It's going to be very difficult to get anyone's attention today unless you are talking about Vancouver Canucks playoff hockey. Whether its Twitter, Facebook or the blogs, Canucks talk is all the rage. That's why Mayor Gregor owes the team a huge favour these days. It's clear that hockey fever is helping to ensure voters aren't paying much attention to what's going on at Silly Hall.
As I reported earlier, Council will be debating a report on Thursday that will seek approval to spend up to $210,000 on Gregor's "green" projects. With Vision holding a 10-1 majority, it's pretty much a fait accompli the recommendations will get the "green" light from our elected officials.
However not everyone is jumping on Mayor Gregor's low-carbon emitting bandwagon.
Yesterday NPA opposition leader Suzanne Anton weighed in on the merit of spending tax dollars on some of the more interesting projects. With a pitchfork in one hand and a pair of overalls in the other, she held a news conference on the front lawn of City Hall to denounce the latest goofiness of the Mayor and his Vision colleagues.
Anton was referring to some of the eyebrow raising initiatives in the Mayor's green plan which include ideas such as growing wheat on the front lawns and boulevards of local Vancouver residents. The project is called "Lawns to Loaves" and it wants to begin ripping out lawns and replacing them with commercial grain crops.
So how are the media reacting to the Mayor's latest green schemes? Mark Hasiuk over at the Vancouver Courier points out to readers that one of the $15,500 green grant recipients has a connection to the Mayor :
When you’re fighting for the planet, all bets are off. The future lays in ruin, toxified and slimed, unless the good guys win. The stakes are too high to worry about appearances...
Despite the odd disagreement, Robertson and the VACC (Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) remain politically tight. Which leads back to the $15,500 green grant earmarked for the VACC. Turns out, the VACC plans to funnel the $15,500 to SHIFT Urban Cargo Delivery, a downtown delivery business that uses tricycles to transport goods.
Why? Because SHIFT wants the money. But only non-profit societies such as the VACC are eligible for city grants. Incidentally, SHIFT was co-founded by Graham Anderson, a VACC board member and contributor to the Vancouver Observer, an online newspaper founded by Linda Solomon, sister of Joel Solomon, a wealthy investor and Robertson’s main moneyman. As an Observer columnist, Anderson has praised Robertson’s cycling policies.
While unseemly, it’s all legal. But don’t worry about it. In the apocalyptic battle for the future of planet Earth, where the rest of us require reeducation, Anderson—like Robertson—is one of the good guys.
Over at News 1130 Radio, they decided to make the Mayor's "Lawns to Loaves" program their poll question of the day. They report:
First it was chicken coops, then it was vegetable gardens at City Hall.
A candidate for mayor is speaking out over a plan that could see front lawns turned into wheat farms.
The NPA's Suzanne Anton calls it another one of Gregor Robertson's "green schemes." She says she's all for green ideas that are useful, but thinks this one is just too bizarre -- right up there with homeless chicken shelters.
The Georgia Straight had a slightly different take on the issue with their headline referring to "cheap politics". They also posted a short video interview with Vision councillor and City Finance Minister Raymond Louie.
He's been asked by the Mayor's office to get out there and defend the expenditure. He says no decision has been made and Vision Vancouver are keeping "an open mind" when it comes to whether they'll support the green schemes. Yeah right.
As for the Vancouver Sun, they ran a story on page A3 with a big colour photo and a headline that reads "Make room for a wheat field beside the chicken coop". Jeff Lee reports:
From chicken coops in backyards and vegetable plots at city hall, Vancouver is branching out into experimental wheat plots in place of lawns.
The idea of replacing turf with a waving patch of yellow grain is among a list of ideas the Vision Vancouver-led council is considering for this year's Greenest City Neighbourhood grants allocations.
Not be outdone, 24 Hours Vancouver also covered the wheat growing story. They report:
After urban chicken coops and City Hall’s vegetable patch, Vancouver’s city council now wants to turn front lawns into wheat farms.
City council will vote Thursday whether to spend $5,000 on a pilot project to show it’s possible to use grass lawns for small-scale grain production.
“I thought Vision Vancouver’s homeless shelters for chickens scheme was as goofy as things could get,” said NPA Counc. Suzanne Anton, who’s running to replace Gregor Robertson as the city’s mayor in November’s civic elections. “I’m offering a pair of overalls and a pitchfork to Gregor Robertson, which he can put to good use on a farm.
“We, as the NPA team, will focus instead on building a great, cosmopolitan city and will be spending taxpayers dollars more appropriately.”
So regardless of whether the Canucks win or lose tonight, the Mayor and his Vision team are counting their blessings their is a game 7 tonight. For without it, transforming Vancouver from a cosmopolitan city into a new urban farm would likely have become the topic of discussion at the water cooler this week. Now it's all about Luongo and Thomas.
That said, I somehow think the topic of bee hives, Gregor's Garden, wheat fields and homeless shelters for chickens just might come up again during this fall's election. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or "like" us on Facebook at Facebook/CityCaucus