Vancouver's park priorities "out of whack" says Pasin

Post by Dave Pasin in

113 comments

uncutgrass.jpg
A lot of Vancouver boulevards are beginning to look like Cortes Island wheat fields

I trust people will note the photos of Mayor Gregor Robertson and others riding their bicycles along the seawall the other day. Several anomalies appear:

  1. They are riding in a bicycle prohibited area.
  2. The grass was cut in a vary specific swath.
  3. Approx one metre along the path only the grass and weeds in the background are actually almost one metre high or more.

It seems the Mayor and his cohorts have a whacked sense of priorites regarding parks, garden and tree maintenance. Some basic results of these cuts:

  1. The overall Park Board budget has been "whacked" by over $5 million dollar the past 3 years under Vision control.
  2. The popular summer playground leader program funding has now been over chopped 46% and reduced to a few parks on rotational basis.
  3. Community Centre funding hours and programs have been cut with seniors, fitness, child care and other programs being slashed or eliminated.
  4. Basic park, field, garden, tree and washroom maintenance has been slashed - this can and will lead to serious health issues such as an increase in hay fever and allergies as well as an increase in mice, rats and other vermin in parks and unkempt City Boulevards.
  5. This state of disrepair could lead to a decrease in property values as potential residents look at alternative municipalities that are better kept.
  6. The deterioration of respect and increased vandalism of City property.

The basic lack of care only further helps to foster the invasion of INVASIVE species of plants such as hogweed, morning glory, weeds, thistle and more to neighbourhoods throughout the City.

One only need take a peek at the overgrown boulevard and dying trees along West King Edward Boulevard, and overgrown grass and weeds throughout the City in places as diverse as Victoria and Clark Park to City boulevards (which look like "haying" has taken place) for shocking visual evidence of these deplorable cuts.

It's a question of priorities, which are way out of whack. We are all now paying the price on this reliance on "fun" optics versus nuts and bolts mechanics that keep a city running and a pleasant, safe place to live.

If the Vision Council and Park Board can find over $1 million for a party in Stanley Park, surely they can find the money to keep our City looking clean and kept.

Rhetorical questions that are answered by a Council and Park Board with a vision that does not reflect the reality of daily life and operations but which increasingly relies on superficial optics.

Mores the pity.

Caveat Emptor.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The NPA issued a news release this morning with a headline that read "Forget the Wheat, Just Mow the Grass". Subsequent to that, several MSM have covered the story including the Vancouver Sun,The Province and CBC TV. Probably the best tweet on this issue comes from NPA council candidate Bill McCreery. He states "1st we had wheat fields, not we have weed fields."

Post by Dave Pasin. Dave is a city park board candidate for the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA). If you're an elected official or candidate seeking office and want to write about urban issues, please send your 450-500 word submission to CityCaucus@gmail.com.

113 Comments

the current condition of our parks and boulevards is disgraceful. Wonder what the tourists think! I submit this current 'standard of maintenance' will do more to harm our reputation than any riot ever will.

You don't need to look as far as West King Eddy, for Lord's sake, look at the 'new' Granville Street.

The trees were replaced with dying saplings(no body watered them) crappy looking tubular neon light fixtures (if you can call them that because quite honestly, I can walk into a dollar store and get a neon glow bracelet with more character), stupid looking metal bike racks and car park markers on the sidewalks.

I mean truly, Granville is one of the most pedestrian visited areas in all of Vancouver, our supposed 'entertainment district' and this is the best 'they' could come up with???

No Vision in Vancouver.

the grass that's not cut is the area they were doing work on he seawall. the had a large area fence off and had a gravel road from the parking lot to the seawall.

http://goo.gl/ZO5kW

if that's the uncut grass your talking about, I would assume that their trying to get the grass to grow back and get healthy, or maybe there is still gravel in the grass and it wasn't safe to run over with a lawn mower.

and beyond that the pic you show of uncut grass is a "greener" option.

your not using gas or electrical to cut it. its more environmental friendly as there is more bio diversity. it will deal with drought and floods better as it will absorber more and retain more water than a cut lawn.

personally I'd love to see Vancouver allow lawns to be kept this way, its against the rules :(

Aaron Jasper (and the rest of his bros)needs to be replanted...oops, rewired... oops, recycled...oops, retired...
I heard of a nice Vision Dump...Cortes Island...sorry for the locals though...their nice community gone to garbage, tough, eh?

