Day -66 – What kind of Vancouver Do You Want?

by Mike Andruff

Talking headsEverybody wants the candidates to enunciate their platforms. Why? Do politicians generally do what they say they will? How well did the current group do? I submit it is time for you, dear voter, to tell the politicians about the Vancouver You Want. Let’s help the politicians out by telling them what is is we want them to deliver.

Here is an example. The Vancouver I Want:

Property Taxes

Reduce them.

Our property taxes serve a purpose.  Civic politicians have relied on the taxpayer’s generosity too often, and for too long. The current council wants a fund on the books called, “Emerging priorities and inflation contingency” – $95 million! I am sorry, but again, that doesn’t pass the sniff test. I want the next council  to return to principles of fiscal prudence.

Local Area Planning

I want  neighbourhoods  to control the development process. Developers, who wish to build in this city, need to work with local area associations. Development companies should be required to have the neighbourhood’s agreement on their proposals, and on how Community Amenity Charges will be spent in their community.

Transportation

It is tiresome to read about certain politicians posting in social media how long they have to wait for transit to take them home. The mode of transportation they use is a matter of choice. They could walk, ride a bike, take a cab , a bus or a car. I want the city staff to look at alternative transportation models for the Broadway Corridor. Of course, young voters would support a party promoting rapid transit across town. However, we need to be practical and deal with workable solutions. The federal and provincial governments are not likely to pick up a $2 billion dollar tab for a “Vancouver only” transit solution. It is not fair to promote an idea that is not deliverable to the public.

Youth Engagement

People 18 – 35 typically don’t vote.  Our civic democracy is not whole, if we can not engage a complete demographic spectrum. I want a Youth Congress to be established. It would be similar to the Student  Vote mock elections done in high schools. The Congress would debate and vote on the top five issues Council voted on in the previous quarter. Results  are only for informational value. One participant from each resident association would hold a one year term. This process would show politicians what others think of their decision making. It would also create a learning experience for the currently non-engaged.

Sportsville (Vancouver)

Edmonton is known as the City of Champions. Sport is more than a pastime. It is an economic generator. I want city staff to assess the viability hosting a Commonwealth Games event, or events of a similar stature. We have great legacy facilities throughout Vancouver. Let’s use them to create a sportsville economy.

Apolitical School Board/Park Board

I want school  and park boards to be administrators not politicians, similar to the resident associations. Our community is multi-faceted with multiple interests. Having these boards tell the community what policy it will, or will not, have is not fair in the broadest sense.

Parking Holidays

The city grabs too much money in parking revenue (remember, they need the money).  I want parking in all public parks to be FREE on weekends and holidays, so that families can easily go to parks and enjoy recreation. They are in no less need for money than the City. Additionally, I propose a parking holiday throughout the City, on April 6 the City’s incorporation date.

Well there it is. My suggestions to the candidates. I encourage your comments on this post, or have your voice heard on other websites available  like MyVoteMatters.ca.

You may not like these ideas, yours may be quite different, but we need to have this discussion now so we can help the next crop of civic politicians know about the Vancouver You Want.

November 15th is voting day. Learn the issues and candidates. Don’t walk, stride, to your voting district and VOTE!

Day -72 Vision Vancouver’s Legacy

by Mike Andruff

Door mat

How will Vancouverites remember Vision Vancouver if they do not fair well in their bid for a  third term in office?

Land use policy is among the most controversial areas the Vision Council has used to make its mark on the city. Repeatedly land use decisions have favoured the developer’s interest over the community’s. In addition to disagreeing on how their neighbourhoods are being changed, communities are skeptical that the Community Amenity Charges paid by developers, will be used in their community. These troubled neighbourhoods include: Oakridge, Norquay Village, Marpole, the West End, Grandview Woodlands, the Downtown East Side, Yaletown, Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano, and South West Marine.

The Vision’s Park Board, as landlord of the Aquarium, has levied a restrictive management policy which affectively jeopardizes the educational viability of the Aquarium. The Aquarium until now, has earned international recognition as a world class facility. Many are questioning the soundness of this political decision given the community’s educational and scientific benefits gained under its current management.

The Vision School Board has taken the emotionally sensitive issue of gender identity and turned it into a political issue. The community is clearly divided on how this matter should be addressed. Vision would use young students as political footballs, while others may discreetly manage this personal matter for students, rather than put them under the political lime light.

Something exceptional with the majority on the Vision driven Council, School Board, and Park Board is the number of court injunctions initiated by the community. With a lack of opposition, this has been the only means of stopping council/park board decisions made contrary to the public’s wishes.

So far, the legacy list seems a tad short. Perhaps others will leave comments to remind us of accomplishments not mentioned thus far. But as we head into election season, it  appears to some that the civic political welcome mat at City Hall is worn thin. Could this be a season of change, or as Integrity BC  suggests, more of the same, due to lack of interest.

