Vancouver city council set for crazy busy week

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

19 comments

carrot sticks.jpg
City Hall wants these orange things to become your New Age fries

As the clock ticks ever closer to the November civic elections in BC, it's likely a number of Vision/COPE politicians are getting a tad nervous. That's because more than a few of them may be forced into retirement, however, we're just not sure who. This is also the time of year that governing parties want to make a big push to "get things done." That's why over the next few months, you'll likely see a flurry of motions and staff reports coming to council for debate and ratification.

Time is clearly running out to help change the narrative of this council being solely a "bike lane, backyard chicken and veggie garden" government. Vision will be pulling out all the stops in an attempt to re-orient the ship and begin getting better media coverage. Everyone except the Mayor knows he's been receiving terrible communications advice over the last 12 months. This advice has been manifesting itself in recent lacklustre polls and poor coverage on 6 o'clock newscasts.

The Vision politicians will be obviously pushing the public service hard this year to help them get re-elected. For many staffers that means working longer days and writing more reports that are eventually re-written by the City Manager. It's a prospect few of them are looking forward to as they await the final outcome of November's election.

You only need look at how jam packed the first council week in 2011 is to get a sense of what is coming down the pike. The expansion of the mishandled food cart program, watering down of green targets, taller towers, increased noise permit fees, online voting are but a few of the issues to be debated over the coming days.

Here is a quick summary to give you a sense of the scope of debate.

Pandora St Tragedy: On Tuesday afternoon council will vote on whether there should be a public inquiry into the Pandora Street fire that killed three men. If people register to speak to the motion, the debate and vote will be scheduled for Thursday. You can expect Vision will quash the motion claiming that an independent review is already taking place.

Green Targets Amended: The Mayor made a big deal about his promise to create 20,000 new green jobs by 2020. Well, that promise is being watered down in a staff report coming to council. Now Mayor Gregor wants to double the number of green jobs over 2010 levels by 2020. A few other green targets have also been adjusted to align with reality. The debate on adjusting the targets will take place on Thursday afternoon. If you get a moment, you might be interested in reading an opinion piece both Mike and I wrote for the Vancouver Sun regarding Mayor Gregor's green dream 20,000 jobs commitment.

Pandora St Home Demolition: It may have taken years for the City to take action against the land owner at 2862 Pandora St, but plans are underway to demolish the home in a few weeks. Critics argue the house shouldn't be demolished until its determined if it will be needed as part of an independent review. The house caught fire just before Christmas and three people died. The cause of the fire was a faulty extension cord. The demolition debate will take place Thursday afternoon.

Noise Control: A report going to council on Thursday afternoon is asking for authority to increase the application fee for a Noise Exemption from $75 to $148 for applications submitted at least five working days prior to the date of the proposed activity and $296 for applications submitted less than five working days prior to the date of the proposed activity. These fees are starting to look a lot more like a tax grab and less like charges for actual services rendered. A court case related to this was fought in the Supreme Court of Canada and it forced gov't to reduce the fees it charged to more realistic numbers.

Taller Buildings and View Cones: If there are two issues that gets Vancouverites blood flowing it's that of building heights and views. A report coming to council on Thursday will seek approval to increase building heights. Council will also be discussing view cones and whether they still have a place in Vancouver's policy landscape.

Carrot Sticks Please: You read about it on the front page of the Vancouver Sun and now it's being debated at Council on Thursday morning. A report on the food cart program is seeking political approval to expand the program and add a nutritional component. It's likely Vision will approve the report which has already been dubbed "big mother".

As you can see, policy wonks will have a field day at City Hall this week. With so many issues coming forward, it will be interesting to see which one makes it out on top. We'll keep you posted on any new developments regarding these policy reports as the debate unfolds.

- Post by Daniel 

19 Comments

You guys should do these every Monday.

I dont know why guys like Robertson keep on dreaming about Green Jobs.

Green jobs as a fix for all we have lost in jobs going to China, Mexico or elsewhere is a fallacy.

As a matter of fact Spanish studies now show that for every Green job created there 2.2 non Green jobs disappeared.

I keep hearing about green jobs but what are they?

Farming is a green job, yet we have no real producing farms in the City.

I happen to own a green company that manufactures cutting edge technology and couldn't have a plant in the City.

The bureaucracy, taxes, lack of decent space to make anything and politics of the City make it a very costly and difficult place to do business.

Say what you will about Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, they are all far more conducive to business.

If the City wants green jobs, they need to pay more attention to it than lips service and political slogans.

Yes, I think it critical that we be able to bring manufacturing into the city. Any ideas on how that can be done would be interesting to hear. Over the decades Vancouver City Hall seems to have developed some anti-industry zoning policies. How do we get those changed? In their Vancouver Sun piece the City Caucus guys ask "how zoning can help to reduce the city’s carbon footprint." That is a very good question to ask. Ideas?

