Green party running mate, Adriane Carr — what a duo they will make sitting on Vancouver City Council together, how fortunate we all will be to have two elected representatives in Pete Fry and Adriane Carr, whose dedication to our democracy is unparalleled in our city. Voting the Green Party of Vancouver's Pete Fry is not something you should just consider, voting for Pete Fry is an absolute imperative when you head to the polls in this, the most important civic election in more than 40 years. A vote for Pete Fry will be the single most important decision you will make in this election.
Tim Louis is the most important must vote in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, as the single candidate with the most wit, the candidate most committed to a fairer and more just city for all, the candidate who doesn't just argue for a better city, better transit, the construction of more affordable housing (and he means, non-market affordable housing, which is our only way out of our present affordable housing morass), the candidate most committed to social justice, and the only 2014 Vancouver municipal election candidate for office with a well-thought-out plan on how to get us there, and the candidate who will best hold his Vancouver City Councillors' colleagues feet to the fire — and always, always, a peerless advocate for the public good. Please, please save a vote for my friend, the most generous and thoughtful person of my acquaintance, the incomparable Tim Louis.
Involved in community services across the Metro Vancouver region for more than four decades, a now retired professional engineer who worked for the City of Vancouver, the senior city of Vancouver manager responsible for Chinatown's innovative Millennium Gate project, and a key member of Vancouver's Transportation Planning Team for the 2010 Olympics, Ken Low knows how things work and how to things done at City Hall. A husband and father dedicated to his two children, Ken Low is the legacy candidate in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, a reasoned, achingly intelligent and fit athletic figure who — more than any other candidate running for office in our current Vancouver civic election — possesses the skills and the ability to hit the ground running in the hours following his election to Vancouver City Council, to begin the process of change that will help to build a better Vancouver for you and for your family, and all your neighbours and friends.
Rob McDowell is, by far, my favourite new candidate for Vancouver City Council in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, the most articulate, generous, thoughtful, progressive new candidate on Vancouver's civic scene — and endorsed everywhere, by every one, across the political spectrum — the one candidate for Vancouver City Council who has built a broad, public consensus for his election to Vancouver's senior decision-making body, a person who would be a mediating force on Council who, having gained the confidence of his peers, would work to create the conditions necessary to move our city forward. A vote for Rob McDowell is a vote for change, a vote for reason and a vote for a better, and more equitable Vancouver. Vote Rob McDowell when you mark you ballot — and in doing so, you will have voted for the best new candidate seeking office as a Vancouver city council councillor, in the 2014 Vancouver civic election.
Ian Robertson is the most able new candidate running for office as a Vancouver city councillor, the smartest — going to get things done — political figure on Vancouver's civic scene, the candidate most committed to our democracy and to a generous outreach to the community, and as is true of the candidates written about above, committed to a fairer and more just Vancouver, a Vancouver that will serve the needs of all. As a two-term Park Board Commissioner, Ian Robertson proved day in, day out that he was a tireless, hard-working, consensus-building advocate for the public good, who in his years of service to the people of Vancouver earned the respect of his peers, and a broad cross-section of our city's always wise voting population. Along with the other new candidates for Vancouver city council written about above, Ian Robertson is the most important vote you will make when marking your ballot. Vote Ian Robertson for a better Vancouver.
November 13, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver City Council Endorsements may be found here.
Support for public education was the criterion employed by VanRamblings in the candidate selection for Vancouver School Board Trustees.
As such, it is with a heavy heart that VanRamblings has chosen only three Vision Vancouver candidates to sit around the School Board table in the 2014 - 2018 term of office.
For, make no mistake, this past six years, the Patti Bacchus-led Vancouver School Board has emerged as our province's staunchest defenders of public education, Patti Bacchus and Mike Lombardi, in particular, emerging as two of the most important voices defending the interests of our children, their parents, and all of us who recognize that a well-educated, informed populace consisting of students who have been embued with critical thinking skills constitutes our democracy's greatest hedge against tyranny.
In Victoria, with the misnamed Liberal party we have an anti-education provincial government which, for all the world, appears to be dedicated to the dismantling of our most cherished public resource, our free, open and accessible-to-all public education system, and seem intent on replacing our public schools with privatized, Fraser Institute-endorsed charter schools.
Witness the unfortunate and utterly misleading foofaraw surrounding the completely erroneous, Non-Partisan Association "debate" over the "refused" $500,000 donation from Chevron to our Vancouver School Board.
According to Claudia Ferris, who works on the Communications Committee with Vancouver's District Parent Advisory Committee (DPAC), on behalf of her parent board Claudia talked informally with Patti Bacchus to discuss the prospect of Chevron's proposed donation.
The district parents then sought to engage in a dialogue with Chevron. Despite several calls to Chevron, DPAC never heard back from their supposed Chevron contact, or anyone else associated with the oil giant. Imagine Patti and DPAC's surprise when they turned on the news only to discover that a representative of Chevron, having called a press conference, set about to proclaim to the world that, "The Vancouver School Board has refused Chevron's generous donation, and have given into the anti-oil politics for which the Vision Vancouver civic party is so well known!"
Note should be made, too, of a concurrent Coalition of Progressive Electors Education Conference — the entire focus of the Justice Not Charity forum revolving around "the complex nature of privatization" in our public school system, where VanRamblings sat next to Patti Bacchus throughout the day, where we discussed the rising level of child poverty in our province, the failure of our British Columbia government to fund breakfast programmes for the children of wont and need, the increasing dependence on parents for fundraising, and on individual and corporate donors to fund a public education system that, for years, has been starved for funds by a provincial government seemingly intent on creating the conditions that would lead to the dismantling of our increasingly malnourished public education system.
Now, some VanRamblings' readers will read the previous paragraph as overtly "political", and it is. As a blogger, I am afforded the opportunity to be political on this blog. When it comes to the majority Vision Vancouver School Board caucus, though, Patti Bacchus and her colleagues have remained steadfast in their support of the children enrolled in the Vancouver school system, and have not ever indulged in the rhetoric of ...
"The current provincial government, our Premier and our education minister are the most reprehensible and despicable representatives of an anti-education movement anywhere in Canada."
The Vancouver School Board could, VanRamblings certainly would, but Patti Bacchus and her Vision Vancouver School Board caucus have focused on the provision of structuring a viable, open and accessible to all, public school system in Vancouver which, despite all the challenges, the provocations from Christy Clark's provincial government, the name-calling from the likes of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, attacks from a Non-Partisan Association campaign that while supporting their School Trustees campaign for office, has called into question the integrity and honesty of the most ethical, most in support of the interests of students, and public education, Vancouver School Board in the entire 128-year history of the institution.
Let me be very clear: As an educator with some 40 years experience teaching in schools across the province, now retired, a proud member of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, having sat on teacher contract negotiating committees, having been elected to the office of BCTF Learning and Working Conditions Chairperson, as the Assistant Director of PDP 401 / 402 — the first semester education programme at Simon Fraser University — and as someone who has taught at both the college and university levels, and as the COPE campaign Chair for Pauline Weinstein's successive victories in the 1980s, when she sat as the beloved and cantankerous Chairperson of Vancouver's School Board, I have never admired a Board of Education more than I do the Patti Bacchus-led Vancouver School Board.
Thoughout the entirety of my life I have fought for the preservation and promotion of public education as a central feature of how I have brought myself to the world, and prioritized my political activities around forwarding the cherished goals set by the British Columbia Teachers' Federation ...
To represent and advocate for the social and economic goals necessary to ensure a quality pluralistic public school system, through leadership and advocacy, and service;
- To represent values and principles that reflect a democratic perspective on public education, incorporating the principles of conceptual and procedural clarity, and to work to provide a standard of professional development that incorporates a repertoire of collaboration, research, mentorship, workshops, reading, course work, peer coaching, and reflection;
- To extend and support Aboriginal education across our province, and promote the practice of social justice to meet the needs of all students enrolled in British Columbia's public education system; and ...
- To advocate always for a quality public education system that is free and equitable for all students, and to resist privatization and commercialization in our province's schools.
In all of my 45 years of political organizing, and nearly that long as a teacher, despite my great respect and admiration for Pauline Weinstein, and for Noel Herron (Principal at my children's elementary school when they were growing up, and later a COPE Vancouver School Board Trustee, and a true friend), in all my time as an educator and an education activist, never have I been more proud and more in awe of a defender of public education than has been the case in what I acknowledge to you today as my undying admiration and respect for Patti Bacchus, for Allan Wong, Cherie Payne, Mike Lombardi, and the entire Vision Vancouver School Board caucus.
Vision Vancouver Board of Education Trustees: Thank you for your service to our community, to our province, to the preservation and promotion of public education, and for your service to our children for whose education you have been entrusted and for their beleaguered parents, as well, and for your support all of the dedicated educators and support staff who teach and work in the Vancouver public school system, who day-in, day-out must contend with an underfunded-by-the-province public education system.
As is the case with you, Patti, and as is the case for all the outstanding members of your Vision Vancouver Board of Education caucus who, despite all, have worked together to create the best possible educational experience for our children, securing theirs and our future, your Vision Vancouver Board is owed an expansive and warmly appreciative debt of gratitude from every citizen, in every community, across this province.
The legacy of your Board will live on through the ages, through the students whose lives you have touched, and played a pivotal role in enhancing, and for whose education you have taken on a responsibility of immeasurable proportion, for each and every boy and girl enrolled in the Vancouver public education system, working with parents and educators, you have played a critical role in shaping the minds and destinies of the boys and girls who will become the future hope of our world. Thank you.
Kirk LaPointe is running as a candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. I like him. One of Kirk's jobs is to ensure that a goodly number of his candidates running for City Council, Park Board and School Board are elected to office.
In much the same way that the NPA campaign has dined out on the secret tape revealed by Bob Mackin that suggests a pay for play / quid pro quo deal between CUPE Local 1004 — and their $102,000 donation to the Vision Vancouver campaign — and a "supposed commitment" by Vision Vancouver not to contract out union jobs, Kirk LaPointe has set as one of his many tasks to ensure the election of a goodly number of his — dare I say, not ready for prime time — Vancouver School Board candidates.
To that end, the Non-Partisan Association campaign has made a great deal about the "decision" by Patti Bacchus, and her Vision Vancouver Board of Education, to allegedly "refuse" a corporate donation from Chevron, the sordid details of which are explored above.
Truth to tell, VanRamblings is not displeased that the viciousness (one could say tenacity, but viciousness covers it so much better) with which Vision Vancouver has pursued elected office, and has been met blow-for-blow by a focused, driven, wildly inventive (& just a tad negative) campaign for office by folks associated with the Non-Partisan Association.
Quite honestly, VanRamblings has experienced perverse joy that, finally, a well-funded political entity has come on the political scene to challenge the arrogant, almost cult-like, presumed "supremacy" of Vision Vancouver.
But, not when it comes to the Patti Bacchus-led Vision Vancouver Board of Education. Politics is politics, and Patti and her colleagues have been taken aback — as has the whole discombobulated Vision Vancouver campaign team — with the effectiveness of the Non-Partisan Association targeted campaign for office. To some greater or lesser degree, several members of the Vision School Board caucus are likely to become casualties in the war of attrition that we will see come to pass this coming Saturday evening.
With the above in mind, VanRamblings has endorsed — and focused on — only three Vision Vancouver (incumbent) candidates for School Board: the incredibly principled Patti Bacchus, Cherie Payne and Allan Wong.
VanRamblings lost sleep over not endorsing Mike Lombardi — whom I've known since the 1970s when we worked together on COPE campaigns, and later as workmates at the offices of the BCTF — and I am verklempt that nowhere on the endorsement list above can be found the name of "new" Vision Vancouver School Board candidate, Joy Alexander, about whom everyone of my acquaintance is genuinely and spectacularly enthusiastic.
As I say above, this is politics, and things will be what they will be, very soon now the voice of the people will be heard, as the result of the people's will becomes clear late on Saturday evening, November 15th.
In the 2014 Vancouver civic election, there's much pressure been placed on pundits to endorse a mixed slate, so that's what VanRamblings has done.
The Public Education Project
To not vote for Jane Bouey & Gwen Giesbrecht, candidates for the nascent Public Education Project, is to say you don't give a damn about public education. All persons of conscience must vote for both Gwen and Jane.
Jane Bouey, former COPE Trustee and vice-chair of the Vancouver School Board, and absolutely beloved by Patti Bacchus — there's many the conversation I've had with Patti about Jane, and of how much Patti misses Jane's input on the Board on a vast range of issues, and of how invaluable was Jane's contribution to the Board — is a must-elect for School Board.
For VanRamblings, among the many initiatives that will come before the 2014 - 2018 Vancouver School Board, there is the implementation of the Board's new gender-variant policy. Here's an excerpt from a recent Jane Bouey post on Facebook ...
"I am deeply troubled by the Vancouver First School Trustee candidacies of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, and their fear-based election campaign. I don't want to give them more attention, but there is a real danger, particularly if voter turn-out is low, that they could be re-elected to School Board.
In 2005, I was targeted by homophobes because of my role in the development and implementation of the Vancouver School Board's LGBTTQ+ Policy.
In 2011, I lost in my re-election bid for School Board.
I was targeted by homophobes and transphobes because I was working on early drafts of the updated Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy. I lost because I am queer and proud. I will never stop standing up for LGBTTQ+ kids, and all of our children who face barriers in receiving the education that is their right.
My colleague, Gwen Giesbrecht of the Public Education Project, has been a vocal ally and stood alongside me, in this struggle.
The Vision Vancouver Board (especially Patti Bacchus and Allan Wong) have been vital and strong allies. Please take this into account when you are voting for School Board. Let your friends know — do not reward those who fan hate, or stand aside in silence.
Trustees have a duty to respect and uphold kids' legal and human right to accommodation, and to not fan fear and spread misunderstanding."
Gwen Giesbrecht, a parent & small business owner, is one of our city's true treasures, her life-long activism in support of public education and strong communities, both community driven, and in her work in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood where she lives — and where she serves as President of the Britannia Community Services Centre board of management, and Chair of the Britannia Secondary Parent Advisory committee — and across the city, has proved throughout a lifetime of activism of invaluable service to the larger community that is Vancouver.
In her work with Britannia, Gwen has worked toward the creation of an integrated model for community service delivery, and works closely in partnership with the Vancouver School Board, the Vancouver Public Library and the City of Vancouver. Working across the city, Gwen is a past chairperson of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), the COPE Education Committee, and was a co-founder of the Justice Not Charity education forum, featured above in today's VanRamblings' post.
On this upcoming Saturday, November 15th, most of those who intend to vote will go to the voting stations in their neighbourhood.
While walking, riding your bike, or driving to your local polling station, ask yourself, "What kind of world do I want to create for my children, for my family, for my neighbours, my friends, my colleagues and myself? Do I want a world of where all are provided an equal opportunity for love and acceptance, and if that is so, for whom do I cast my ballot?"
Reading Jane's discourse above, any person of principle is left with no other option than to cast their ballot, and place a checkmark beside the names of Jane Bouey, Gwen Giesbrecht, Patti Bacchus and Allan Wong — for there is the rock solid guarantee that in this too often confusing world that a vote for Jane, Gwen, Patti and Allan is a vote for a better world, a fairer and more just world, a more inclusive world where every boy and girl enrolled in the Vancouver school system will be afforded an equal opportunity to live the dream they dream for themselves to lead a productive, fulfilling life where love and acceptance for each and every one is the mantle they will carry throughout their lives. Vote Bacchus, Bouey, Giesbrecht, and Wong.
Were the above true of all the Non-Partisan Association candidates for office; it's not. Make no mistake, there are no homophobes or transphobes in the NPA campaign for office. Rather, outside of the outstanding NPA candidacies of Christopher Richardson, Stacy Robertson and Fraser Ballantyne, the Non-Partisan Association candidates are weak tea, indeed.
Now, VanRamblings likes, nay adores, NPA candidate for School Board, Sandy Sharma. The Straight writes about Sandy yesterday, "a progressive parent activist for many years and is well-versed in education issues, including the board's financial affairs." Sad to say, such has not been VanRamblings experience. In respect of Sandy's run for office, even her running mates have been concerned over Sandy's focus on cutting out contract-negotiated Professional Days, and shortening the Christmas and spring breaks — when the former is unchangeable, and the latter is, although to some extent within the Board's purview, provincially-mandated.
[Update: In response to the paragraph above, Sandy Sharma writes to say that she feels that the construction of her commentary, as written above, is "both misleading and inaccurate." Ms. Sharma is clear that it is not Professional Days to which she refers — and insists that she has always been "a proponent of Professional Days, and the very important role they play in furthering the goals of a vibrant public education system."
Rather, says Ms. Sharma, it is "District Days" to which she refers — a few years back, the Vision Vancouver School Board, to save money, extended Spring Break by 3 - 5 days, and closed schools on other days in the calendar school year, lengthening the school day for students in order that provincially-mandated hours / days of education would be met. Sandy Sharma believes that Vision Vancouver policy is the wrong way to go.
Sandy Sharma believes, and it is NPA policy she had a role in drafting, that to close schools for so many days each school year is wrong, and that an NPA School Board would look for cost savings elsewhere, restoring full school days, in support of the interests of children, and their beleaguered parents, whose pocketbooks are already strained, and who must arrange for childcare during the Vision Vancouver-imposed "District Closure" days.]
Me, I want a vocal advocate for public education. Even given the above, VanRamblings would not be concerned, and perhaps might experience some degree of joy for Sandy were she to be elected to School Board.
Were VanRamblings able to say that about NPA School Trustree Penny Noble's candidacy — a walking disaster if we ever saw one. Migawd!
Last week, when returning from the Mayoral debate at SFU Harbour Centre, sitting in Christopher Richardson's comfy SUV as he transported Penny to her car at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club (don't ask), we got to talking about the amount of time electeds often put into their jobs.
For instance, on School Board, I know that Patti Bacchus and Mike Lombardi often put in 40 - 60 hour weeks — they're dedicated, there's a job to be done, they're passionate defenders of the public education system, the media come calling and there they are out front of the VSB offices, or out front of their homes, answering the question of the day.
At Park Board, although NPA Park Board Commissioner John Coupar is reluctant to reveal the number of hours he puts into his work as a Park Board Commissioner (he's such a humble man), a 40+ hour a week is not uncommon for John, as is the case for fellow NPA Park Board Commissioner, and current NPA candidate for Council, Melissa De Genova.
While Christopher was transporting Penny and I over the Burrard Street bridge, the subject of committees at School Board came up, and a concern that had been expressed to me by one of the Vision Vancouver school trustees that Fraser Ballantyne didn't like committee meetings, and never turned up for them, even the ones he was supposed to be chairing. There are six standing committees at School Board: Education and Student Services, Planning and Facilities, Finance & Legal, Personnel & Staff Services, Management Co-ordinating, and Education & Student Services.
As you might well imagine, it is at the committee level where the lion's share of the Board's work occurs, all the planning, development of policy, co-ordinating, resolution of personnel issues, etc. The VSB committees play a pivotal role at the Board, they're time-consuming but productive, and all the Board members (save Fraser Ballantyne, apparently) attend.
Interjecting in the discussion Christopher Richardson and I were having about committees, and the certainty he felt that Fraser Ballantyne's contribution to the Vancouver School Board, and certainly to the Non-Partisan Association School Board campaign, was without compare — who am I to disbelieve Christopher, I trust Christopher on every single word I have ever heard from him, and we talk together frequently and at length, usually when he's riding his bike, and comes roaring up, at which point we engage in gregarious discourse — Penny Noble had his to say ...
"Committees. We don't need no damn committees. They're time-consuming, they're useless. The first thing I'll do when elected to office is cancel all of those committees. I'm going to shake up School Board when I'm elected. Forty hours a week! I've got better things to do with my time than spend 40 hours a week at the School Board offices. I'll spend ten, and no more!"
Gosh, one wonders if Penny is aware that School Board Trustees are also liaisons with the at least a dozen schools to which they're assigned?
Penny exits Christopher's vehicle, as Christopher rolls his eyes, assuring me that "we'll take it slow and easy, get our feet, get a feel for things, meet people, talk with everyone we can, attend committee meetings, find out what the priorities are, and work together with the other electeds, one of whom I would imagine and hope would be Patti Bacchus, with whom I'm really looking forward to working with should I be given the opportunity."
VanRamblings asks a question to which the answer is clear, but tests Christopher Richardson (it's a good question to ask of any potential School Board Trustee candidate): First order of business upon being elected, Christopher? The answer, "With the resignation of Superintendent Steve Cardwell, who's taking on the job as a Professor, teaching and a Director of Executive Educational leadership, at the University of British Columbia, the search for and appointment of a new Vancouver School Board Superintendent would have to a first priority for the incoming Board."
You pass, Christopher. Like I knew you would.
As VSB Superintendent Steve Cardwell told The Courier's Cheryl Rossi ...
The Vancouver School Board oversees 92 elementary schools, 18 high schools, seven adult education centres and the largest distance education school in the province. Vancouver schools serve some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Canada and some of the poorest. Fourteen per cent of students participate in a school meal programme.
We have 55,000 students. We've got over 100,000 parents that have a real stake in our education system and fewer than 40 per cent voted. They need to exercise their democratic right to vote and have influence on our education system by voting for school trustees and voting for the city, for the mayor and council, as well, as part of this, and when provincial elections come around, of course, for them, too."
I know that Christopher Richardson has ridden his bike to every school in the district, introducing himself to the administration at each of those schools, and as many teachers as he could, not to get votes — although, he's good at that — but to get a feel for the depth and breadth of the Vancouver school district, and to hear from administrators, teachers — and when he runs across them, the parents — concerns that each would like to see addressed in this next term of the Vancouver School Board.
Christopher Richardson is, quite simply, one of the best people I know — I am over-the-moon about Christopher's candidacy for School Board.
Patti Bacchus has told me that she would look forward to working with Christopher — a progressive of the first order, who was enthusiastically endorsed by The Straight yesterday, and several other School Board candidates running for other parties have said the same thing about Stacy Robertson, with affection expressed for Fraser Ballantyne, as well.
Penny Noble? NPA candidate for School Board? In a word: disaster.
November 12, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver City Council Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver School Board Endorsements may be found here.
If you haven't read Part 1 of VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements List Rationale, you'll want to read it first, the post focusing mainly on VanRamblings' favourite candidate for Park Board, John Coupar.
Arriving at the conclusions I have in respect of identifying those candidates I believe possess both the gravitas to become true defenders of the public interest and, pragmatically, have a decent chance of gaining the trust of Vancouver voters and defeating what is for many the worst Park Board in the 128-year-young history of that august body was not an easy task.
Vancouver's Park Board Commissioners have — up until this past six years, when a Vision Vancouver-led majority Park Board slate was elected to office — acted as stewards of our parks and recreation system.
Let's have a look at the remaining Vancouver Park Board candidates endorsed by VanRamblings earlier in the week.
Following John Coupar on my list of must-elects to Park Board, my next favourite must-elect is the Green Party of Vancouver's one-term Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (2008 - 2011) Stuart Mackinnon who, as he says on his blog, "has fought for the preservation of our foreshore and our natural beaches, who believes in our Park Board's community services system," and who has always been a staunch defender of the independence of our neighbourhood community centre associations.
In addition, as a well-respected educator for some 26 years, central to Stuart's campaign platform is his belief that "every child should be able to play in their own neighbourhood," which means parks nearby and playgrounds, and a livable city for all of us who live across the vast expanse of our metropolitan city by the sea, is central to Stuart's belief system.
Earlier today, I received the following e-mail from my friend Margery Duda, an advocate for the restoration of community outdoor pools, who writes ...
Stuart Mackinnon advocated for outdoor pools when he was on Park Board, 2008 to 2011, and as a Green Party of Vancouver candidate for Park Board in 2011 was instrumental in having the Greens adopt a plan to replace outdoor pools fallen into disrepair, and build new ones.
Outdoor pools have gained a lot of traction in this election campaign, and that is music to the ears of pool advocates.
With the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) being on the record supporting outdoor pools via past Park Board Chairperson and current Park Board candidate, Anita Romaniuk, thanks to Stuart and Anita, the Non-Partisan Association's game-changing commitment to build three outdoor pools if elected, and now with the Greens making it official, too, outdoor swimming pools are sure to return as a part of Vancouver's recreation network, a development for which we are glad, indeed.
Note should be made, as well, that the smaller parties such as the Vancouver Cedar Party and IDEA have also committed to outdoor pools, as have some of the independents.
Those of us who have advocated for outdoor pools believe that it is unfortunate that six years were wasted under Vision Vancouver, when we could have been replacing our outdoor pools. When Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners first ran for office in 2008, a central tenet of their platform was a replacement of our outdoor pools network — since their election, they have reversed themselves on that very important commitment made to many of us who live in neighbourhoods across our city. We've continued our fight, in the community and at Park Board.
The Mount Pleasant Outdoor Pool could have been completed as early as 2010, when Mount Pleasant Park was re-developed following a public consultation that rated the pool as the community's top priority. During the six years of Vision Vancouver governance at Park Board, opportunities for green technology grants and federal infrastructure funding were passed over by Vision in favour of building expensive indoor destination pools only.
Although Vision voted against a proposal to fund an outdoor pool in the current Capital Plan presented to voters, with the great support that has been forthcoming from the Green Party's outstanding candidate for Park Board, Stuart Mackinnon, and support from our good friend, COPE's Anita Romaniuk, we believe that should a mixed Park Board slate of Green Party of Vancouver, the Non-Partisan Association, COPE and perhaps one or two independents — such as IDEA's Jamie Lee Hamilton or James Buckshon — outdoor pools are attainable within the current Capital Plan.
Outdoor pool advocates: Sharpen your pencils and get out to vote between Wednesday November 12th and Saturday November 15th."
With a Green Party of Vancouver platform that advocates for community-driven planning — that regards community centre associations as partners, not adversaries — replacement of outdoor pools, zero waste, local food systems and access to nature, and a revitalization of Park Board facilities and our parks' infrastructure, the Greens' Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, are two absolute must-elects for Vancouver Park Board.
Erin Shum, running with the Non-Partisan Association, is — far and away — VanRamblings' favourite new candidate seeking office for Park Board.
For the past year, Erin has regularly attended the bi-weekly Park Board meetings, and on several occasions has spoken at the Park Board table advocating for the community interest on a range of issues of concern to residents living in neighbourhoods across our city. Erin's is a strong, reasoned and clarion voice, a welcome advocate for the public interest.
Having spoken, and worked, with Erin for the past year, VanRamblings can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the woman you see pictured above is one tough cookie, a candidate who possesses a clear, informed understanding of the issues at play before Park Board; it was John Coupar and Erin who argued for the inclusion of a plank in the NPA platform calling for the restoration of our outdoor pools system; it is Erin Shum — working with John Coupar and fellow NPA candidate for Park Board, Casey Crawford — who have vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding for the redevelopment of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, monies that were approved in the 2011 City of Vancouver capital plan, but never spent.
In respect of the NPA's outdoors pools initiative, at the announcement of the NPA's Park Board platform, it was Erin Shum who told the media that were gathered, "Vancouver is dramatically underserved when it comes to outdoor pools. Going forward, we make this commitment to the people of Vancouver that we will consult with the community on where the new outdoor facilities should be located, and in our first term of office, we will commit to the construction of three new, or replacement, outdoor pools."
Make no mistake, Erin Shum is a person of sage wisdom well beyond her years, an advocate for the Gen-Y voters of her generation and for all of us, and for the burgeoning community of citizens of Chinese descent who have come to regard Erin Shum as a champion of the community interest.
VanRamblings is in complete accord with the belief that Erin Shum is a voice for the people, an activist and an advocate of the first order for the public interest, one of the brightest and strongest political figures to emerge out of Vancouver's increasingly buoyant municipal political scene in years.
In a world where too often those in elected political office simply dedicate themselves to serving the interests of the political parties that got them elected, while remaining mute on the issues of the day, Erin Shum has emerged as a vocal champion of the public interest, a partner for fellow Non-Partisan Association candidates John Coupar and Casey Crawford — and a candidate for Park Board who has vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding allocated in the failed Vision Vancouver 2011 capital plan for the necessary re-development of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre.
Erin Shum, along with her NPA running mates John Coupar and Casey Crawford, Green Party of Vancouver Park Board candidates Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, and COPE's Anita Romaniuk — should voters place their confidence in them — are the candidates for Park Board who, commencing on December 1st, 2014, when the newly-elected Park Board Commissioners will be sworn into office, will transform governance at Park Board, and restore our desecrated parks to their former, natural beauty, and end once and for all the hostile, Dr. Penny Ballem-driven — endorsed by the Vision Vancouver caucus — heartbreakingly contentious Vancouver City Hall relationship with our beleaguered community centre associations.
Make no mistake, VanRamblings' loves John Coupar, Stuart Mackinnon and Erin Shum, but as complementary must-elects to Vancouver Park Board, I am just as over the moon about COPE's Anita Romaniuk, the NPA's Casey Crawford, and the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe.
Vancouver's School Board and Vancouver City Council candidate endorsement lists cost me sleepless nights, and hours on the phone, responding to e-mails and online explaining myself — it's been a tough slog, let me tell you. The VanRamblings' Park Board endorsements — well, they were a no-brainer, the choices so obvious, the quality of the candidates so high, there was no other direction VanRamblings could go.
Anita Romaniuk, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board in 2004 and Chair of the Park Board Finance Committee from 2003 to 2005, Anita has ...
- Served six years on the Board of the Douglas Park Community Association;
- Six more years as a member of the Douglas Park Arts Committee and the Park Improvement and Heather Park Committees;
- Since 2006, Anita has worked with Margery Duda, and others, as a member of the Mount Pleasant Community Association's Pool Committee, where she's still advocating for the replacement of their outdoor pool;
- In 2009, Anita became a founding member of the Vancouver Society for Preservation of Outdoor Pools;
- In 2008, Anita joined the Board of Directors for the Save Our Parklands Association, and has served as its President since November 2011.
As VanRamblings has written elsewhere, Anita and I served on COPE's Parks & Recreation Committee, and together with Jamie Lee Hamilton drafted much of COPE's Park Board platform.
John Coupar, VanRamblings' very favourite candidate for Park Board, has said that he hopes Vancouver voters elect Anita to Park Board, that her institutional Park Board memory, and the likelihood that she'd hold his feet to the fire — John is nothing, if not a humble man — were he to become the next Chairperson of the Park Board
For the purposes of reference, all Park Board Commissioners vote on who the Chair will be, each year of their term in office.
In 2014, there is general consensus among all the serious candidates VanRamblings has endorsed that, given all of his good work this past three years and his commitment to our parks and recreation system, John has earned the right to become the next Park Board Chairperson, and thus they will vote that way when the time comes.
For VanRamblings, a vote for the candidates on VanRamblings' endorsement list is mandatory for anyone who cares about the welfare of our parks, our recreation system, restoration of our outdoor pools system, a return of Hastings Park to Park Board jurisdiction, implementation of the gender-variant policy, and all of the myriad issues — some known, some not yet known — that Park Board will face over the next four years.
VanRamblings urges you to save a vote for Anita Romaniuk for Park Board.
Casey Crawford is the unsung hero of the 2014 Vancouver civic election, the under-the-radar candidate for Park Board who has more knowledge in his little finger about the state of our playing fields across Vancouver — in a word, dreadful — and how that impacts on the boys and girls who play soccer, rugby, baseball or field hockey, and the jeopardy into which the children have been placed by a politicized, out-of-touch Vision Vancouver majority Park Board, than all of the other Park Board candidates combined.
VanRamblings looks at the NPA's campaign website for Casey Crawford, and believes most who would surf to the site would say, "What? Who's this Casey Crawford fella, and what kind of Park Board Commissioner would he make?" Without wishing to become profane, VanRamblings would suggest the answer to that question is, "Casey Crawford would be a damn fine Park Board Commissioner, an advocate for our children, an advocate for children's sports, and during his term of office, there is little doubt in my mind that the media would identify Casey Crawford as the go-to guy on amateur sport in our city, and on any issue related to our playing fields."
Vote for Casey Crawford? Your darn tootin' you should - you MUST!
Last, but certainly not least, there's the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe, the new kid on the block, so to speak, business owner and community leader who, when he was 16 became a Park Board lifeguard (and later co-founded the Vancouver Lifeguard Association), who earned his Bachelor's in Business Administration, worked for the B.C. government administering public board appointments — and is, to boot, a charter member of the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee.
Michael says that as a Park Board Commissioner he's committed to ...
Building more natural parks — under Vision Vancouver there's been only one new park built in the past six years, the neglected pocket poodle park and 18th and Main — working towards the creations of a healthier, sustainable food system, fostering grassroots community initiatives in every neighbourhood across our city; and working to create a sustainable waste management programme that meets the needs of all of the citizens of Vancouver.
Truth-to-tell, it'll probably take Michael a few months to get up to speed — which is the case for every new member of Park Board — but according to my friend Gena Kolson, Michael's Grade 12 teacher ...
"Michael is extremely bright and a hard worker, picks things up faster than any student I ever worked with, is dedicated, passionate, a democrat to his core, someone people turn to, and a natural born leader. There's no question about whether I'll cast a vote for Michael; of course, I would. Michael will be a real asset on Park Board — voters won't be sorry they voted for Michael."
Well, there you go, VanRamblings' top six candidates for Vancouver Park Board, each one of whom we endorse enthusiastically.
November 11, 2014
[The following post constitutes the first part of a two-part series to be published today and tomorrow, on the rationale for VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements, the issues with which our incoming 2014 Park Board Commissioners will be confronted, and how the platforms of the three civic parties who have received a VanRamblings endorsement will impact on the resolution of the issues that will come before Park Board. In Part 2 of the Vancouver Park Board series, readers will find an apology to independent Park Board candidates, Jamie Lee Hamilton and James Buckshon — who we know to be persons of passion & integrity & immense caring for our parks — for having left them off our endorsements list.]
As the Vancouver Park Board watchdog (so named by The Courier's Sandra Thomas), VanRamblings is in a unique position to identify the issues that Park Board will confront in the next term, 2014 through 2018, and of all the candidates who are running for the position of Park Board Commissioner — and, who are likely to garner favour with the voters — we believe will best serve the interests of the citizens of Vancouver during the next four year term at Vancouver's cherished, 128-year-young, Vancouver Park Board.
First and foremost is John Coupar, already a sitting Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Park Board Commissioner. Over the course of the past three years, I have come to know John very well, as a man of uncommon intelligence and compassion, articulate and achingly bright and principled, whose love (and knowledge) of our parks and recreation system is unparalleled among any of my acquaintances — and I know and am close to COPE's Anita Romaniuk, long my mentor and teacher on all things Park Board. Yet I am still able to designate John Coupar as the most passionate and knowledgeable on all things Park Board among all of my acquaintances who possess a love for our city's parks and recreation system.
Married to the love of his life, Heather, for some 35 years now, John — a native of Vancouver — raised his 2 children in the Dunbar neighbourhood. As his children grew and left the family nest, a few years back, John and Heather downsized, moving into the Village on False Creek, considered by many to be one of the greenest communities on the continent.
A past president of the Friends of the Bloedel Association, and past governor of the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, John has long been a passionate advocate for horticultural excellence in parks and green spaces, his passion arising as a result of the times spent in his youth with his father Charles, a renowned horticulturalist who served the Vancouver Park Board with distinction for 42 years.
John Coupar is perhaps most well known for his successful effort to save Vancouver's Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, his work on that project catapulting him into elected office as Park Board Commissioner, in November 2011's Vancouver civic election.
In his initial term of office at Park Board, John was the first to identify Vision Vancouver's egregious, inchoate decision to pave over a significant portion of Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, as he went on to play a key role in defeating Vision Vancouver's proposal of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through two of Vancouver's most venerated west side parks, a well-used recreational resource for citizens across the Metro Vancouver region.
If there is one wish that I could have fulfilled in this election, it would be that John Coupar become our next Park Board Chairperson, leading an activist group of parks and recreation advocate Park Board Commissioners, who together would work toward restoring the beauty of Vancouver's parks, long untended to and desecrated by a Vision Vancouver-led Park Board, who have proven more interested in scoring political brownie points with Vancouver City Manager Dr. Penny Ballem and their "betters" at City Hall, the Vision Vancouver councillors who sit around the Council table.
Three anecdotes about John that will provide insight into the man ...
- The most common sentiment you'll hear expressed by members of the public in attendance at Park Board meetings who, after listening to the deliberations of the Commissioners on the issue of contention that has brought them to the Park Board offices, are most often wont to say, "John Coupar, he's the green advocate at the Park Board table, he's the advocate for the public, not the Vision commissioners. I voted for Vision last time because I wanted to leave a green legacy for my children and grandchildren. Never again. In 2014, I will vote for John Coupar, and anyone on the team he is running with!"
- Last spring, when the gender-variant policy was presented to Park Board, the most moving address to those gathered in a crowded Park Board conference meeting room was that given by John Coupar, who thanked all of those who had presented to Park Board on an issue of importance to each person in attendance, and to him, saying in part, "Sitting on Park Board for the past almost three years has proven to be the most enlightening and moving experience of my life, and never more so than was the case this evening. I want you to know that you have an advocate in me, and in my fellow Park Board Commissioner, Melissa De Genova, that we will fight for you, we will fight for inclusivity in our parks and in our community centres. Working together with all of the Commissioners around the table, I commit to you today that our parks and community centres will become welcoming and safe havens for you, where you will be respected always. I look forward to working together with you, and with Park Board staff, on the early implementation of all facets of the gender-variant policy on which you have worked so hard, and has proved of such service to our community. Throughout my life, I have made a commitment to inclusivity, fairness and equity — let us work together, go forward and write a new chapter in our social and political history, as we work toward a community of comfort, respect and acceptance that serves the interests of all of our citizens."
- One morning, in the spring of this year, I received a call from John, asking if I might meet with him near his home in the Olympic Village. I hopped on my bike, and about half an hour later, the two of us met at Terra Breads, and following a late morning repaste, John and I set out on a walk from the village to Yaletown, adjacent to the waters of south False Creek, along the winding path past Science World, Concord Pacific's contentious sales centre, through until we reached Yaletown.
Along the way, John pointed out the invasive species that had choked out the trees and shubbery that had been planted at the time of the construction the Olympic village. The path on which we walked was overgrown with untended to, 6-foot high weeds along the centre median, and on the north side of the Science Centre, on the fenced off area between the path and early spring blue waters of False Creek were strewn a motley assortment of shopping carts, blankets and water-soaked and torn mattresses, and every kind of garbage imaginable, most of which had clearly found a home of some long duration, ignored by the city and by Park Board — not because Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley, and Vancouver's first-rate (and lovers of our parks) Park Board staff, had failed in their duties to the citizens of Vancouver in keeping the paths and lands adjacent to the waters of False Creek free of unwelcome detritus, but rather because a Vision Vancouver Park Board led by Aaron Jasper, and before that Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes, had allowed the lands around False Creek to fall into a state of abandon, as they pursued the "higher" political goals of attempting to rename our parks after Vision Vancouver financial supporters, plan a foreshore destroying seawall 'seaside greenway' bike path from Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach, or to hive off half of the well-utilized and much-loved by the community, Langara Golf Course — green space of value to all members in the Langara community in an under-parked neighbourhood, we learned on the night 150 angry Langara residents turned up at Park Board to oppose the destruction of the golf course in favour of "low cost", Gregor Robertson-endorsed $1.8 million dollar affordable condominiums, while the other half of the golf course would become a "new" park.
Langara residents weren't buying it, as pandemonium broke out at the Park Board office that night, as so often has proved the case before a discredited Vision Vancouver-led Park Board.
That overcast, still chilly, now spring afternoon, John turned to me as we headed back toward the village from Yaletown, and with an audible sigh said to me, "You know, Ray, if I am given the opportunity to become the next Chairperson of the Park Board, all that we have seen today on our walk will be remedied and repaired, invasive species that destroy the beauty of our parks will be a thing of the past. Sometimes, I reflect on what the reaction of my father might be to the disregard of our parks and recreation system under a Vision-led administration at Park Board — I know he wouldn't be happy to see his service and his legacy to our city so abused, our parks and all the trees in our parks so mistreated. Our staff at Park Board are world class, as caring and committed a cadre of park preservationists as I've ever had the privilege to work with. But with millions of dollars of cuts to our Park Board budget, with the priorities of Park Board placed on everything but the maintenance of our parks, Park Board staff are overwhelmed with all that needs doing, and chairperson after Vision chairperson has prioritized political initiatives that have little or nothing to do with maintaining our parks, and everything to do with promoting an agenda they think will serve their political supporters.
Please forgive me, but I have to say that I am more than a little disquieted with what we've seen today. I hope the people of Vancouver might see their way clear someday to electing a Park Board who will become true stewards of our parks and recreation system, and not political apparatchiks whose duty is not to the citizens of Vancouver, but to their political masters from whom they take instruction."
Please vote for John Coupar when you mark your ballot at the polling station. And please give consideration, as well, to voting for the candidates whose names appear at the top of today's VanRamblings' post — for those identified persons of conscience will work with John to restore the lush beauty of our parks and resolve, once and for all, the years-long Vision Vancouver-led dispute between Park Board and our community centres.
Part 2 of VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements List Rationale will appear Wednesday morning.
November 10, 2014
A neighbour of mine was saying to me last week when referring to the political parties, and the candidates, currently seeking elected office — on all three civically-elected bodies in the Vancouver municipal election — "They're all the same, they're all in it only for themselves. They could give a damn about us, they care only about what they can get out of it for themselves."
With all due respect to my neighbour, the cynical, simplistic, wrong-headed, uninformed and disempowering notion voiced above, with the advance polls open this week, and with election day this upcoming Saturday, there are simply too many voters out there — such as my neighbour — who will stay home and risk the possibility for all of us that the most developer-friendly, most dismissive of the concerns of folks like you and me civic party will be elected to office for four more years, so that they might once again roll over our collective interests, and over you & me.
Change does not come about by cynically sitting at home on your hands — change comes by becoming informed and engaged, by giving a damn, and by fighting to make a difference. As Robert Kennedy said when running for the Democratic party presidential nomination in 1968 ...
"The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence.
And so it is. This week, vote for a change in government in the city of Vancouver. I promise you — I guarantee — that you'll be glad you did.
In 2014, should Vision Vancouver find themselves elected to a third majority term and a four year term of office, Vision Vancouver will work towards the completion of a programme that will lead to the destruction of neighbourhoods across our city, and a parks and recreation system that has well-served the interests of all of us who live in communities across Vancouver, such that our city will be transformed for ever more, no longer a human-scale city of livable neighbourhoods, but a city of towers and cement and a below-ground subway (really — in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet?), a city for the monied interests of the foreign national wealthy, and no longer a city for you and me, for our neighbours and friends and colleagues, and our families, for whom we care so very much.
By 2018, if Vision Vancouver is elected to a third consecutive term at Vancouver City Hall, given all the untrammeled development Vision Vancouver will have put in place, our city — our west coast paradise — will be unrecognizable and, even more, unlivable — unless we intervene at the polls this week and on election day to take our city back from the economic interests of the haute couture crowd of speculators who would seek to create yet another playground for themselves and their rich, amoral friends.
All of which means, of course, that you must not consider, and must not vote for Vision Vancouver, or any Vision Vancouver candidate running for office on Vancouver City Council, or on our beleaguered Park Board.
The social and political differences between the two major political parties seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver Civic Election could not be more stark: on the one hand, there is Vision Vancouver — secretive, vicious, Orwellian, dismissive of the community interest, and wholly given over to bettering the interests of their corporate and union bosses, and utterly dismissive of the interests of the vast majority of Vancouver's voting electorate; and on the other hand, there is a renewed Non-Partisan Association, a party of servants of the public interest who will return open and transparent, community responsive and fiscally responsible civic government to the city of Vancouver — a party that represents your needs and that of your family.
At the outset of today's VanRamblings post, you will find VanRamblings' well-considered 2014 Vancouver Civic Election Candidate Endorsement List, offering a list of the names of those candidates for elected office on all three civic bodies — and the parties they are running with — who we believe represent Vancouver voters' best opportunity to defeat an arrogant and out-of-touch (the very best thing that might be said about the current ...) Vision Vancouver municipal administration.
Now, we know that the surfeit of the names of representatives of the Non-Partisan Association — particularly given that the list was composed by a left activist of some forty years — will cause distress to some of our more progressive friends, and most particularly to our colleagues in the Coalition of Progressive Electors — in 2014, there is so much on the line that it has become necessary to vote strategically, to vote for a majority candidate slate of representatives of the Non-Partisan Association, in order that we might, at the very least, give a time out to Vision Vancouver, and provide the NPA (and the members of the Green Party of Vancouver, who we believe will be elected to Council and Park Board) the opportunity to open the books, slow development in our neighbourhoods, and restore our — what once was, but is no longer — world-class parks & recreation system.
Throughout the remainder of the week, VanRamblings will provide the rationale behind the composition of the 2014 Vancouver Civic Election Candidate Endorsement List you see above, the very important issues that are at play at Vancouver City Council, at Park Board and at School Board, and what the re-election of a majority Vision Vancouver civic administration would mean for our city going forward, if in the blinkered wisdom of the electorate, Vision Vancouver were to be elected to a third majority term.
Tuesday is Remembrance Day, a day when we reflect on the sacrifices of those who came before, who fought valiantly for the preservation of our, sometimes flawed, but absolutely necessary democratic form of government, so many among us take for granted. On Saturday, November 15th, voters across Vancouver will be given the opportunity to return good government to our city — please get out and vote to make a difference.
November 8, 2014
If you've arrived on this page of the VanRamblings blog, and haven't read Part 1 of A Primer on Civic Politics in Vancouver, you may want to read it first, as the initial post contains elements which may be of interest to you.
Today, we present a cursory insight into the history, the platforms, the principles and the raison d'être of the remaining six Vancouver municipal political parties (we covered COPE - The Coalition of Progressive Electors, in Part 1), and the candidates for these parties who are seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election. As per usual, today's post will be given over to some of VanRamblings' patented, some would say florid — and, we hope entertaining and informative — and always idiosyncratic commentary.
As we've said repeatedly over the past near five months now, the 2014 Vancouver civic election is the most crucial election in our city in the past 42 years, since Tom 'Terrifying' Campbell was ousted as Mayor of our west coast paradise, and good government — under the auspices of The Electors' Action Movement (TEAM), a progressive and truly visionary centre-left municipal government — was installed at Vancouver City Hall, for multiple successive pioneering and innovational terms of civic government.
From the 1970s, we have Mayor Art Phillips and his eight TEAM Councillors of the day — UBC professors Walter Hardwick, Fritz Bowers, Setty Pendakur and William Gibson, who made up the Council's sagacious academic quartet; respected urban planner and landscape architect, Art Cowie; future Vancouver mayor and British Columbia premier Mike Harcourt; activist, feminist and future provincial NDP cabinet minister Darlene Marzari, who fought like hell against the proposed freeway both the federal and provincial governments wanted to impose on Vancouver; as well as lawyer, & future (and eventually discredited) Vancouver mayor, lawyer Jack Volrich — to thank for the livability of the Vancouver we know and love today.
As reported by Rod Mickleburgh in his April 23, 2013 obituary, covering the life and many accomplishments of Art Phillips' term as Mayor, he writes ...
For years, the city had sold off property it owned and used the proceeds to keep taxes low. That was wrong, Phillips said. Several years ahead of Alberta's famous Heritage Fund, he established a property endowment fund, where all revenue from the city's extensive holdings would be deposited, invested and used, when needed, for the benefit of the city.
The list of accomplishments included an end to the city's prevailing secrecy, holding public hearings at night so working people could attend, killing off all freeway plans, saving the storied Orpheum Theatre, improving accommodation in the benighted Downtown Eastside, the introduction of mixed-income housing, and altered zoning to allow apartment living downtown. Mr. Phillips was big on that.
"Instead of being dead at night, we wanted the downtown core to be more European, a place to live and enjoy," he said, in his 2005 interview. "The changes we made then are taken for granted today."
The startling decision to convert the industrial, waterside flats of False Creek just west of downtown into mixed housing was also a landmark."
In 2014, Vancouver faces many of the same challenges that the TEAM Council of the day addressed, as they both set about to undo the harm done by overly-developer-friendly mayors, in the case of TEAM, Mayor Tom Campbell, and in the case of the Non-Partisan Association, the Vision Vancouver civic administration that has held office at City Hall since 2008.
Non-Partisan Association (NPA), founded 1937
In 1937, when Vancouver's oldest and most established municipal political party, the Non-Partisan Association, was formed to counteract the rise and burgeoning popularity of the democratic socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (which transformed into the New Democratic Party, in 1961), as revolutionary fervor and the presumed success of a workers' government in Russia swept the western world, and as the demand for a radical shift in the dynamics of the worker-employer relationship predominated, the Non-Partisan Association emerged as Vancouver's centre-right alternative to the radicalism of the left, promising always good government, and maintenance of a comforting status quo.
Since its inception, the Non-Partisan Association has emerged as Vancouver's natural governing party, holding the reins of power at City Hall, and at Park Board and School Board, as well, for all but four short terms of municipal government since the founding of the civic political party.
Drawing its strongest support from the business community and Vancouver neighbourhoods on the wealthier west side of the city, the Non-Partisan Association has remained the civic political party that has dedicated itself to the maintenance of city services, almost a serene form of government where decisions are made in the public view, and election after election the voting electorate of the city have given their consent to another salutary term of government to the always ethical and principled NPA.
The NPA, then, has generally been given to the provision of what we would all acknowledge as 'good government', focusing on services to meet the needs of Vancouver residents — clean and safe streets, a thriving parks and recreation system, fiscally responsible decision-making that has kept property taxes low, and a form of government where elected officials believe, to their core, in the concept of service to the public interest. No communists or radicals these, but rather humble, good-hearted, well-intentioned folks whose simple purpose is to listen to, and act upon, the wishes of the electorate, in every neighbourhood across our city.
Over the years, of course, the Non-Partisan Association has moved to change with the times, as circumstances dictated.
When the centre-left Art Phillips-led TEAM administration formed civic government in Vancouver 1972, and radical and boisterous Premier Dave Barrett formed a majority New Democratic Party provincial government in Victoria, the NPA could sense the shifting winds of change, and moderated the more conservative elements of its platform and approach to municipal governance. After the brief, but salutary, TEAM interregnum the NPA incorporated the more democratic and neighbourhood-oriented elements of TEAM's approach to municipal governance, as the NPA once again became Vancouver's natural governing party of responsible and good government.
In 2014, Non-Partisan Association mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe has dubbed the NPA, the Naturally Progressive Association, with a plethora of both small and big-L federal Liberals running with the party in the current civic election, under Mr. LaPointe — who is wont to say, "This is my party now. It is not the party of your fathers and mothers" — the NPA of 2014 has re-dedicated itself to serving the interests of a broad cross-section of the community in every part of the city, addressing social issues like child hunger, focusing on the economy and the promotion of resource sector jobs to strengthen Vancouver's economy, and the restoration of good government that is based on openness, transparency and intent of purpose, which is to say, listening to the concerns of residents in every neighbourhood across the city, consulting with the public and acting on the developed community consensus, which in 2014 — after six years of Vancouver's secretive, non-consultative, neighbourhood-and-park-destroying Vision Vancouver administration is, when you get right down to it, quite a radical — and dare we say, welcome — change, indeed.
In many ways, Kirk LaPointe and those running with him to form municipal government in the city of Vancouver are a mirror reflection of and not dissimilar to the TEAM party of Art Phillips — for the NPA of 2014 are a forward-thinking, well-educated, balanced and progressive team of candidates who will seek to undo the harm done by the Vision Vancouver administration of Gregor Robertson, while restoring open government and transparency of decision-making, as well as an opening of the books, while ensuring that no child goes to school hungry, and restoring a respectful relationship with residents across every neighbourhood in our city.
Whereas the current Vision Vancouver municipal government, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors — both of which parties employ and have a long history of a Marxist-oriented, top down, "we are the vanguard of revolutionary change, we know what's good for you, and we're going to give it to you whether you want it or not" — approach to governance that is given to an unrepentant arrogance, the Non-Partisan Association's plea to the voting electorate in 2014 offers a a simple and clear message: we know the Vancouver you want, and given the confidence and the support of the voters, those of us who are elected to serve you will set about to reinstate good government on all three civic elected bodies, as we ensure the provision of city services that meet the needs of all Vancouver citizens — from the promotion of pedestrian safe streets and more bike lanes and bike paths, to the acquisition of street sweepers to keep our streets clean, and the maintenance and building of new parks, and recreation centres.
Since 2008, when Vision Vancouver first formed government in the city of Vancouver, the NPA have been out of power but have formed a vibrant and engaged opposition, and in many ways have proved to be the conscience of city government, responsible, consultative, and dedicated to advocacy and responsive government. For many in our city, the messaging of the Non-Partisan Association is resonating like never before — all of which could / might / let's hope it does lead to change in the structure and application of the governance of our city, most particularly at City Hall and Park Board.
Vision Vancouver, founded 2005
Okay, you don't arrive at VanRamblings expecting to find balanced coverage of the entirely despicable and bullying Vision Vancouver civic party. As far as VanRamblings is concerned, the sooner we're rid of Vision and their arrogant Richard Daley-style of city government, the better off we'll all be.
Now, you see Geoff Olson's Vancouver Courier editorial cartoon above. The cartoon's thesis is that Vision Vancouver is in the pockets of big business & the big unions, that the decisions Vision Vancouver takes at City Council and Park Board are to better the interests of their corporate and union bosses — which decision-making is, of course, contrary to your interests and the interests of the vast majority of Vancouver's voting electorate.
As background on one aspect of the allegations, in an October 16th article in The Courier, journalist Bob Mackin details what might be considered a pay-for-play / quid pro quo deal that many in the community — including Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe — have read and interpreted as a form of corrupt governance at City Hall, about which LaPointe wrote in an opinion piece published in The Province newspaper ...
"Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty. It gives away the store."
Corporate donations were written about in The Straight, and reference is made to Vision Vancouver's corporate donation base in an e-mail distributed this morning by COPE, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, that is excerpted below, detailing yet another facet of Vision Vancouver's win-at-all-costs "dirty tricks" campaign style. Principles and ethics in the Vision Vancouver universe? — alien concepts. Little wonder that in the waning days of Campaign 2014 — as voters become aware there's an election going on — support for Vision Vancouver has plummeted.
An excerpt from this morning's e-mail to COPE members ...
You may have received a robocall today from former City Councillor David Cadman, asking you to vote Vision. We're told he makes a plea to COPE members not to split the vote — essentially, to hold their nose and vote Vision. We're not sure how Vision got all these numbers but we're going to find out.
In a sense, this is good news. It means Vision is running scared.
The same day (former COPE city councillor) Cadman endorsed Vision, the public got to see Vision's donations. This year Vision took $1.4 million from corporations. They took $75,000 from Holborn Properties, the company that worked with the BC Liberals to replace Little Mountain public housing with luxury condos.
Yesterday, Vision held a press conference where Gregor Robertson warmly welcomed the endorsement of former NPA president, Michael Davis, a spin doctor for oil tankers.
VanRamblings knows many of the folks in the Vision Vancouver party, and we honestly and truly like them, and will probably work with many of them in future days on various New Democratic party campaigns.
That said, the experience of many of us across Vancouver who are engaged in daily political life in our metropolitan centre have come to believe that, collectively, there is a shocking, appalling and disturbing psychopathy in Vision Vancouver's approach to governance that in Vision's woeful six years in power has meant ill for Vancouver residents across our city, and in every Vancouver neighbourhood in our beloved community of communities.
Jak King and Garth Mullins, activists who have organized in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood; Stephen Bohus, and the members of his Residents Association of Mount Pleasant; Randy Helten, and all those who have worked with him in the West End Neighbours Association; Tracey Moir, working with the Oakridge Langara Area Residents; and hundreds more engaged community activists who love our city, love our parks, love our livable and walkable and human-scale neighbourhoods, and our beloved and accessible community-run neighbourhood community centres, have risen up against Vision Vancouver this past three years, and more. You should, too!
In an article published in the Globe and Mail this morning, journalist Frances Bula makes reference to the hostility that the Mayor and his Vision Vancouver colleagues have met with at the all-candidates meetings that have been held across our city this past month. No kidding!
If you have any idea at all about what Vision Vancouver has been up to the past six years (read Decision 2014 coverage on VanRamblings for a bare hint of why engaged citizens across Vancouver have risen up against Vision Vancouver during the course of this election cycle, and in the past three years), you won't even consider casting a vote for a Vision Vancouver candidate running for office for Vancouver City Council, or for Park Board.
For a somewhat more dispassionate take on Vision Vancouver, its formation, and the history of Vision Vancouver and its faux Green liberalism, information may be found in the Wikipedia entry available online.
Green Party of Vancouver, founded 1984
The Green Party of Vancouver is a municipal political party in Vancouver that nominated Green Party of Canada deputy leader Adrianne Carr as their sole nominee for Vancouver City Council in the 2011 Vancouver civic election. Carr subsequently went on to win the seat in that year's November 19th civic election, and is the sole Green member of Vancouver City Council.
As we wrote of Carr in Part 1 of A Primer of Civic Politics in Vancouver ...
Isn't everybody voting Green this time around, given that Green party City Councillor Adriane Carr was, throughout this last term, the conscience of Council, where over the course of those three, very trying years (when Vision Vancouver treated her despicably, and as she maintained her dignity, and her advocacy for the interests of Vancouver citizens), Adriane Carr emerged as not only the most beloved political figure in Vancouver, but across all of western Canada, as well. Make no mistake, the Green Party of Vancouver, in this hard fought municipal election campaign, will garner many, many votes at the polls, from the grateful and appreciative citizens of Vancouver ...
The Green Party of Vancouver was founded in 1984, and has elected representatives to School Board, Park Board & most recently, City Council.
As above, in 2011, Adriane Carr — one of the party's original founders — was elected as Vancouver's first ever Green City Councillor.
Since that time, Adriane has gained the respect and admiration of Vancouver citizens who value her independent voice on Council, her strong democratic principles, and her readiness to listen to what citizens have to say and then to be a voice for them at City Hall.
In 2014, Adriane Carr is seeking re-election to Vancouver Council along with Council running mates Pete Fry and Cleta Brown. Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe are the Green party candidates for Vancouver Park Board, and Mischa Oak — who many consider to be the hardest-working candidate running for office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election — and Janet Fraser, are the Green Party of Vancouver candidates for School Board.
In some very real sense, the Green Party of Vancouver candidate team is your independent, non-aligned voice in civic politics. Given Adriane Carr's overwhelming & deserved popularity with voters, her political coattails in this election could very well elect all, or almost all, of the Green Party of Vancouver candidates running for Council, Park Board and School Board.
Here's the Green Party of Vancouver's platform, which explicates a programme which will ensure that the public interest will be placed first, that people-centred planning will predominate, where your voice will be heard, and the crisis arising from the lack of affordable housing will be addressed, and our city Vancouver will remain a compassionate, safe and inclusive city.
The Vancouver Cedar Party, founded 2013
Full disclosure: in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, VanRamblings has frequently met with the members and donated monies to the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the Green Party of Vancouver, and the newest political force on the civic block, the Vancouver Cedar Party, headed up by Glen Chernen (on the right above), and his brother, Nicholas Chernen.
As it happens, the Vancouver Cedar Party campaign headquarters is located just three blocks down the way from the housing co-operative where VanRamblings has resided for the past 30+ years (and where we raised our children), the campaign office located directly across from the shuttered Hollywood Theatre on West Broadway. VanRamblings has made a point of dropping by the Cedar Party's offices almost every day — which I'm sure on some days has driven them nuts, but even so, both Nicholas and Glen have proved invariably kind and welcoming, and forthcoming about the campaign.
More than any other party running candidates for office in the current civic election, the Vancouver Cedar Party has held Vision Vancouver's feet to the fire — releasing one devastating press release after another detailing the egregious, secretive, wrong-headed, anti-community (some would say, corrupt) decision-making that has gone on behind closed doors at City Hall, and inside the Mayor's office, as Vision Vancouver has sacrificed the community interest in favour of the interests of their developer friends.
Awhile back, arising from one of the Vancouver Cedar Party's press releases, VanRamblings wrote about the hidden-from-public-view decision taken in the Mayor's office to — without any hint of consultation with the community, never mind the elected members of Council and Park Board, including elected representatives from their own party, and a bewildered, deer-in-the-headlights Park Board General Manager, Malcolm Bromley — sell off 12 parcels of city-owned land at the north-east end of the Granville Street bridge, move the Aquatic Centre from its current location to a land-locked location east of the bridge, tear down the Continental Hotel, and seek to sign a development contract for the newly gathered together, city-owned property with one of their insider developer friends.
The Vancouver Cedar Party offers 7 reasons for entering the political fray as candidates for Council in 2014's Vancouver civic election — and assure voters that a vote for the Cedar Party will mean that elected Council candidates will be unbeholden to anyone but you, and that elected members will work toward the restoration of fiscal responsibility at City Hall, and environmental stewardship at Vancouver Park Board.
Chances are the Vancouver Cedar Party will not elect any candidates the first time out seeking political office — although Nicholas Chernen has garnered the endorsements of community groups and political activist Jak King, as will be the case with VanRamblings when we announce our slate of candidates for endorsement in the coming week — but it's worth your while to take a gander at their 'Rooted in Democracy' website, and / or drop by their campaign office for an unenlightening chat about Campaign 2014.
Honestly, Glen and Nicholas Chernen — and fellow Council candidates Charlene Sayo and Jeremy Gustafson — are worthy candidates in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election, and deserving of your attention.
One City Vancouver, founded 2014
Formed by an activist group of citizens once affiliated with the The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), One City Vancouver is running only one candidate in this election, RJ Aquino, an individual who ran as a candidate for COPE in Vancouver's 2011 municipal election and who, in 2014, is running as a candidate for the nascent One City Vancouver civic party. RJ has acquitted himself well on the campaign trail, emerging as a thoughtful and informed candidate for Vancouver City Council, who would well serve the interests of the citizens of Vancouver were he elected to Council.
Still, there's this niggling thought in the back of my mind that, forever however much VanRamblings likes and respects RJ (and we do!), that if push came to shove, and he was the deciding, swing vote on Council, that he'd line up with Vision Vancouver when it came down to the crunch.
VanRamblings knows well, and has worked with, many folks who are behind the creation of One City Vancouver, and I know them all to be honourable citizens of conscience who have always had the interests of the broader community at heart, have organized to ensure democratic decision-making and citizen engagement in neighbourhoods across our city, and worked throughout their lives to work towards a fairer, more just Vancouver, and a more just world, for all — political activists who made a difference.
With the above in mind, a vote for RJ Aquino would not be a wasted vote.
As blogger and freelance civic affairs journalist Frances Bula wrote earlier today, it's difficult to figure out why Vancouver 1st has candidates running for office in this election, what they stand for, and why voters would give even a passing thought to voting for any of their candidates?
Awhile back, Vancouver 1st announced that right-wingers Ken Denike and Sophia Woo — current members of Vancouver School Board — who were unceremoniously kicked out of the Non-Partisan Association, would run as School Board candidates for the party. Really?
At the same time, the party announced the candidacy of Olympic bronze medallist Brent Hayden for Park Board, not that he's been seen anywhere on the campaign trail. Former President of the Thunderbird Neighbourhood Association, Massimo Rossetti, has acquitted himself well in the campaign, as has Vancouver 1st's Jesse Johl (who's running for Council) — but at the end of the day, unless you're a rabid right-winger (and how many of those are there in Vancouver?), why would anyone give even a passing thought to casting a vote for any Vancouver 1st candidate? Just sayin'.
November 6, 2014
Voter participation in Vancouver civic elections is abysmal.
In 2008, when Vision Vancouver was elected to its first majority term, the voter turnout rate was 30.79%. Of the 403,663 registered Vancouver voters, the office of the Chief Elections Officer at City Hall reported only 124,285 Vancouver residents filled out a ballot, a decrease of 1.66% from the 32.45% turnout for the 2005 municipal election.
In 2011, after Vision Vancouver spent $657,000 in a massive television ad buy the final five days of the campaign (bringing out an extra 10,000 votes for the party, according to tracking results released internally by Strategic Communications, Vision's pollster of record), voter turnout registered at 34.57%, mainly as a consequence of that Vision ad blitz, which alerted a sleepy Vancouver populace to the pending civic election polling day.
Recently, at an all-candidates meeting, current Non-Partisan Association city councillor George Affleck — who, in 2014, is seeking voter support for a second term at City Hall — expressed wonderment at the low turnout rate.
"We're the level of government that is closest to you. Unlike the senior levels of government, you can actually reach out and touch us, you can put your hand on my shoulder. As a city councillor I am more available to you as an elected representative than would ever be the case with your federal or provincial representative. What Council, or Park Board, does day-in, day-out affects the quality of your life. You have a stake in the outcome of the election, you can determine the kind of city that you want going forward, and play a role in helping determine what civic priorities will be in the next term of your local government."
Yet, nine days out from election day — Saturday, November 15th — insider polling for Vancouver's two major political parties indicates a woeful level of citizen engagement, and a probable 28% voter participation rate this year.
Earlier in the week, I was speaking with a doctor friend of mine — one of the brightest, most accomplished people I know — about the current civic election, and who I would be supporting as candidates in the election. During the course of the conversation, my friend revealed to me that he didn't know the names of any of the political parties in Vancouver, nor was he aware of the names of any of the current members of Council, or possess the foggiest notion of what any of the parties stood for, what they'd accomplished, what the issues are in this election, and why he — or his lovely bride of some 30 years — should vote one way or the other.
Another friend of mine, someone I often attend movie previews with, although he has some vague notion that Gregor Robertson is our Mayor, doesn't know what party Mr. Robertson is a member of, is unaware of not just the platforms but the names of the opposition parties, who their candidates are, and why there's this big hue and cry — among some, including me — to oust Gregor Robertson from municipal government.
At the request of not just the two friends mentioned above, but many, many others in the community, in today and Saturday's posts on VanRamblings, I'll publish a primer on civic politics in Vancouver, where I will seek to provide insight into the six political parties that are vying for office, on all three civic bodies — Council, Park Board and School Board — write a bit about the history of these parties, what they stand for, and the primary issues of concern that have been identified by engaged voters.
Given that for most of my political history, dating back to the 1970s, I was (and remain) a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the section on COPE will run longer and in more depth than is the case with the remaining parties seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
Not to mention, to this point in time, VanRamblings has not given COPE it's rightful due — for the Coalition of Progressive Electors has run a first-rate campaign, setting the agenda for the issues of importance in our city (affordable housing, the economy, openness and transparency at City Hall).
COPE mayoralty candidate, Meena Wong, has in particular acquitted herself passionately and well on the campaign trail, as have all of the candidates COPE has presented to Vancouver voters in Campaign 2014.
In Part 1 of A Primer on Civic Politics in Vancouver, COPE's history, from the party's inception til now. On Saturday, readers can expect to find an idiosyncratic take on the Non-Partisan Association, Vision Vancouver, the illustrious Green Party of Vancouver, about which I have written elsewhere:
Isn't everybody voting Green this time around, given that Green party City Councillor Adriane Carr was, throughout this last term, the conscience of Council, where over the course of those three, very trying years (when Vision Vancouver treated her despicably, and as she maintained her dignity, and her advocacy for the interests of Vancouver citizens), Adriane Carr emerged as not only the most beloved political figure in Vancouver, but across all of western Canada, as well. Make no mistake, the Green Party of Vancouver, in this hard fought municipal election campaign, will garner many, many votes at the polls, from the grateful and appreciative citizens of Vancouver ...
... and will write about, as well, the near-independent civic election party, IDEA, and the nascent Vancouver First political party.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), founded 1968
The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), formed in 1968 — then known as the Committee of Progressive Electors — was mainly a creature of the activist Vancouver chapter of the Communist Party, and the Vancouver & District Labour Council. The VDLC's Frank Kennedy and gruff, outspoken lawyer Harry Rankin were key figures in shaping the coalition, along with activists from the provincial New Democratic Party, social justice organizations, and an amalgam of left-wing, activist community groups.
These were the days when many of us believed that the contradictions of a corrupt, unjust capitalist economic system were so great that it would lead to the imminent collapse of western society as we knew it (as Marx had long ago predicted), leading to a socialist revolution that was, we were all certain, just around the corner. If I remember correctly, it was current Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs — among many, many others — who would be my comrade-in-arms, as we set about to man the barricades.
Even given all of the above, and given our heartfelt belief in the imminent, forthcoming socialist revolution, COPE was formed espousing somewhat more modest goals, which is to say, as a Vancouver municipal party that would effectively organize against the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) — a centre-right political party that had dominated civic politics in Vancouver for nearly three decades. The formation of COPE, and its importance as a voice for working class people, and the most vulnerable in our city, came about in response, as well, to the extreme right-of-centre (some would say, corrupt) leadership of independent Mayor, Tom Campbell.
For most of its history, COPE has had an uneasy relationship with centre-left parties at the municipal level. From 1972 to 1986, COPE competed with The Electors' Action Movement, which in the 1970s governed the city under prominent federal Liberal, Mayor Art Phillips.
By the late 1970s, a breakaway faction of TEAM, comprised mainly of supporters of the provincial NDP and led by, now former, TEAM city councillor, and future NDP premier, Mike Harcourt formed an electoral alliance with COPE, from which both parties benefited. Led by Harcourt, the coalition governed from the centre and, although it ran a unified slate with COPE with the co-operation and support of the VDLC, Harcourt's three-person Civic Independents party quite often voted with the NPA, and the remaining TEAM councillors, and against COPE's more socialist policies.
COPE'S Harry Rankin ran for office more than a dozen times before finally being elected to Vancouver city council in 1966, as the sole independent alderman — and champion of working class people — on a Council dominated by the NPA, where he served for 20 consecutive years, often topping the polls, with great support from across the city, including the west side neighbourhoods of Kerrisdale, Dunbar and West Point Grey, who continually re-elected him to Council to hold the NPA's feet to the fire.
The Council debates between the NPA's George Puil and Harry Rankin became legendary — although the perception was that the two were bitter enemies and rivals who hated one another, in fact the two remained friends throughout their long and celebrated political careers, and were always respectful of one another. Ah, for the bygone days of Vancouver politics.
Rankin was so popular that voters not only supported him, but consistently elected a COPE opposition consisting of downtown eastside activist Bruce Eriksen, housing activist Bruce Yorke, and current Vancouver East federal Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the federal NDP, Libbi Davies. When Rankin lost his bid for Mayor in 1986, the provincial NDP and members of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation staged a coup and ousted Rankin, as the party went on to fallow years on Vancouver's municipal political scene, electing only Jenny Kwan to Council in the 90s, and COPE stalwart Tim Louis, and Donna Morgan, to Park Board.
All that changed, however, in 2002 when the Non-Partisan Association became riven with division, as a bitter battle between a right-wing faction led by Jennifer Clarke and a moderate faction led by then NPA Mayor Philip Owen all but destroyed the party, creating the conditions for what became a long-awaited COPE victory at the polls, when every candidate running under COPE's banner was elected, on all three of Vancouver's civic bodies.
Following the 2002 election, COPE itself became riven with internal conflict.
Going into the 2002 election, COPE had sought a high-profile mayoral candidate, and they found one in Larry Campbell — a former RCMP officer, and coroner in the Vancouver District Coroner's office from 1981 through 1996, much of Campbell's eventual success with voters attributed to his charismatic personality, colourful background, and the belief that his life inspired a popular CBC television drama of the day, Da Vinci's Inquest.
From the outset, following his election to the Mayor's office, Campbell — a self-described moderate centrist (so moderate, in fact, that the opposition NPA approached him to run as their mayoralty candidate in 2005) — and not previously a member of COPE — refused to caucus with the party he'd run with as mayoral candidate, which as you might well imagine wreaked havoc within COPE, making it nearly impossible to develop a governance programme that might, or might not, find favour with the maverick mayor.
Infighting and internal strife within COPE reached such a fevered pitch that three COPE councillors (dubbed "COPE Lite" or "Diet COPE" by the media) separated and formed a new party, Vision Vancouver, which ran for office for the first time in the 2005 municipal election, choosing former COPE Councillor Jim Green as their mayoralty candidate.
Green lost by a hair's breadth when dirty politics attributed to winning NPA mayoralty candidate, Sam Sullivan, was accused of / thought to have colluded with an individual by the name of James Green, who placed his name on the mayoral ballot — confusing voters — and ushering in the Sam Sullivan mean-spirited regime at City Hall. COPE, however, won only one seat at the Council table, electing David Cadman to a second term in office.
COPE did not run a mayoralty candidate in 2005, nor in 2008 or 2011, as an uneasy "co-operative agreement" was struck between the nascent Vision Vancouver civic party and a weakened, and disheartened, COPE. In 2011, COPE elected only one candidate to a civic body, Allan Wong at School Board (Wong has since left COPE, & is now running with Vision Vancouver).
Arising from COPE's near wipeout at the polls, in April 2012, at a sometimes rancourous COPE annual general meeting, a coalition of left activists — led by former two-term city councillor, Tim Louis; former Green Party leader Stuart Parker, and left activists affliliated with online The Mainlander journal — succeeded in taking over all but four positions (out of 12) on the COPE Executive, the remaining "appeasing four" resigning from COPE in the fall of 2013. Since that time, left coalition activist / COPE exec member Stuart Parker — and many of his ardent supporters — also left COPE.
Still and all, returning to its roots as an activist social justice party, in 2014 the Coalition of Progressive Electors is running longtime COPE member Meena Wong as the party's first mayoralty candidate in 12 years, and COPE members have selected a first-rate slate of dedicated social justice advocates who, although the party will likely not form government following the current civic election (nor, it is probable, elect many candidates to civic office) has set the political agenda in Vancouver's Campaign 2014.
What does COPE stand for, what are their goals? According to COPE's constitution, Vancouver's second oldest municipal party has three aims:
- To unite individuals and groups behind a programme of progressive civic reform;
- To involve Vancouver residents and community organizations in public action in furtherance of their interests and the collective interests of Vancouver; and
- To nominate and endorse candidates for election to civic office in order to promote these purposes, and to provide direction and guidance to such candidates, both before and after they have been elected.
For the first time in a generation, COPE is living up to its constitutional goals, and in 2014 is running on a social justice platform of addressing the affordable housing crisis, as the party's candidates have set about to advocate for the construction of a City-built and City-owned affordable housing stock. The Coalition of Progressive Electors is the only municipal political party that has placed before the voting public a realistic plan for ensuring the construction and provision of affordable housing.
In addition, in the current civic election COPE has campaigned on ...
- The adoption of a $15-an-hour minimum wage, already a successful initiative in the city of Seattle, and a referendum item that met with success in five states and numerous cities and counties across the United States in Tuesday's U.S. election;
- A U-Pass, a $30-a-month universal transit pass programme for all residents of Vancouver, not dissimilar to the universal (U-Pass) programme that has proved a massive success at colleges and universities, which served to increase ridership while reducing fares, congestion, and carbon emissions;
- Transparency and local democracy, including long overdue campaign finance reform, enhanced and respectful neighbourhood consultation and local democratic governance, as well as electoral reform that will allow Vancouver residents to choose between the current at-large voting system, or replace it with a more democratic and neighbourhood-based ward system (as is the case in every municipality, outside of British Columbia, across the great expanse of Canada), among other democratic propositions that have much resonance with the voting electorate of Vancouver;
- Ending renovictions, implementation of a vacant property tax, and the development of guidelines for the retention and creation of affordable live music venues and art spaces, among many other salutary initiatives that would have much appeal to the broadest cross-section of Vancouver's beleaguered voting public.
COPE is the party of principle, it is the only Vancouver civic party that exists that has as its primary goal working towards a Vancouver based on fairness, equity, and social justice — in other words, a Vancouver for all.
There are some folks who believe that COPE, in being a party of the left, has set unrealistic goals, that it is a party of ideologues with its head in the clouds, out of touch with the concerns of Vancouver's voting public.
Such a cynical and hopeless notion couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, the goals that many of us set back in the 1960s are the goals that COPE continues to fight for today. Perhaps, as a reminder of the principles of what we as citizens once stood for, and the principles that we might once again embrace as we make our journey through the 21st century, let us recall the words of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and 1968 candidate for President of the United States — hardly an individual and public figure who anyone would consider to be a radical or a revolutionary, yet who believed, as do the members of COPE, that ...
"The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation. A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not.
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
Make no mistake, COPE is the future. Perhaps the future is not now — but if you look for it, you can see it; it is just off on the horizon.
Voters will want to save a vote for COPE, or two, or three or four.
For Vancouver City Council, voters may want to consider such outstanding candidates as Tim Louis, Gayle Gavin, Lisa Barrett, Sid Chow Tan, Keith Higgins and Audrey Seigl. I can tell you, as well, that young, passionate and articulate (also a wonderful writer) social justice advocate Jennifer O'Keeffe has garnered the support of many people of conscience in Campaign 2014, and that my good friend and social justice advocate, Wilson Munoz, will also garner many, many votes at the ballot box.
Read the candidate profiles of the very fine folks who are running with COPE — and for you — in the 2014 Vancouver civic election.
And, please, take the time to look at COPE's platform, the issues COPE has identified in this vigorous and hard-fought campaign for elected office, and the campaign for change COPE has dedicated itself to in Campaign 2014.
November 5, 2014
With only 10 days to go til the 2014 Vancouver civic election wraps, and we learn the final outcome of the voting decision take by Vancouver's voting electorate, two influential community activist interests have come out with their — some would say, surprising — list of endorsements.
Surprise or not, there's no question that our city's political class will insist that no thinking voter of conscience should consider casting a vote for any Vision Vancouver candidate running for re / election to either Vancouver City Council, or to Vancouver's beleaguered-under-Vision Park Board.
Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) ran four candidates for Council in the 2011 Vancouver civic election; in 2014, the nascent grassroots political party has chosen to sit things out, while engaging with candidates from the diverse parties who are seeking elected office this year.
NSV's recommended candidate list is informed, but not one with which VanRamblings is necessarily whole-heartedly in accord.
NSV offers a thoughtful rationale for their choices that is well worth reading. Also worth reading, Carlito Pablo's Georgia Straight NSV story — as well as some of the commentary, below the article, by The Straight's readers.
VanRamblings is debating with several of our readers on the efficacy of publishing a specific candidate endorsement list (although we've provided one privately to several of our friends and associates) — whatever the case, we will be endorsing candidates for all three of Vancouver's civically-elected bodies and may, in fact, publish a specific endorsement list.
Those endorsements will be published next week on VanRamblings.
Respected Grandview-Woodland community activist, and inveterate blogger, Jak King, has this week endorsed a diverse slate of candidates for Vancouver City Council, and a surprising, yet principled, choice for Mayor.
VanRamblings is thrilled with the inclusion of the NPA's Ian Robertson and Rob McDowell — who are our two favourite NPA candidates, and must-elects as far as we're concerned — and we're over-the-moon with the inclusion of longtime friend and political associate, Tim Louis, one of the hardest-working, most principled men we've ever met.
In 2014, how could any thinking voter not cast their ballot for the Green Party of Vancouver candidates running for office? And, brothers Glen and Nicholas Chernen would make great members of Vancouver City Council. Nice to see COPE's incredibly well-informed Lisa Barrett on the list, as well as RJ Aquino, who has often outperformed almost every other Council candidate running for office, at the all-candidates meetings he's attended.
For Mayor, after much thought and consideration and choosing to endorse strategically, Jak King today endorsed Kirk LaPointe, the articulate, accomplished and thoughtful Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor.
Click here for insight into the reasoning behind what we're sure was a very difficult decision — but VanRamblings believes an absolutely necessary one — that caused Jak to make a choice we feel assured will be the imperative voter conclusion that will be reached by a plurality of Vancouver residents.
November 4, 2014
A couple of weeks back when arriving home from an afternoon all-candidates meeting, an old associate, decades-long City of Vancouver planner, and neighbour — knowing of my time on Vancouver's Board of Variance, and my consuming interest in all things community planning — asked if he could speak with me for a few minutes about a concern he had respecting a recent community planning process gone awry.
The crux of the concern raised was this: the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan on which he and his City Hall colleagues had spent considerable time in consultation with residents on drafting and submitting to City Council, bore no relation to the finalized plan presented to Council.
Interference from the Mayor's office, he suggested, as well as highly suspect and unilateral changes to the community plan had been made subsequent to the submission of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan to the office of Vancouver's recently-appointed General Manager of Planning and Development, Brian Jackson — including the addition of a mass of 26 - 40 storey towers at both Clark and Commercial Drives, along East Broadway, and mid-rise 8-storey multiple-unit residential buildings along the expanse of Nanaimo and Hastings Streets, neither of which was included in the original plan submitted to Jackson.
As per standard journalistic practice, VanRamblings set about to second-source the information provided to us above, when what should land in our e-mail inbox but a 1410-word Open Letter, titled Inside Story of a Botched Community Plan, written by housing, development and community activist Ned Jacobs, subtitled "How the Robertson administration has betrayed the public trust and is destroying community planning in Vancouver."
The information contained in Jacobs' letter, virtually word-for-word reflects the information that had been provided to me two weeks ago. Speaking with Jacobs on Monday afternoon, we discovered that his source was not the same senior city planning staffer who had earlier spoken to me.
Jacobs' letter makes repeated reference to a Mayor Gregor Robertson / Dr. Penny Ballem (Vancouver City Manager) / Brian J. Jackson triumvirate who were involved in the drafting of, and inclusion in, a revised and substantively changed Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. In fact, according to the city planning official with whom VanRamblings spoke, Mike Magee, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, as well as several Vision Vancouver City Councillors, played a pivotal role in the redrafting of the community plan that would finally be presented to Vancouver City Council.
Note should be made that at the Grandview-Woodland all-candidates meeting last week, incumbent City Councillor Andrea Reimer told the crowd in attendance that neither she, nor her Vision Vancouver Council colleagues were aware of the contents of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan prior to its initial presentation to Council.
The response of the crowd to Reimer's statement was jeers, while the response of her fellow all-candidate panelists was, at best, querulous.
Councillor Reimer also set about to assure the citizens who had gathered at Britannia Secondary School, that she felt quite certain the Citizens' Assembly created as a "new tool in the city's public-engagement toolbox," when it reported out, would not recommend, nor agree to, the mass of towers along East Broadway, between Clark and Commercial Drives, that had caused so much consternation among Grandview-Woodland residents.
Again the audience jeered.
Clearly, the residents of Grandview-Woodland — as is the case in neighbouhoods across the city, ranging from Mount Pleasant on the eastside to Dunbar on the westside, through to the West End, Yaletown and False Creek North in the downtown core, not to mention, Marpole — are unbelieving of a Vision Vancouver civic administration where honest, thorough, citizen-engaged consultation has been in short supply.
Time and time again, under Vision Vancouver, the city has failed to adhere to best practices in neighbourhood planning, most often defined as ...
- An opportunity to involve citizens in considering their future that provides effective tools for examining their community;
- Collaborative citizen involvement in neighbourhood planning and development, and ...
- Neighbourhood planning that brings together multiple city departments, community organizations, citizens, business improvement associations and related community stakeholders, and social service providers, who working together would seek to co-ordinate their collective efforts to ensure the delivery of a wide range of quality services at the neighbourhood level, so as to provide a more responsive, interactive environment for residents to express their concerns and needs.
Generally, best practices neighbourhood planning involves a years-long process that encourages citizens, through workshops and task group meetings, to become involved in neighbourhood planning — not unlike Vancouver's successful Gordon Campbell-Ann McAfee-inspired City Plan process of days gone by, a planning process that engaged all sectors of the community in what was most often a years-long effort that encouraged a broad range of citizens to become involved in their neighbourhood planning, a truly democratic and citizen-engaged community visioning process.
During the course of the present Vancouver civic election campaign, NPA mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe has talked about reinstating City Plan.
Vancouverites are well aware that with a Vision Vancouver administration at City Hall, and a development on speed ethos driving development across the city, that citizen-engaged neighbourhood planning processes in our city have become nothing more than a nostalgic, warily abused & hoary fiction.
Update: For further insight into the botched Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, it's worth reading the commentary of Scot Hein — the City of Vancouver's Senior Urban Designer at the time the Grandview-Woodland process was tabling built form — his team "... absolutely did not support towers outside the focused "Safeway Precinct," he writes.
Here is Ned Jacobs' Open Letter, posted to VanRamblings, and others ...
November 3, 2014
We live in a complex, too often cruel world.
On the evening news, we listen to reports about the ongoing negotiations to free the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped six months ago by Boko Haram, followed by a report interviewing a young Kurdish father who, despite not being paid for six months by a corrupt Iraqi government continues his fight against the extremist ISIL forces in order that he might "protect my family from harm, my wife and my young daughters."
We blink, our eyes water, we know we are powerless to do anything to change the cruelest of circumstances occurring across our globe.
Where and when do we possess the agency to help make this a better, a kinder and more just world, where children will awake each morning and know that this will not be a day of hunger, where shelter will consist of more than a blanket and a mat within a bedbug-infested hostel, where the needs of our families will be prioritized over the pecuniary demands of developers dedicated to ensuring the re-election of a government whose sole grievous purpose is to line their own pockets at the public expense?
Charity, as you have heard throughout your life, begins at home.
Tomorrow, the advance polls in the 2014 Vancouver civic election open, giving us the opportunity to make a difference, to improve the lives of all those who live around us. Advance polls will be open 8 a.m. thru 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 4th thru Monday, November 10th, and again on Wednesday, November 12th, at any one of the following locations:
- Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue, at Cambie
- Kerrisdale Community Centre, 5851 West Boulevard
- Killarney Community Centre, 6260 Killarney Street
- Kitsilano Community Centre, 2690 Larch Street
- Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews
- Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main Street
- Thunderbird Community Centre, 2311 Cassiar Street
- West End Community Centre, 870 Denman Street
Collectively, on election day, Saturday, November 15th, those of us who live in Vancouver have the opportunity to return democratic governance to City Hall and our Vancouver Park Board, where human-scale over highrise development once again becomes a priority for our elected officials, where our community centres will once again receive the funding and supports necessary to meet the needs of our community, and where our parks might once again be transformed into green oases rather than the increasingly desecrated, untended to lands that has become the case under our present shockingly unjust and self-serving Vision Vancouver civic administration.
There's just no other way to say it: in Vancouver, we have a godawful, undemocratic, secretive, oppressive government at City Hall & Park Board, dedicated to meeting the needs of their developer funders over your needs. Vision Vancouver has not earned and does not deserve your vote.
Over the course of the past 6 years of Vision Vancouver's term in power ...
- Our parks have become overrun with invasive species;
- Highrise-driven "town centres" were approved in far too many of our neighbourhoods, and many, many more are on the way in every neighbourhood across our city, if Vision Vancouver is re-elected;
- More homeless than ever sleep on our streets;
- Children go to school hungry because our current Vision Vancouver civic administration refused to fund children's breakfast programmes when a cruel provincial government withdrew funding;
- A war on cars has driven the price of parking and fines (the latter now without benefit of appeal) into the stratosphere, in order to fund bike lanes through parks, along our foreshore & through our green spaces;
- Gentrification takes place in our most livable neighbourhoods, where affordable, market-driven rental accommodation has been replaced by condominiums marketed to offshore buyers;
- One community cinema after another has closed its doors (The Ridge, The Hollywood Theatre), while The Pantages Theatre, The Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Playhouse Theatre are no more.
Whether it's the failure to protect the arts, rampant tower-driven densification in our neighbourhoods (you think it's bad now, just elect a majority Vision Vancouver administration, and I promise you won't recognize the city you love, nearing the end of their next term), children going to school hungry, clogged thoroughfares, pitiless bus service, underfunded community centres, Vision Vancouver has failed us, all of us.
The time has come to give Vancouver's cruelest, most-serving of developer's interests municipal administration the heave-ho, to send a clear message that the enough is enough.
When you head to the polls, no matter for whom you choose to cast your ballot, make sure of one thing: do not cast one vote for a Vision Vancouver City Councillor, and not one Vision Vancouver Park Board candidate deserves a checkmark beside her or his name. We must take our city back.
Do not vote Vision Vancouver.
Preserve what is good about our city, invest in our city and in Vancouver's future as a city of livable neighbourhoods, and love the city we all call home. At the advance polls, or on election day, cast your ballot as you wish — but please, please, do not support Vision Vancouver at the polls.
November 1, 2014
In 2011, in a Vancouver municipal election campaign event organized by the Vancouver Public Space Network and UBC's School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, featuring live indie music between rounds, and an unusual round-robin-meets-applause-meter debate style — hosted by Steve Burgess, the panel of judges including CBC's Theresa Lalonde, VPSN chair Alissa Sadler, UBC professor Matthew Soules, and The Tyee's David Beers — independent candidate for Council and Occupy Vancouver's Lauren Gill won the "sweaty, irreverent" and often raucous event. Said Gill ...
"My power and your power lies in the streets, and it lies in holding the politicians accountable and attending City Council hearings. We are the people who hold the power in this city. You see that at Occupy Vancouver — they haven't moved in yet. Why? Because we hold more power than they do."
Well, here we are in 2014, and the Last Candidate Standing debate is upon us, once again. This is going to be one of the standout events of the current election season, and Sunday afternoon, from 2pm til 5pm, at SFU's Goldcorp Centre (in the Woodward's building, 149 West Hastings, at Abbott), will be the place to be. Come one, come all. See ya there Sunday!
Certain to be the 2014 Park Board all-party candidates debate, all you have to do is take a gander at VanRamblings' Save Kits Beach coverage (read on down), and you'll know what Vision Vancouver is in for Monday evening.
It ain't gonna be pretty.
In preparation for Monday evening's debate, on Saturday afternoon some scalliwags (or should that read community activists of conscience) laid a tarp through Kitsilano Beach, as a reminder of the horrendously wrong-headed decision Vision Vancouver initially took to run a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks.
You think the residents of Kits, or residents anywhere across the city for that matter, have forgotten what Vision almost foisted upon us within one of Vancouver's most beloved parks? Not on your life.
C'mon along to the Billy Bishop Legion on Monday evening.
The beer is cheap, the community space is cozy yet surprisingly spacious, and VanRamblings can all but guarantee that Monday's Park Board debate will be one of the highlights of Campaign 2014. If Vision shows up.
Photos of Saturday afternoon's Kitsilano Beach Tarp Event available here.
October 31, 2014
Wednesday evening, former Vancouver City Councillor and respected civic affairs barrister Jonathan Baker wrote to VanRamblings to apprise us of Schlenker v. Torgrimson, a BC Court of Appeals case heard in 2013, which ruled that Salt Spring Island Councillors were in a conflict of interest arising from a direct or indirect pecuniary interest, in respect of having voted to award two service contracts to societies of which they were directors (see Reason for Judgment in the Schlenker v. Torgrimson link above).
In the written reasons for Judgment in the BC Court of Appeals, the Honourable Mr. Justice Donald — concurred in by The Honourable Madam Justice Newbury, and The Honourable Mr. Justice Hinkson — wrote ...
 Elected officials must avoid conflicts of interest. The question on appeal is whether the respondents were in a conflict when they voted to award two service contracts to societies of which they were directors. In the words of s. 101(1) of the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26, did they have "a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the matter[s]"?
 The penalty for conflict is disqualification until the next election.
 I would allow the appeal and declare that the respondents violated the Community Charter.
Arising from an at-length conversation VanRamblings had with the learned Mr. Baker, a determination was made that it may very well be that Schlenker v. Torgrimson could be the determining case law that, upon adjudication and a ruling on the matter before a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, could result in an order of the Court that would prevent Vision Vancouver City Councillors who are elected in the next term from seeking a further term of elected office, in 2018.
Mr. Baker offers this précis of Schlenker v. Torgrimson ...
The Court of Appeal said direct or indirect pecuniary interest doesn't just refer to money, that a politician has a fiduciary duty to the Council on which they sit as a member, without built-in bias.
The bias that arises from a member of Council serving two masters is, in Schlenker v. Torgrimson, one, perfectly benign in relation to the environmental group of which he is a member, and his duty to his taxpayers, which loyalties are divided and in conflict.
The Justices held that it was important the Court come down with a decision. Paragraph 34 of the Judgment reads, "to prevent elected officials from having divided loyalties" in deciding how to spend the public's money, one's own financial advantage can be such a powerful motive, that putting the public interest second leads to a conflict. The Court must then rule that the Council member could not run for a succeeding term of office.
The benefit — or direct or indirect pecuniary interest — potentially derived by Mr. Meggs, and Vision Vancouver City Councillors, would be the monies received in compensation for duties performed as an elected official.
A direct conflict link, and a decided conflict of interest by Vision Vancouver, might be made — involving the receipt of monies from CUPE 1004 in exchange for favours or benefit, the commitment made to CUPE 1004 by Geoff Meggs on behalf of Vision Vancouver that there would "no contracting out", this commitment to members of CUPE 1004 made in advance of the bargaining of the upcoming December 2015 collective agreement, and payment in the form of monies paid by taxpayers to elected officials, in this case the Vision Vancouver members of Vancouver City Council.
As per Bob Mackin's article in the Vancouver Courier, the CUPE 1004 local donated $102,000 to the Vision Vancouver re-election campaign, as was made explicit, in exchange for a commitment by Vision Vancouver not to contract out the jobs of city workers.
The Criminal Code of Canada, Section 123, reads ...
Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to a municipal official or to anyone for the benefit of a municipal official — or, being a municipal official, directly or indirectly demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from any person for themselves or another person — a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for the official."
Mr. Baker suggested to VanRamblings that in the case of CUPE 1004's commitment to the payment of monies to Vision Vancouver — the details of which are explicated in an October 16, 2014 Bob Mackin article in the Vancouver Courier — the circumstance is worse, as in ...
"We're going to give you money. There are strings attached. And they respond, 'Yeah, we know.' So, it looks like you have a contract, which is a horrible breach of their fiduciary duty to those citizens who elected them to office, and the populace of the city, in general."
