CitySnapshot: Polls, buttongate, and more unexpected departures this week

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Oops...a Toronto city councillor pushed the wrong button, again

We're adding a new feature called CitySnapshot to our regular lineup of activities. It's intended to provide our readers with a quick snapshot of the week that was in civic politics in Metro Vancouver and beyond. We're going to pilot this over the coming weeks, and based on how many of you actually read it, we may make it a permanent feature. So click once, click often! Here goes.

In Toronto they were grappling with something they've dubbed "buttongate". A councillor who was a staunch supporter of adding new bike lanes in Toronto apparently pushed the wrong button and voted against the project. As a result, the final vote was 15-13 against. Despite her protestations and requests for a re-vote, the decision to cancel the bike lane trial stands.

In Vancouver the Mayor's strategists are shopping around a poll conducted by a Vision-friendly polling firm (they gave over $58,000 bucks to Vision's 2008 campaign) which they claim gives their guy a huge lead over a non-existent political opponent (quelle surprise). A few of the local media lapped it up and have been reporting the results as a clear indication this mayor is on the right track. Meanwhile, the Mayor's opponents are quietly grumbling that the poll might make the Mayor view these results as vindication for his lack of consultation and autocratic style of governance. They see no light at the end of the tunnel as the Mayor's caucus continues to ram through policies with little to no consultation with local neighbourhoods.

Vancouver's chief of intergovernmental relations has announced he's packing it in early. Robin Adair was hired last August and has apparently had enough with the working conditions at City Hall. Adair is a former BC Liberal candidate and media broadcaster...beside being an all round nice fellow. His loss is a big hit to the senior team who have almost been completely gutted in the last 18 months.

The COPE party held a workshop on housing and coming out of it they were spitting bullets at the Mayor and his Vision colleagues. They claim the Mayor is spending more time funding police than he is social housing. In response, some of the pro-Vision bloggers are writing about how COPE is a spent force and arguing their two elected officials are essentially invisible. No word as to why there was no critique of the MIA Vision councillors known as Heather Deal, Tim Stevenson, Raymond Louie, Kerry Jang and George Chow? I think COPE's councillors have actually garnered more media attention than the five Vision councillors combined.

It was also revealed last week that Mayor Robertson had personally attempted to secure the rights to "mayorofvancouver.ca"...that is, until CityCaucus.com placed an FOI on the subject. When a similar story happened to the previous NPA Mayor regarding him "personally" trademarking the term EcoDensity...it was front-page headlines. Not so much this time round.

A staff report in Vancouver reveals that about 300 employees are now making $100K+ in Vancouver. This compares to about 228 the previous year. The story was covered by CKNW news.

Urbanist Jane Jacobs had some of her ideas under review this week as one Harvard economist doesn't believe tall towers are a bad way to introduce density into cities. Meanwhile, I wrote a piece about how Symbolic Governmentalism was ruling the roost at Vancouver City Hall. The post had several interesting comments and a lot of web traffic. The video we linked to it is hilarious.

Mike wrote an interesting piece about how Portand is getting rid of their pavement and turning some sections of their city into a green oasis. The post also includes a short video clip which helps to get a different perspective into this project.

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