Kyle:

Some people actually take pride in the upkeep of their yard....

I would like to think the city, a world class city and destination point would do the same.

It is what we 'taxpayers' expect for our hard earned dollars, and what tourists, that stimulate our economy, would anticpate when they come here.

Not 'wheat' fields. They have those in Saskatchewn.

sorry used the wrong link in first post
http://goo.gl/e92wI
that is link for google maps.

i also miss the trees on granville, it'll be 20 years before its back to how it was

I was out for a walk the other night, saw a rat - it was wearing an Aaron Jasper mask......

have anyone mentioned the ridiculousness of Robertson look? Dressed in suit on a bike...on the seawall. Is like me running in shorts and t-shirt in the business district! look at the guys behind him...they must have been sweating that day. Who is this guy kidding? Look mama, I'm riding a bike and work for the people of Vancouver, all at once! Wheeee...
I wish they invented the 6 months sleeping pill, I could go to sleep today and wake up right after this Bozo and his Vision clowns are gone!

At least he wasn't in his kilt....there are some thing I just don't want to see...

Yes... a "greener option". All you need to complete the look is a few abandoned appliances and a rusting car propped up on cinder blocks.

An idiot on a bicycle almost hit me on the sidewalk on Cambie beside city hall earlier this week.

He was riding north (downhill) on the east side of Cambie beside city hall. He was going so fast that when he squeezed his brakes he couldn't stop. First the brakes squealed loudly, then his tires kicked up a bunch of dust, just missing another fellow standing on the corner waiting for the light to change, then finally the bicycle got some traction and painted a black line on the sidewalk.

Finally, he gave up on the notion of stopping and just ran it through the intersection despite the red light.

There were two other pedestrians standing on the corner, but the idiot (cyclist) came closest to hitting me. Another 6 inches inches and he definitely would have hit me in the front.

Immediately after this happened, I looked at the other pedestrians' expressions and they were both shaking their heads in disbelief.

Mark these words: Soon pedestrians in this city will be hit - and injured or killed - by rogue cyclists. Lawsuits will be forthcoming, and it will be ugly.

John:

There was a pedestrian hit and killed by a cyclist last year.

And, I have openly posted that I have been hit twice (last year) within a 4 month period and while on a sidewalk - downtown. both hit me from behind and I did not hear them approaching. Neither stopped. Both could be charged with hit and run.


Yet, they bitch about laws and wearing a helmet. Freedom of rights, Charter -the whole bit....

Only because I have always been a pedestrian have I been able to avoid bikes out of control.

I have dodged and weaved for years over bikes.

I even ride a bike myself :).

Just don't do it on sidewalks, through red lights, the wrong way on sidewalks,etc.


ENTITLEMENT.

"At least he wasn't in his kilt....there are some things I just don't want to see..." Ha ha Max, thanks for making me LOL! 'nuf said, so now, for your entertainment and edification, the latest VCV TV production...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSCqcRfCPQ4

Mayor Greg staged a media event this week at the seawall across from the Park Board offices. He announced the completion of the not yet completed Seawall upgrades using Federal money. It was interesting that the overgrown grass and weeds in the immediate vicinity had been cut. Unfortunately the cut debris had not been picked up. What a mess! The weeds on the adjacent slope also had not been cut aside from a swath up the steps.

Could Park Board staff please provide taxpayers with a report explaining what letting lawn grass and weeds go to seed inour parks and boulevards will do not just short term but in years to come and what the cost savings short term are as well as the eventual cost to taxpayers to get our parks back so our children can play in them.

@ Bill McCreery:

Those Candadian 'stimulus' dollars used to repair the seawall, where off-shored to a Chinese Co

The granite to fix the wall, was purchased from China, not here. Even though there was a company in Coquitlam that could more than easily have done the job.

Loss to Canada $98,000.

Carbon foot print for shipping maerials over a three month period ??? Not so green.

Kind of off topic but pertaining to parks..
Now I wonder tonight at the Stanley Park Celebration with all the music,and partying.

The tweets coming out from the politicians attending are raving about about how fabulous tonight's event is in Stanley Park..

Heather Deal is having a ball...makes one wonder...how many tickets were handed out at Stanley Park, for Pot smoking tonight...

I'd like to hear those numbers..especially since the grass is so tall it is a fire hazard with all those people attending..

