Canada Post announces over 1,200 jobs are moving to Richmond
As part of his promise to create a new green economy for Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson said he would create 20,000 new jobs in the city by 2020. Of course, that meant committing to creating employment in Vancouver's downtown core.
That was then, this is now.
Mayor Gregor’s hopes and dreams took another blow with the announcement that Canada Post is packing up its downtown location and moving to the neighbouring City of Richmond. Not only will the building be boarded up, but over 1,200 well-paying jobs are heading out of Vancouver. Surely this wasn’t the kind of economic nirvana Mayor Gregor was thinking of when he mapped out his plan to create all those new jobs.
As per the Mayor’s office standard operating procedure, they put Councillor Geoff Meggs (known by some media as The Garbage Man because of how he fields questions about bad stories on behalf of the Mayor) out in front of the cameras to be the point person on this topic. The Vancouver’s Sun’s Jeff Lee commented on how difficult it was to spin this out as good news. However, give Meggs credit for trying:
The city was working with Canada Post to try to find ways to keep them there, but it appears that effort hasn't worked out. That's the bad news. The good news is that this is a superb building that will be repurposed. We need to find a way to create jobs down there.
I’m not sure touting the benefits of a big empty building in your downtown core is going to go very far with the public. After all, downtown Detroit is full of empty buildings, but nobody there thinks that a “great opportunity” for repurposing.
It is worth noting that Robertson has flip-flopped on his election commitment on jobs. There were no big press conferences to announce it, nor did the mayor make himself available for another feel-good photo op. Nope. Vision Vancouver backpedaled on their commitment and there was nary a mention in the media. Not even my friend Allen Garr over at the Courier took the time to cover it.
To be fair, Mayor Gregor has come out with a new commitment of stating he wants to double the number of green jobs in Vancouver by 2020 – whatever that means.
I’m always a bit leery when I hear politicians of all stripes saying they are going “to create jobs.” I think what most of them really mean to say is they are going to create the right conditions for private sector job growth. Albeit some of the more left-leaning politicians really do believe government’s role is to take money from taxpayer's pockets and create more public service jobs. This is never a recipe for sustainable economic growth.
While I don’t take issue with Mayor Gregor putting a focus on supporting the local economy, I do find his methods a bit maddening. For example, we’ve been told for years that Vancouver’s cruise ship industry is hurting. Competition from the Port of Seattle and Victoria continues to bleed off thousands of passengers from passing through Metro Vancouver, and spending money.
Yet despite this harsh reality, Mayor Gregor spends an inordinate amount of time courting media-friendly pipe dreams of establishing a high-speed rail link between Vancouver and Seattle. To date his efforts have proven fruitless. And given how the border between the US and Canada continues to tighten up, it’s hard to imagine that a speeding train will be allowed to zip back and forth over the border anytime soon.
The Mayor’s focus on green often times means he can’t see any other colours in the rainbow. Economic growth isn’t just about attracting high-profile new companies to Vancouver, it’s also equally about retaining the jobs you already have.
On that score, the loss of all those well-paid unionized jobs from downtown Vancouver is a sign the Mayor has a long way to go in meeting one of his core commitments to voters.
- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus.