City refuses to release noise exemption letter signed by Mayor

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


gregor signs letter.jpg
Gregor Robertson authorized a noise exemption prior to Hornby bike lane vote

The debate is over and the fat lady is singing. Despite a rushed process that many referred to as a "sham", the permanent $3.2M Hornby Street separated bike lane is now under construction. The public have been told by City officials to avoid the area while work crews show up on Sundays and statutory holidays to complete yet another one of the Mayor's pet projects.

When the public learned about the Hornby project in the dead of summer while council was on a 2-month break, they were understandably concerned that the process would be rushed to completion without any stakeholder input. Vision and COPE councillors said, don't worry, we're listening to you. Yeah right. Everyone knows that the minds of these politicians were made up weeks ago.

Some believe that the fact construction crews started work only hours after the late night council approval was clear evidence the whole process was a waste of time. In fact, there is something even more incriminating. It's the noise permit exemption letter that Mayor Gregor Robertson signed a couple of weeks before the vote.

The authorization letter provides work crews with the ability to continue construction outside of hours set down by the City's noise by-law. The Vancouver Charter stipulates that only the Mayor can authorize bending the rules. I’ve had it confirmed by several City staff that an exemption was signed by Robertson “in the latter part of September.” In fact, a memo circulated to neighbours first thing Wednesday morning by the City on the morning after the vote even references the exemption. It states:

In order to ensure that we can expedite the construction process, Street crews have been granted a noise variance to allow street work to start earlier on Sundays and holidays (from 0700h) than would be the norm.

Therefore, while Robertson was telling local businesses and residents he was trying to keep an open mind and would listen to their concerns regarding the Hornby bike lane, he was also working feverishly behind the scenes with staff to facilitate its immediate construction.

It should be noted that up until now signed exemption letters were routinely made available to the public upon request. I know this because when I worked for former Mayor Sam Sullivan we received numerous complaints regarding the early morning construction at the new convention centre. Several members of the public told me they saw Sullivan’s signature at the bottom of the letter they had obtained from City Staff.

That’s why I naively asked to see a copy of the letter Robertson signed authorizing work to begin on the bike lane even before a vote had taken place. I first called the permits department and they advised me that I couldn’t get access to it. I was told to “call the Mayor’s office and see if they can give you a copy”.

I then called Engineering, and they too responded by voicemail telling me they weren’t allowed to release that document and that I would “have to obtain it by placing a freedom of information request”. What gives? They want me to place a freedom of information request to obtain a copy of an exemption permit signed by the Mayor? They’ve got to be kidding right?

Next I phoned the Mayor’s office and was politely told by the administrative staff that they could not release the document to me. They took my email address and said they would get back to me pronto. Several days have now passed and no response. I’m not anticipating one.

I have now had to register a complaint with the City Clerk’s office and file a freedom of information request asking to obtain the exemption permit. I’m fully expecting to receive it shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the bike lane has taken place.

As you can imagine, Robertson is not too keen to have a letter floating out there showing that he authorized early morning work on Sundays. The optics of signing this letter before the vote took place looks awful and is a major slip up by his political staff who should have been more careful. Perhaps spending a little less time twittering about the NPA, and a bit more time reading correspondence would be a more productive use of their time.

When you juxtapose the timing of this letter with the fact local residents could have been woken up at 7am every Sunday for the next ten weeks... well you get the picture. I’m advised that due to numerous complaints from local residents, the Mayor has backed off his initial plan and will now only permit construction crews to start no earlier than 9am.

It should be a basic right for any citizen to get access to documents signed by the Mayor authorizing a variance to the noise by-law. Unfortunately, it has become common practice for this civic administration to hold back documents and keep them far from public view for as long as humanly possible.

I can’t imagine how they’ll be able to run again in 2011 with a campaign promise of wanting to make this the most “open and transparent” civic government in Canada. If they do, they’ll be laughed out of the room.

- Post by Daniel


In the next election, people that were 50/50 will now not be. Sending messages to the people over and over again that say we dont care what you think is political suicide.

how much is the overtime bill for this project and would someone please explain why there is such a push to have a project completed just in time for winter? Don't you think that overtime would be better spent on other things - like lower taxes?

Needed to go to the courthouse yesterday. Hornby is a nightmare. Robson and Hornby is even worse.

I am to the point where downtown is far too much trouble for whatever I might want there. I will get my goods and services elsewhere.


I already avoid the area like the plague. No parking. Construction crews everywhere. Major backups at all times of the day. And its not even raining yet.

I too question why this all had to be rushed in before Christmas. Why are crews working on Sunday and holidays anyhow? How much overtime are they paying out? I guess this is why the so-called trial cost over three million bucks to build.

Was this bike lane that much of an urgent priority. I am sure they could have started this project in January instead.

That's exactly what they want. It's an indirect tax aimed at reducing automobile usage, and it's working. It's shame that it's smear certainty that cyclists will die there for Council to achieve it's goal.
Similar to the shameless way they rode to power masquerading as the homeless' champion...

Mr. Mayor just release the letter. It's the right thing to do. Show that you are above petty politics. Are you up to the challenge?

Correction: "... it's a near certainty...".

How about this? Not satisfied in ignoring, then laughing at Hornby Street Business owners.... Mayor Juicebox thinks it's something that needs to be poked fun of.