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/251587--ban-covers-all-types-of-smoking-park-chair

One more thought about that uncut grass..

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Surge+mosquitoes+leaves+buzz+amid+fears+West+Nile+virus/5074569/story.html

The first thing you need to do is mow the grass in your lawn. The mosquitoes thrive in high grass. It shades them from the hot sun in the day. ...


http://www.ehow.com/how_5041533_rid-mosquitoes-around-home.html

Ah choo! Allergies worse this year now the long grass has arrived?

Great article. And after my own heart.

Unkempt Parks only serve to prove to our city's visitors that Vancouver is a disorganized city that hosts riots along with unkempt lawns.

What about those several thousand residents close by who normally enjoy these spaces to:
play Bocce? fly a kite? picnic? sunbathe?
know where the doggie dew is?
miss the discarded syringes?
make sure their toddlers avoid tottering into where all of the above is buried?

I love the unmowed look in elegant gardens but not in our highly used parks. Do any of these commissioners walk along the Sea Wall to see the disgusting mess English Bay has become? Unseeded areas left over from the Seawall Works. Green playing areas destroyed and not repaired. Who asked for this? Not one single person that I know of.

Can the freebie frivolities. Let's have our Vision Parks Board show some common sense and do as their mandate requires - fix and maintain public spaces.

Their current approach is self serving nonsense.

I agree with the points you raised, but I doubt the Parks Board could give you the information you require, since these questions were probably never asked before Penny Ballem cut their budget.

I had a conversation last week with a long-time City employee (about to retire) who explained that Penny Ballem is running the Parks Board into the ground because she wants to get rid of it and make it just another City department under her control. The reason for this? Well, this way she could eliminate those pesky community organizations that have raised money for their community centres - and abscond with their money. [Besides, she apparently thinks that she knows everything about everything, so is obviously more qualified than anyone else to run the parks or any other part of the City (like the Police and Fire Departments) better than the people who've actually worked in those fields.]

I find it disgusting that this unqualified woman was even hired, and now is spending huge amounts of our tax dollars without any proper oversight from Council. Is this money all part of the "get Gregor reelected" slush fund? Is this why the Vision councillors are so blase about spending it?

Just look at some of the money wasted by this Council: a $100,000 party for Gregor's swearing in ceremony, $300,000 for Olympic tickets given primarily to Vision cheerleaders, $650,000 for TV screens for Gregor's Stanley Cup party/riot. That's more that a million dollars wasted - money which should have gone to maintaining the parks and community centres, and saving the Bloedel Conservatory and Children's farmyard.

I think its becoming increasingly obvious to many people that the priorities of this City Council (to make Vancouver into "fun City" and the "Green capital") are not the priorities of the majority of Vancouverites (to live in a safe, clean and well run City).

But really - what can you expect from a man like Gregor - the first Mayor in Vancouver's history to have a locked office (you have to be buzzed in) and a private elevator to get there so he doesn't have to be accountable to the people who pay his salary.

That's not weeds you foolish city kids . . . that's wheat we are growing.

We are saving the world because that's what the Hollyhock Hippy creed is all about.

You peons are just too stupid to understand how enlightened we are.

Keep up the great work Gregor and don't forget to always polish your halo before you get in front of a camera.

Gotta keep up appearances.

Vision can't find $ to cut the grass but they spend $2M on big parties this year

http://www.bcartsnews.ca/council-approves-plans-to-celebrate-vancouver%E2%80%99s-125th-anniversary-scale-of-the-party-won%E2%80%99t-be-known-until-budget-is-set-later-this-year.html

They have their priorities all wrong. The election can't come soon enough so we can boot these bozos out of town.

If you're upset about the tall grass in your local park, just watch the big Summer Live party happening in Stanley Park this weekend. It's your tax dollars at work.

I'm glad somebody finally raised the issues about Vancouver's boulevards. They are a disgrace!

Cambie "Heritage" Boulevard is a foul mess. The City apparently never bothered to plant proper grass seed after Canada Line work, and now its a weed strewn jungle that seemingly never gets mown. And the soil brought in must have been infested with chafer beetles judging by the churned up mess it became this fall.

Compare this to Richmond, where they frequently close traffic lanes to (gasp) tend the flower beds in their medians. And they actually mow their boulevards more than once a year! It might even be more than once a month!