Section 38 of Schlenker v. Torgrimson was, in part, based on the Ontario Divisional Court ruling in Re Moll and Fisher, which reads ...
This enactment, like all conflict-of-interest rules, is based on the moral principle, long embodied in our jurisprudence, that no man can serve two masters. It recognizes the fact that the judgment of even the most well-meaning men and women may be impaired when their personal financial interests are affected. Public office is a trust conferred by public authority for public purpose. And the Act ... enjoins holders of public offices ... from any participation in matters in which their economic self-interest may be in conflict with their public duty. The public's confidence in its elected representatives demands no less.
Given all of the above, VanRamblings has now come to believe that Kirk LaPointe was right when he wrote in his opinion piece in The Province ...
Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs, speaking for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, recently told a meeting of CUPE Local 1004 that the mayor was committing to not contract out any other city jobs. In turn, Vision was given financial and political support. No wonder Vancouverites don't trust city hall under Vision. Corruption corrodes confidence and this commitment smacks of political backroom deals of yesteryear.
It puts Vision's interests ahead of the city's and taxpayers.
Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty.
Once again, as happens on occasion, VanRamblings finds itself in the position of having to offer a mea culpa to an aggrieved party, in this case Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor, Mr. Kirk LaPointe.
We apologize, unreservedly, to you Mr. LaPointe. You were right, you are right. In fact, VanRamblings has now come to believe that the actions of Councillor Meggs represent, as you write, "an irresponsible service to the city", and that the verbal contract agreed to by Councillor Meggs, on behalf of the Vision Vancouver municipal political party of which he is a member, may and perhaps does, in fact, represent a breach of his fiduciary duty to the electorate, such matter yet to be officially determined in a court of law.
October 30, 2014
Allow VanRamblings to remind readers of a fact: there are 11 provincial ridings in the City of Vancouver. Do you know how many of those ridings were won by Liberal party candidates in the 2013 provincial election? Four. That's right, four out of eleven. 37% of the Vancouver electorate voted for the "right wing" party, 63% voted for the left-wing party. As VanRamblings is sure you're aware, all Canadian urban centres tend to vote left-of-centre.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association's main job in 2014 is to convince 10,000 more voters than voted for the NPA in 2011 to vote for them in 2014. Where's that vote going to come from? The 63% of Vancouver voters who voted for the NDP in 2013's provincial election.
At the start of Kirk LaPointe's New Progressive Association campaign to become Vancouver's next mayor, the always affable and thoughtful Mr. LaPointe presented himself to the voting electorate of Vancouver as the fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidate with a heart, who also possessed a very fine mind and a well-developed sense of ethics.
Over the course of the past couple of years, current Non-Partisan Association Council candidate Rob McDowell performed something akin to a feat of magic: he re-branded the Non-Partisan Association as the New Progressive Association (or, as Kirk LaPointe would prefer, the Naturally Progressive Association — which is pretty much what we've as heard as the campaign narrative from the day Kirk LaPointe announced his candidacy for Mayor, in mid-July through until mid-September), as the party of the Purple Revolution, a new and renewed party of progressives well able to put city government back into the hands of the people, where it rightfully belongs.
Of late, though, LaPointe appears to have stepped into the muck of seeming anti-union, even if in fact and in reality that is not — as he assures VanRamblings is the case (and we believe him) — his intention. Kirk LaPointe has told VanRamblings that he is committed to negotiating a fair contract with city workers, when next the city sits down with CUPE at the bargaining table, that there are no plans to contract out city worker jobs, and that a Kirk LaPointe-led civic administration remains committed to the re-engendering of a fair, just and respectful relationship with city workers.
As we're all aware, Campaign 2014 is a campaign of optics. Kirk LaPointe as the leader of a renewed Naturally Progressive Association of humble servants of the public interest works as a strong and abiding narrative — and accurately reflects his intention of working towards a much-improved working relationship with Vancouver city workers — a narrative and a commitment to workers that has much appeal to the citizens of Vancouver.
In the final 16 days of the Vancouver municipal campaign, voters will have to hear a great deal more of that humble servant refrain from the Non-Partisan Association if the renewed party of the Purple Revolution is going to proceed to victory late in the evening of Saturday, November 15th.
What Did Vision's CUPE Deal Mean for Workers Across the Province?
In December 2012, Vision Vancouver settled a 3-year contract with CUPE for 6.87%, and a much-increased and lauded pension and benefits package.
Now, as it happens, and as was the intention of CUPE (and, one would think, lifelong union activist and two-term Vision Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs), the 3-year contract with CUPE for 6.87% became the template for every other Metro Vancouver municipality, as CUPE whip-sawed Councils across the region into adopting Vancouver's union contract template. What's more, the Vision Vancouver contract with CUPE became the template for settlement in every other municipality across the province.
The Vision Vancouver / CUPE contract also caused / forced the provincial government to move off their much-despised '0-0-0' mandate with the public sector, and even went so far as to achieve an impact on wages across the private sector, with many private sector workers seeing the first rise in their take home pay in years.
So, the $1.5 million spent by CUPE on getting Vision Vancouver re-elected in 2011 certainly paid off handsomely for CUPE, and for all working people across the province. Of course, CUPE coffers were filled with the increased pay 2.75% - 3.25% portion of union members' paycheque deduction.
CUPE's narrative to its members across British Columbia: Vision Vancouver as a friend to CUPE, and to all working people across the province. No doubt that is why CUPE purchased two $250-a-person tables at Thursday night's Vision fundraiser at the Westin Bayshore, and soon-to-retire BC Federation of Labour head honcho, Jim Sinclair, could be seen prancing around the hall where the dinner / fundraiser was being held.
In the Non-Partisan Association candidate stump speeches, as was the case with current NPA City Councillor George Affleck at the RAMP Council all-candidates debate last week, NPA candidates have repeatedly referenced the low morale of City of Vancouver employees, talked about the cutbacks in staffing levels, about the mistreatment & politicization of city staff, about the lack of transparency at City Hall, and the utter lack of respect for the independence of the public service in the employ of the City of Vancouver.
And, of late, Non-Partisan Association candidates have even commenced to point out to CUPE workers employed by the city, and to the voting electorate of Vancouver, that — in fact — Vision Vancouver's / Geoff Meggs' much-ballyhooed commitment to not contract out the jobs of city workers is nothing other than another Vision Vancouver lie. The fact is that with a Vision Vancouver administration in charge at City Hall, the waste removal and recycling contract for businesses was awarded to various haulers in the private sector in Vision Vancouver's most recent term of office.
So much for Vision's commitment to not contract out CUPE jobs!
Given the reported upon fact that city workers are dissatisfied with Vision Vancouver as their employer, and given the fact that Vision Vancouver is, contrary to their commitment to city workers, contracting out jobs formerly performed by city staff, it would seem to make sense that the Non-Partisan Association would want to do all in their power to reassure the city's public service that with the election of a majority NPA administration at City Hall, a return to actual and palpable respect for city workers would become a central feature of city governance for the much-beleaguered members of CUPE 15 inside workers, and CUPE 1004 outside workers.
And that the Non-Partisan Association, while not cutting any side deals with the Union — which many in the community believe to be "influence peddling and corruption pure and simple, and one hopes that once the legalities are sorted out that someone will be properly charged and face a judge" — will settle a fair and responsible contract with City workers.
All of the above constitutes a great, and important narrative in Campaign 2014 that will take the voting electorate of Vancouver through the next week, when the advance polls open, til election day, November 15th.
And, finally, awhile back, in an informal, off-the-cuff conversation, CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro told VanRamblings that CUPE BC will spend $2 million in 2014 to secure a victory for Vision Vancouver at the polls.
The Non-Partisan Association, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), the Vancouver Cedar Party, and the Green Party of Vancouver have their work cut out for them in the next 16 days — theirs are under-funded campaigns (including that of the NPA, contrary to what you may have heard), at least compared to the $6-million developer-funded campaign of Vision Vancouver, with fewer dollars and fewer resources to get their clarion message of change into the hearts and minds of Vancouver's voting public.
Vancouver voters will soon see, at least, who the contributors to the NPA campaign are, given that on Thursday afternoon the Non-Partisan Association promised to reveal NPA donors before election day, an announcement that was soon followed up on by the Vision Vancouver campaign team. As a mid-afternoon headline in a story by editor Charlie Smith in The Straight reads, "campaign disclosures mean nothing without dollar figures attached." Those figures will be published early in 2015.
The link to Part I of Politics and Class Warfare may be found here.
October 27, 2014
Under the Non-Partisan Association administration of Mayor Sam Sullivan, a long and divisive civic strike of Vancouver's inside, outside, and library workers began on July 26, 2007, dubbed "Sam's Strike" by the union.
The strike lasted 88 days.
The unions, mustered by CUPE, blamed Sullivan's intransigence at the bargaining table for prolonging the strike, the union citing that the city's failing to table a written counteroffer as evidence of the city's bad faith.
Eventually, a mediator was called in, who recommended 17.5% [21% compounded] in a five-year contract, which was the amount accepted by all the other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. When two of the civic unions rejected the recommendation, public support collapsed; within a week a new vote by the three civic unions, with 1% more added to the contract than was the case across Metro Vancouver, and a deal was accepted.
In fact, the strike was purposefully prolonged by then CUPE 15 President Paul Faoro to create animus for the NPA, such ill-feeling that might lead to a victory for the nascent Vision Vancouver civic party. During the course of the strike, Mike Magee, Geoff Meggs and Paul Faoro struck a deal — with the election of a Vision Vancouver civic government, Vision would guarantee to CUPE that the city would pull out of the regional labour relations bureau.
Daniel Fontaine, writing in CityCaucus, wrote about "the deal", in an October 29, 2009 article titled, "Geoff Meggs hands CUPE a major victory."
In mid-2011, longtime CUPE 15 President Paul Faoro once again sat down with now Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Mike Magee, and first-term Vision Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs.
The deal that was struck this time was this: the City of Vancouver would guarantee to CUPE the City would settle an upcoming 3-year contract at 9%, as they had with the VPD and the firefighters. In fact, CUPE settled for 6.87%, with strict "no contracting out" provisions, an increase in benefits & pension plan provisions, the contract now coming in at 9%, as promised.
Once the deal was done, CUPE committed to spending $1.5 million to get Vision Vancouver re-elected; that's $1.5 million not as a direct, accountable donation, but $1.5 million that would be off-the-books. As elucidated in Bob Mackin's article in the Vancouver Courier, donations to Vision Vancouver from CUPE topped $245,250 — and that figure doesn't include the $63,000 donation from the HEU, a CUPE sister union.
Vision Vancouver turned over to CUPE their 16,000-name membership list. CUPE has a master list of 45,000 Union members who live in the City of Vancouver. CUPE hired 1,600 workers to get the vote out for Vision Vancouver, running a fear campaign against the NPA, "the party that brought you 'Sam's Strike', will contract out jobs at City Hall, put city workers on the bricks, and as the Liberals' farm team will set the tone to allow the Liberals to keep to their '0-0-0' mandate."
We all know how the last election went: in 2011, almost every one on the 45,000-strong Union member list came out to cast a ballot for Vision, as was the case with the 16,000-strong Vision Vancouver membership list.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association's job in 2014 is to steal away 5,000 to 8,000 Union votes from Vision, by assuring these union members that the NPA will negotiate a fair contract with city workers, that an NPA administration does not intend to contract out jobs, and that although an NPA administration will not negotiate side deals with CUPE and other unions, an NPA administration would settle with its workers for no less than the standard union contract agreed to across Metro Vancouver.
With all due respect to Non-Partisan Association campaign manager, Doug Leung, and the affable and very bright Kirk LaPointe, the NPA's number one job between now and election day, if the NPA wants to secure victory on November 15th, is to garner a fair percentage of the Union vote.
In terms of securing a portion of the union vote, Kirk LaPointe had a bad week last week. In a Province newspaper opinion piece response to Bob Mackin's article, titled "Vision Vancouver's cash-for-jobs deal with city union is corrupt", LaPointe wrote ...
Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs, speaking for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, recently told a meeting of CUPE Local 1004 that the mayor was committing to not contract out any other city jobs. In turn, Vision was given financial and political support. No wonder Vancouverites don't trust city hall under Vision. Corruption corrodes confidence and this commitment smacks of political backroom deals of yesteryear.
It puts Vision's interests ahead of the city's and taxpayers.
Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty.
It gives away the store.
Mr. LaPointe, guess how much Union members care about "giving away the store"? About as much as Mike Magee, and the Vision folks, want to see an overwhelming NPA majority victory come late evening November 15th.
Union workers, like all workers, already feel hard done by, that they're not getting their piece of the pie, that the corporate 1% (which is how your opposition Vision Vancouver opponents have defined you) are ever-intent on grinding the interests of workers into the ground.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association never, ever want to play into that narrative. Rather, if the NPA want to win this election, they must present Kirk LaPointe in much the way Naheed Nenshi, Calgary's mayor, was presented when he won back-to-back terms in the mayor's office.
The Non-Partisan Association, if they're interested in victory at all, would want ensure that their mayoralty candidate is defined as, "Kirk LaPointe, a Mayor For All The People, Union Members, Our Multi-Cultural Population, Teachers, Health Care Workers, The Poor and the Downtrodden, Children Who Go To School Hungry Every Morning, A True Man of the People, The Once and True Leader of the West Coast Progressive Purple Revolution."
In a Globe and Mail article published today, titled "Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson grilled on union at debate", freelance Vancouver civic affairs writer Frances Bula writes, " ... the Vision Vancouver mayor didn't have an answer when he was prodded at the four-candidate debate Sunday about what his party might have promised to a major city union in exchange for $102,000 in campaign donations."
There was a back-and-forth between Gregor Robertson and the NPA mayoralty candidate, Kirk LaPointe, who lambasted the mayor for tying "the hands of the city in the next round of bargaining" with the outside workers, whose contract is due to expire in December of 2015." Yada, yada, yada.
Bula goes on to write that Robertson, "during the debate and in a scrum afterward, would not acknowledge that the party has a long-standing commitment to maintaining the contracting out of city services at current levels, even though Mr. Meggs has said it does." No kidding. It's not as if Mike Magee, Geoff Meggs and Paul Faoro have ever shared the information with the Hollyhock cult king of Vancouver (oh sorry, "Mayor") — why would they, "Mayor" Robertson is only a sorta handsome sock puppet?
Vision Vancouver relies on four distinct voting blocs as its base of support: union members, a rabidly engaged cycling community, voters of Chinese descent, and members of the LGBTQ community, each of which voting group Vision Vancouver pursues with not a small degree of abandon.
The massive vote of union workers who reside in Vancouver, mustered by former CUPE 15 (City Hall inside workers) President, and current CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer, Paul Faoro, represents the largest constituency of voter support for Vision Vancouver — given such, there is virtually no end to which Vision will go, no reasonable promise that Vision is not prepared to make, to secure their largest and most crucial-to-their-re-election vote.
Although not for Mr. Juice Boy / Sock Puppet / Hollyhock cult boy (aka "The Mayor"), Vision Vancouver's raison d'être — well, at least Geoff Meggs' raison d'être — revolves around a rejection of the contemporary economic notion of the race to the bottom, where business and government — think the provincial Liberals or the federal Conservatives — set about to grind workers' economic interests into the ground. In B.C., and in most other North American jurisdictions, we've been down so long it looks like up.
In rejecting the neo-liberal notion of the race to the bottom, Vision Vancouver has set about to create the economic conditions where they will ensure their support for, first, the economic interests of their own city workers, and globally, the economic interests of workers' across the province. Here's how Vision Vancouver expresses their contemporary version of the Wobblies' 'workers of the world unite' narrative ...
"We've got your backs, we know you have families to care for, bills to pay, that as the cost of living continues to rise, you deserve a fair wage increase when next you bargain for a new contract, we know how important your job is to you, how important your job is to your family, and we here today commit to you that under a Vision Vancouver civic administration city worker jobs will not be contracted out."
Vision Vancouver, then, has announced a central tenet of their re-election platform, even if this particular aspect of the platform is surreptitious in its application, and held from the view of the voting electorate of the city.
There are a great many aspects of Vision Vancouver's time in power that may be criticized with fulsomeness. A Vision Vancouver civic administration protecting the economic interests of city workers is not one of them.
Geoff Meggs has spent a good deal of his life sitting in Marxist reading rooms, along with his contemporaries.
Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association colleagues, naïfs that they are, wouldn't know a Marxist reading group if it smacked them upside the head. And, really, when you get down it, the acceptance of such notion is, well, kind of sweet (in a naive and somewhat becoming, and innocent way).
Still and all, for better or for worse (and much to the chagrin of VanRamblings), the Non-Partisan Association seems to have found a winning election issue — corruption at Vancouver City Hall, the promise to city workers that the public service in the employ of the city will be treated fairly at the bargaining table when the next contract is negotiated.
Somehow, in our contemporary economic climate, and in accord with the accepted economic notion of the race to the bottom, City of Vancouver workers getting a fair shake for themselves and for their families is a terrible thing, an egregious breach of political ethics — as one might imagine, an issue in this election that has found resonance with the electorate — and the one, sustaining election issue that may lead to the ignominious defeat of Vision Vancouver at the polls, come the evening of November 15th.
We live in strange, and perilous, social and economic times, indeed.
October 25, 2014
The following is an October 23rd editorial in The Province newspaper.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision strategists clearly think that pointing out their main opponent's lack of elected experience is a winning strategy. Robertson and other Vision politicians have repeated the point of late, including during Wednesday's mayoral debate at Langara College when Robertson finally deigned to face off against Kirk LaPointe of the NPA. But it demonstrates, as is too often the case with Vision, real arrogance that voters should really think about.
LaPointe may not have been elected to office before but as a senior journalist, CBC ombudsman and adjunct professor at UBC he's been involved in politics and thinking about political issues for a lot longer than Robertson.
What's the mayor saying? That it is ridiculous for LaPointe or other newbies to run for office? That only elected politicians have enough brains or ideas to be elected? If that's true, what expertise did Robertson bring to the mayor's job when he was first elected after short careers as a juice maker and opposition MLA?
LaPointe is raising issues that many Vancouverites are concerned about — the appalling traffic, secrecy at city hall, the lack of real public consultation in city planning and Vision's focus on issues outside the city's mandate. He may not have detailed solutions yet to all those issues, but Robertson either has none, doesn't care or is the source of the problems.
Democracy thrives on new ideas and new people; Robertson sounds like he believes he has some divine right to rule. The mayor should stop attacking LaPointe's résumé and start debating the issues.
The Province newspaper's editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the editor, specifically on the editorial above, can be sent to email@example.com.
October 21, 2014
Canadians hold this axiom true: we are our brother's (and sister's) keeper.
In Canada, we live in a compassionate society, where the common good is the responsibility of all. Our socialized medical system is world class, as is our education system. Government fulfills its responsibility to provide a functioning judiciary that ensures public safety, an active and well-
functioning transportation system meets the needs of all sectors of our society, and we strive to care for those among us who are most in need.
In Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs, we satisfy our needs in a well-defined order. At the pinnacle of Maslow's pyramid? Shelter. With our need for food, shelter, good health, safety and community met, the conditions are present where we might lead a fulfilling, purposeful life.
In post-WWII Canadian society, as was expressed in our earlier post on development, the need for shelter was met, predominantly, through the construction of single-detached family homes. In the 1960s, Canadian society sought to ensure the provision of shelter for those most in need, as federal and provincial governments moved to build non-market housing.
When urban social housing projects like Raycam in Vancouver, and Regent Park in Toronto proved a ghetto-ized failure, at the behest of the federal government, a commission was struck to develop a 'made in Canada' solution to meet the need to house not just the indigent population, but members of the creative class, low-wage workers and single-parent families.
Through amendments to the National Housing Act, in the early 1970s the federal government launched the first programme to develop housing co-operatives, creating more than 60,000 non-market homes in co-ops across our land. Housing co-operatives ("co-ops") provide a place for people to live. In 2014, there are currently more than 2,000 housing co-ops across Canada, housing more than 111,000 community homeowners.
Housing co-operatives come in all sorts of forms and sizes, ranging from collections of townhouses and small, condominium-style buildings with 4 — 20 units, to large apartment-style buildings with hundreds of units. What sets co-ops apart from private rental housing is that they are democratic, community-owned housing developments, where residents take on the full responsibility for making decisions on how the co-op functions, for its finances, its ongoing maintenance, and for its members' responsibilities.
Current T.E.A.M. member / architect, and 1972-74 T.E.A.M. Park Board Commissioner, Bill McCreery, has written to VanRamblings stating that the construction of housing co-operatives "was a joint effort on the part of the City (T.EA.M.), federal Liberal minister of the day, Ron Basford (and his Deputy, Peter Oberlander), and Shirley Schmidt, acting for Dave Barrett's early 1970's provincial NPD government. This era of intergovernmental co-operation is unprecedented, and it highlights what can be accomplished when it happens. Something we should be striving for today." Bill goes on to point out that all Phase1 co-ops were 2 or 3 storey townhouses, while Phase2 co-ops, as above, were mostly mid-rise, 4 to 6 storey structures.
Among the first housing co-operatives built in Vancouver were the co-ops along the south shore of False Creek, between Granville Island and the Cambie Street bridge. With the support of the province, and under municipal by-law, one-third of all large-scale housing development would be housing co-operatives — which is to say, one out of every three buildings along False Creek's south shore is a housing co-op, as was the case when the construction began in the 1970s, and as it remains to this day.
Government does not own the housing co-operative; rather the co-operative is owned collectively by its members. Almost the sole role of the federal government is to provide surety to the financial institutions that lend the monies to the members of the co-operative for the purchase of land and construction of the housing. No housing co-operative in Canada has ever declared bankruptcy — the federal government has never had to assume the financial obligations of housing co-op members, at any time.
No one in a housing co-operative pays more than one-third of their income for their housing, the co-operative model mandating that one-third of the members of the co-op will receive full subsidy out of the operating funds of the co-op, while another third are granted a partial subsidy, the remaining one-third of members required to pay the low-end of market housing rate.
Co-op members pay no more than 30% of their income for housing.
Note should be made that a significant portion of housing units in a co-operative housing complex are set aside for 3-bedroom, affordable family housing — meeting the most pressing need of young families who have been unable to find suitable homes to raise their children in a safe and secure community environment, in Vancouver's woefully underserved housing market for our city's burgeoning population of young families.
Generally, the one-third of members on deep subsidy consist of single parents, pensioners and members of the disability community. The middle third are generally comprised of low-wage income earners, and members of the creative class (writers, artists). The final third, that part of the co-operative membership who pay the low-end-of-market rate are comprised of a broad cross-section of our community, business persons, teachers, and other higher income earners, each one of whom is a person of conscience dedicated to the interests of the community — for being a member of a housing co-op entails work, and a great deal of personal and social responsibility on the part all of the co-operatives' members.
In the 1970s, in Vancouver and across British Columbia, with the election of Dave Barrett's NDP provincial government, and the election of the TEAM civic government of Art Phillips, we moved away from the social barbarism of the years of provincial premier WAC Bennett and Vancouver's misguided mayor, Tom Campbell, into a new, enlightened era of social responsibility.
In the 1980s, with a faltering provincial economy, the social obligation that mandated that one-third of all large-scale housing development consist of housing co-operatives was reduced to one-quarter, or 25%. For instance, when a developer such as BOSA set about to construct the mass of highrises along Main and Quebec avenues between the Georgia Viaduct and Terminal avenue, and as BOSA built 2000 condominium units, the company was required to construct 500 social and housing co-operative units.
In the 1990s, that obligation was reduced to 20%, in the early 2000s to 15%, and under both the NPA administration of Sam Sullivan and during both terms of the Gregor Robertson-led Vision Vancouver civic administration, the obligation of developers to construct social housing units and housing co-operatives was eliminated entirely. Thus, we are left with the affordable housing crisis we face today, and the number one issue on the minds of the electorate in 2014's Vancouver municipal election.
Back to the Future: Electing a New Vancouver Civic Administration
Fortunately, with the prospect of a socially responsible and progressive Non-Partisan Association municipal administration at Vancouver City Hall, supported by members of the Green Party of Vancouver and COPE, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the potential to once again engage in the construction of housing co-operatives exists not far off on our horizon.
In the 1970s, the TEAM administration of Art Phillips created the Property Endowment Fund (PEF), consisting of the real estate assets of all city-owned property, designated by Mayor Phillips and the Council of the day as a rainy-day fund, a portion of the PEF that might someday be dedicated to the construction of housing for those in need. You've probably noticed that it's not just raining out there, there's a deluge.
At present, there's $3½ billion dollars in the Property Endowment Fund — the time has long since past that Vancouver's civic administration dedicate a portion of the PEF to the construction of housing co-operatives. Why co-operatives, and not COPE's housing authority? A couple of reasons.
COPE's housing authority would require a new and costly level of civic administration at City Hall, when there's already attendant bureaucracies in place that administer housing co-operatives, which are a joint responsibility of the provincial government through its housing agency, B.C. Housing and through its arms-length provincial Agency for Co-operatives, as well as B.C.'s much-heralded and respected Co-operative Housing Federation.
Secondly, housing co-operatives provide a salutary, non-market form of home ownership, where collectively the members of the co-operative assume the day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the co-operative, as we do our own homes. Members of a co-operative are not tenants, we are homeowners, which is to say we are maîtres de notre propre maison.
When the Vision Vancouver civic administration approved Jimmy Pattison's massive development at Drake and Burrard, $42.6 million in community amenity contributions was extracted from the developer, Reliance Holdings. Do you know how much of that $42.6 million was set aside for the construction of social housing, or housing co-operatives? Nada, zero, zilch — Vision Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang and Mayor Gregor Robertson expounding that "there's no shortage of social housing in the West End."
The no-cost to the taxpayer, no cost to a Vancouver municipal administration solution to the affordable housing crisis in our city?
Extract parcels of land from the Property Endowment Fund, lease the land to members of the proposed housing co-operatives (with oversight provided by the provincial government, and the Co-op Housing Federation), and require that no less than 25% of developer Community Amenity Contributions be set aside for the construction of housing co-operatives.
The income derived from the member housing charges is paid to the city, a portion of which is set aside for annual co-op maintenance, for the co-operatives' replacement reserve fund, for any administrative costs that might be incurred by the co-op, and for property tax paid to the city.
A new Vancouver civic administration must tackle the issue of affordable housing in the city of Vancouver, upon assuming office. Vision Vancouver has proven themselves to be not up to the task. A renewed and progressive Non-Partisan Association municipal administration, working with members of the Green Party of Vancouver, COPE, and the Cedar Party will provide responsive and responsible government at the municipal level.
When you fill out your ballot — at the advance polls, or on November 15th — vote for a new Vancouver civic administration: vote Green Party of Vancouver, vote Vancouver Cedar Party, and vote for the candidates running under the Non-Partisan Association banner. For only the NPA, COPE, the Cedar Party candidates, and the Green Party's Adriane Carr, Pete Fry and Cleta Brown have dedicated themselves to a community-led solution to Vancouver's present appalling and dire affordable housing crisis.
October 20, 2014
The angry, power-hungry, dissolute male of the human species has made a hash of things, when it comes to the political realm and the common weal.
In Vancouver in 2014, we have two male mayoral candidates in Gregor Robertson and Kirk LaPointe who have set about to beat each other about the head, it is men who are in control of political campaign management in the current election cycle, developers who are all male and union leaders who are also all male who control the bulk of the party campaign financing, as these latter males set about to ensure that you vote the "right way".
In Vancouver's dysfunctional, debauched political system, there's not a lot of principle, and perhaps even a dearth of ethics, in the choices with which we are being confronted when we head to the polls on November 15th.
VanRamblings is here to suggest to you that there is a better way, a more principled path forward in Vancouver's political realm, where government of good conscience would be all but guaranteed, where consensus and respect and fairness in the political process and for the participants involved in the decision-making process would carry the day, where the disquieting political maelstrom with which we have become all too familiar would finally, once and for all, draw to a salutary and certain-to-be-celebrated close.
VanRamblings' advice? When you go to the polls on Saturday, November 15th, vote only for the principled, bright, able, capable, insightful, ethical, and outstanding women of conscience who have placed their names on the ballot for Vancouver City Council, for Park Board and for School Board.
Note should be made that one of the side benefits of voting all-women slates on Vancouver's three civic bodies is that no one party would have a majority — in consequence, in order for governance to take place a working consensus would have to be developed, reason would come to prevail, and the likelihood would be that the decisions that would be taken at Council, Park Board and School Board would, almost inevitably, be very much to the benefit of the broadest cross-section of the Vancouver electorate, and families of every description living in every neighbourhood across our city.
In 2014, Meena Wong has emerged as the only mayoral candidate who will make a difference, as she has advocated for the construction of 4,000 affordable housing units in Vancouver over the course of the next 10 years, raising the monies to pay for COPE'S campaign promise through the imposition of a tax on absentee homeowners, and a renewed focus on the construction of affordable housing, through developer community amenity contributions; advocating, as well, for changes to the Vancouver Charter that would allow both the implementation of a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and putting an end to renovictions in the city of Vancouver.
For Vancouver City Council, there is no better choice than our hardest working City Councillor, Vision Vancouver's Andrea Reimer. Vote for her colleague Niki Sharma, as well — for there is no more principled candidate for office in 2014 than the incredibly thoughtful and articulate Ms. Sharma.
In the Non-Partisan Association's Suzanne Scott, voters have discovered a community activist who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from UBC who has emerged as the hardest working candidate for City Council in the current election cycle. In her colleague, the entirely wondrous, hard-working democrat Melissa De Genova, as those who follow Park Board have long been aware, in Melissa voters have a citizen advocate who is without equal.
When it comes to the Green Party of Vancouver, since her election to Council in 2011 there has been no more powerful advocate for the public interest than Adriane Carr. In 2014, vote for her Green Party colleague, Cleta Brown, as well — a retired lawyer and tireless social justice advocate who has impressed with her cogent writing on the political process, and at each of the all-candidates meeting she has attended.
When it comes to marking you ballot in November, cast a vote for Coalition of Progressive Electors' candidate Gayle Gavin, who in her law practice has advocated for tenants' rights, won precedent-setting judgments enshrining the rights of disabled persons to dignity, and fought for local food security in the successful campaign to save the UBC farm. Social justice advocate and artist Jennifer O'Keefe — young and principled, a wonderful writer with a clarion vision, and whose energy we very much need on Council — is a must-elect at the polls on November 15th, a voice of hope to ensure a future where fairness becomes a central principle of municipal governance.
In the Vancouver Cedar Party's Charlene Gunn, voters have heard an unparalleled voice of intelligence and compassion, and have found a slow growth advocate committed to empowering those of us who live across Vancouver's diverse, engaged neighbourhoods. Service to community has set Vancouver First's Elena Murgoci apart from her Vancouver First colleagues, a multi-lingual MBA in International Business Management who would well serve the interests of Vancouver citizens.
And let us not forget, either, the Non-Partisan Association's caucus chair and arts advocate, two-term City Councillor, Elizabeth Ball. Or, Heather Deal, Vision Vancouver's three-term Councillor, who is Council's majority party arts advocate, and who was key in the realization of Vancouver's successful food cart programme.
COPE's Lisa Barrett, a former Mayor of Bowen Island, impressed at last week's St. James Hall all-candidates meeting, and her COPE colleague Audrey Siegl has been front-and-centre in the fight against homelessness. Vancouver First's Mercedes Wong, whose 30-year career in corporate finance and two decades as a residential and commercial realtor, is worthy of your consideration, as an informed advocate on development issues.
