Who will join hands leading up to the 2011 election?
We've not discussed the happenings of the Vancouver Park Board lately, but a recent joint press release from Green Party park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon and his colleague the NPA's Ian Robertson has our attention.
The content of the release is important. Both Robertson and Mackinnon are urging their fellow Vision commissioners to vote on finally removing Jericho Wharf. The aging eyesore is apparently the source of leaching contaminants that will harm marine life, and of course it's limiting access to the waterfront (it's currently fenced off).
In 2008 the NPA majority park board voted to have the structure removed, leaving a small portion as a monument to its original military purpose, and have the waterfront restored for public access. As with anything with "heritage" in our city, there was some opposition to that option. Either way – keeping or restoring the structure – was going to cost millions. The NPA accepted staff's recommendation to get rid of it, but since they've been elected majority Vision appear to have avoided the subject. Hence the release.
The sub-text of the Wharf release is even more interesting. In case you've not noticed we're a year away from a full-fledged election campaign and 14 months away from heading to the polls. Alliances are lining up that will have a significant impact on the electoral success of certain candidates. The cooperation between the NPA and the Green Party is perhaps symbolic at this time, but without question it cannot make the Vision backroom very happy.
By being antagonistic to the Green's Stuart Mackinnon, even using their paid attack dogs to question his judgment, Vision signalled that they do not see themselves in a true coalition of equals. Their persistant jabs at COPE – both online and through private discussions – also suggests that Vision knows that they're always wearing the pants in their relationship. For accommodaters like David Cadman and David Chudnovsky, that's fine. However, for many longtime COPE folks, abiding a developer-friendly at times bullying political partner is a poor option.
This is probably why we're starting to hear from a once potent political tour de force, COPE's Tim Louis. In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight, Louis has suggested that if COPE is to partner with Vision again in 2011 that they should agree to a joint mayoral candidate. This news appeared to give Vision's ED Ian Baillie a bad case of acid reflux:
“Who’s bringing that up?” asked Baillie.
“We had two separate nominations last time,” Baillie told the Straight by phone. “We are two separate parties. We’ve always been very clear on that.”
In a related Straight report, Coun. Andrea Reimer seems to be pining for some kind of COPE-Green-Vision coalition in 2011, also indicating she's not decided on a run herself next year.
For the NPA, they have a decision to make as to whether they intend to run a full slate. Rumours are that the party plans to leave two spots open on each of the three boards – council, park and school board. Is a door being left ajar for the Green Party or anyone else to run? It certainly would make sense stragetically, and mathematically to run a smaller slate of candidates. The fact that Robertson and Mackinnon seem to have the kind of mutual respect needed for a joint release, is a very interesting sign indeed.
Here is the joint press release sent out by Commissioners Mackinnon & Robertson:
VANCOUVER PARK BOARD COMMISSIONERS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO REMOVE WHARF AT JERICHO BEACH
Delay in removing the wharf is causing severe environmental damage to fish habitat
Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Ian Robertson and Stuart Mackinnon are demanding that the Park Board take immediate action to remove the wharf at Jericho Beach. Information provided to the Park Board from Fisheries and Oceans Canada outlines that fish habitat and other marine life is being severely compromised due to toxic contaminants leeching into the water from old creosote pilings.
“This is another example of the Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus waffling on a decision by the previous park board to return the beach to a natural foreshore. Not only is taxpayer money being wasted but now we have a significant environmental problem”, says Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson.
The Jericho Marginal Wharf, built in the 1930s, was once used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a float plane base. It has been closed to the public since the summer of 2009 as it has been deemed a hazard due to age related structural problems.
“Vancouver, being a coastal city, is blessed with a beautiful foreshore, but unfortunately much of it is not accessible to the public. Returning this area to its natural habitat will enhance the area, and create a haven for both people and nature” says Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon. “It’s time the Park Board moved on this”.
The previous Park Board voted in July 2008 to remove a significant portion of the wharf and return the beach to a natural state. Despite three previous public meetings and strong public support for returning the beach to a natural state, the Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus voted unanimously in March 2009 to rescind the previous Board’s decision.
UPDATE: One of our readers pointed out that last week the Vancouver Park Board voted to close the Stanley Park Petting Zoo because of a $250,000 budget shortfall. Mayor Robertson's office renovations are costing are $260,000.
- post by Mike