The only kind of ornamental Vision Vancouver seems to tolerate on medians is the myriad of beggars set up with their hard luck stories written on cardboard signs (which they discard on whta's left of teh grass as soon they've got their drug money). Remember when the NPA actually enforced the laws against beggars?

It's interesting that you bring the boulevards up Bob H(2)..

I noticed the boulevards around Main and Broadway were getting out of control.

At first it didn't stand out because our neighborhood has turned into mini ghetto, with all the random graffiti and garbage...lately we have a window smasher amongst us to complete the picture...

the graffiti and tagging they are calling art...the weeds they are calling, caring for the environment...I call it what it is...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ox1Tore9nw

"Compare this to Richmond, where they frequently close traffic lanes to (gasp) tend the flower beds in their medians'

Oh my gosh but doesn't this increase idling for cars that are now stuck in traffic--why does Richmond hate the environment?!?!? (Sarcasm alert)

Seriously though, this is one of those lose lose things. Don't throw any parties, don't spend money on any celebrations and all we'd be hearing is how gregor isn't celebrating our heritage, gregor hates history blah blah blah.

Not doing the 125 year party is one thing--but what long term, sustainable approach can someone suggest to pay for the maintenance of blvds and parks you guys are crying for?

@Gasp

Penny's mandate from the get go was to make Gregor look like a hero. Her command priority was to have him be part of any and all media opportunities no matter how trivial or unrelated to actual city involvement. "Get Gregor re-elected" is her real job description. Total misrepresentation of the role of City Manager.

The challenge now is to get someone to force a forensic audit of her department and of any funds connected to the city's Olympic spending. Rumours of inappropriate floating of billings should be the focus and Gregor/Vision should answer for her having this $200,000 "no questions" spending authority.

Is there anyone brave enough begin the FOI for any proof of improprieties?

boohoo,

it is not just the 125th b-day, of which i belive there is a total of $7M dollars involved.

it is all the 'other' parties - kind of like the one the city through for staffers a week after the riot....

or the one they through for the staffers a week after the olympics left town....

priorities seem to be lost somewhere.

Boohoo, actually traffic in Richmond, with the exception of No.3 Rd, seems to move remarkably well, even when they're landscaping the boulevards.

If Richmond can afford to do this level of maintenance, why can't Vancouver? Personally I'd rather see the CoV fund this kind of small stuff for those of us who actually live pay them taxes, rather than fund big events for all and sundry around the Lower Mainland.

Also--correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it the responsibility of the home/business owner to maintain the boulevard on their frontage?

The Cambie/King Ed boulevards are different of course--those are maintained by the City for sure.

Ok Max--so cancel all parties and celebrations the City puts and take care of the boulevards and Parks more regularly?

Some of the Vancouver125 money came from Heritage Canada. Not sure how much.

There are several budget cut items that have resulted in an 'oh sh&%' reaction. Graffiti removal is one of them. I am sure the grass cutting will be another but the Mayor will likely claim that the Parks Board is responsible for managing their budget priorities and should be the ones accountable. It was either done to make a point or someone decided in November that grass never grows.

Make no mistake, Penny is an extremely intelligent woman but when you ignore staff and community recommendations and think you know better when you have never even played Sim City... and you use the 'I thought you did not want higher taxes' as your pat answer - I have a problem with that.

Had we been given a choice - birthday party in Stanley Park or maintained parks and boulevards - I think I know which one we would have chosen.

it is not a matter of cancelling all parties, but there hve been 'parties' that were not necessary.

tax dollars are used to fund the private parties held for city staffers.

if we taxpayes were allowed input, i would bet that the vast majority would rather see those dollars go to the benefit of the general good over a party for a select few.

julia;

i believe the graffiti removal is back on.

it came about after the riot, and the graffiti sprayed over some of the notes on the memory boards at the bay.

Jasper also said the board initially based their decision to cut back on mowing on financial reasons, but they are considering carrying the plan forward for environmental reasons.

****

What environmental reasons?

Stop wasting money on unnecessary parties,and maybe there would be enough money for regular maintenance.

Since when has the City of Vancouver been given the mandate to make Vancouver the 'fun' capital of Canada?

How much has all this 'fun' cost us?

I can't afford to throw parties to which I invite everybody and anybody.

Neither should the City (after all they are spending the money that the taxpayers fork out).