The question that is posed most often to VanRamblings in this current Vancouver civic election cycle is, "Who should I vote for, which candidates are worthy of my placing a checkmark beside their name when I cast my votes for Council?" In 2014, the answer is clear: vote for the principled women of conscience running for office in the Vancouver municipal election.
At Vancouver Park Board, the choices are easy: the very able consensus builder, Catherine Evans, and her Vision Vancouver colleagues, Coree Tull and Sammi Jo Rumbaua; the Non-Partisan Association's Erin Shum and Sarah Kirby-Yung; former Park Board Chair, COPE's Anita Romaniuk, and one of her colleagues Cease Wyss, or Urooba Jamal. Or, save a vote for independent candidate and Park Board watchdog, Jamie Lee Hamilton.
At School Board, re-electing Patti Bacchus to a third term in office is the easiest decision you'll have to make in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election. The same is true for the incredibly bright and hardworking Cherie Payne. Newcomer Joy Alexander is also worthy of your consideration as Vision Vancouver's newest candidate for School Board. The NPA's Penny Noble and Sandy Sharma are first-rate candidates for School Board, as is COPE's Diana Day — one of the new must-elects for School Board.
Ms. Day's COPE School Board candidate colleagues Ilana Shecter, Heidi Nagtegaal and Kombii Nanjalah are more than worthy of your consideration, as well. The Green Party of Vancouver's Janet Fraser is one of the most talked about education activists seeking office this year — and the word on Ms. Fraser is good, very good, indeed. You'll also find Vancouver First's Susan Bhatha's name is on the ballot, for School Board.
Apart from must-elects Patti Bacchus, Cherie Payne, Joy Alexander, Diana Day and Janet Fraser, by far the most-qualified, hardest working and most committed education activists in the current election cycle are the Public Education Project's Jane Bouey and Gwen Giesbrecht — who catapulted into the must-elect category the minute they both announced their candidacies for Vancouver School Board. Save two votes for Jane & Gwen.
October 19, 2014
The Vancouver Election Debate calendar below is dynamic / ever-changing. Click on a debate event for more information on that particular debate.
The Vancouver Election Debate calendar above is entirely the creation of Randy Helten and Stephen Bohus, the publishers of CityHallWatch, and is supplied to VanRamblings as a courtesy to the voters of Vancouver.
October 15, 2014
One month from today, on Saturday, November 15th, British Columbians will go to the polls to elect City Councils across the province, no current civic election more important than the one taking place in Vancouver.
Before commencing today's post, a note: flu has felled VanRamblings for much of the past 16 days (it's still hanging on), which has prejudiced the regimen of daily posts — going forward, I'll do the best I can to post as frequently possible, given the vestiges of my advanced age and ill health.
First things first. Tonight, it is mandatory that you take time out of your busy schedule to attend an all-important pre-election meeting ...
The 2-hour meeting will take place tonight, Wed., October 15th, from 7pm til 9pm, at St. James' Hall, located on Vancouver's west side, at 3214 West 10th Avenue. The theme of this evening's all-important civic meeting: Planning, Development, & Community Engagement: Putting The Community Back Into Community Planning.
Over the past year, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has sought to bring together representatives from Vancouver's 23 neighbourhoods, in response to a chorus of discontent across our city.
The laudatory principles and goals of the Coalition may be found here.
With one-month to go til Vancouver civic election day, come out to tonight's meeting to learn about the issues, and to make your voice heard.
Note should be made that there is a competing Town Hall that will take place from 6pm til 8:30pm tonight, at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, to be moderated by deposed Vision Vancouver Park Board candidate, Trish Kelly. We could say something about the grimy politics inherent in a Visionite holding a competing all-candidates meeting opposite the long-scheduled Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods civic election meeting — make of that unseemly coincidence what you will.
While VanRamblings is under-the-weather, there remains a plethora of well-conceived, well-written, and engaging blogs where the civically-minded might get their civic affairs / Vancouver municipal election politics fix.
- CityHallWatch. Day in, day out, former Vancouver mayoralty candidate Randy Helten, Stephen Bohus & others have made CityHallWatch the 'go-to' place for news on Vancouver's civic scene. Well-researched, chock full of information you'll find nowhere else, and clearly a labour of love (for our too often beleaguered city), CityHallWatch is the site you visit for up-to-date news on development in our city and, as they say, "Tools to Engage in Vancouver city decisions."
- State of Vancouver. Vancouver's no-nonsense, "I've got no time for fools" media eminence gris of Vancouver's political scene, Frances Bula tells us like it is (but respectfully so) on her incredibly well-researched, and absolutely invaluable State of Vancouver blog. Without a doubt, Vancouver's hardest working, most insightful civic affairs reporter, Ms. Bula's State of Vancouver blog is the must-read for aficionados of politics as it's practiced in the City of Vancouver.
- Civic Lee Speaking. A reporter's reporter, there ain't no sacred cows in Jeff Lee's award-winning reporting on Vancouver's often tumultuous civic scene — with Jeff, you're always going to get the straight goods (mixed in with not a little wit, and a flair for writerly prose that is matched only by the indefatigable Ms. Bula). All of us who live in Vancouver are damn lucky to have a respected journalist of the calibre of Jeff Lee covering our civic scene, and reporting out to us.
- Jak's View. Community organizer and activist, Grandview Woodland advocate, author (2011's The Drive: A Retail, Social and Political History of Commercial Drive, Vancouver, to 1956, and 2012's The Encyclopedia of Commercial Drive), and tireless blogger, communicator and passionate democrat, Jak King's blog, Jak's View has long been a daily must-read for anyone who gives a tinker's damn about Vancouver civic affairs democracy (or lack thereof), an always engaging, human scale and informative read.
- 12th and Cambie. My favourite read on Vancouver's civic scene, the Vancouver Courier's Mike Howell brings a sense of humour, incredible wit (and a becoming sense of wonderment), in perfect conflation with the reportial expertise and writerly prose ability he shares with Frances Bula and Jeff Lee, to make his always engaging 12th and Cambie a Vancouver civic affairs blog must-read. When writing about Vancouver civic politics becomes too much, you can depend on Mike to inject some much-needed human-scale humour. Thank god for Mike Howell!
Let us not forget, either, veteran reporter and Vancouver Courier political commentator Allen Garr who, for two decades now, has each week provided a cogent analysis of the machinations of Vancouver City Hall politics.
See you all tonight at the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods' pre-election all-candidates meeting at St. James Hall. If you can't make tonight's meeting, not to worry — there are debates galore upcoming.
The Vancouver Election Debate calendar below is dynamic. Click on a debate event for more information on that particular debate.
The Vancouver Election Debate calendar above is entirely the creation of Randy Helten and Stephen Bohus, the publishers of CityHallWatch, and is supplied to VanRamblings as a courtesy to the voters of Vancouver.
The debates calendar is dynamic, and will be updated as Messrs. Helten and Bohus are apprised of new debates. The debate calendar covers all debates leading up to the November 15th Vancouver municipal election.
October 2, 2014
There's a coalition of progressive voters coalescing around Kirk LaPointe, the socially progressive Non-Partisan Association candidate for mayor.
For VanRamblings, the most surprising aspect of the 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival arises from the dozens of approaches by filmgoers that have been made to us by community activists working across every neighbourhood in the city — folks with whom VanRamblings has worked on countless NDP, COPE and Vision Vancouver electoral campaigns, as well as on community activist projects too numerous to mention — who have, chapter and verse, detailed the egregious anti-parks and recreation, neighbourhood destroying, pro-development, covert, and pharisaic decision-making that has gone on at City Hall and Park Board this past six years under an execrable Vision Vancouver civic administration.
Make no mistake, a well-organized Anyone But Vision movement has begun to form, and almost all of those with whom VanRamblings has engaged are what Andy Yan, a planner and public data analyst with Bing Thom Architects, refers to as engaged voters — those citizens who live along the golden horseshoe, the crescent of big-turnout polls that extends from the Commercial Drive / Grandview Woodland area, through Mount Pleasant to Fairview and Kitsilano, the city's inner ring of neighbourhoods.
Andy Yan may well be right, but if VanRamblings were to take into account the dozens of infuriated telephone callers, e-mails, texts and direct social media messages we receive each day, dissatisfaction with Vision Vancouver would appear to extend far beyond the golden horseshoe, and well into both the LGBTQ+ and Chinese communities, both of which latter voting groups have indicated they'll leave Vision Vancouver in droves this election, as they head back to the warming embrace of the Non-Partisan Association.
And let us not forget, either, the rampant and vocal dissatisfaction that has emerged this last term with Vision Vancouver in the Hastings-Sunrise, Dunbar, Killarney, West End, Yaletown and Marpole neighbourhoods.
Among progressive voters, the move to support Kirk LaPointe emerges not out of a lack of support for COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong, but rather from the realpolitik that Ms. Wong cannot defeat Gregor Robertson.
The progressive voters who've contacted VanRamblings by phone and social media, and stopped us on the streets and in coffee shops by the hundreds these past four months want Gregor Robertson and his ne'er-do-well band of Vision Vancouver colleagues gone from the Vancouver civic scene — in Kirk LaPointe, these progressive voters have identified a viable, socially progressive, thinks for himself (one of the salutary comments we hear often) and electable alternative for the mayor's chair, and a candidacy around whom a growing coalition of progressive voters has formed, an under-the-radar bloc of community-oriented activists who are working in neighbourhoods across our city to ensure that Kirk LaPointe becomes Vancouver's new mayor late in the evening this upcoming November 15th.
In Toronto, a burgeoning alliance of voters has formed around the mayoralty candidacy of former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader, the once beleaguered John Tory, whose current 49.2% standing in the polls is both testament to his middle-of-the-road, socially liberal candidacy, and more than double that of challengers Doug Ford and Olivia Chow. Make no mistake, the vast majority of Toronto voters want the Ford family out of Metro Toronto civic politics, and everyone from provincial Liberal cabinet ministers to longtime members of the provincial NDP have come out in groundswell support for the socially liberal, fiscally conservative John Tory.
A similar dynamic would appear to be emerging in Vancouver.
In Kirk LaPointe, progressive and engaged voters see a Red Tory, who just as is the case with the seems-certain-to-win Toronto mayoralty candidate John Tory, offers socially liberal programmes, fiscally sound city management, and open and transparent municipal governance.
Imagine, in John Tory and Kirk LaPointe, the two largest English-language speaking cities in Canada could, and might very well, have socially progressive mayors in place, leaders who could actually engage in a respectful dialogue with senior levels of government (unlike you know who) to achieve much that would be beneficial to the concerns, and wants and needs of their respective electorate — leaving open the possibility, as well, that such socially progressive candidate wins could serve to redefine the concept of conservatism in Canada, consigning Stephen Harper's mean-spirited concept of conservatism rightfully to the dustbin of history.
Kirk LaPointe and John Tory as latter day incarnations of Bill Davis.
There's even a rumour extant that former premier, and Vancouver mayor, Mike Harcourt will endorse Kirk LaPointe late in this electoral campaign.
Rumour has it, too, that independent mayoral candidate Bob Kasting, and the startup Vancouver Cedar party, will also endorse Mr. LaPointe's candidacy for mayor late in the current Vancouver municipal election cycle.
Most engaged voters know that the roots of the Progressive Conservative party emerged from the post WWI United Farmers movement, a radical grassroots, socialist amalgamation whose supporters founded the Progressive Party of Canada (what we refer to today as the — albeit, almost extinct — Red Tories within the Stephen Harper-led Conservative party), before amalgamating with the Conservative party proper in the early 1940s.
Progressive voters — traditional NDP voters — have a long history of voting strategically to support socially liberal, Progressive Conservative candidates whose grassroots ideals reflect those of the more left-leaning NDP.
In 2014, that would appear to be what we have in the Non-Partisan Association — a small "c" conservative municipal party that reflects the ideals of a broad cross-section of the voting electorate, a made-in-Vancouver civic political party comprised of honest, hard-working and humble servants of the public interest whose electoral platform consists of:
- Working with senior levels of government to develop affordable, and social housing, programmes to meet the broadest cross-section of the needs of the voting electorate in Vancouver, and their families;
- As Vancouver's population ages, we have in Kirk LaPointe, a mayoralty candidate who is committed to investing in affordable housing and amenities for seniors citizens;
- A socially progressive Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate who grew up in rank poverty (a far cry from the silver-spoon-in-his-mouth mayoral incumbent), who has committed that with an NPA administration at Vancouver City Hall no child will go hungry, and more — that 365 days a year no child in our city will go hungry.
What Kirk LaPointe hasn't said is that he will work with senior levels of government to ensure that child poverty in Canada's third largest city will become a grievous and deplorable feature of Vancouver's past — make no mistake, Kirk LaPointe is committed to this latter goal, but has not made an announcement because he can't promise he'll deliver on it his first term in office. Unlike our incumbent mayor, the principled and socially conscious Kirk LaPointe, the mayoral candidate with the Non-Partisan Association, does not overpromise and under-deliver;
- Talking about overpromising and under-delivering, Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver have promised us free wi-fi across the city since before they were first elected. Kirk LaPointe has promised the same thing, beginning on Vancouver's eastside, he says. The difference between the two promises? Kirk LaPointe will deliver on his promise, while you'll be waiting til the cows come home before Gregor Robertson follows through on yet another empty Vision campaign promise;
- A municipal party in the NPA that will not increase property taxes in their first year in power, as the new civic administration conducts an audit of Vancouver's likely to be woeful financial affairs;
- A party that does not practice the faux greenwashing of Vision Vancouver, but a municipal party that is committed to the health of its citizens, and is a vocal opponent of Vancouver's waste to energy plans, as well as Metro Vancouver's plan for a garbage incinerator and Vancouver's current plan for a gasification plant at the city's garbage transfer station. The NPA will instead concentrate on ways to increase reducing, reusing and recycling the City's solid waste.
- A mayoral candidate in Kirk LaPointe who will end Vision Vancouver's game-playing and get the long-awaited Southeast Vancouver Seniors Centre facility built; will create an open and transparent City Hall Lobbyist Registry, as well as the first ever Office of the Ombudsperson in Vancouver, an office that would seek to resolve citizens' disputes with the City fairly and without necessitating resort to the courts, in the process returning trust and transparency to City Hall.
Here's a link to information on the Ombudsman Office, in Toronto;
Yes, there is something of the aspect of the merry-go-round in covering civic politics. It has oft been said, though, that a day in politics can seem like a lifetime, so changeable is the political dynamic from day-to-day.
While it is true that the party polling conducted early last week by Vision Vancouver and the Non-Partisan Association does not, as yet, reflect the growing groundswell of support for Kirk LaPointe's "Anybody But Gregor" candidacy, perhaps that's more a function of polling that was done outside of the golden horseshoe. VanRamblings has consulted widely in Grandview Woodland, Mount Pleasant, Fairview and Kitsilano, and we can tell you that for weeks now organizing drives have been afoot to dampen / hinder / annihilate the vote for Vision Vancouver; it's just a matter of time before the polls reflect a much-increased support for the candidacy of Kirk LaPointe, whose electoral coattails could very well permanently dislodge a damnable Vision Vancouver administration from City Hall and Park Board.
In August, VanRamblings published a column, the headline of which read
"Mayor Gregor Robertson Virtually Unbeatable." At the time, we had no firm idea that our concerns respecting Vision Vancouver's governance of our city was so widely shared. Seems that the mayoral dynamic has changed a month and half later. VanRamblings may have to issue a mea culpa yet.
September 29, 2014
With the 2014 Vancouver civic election finally heating up, the internal polling conducted for the two major mainstream parties seeking office in the Vancouver municipal election — Bob Penner, Stratcom founder, president, CEO, and former employer of Gregor Robertson's Chief of Staff, Mike Magee, for Vision Vancouver; and Maple Leaf Strategies' partner and pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos (who conducted last year's spot on election polling for the provincial Liberals), and currently Non-Partisan Association lead pollster — released resonant internal polling results on the Vancouver Mayoral race to their anxious political masters, late last week.
Whereas the polling conducted for newspapers and the broadcast media — done on the cheap, or for free (in exchange for the marketing advantage to the pollster), and utterly meaningless for purposes other than their entertainment value — generally results in highly inaccurate polling data — not least because of the small sample size — the much larger, poll-by-poll sample conducted for the major political parties, with extrapolated numbers that take into account the 'most likely to vote' segment of the voting populace, produces as near to accurate polling results as is possible.
So, you want to know: what are the Vancouver mayoral race insider party polling results, with a sample size for each of Vision Vancouver and the NPA in excess of 2,000 most likely to vote Vancouver residents?
The answer ...
Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, the Non-Partisan Association's Kirk LaPointe, and COPE's Meena Wong are in a statistical dead heat.
In the three weeks following the entry of the Coalition of Progressive Electors' mayoral candidate into the mayoral race, Gregor Robertson's approval / intent-to-vote rating has dropped a calamitous 17 points! Statistical dead heat polling results: 32%, COPE's Meena Wong / 34%, the NPA's Kirk LaPointe / and 32%, Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.
The Non-Partisan Association is both sanguine, and over-the-moon about the results. Sanguine, because as VanRamblings was told, "Kirk has room to grow", and over-the-moon because Meena Wong has knocked our city's sitting Mayor off his previously-thought-to-be unassailable perch. "This will be a horse race," say NPA insiders. "We're confident that in the final weeks of the campaign Kirk LaPointe, as he becomes better known to the electorate, will pull well ahead of our deeply unpopular incumbent mayor."
Vision Vancouver apparatchiks with whom VanRamblings spoke simply yawned at the polling results, recalling how in 2011's civic election Vision Vancouver was in tough in the polling, and seemingly on their way to defeat. The final five days of the 2011 campaign — which witnessed a saturation $657,000 (and mightily effective) television ad campaign that ran on all local TV station newscasts, morning, noon, early evening and late night, turned the tide for Vision Vancouver, wiping out previously dire internal polling results, propelling the incumbent majority party to victory.
Emerging as perhaps the biggest surprise in the 2014 Vancouver civic election: COPE's Lazarus-like restoration to political relevancy. Who'da thunk that the folks currently directing the COPE election machine, and the members of COPE's Left Front, have a taste for retail politics — which is to say, sophisticated ground game, grassroots, mass appeal politics designed to appeal to both the broadest constituency of voters, as well as to the diverse communities that comprise the Vancouver in which we live?
At a time when many on the left (not to mention, almost all members of Vancouver's political class) were writing off COPE's chances to make an impact in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election campaign, with the energizing emergence of Meena Wong on the Vancouver municipal scene — honestly, a first-rate candidate for Mayor, who's been setting the election issue agenda this past three weeks — and an exceedingly strong, high profile community activist COPE Council slate, representing both the largest and the strongest COPE Council slate in a generation, make no mistake: COPE is now a factor in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
September 23, 2014
The defining narrative of the 2014 Vancouver civic election revolves around the notion that voters have a choice to make: either we can vote for "the developer parties" (Vision Vancouver and the Non-Partisan Association), or we can vote for the "good guys" ... Vancouver First, the Cedar Party, the Greens, or COPE, those municipal parties that do not accept donations from the development companies which operate in the city of Vancouver.
At best, this "good guys" vs "bad guys" narrative is simplistic.
At its worst, this untoward and unnecessary narrative is a vicious, wholly unwarranted and degrading condemnation of those fine potential public servants who choose to run with the so-called "developer parties."
As if, somehow, the narrative suggests, principled and hard-working Vision Vancouver Council candidates like Niki Sharma and Andrea Reimer, or equally meritorious Non-Partisan Association Council candidates Suzanne Scott and Melissa DeGenova, upon being elected this next term, would sit up nights scheming to do the business of developers while subverting the interests of the electorate — all the while stuffing their pockets with loot secured from the likes of Ian Gillespie at Westbank, Michael Audain at Polygon, Wall Corp's Bruno Wall, and Terry Hui at Concord Pacific.
What a harmful, destructive, libelous, slanderous and soul-destroying deceit to perpetuate — utterly unique to the political maelstrom on Canada's west coast, for you will hear this narrative nowhere else — and how demeaning to the democratic interests of the political process.
And, it's not as if either Vision Vancouver or the Non-Partisan Association can venture a considered response to this syllogistic argument based on false premises — lest they risk lending credence to the logically fallacious and destructive argument by very dint of deigning to offer a response.
To make matters worse for all of us, rather than encouraging the voting electorate to get out and cast their ballot for the "non-developer-funded parties", instead this destructive, ultimately counter-productive narrative serves only to suppress and depress voter turnout, fitting conveniently, as it does, into a narrative myth often promoted in our news media, in the films we watch in our local multiplex, and on our television screens at home: that all politicians are corrupt, there's nothing that can be done to change that circumstance, that politicians run for office simply to pad their own pocket, are "in it" solely for self-aggrandizement, and while in office consciously mean to do barbarous, malicious harm to the public good.
Little wonder that turnout at the polls in 2008 was a paltry 30.79% (there were only 124,285 recorded ballots from 403,663 registered voters) in what was a crucial municipal election, a figure hardly bettered in 2011 with only 34.57% of eligible voters choosing to cast their ballot in that election.
As Non-Partisan Association candidate for mayor, Kirk LaPointe, has been wont to point out, "All of us feel quite comfortable in the idea we've got rich, fertile territory to criticize policy ..." — which is as it should be.
In recent weeks, Vision Vancouver has enunciated a transportation policy that commits the party to working with senior levels of government towards the construction of a subway down Broadway. Just yesterday, the NPA announced a plan to appoint an independent Ombudsperson at City Hall to ensure accountability and transparency, and protect citizens' rights.
Nowhere in Vision Vancouver or the Non-Partisan Association's declaration of either party's platform tenet did I read a criticism of the "underfunded parties running in this election who don't have a hope in hell of getting elected." I mean, they could have, but they didn't — and they won't.
Why? Because the Non-Partisan Association and Vision Vancouver are remaining true to their commitment to run an issues-based municipal election campaign, giving the people of Vancouver a choice between two distinctly different competing visions on how our great city might move forward into the future, should one or the other party triumph at the polls when the ballots are counted on Saturday evening, November 15th.
In 2014, is it necessary that the smaller, competing parties engage in the shopworn cliché of the "developer parties" vs. the forces of good that are the other parties seeking office at Council, Park Board and School Board?
Surely there are a plethora of civic issues out there to engage the attention of voters. Is it necessary to continue to peddle a simplistic, and I would say ultimately offensive to voters, myth of those dastardly "candidates for the developer controlled parties"? There must be, there has to be, a better way.
Fortunately, the Coalition of Progressive Electors mayoral candidate, the principled Meena Wong, has chosen the higher road in enunciating hers and COPE's vision for the future of Vancouver — a realistic vision that includes setting a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Vancouver, and charging a surtax on "empty homes" bought for speculative purposes, which tax money would be applied to the construction of social housing in Vancouver.
The Green Party of Vancouver, as well, has mostly kept to the issues — green issues, as you might imagine, that have much appeal to Vancouver's voting electorate, as Vancouver's nascent political party strives to hold the balance of power at city council in this next term of office. The Cedar Party has taken research in this election to new and glorious heights — rooting out a "secret development" at the north end of the Granville Street bridge.
Let's make the 2014 Vancouver civic election about the issues: openness and transparency in municipal government, development of a workable strategy that will ensure the provision of affordable and social housing in the city of Vancouver, form of development (high-rise vs low-and-mid-rise) in our neighbourhoods, a transportation strategy that will meet the needs of all residents (a $4.2 billion subway down Broadway vs a network of at-grade light rail / streetcars across our city), a return to a long-held city policy of 2.75 acres of park space for every 1000 residents, and robust consultation and people-centred planning, among a raft of other issues.
Vancouver does not have to be the wild west of municipal politics. Let's strive for something better, something finer. Let's conduct a municipal election in Vancouver that will engage the interest of voters, and ensure a record turnout of the Vancouver electorate at the polls this November.
September 19, 2014
The past 36 hours has proved to be busy in the Vancouver civic election campaign, as COPE, the Green Party and the NPA are front and centre making game-changing campaign announcements, while lawyer Bob Kasting announced his candidacy for the Mayor's chair, and the Cedar Party issued a press release on a major campaign announcement, for Friday at 1pm.
In the coming days, VanRamblings will provide coverage of COPE's absolutely necessary $15 an hour minimum wage proposal (which we wholly support, we believe is entirely do-able, and has worked in Seattle), the Green Party of Vancouver's platform and proposals for good government, and the Non-Partisan Association's humane "no child will go to school hungry" campaign announcement (the one thing you know about the NPA is that when they make a campaign promise — all of their campaign commitments are eminently do-able — they will keep that promise).
In today's post, we'll focus on Bob Kasting — Vancouver-based lawyer and community leader, winner of the bronze medal and carrier of the Canadian flag at the 1972 Munich Olympics, adjunct business law professor at BCIT, and administrative law at UBC's Faculty of Law, architect and hero of the triumphant win that halted construction of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, and currently the legal counsel for the False Creek Residents Association, who are battling Concord Pacific over commercial use — a sales centre — of land zoned for park space.
Vision Vancouver, you ask? Well, they've been quiet on the campaign trail, the Mayor mute, the campaign seemingly in hiding — Vision's campaign honchos seem to think that remaining quiet, hiding the Mayor and Council, not agreeing to debates, and relying on the $800,000 in happy face television ads they'll run in the final 2 weeks of the campaign will win them the election. Cynical Vision electioneering — par for the course with them.
Bob Kasting announces his candidacy for Mayor of Vancouver
At 5pm Wednesday afternoon, lawyer Bob Kasting announced he will run for Mayor, as an Independent candidate in 2014's Vancouver civic election.
From Emily Jackson's Vancouver MetroNews story ...
"The lawyer who helped two neighbourhood groups launch legal action against the City of Vancouver over the past year is officially vying to become the city's next mayor. Kasting believes the two major parties, Vision Vancouver and the NPA, are both too attached to developers and wants to bring a focus back to neighbourhoods."
Make no mistake, Bob Kasting will perform a forensic audit of Vision Vancouver's six sorry years in power, as only a powerful municipal affairs barrister is capable. Members of the Kasting campaign team have told VanRamblings that by the time a dogged, investigative Bob Kasting is done with Vision Vancouver, Vision will be left bloodied and begging for mercy.
Perhaps the definitive perspective on the Bob Kasting for Mayor candidacy comes from respected writer, historian, and longtime Grandview Woodland community activist, Jak King, who writes of Bob Kasting ...
Yesterday afternoon, lawyer Bob Kasting announced his run as an independent candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. I had rather hoped he would announce many months ago in the hope that he could corrall behind him some of the seven or eight parties running for Council in November, But he is in now, and that's good, especially as he is a great supporter of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhood's Principles & Goals document that outlines a much improved community engagement process for our growing city.
I support Bob Kasting as Mayor of Vancouver. He is a man of extraordinary learning and intelligence, he understands the nature of the City as a collection of definable neighbourhoods, he is willing to listen to a range of ideas for dealing with our Vision-generated affordability crisis, and I believe he has the ability to mold an "independent" Council into a tool for burnishing Vancouver into an even greater future. If we are ever to move Vancouver away from the idea of political parties in municipal politics (we are one of the last holdouts for that corrupting system) then having an Independent Mayor is a damn good start.
In supporting Bob Kasting for Mayor, Jak is clear that "four or five different parties vying to put together issue-based solutions" is his preferred option for the 2014 - 2018 Vancouver City Council.
In saying so, Jak supports the Council candidacies of the Green Party's Adriane Carr and Pete Fry, and the Vancouver Cedar Party's Nicholas Chernen (VanRamblings couldn't agree more with Jak's top three picks for Council!), and an amalgam of candidates from the NPA and COPE.
Time will tell as to who, come election week, will emerge as the most viable anti-Vision-Vancouver candidates.
Make no mistake, there are no circumstances under the sun in which the citizens of Vancouver should give even a passing thought to electing Vision Vancouver back into government for a third term.
For now, VanRamblings is pleased as punch with the candidacy of Bob Kasting for Mayor — we know him to be a fine man, and incredibly bright. Bob's voice can only add to the din of criticism against the viability of another majority Vision Vancouver term at Council, and for that we are grateful for his candidacy, his wit, his integrity, and his commitment to the people of Vancouver, and to a fairer and more just city for all of us.
September 17, 2014
In 2014, longtime COPE member Meena Wong has come to the rescue of a beleaguered Coalition of Progressive Electors in announcing her candidacy as COPE's Mayoral hopeful. COPE is fortunate, indeed, to have identified a hard working and well-respected member of the party to step forward, to lead them into what could be a treacherous 2014 Vancouver civic election.
COPE member Michael Stewart writing on rabble.ca suggests that Ms. Wong offers a strong alternative to Vancouver's blancmange mayoral race (by the way, for those not in the know, blancmange is defined as "a sweet opaque gelatinous dessert made with cornstarch and milk" — take that you angry old white men of privilege, Gregor Robertson and Kirk LaPointe!) ...
"The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) attempted to offer an alternative today to the blancmange buffet currently masquerading as Vancouver's municipal election — in which two wealthy, pro-developer, white, male candidates vie for the mayoral seat.
Wong, fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese and English, frustrates this mano à mano narrative crafted by Vision and the NPA. With connections to activist, immigrant and progressive communities as well as her involvement with the federal and provincial NDP, Wong has the capacity to build a robust left-wing opposition to the false choice of this or that real estate speculator.
"COPE has helped to shape the Vancouver that we love today," Wong said at her press conference on the steps of City Hall, flanked by about two-dozen supporters and attended by English, Mandarin and Cantonese media. "Since 1968, COPE has fought for a just city that is based on compassion, respect and duty to all."
Only one week into the campaign, and Wong has already registered on the civic election radar, raising an issue that other mainstream Vancouver civic parties, previous to Ms. Wong's ascension to becoming COPE's mayoral candidate, wouldn't have touched with a 10-foot barge pole: the hot-button issue of foreign ownership of Vancouver real estate.
From a Barbara Yaffe story published in the Vancouver Sun on Monday, titled Absentee homebuyers targeted by mayoral candidates ...
"The push for a tax on vacant housing units was introduced recently by Meena Wong, the mayoral candidate for the Coalition of Progressive Electors, reflecting the first time a candidate has made a campaign pledge aimed at dampening speculation in Vancouver's increasingly unaffordable property market. Wong, an unsuccessful federal NDP candidate in Vancouver South in 2011 who is unlikely to win the November election, has touched a local nerve as the need for housing grows and prices continue their upward trajectory.
Wong would use the tax revenues generated for affordable housing.
Taxing owners for their vacant properties could become a prominent issue in the civic election if embraced by other candidates. That Wong herself is ethnic Chinese — she emigrated to Canada from Hong Kong 34 years ago — will dampen any chatter about racism, or anti-immigrant overtones.
Strange that, because only 17 short months ago, activist COPE member and editor of the left wing online journal, The Mainlander, Nathan Crompton, was issuing cries of racism and political scapegoating when local columnist Mark Hasiuk and political observer Sandy Garossino sought to tackle the issue of foreign home ownership in Vancouver head on. Hmmm.
For the indefatigable Ms Wong, it is unfortunate too that she is saddled with an unpalatable & politically inept Left Front-developed electoral platform that, when the media finally gets around to taking a good hard look at its central tenets, could flatten her candidacy (hint: read COPE's 'out in space' policing platform), an unsalutary development that could take her out of the race, and any serious consideration as a candidate for the Mayor's chair.
Not to mention that COPE is nearly broke and on the verge of bankruptcy.
