When it comes to judging Vision, Tim takes the cake
In January 2009, I proposed seven benchmarks we could employ to measure Vision Vancouver at the end of their term. As it has now been two years since Vision Vancouver took power, it is time to revisit the seven benchmarks.
1. Social Housing
Indicator: 1200 units of social housing initiated and completed
In their first two years in power, Vision Vancouver has been responsible for the construction of NO new social housing. Although the current Council recently announced the construction of new market rental housing and have, as well, made arrangements for a small portion of the Olympic Village to be turned over to social housing, Vision Vancouver has failed to enforce Council’s longstanding policy of ensuring that 15% of all major new development be set aside for the construction of social housing. Grade: D
2. Property Taxes
Indicator: no further shifting of property taxes from businesses to homeowners
In Vision’s first budget, in the spring of 2009, Council approved a budget that shifted $5.68 million in tax dollars off of businesses owners and onto beleaguered homeowners.
They continued that tax shift in 2010, which in the end will put a total of $23 million on to residential tax payers after five years.
We do not yet know yet with certainty what Vision will do with their third budget, just a few months away, but it is not too early grade Vision Vancouver on this indicator. Grade: D.
3. Ethical purchasing
Indicator: vigorous inspection of apparel manufacturers within Vancouver to identify and address local sweatshop issues.
Although the City of Vancouver Ethical Purchasing Policy adopted by Council in 2005 remains in effect, in fact Vancouver City Council has failed to expand the policy beyond purchases made by City Hall, the net result being that sweatshops across the City are not covered, as I proposed they should be two years ago. Grade C-
4. Compressed Work Week
Indicator: reinstate the compressed work week at City Hall
In my article two years ago, I provided the following history of the compressed work week: “In the 1970's a new municipal party swept to power! TEAM, The Electors Action Movement, accomplished many things - some good; some not so good. One of the good things was the adoption of a compressed work week for all City Hall employees. Employees continued to work the same number of hours per week but spread over fewer days. Benefits? For citizens, easier access to City Hall which was now open for longer hours. For the environment? Reduced greenhouse gas emissions as employees commuted to work fewer days. For workers’ families? More days off to spend together - all of this at no cost to the tax payer. When the NPA came back to power, they arbitrarily and without negotiation got rid of the compressed week. In the 2002 campaign, COPE promised to bring back the compressed work week. This promise is still outstanding and is more important than ever given global warming.”
Not only has Vision failed to implement the compressed work week, providing a response to quality of life issues for municipal staff, morale at City Hall has hit an all-time low. Grade: D
Indicator: no further gambling expansion
Vision Vancouver is on the verge of approving a mega destination casino adjacent to BC Place Stadium. Gambling revenue is the most regressive form of government revenue. Low income citizens disproportionately fund gambling operations. This is the opposite of income tax, where higher income citizens pay a larger share of their taxes. Gambling revenue is not only regressive, but also destroys the lives of those who become addicted. Gambling is legalized pickpocketing. Grade: D
6. Sam’s Ecodensity
Indicator: stop the plans for the mass rezoning of 17 neighbourhoods
Former Mayor Sam Sullivan’s EcoDensity envisioned the mass rezonzing of 17 neighbourhoods, a process never before undertaken by Council. If Vision Vancouver had any intention of doing away with EcoDensity, it was imperative that it put an immediate halt to this mass rezoning. Two years into its mandate, nothing has been done to stop this process from moving forward, and there is every indication that the mass rezoning will be complete before the end of their term.
Vision Vancouver’s approach to EcoDensity is to not only observe the tenets of Sam Sullivan’s policy - their approach is ‘EcoDensity on speed’. Grade: D
7. City Policing
Indicator: freeze the police budget
In the years leading up to Vision Vancouver’s election in 2008, the police budget was the fastest growing budget of all civic departments. If Council was ever going to get control of city finances it was going to have to get control of the police budget.
With an ever-decreasing crime rate in Vancouver (down 7% in 2009 over the previous year, even though the Vision Council gave the police department a 7% budget increase, to $195 million, last year), I am pleased to hear that in 2011, Vision Vancouver will hold the police department budget to 2010 levels, and intend to limit increases for many years thereafter. Grade: B
- post by Tim Louis