The City of Vancouver must remember that the basic maintenance of the city is its first responsibility. Not street parties.


Talking about things being out of whack....


Last fiscal year, the provincial government spent $1.3 billion on mental health and addictions services

Read more: http://www.vancourier.com/news/Home+sick/5071481/story.html#ixzz1RdYyZvJw

@Max!

You're insulting the rats! ;-)

Max
lets not forget Jim Green stated he couldn't figure out how many agencies there were in the DTES....

at union wages, with benefits..and absolutely no accountability...

there are many of us that take care of a few homeless folks we've befriended, because they don't want to be in the DTES due to the drugs ...

and now they also want us to do the mowing of the overrun weeds for them...

If the city wants to hold events on our dime, shouldn't the "guests" (us) be required to bring something to each party?

How about:

1) A food donation for the Food Bank
2) Our own garbage bags to haul away our own refuse
3) the abilty to vote via capital plan each election, how much $$ we are willing to let the City spend in order to entertain us--and for what events?


PS Unkempt properties.

I propose a new game, in the spirit of Robertson's Riot: citizens can wander their neighbourhoods, with smartphone in hand and record the many apparently empty homes who are literally letting their properties go to seed--and not of the wheat variety.

Not only might we gather more fines that could be applied to CoV revenues for those scofflaws who are flaunting the good neighbour rules, but we might, finally, have an accurate accounting of all those empty investor homes we keep hearing about.

City Caucus, how about a page dedicated to properties (private and public) who are now disguised now as goat ranches?

Max you forget..
its not just Jasper voting, he has his crew voting in lock step with him..

Oh, I know. The whole system is a train wreck.

And because acutally fixing it would mean less jobs, less union jobs, nothing will be done. More taxpayer monies will be poured into the endless dark pit of 'addiction'.

I was out and about yessterday - visiting with clients and noticed a gentleman picking up litter in the Main/Broadway area. On the back of his safety vest, was a pinned piece of paper that said Coast Health Authority.

So, here they have folks picking up garbage for the new minimum wage of $8.75/hour and hauling it where, I don't know, while the person 'supervising them' ie, sitting on their backsides and pushing paper, is mayking $25+.

Sad, very sad.

Maybe the city could buy some sheep and hire sheep hearders,we could have a BBQ at every one of our fun city events and feed the homeless at the same time.

LOL gman
I had to read that comment twice..I thought you wanted to feed the BBQ sheep to the homeless..

I do George,the mayors next fun day could be called shepperds in the park.I can see his handsomeness in his chefs hat passing out chops to the needy now,what a picture that would be.

One more thing to add to my comment about the man picking up garbage, when the civic strike happened in 2007, groups of people volunarily went to the beaches after the Fireworks to clean up the mess.

One of the groups was a small landscaping company - they had their summer hires, mostly students, out there to help out.

They were threatened by the union as well, their trucks were vandalized.

So, what I can't figure out is how these people can be working at what is essentially a 'union' job, without the union raising fuss, and why they are not at least getting union wages - as they are doing the same work as a paid union employee.

Wouldn't that lift these people out of poverty and get them onto a right track?

oh gman
I think we just pi**ed off every vegan and vegetarian in the Mayor's camp...but sign me up :-) and agree I love the visual.

you are correct Max,

But, the folks you are talking about were exempt from the strike they were allowed to continue to pick up litter, at that time, for 8.00/hr.

They were harassed badly and then were given an exemption by the union,they had to carry a letter stating that they supported the union, but were required to do their jobs..

George I figure the mayor and his ilk do very well with sheepole,so why not sheep,maybe some goats too.

both are excellent BBQ'd and I'm a meat eater...

Save the goats gman, we need them to trim the boulevards and park lands....

I truly hate people who take advantage of the disadvantaged.

George as for the vegans let them eat bread.Max your right then we would have our petting zoo back at the same time,brilliant.

Yes, I was told a couple of weeks back that the graffiti program is back on but the way I am understanding it, there is no additional money for it until 2012.

AngryTaxpayer - there is a website called seeclickfix that is designed to do exactly what you are talking about.

Max, the Coast team you saw in Mount Pleasant is employed by the local BIA. Numerous BIAs run similar programs. On average, the workers earn about $10 an hour and there is a 25% admin charge to cover WCB, supervision, training etc.

