For a good time don't call City Hall

Post by Mike Klassen in


Sad clown
Kids are gonna be blue in No Fun City

Vancouver city council a discussing recommendations to increase fees for block parties and special events at tomorrow's City Services and Budgets meeting. Fees for community block parties are to be implemented in order to cover costs, going from zero to $50. Approximately 150 community block parties were held in 2009 in neighbourhoods across the city. These events are organized by volunteers and generally have no budgets.

You can probably say goodbye to these small and vital community events because they are usually organized on a very thin dime. By comparison, Burnaby charges zero dollars for block party permits, and North Vancouver charges $25 but they deliver the barricades to you. The fees according to city staff's report are expected to generated $5500 annually for the City of Vancouver.

Other recommendations by staff include a 50% increase in filming permits. While the increase from $100 to $150 is not considered onerous, additional fees can be enough of a catalyst for film productions to choose other jurisdictions, such as filming instead in other cities within Metro Vancouver with lower fees.

On the subject of special events, the staff report outlines their importance:

Special Events are an important component for a vibrant community. Special events range from residential block parties to multi-day celebrations, such as the Celebration of Light. Special events may be organized by residents, community and not-for-profit organizations, or commercial and corporate organizations.

In December's budget slashing by Vision Vancouver, they eliminated the $165,000 budget for the Special Events program. Part of this budget was used to provide $1000 offsets for Police and Engineering Services for larger scale events such as the Italian Days Festival on Commercial Drive, and a proposed Hamilton Street hockey tournament in Yaletown. Staff and the City Manager recommend cancelling this $1000 offset and requiring event organizers to pay it instead.

On a related note, Mayor Gregor Robertson put forward a motion that has raised some eyebrows. At Tuesday's city council meeting Robertson's motion asked that the City Manager report back on how Vancouver can capitalize on the fun and excitement of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games:

THAT the City Manager be asked to report back to Council at the earliest possible time on the broad impacts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games with recommendations on legacy opportunities in the areas of:

  • Job creation and economic growth;
  • Encouragement of sport and athletic prowess;
  • Arts and Culture;
  • Transportation;
  • Public Safety;
  • Accessibility enhancement; and
  • Other areas that staff may recommend as an important opportunity.

Now, there are not a whole lot of people these days who would put "Penny Ballem" and "good time" in the same sentence. Why the Mayor didn't ask that this study be conducted instead by a third party blue ribbon panel of business and cultural leaders (people who are actually in the business of making fun) instead is beyond us.

I'm quite familiar with how much work it is to organize fun community events. The $50 will undoubtedly provide enough of an impediment that we'll see significantly less than the 150 street parties we saw in years past. Pack up the face paints, because it's unlikely that kids and families will get the block party to put them on.

It seems like no matter what the Vancouver City Hall does, it's got No Fun City built right into its DNA.


How would the city enforce compliance with the fee for block parties? Roam the city on summer nights looking for permits? Hand out tickets to the guy manning the potluck table or maybe the kids in the middle of a road hockey game?
Really, COV, Really?

Sandra, you make a great point. I was speaking to someone tonight who is an active community organizer of block parties and other events. It's that person's feeling that these parties will in a way "go underground" by not applying for permits. The liability is the biggest fear, because if someone gets hurt at the events then well-meaning folks could get sued. The city must pull back on this silly idea that will only generate five grand.

Remember the $62 million deficit that the city faces? I guess I wouldn't mind chipping in for the $50 for a block party, rather than having the city further cut city operations (like community centres/libraries) or further raising property taxes...

Check your facts, Vince. There is no $62 million deficit. Sheesh. That's so November '09.

This reminds me when the BC Liberals cut the books for the blind program. It was widely unpopular for the $60K they were going to save in their budget. I think Vision will take notice of this and pass up on getting the extra $5K. At least I hope so. If not, they will certainly face a community backlash when everyone finds out about this nickling and diming.

So if I have a $50 permit for my block party and someone gets hurt, the
City is liable for damages? CofV is self-insured for liability so that means Joe Taxpayer takes the hit, either for the settlement or for legal fees to fight it. How does that save money?

The Thought of The Day

"It’s disgusting in the same way it’s disgusting when you step into a fresh pile of dog shit immediately after walking by a sign saying to curb your dog and pick up the proceeds. Maybe it’s time to have the same signs installed inside the Hall too!"

