Voters? Pah! Vision's arrogance becomes more evident on Olympic Village file
In what is quickly becoming one of the most surreal debates regarding the controversy-plagued Olympic Village, Vancouver Council has decided to add teachers to the growing list of occupations provided with special access to rental units. Earlier this week Vision released a late distribution report (yet again) and rushed through a process to slash the total number of social housing units available to low-income residents. Meanwhile, they've taken half of those units and agreed to offer them for rent to firefighters, police, nurses and now teachers.
The whole process regarding this landmark decision stinks. It is rumoured the report outlining options for social housing at the Olympic Village was actually drafted last fall. Council apparently sat on it in order to avoid the embarrassment of voting to cut social housing prior to the Games. To then ram this through the Chamber in the matter of about 72 hours is another clear signal that Mayor Gregor Robertson's Vision government is one of the most arrogant administrations we've seen in a generation.
The meeting to discuss the future of social housing at the Village ended at around 1am this morning. After being provided with the minimal amount of notice necessary, speakers were then asked to wait around for hours in order to have their voice heard. It's hard to understand why citizens decided to wait that long considering the Mayor said his caucus had already announced they met in the backrooms and had made up their mind on how they were going to vote. By pushing this to the bottom of the agenda, Vision all but guaranteed that all of the media would have long gone home by the time the votes were cast. Was it not Vision Vancouver that ran on a campaign platform of more openness and transparency?
After hours of debate, Councillor Geoff Meggs then added a special amendment to ensure that teachers were also given priority access to the special Olympic Village rental units. Despite Meggs sporting a neck brace, Michael Smyth delivered several good blows to the head this morning when he ripped into the councillor for providing teachers with this special access.
Yet again, Vision appears to be struggling with their message box. One minute they claim providing first responders with special access to the units is all about the safety of our community (they did that with the Burrard Bridge lane trials as well), then the next minute it's about ensuring we make Vancouver more affordable. Councillor Raymond Louie was even on the radio this morning claiming that he supported providing teachers access to the units in order that we could get kids back to school quicker after a major earth quake. Who are these guys kidding?
As developer Michael Geller rightly points out, council did have a choice here. They could have been a bit creative and saved taxpayers over $100 million dollars, or they could let ideology trump good public policy. They could have built or purchased more social housing units away from the waterfront, or been pigheaded and stayed the course. We all know which path they've chosen.
It should also be noted that the tired and now worn out talking point of "this was all the NPA's fault" is falling on deaf ears in the media. Perhaps it's because they're fully aware that most of the key decisions regarding the building of this project were approved by successive COPE, Vision and NPA governments.
Or perhaps it's because of what Frances Bula aptly pointed out a few weeks ago that an Olympic Village planned and managed by a Vision Vancouver government would not have been any less expensive. For heaven's sake, it was Vision's original plan to have the project be 2/3 non-market housing before the NPA scaled back those "ambitious" and unfunded dreams.
It was the Olympic Village that helped to propel Vision back into government. However, based on what we've witnessed in the last 72 hours, this arrogant government has found that their biggest political asset is now turning into one colossal public relations nightmare.
- post by CityCaucus staff