If nothing else, the optics look bad. Sure, COPE brings in $2000+ each month in PAC money (automatic monthly donations), but for a party that spent more than $1 million in the 2002 municipal election campaign, and between $360,000 and $650,000 in each of the 2005, 2008 and 2011 electoral campaigns, borrowing money from the bank (which they've been doing all summer to keep the party afloat) to fund a near bankrupt campaign hardly suggests that COPE could reasonably be considered by potential voters as good fiscal managers and protectors of the public purse.
Thank goodness that COPE has Meena Wong heading up their campaign, and credible COPE stalwarts like Tim Louis, Gayle Gavin and Sid Chow Tan heading up their Council slate (word is also very positive on Keith Higgins and Jennifer O'Keefe), and former Park Board Chair, Anita Romaniuk, heading up an otherwise undistinguished COPE Park Board slate.
Even COPE's co-founder, the Vancouver District and Labour Council (VDLC) has abandoned the party, endorsing all Vision Vancouver candidates, but offering support only to COPE Council candidate Gayle Gavin (who was not one of the candidates endorsed by the Left Front), and COPE Park Board candidate Anita Romaniuk — an unprecedented decision by the house of labour that only adds to COPE's innumerable woes. Labour not supporting COPE for the first time in the party's 46-year history — it beggars belief!
COPE. A website that is near dead. A dearth of press releases issued by the party. No videos. No ads. Virtually no public political presence in the electoral campaign (save coverage of Meena Wong), online or elsewhere, an electoral party that is so hamstrung it can't even get around to making a decision as to who the 8th candidate on their Council slate will be (John Yano and Wilson Munoz tied at 116 votes apiece) — some 11 days after the nominating convention! — a civic electoral party that has virtually no presence in neighbourhood activist groups across our city ("NIMBY issues", according to some not-so-good folks in COPE, don'tcha know).
Ticket sales for the Kshama Sawanta forum later in the month looking at best forlorn (with half the money raised going to Ms. Sawant, and $1000 to be paid to the Maritime Labour Centre for rental of the hall — with COPE, if it doesn't rain, it pours), a party that for all intents and purposes looks like a meaner version of Vision Vancouver (now, that's going some), the only political party not to take Vision Vancouver to task for dropping top-vote-getting candidate Trish Kelly from their Park Board slate (note that there is no mention of Vision Vancouver in COPE's press release — maybe the rumours are true, that COPE has been bought-and-paid-for by Vision Vancouver, now that would be a fine kettle of fish), while Vision placed the 6th and 7th ranked candidates on the parks slate six weeks later. Tim Louis thought that David Chudnovsky sold the party out to Vision Vancouver — David couldn't hold a candle to the damage that's been done by the current group of Vision appeasers in control of the COPE political apparatus.
Migawd, you'd have to be dead not to realize that the morally and financially bankrupt Coalition of Progressive Electors is in dire straits, indeed.
September 15, 2014
The folks who are seeking political office as members of the Non-Partisan Association, and have put their names forward in this 2014 Vancouver civic election campaign to garner your vote, constitute a retinue of decent, humble, and very bright, publically-minded servants of the public interest.
From the outset of the current Vancouver civic election campaign, NPA mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe made it clear that his party would run a "clean campaign". All NPA candidates would be required to sign (and did so) an "issues not insults" code of conduct pledging that there would be no personal attacks by members of his party that would be directed to their "political foes". As LaPointe stated when signing the pledge, "There is a very clear intersection with your conduct and your ability to perform your duties. All of us feel quite comfortable in the idea we've got rich, fertile territory to criticize policy, we don't ever have to go into personal lives."
In this 2014 Vancouver civic election campaign, mayoral hopeful Kirk LaPointe has made liberal use of a withering line about Vision Vancouver's wrong-headed six years in power: "Vancouver is a great city, badly run."
Who knows where the NPA grabbed that tag line — it's effective, though.
On the face of it, "Vancouver is a great city, badly run" would seem to suggest that those running with the Non-Partisan Association would be better city managers, and more astute protectors of the public purse.
In practice, though, "Vancouver is a great city, badly run" serves as a reminder to voters, who have repeatedly taken Vision Vancouver to task for their egregiously "bad", anti-neighbourhood, tower-driven, anti-park decisions. "Vancouver is a great city, badly run" implores us not to forget about just how unhappy we've been with Vision Vancouver in power.
Those living in the Langara neighbourhood were apoplectic about Mayor Robertson's proposal to hive off half of the Langara Golf Course to sell to developers, while turning the other half of the golf course into a "park".
A bad proposal with no support from neighbours of the golf course, and the residents of Langara, who saw through the sham, and realized that Vision's actual intent was to diminish already scarce green space in their under-parked neighbourhood. Women who spoke up at Park Board were adamant that the trails around the golf course were safer as a consequence of the eyes of golfers on the runners and walkers. There was even a young Olympic medalist who told Park Board she trained on those trails as a child.
In this instance, as will be the case in so many other neighbourhoods across our city, "Vancouver is a great city, badly run" only serves to remind Langara residents about the anti-neighbourhood, anti-park policies of the Vision Vancouver civic administration, and the resource they could very well have lost, and might still lose if rumours of Vision's intent to follow through on their original plans prove to be true, should Vision be re-elected.
And it's not just Langara residents who will recall with ill feeling Vision's "in the pocket of developers" ethos.
- Mount Pleasant residents mounted a vigorous opposition to the Rize Development at Kingsway and Broadway, and lost;
- Grandview Woodland residents decried Vision's plan for massive tower complexes at both Clark Drive and Commercial Drive, six storey townhouses along Nanaimo Street, stacked townhouses along East 1st Avenue, and increased heights along East Hastings Street;
- Hastings Sunrise residents won't soon forget Vision Council's decision to block Park Board from taking control of Hastings Park, in order that a "massive $310.5 million redevelopment" of the park might continue. You can bet that there aren't going be a great number of Hastings Sunrise residents who'll being casting a vote for Vision in 2014.
Whether you live in Kitsilano, where Vision Vancouver sought to pave large portions of Kitsilano Beach and Hadden Park.
Or you're a West End resident who was opposed to STIR (the city's wildly unpopular Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing programme, a giveaway to developers), which resulted in the tearing down of a church at 1401 Comox (originally slated for park space), putting up a 22-storey tower in its place, while at the same time adding a sixth tower to the Beach Towers complex, to name just a couple of examples of Vision development plans that met with West End neighbourhood opposition.
Or you're a former resident of the Downtown Eastside who lost their affordable housing when Vision Vancouver failed to respond to adamant opposition to Wall Corp's proposal to build a massive condominium complex at 955 East Hastings — which, when it was approved by a thoughtless Vancouver Council, displaced 200 longtime DTES residents.
Or, you're one of the residents of the Fairview neighbourhood's affordable housing development, Heather Place, who will be displaced as a consequence of Vision Vancouver's decision to redevelop the site as a "market rental" development — effectively doubling tenants' rents ...
You can bet that with the litany of secretive, wrong-headed, non-consultative, anti-neighbourhood proposals that became fact over the course of Vision Vancouver's six years in power that "Vancouver is a great city, badly run" will almost certainly emerge as the devastatingly powerful and understated meme of the 2014 Vancouver civic election campaign, a constant, daily reminder by Kirk LaPointe, and his Non-Partisan Association colleagues, that Vision Vancouver is not a municipal political party that is on your side, or was ever on your side, that indeed Vancouver was a great city, but under Vision Vancouver our city has been unforgivably badly and terribly run, and not run for you, but rather in the interests of developers.
"Vancouver is a great city, badly run" offers cogent, reflective comment — and a devastating indictment of Vision Vancouver's six years in power, and a reminder that with Vision Vancouver gone from the municipal political landscape come the evening of November 15th that under a revitalized Non-Partisan Association municipal administration (members of the NPA would suggest), Vancouver might once again become a truly great city.
August 27, 2014
Reprinted with the permission of the author of the article, Tim Louis. Mr. Louis was a two-term member of Vancouver City Council, and will be a 2014 Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate for a Council nomination. COPE's nominating conference will be held Sunday, September 7th.
Mr. Louis was a two-term member of Vancouver City Council, and will be a 2014 Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate for a Council nomination. COPE's nominating conference will be held Sunday, September 7th.
In politics, as in our personal lives, sometimes we need to revise our expectations. Other times, we have to admit we are wrong; we are required to concede that we simply did not do enough.
In the case of Vision Vancouver's highly touted and infinitely flexible promise to end homelessness, it appears that a rather shady third option is taking place. Rather than admit fault, Vision is redefining the terms to distract the public while keeping developers as its main allies.
Since its inception in 1937, the NPA (Non-Partisan Association) has been the developer's party.
For the NPA, an attitude of "everyone should enjoy the fruits of their labour" means that a developer's application for rezoning is rarely turned down. Under the old NPA and relative newcomer Vision, Vancouver has been governed to maximize developer profit, not public well being.
Today, the political landscape consists of not one developer party, but two: NPA and Vision. As such, COPE has always run at a disadvantage because the NPA is lavishly funded by developers, as is Vision.
Although both of the developer-backed parties make showy presentations of their dedication to free enterprise and good business practice, it is COPE that actually practices truth in advertising.
COPE candidates are pledged to uphold the policy positions democratically adopted in open meetings, unlike the developers' parties, who enjoy the fruits of developing their platform behind closed doors by a chosen few.
Vision Vancouver is a version of the NPA with bicycle lanes. Some observers refer to Vision as NPA Lite.
Meanwhile, COPE is sticking to the principles of social justice and offering an unambiguous alternative to these developer parties.
COPE is the only party offering a clear and concrete proposal to address the crisis of homelessness. With the creation of a Vancouver housing authority, COPE proposes to build thousands of units of subsidized and affordable housing which would be owned and operated by the city.
Instead of following a plan to produce results, Vision has played games with the issues of housing affordability and homelessness.
Here is one example of Vision game playing. Vision simply redefines the term "affordable housing" to include any rental housing so that when a developer applies for rezoning, the bylaw that requires a certain number of units to be affordable is meaningless. Permits are issued because any rental units, no matter how expensive, are being considered affordable when there are actually very few who are able to pay the rent.
Earlier this year, the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count revealed that homelessness has increased in our community. Vision's 2008 campaign promise to end homelessness by 2015 has been a failure. Scrambling to save face, Vision has changed the message to claim that what they actually intended to do was end street homelessness.
Although someone who uses a shelter may not be considered street homeless, they must still be counted as a person without a home. Anyone staying in a shelter is required to leave in the morning and stay scarce until evening is essentially homeless during the day.
A home is more than a place to sleep.
Vision arbitrarily changes the meaning of terms at will, in a dazzling example of what the great English satirist George Orwell called "Newspeak" in his classic study of tyranny, 1984. Rumours that the book's character Big Brother is now on stipend to write press releases for Vision cannot be confirmed at this point, but remain plausible.
Regardless, Vision's underhanded revisions of language are the party's attempt to convince the public that they are standing firmly on some sort of platform rather than tumbling with the lint in developers' pockets.
Don't we want a city council that positions itself firmly outside the fiscal influence of developers?
It's COPE that has the real plan to address the important issues of homelessness and affordable housing.
August 21, 2014
The folks in the Cedar Party are at it again, telling us stuff that we already know. Like how there was only one bidder — WestBank Corp, owned by Mayor Gregor Robertson's bestest pal and big time Vision Vancouver supporter, Ian Gillespie — on the property where the much-touted Gesamtkunstwerk Vancouver House will be built. We say, so what? If the Mayor wants to gift his good friend Ian with 'special favours', so be it.
But are the noisome folks in the Cedar Party prepared to leave it at, "That Ian Gillespie fella, he has this in with the Mayor, and with Vision Vancouver, you see, and there's just something a little unsavoury about the whole circumstance where there was only one bidder allowed on the Vancouver House site, and don'tcha know that bidder was Ian Gillespie, and doesn't it somehow seem wrong to you that Ian Gillespie 'was allowed to tie up this property for several years without paying for it until final approvals were granted, which only occurred recently?" Nope. They just can't leave it alone!
That Glen Chernen fella — you know, he's the Mayoral aspirant for the Vancouver Cedar Party — and his hearty band of civic miscreants — I mean, really, who are they to be asking questions of our esteemed Mayor and his fabulous gang of demogogues at Vancouver City Hall, the once and forever Vision Vancouver party that will rule over us for our own good, whether we like it or not, for generations to come — where does the Cedar Party get off having the temerity to ask a question like, "How can the interests of Vancouver residents be seen to be looked after if our local government gives itself the unilateral right to sell off city-owned land without even passing consideration being given to the notion of competitive bidding for the sale of our precious, 'belongs to the people of Vancouver', property?"
Who do the folks at the Vancouver Cedar Party think they are? Heck, you'd think they live in Vancouver, and have a dog in our 2014 civic electoral fight.
Oh, you mean, these Vancouver Cedar Party folks, they do actually live in Vancouver, and they're running candidates to defeat Vision Vancouver this November 15th. Good luck to them, those newby civic electoral naïfs — as if that's going to happen, given the millions of dollars that developers have poured into Vision Vancouver coffers these past six years, and more!
And to top it off, Chernen and his bothersome, irksome group of detectives go about quoting a July 28, 2014 Sam Cooper article in The Province newspaper — but three weeks late, cuz Green Party of Vancouver Council candidate Pete Fry had already written a blog post about the 52-storey Westbank project at the north end of the Granville Bridge.
And, just like the folks at the Cedar Party, Pete Fry goes and sticks his nose where it don't belong, and casts aspersions on the character of the Mayor and his Vision Vancouver colleagues, in having approved the Vancouver House development (you remember Vancouver House, with that annoying 'star' architect Bjarke Ingels on our TV every night, endlessly overselling just how wonderful Vancouver House will be once it's finished) — not that anyone in Vancouver will be able to afford to live there, but like who cares anyway, except maybe the Cedar Party, and Pete Fry, both of whom point out that Vancouver House is being marketed exclusively (an allegation since corrected) to wealthy overseas buyers — replete with (gosh, wouldn't it be nice?) "special absentee owner concierge services and a fleet of luxury BMWs on reserve". But there you go again, with those annoying Cedar Party folks, and Fry, chiming in with a quote from Cooper's article:
"According to the South China Morning Post, two sales offices were opened in Hong Kong in June ... (with units) marketed in Singapore ... reserved for overseas buyers ... (meeting with an) overwhelming response."
As we say, looks like folks from Vancouver won't be able to afford Vancouver House, anyway — well, certainly not you or me.
Like, so what, eh? The folks who live in Vancouver have bigger things to worry about — will the kids be back in school on September 2nd, or when to set aside some time to go to the PNE, and important stuff like that.
Who does that Pete Fry guy think he is, anyway, questioning his betters — I mean, Geoff Meggs and Andrea Reimer, they done got themselves elected to Council, and the folks who live in Vancouver put their trust in them, and now youse got this Pete Fry fella askin' questions, like somehow he's got a right to ask questions of his betters. Gosh, we think not. Heck, you'd think that there was an election going on, or sumptin' like that there.
And, don'tcha know — probably under a threat of a lawsuit — The Province pulled the original story, and all readers can find now is this correction.
Thank goodness the Non-Partisan Association seems to think that the Vancouver House skullduggery is just fine, with nary a peep from NPA Mayoralty hopeful Kirk LaPointe — although, one supposes, these are early days in Campaign 2014. LaPointe will certainly have to enunciate a position on development once the civic election campaign begins in earnest.
Let us hope that the NPA narrative on development in our city differentiates itself from the Vision Vancouver development narrative, which is ...
"Hey folks, it's only development we're talkin' about here. You should let your betters make decisions on your behalf, cuz we know what we're doing, and you don't. Honest, there's nothing to see here folks, just move along. Don'tcha know, the PNE is on, and there's this darn teacher's strike that's happenin', you don't want to worry your pretty little heads with something as stupid and arcane as development. Ewww, that's yucky stuff — you're not really interested in that. Oh look — a bright shiny object. Pretty, isn't it?"
And thank god, too, that the naïfs and ne'er-do-wells over at COPE headquarters could give a good goddamn about secretive and unsavoury development in our city — gosh, they're only concerned with turning our city into a communist paradise. Me, I can't wait til they issue the drab grey uniforms that we'll all have to wear when COPE takes over — gosh that'll be no fun, and don'tcha know that's exactly what COPE wants, for all of us to live under the yolk of COPE oppression. Gosh, that oughta be great!
And best of all, thank God we've got such a subservient media, who wouldn't say shit if their mouths were full of it. Well, it is Vision Vancouver, after all, and who in the media would dare to question the majority party that has reigned supreme at Vancouver City Hall these past six years?
August 18, 2014
A couple of weeks back, in an interview with The Straight's Carlito Pablo, former three-term Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) City Councillor David Cadman predicted that Vision Vancouver would likely win a third consecutive majority term in office at City Hall come this November 15th.
"I'm not a betting person but I would think, and I haven't seen any of the polls, but I would think...that they will get another majority, yeah."
As it happens, VanRamblings concurs with Mr. Cadman's prediction. Let's take a closer look at Vision Vancouver's prospects for re-election in 2014.
Vancouver Civic Election: The Mayor's Race, Robertson vs LaPointe
In the 2014 Vancouver civic election, Mayor Gregor Robertson would seem to have another win at the polls, come November 15th, virtually in the bag.
In 2011, Mr. Robertson took 53.17% of the vote, as 77,005 electors cast a ballot for the sitting Mayor, almost 10,000 more votes than were cast for him in 2008. Meanwhile, in 2011, the opposition Non-Partisan Association garnered only 58,152 votes, or 40.15% support. In order for Kirk LaPointe, the NPA's mayoralty candidate in 2014, to triumph on the evening of November 15th, the Mayor's popularity would have to drop by almost 10,000 votes, with a concomitant rise in popularity for the NPA. What are the prospects that the Mayor will lose 10,000 votes, while Mr. LaPointe transfers Mr. Robertson's lost votes into the winning column for the NPA?
VanRamblings' answer to that question: bloody unlikely.
For all the kvetching of the opposition poli parties about City Hall secrecy, development run amuck, Vision's failure to build affordable housing, and the utter collapse of the Mayor's commitment to end homelessness by 2015, a recent Justason poll indicates that the Mayor maintains the support of 59% of the electorate, an almost insurmountable lead in popularity over the NPA's Kirk LaPointe, who registers only 41% support from the electorate.
Opposition parties don't win elections; the party in power loses government, generally arising from scandal, utter incompetence, in-fighting within the party, or a weariness among the electorate. None of those latter attributes apply to Vision Vancouver, who would not only appear to have maintained the support of the electorate, but have, as well, an experienced, well-funded, and professionally-run electoral machine that has won majority government twice, and means to win a third majority mandate in 2014.
As we've written previously, in 2002 the NPA lost office at Vancouver City Hall when City Councillor Jennifer Clarke succeeded in a party coup to dislodge popular three-term sitting Mayor Philip Owen, much the same circumstance as occurred in 2008, when NPA City Councillor Peter Ladner defeated sitting Mayor Sam Sullivan to run — in what proved to be a losing bid — as the NPA mayoralty candidate. Both times the party was trounced at the polls. As we say, the electorate simply doesn't like party in-fighting.
In 2005, the Non-Partisan Association was once again able to gain a win at the polls, when the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) — the sitting civic government of the day — found itself rent with division.
What could cause Mayor Robertson to lose in 2014? Character issues, or evidence of financial impropriety. Rumours continue to abound about indiscreet behaviour involving the Mayor. Meanwhile, there are rumours afloat about the Mayor's involvement in financial / development transactions where the Mayor and / or his friends have unduly, or 'illegally', benefited.
VanRamblings' perspective on these politically-inclined rumours: political partisans opposed to the Mayor's re-election are dreaming in technicolor.
At this point, there are only three Mayoralty candidates, other than the Mr. Robertson, who've announced their intention to seek office at Vancouver City Hall: the NPA's Kirk LaPointe, the Vancouver Cedar Party's Glen Chernen, and independent candidate for Mayor, Colin Shandler. COPE, as well as TEAM, had been rumoured to be running mayoralty candidates, but that prospect seems to have dimmed in recent months.
The Non-Partisan Association is the only civic party, other than Vision Vancouver, that has the funding necessary to mount a winning campaign for office. For all that the Cedar Party's Glen Chernen is a fine fellow, his party is underfunded and understaffed, with little or no history of involvement on the civic scene — as such, Chernen's potential for success at the polls is remote, his role in a bid for civic office that of spoiler, most probably as it relates to the prospects of the NPA's mayoralty candidate. Colin Shandler's prospects for a win are nil — he'll just not find himself in the conversation, however much of a decent guy he may be.
All is not necessarily lost for the NPA's mayoralty candidate, though.
In Kirk LaPointe, the Non-Partisan Association has a handsome, informed, articulate, grounded and charismatic candidate, a mayoralty hopeful who thinks on his feet, writes well, connects in a palpable manner, and has staked out firm positions on the issues that have arisen over the summer.
Unfortunately, Mr. LaPointe would seem to be suffering from Left Foot Syndrome — which is to say that Mr. LaPointe would seem to favour that particular appendage for regular placement in his mouth (at least it's not both feet!). It's difficult to disagree with what Green Party of Vancouver Park Board candidate Stuart Mackinnon has to say when he writes ...
"While I'm not a fan of the current regime at City Hall and agree that we need change, I think Kirk LaPointe should choose his examples a little more carefully. All three examples he uses — Aquarium, tankers and Granville Island ownership — are very important civic issues. The Aquarium because it sits on public park land and leases this from the Park Board, tankers because even one mishap could have irreversible consequences for Vancouver, and Granville Island because what happens there has great effect on the City as a whole.
There are many examples to show why we need a new government in Vancouver, these 3 are not amongst them."
VanRamblings believes the points Mr. Mackinnon raises to be unassailable.
Even if Kirk LaPointe hasn't proved to be too much the politician to this point in the civic electoral race — why would he take a position on a hot-button issue like the Aquarium, and risk alienating a goodly portion of the electorate who don't agree with his enunciated position of 'Park Board should leave well enough alone, things are fine at the Aquarium'? — these are early days in Campaign 2014 for elected office in the City of Vancouver.
As much as Vision Vancouver aims to emerge victorious at the polls come November 15, 2014, Kirk LaPointe and his ready band of NPA colleagues are just as intent in securing a majority victory on that very same evening.
In 2014, Vancouverites may just find themselves witness to an honest-to-goodness civic election campaign that engages the hearts and minds of the electorate. In the coming days, VanRamblings will publish analyses of the Councillors' race for elected office, as well as Board of Education and Park Board. Welcome back. Nice to have you reading VanRamblings again!
August 8, 2014
Approximately one week ago, Vancouver Magazine columnist Frances Bula casually asked me why I was covering Vancouver's civic election scene on VanRamblings — stating that, "I don't recall you doing that much before."
Now, Frances' query was framed as a simple question — she was curious, and given that we'd been corresponding, and I turned up at the NPA breakfast meeting with Kirk LaPointe on July 14th (unusual for me), the question seems a valid one, and deserving of a reply. Because the question Frances poses is a question that has been asked of me by many (not the least of whom was COPE's Sarah Beuhler), I'll use this forum to respond.
The primary reason VanRamblings revived itself on June 15th to commence in-depth coverage of the current civic election cycle was to create an alternative narrative to the one most often expressed by Vision Vancouver.
On VanRamblings, I want to hold Vision Vancouver to account for their decision-making, practice and conduct over the course of the past almost six years, and to remind VanRamblings' approximately 17,000 weekly readers of Vision Vancouver's position on a number of issues: development, community consultation, the arts, parks as well as green and environmental issues, affordable housing, and transit — and of how what Vision Vancouver says (or said in the past), and what Vancouver's majority municipal party actually does in practice are often two very different things.
As I've also written on VanRamblings many, many times before, I believe Vision Vancouver to be the worst municipal government that Vancouver has had since the hoary days of Tom 'Terrific' Campbell — and, what I've set about to do on VanRamblings is back up that contention with dogged research, and the regular breaking of stories on this blog, commencing with intensive coverage of Vancouver's civic scene some eight weeks ago.
Now, to the second part of Frances' query (before returning to a continuing answer of the initial question): while it is true that VanRamblings has not had a history, over the past decade, of providing intensive coverage of the civic scene, as the last PoliSci / Anthropology / Sociology graduate from Simon Fraser's old PSA department, I can tell you that my interest in the art of politics captured me whole in the early days of my young adulthood.
At Simon Fraser University, where I undertook two undergraduate degrees throughout the 1970s, I developed an overweening interest in politics that was honed and academically informed through the guidance of professors and activists of political conscience. I was privileged to continue a process of a refining of my political understanding as I undertook a Master's degree in Policy Administration, again at Simon Fraser University, in the early 1980s.
The allure of politics, and of democratic engagement and empowerment dates back even earlier, to the first part of the 1960s when I marched with my father on postal workers' picket lines, on strike after strike after strike.
As I've written previously, I worked on my first political campaign in 1963, volunteering on NDP MP Harold Winch's Vancouver East campaign for re-election to federal office, and from those days until now, the allure of politics and democratic engagement has held a pull and a fascination for me, as part of a lifelong endeavour that has consumed me, as a good portion of my life has continued in dedication to building a fairer, more just and truly democratic society, an interest that sustains me until this day.
In additional answer to the query, although I've not covered civic politics to distraction on VanRamblings (I'll explain why in a moment), I have consistently covered the federal and provincial political electoral scene: for instance, in my Decision Canada coverage of federal elections, and last year's intensive Decision BC 2013 coverage of our BC provincial election.
As to why I turned up at the NPA breakfast meeting with Kirk LaPointe, or attend press conferences for the other municipal political parties? I've asked to be placed on the press contact list, and the various civic parties have kindly acceded to my request. I'm retired, I've got the time, I have the interest, and I have the forum — VanRamblings — to publish. Yes, we live in a new and different age. We now have citizen journalism on the web!
While it is true that there's not been all that much coverage of civic issues, on a regular basis, on VanRamblings, and certainly not intensive coverage of Vancouver's civic scene, there's good reason for that ...
During the course of the 2005 election, I was a member of Vancouver's Board of Variance. Given that the BoV is an independent, quasi-judicial body, I believed that it would have been unseemly for me to pronounce publically on civic election affairs — which doesn't mean that I, and other members of the Board of Variance on which I sat, didn't stump for and support civic parties running in the 2005 election; rather, it was that such engagement was quieter, and reflective of the position of trust we held as members of the Board.
During the course of the 2008 and 2011 Vancouver civic elections, I worked as a co-campaign manager on Tim Louis' campaign for office, designed, created and posted to his campaign website, and worked assiduously on the COPE campaign, as a whole, to elect members to Vancouver City Council, Park Board and School Board.
In 2008, given that I had a relationship of some longstanding with Aaron Jasper, I worked as a campaign organizer on the Vision-COPE Park Board slate (both at the request of COPE, and at Aaron's request, and with the support of Vision). Throughout both campaigns, I was busy working on Tim's / COPE's campaign for office, as well as engaging in grassroots campaigning, going door-to-door campaigning for COPE.
So, as you see, my interest in civic politics was always present — I have chosen in 2014 to direct that involvement in the life of our society, online.
Back to the implicit question contained in Frances' initial query: why you, Raymond, why now — and, perhaps, how is your voice a valid one?
The answer is simple: although I have not previously acted as a journalist covering Vancouver's civic electoral scene, I believe I am in a unique position to cover the 2014 Vancouver municipal election: which is to say, I have a personal relationship with, and have had a personal relationship, with almost every civic politico in town, dating back a decade and much longer.
For instance, for a year-and-a-half, commencing in early 2012 through until the autumn of last year, one Sunday every month, I met with a group of progressives in COPE to help develop a framework for COPE policy — as such I was "inside" the process of decision-making for one of Vancouver's four main political parties. During that time I was afforded the opportunity to get to know Tristan Markle, Stuart Parker, Kim Hearty, and the nine others who sat around Dr. Penny Parry and Tim's Louis' dining room table.
I also worked closely with COPE Executive Director Sean Antrim, and was very much involved in various aspects of the COPE planning process.
Given my gregarious and curious nature (and much to the chagrin of my COPE colleagues), I have also come to develop a close rapport, verging on friendship, with a number of folks involved in the Non-Partisan Association.
For instance, for the past year and a half, I have met once a month with current NPA Council candidate Rob McDowell (one of my very favourite politicos in town, and my favourite of the NPA candidates for Council). As the Park Board watchdog (so named by The Courier's Sandra Thomas), in addition to speaking regularly with the Vision Vancouver Commissioners on Park Board — Chair, Aaron Jasper, Constance Barnes, Niki Sharma, Sarah Blyth and Trevor (each of whom I both like very much, and for whom I have much respect and admiration) — I have also had the privilege of speaking and meeting with the two NPA Park Board Commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova. I like, admire & respect both John & Melissa, very much.
If I am over the moon about Rob McDowell (and I am), my regard for current NPA Board of Education candidate Christopher Richardson knows no bounds — he's not just one of the finest politicos I've ever met, Christopher is one of the best people I've ever met, period; it is a privilege to have the opportunity to speak with both Rob and Christopher.
In addition to Rob McDowell and Christopher Richardson, I've come to hold NPA Board of Education candidate Sandy Sharma, and NPA Park Board candidate Erin Shum in the highest personal regard. My admiration for NPA Council candidate Ian Robertson also knows no bounds — I think he's the smartest politico in town. I've also become more familiar with NPA Councillor George Affleck, and have long known NPA Councillor Elizabeth Ball, dating back to the days when I was the de facto arts and entertainment editor for a number of community newspapers, and regularly met with Elizabeth, in her capacity as Managing Director of Granville Island's Carousel Theatre.
That I believe that each of these candidates for the Non-Partisan Association to be principled, honest and humble, and deserving of the public's support at the polls should be considered a given — truth to tell, though, these are early days, and I have not as yet determined the list of candidates I will endorse in the final week of the current civic election cycle.
For Council, I can tell you that COPE's Sid Chow Tan and Tim Louis will be on my final endorsement list, as will the Vancouver Cedar Party's Nicholas Chernen. Clearly, the NPA's Rob McDowell and Ian Robertson are at the top of my list for Vancouver's natural governing party.
At this point, I can't imagine not endorsing Vision Vancouver's Andrea Reimer and Niki Sharma (tough, incredibly bright, principled women) — regardless of my somewhat untoward coverage of Vancouver's majority party at City Hall. And, of course, current Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr, and her running mate, Pete Fry (about whom I feel as equally strongly as I do Tim Louis, Rob McDowell, Ian Robertson, Sid Chow Tan and Nicholas Chernen) will likely be on my final endorsement list.
Still, as I say, it's early days — the final civic election candidate endorsement list is three months away from publication date.
All of the above is by way of saying, I believe that the perspective I offer on Vancouver's civic scene to be fetchingly humane and idiosyncratic, as well as informed to a degree unusual among those who cover the civic scene.
Given my relationship of long duration with politicos from across the political spectrum, and based as well on my work with many of Vancouver's most activist politicos, I have most certainly developed a more intimate rapport than most reporters would allow to be the case, all of which provides me with a unique insight into the character of those who are running for office, and those mounting and backing the various municipal political campaigns.
As such, VanRamblings can, and will, offer a warmly idiosyncratic (and we hope, as well, often amusing) take on the civic scene, in the days, weeks and months leading up to the November 15th municipal election.
An aside, if I might, on two issues concerning VanRamblings ...