The pathetic irony... May I remind everyone here, that the same City brains paid severances and "shut up" settlements to many of the recently fired or "retired" City employees? City's new firing/ hiring policy: FHFHF (Friendly Hiring Following Hostile Firing) is costing the Tax Payers a bundle.
In the millions of dollars!
That's Vancouver's new Trademark!

Remember how Gregor @ company, screwed the people of BC ( he quit his not so Worshippee MLA stunt in Victoria, forcing a by-election 6-7 months before the Provincial Election of the 2009)?

Money, money, money.

But of course, that’s semantics, tomato tomahto, what’s money, other people's money, tax payers money? Hollyhock campaign contributions on the other hand...

$50...How did they arrive at $50? Why not $100, $73, $49.99? If I remember correctly, $50 is twice the amount that Jasper the Park Ranger in Chief, himself, refrained from paying for the Bloedel Conservatory fund raiser not so long, money matters, but not when you take from Jack, Jill or Joe to give to Penny.
Don't get me started on that.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I hardly think a $50 increase in film location permit fees will be noticed. And that's only because the industry is so dismal for opportunities at present, and it doesn't look promising for the rest of the year.

Sadly the nickel and diming that has taken place on local production budgets the past few years adds up and it's usually paid by the lowliest crew members starting out by way of having their job opportunities to build some experience cut from budgets, with dept. heads having to do their jobs leading to an extremely poor quality of overworked life and poor quality product.

The city is saying to the production industry, we don't want you in our streets, go shoot somewhere else that your crew who live in Vancouver have to drive further to.

Now that's not very green is it Visionistas?

Speaking of, I looked back on the Vision platform doc they campaigned on and had a laugh at this pledge to "Work with arts organizations and the local film industry to promote free outdoor screenings in public parks."

The local film industry is about the business of producing work for hire, not distributing, or exhibiting. But local indie filmmakers may jump on the opportunity....

Like this one...

Reap what you sow :)

@landlord. Yes, the City has insurance in case someone gets hurt at these events. If someone drives through a barricade for example and clips someone. You are insured if you get a permit. No permit, no insurance.

Once again the morons @ city hall are nickle & diming the very people who put them in power.
Short sighted they have no idea!They run to the best resorts, entertain themselves with our dollars,but begrudge us by charging high fees for block parties.
I'm watching how the "geniuses" @ city hall are going to completely screw up the goodwill left from the Olympics.

I notice from the report that Gregor Robertson's city manager has "recommended" these new charges to council. What is she thinking? This is political suicide for Vision if they approve these charges. They should throw out this report in its entirety. They've spent more on severance pay in the last 12 months than they can ever expect to collect in this new tax.

This will gtreatly effect the good works of the 20 Business Improvement Associations. Through their seasonal, free, special events (held mainly on City streets and sidewalks)they strive to create a positive buzz in their neighbourhoods 365 days of the year while enriching the fabric of the merchant/customer relationship.
Perhaps the Film Industry can afford more but dowlading even more costs to citizens takes away the pleasure somehow.

I respect the need for budget restraint but sometimes you need to step back a little bit and look at the consquences.

Many low cost events are mounted by the business community through the BIAs. It would be interesting to take several sample events and look at the old costs and new costs with the various fees as proposed and actually see if those events would go ahead as planned.

We have just experienced the fun of an activated city with the Olympics. To me, this is rather self defeating.

Thank you for reporting on this.

YES!...and exactly what the City needs now is a new fleet of 'block party inspectors'. Fantastic. They already have lots of them measuring patios to the final square centimeter; and even more of them seeking out and destroying anything that resembles live music and street culture.

'No Fun City built into their DNA': it could not have been better articulated. The Puritans at City Hall seem to be the only ones who have no clue as to how we are still (rightfully) perceived. I, along with so many others, are completely disenchanted.

When will things change?

I see in the online Administrative Report that you have so kindly linked to the story, it states that under the Budget for 2010 it calls for the elimination of 2 Special Event Liaison positions.

A brief just posted on CKNW states the following:

....'The entire proposal would make the city over 100-thousand dollars which would fund the salaries of the two staffers who run the city's busy special events office..'

'Creative' budget balancing.

Once again Vision has folded like a bad deck of cards and the little people have won! I heard on cknw that Anton won the vote and the ridiculous block party tax has been voted down. All the other new taxes will remain. Which still sucks big time.

Well - this is good news, I guess. But the bad news is that the CoV would actually waste time proposing something like this.

In a related, though overarching issue...I am awaiting any possible update from mid-January's post on 'no fun': "It's not a corrupt system...but it is influencable", says staff report

Anyone know anything? Please and Thank you.

Check out!

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