Circle your calendar for November 15th.  Assess where we have been over the last six years. Learn about candidates and issues, and with your experience and common sense, accordingly … VOTE!

 

Don’t Vote The Slate

Vancouver Decides 2014:

      Jak King offers his observations and guidance to help voters in the next civic election , November 15th. It is this type of discussion that we, as a community, need to have before we vote.

Originally posted on Jak's View of Vancouver v.3:

A number of things are rapidly becoming clear in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election:

1)  Vision Vancouver is vulnerable.  Their six-year reign of big business crony politics — which has turned our city into one of the most unaffordable cities in the entire world, led to the wholesale destruction of neighbourhoods and disenfranchisement of residents, and has failed to genuinely grapple with either homelessness, transportation, or public amenities — is coming home to roost.  More and more Vancouverites are catching on to the fact that Vision’s heated environmental and LGBTQ rhetoric (with or without substantive action), street theatre and parades, and failed experiments with faux engagement projects are simply style over substance. Their softness in the polls is witness to this.  They will be spending umpteen millions of dollars trying to persuade you otherwise: when you see their ads ask yourself, who actually paid for that?

2) The Vancouver Green…

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Second round of consultation for Capital Plan. $400 million more debt proposed for 2015-2018

Vancouver Decides 2014:

We must attend!! Then we must re-frame.

Originally posted on CityHallWatch: Tools to engage in Vancouver city decisions:

Capital Funding proposed breakdown debt and revenues

The City of Vancouver has announced two open houses on the proposed $1.085 Billion Capital Plan for 2015-2018. The Capital Plans determine future budget allocations for City infrastructure such as roads, parks, community centres and cultural facilities. The Open House events will be held at the following times:

  • August 28 (Thursday), 3-7pm, Hillcrest Centre (4575 Clancy Loranger Way / Ontario St & 30th Avenue)
  • September 4 (Thursday), 11am – 4pm, Vancouver Public Library Central Branch (350 West Georgia)

An online survey is available on the City’s website.

A total of $400 million out of the $1.085 billion budget is proposed to be financed via debt; $685 million would come out of general revenues (including taxes, permits, DCLs & CACs). For the proposed 4-year capital plan, the borrowing works out to $100 million per year. The current 2012-2014 Capital Plan included borrowing of $75 million per year. Financial reports on…

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Day -84 – Vision Vancouver, we have a problem

by Mike Andruff

Judging by the results of this recent poll, the majority of respondents appear to have a problem with Vision Vancouver’s operating style at City Hall. (Disclaimer – this poll does not represent a  statistically valid sample.) The poll was conducted for approximately one month, on a blind basis, with participants indicating a clear and overwhelming choice.

 

As always in polling, and as we saw in the last provincial election, the results mean nothing, unless those involved in polls like this one, actually get to the voting districts to complete their ballot.

Moreover, many Vision Vancouver friendly media people and bloggers have Vision Vancouver easily returning to office for four more years. They consider the incumbents as unassailable because the challengers are “untested”, unknown. The challengers are unwashed and lack “vision”, to coin a phrase. (Not to mention the significant campaign funding advantage of the incumbents.)

Today, we are seeing a movement in social media, more than ever before, where the electorate is now choosing to set the agenda. If the electorate remains unprepared to do so, it would result in more of the same. An engaged electorate can provide the vision for those who wish to serve as their stewards. This participatory democracy would be quite refreshing compared to officials (elected in the previous election) gaining office with less than one fifth of eligible votes? It is but ours (the electorate’s), for the taking, but for our participation.

Study the issues, take part in the #election, and on November 15 – VOTE!

 

Day -89 – Tuum Est

VANDEC2014’S VOTING INITIATIVE

Our Goal: To elect each public official in the next Vancouver civic election on November 15, 2014, by more than 209,440 votes (50% plus 1).

To accomplish this goal each of us must:

1) Schedule a time he/she plans to enter a polling booth and vote on November 15, 2014, and

2) Learn about the candidates, parties and platforms between now and election day, so that they can select the ones that best represent their principles. Go to the About tab Above Right for more.

Today, MyVoteMatter.ca has inaugurated two blog features to capture information on the candidates and the issues.

Candidates can create their profiles for the public’s information, and voters, resident associations, community centres, and other community groups can frame the issues for which the candidates can respond. In essence they have created an online town hall meeting. This of course will only be as effective as the participation. We urge all who follow this blog to encourage others to share this opportunity within the community.

 

Day -91 – Who dat, who said, “Who dat?”

by Mike Andruff

 

 

The other day I was listening to two civic candidates crowing at each other about tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet. The one was goading the other to explain his position. This took me back to a discussion with the fellow who runs Student Vote, Taylor Gunn, President CIVIX. He said his organization explains to students, among other matters, the responsibility of each level of government. This allows them to properly frame questions and issues for candidates.

Civic officials often take an inflated view of themselves, especially at election time. It is hard to find a candidate who will say, “I’m going to provide the best stewardship possible  to ensure you get the best  fire and police protection, garbage disposal, by-law enforcement, water and sewage services, community facilities and services, recreation programs, library services, animal control, street and traffic services, and zoning and building regulations that your tax dollar deserves!” But, he/she would be the one that actually understands his/her role for the community. For those that will disagree, and say that civic officials should grow a conscience, and serve their public in all manner of topics, I simply ask, “how much duplication of political spin is necessary and how much can you afford?”.

With roughly three months to the next civic election, we will hear a lot of clap trap from those who would be elected. It really helps if, we the public, take the initiative and ask our civic candidates how they feel about stewardship. If they start talking about tanker traffic or refugee safe zones, they need to go back to politician school, and re-examine their role to their community. Hold them to account for their knowledge of how governments work, and on November 15th, give them your evaluation with your VOTE!

 

 

Day -112 – What We Didn’t See Coming

by Mike Andruff

 

He promised in 2008 to do things differently at City Hall, as a result of the big shift politically. But by differently, did he mean those behind the curtain in City Hall made policy, while his majority council rubber stamped each move made? It doesn’t appear what he said he would do in the video, and what he did, square up eg. civic unrest exemplified in the numerous injunctions sought against the City, and the still unresolved community centre agreement. Perhaps this unscripted presentation is why other councillors often speak on behalf of the Mayor.

O.K. let’s ask the question (closed poll, results revealed in 30 days):

 

Regardless of the result, we can all agree that more of us need to get out, and exercise our privilege to vote.  Do we have a clearer understanding now of what a majority council can do? Perhaps an all sorts of governance makes sense at the civic level. Study the issues, learn what the candidates have to say, and on November 15, VOTE!

 

Day -119 – What does the City Do Best?

by Mike Andruff Venture Capitalists   Should the City of Vancouver engage in the venture capital market, or should it stick to its own knitting? A report by Ian McKay, Vancouver Economic Commission is encouraging this new civic direction. More importantly, Jeff Lee in his recent article in the Vancouver Sun indicates, “But the concept belongs to Vision Vancouver Mayor Robertson …”.

But wait, remember the Great Salad Days of Alterrus Systems Inc.? Well, as the article linked above indicated, the salad venture days are over. This venture, in the nature of trade, sponsored by the taxpayer, was considered as another goofy Vision Vancouver idea. The article also reminds of the City’s ill fated relationship with PublicBike System Inc.

What type of business venture might be the next best solution for the City of Vancouver? Let’s see, they’ve tried chickens, wheat, salad, hey what about a pig farm? (I feel a song coming on here.)

If you have an opinion on the City’s foray into managing areas outside their competency, November 15, go out to a voting district, and say so with your VOTE!

Day -123 – The Triple Dip – Courtesy Vancouver’s Recent Capital Budget Proposal

by Mike Andruff

tripledip

It’s a Mug’s Game really. Those behind the curtain at City Hall propose a budget they know eligible voters won’t vote against basically, because they don’t vote. That thin band of supporters that elect the majority council will vote, and win the plebiscite.

The plebiscite is neatly cloaked in a veil of civic improvements, but what they really pay for in the next four years is, non-productive spending on behalf of you the tax payer and renter.

If one ever needed a reason to get out and vote, the latest Vision Vancouver Capital Plan announced last week is as good as any.

The plan is obviously reflects the party’s platform for the November election. (Nice of them to introduce the plan in the dog days of summer, with no one paying attention – note to self, diarize this post for a re-read November 14th). Do they deserve to be re-elected on the basis of the agenda they have laid out? As indicated in Jeff Lee’s Vancouver Sun article Thusday, this capital plan will shift emphasis from renewal and expansion of roads, water and sewer lines, and fire and safety, to in addition, now focus on green and social issues.

There you have it. The conventional spending approach vs. the new vision for civic social spending.

Mr. Renter you are involved here too. As landlords continue to face escalating government fees and taxes, they must pass them on to you as higher rent. This is in contrast to the City’s stated goal creating affordable housing. Somebody’s going to luck out here, but it will be on the back’s of taxpayers, landlords, AND renters.

We all pay federal taxes which go into social housing. We pay provincial taxes which pay for the same social housing. Now the City wants in to have you carry a triple dip, and have the bulk of their capital budget go into making us green, and a purveyor of yet more social housing. When does the taxpayer or renter stand up and say, “That’s enough!”

If you feel it is time to stop this ramp up of taxation, you can say so with your vote. November 15th is the next civic election. This is one of the many issues you can address with your vote. Please join the MyVoteMatters.ca movement and VOTE!