Humour. You'll notice above that I employ the phrase "natural governing party" to describe the Non-Partisan Association. Allow me to point out that use of such phrase does not constitute an endorsement of the NPA, nor is it meant to suggest in any way, shape or form that I am "in the tank" for the NPA — I am simply having a little fun (mostly at the expense of some of the folks in COPE, it would seem, although that was never my intention). Readers should know, as well, that I have fun with the headlines / titles of the various articles: surely, having read VanRamblings for awhile now, you must know that I indulge my penchant for hyperbole at almost every opportunity that is afforded; sometimes after I've finished writing a column, and read it back to myself, I laugh out loud at how outrageous and over-the-top my "seeming endorsement" of a candidate would be to the casual reader. That a good many of my readers read some of my writing as amusing (as is intended) is heartening for me; that the converse is also true is, well, unsettling for me — doesn't mean I'm going to stop from composing headlines that, as I wrote a couple of days back, are designed to "engage, enrage and misdirect (challenging the reader to actually read through the commentary below the 'meant to outrage' title)."
Pejorative attack: Although I believe that the politics of personal destruction is the modus operandi for both Vision Vancouver and Stephen Harper's federal Tories (an electoral strategy that has proved successful for both political parties, thus far), on VanRamblings you will never read an attack on someone's character. Ever. There's no one on Vancouver's civic scene that I dislike (I have some personal favourites, and some quite not-so-favourites) — I am admiring of those who are engaged in the civic political scene, & in service of the public interest.
Yes, it is true that I've had some fun at the expense of Vision Vancouver's campaign team, but let me tell you that not for one moment do I ever forget that a person I am writing about is someone's son, daughter, husband, wife, companion, beloved uncle or aunt, someone's father or mother, brother or sister, or cherished friend.
I do not, and will not, deny someone's humanity.
When I write about the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Mike Magee, I do not forget who he is as a man, as a husband and a father and a friend, in addition to his work as a politico of stature and much accomplishment. You will never see me going after someone personally on the VanRamblings blog — sure, I'll take Vision Vancouver to task, but you will never read personal invective or ad hominem personal attack on this website.
Today's post constitutes only the first part of my answer to the question posed by Frances; there's more that I have to say — but not today.
This is my pre-birthday week. This coming Monday, August 11th, is my — as a neighbour suggested to me — "Beatles birthday". I will be 64.
I may have one more post before, or on (or after) my birthday (nothing political), after which time I'll take a break from VanRamblings for one week, before commencing with posting once again on Vancouver's civic scene. I look forward to your return on Monday, August 18th, for VanRamblings' continuing coverage of the upcoming 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
August 2, 2014
Kirk LaPointe is the mayoralty candidate for the Non-Partisan Association, Vancouver's oldest municipal political party.
In the past 24 hours, arising from the publication of an unsigned article on the Broadbent Institute's online publication Press Progress — the article titled Does Vancouver's conservative mayoral candidate still find picture of gay men kissing distasteful? — a visceral and destructive online controversy was created, the tenets of which was captured by The Straight editor Charlie Smith, in a commentary he published online on Friday afternoon.
In the past, VanRamblings has written about the tendency to viciousness of the Vision Vancouver campaign team, and their penchant (and, seemingly to date, winning strategy) for engaging in the politics of personal destruction, which in 2014 with the emergence of an articulate, relatively charismatic opposition candidate in the form of Kirk LaPointe, bodes ill for those of us who would much prefer that the upcoming Vancouver municipal electoral campaign would be focused on policy over personality.
If wishes were horses, one supposes.
A campaign is usually nasty. I've watched a few dozen of them as a journalist and now I get to experience one from a different place.
I have taught journalism for a decade, where we emphasize that context is everything: when you use a quote, it needs to be fair-minded within wider information and reflective of the overall tone.
I was sideswiped Friday by a story and social media that would have garnered a failing grade in my class.
The Broadbent Institute started the ball rolling with a story based on a 1999 column I wrote as editor of The Hamilton Spectator that branded me a "conservative" mayoralty candidate who might have been and still might be queasy about seeing two men kiss. It raised questions about my commitment to inclusiveness and equality. It pretty well called me a homophobe, and if it didn't, then the Vision Vancouver clan followed up with Tweets that did.
Before we get any further, let me reproduce the salient part of the weekly column on newsroom decisions so you can understand what was torqued:
"An analysis of what a newsroom covers would show about 30 per cent of it is staged for us: news conferences, photo opportunities, seminars, and other sessions to introduce arguments, ideas, and products.
Another 60 per cent involves events to which we must respond: disasters, breakthroughs, games, reports, and the like.
Only about 10 per cent involves material of our own creation and initiative: the ideas our journalists bring to the job or come upon in the course of their work. They decide there's a story there and begin to pursue it.
I'm not pleased with this balance, but we're not alone. That percentage — give or take five points — would hold for every newsroom I know. We are investing heavily in original work and encouraging our reporters to explore. But we spend way too much time covering and not enough time uncovering.
What's more, we can't cover nearly as many things as many people and organizations in our communities would like.
Trouble is, what we cover is so often designed purely to appeal to our basic needs for a photo. Stories are helped immensely by illustrations.
A couple of tricky cases this week involved one we decided to publish and one we didn't.
The new Web site from the Interbrew beer company, appropriately titledbeer.com, staged a media photo opportunity and news conference at SkyDome in Toronto by arranging a zillion beer caps into the shape of its logo on the field.
We went for the bait. Made for a neat photo. Got a reasonable story. But we were used. A novelty photo opportunity lured us into providing valuable space.
Score one for them.
A picture we chose not to publish arose Thursday at a "kiss-in" organized at McMaster University as part of Gay Pride Week.
As it turns out, only one couple kissed for the cameras. We took a few photos of the two men but didn't run one.
In this case, we determined the event was a basic stunt, and not a significantly attended one. The image itself would be offensive to a number of our readers.
If we are going to risk offending readers — as we have to do from time to time — it should be for exceptional events. On pure news value, this wasn't one of them.
Our new columnist, Susan Clairmont, wrote extensively on the Mac event. Her words were descriptive enough to help readers understand what happened.
We do not take a hostile view to homosexuality. Our editorial policy has been sensitive, and our portrayal of gays and lesbians has aimed to be informed. But this was a provocative gesture. We were, in effect, dared to not cover the kiss. We decided no."
So, there you have some context.
There is no sense, as some of the trolls suggest, that I would have found the image distasteful. That is a manufactured word, and anyone without access to the original article would have been easily misled.
I know all about the theories of media manipulation; the people who constructed this were rank amateurs, as were the folks who commissioned it.
By the way, the Broadbent Institute has some meaning in my life. Most probably unlike the anonymous author of the piece about me, I happen to have known Ed Broadbent.
I covered him as a reporter and news editor in his years as NDP leader and beyond. I interviewed him dozens of times and was a friend of many of his MPs, too. He always had a grounded point when he rose in the Commons, he was a figure of integrity, and I cannot recall ever calling him out on slipshod information. I think he'd find disgraceful what his institute produced Friday. (In his highly understandable French, he would have cried: "Je suis outré!")
Of course, there is much more behind the production of this. As the Georgia Straight reported, the Vancouver-based director of strategic partnerships for the Broadbent Institute is an integral Vision advisor. This piece didn't happen by chance. It was orchestrated as a tandem job. The institute was merely the vehicle.
That the piece arrived during Pride Week was no coincidence, either. I know enough of the media bag of tricks to realize it was manufactured to scare people and distort my character at a critically newsworthy time as the city learns about me and demonstrates its inclusiveness.
Fear, as those in the LGBT community know, is a remarkable motivator.
The Tweets that followed were intriguing, in that some came from youth executive members of a political party I have long respected for its inclusiveness. The father of its current leader is without doubt the most iconic politician I covered, and I doubt the leader would believe that his ranks should be indulging in such graceless attacks. If I get a chance to see him in town this weekend, I would like to ask him if he condones something like this.
I am not naive about campaigns. All involved have much power and resources to gain and lose from the result, so I will concede people aren't always at their finest in fighting for the victory. And quite interestingly, I am learning that politicians often don't do the bidding themselves but conscript others to enter the line of fire. Third-party clamour, particularly in the social media age, is extensive.
I will Tweet and blog in this campaign, but I suspect I will be the only one doing so.
These are early campaign days, but I am starting to experience that form of personal attack that I sought to quell at the outset, and it's increasingly apparent my opponents have little intention of civil discussion, inquiry or reflection. They have an army of helpers who spread a form of hate. They're known in the business as trolls.
I feel sorrow and some compassion for these people, because I doubt in their hearts they really believe what they say. They are paid to do it or they are volunteers with hopes of one day entering the inner circle. I don't suspect they construct their lives with such hostility. I hope they don't see the world in such black-and-white frames. I give them the benefit of those doubts.
And I recognize it sounds naive, too, when I call for some civility. Our NPA campaign is an uphill battle against a very powerful, well-resourced machinery that spends a lot of money and time constructing a compelling front end in part to disguise what is behind the curtain.
For instance, I would like my opponents to sign a code of conduct to avoid personal attacks. Haven't heard anything from them on it.
Instead, the response is that smears have started. And, to create plausible deniability, not one political figure has commented in three weeks of campaigning. Only the hired hands and trolls are doing the dirty work.
Let's be entirely clear: We do not permit intolerance in our association. We are resolute about it.
When our association expelled two elected officials for their assertions on a school board LGBT policy, it sent a clear signal of our way forward. When I criticized Vision Vancouver for expelling one of its candidates for her expression on sexuality, it also sent a clear signal that her candidacy would be welcomed with us.
We were maligned for a private email that Vision chose to made public. I was unhappy about that email and made it quite clear it would not be countenanced as I moved into the mayoralty campaign.
I grew up with bullies all around, so I am used to the attacks and have compassion for those who experience discrimination, anger, shame and exclusion. Those who know me know my heart and mind are open.
Let me also be clear for those (like councillor Tim Stevenson, it seems) who missed the Tweet on Monday: I missed, with regret, the proclamation ceremony Monday for Pride Week. I didn't have information about it, wasn't happy I didn't have that information, and let people around me know so. As a newcomer, in an organization that doesn't have party status or vast machinery, I'm not privy to every last bit of information out there. We are still assembling our team. So I was sorry I didn't get there. Didn't "skip" it, didn't "choose" not to go, as the Tweeps charged. "Missed" it and regret so. If you think there is a community event I should attend, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to hear from you.
The more pernicious matter involves the decision on the Kiss-In. An editor has an obligation to reflect community standards, even if at times it is against his own views, and it was clear to me 15 years ago that my own tolerance of the image was not generally supported among our newspaper's leadership or among our audience. Would it be different today? Of course. Society has thankfully evolved. Some describe leadership as making tough decisions, which is true, but leadership also involves knowing when to take advice.
I left The Spectator for CTV, where I created its first Diversity Initiative, then became the newspaper representative on the Canwest Diversity Initiative when I moved to Vancouver. As a CBC ombudsman, several of my decisions involved findings of offensive and inappropriate language and depiction. I am happy to provide those digging with such fervour into my past a list of contacts on my work in those veins, but I somehow doubt they'll ask.
An aside on this issue: the only reason anyone was able to write about this today was that I was transparent about the dilemma at the time. I wrote a weekly column on difficult decision-making, just as I am now. I believe in discussing how you decide when you are given responsibility. I didn't hide those dilemmas, nor will I, and I wish I could say the same about our city government.
In being transparent about these challenges, I don't pretend there are simple solutions. And when I have regrets, I say so. I'd like our current leaders to adopt these approaches, too, but instead they send their people out to distort my life and record. I don't like playing against the bare-knuckled crowd. But when it attempts to manipulate vulnerable victims of discrimination in order to persuade them there is one more person against them, I have to get my elbows up on my behalf and theirs.
I have proposed a much more open government that shares its decision-making with the public, reveals its spending, identifies its plans and sends a message of trust to those it serves. Unlike my opponents, I will be online and accessible all campaign and, if I have the confidence of the voters, beyond November 15.
I won't be using a ghostwriter or a team of public relations people that feign authenticity.
When some of the Vision clan can tear themselves away from Twitter and from commissioning substandard journalism, I'll be happy to hear their response to this.
Meantime, I am privileged to have the opportunity to march in the Pride parade Sunday. It will be one of the great honours of my life, and I am grateful to be part of the celebration of who we are as a community.
July 30, 2014
Update: VanRamblings will update the story below on Thursday, with a Wednesday timeline of events and, perhaps, a bit of insight into the character of Nicholas Chernen — who, should he decide to run for Council, goes to the top of our list of preferred candidates (we've got a few more, but would be thrilled to add Nicholas' name). In the meantime, you may wish to read CityHallWatch's great coverage of the issue addressed below.
On July 19th, Vancouver's rambunctious civic electoral Cedar Party posted Bridge For Sale, a blog item which suggested ...
"Vision Vancouver and the Mayor are destroying as much of Vancouver's transportation infrastructure, and selling off many park commitments for as little as possible before they get voted out of office ... It has been found that the land encompassing the Eastern Granville Street Bridge Loop has finally been put up for sale."
Last evening, July 29th, Glen Chernen, Cedar Party mayoralty candidate, made available a Scribd document titled, Aquatic Centre / Granville Bridge Demolition Sale Plans Discovered, in which Mr. Chernen suggests that ...
"An official City of Vancouver sale package, for the sale and demolition of the Granville Street Bridge off-ramp, for the North side exit to Pacific Avenue, and the pending demolition of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, to be rebuilt at the base of a new high rise to be located on the present site of the Granville Bridge off-ramp" has been issued, as he goes on to state, "The bidders must submit their final bid in 17 days (August 15th), with their initial deposit on this $32,900,000 assessed property."
VanRamblings will seek clarification of the above contention, respecting the pending demolition of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, first thing Wednesday morning, both through contact with the City of Vancouver's Development Services department, and with Mr. Chernen, at his new offices on West Broadway, located across the street from The Hollywood Theatre.
Non-Partisan Association Park Board Commissioner John Coupar is looking into the matter. VanRamblings has contacted Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Constance Barnes and Sarah Blyth seeking comment.
In the July 29th Scribd document released by the Cedar Party's Glen Chernen, he contends, among other things, that ...
- The City of Vancouver indicates they will allow rezoning for high rise towers under conditions which include giving financial consideration for the development cost charges and community amenity fees to be owed by the successful bidder / developer.
The City suggests a way for the developer to avoid paying cash fees to the city by building a new Aquatic Centre on the off-ramp site and other public works projects, in lieu of cash.
- The request for the developer to build/provide an Aquatic Centre and community space rather than make a cash payment for rezoning fees based on value increase, illustrates the City Hall practice of giving developers a way to avoid paying cash to the City. It makes accountability hard to enforce. This strategy results in what looks like a disguised multi-million dollar public works contract embedded in the form of constructing a new aquatic centre, which the City of Vancouver suggests be built on the site rather than cash payment.
- This arrangement also prevents the City of Vancouver from holding a competitive public works bid process for renovation at the existing waterfront site 6 blocks away.
- There has been no public notification or discussion with the people of Vancouver to determine if we desire having the bridge off-ramp demolished, let alone pay higher fees and taxes to fund a brand new Aquatic Centre. The off-ramp is located across the street from a mostly city owned block that is being sold to Westbank Projects developers in an exclusive, non bid process.
- Also included in this sales package is the fact that any building constructed on this site would have to connect to the "neighbourhood heating system."
Large scale heating systems in Vancouver primarily run through a distribution system owned by Ian Gillespie, the owner of Westbank Projects, a major financial contributor to the Mayor of Vancouver.
- The request for the developer to build/provide an Aquatic Centre and community space rather than make a cash payment for rezoning fees based on value increase, illustrates the City Hall practice of giving developers a way to avoid paying cash to the City. It makes accountability hard to enforce. This strategy results in what looks like a disguised multi-million dollar public works contract embedded in the form of constructing a new aquatic centre, which the City of Vancouver suggests be built on the site rather than cash payment.
Damning indictments, if true. Glen Chernen, on behalf of the Vancouver Cedar Party, calls for the establishment of an independent law enforcement department — although he doesn't suggest where this department would be seated — that would root out fraud and white collar crime at City Hall.
One would have to think that the Fraud Division of the Vancouver Police Department would attend to matters of fraud and white collar crime. As we say above, VanRamblings will seek clarification of Mr. Chernen's contentious allegations respecting the Mayor and his Vision Vancouver civic party.
Part II of the Aquatic Centre / 'sale of city land' story may be found here.
Meanwhile, VanRamblings has heard from a very reliable source that over the past six years, under the stewardship of the Vision Vancouver civic administration, the once huge $3½ billion Property Endowment Fund (PEF) land legacy, consisting of property owned by the City, has been depleted by Vision Vancouver, such that only $300 million remains in the fund.
In 2007, the Non-Partisan Association administration of Mayor Sam Sullivan turned over 14 city-owned sites (part of the PEF) for the development of social housing by the provincial government. Approximately 1,637 new and livable social housing units are now on stream, the most significant social justice legacy of the Sullivan administration, a feat unmatched by the Vision Vancouver administration of Mayor Gregor Robertson, and his colleagues.
If, in fact, the allegations by the Cedar Party prove to be true — that the Vision Vancouver administration of Mayor Gregor Robertson trades development favours with their developer supporters, in exchange for the funding of the Vision Vancouver civic party — and, if it is proven true that, in fact, the Property Endowment Fund has been depleted by Vision Vancouver over the course of the past six years — perhaps as city-owned land given away to their developer backers, or simply sold off to replenish the City's diminished coffers, such activity, and its consequences, could very well prove to be the story of the 2014 Vancouver civic election.
Little wonder that Kirk LaPointe, the Non-Partisan Association's mayoralty candidate, is challenging Mayor Robertson to open the books.
July 27, 2014
The following statement was issued by One City Vancouver, on July 23rd ...
Of the fifteen One City Organizing Committee members, seven of us are women under the age of forty.
Needless to say, the sudden resignation of Trish Kelly as a Vision Vancouver Park Board candidate has, as they say, hit close to home.
The seven of us are the daughters of women who, since the sixties and seventies, have fought for a seat at the table — and in many cases, won.
We are recognized for our work and are valued for our participation in our communities. Many of us have partners who do their share of the housework, and most of us have or will take maternity leaves and other hard-won benefits. We see people like us in positions of power. We also know that there are fights yet ahead. Women working in and out of politics face judgment based on their appearance, age, family situation, gender identity and sexuality, far more than men do. As younger women, many of us have had to fight harder than men do to legitimize ourselves in the workplace and in our community lives. This struggle broadens our perspective, sharpens our compassion, and brings us together. We simply can not afford to remain silent on this matter. There is too much at stake.
The seven of us know that, should we decide to run for public office one day, we can expect to see any number of things dredged up, especially in the feeding frenzy that is social media. Perhaps it will be over some article we wrote in university; whom we dated, or whom we didn't date; whether it's okay for a woman with younger kids to enter into public life; images of us dancing on an art car at Burning Man; private photos that we took with a former partner; our hair, our weight, our clothes, or whether we're shrill and angry when we assert our position on an issue.
It takes a courageous woman to stand for election, to declare that her voice has worth, in the face of such attacks.
For real social change, institutions need to meet the courage of these women candidates with courage of their own — to stand with women through personal attacks, and to call out the attackers.
At One City, we found it chilling that the decision-makers who hold power at Vision failed to act to affirm their support for Trish Kelly.
Political parties need to say loudly and repeatedly that a woman's (or anyone's) appearance, private life, gender identity and sexuality do not diminish their worth as a candidate. In fact, progressive political parties need to fully embrace the diversity and sex-positive activism of women.
We want to build a world where women candidates' whole lives are valued, where a woman's history, experiences, and choices are recognized as making her the person she is today.
Alison Atkinson; Anna Chudnovsky; Cara Ng; Christine Boyle; Kyla Epstein; Mia Edbrooke; & Thi Vu. Members of the One City Organizing Committee
November 15, 2013
One year from today, Vancouver will hold its triennial municipal election, Vancouver's 101st election since the City was incorporated in 1886.
In Vancouver — where, unlike any other municipality in British Columbia, our election is held under the auspices of the Vancouver Charter — the citizens of our fair city will elect 10 City Councillors, 7 Park Board Commissioners, and 9 Board of Education Trustees who, from the weeks after the election, will conduct the governance of civic affairs in Canada's third largest city.
And what an election it will be. Unless VanRamblings is off the mark — and we don't believe we are — the 2014 civic election will prove to be the most disputatious election of a generation, as the nine parties seeking office attempt to slam their opponents with the knockout blow that will leave the challenger victorious, holding the reigns of government, or at the very least, the crucial swing votes that will determine Vancouver's future.
Moreso than in any previous election, the nine parties that will compete for your vote, and elected office, will personalize their attacks on the members of the competing parties, identifying their opponents as "the other" ...
The 'Other', VanRamblings would posit, is a member of another political party, who is designated by the 'In' group as not belonging, as being different in some fundamental way. Any political opponent becomes the 'Other'. The municipal political party identifying "the Other(s)" sees itself as the norm and judges those who do not meet that norm as "the Other". Perceived as lacking essential characteristics possessed by the 'In' group, the 'Other' is almost always seen as a lesser or inferior being and is treated accordingly in all pronouncements, and in the conduct of personal and political affairs in the common weal. The 'Other' will often be characterized as lacking, as less intelligent, or as unstable - which is to say, of reduced or challenged mental capacity - as amoral or immoral, and may even be regarded as tantamount to being sub-human.
And thus the tone will be set for the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
Perhaps VanRamblings could expand on our definition of the 'Other', as we understand it as philosophical concept, and offer brief remedial prescription.
1. The concept of the 'Other' comes from the perspective that makes 'difference' the key focus in analyzing how we understand the world around us - thus the spelling is often capitalized.
2. The 'Other' is nearly always used as a negative term.
3. The myth of the 'Other' in literature, conceived of as 'perilous' and 'strange' or 'abnormal' plays with the concept of the monstrous 'Other'. The concept of the monster helps to prevent those who identify with the main characters — or, in this instance, the proponents on the main political parties — from assuming that they know everything about them, that they are good; that there is, as Nietzsche has written, "dark chaos that sits in man's hearts", as it does in the hearts of the 'Other'.
4. When the 'In' group designates the 'Other', they point out the perceived weaknesses of the 'Other', to make themselves look stronger, better, more able and more capable. Such designation implies a hierarchy, and it often serves to keep power where it already lies.
5. The 'In' group seeks to demonize, marginalize and punish the 'Other', often through heinous discriminatory measures, to eliminate the 'Other'.
VanRamblings would argue we must strive in contemporary society for empathy and understanding, and the melding and blending of groups, in order that the 'Other' will no longer be a phenomena of our current era.
Each party running for office in 2014 will most assuredly identify their opponents as "the other". It is a "if yer not fer us, yr agin us" philosophy of politics, reliant on a dehumanization of individual members of the opposing party, or parties, the political opponent as demon, who means to do ill — and in the case of Vision Vancouver, it will be claimed, has done ill — and should this unacceptable circumstance, and the aberrant individual(s) who currently hold office retain that office, competing party stalwarts will argue the apocalypse will most certainly be upon each and every one of us.
For many, with nine competing parties vying fiftfully for the attention of a disengaged electorate — let us not forget that in 2011 there was only a 34% turnout of eligible voters at the polls, and that only because of the $658,000 Vision Vancouver ad buy in the final five days of the campaign, a "happy face" strategy that brought out 10,000 "new" voters, in an election which resulted in a 4% greater turnout than in 2008, the election which brought Vision Vancouver to power — the 2014 Vancouver civic election will beggar belief in the malevolent tone of candidate political discourse.
Make no mistake, it will be Vision Vancouver and the NPA who, while attempting to knock each other off message, will bear the brunt of vituperative attack, as the only two parties with any conceivable chance of forming government, the "two developer parties" you will be told repeatedly, as if that is necessarily a bad thing — neither of which party, voters will be instructed, deserving of your vote, the panjundrum repeated ad nauseum, until a disgusted electorate tunes out the cacophony of ill will — none of which circumstance serves the public good or the common weal.
The question begs: does it have to be that way, must Vancouver politicians get down into the muck in order to prevail on election day?
Stepan Vdovine, Vision Vancouver's Executive Director, would argue not.
In a Letter to the Editor published in this week's Georgia Straight, Stepan writes about the paranoia about Vision Vancouver's "secret agenda" ...
The type of negative attacks we're seeing from failed council candidates, or the Tea Party-like anger of the NPA, is not surprising as we approach the one-year mark to the next election. Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision Vancouver-led council have overseen a boom in new rental housing, more social housing being built in Vancouver than ever before, a drop in people sleeping on the streets, and strong action on climate change.
Let's hope the various opposition parties start offering their own policy solutions, rather than more anger and negative attacks on Vision.
Further down the page, VanRamblings weighs in ...
Stepan is, of course, right: decorum, decency and civility in covering - and in - public life would be a net good thing. Since the election of Sam Sullivan in 2005, politics has devolved to a disheartening degree, not helped by Mayor Gregor, in his first term, when he referred to folks like urban geographer Ned Jacobs as a "fucking NPA" hack. Not a lot of civility there.
Stepan is a good guy (c'mon now, he really is).
But the bare fact is that there are a great many Vancouver citizens who have become infuriated with Vision Vancouver, however ably and well Stepan has come to the defense of the party that employs him as its Executive Director.
My fear is that in the coming 12 months, those of us who live in Vancouver will experience the ugliest municipal political campaign of a generation, a campaign where both Vision Vancouver and the NPA (neither of which party is "the devil") will be demonized by their opponents - be they from COPE, NSV, TEAM 2.0, Vancouver First, or the Cedar Party - and that, contrary to what Stepan would wish, we will hear precious little about, "policy solutions, rather than more anger and negative attacks on ..." well, on Vision Vancouver and the NPA.
We live in perilous times. People are frustrated and angry, and don't feel as if they're being listened to; the natural consequence of that is, as Stepan writes, "Tea Party-like anger" ... but directed not just at Vision Vancouver, but at any politico who just doesn't get it.
Vision Vancouver, who've become one of the most tone-deaf civic administrations of a generation, will bear the brunt of that anger, in 2014.
This next year? It ain't gonna be pretty.
Again, the question begs: does it have to be that way?
In a Toronto Star story published earlier in the week, former Ontario Tory leader Bill Davis argued, as VanRamblings does above, that we need more decorum, decency and civility in public life. In the 1970s, Davis built up a formidable campaign team — dubbed the Big Blue Machine — which resulted in a Progressive Conservative government in Ontario that prevailed from 1971 through 1985, with Davis as Premier. How did Davis achieve such a lengthy stay in government? As Martin Regg Cohn's story suggests ...
He governed from the progressive flank of the Progressive Conservative party, positioning it in the middle of Ontario politics and securing its place as the province's natural governing dynasty. And by surrounding himself with savvy, compassionate political aides — cerebral Tories with heart — who helped him keep his ear to the ground while perched in the premier's office from 1971-85.
The consequence? Good government. Progressive government. Government that listened to the people, and acted on their concerns. These days that almost seems like a foreign concept, doesn't it?
In the coming days, weeks and months, VanRamblings will have a great deal to say about each of the political parties that will enter the municipal political electoral fray, next year, in the fight for your vote. As may be determined by our commentary above, we will not support Vision Vancouver's re-election — outside of support for a handful of their Board of Education candidates — and will seek to move our support to the only Vancouver civic party that we believe has any chance whatsoever in dislodging Vision Vancouver — the most arrogant, untoward municipal government since the days of Tom "Terrific" Campbell, in the late 1960s / early 1970s.
In the past month and more, while working with members of the Kitsilano community, in the west side neighbourhood where VanRamblings has resided for more than thirty years, the Save Kits Beach movement has emerged as the civic story of legacy, for our children and their children. That the Non-Partisan Association, the NPA, emerged as the only municipal political party that acknowledged the importance of legacy is, for us, a profound sadness, in the political venture in which we are all going to be involved in the next year, as we head towards the polls on Nov. 15, 2014.
The NPA: a "right wing" party? Maybe in the past, but no more. No, in 2014, the NPA has learned its lesson, recovered from the nastiness that defined the Sam Sullivan administration (not that everything Sam, and his Council, did was "bad" — let's leave aside "Sam's strike" for the moment) — and has once again emerged as a humanist party, a party of parents and children, grandkids and uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers and neighbours, the only municipal political party in Vancouver — apart from Art Phillips' TEAM (The Electors' Action Movement) of the 1970s — that has ever come close to truly representing the middle class, which is where most of us find ourselves. Although COPE continues to fight the good fight for the poor, destitute and vulnerable, fights for truly affordable housing (not that they have the first clue what that means, in practice), and fights for better transit, while Vision Vancouver fights for raw, cynical power, and tell themselves lies each and every day to get through the day, it is the NPA, VanRamblings believes, which best represents the aspirations of the majority of Vancouverites, about which we will provide explanation and expansion in future VanRamblings posts, in the months to come.
Over the course of the coming 12 months, VanRamblings will keep an open mind. We know that TEAM 2.0's Bill McCreery, Mike Andruff and Dave Pasin are decent men, men of character and intelligence. And despite all, we believe as much as we have always believed that COPE's Stuart Parker — one of the brightest, most charismatic politicians of a generation — deserves a place on Vancouver City Council, as we pretty much believe of COPE stalwart Tim Louis, although we are probably among a minority of those who will support him at the polls in 2014, and perhaps more's the pity on that count, because we need a firebrand on Vancouver City Council. Although it is not de rigeur to say so, we like Vancouver First candidate (and he will be) Jesse Johl. And, if Stuart Mackinnon runs for Vancouver City Council, as a Green candidate, he will most decidedly find our favour.
Make no mistake, though, it is the Non-Partisan Association, and the Non-Partisan Association alone that can unseat Vision Vancouver, and remove them from City Hall and Park Board: given that the NPA is the best-funded and most united municipal party entering next year's Vancouver municipal election. And you know what else? The NPA is one of the only municipal political parties comprised of sincere folks of character with — wait for this — actual beating hearts — which is to say, there are great women and men in the NPA who are principled, centrist, have your best interests at heart, and should they run afoul of what it is that you want for your community — after assuming office in 2014 — you will be surprised and pleased to discover that the NPA will prove to be, as has always proved to be the case (save the interregnum of the Sam Sullivan administration, and portions of various eras prior to 1972), the one Vancouver municipal political party that — after six years of unbelievably arrogant government under Vision Vancouver — will actually listen to you, and what is even more important, act on your concerns for your benefit.
What if they don't? (and they will, because as was the case with Bill Davis, the NPA wishes to be the once and forever Vancouver civic party of government), Vancouver voters can depend on our "liberal media" to hold the NPA's feet to the fire, in a manner that has been woefully, disconcertingly, and unacceptably absent this past five years — with the notable exception of Charlie Smith, Carlito Pablo, and the dedicated Georgia Straight journalists who do their very best to keep us informed — which "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" journalistic philosophy will thankfully, and gratefully, once again come to the fore to serve us all.
November 10, 2013
Hadden Park trio: Megan Carvell Davis, lawyer Robert Kasting, Kitsilano activist, Tina Oliver
On Monday, November 4, 2013 — the same day as the Special Park Board Meeting, about which we've written previously — lawyer, and former Olympian and renowned and respected administrative barrister Robert Kasting filed a petition, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, asking that the Courts grant his client, historian Megan Carvell Davis, an injunction pending a hearing into the issue of the tenets of the Hadden Park Trust, which Mr. Kasting and his client argue the City / Park Board to be in breach of in imposing a 12-foot-wide bike path through Hadden Park. Here's the precise Bob Kasting to better explain the legal events of the past week ...