I'm calling for the ENTIRE Vision Council's resignation. They can't treat residents with such disrespect!

What a disgusting LITTLE man Gregor has become....
Those shirts are nothing but disrespectful to a group of taxpayers.
Shame on the idiot that thought that one up...

Just heard about the t-shirts. What a total slap in the face to the local businesses that are facing weeks of no parking signs and declined sales.

Has this mayor completely lost all of his senses. I'm so mad at this administration and their arrogance, it's hard to describe in words. AAAAAAaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!

This quote - direct from VISION's web site shows you exactly how VISION feels about anyone who opposes their social re-engineering -- "There appears to be no end to the irrationality of citizens opposed to separated bike lines in downtown Vancouver."
This is the attitude of VISION towards YOU - taxpaying citizens of Vancouver. This is VISION's city NOT yours and they will do whatever they damn well please so don't get in the way with your irrational, irresponsible views. Sheesh.

Any chimp from the zoo would have known this was a done deal. Get a life people.

At the risk of lookin glike Chris Keam's alter ego I will post this too from the VISION web site:
"An outpouring of spectacular gibberish: What part of cheaper, healthier, environmentally beneficial don't these folks understand?" - THESE FOLKS are YOU and I!!!


These t-shirts are disgusting. To be raising money for Vision off the backs of local Hornby street merchants. Sickening. The mayor should apologize and put a halt to this offensive garbage immediately. He is going to get pummeled in the polls next year. He should also fire whoever came up with this stupid idea. Dumb, dumb, and dumber.

No this whole council needs to resign now. Let's go back to the polls and put a REAL leader in city hall.

Resign Gregor, RESIGN!

Isn't it a legal requirement to display the exemption on the worksite?

I hate to burst your bubble Omoishiroi, and god knows I don't like how Vision has rammed things through nor do I like how they've acted like thugs, but you made a mistake in your post.

What you've quoted and attributed to Vision was originally posted in an column by Ethan Baron from The Province (one whose previous reportage left a lot to be desired. How he made it to columnist, who knows?) and not from Vision Vancouver itself. While they likely agree with it, they didn't post it and it didn't directly come from them. They simply posted what was in The Province.

You all know the t-shirt quote was coined by a former NPA councillor right?

I don't care if it was coined by Jesus Christ himself. This isn't a joke. This has the potential to affect people's abilities to earn a living. That should never be a joke CK. Especially not by a party in control of a level of government.

splitting hairs SC...a responsible government would not post an opinion such as this. You and VISION believe exactly in that headline - don't run and hide.
And CK -- so the quote came from an NPA councilor - who cares. It's VISION that is selling the t's but of course in VISION speak there is always someone else to blame.

and the quote for the T Shirts sold on City Caucus comes from Vancouver's Mayor - shameless and disgusting.

Lets face it. Two years ago, Vancouver voters (or at least those that got out to vote)decided that the message and promises from Vision were in line with their thinking. They wanted change and they got it.
A year from now the voters of Vancouver will have another opportunity to vote for their choices. It will be very interesting to see if more of the registered voters get to the polling booths and how they vote. If the Center of the political spectrum decides a new type of change is necessary then the Vision candidates will not survive. So, get out to vote in 2011.

Don't go around attacking me and implying that I'm in bed with Vision because of "splitting hairs". You're attack is completely unwarranted and moreover, wrong. We may have to agree to disagree on this. There are other places on the web where it's well documented that I've attacked both Vision and the NPA (more so Vision). I haven't been in favour of Vision, it's cronies, or it's policies for some time and I think they're more than overdue for an electoral whooping.

The fact is that this was originally published by The Province (there's a link for the article) and republished on Vision's website. However, I will concede that you're right, in the fact, that I'm sure they don't disagree with a damn thing in the piece and God knows, I think the bike lanes are a huge waste along with other dumb policies (I'm on record on saying that before too). I didn't care for the piece either. If you have a real problem with it, contact Ethan Baron and The Province complain about his piece (which was certainly a piece of crap), since they originally published it.

The NPA does when there's news published that's favourable to them. That's what all political parties do. If this was written by the party and/or published on the City or Mayor's own taxpayer paid website, I'd have a real problem with that. However, since it's the political arm of a politcal party that's unfortunately in power, they or anyone else that has press that's favourable to them would be foolish not to capitalize on it and publish it on their own website.

Let's face it, the campaigning has more or less started and this is just the beginning of the election year, where hopefully people will wake up and vote the bums out (if the NPA can get it's act together and Suzanne Anton ISN'T the Mayoral candidate).

I realize I've probably wasted my time since you're probably convinced by this one tiny disagreement I have, that I'm forever connected with Vision. This is the same way Vision goons act by pouncing on one tiny thing and relentlessly attack, true or not, that most of us deride. I certainly don't think you're a Vision goon, just as I'm not a Vision supporter.

I think the key words are "Former NPA Councillor".
To that end, what does it matter who coined the phrase? it's tasteless, and does nothing to ease tensions. here's a thought...Maybe instead of a stupid slogan like that, they could have had an image of a bike, and a slogan that endorsed the co existence and support of both the lane and business.
Just shows the arrogance and lack of sensibility.

Check out!

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