Arts community silent on the loss of $700,000 in funding

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

4 comments


Coun. Anton speaks to GlobalTV's Marisa Thomas this week (video)

Earlier this week I wrote about how Vancouver Council decided not to subdivide a property owned by the Rogatnick estate on the West Side. This short-sighted decision by Vision Councillor Heather Deal and her colleagues (with the exception of the NPA's Suzanne Anton) cost the arts community approximately $700,000.

Rogatnick was a huge supporter of former NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan. He passed away earlier this year and he generously decided to leave the bulk of his estate to the arts community. Had council chosen to take his large lot and subdivide it, the entire $700,000 in profits would have gone straight into the hands of the arts community. Just a few weeks earlier in a similar situation, a homeowner requesting to subdivide his property for personal profit had it approved by council without the blink of an eye.

A few days ago GlobalTV's Marisa Thomas did a fantastic job at capturing the story for their viewers. She cornered Councillor Geoff Meggs and asked him about the inconsistency in Council's decision making process. His response was essentially that he should have never voted for the first reclassification. He didn't explain why he made a mistake, just that he wished he could take back his vote. Therefore, you can expect there will be few, if any, re-classifications approved under this council moving forward.

This council spins out that it wants Vancouver to be the greenest city. As a result, it has implemented symbolic gestures like planting vegetable gardens and installing bee hives at City Hall and approved mini-backyard chicken farms. All the while they are voting against projects that could have a real environmental impact. Density is the most powerful tool any city has to protect the environment and it would appear this council has "chickened" out when it comes to making these tough decisions. Even when all the profits could have gone to the arts community, they still didn't have the backbone.

The reality is by not subdividing this large property, at least one (possibly two) other families who planned to live there will have to find a home somewhere else...perhaps in the Fraser Valley. How is pushing people outside the city so they have to commute great distances helping the environment? How is retaining this as a large lot so another fossil fuel guzzling McMansion can be built on that site helping the environment? Clearly it isn't.

The characteristics of a bold government willing to lead it's people to a better future is one that is prepared to take risks. If this Vision council was afraid of the ramifications of subdividing this one lot, there is little hope they will have the intestinal fortitude to make the tough decisions needed to truly make this the greenest city on the planet.

On a final note, I do find it rather astonishing that the Vancouver arts community have been utterly silent when it comes to Council's decision to cut them off of $700,000 in new funding. We hear all the time how the arts community is looking for new ways to raise money and ween themselves off of government subsidies. Yet when a creative decision which could have become a template for millions of new dollars is voted down at Council, there is nary a peep.Juxtapose this against the reaction when governments propose cuts to arts funding.

I think the arts community were asleep at the switch here and had a golden opportunity to possibly open up a new funding stream for themselves. However, at least in Vancouver, it would appear that door has now been firmly closed. What do you think?

- Post by Daniel

4 Comments

And yet, Vancouver City Council has commissioned a $700,000 study on tearing down the Georgia viaducts - a necessary part of the city's transportation infrastructure that still has a lifespan of decades...

Abe Roganick's property subdivision is indeed curious because there are well thought through regulations & guidelines to ensure subdivided lot widths will not be out of character with their neighbours [Section 9. Minimum Standards, Subdivision Bylaw link: http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/bylaws/subdiv/by-law.pdf].

I am surprised that Council committee members are not privy to them. They should be.

It also appears staff is playing a coy role in selectively briefing the committee? Why? This is similar to the slanted opinions expressed @ the recent West End meeting by the City's housing point lady essentially discounting condos as rental housing. Perhaps she should do a retake & realize she should be thankful condo owners are subsidizing their mortgage expenses to provide rental housing in the downtown. In another example I overheard a City planner give a Little Mountain area resident misinformation which I do not specifically recall but, can check with someone I spoke with about it @ the time.

Given the inconsistency of the above 2 decisions weeks apart this has all the hallmarks of the mean spirited political polarization this Vision Council has all to frequently demonstrated.

I can tell you that the arts community that I am part of had no idea this Rogatnik property had any impact or relationship to arts funding AT ALL.

No one I've spoken to has any idea this was happening, no one was alerted to it, and reading about it after the fact is both shocking and moot in terms of our ability to effect the outcome. How are we supposed to know about this? Seriously. Am I supposed to be scouring the probate court documents to see if anyone left anything to the arts?

Here's a follow-up story for you: Who knew what, when, and why didn't they alert the arts leaders to this potentially impactful decision?

With further checking I am advised the subdivision did not meet the Subdivision standards. But, I am told, neither did a similar application a few weeks earlier. Perhaps the media should make efforts to more accurately report the significant aspects of some of these issues.

My assertion that Councilors were not knowledgeable on the Rogatnick application was not correct. But, why were they not for the previous application? And, why did staff not advise them properly in the 1st instance?

This matter still doesn't sit right.

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