For those who missed it, McKinsey has some useful discussion of urban issues http://whatmatters.mckinseydigital.com/cities

Stephen, Dave has suggested several causes:

"...bureaucracy [read red tape, to many rules, etc.], taxes [which are being reduced, but enough to compete?], lack of decent space to make anything [goes back to relatively higher land costs] and [polarized] politics of the City".

More flexible zoning would also help. Another aspect is not just higher taxes but, higher rents.

Transportation accessibility is another limitation in some cases. Improvements can be made in some of the above but, some such as land cost and transportation may be difficult to cahange.

One might step back and question the Mayor's "world's greenest city" notion. Is it realistic? How will it be measured? By who? Is it really important, or is it more realistic and important to seriously go about being the best green city we can be given the many factors which influence how our City evolves.

Hear, hear!

Green jobs,are you kidding.It does not matter if a company makes unicorns and fairy dust or they make golfballs or teaspoons.They all use power,water,waste removal etc.If you want to attract manufacturing to the city give tax incentives,they can open on their own dime,that way if they fail they lose their money not mine.But I guess its all part of the 500yr.plan.They couldnt manage a one man line up to a two hole outhouse.

Maybe the greenjobs are for the guys in the hazmat unit that come to your house when your 4yr.old breaks one of those wonderful mercury filled light bulbs in his room spewing mercury all over his stuffy toys.Just think they can charge $3000 a shot,we will all be rich and never pay taxes again.

You don't even need to break them.

I was at my boyfriend's, he turned off a table lamp and the bulb 'popped'.

And then there was hideous odor and smoke.

Rather than touch the bulb at that point, he took the lamp and placed it outside and I opened up the windows.

Anyways I've removed the CFL's from my house (as did he).

I've been stocking up on the traditional bulbs. Yes, you may see me on an episode of Hoarders.

Thanks Max,what I see in the future is a huge black market in light bulbs.People need to get some perspective on this CAGW thing,and drop the scary headlines.Right now there is a guest post at the evil Watts Up With That site by DR.Richard Lindzen:A Case Against Percipitous Climate Action.Read this and ask yourself who decided what the optimum temp. of this planet should be.

'But I guess its all part of the 500yr.plan'
Best line, gman!

Thanks Michelle,of course it will have to be cleared by the Grand Pooba George I am God Soros and maybe Maurice Oil For Food Strong.

Michelle & gman

right on, great comments!

To get to the point of this post, there is another reason Vision want to clear the decks in a hurry. Not only because of the the election, starting late September, but it's because they don't want to be bothered by 19 more nasty NPA candidates starting after the nominations whenever they happen this spring or summer.

The Thought Of The Day

“Angels and Demons. An 'Illuminating' experience. BC HYDRO recommended.”

Well, lazy again. A weekend post of mine, on the Tom Hanks movie, from a late, late chat with AGT.
I think it fits in here. It's so...


A rapid chase in a ‘cross’ pattern throughout Rome, international costume gathering, conspiration within the legal constipation boundaries, foreign intervention, betrayal of the people that trusted you the most, conning of the inner sanctum, backstabbing and paranoia,
Annus Horribilis…but enough on the Vision Vancouver council meetings of the past year.

Let’s talk movie…as entertaining as a Penny Ballem Power Point Presentation, only with lots of atrocious killings in between the slides.

At some point I couldn’t find the remote. Now, I get Elvis, shooting at TV sets wasn’t a reaction to alcohol, drug abuse or depression. No, the TV shows of the time probably sucked. It explains the gun.
So, I did it the old fashion way. I pulled the cord out of its wall socket, with my toes, provoking a short that sent half of the people in my neighbourhood looking for candles.

Rating? Major Columbia Pictures Flop out of a Brigadier General.

I want my money back! From both…
This week? Looks good!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

you'd know all about the mayor receiving terrible communications advice eh daniel? all we have to do is look back at your stunningly incompetent job of communicating to mayor sam sullivan and the media as sam's chief of staff during the last civic workers strike! i guess you hope everyone forgot about that,what a hypocrit!

al

Thank you for your sage and thoughtful commentary. You've added so much to the discussion, I simply don't know where to begin - other than saying that Mayor Sullivan received a lot of "strategic" advice during the strike from a number of people including the City of Vancouver's Director of Communications.

What, you don't remember who that was? The top staffer providing daily communication advice to the Mayor and senior management team was none other than Laurie Best...wife of Vision Vancouver operative and former Mayor Gregor Robertson staffer Brent Humphries. Sometimes knowing the whole story helps to prevent serious foot in mouth disease.

http://www.citycaucus.com/2008/12/best-vision-ties

PS attacks on my record don't wipe away the fact Robertson is getting terrible communications advice

city hall is out of control in terms of parking enforcement there doing a money grab and charging outrageous amounts of money and in biz with Buster towing. I was in a parking space that was 1 foot out of bounds but that wasnt good enough. City hall supposed to be about being green .. Right.. next time Ill just keep driving around for 30min wasting gas and poluting the air to find a spot that doesnt put me within a foot of violation. So much for GREEN being the priority. Cost 100.00 for towing and 100 for the ticket .. outrageous.

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