Administrative law lawyer Bob Kasting explains legal events of the week, re: Hadden Park
As Kitsilano resident and Save Kits Beach activist Tina Oliver wrote in the Press Release that was issued on Friday ...
The land on which Hadden Park sits was bequeathed to the City by Mr. Harvey Hadden in 1928, with the stipulation that Vancouver City and Park Board "shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature, it being the desire of the grantor that those using the park shall, as far as reasonably be, enjoy the same in its natural state and condition."
In recent weeks, neighbourhood residents and other concerned citizens from across the Lower Mainland have held rallies protesting the section of the bike lane that would run through Hadden Park. Ms. Carvell Davis argues that this City-approved bike path is in direct contravention of Mr. Hadden's wishes when he deeded the park to be used as natural parkland.
The City is Court-ordered to halt any construction of the bike lane through Hadden Park until the Court addresses Ms. Carvell Davis' Petition. The date of the trial is yet to be determined.
As Ms. Carvell Davis states, "Harvey Hadden smiles upon us today: he would be pleased to know the park he bequeathed, for all citizens, for all time, has been protected."
Now for some more good news. As the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee writes in a story published on Saturday and headlined, Vancouver park board shelves Kits Beach bike path in wake of lawsuit, "The Vancouver park board has shelved a $2.2 million plan to separate bike lanes through Kitsilano parks."
Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes confirmed Friday afternoon that the entire project, from the Vancouver Maritime Museum through to the other side of Kitsilano Pool has been temporarily halted as a result of a citizen-backed lawsuit over one portion of the route.
"We're putting the whole thing on hold because we're being sued and we need to be respectful of the process," she said.
The Hadden Park Trust hearing likely won't occur til sometime in June 2014.
VanRamblings believes that the section of the Seaside Greenway bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks will never be built.
At present, we are almost exactly one full year away from the next Vancouver municipal election. By June 2014, all of Vancouver's municipal parties will have selected their candidates for office in Vancouver's 2014 election. Vision Vancouver will hold their nominating meeting in June 2014, the same month the Hadden Park Trust issue goes to Court. The Justice who hears the matter will likely take time to reserve judgement on the issues respecting Hadden Park that have been placed before her or him.
Whatever decision is rendered by the courts respecting Hadden Park, Vision Vancouver will not order construction to commence immediately upon judgement, should the City prevail in the Courts — Hadden Park is simply too much of a hot-button issue. While construction of the remaining sections of the Seaside Greenway (completion set for 2017) continues, Vision will likely order construction of the parks portion of the Greenway halted until 2015, "pending extensive consultation with the public."
Despite the information being fed to the sitting Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners that Strategic Communications (Stratcom) polling continues to show a convincing majority win for the party at all levels, VanRamblings believes that Vision Park Board Commissioners will be thrown out of office en masse on election night, Saturday, November 15, 2014.
As little as a 5000 vote loss by Vision Vancouver in 2014, at Council and Park Board, and a consequent gain by the Non-Partisan Association, would reverse the party standings, and result in a near-majority NPA government following the November 15th, 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
From the furore over the Langara Golf Course, to the potential foreshore destroying 30-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path Vision attempted to impose in the area between Kitsilano and Jericho beaches, from Vision Park Board Commissioners' refusal to support the construction of a Killarney Seniors Centre, to the continue hubbub over the dispute, and attempted hostile takeover, involving Vancouver's community centres, in the past two and one-half years, in all the years VanRamblings has covered Park Board matters, never have we witnessed a Park Board regarded in lower repute than the current Vision Vancouver-dominated Vancouver Park Board.
Make no mistake, the current Vision Park Board is far and away, and by any reasonable measure, the worst elected Park Board in the 125-year storied history of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. In 2014, the electorate will gleefully throw the bums out — an entirely deserving fate for the most tone deaf, anti-park Park Board to ever hold office in Vancouver.
And make no mistake, either, the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), or the New Progressive Association, the party of the purple revolution, are well-prepared to take a majority position on, if not sweep, Park Board in 2014. At present, there are 19 candidates vying for an NPA Park Board nomination, led by incumbents Melissa DeGenova and John Coupar — two of the most community-minded park advocates it has been VanRamblings' pleasure to witness in our 40+ year coverage of Park Board.
VanRamblings is aware of an active "Draft Christopher Richardson movement" — former NPA Park Board Commissioner, current Mount Pleasant Community Centre Chairperson, and one of the finest people you could ever want to meet — as a Park Board candidate, and a "Draft Sandy Sharma" movement, as well — she ran with the NPA for a Vancouver Board of Education Trustee position in 2011 — both of these individuals incredibly bright, compassionate, non-partisan and democrats of the first order.
In addition to Coupar, DeGenova, Richardson and Sharma, there's another prominent, and well-loved Indo-Canadian candidate, a woman, as well as an organizer with the Save Kits Beach movement, who are being hotly pursued by the NPA. Should the NPA take power at Park Board in 2014, citizens will not witness the sort of arrogant, bullying and entirely anti-democratic style of decision-making that has defined the Vision Vancouver Park Board approach to governance at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
With a majority NPA Park Board in place, the Hadden + Kitsilano Beach bike freeway parks portion of the Seaside Greenway will not proceed.
And what of COPE, you ask — you mean the party of "There are no parks issues, there are only development issues"? You have to ask yourself, why would the Vancouver electorate vote for another group of "we know what's good for you, and we're going to shove it down your throat" Stalinist miscreants to take the place of the current crop of former COPE members, now Vision Vancouver Park Commissioners? Without the voices of former, celebrated COPE Park Board Commissioner Loretta Woodcock running for elected office, or former Park Board Chair Anita Romaniuk, or even former Park Board Commissioner Tim Louis, in the mix to run for COPE Parks in 2014, COPE does not stand a chance in hell of electing a single soul to Park Board in 2014 — which is, we would suggest to you, as it should be.
In 2014, the Green Party will likely run one candidate for Park Board — whoever that candidate might be (and it won't be former Green Party Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, who will be running for a Council seat, along with incumbent Adriane Carr — who has been perversely silent on the Save Kits Beach issue, lo these many weeks — in 2014). As for the "other parties": TEAM 2.0 will not run candidates for Park Board — the same is true for the upstart Cedar Party, Vancouver First, Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver, De-Growth, and the Work Less Party.
GlobalBC Noon News: Hadden Park bike lane put on hold. November 8, 2013
Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley — one of the voices of reason in the whole Save Kits Beach schmozzle, and a candidate to replace Dr. Penny Ballem as City Manager, when she is seconded to Translink to become its new CEO, in 2015 — informed Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey Friday morning that the Special Advisory Committee on the Hadden and Kits Beach parks bike route "would be placed on hold pending the outcome of the Court action brought by Ms. Carvell Davis."
Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey has issued this statement ...
Lawsuits tend to pop up when our civic leaders do not do proper due diligence, or try to ram ill-advised initiatives through without proper planning or proper public consultation. In the case of Hadden and Kits Beach parks, a tremendous resentment has been built up, as the City's "accepted bike route" was 'intrusively' rammed through an already delicate balance of recreational / user groups at Kitsilano Beach. Forcing cycling via a 12-foot-wide asphalt roadway 'inside' an already busy park, a bike highway that could be nothing other than the riskiest of park use activities — in a park well-used by Frisbee players, for family picnics, volleyball, tennis, basketball and other activities, into the relatively harmonious state that we enjoy now — is wrong, plain wrong.
Cyclists are welcome to cycle along the nearby roadway, where they can enjoy a great seaside view and experience. Everyone can 'win-win'.
Until the Courts determine the outcome of Megan Carvell Davis' lawsuit, as the Chair of the Canada One Athletic Foundation, I will remain active on issues that impact on park user enjoyment of Kitsilano Beach. While the Park Board Special Advisory Committee is 'on hold', along with the exceptional group of people I have worked as part of Save Kits Beach, collectively and working together we will remain vigilant in our work to preserve green space at Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks.
As Howard, and others, pointed out to VanRamblings over the past 24 hours, "the fight is not over."
GlobalBC NewsHour, 6pm: Hadden Park bike lane put on hold. November 8, 2013
The past month organizing with Save Kits Beach has proved to be one of the finest examples of grassroots movement politics we've witnessed, or been a part of, in the past 40+ years of community organizing activities.
Filmmaker / activist, Laurence Keane posted the following on Facebook ...
A BIG high-five to our friends at Vision Vancouver, this was way more fun than last summer's block party!
Vision dumped a surprise community project in our laps and challenged us to work together. And we did, we made a great team full of amazing, passionate individuals with so many disparate talents. It's been a pleasure working with all of you remarkable guys and gals!
VanRamblings would like to pay tribute to Save Kits Beach folks ...
- Howard Kelsey. The key media spokesperson for, and de facto leader of, Save Kits Beach, a tough, organized, hard-working guy, a former Olympian (his work ethic and dedication to task shone through each hour of every day), not a political animal — but an affable man who, through character and determination, pulled a group of concerned citizens together over the past month to rescue Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks from the back hoes and assorted construction activities that would have imposed a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway right through the middle of these two beautiful waterfront parks.
- Elvira Lount. Absolutely tireless, and like Howard, full of energy, whenever and wherever there was an event to be organized, Elvira could be counted on. Her Keep Kits Beach Wild Facebook page, as well as her own Facebook account, was day in, day out, the 'go to' to place for information on Save Kits Beach. Elvira's photography is simply exquisite (there's yet another example at the top, and end, of today's post), her computer design skills exemplary, hers a fine mind of unparalleled creative talent and ability, her demeanour calm always. Elvira is at all times warmly engaging and inspiringly enthusiastic — and her addresses to our exhausted Park Board Commissioners, researched and reasoned in their line of unassailable argument.
- David Fine and Laurence Keane. David won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short for Bob's Birthday. When days were looking darkest, David's brilliant short, Kits Bike Path - The Movie, injected needed humour, perspective, wit, and a warm attention to the issues that we were doing our best to articulate to the public.
Laurence was the unofficial cinematographer of the Save Kits Beach movement, that's his Utopia Pictures videos of all Save Kits Beach events over the past month, online, on social media, and on VanRamblings. We're grateful to you for all your fine work, Laurence.
- The anonymous individual who drew the accurate bike path lanes through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks — you are owed a debt of gratitude from all of us in the Save Kits Beach movement, and all those who value of our parks and green space.
- Megan Carvell Davis, Tina Oliver and Bob Kasting. It was Hadden Park historian Megan Carvell Davis whose idea it was to bring suit against Park Board and the City of Vancouver to halt construction of the paved bike path through Hadden Park. Thanks to Megan's unparalleled knowledge and insight into Hadden Park history, with the help of Bob and Tina, the imposition of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through Hadden Park was stopped in its tracks.
Bob Kasting. Bronze medal winner in swimming, in the 4x100m Medley Relay, at the 1972 Summer Olympics, in Munich, and multiple medal winner at the Empire, and the British, games, Bob came on board, not as the legal counsel for Save Kits Beach, but rather for Megan Carvell Davis. The respect Bob has garnered in the legal community, and a style of presentation of argument (as can be seen in the video near the top of this post) that is both devastating in its peerless internal logic and presentation, and a wonderment to behold, has carried the day for all of us who care passionately about our parks, our green spaces as oases of tranquility amidst the hurly burly of our daily lives.
- John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova. Prior to the October 7th Park Board meeting, it was John Coupar who first raised the issue of concern with Howard Kelsey, and with the media, respecting the paved bike path through Hadden and Kits Beach parks — in respect of the dark decision-making at Park Board (par for the course for Vision Vancouver) that imposed a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through the parks, sans consultation and public outreach.
The Save Kits Beach movement was born October 9th. John has been present at each activity conducted by Save Kits Beach, and has spoken out publically to anyone who would listen, about the travesty that would occur should a paved bike route through the parks be imposed. John's father was a horticulturalist, and as a consequence he emerged in his adult life as an advocate for parks and horticulture.
Working to save the Bloedel Conservatory situated in Queen Elizabeth Park, between the 2008 and 2011 election, when it appeared that Park Board was going to sacrifice the Bloedel Conservatory to the altar of "fiscal responsibility" (and in the process destroy / desecrate an iconic feature of the Vancouver landscape) was what ended up bringing John into politics, although he's far from what most of us would consider a politician to be. In fact, where many of those in the political realm are driven by expediency that is not the case with John — if you look up the word integrity in the dictionary, John's picture accompanies the definition. Over the past two years, John Coupar has gained the respect of everyone whose path he crosses — including the Vision Park Board Commissioners; it is quite simply an impossibility to not like and admire John Coupar. We in Vancouver are fortunate to have John as an elected representative, as an ardent, articulate advocate for parks.
John conducts the best research of the two NPA Commissioners, and finds his way to putting on the Park Board table a reasoned, coherent, and unassailable argument (doesn't mean his Vision colleagues don't ignore him — they do, and call him names in the process, all the while impeaching his integrity, character, reputation and good name, to the extent that John has to, consistently, take his Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner colleagues to task, and even then they ignore him, as if being a person of integrity is something to be scorned).Melissa DeGenova, on the other hand, is one tough cookie — it is Melissa who consistently holds Vision's feet to the fire, and is present to support and encourage every initiative that her NPA Park Board Commissioner colleague John Coupar undertakes. Melissa is the 'politician' of the two NPA Park Board Commissioners — she knows procedure, she's quick on her feet, and despite the worst, most abusive treatment directed toward her by her Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner colleagues [we're talking 'bout you, Aaron Jasper, Niki Sharma, Constance Barnes, Trevor Loke, and — less often, but often enough — Park Board Chair, Sarah Blyth] — that VanRamblings has ever had the misfortune to witness in the political arena, at any level of government - when most of us would be running home to cry to our moms - Melissa consistently gives as good as she gets, and time and again she bests her woefully inept, mean-spirited, and terribly bullying Visionless Park Board Commissioner colleagues.
This past Monday, November 4th, Melissa outdid herself. Melissa's address to her Park Board colleagues — and to the approximately 100 members of the public who were present just as the vote was to be taken on John Coupar's motion calling for "transparency of process" in the determination of a final route for parks portion of the Seaside Greenway — was, quite simply, the single most moving evocation of community spirit and commitment to democratic engagement at the Park Board table that we have ever heard voiced and been witness to; we were, all of us who were in attendance, in awe.
- Sandra Thomas, Jeff Lee, Jennifer Palma, and all the media. Without the inveterate coverage of the Save Kits Beach movement by Sandra Thomas in The Vancouver Courier — whose writing on parks issues, as has long been the case, is incisive every time, and without peer — and Vancouver Sun municipal affairs reporter, Jeff Lee — the finest writer on municipal affairs of a generation (the citizens of Vancouver must remain grateful every day that Jeff did not take 'early retirement' — particularly now that a Vancouver municipal election is looming in the next year) — not to mention, the indefatigable Jennifer Palma, at Global BC, whose command of the core Save Kits Beach issues, Park Board and City governance amazed, and whose humanity and intelligence shines through in all of her reports on Save Kits Beach.
And let us not forget, Steve Bohus and Randy Helten at CityHallWatch, who were the first in the media to jump on the Save Kits Beach issues and report out, and Sam Cooper at The Province who wrote to deadline with a keen intelligence and precise understanding of the Save Kits Beach issues, and Charlie Smith and Yolanda Cole, at The Straight — the 'go to' place to read about what's going on in our City. And to award-winning producer and host of The Rush on Shaw TV, Fiona Forbes, who has stood with Save Kits Beach since day one.
And lest we forget, freelance writer Bob Mackin, the hardest-working 'holding the pols feet to the fire' / 'no fear, no favour' muckraking journalist to emerge on Vancouver's 'often too polite' Vancouver media scene in years and years, whose 'down and dirty' — and always relevant — local coverage of parks and civic issues is without peer.
As well as, the news department of our public broadcaster, the CBC; the production team at CBC Radio One's The Early Edition, and host Rick Cluff, and to all those in the media who assisted those of us involved in the Save Kits Beach movement to inform Metro Vancouver residents in order that they might better understand what was at risk contingent to the issues Save Kits Beach sought to bring to the fore — the loss of Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks as places for families to gather, for folks to play tennis, basketball and volleyball, sit in peace under the maple trees on the north end of Kits Beach, or picnic with their families, or to sit on one of the memorial benches placed along Hadden Park, in order that we might gaze in wonderment across Burrard Inlet, to the mountains, English Bay and the ever-burgeoning towers of the West End — to recognize what we were at risk of losing should a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway be constructed within the midst of two waterfront parks of unsurpassed beauty.
Those of us involved in the Save Kits Beach movement will remain grateful always for the coverage by Vancouver media that informed and enlightened, and allowed Save Kits Beach to get our message out to all among us who love Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks.
- To Randey Brophey, who has won accolades in the community and online, for taking the fight for the preservation of Kits Beach and Hadden parks to the Park Board Commissioners, a man of clear conscience and integrity, with the support of everyone who knows him, and everyone who comes to know him.
To Maria Coehlo, who emerged as one of the keynote speakers at the Sunday, October 20th Save Kits Beach rally, and the first person to bring to light the safety issues that would impact on park users - and, most particularly, small children - should the paved bike freeway be imposed by the City.
To Lynne Kent, who played a pivotal role in the Kits Point Residents Association, who when she's not working with the Save Kits Beach folks, fulfills her role as President of the Executive Committee of the Board of YWCA Canada. Somehow in her busy schedule, no matter the time day or night, Lynne was on her computer sending out and responding to e-mails, her reasoning on every issue impeccable, her voice at the October 20th rally, clarion. In addition, Lynne introduced Megan Carvell Jones to Tina Oliver, who in turn introduced Megan to Robert Kasting — the rest is, of course, history.
Adam Smith played a pivotal role, as well, not only as a member of the Kits Point Residents Association, but in large measure as the 'communications' / social media / rally the troops guy, the person who worked most closely with Lynne Kent, and in some measure, one of the individuals who was the glue that held us all together.
And to Jason Johns, parent and Kits resident, who spoke out November 7th at Park Board, and has worked with Save Kits Beach every step of the way, as has Don Shaw, Bill Hooker, Mike Lount, Julian Phipps, Gloria Sully, Grant Vanderhoek, we hope-the-soon-to-be NPA candidate for Mayor, Ian Robertson, Colleen Hardwick (migawd, Colleen, those early videos of Hadden and Kits Beach parks), Garry Chalk, Ken Leung, and far too many more names than we have space to mention in this blog post — each of whom has made a contribution of tremendous import to the Save Kits Beach movement that has, now, stopped the parks portion of the Seaside Greenway dead in its tracks.
- And to all those who commented frequently on Facebook, wrote letters, attended the rallies and media events, encouraged all of us whose lives were overtaken by work on the Save Kits Beach movement, to Anita Sigur, Catherine Welsh, Pauline Maden, Ricardo Zborovszky, Chris Cross, Roni Jones, Jane Burkart, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Stuart Mackinnon, Connie McGinley, and oh so many more, thank you, thank you for your support — we couldn't have done it without you.
- Sandra Thomas, Jeff Lee, Jennifer Palma, and all the media. Without the inveterate coverage of the Save Kits Beach movement by Sandra Thomas in The Vancouver Courier — whose writing on parks issues, as has long been the case, is incisive every time, and without peer — and Vancouver Sun municipal affairs reporter, Jeff Lee — the finest writer on municipal affairs of a generation (the citizens of Vancouver must remain grateful every day that Jeff did not take 'early retirement' — particularly now that a Vancouver municipal election is looming in the next year) — not to mention, the indefatigable Jennifer Palma, at Global BC, whose command of the core Save Kits Beach issues, Park Board and City governance amazed, and whose humanity and intelligence shines through in all of her reports on Save Kits Beach.
If you've not signed Margaret Partridge's petition, we would ask that you do so now, and tell your friends about what's been going on between the Vision Vancouver-dominated Park Board, and our beautiful Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, and ask them please to sign the petition.
Hadden Park Injunction Press Conference. Courtesy of Elvira Lount. November. 9, 2013
November 7, 2013
At the outset of Monday evening's Vancouver Park Board meeting, scheduled for 6pm, with Park Board Vice-Chair Aaron Jasper at the head of the table, there were not enough Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners present for the necessary quorum. Over the course of the hour until quorum was present, at 7pm, Mr. Jasper adjourned the meeting.
Vancouver Park Board Commissioner John Coupar on CBC's Early Edition. Nov. 4 2013.
During the course of that hour, Aaron "done deal" Jasper approached Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey to inform him that his mind, and that of his fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners were already made up. Further, Jasper told Kelsey that the Special Meeting that had been ordered convened by Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova — in order that the community might provide input into the membership of, and terms of reference for, an already sanctioned Park Board Special Advisory Committee on the Hadden and Kits Beach portion of the Seaside Greenway bike route — would prove to be a frustrating "exercise in futility," would accomplish nothing, that the Visionless Park Board Commissioners would proceed as they had always intended, and under no circumstance would Park Board relinquish, or cede, control to a Special Advisory Committee respecting the determination of the final parks bike route.
Save Kits Beach rally. Vancouver Park Board Commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova, addressing the crowd. Video, courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 20, 2013
Four hours after the Special Park Board meeting was convened that is exactly what happened. One Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner after another, led by Mr. Jasper, and followed by Constance Barnes and Trevor Loke, and finally Niki Sharma (the beleaguered Commissioner chosen to Chair the Special Meeting) - who was all but mute on the subject of the defeat of Commissioner Coupar's motion - voted lock step against a motion calling for a fair, open and transparent process for the determination of a bike route through, or around, Hadden and Kits Beach parks.
Raymond Tomlin, on behalf of COPE, speaks out against Hadden + Kits Beach portion of the Seaside Greenway. Video courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 20 2013
Update: On Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, Megan Carvell Davis launched a B.C. Supreme Court action, applying for an injunction to stop construction of the Hadden Park portion of the Seaside Greenway. On Friday, November 8, 2013, the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted injunctive relief to Ms. Carvell Davis. For now, the City of Vancouver may not proceed with the Hadden Park portion of the Seaside Greenway. Work will be halted.
Please find the Press Release on the matter below.
As stated in The Province newspaper story the day after the meeting ...
The Vancouver Park Board voted against a motion to give "claws or teeth" to a promised advisory group on the controversial Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks bike lane.
Speaker Elvira Lount questioned why Park Board was going ahead with its request for proposals deadline of Tuesday when the advisory group, which is expected to be up and running by mid-November, has not yet been formed. "How can (potential bidders on the bike route) budget for something that has not been determined?" she asked the board.
The manner of approach Vision Vancouver chooses to the business of the people? In the dark, with no transparency, spun to make themselves look good, anti-democratic, arrogant and bullying — and, let's face it, just downright infuriating for the hundreds of irate citizens who have turned up meeting after Park Board meeting this past couple of years, only to be dismissed and ignored by the Vision Vancouver members of Park Board.
Gregor Robertson announces it's his intention to hive off 1/3 of the Langara Golf Course for "affordable condominums", Langara residents turn out to protect their green space, and Vision Park Board Commissioners order a "metrics report." With much fanfare, in the summer of 2012, Gregor Robertson announces Vision will build a 30-foot-wide bike path / pedestrian seawall from Kitsilano thru Jericho beaches, along the last piece of pristine foreshore. The response of our nature-loving Vision Park Board Commissioners, "Hey, what a great idea. Birds, wildlife? Nope, it's bikes that matter to us." Fortunately, B.C. Common Law, and the legal concept of riparian rights prevented Vision from acting on their 'off the cuff' plans — there'll be no foreshore-destroying seawall bike path anytime soon, or ever.
Click on the photos above for added pithy commentary, or comment yourself on Facebook. Please click here for additional photos of Monday night's meeting, courtesy of David Fine.
Of course, Aaron Jasper's and Vision's rationale for defeating John Coupar's reasonable motion was, as Randey Brophy writes in a Letter to the Editor to The Province newspaper Thursday, "a complete misrepresentation" ...
Contrary to Vision Vancouver Park Board Vice-Chairman Aaron Jasper's comments after the meeting, there was no overriding power proposed for the advisory group over the city's decisions or policies. What was proposed was that "the advisory group formed will fully review the Seaside Greenway route (Kits Beach / Hadden Park portion) and report back to the Park Board with their recommendation for any changes."
The 'proposed overriding power' of the advisory group, as stated by Mr. Jasper, was not proposed — it was completely made up by Jasper at the end of the meeting, to a chorus of disbelieving questions and boos from the vast majority of the audience ...
Consulting with and listening to recommendations from the affected taxpaying electorate, as opposed to those made by unelected but taxpayer-funded bike lobby groups, is something Vision Vancouver is, once again, demonstrably incapable of doing.
C'mon back mid-Saturday for additional content and insight into the continuing struggle — a struggle that beggars belief, given that our Park Board Commissioners have as their mandate, and are supposed to protect and enhance our parks — towards the preservation of green space, and a Seaside Greenway bike route that will prove safe for cyclists, and all recreational users of our beloved Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks.
Photos of Monday, Nov. 4th's Park Board meeting. Courtesy of Elvira Lount. Nov. 4 2013
November 4, 2013
Kits Bike Path - The Movie. A movie by, and courtesy of, Oscar-winning director David Fine
The past two weeks in the life of the Save Kits Beach Coalition have proved eventful. Given all that is going on, and all that is planned, today promises to be a watershed day in the fight to bring a modicum of common sense to the issue of a waterfront cycling path through, or around, Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, amidst an assurance that the the public might still avail themselves of what the parks have to offer — all within the context of preserving what is left of Vancouver's ever-diminishing green space.
This past week, Park Board Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova called on Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth to hold a "Special Meeting on Kits Beach Park", at 6pm tonight in the hour prior to the commencement of the regularly-scheduled Park Board meeting, in order that "key community stakeholders" might be provided an opportunity to address the Board, to articulate to all the Commissioners their concerns respecting the Kitsilano Seaside Greenway Upgrade proposal, approved at Park Board's October 7th meeting. As of Friday, Nov. 1, Ms. Blyth rejected the proposal.
Late Sunday, in an interview with Park Board Commissioner John Coupar, VanRamblings was advised that a legal opinion had been received by Coupar and Commissioner Melissa DeGenova, that legal opinion stating that ...
"Under the Vancouver charter, any two Park Board Commissioners may call a Special Meeting of the Board," said Coupar. "When proper application was made to the Chair that a Special Meeting be held, the Board was compelled to hold that meeting. Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth advised us (Commissioners DeGenova and Coupar) that a quorum for a 6pm meeting would not be possible, thus the application was refused. The legal opinion we received, advised that the Board Chair could not pre-suppose a lack of quorum, and therefore the Special Meeting must be held. A Special Meeting of the Board we will held, Nov. 4th, at 6pm."
Tonight, at 6 p.m., then, at the Park Board offices located at 2099 Beach Avenue, near the Stanley Park tennis courts, and opposite the north shore of English Bay, the requested Special Meeting of the Board has been ordered, and will be held. Park Board meeting co-ordinator Pat Boomhower will accept requests to speak til noon. Ms. Boomhower may be contacted by phone, at 604.257.8453, or by e-mail at Pat Boomhower (click on the link).
Park Board Commissioners John Coupar and an intransigent Constance Barnes, in an interview with host Rick Cluff, on CBC's Early Edition, this morning. November 4, 2013
VanRamblings will provide live coverage of the meeting on our @raytomlin Twitter feed, also available top right of VanRamblings' home page.
This past Thursday, Park Board Chair Blyth issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on the parks portion (Kits Beach north end "bikeway freeway" here) of the Seaside Greenway approved on July 29th. On the Save Kits Beach Facebook page, Kitsilano resident Elvira Lount raised a conflict concern that the consultant hired by Park Board to draft the final parks portion of the Seaside Greenway bike route proposal was also a bidder on the construction of the bike path. Ms. Lount went on to express consternation that, given the context of the RFP, the City-approved Seaside Greenway bike route seemed all but a "done deal", negating any alternative proposals the Special Advisory Committee — struck to provide input into the final determination of a bike route — might forward to Park Board for approval.
Please find below the full text of Ms. Lount's Facebook post on the matter.
"(Park Board General Manager) Malcolm Bromley has said that the Park Board is in the process of hiring a design consultant as per the RFP that was posted (on the Save Kits Beach Facebook page). This consultant will be hired by the 2nd week of November. Details for creating the Advisory Panel will be finalized by mid-November. A final, detailed design is to be completed in January, 2014, with construction of the new parks portion of the bike route to begin in February. The problem? The Consultant hired represents / is part of the same company that will do the actual work, and therefore has an inherent conflict of interest. How likely is it that s/he will go for the cheapest and best solution — putting the bike lane on the road? Also, how can these consultants bid on the job outlined in the Request for Proposal, if this route is only 'preliminary'? They will obviously bidding on the job as outlined in the RFP."
VanRamblings has in our possession a letter from a British Columbia cycling advocacy organization that argues against the City-approved parks portion of the Seaside Greenway, laying out the reasons why, and offering suggestion as to a green space saving Hadden and Kitsilano Beach park alternative bike route, approved and preferred by its members. At present, there's an embargo on release of the letter. Following a press conference later today, VanRamblings will make the letter available to our readers.
Update: Please find below, the letter from Richard Wooles, Executive Director of Cycling BC, to Howard Kelsey — an organizer of the Save Kits Beach Coalition — respecting Cycling BC's opposition to a paved bike route through Hadden and Kits Beach parks.
Update: On Monday evening, Megan Carvell-Davis, a longtime Kits Point resident, informed Park Board Commissioners that she had, earlier in the day, filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court against the Park Board and the City of Vancouver to stop construction plans for the 12-foot-wide paved lane, alleging the bike pathway is in breach of a trust established when Hadden Park was bequeathed to the city of Vancouver in 1928.
"The trust stipulates the Park Board maintain the property as near as possible in its present state of nature," Ms. Carvell-Davis states in the petition, and that "the Park Board has no authority to breach the terms of the Hadden Trust by permitting the creation of public transportation corridor through Haddon Park."
Here''s are most of the pages of the civil Court Action.
Oasis of serenity. Kitsilano Beach park. Photo, courtesy of Duke Lang. October 30, 2013
While we attempt to secure the entire Court document, to post, we would ask that if you haven't signed the Save Kits Beach Coalition petition, that you consider doing so now, that you tell your extended family, your friends, your neighbours and your colleagues about the petition, that you post share the petition on your Facebook page, and a link to the petition on your Twitter account, if you've got one (and you oughta, believe me!).
On Friday, November 1st, The Province newspaper published a column by Vancouver teacher and former Green Party Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, titled "Is asphalt the new green in Vision's Vancouver?", in which he writes ...
For a party that promotes itself as green, it appears to have a great affection for concrete and asphalt. Vision Vancouver seems to view our parks as some sort of "land bank" that they can make withdrawals from whenever they feel like it. In fact, our parks and beaches are a legacy left to us by our parents and grandparents and held in trust by us for our children and their children in perpetuity."
Mr. Mackinnon's clarion voice rings as true today as it did during his three-year term on Park Board, when he was subject to constant attack of the most unsavoury kind by Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners.
As Elvira Lount wrote online recently, "We will not be bullied into silence."
Save Kits Beach Coalition's Howard Kelsey conducts a Media Walking Tour of the "accepted bike route", the 12-foot-wide, raised blacktop bike lane approved by the Vancouver Park Board on October 7, 2013. Video, courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 27, 2013