It is an amazing program that I would defend to the death. The Coast workers are usually those with mental health issues that need to learn how to show up to work on time, be responsible, complete a task and finally have something to put on a job application.

It costs the taxpayer absolutely nothing.

Even an FOI won't work because it's Penny Ballem who decides what's released through an FOI. She hides information by using private email accounts because in her "legal" opinion these are not subject to FOI requests. I have been informed that this is the reason that the lawyer who used to be responsible for the FOI requests resigned.

Julia

I'm wondering why litter picker jobs that the BIA contract out were exempt from the strike action...

yet the landscaping people that were cleaning the beaches for free were not?

Penny Ballem may be a very bright woman, but that doesn't give her the right to practise law without a license.

Being bright is not an excuse for being dishonest, abusive and disrespectful of the people who pay her excessive salary.

George, I can only speculate on an answer to your question. The Coast/BIA program is very low profile and may involve 1-2 people in an area 2-3 times a week. Tough to spot. Perhaps they got some heat but think of the optics - union trying to shut down transitional employment program in partnership with Not for Profit organization. ouch - bad press here we come. You know enough about me to laugh when I say 'bring it on baby!'

"but what long term, sustainable approach can someone suggest to pay for the maintenance of blvds and parks you guys are crying for?"

Once upon a time, property taxes covered things like maintaining parks, snow removal from your street etc. That was when city employees earned less than the private sector but there was no shortage of applicants as employees were happy with the job security their essential services gave. (Teachers had the mind set of a professional and not a Teamster but that is another topic.) Politicians usually had a day job or were successful in another field so focused on providing those essential services everyone needed at a reasonable cost.

Flash forward to today. Services have been expanded so politicians can capture votes from special interest groups who are happy to receive the services that others will pay for. Unions, through political activism, have achieved compensation pay scales in excess of the private sector. Net effect is more costs. To offset, the City expands revenue sources through user fees but that only goes so far so services get pared down. Grass doesn't get cut or your street doesn't get plowed. For most people, they receive less but are paying more.

Now, I am not advocating turning back the clock but we could make some easy choices like stop wasting money on issues like climate change or food sourcing reports that the city has no business spending resources on. And we need to roll back the cost of civic services either through negotiation with the Unions or we should contract out.

This would be a good start on finding a sustainable approach to providing these services.

Bill, I agree but then we should stop insisting that boulevards be planted in grass with the hope that the tooth fairy will maintain it and stop fining businesses that don't shovel the snow off their sidewalks when 50 feet away the city has done zero.

I look at the budget survey that always goes out to the public in November and go a little crazy. They never ask - which would you rather have - maintained parks or Car Free Day. nooooooo they ask which would you rather have less police or less fire services rather than higher taxes.

We have had this discussion each November when discussing the Park Board budget. Between 2008 and 2010 the budget efficiencies (cuts) to parks maintenance has been $1,244,440 representing 30% of the overall reductions during this period which has been $4,126,600.

I have fought the cuts since my election and continue to challenge the philosophy and rationale for these reductions. The results of these 'efficiencies' can be seen throughout the city. Visitors and residents alike can see the damage they are causing to our city's image.

@ Stuart:

How can one cut the budget when the population of the region is increasing.

Ridiculous.

but should the budget increase beyond population growth and inflation? Historically... it has. so what is going on???????

Julia:

The optics couldn't be any worse than the 'union' threatening young people and vandalizing private/personal property. (Can you tell I am not a union person in any which way.)


You mentioned these workers, these persons with mental health issues get paid $10/hour less 25% for admin costs. That means they are only getting $7.50/hour and I would guess, are taxed after that. Which works out to be sweatshop labor.

And regardless of the 25% admin fee, the workers at Coast that are overseeing this program are still making $25 +.

Anyways, I digress....

Max, the Coast workers get the full $10 and hour. Team members are usually employed to the claw back point. They NEVER work for nothing less than full wages. Do they offer $10 an hour in value - mostly, but not always. The 25% 'premium' covers employee benefits such as CPP, WCB and supervision - which is considerable.

Does the case worker who protects them, and who guarantees performance and safety deserve to earn $20-25 and hour along to cover the rent, the book keeper the heat etc.? I say yes. You may have another opinion which you are entitled to.

The Thought of The Evening

"Sooner or later the population of Vancouver is going to be 50/50. One half George Milton and one half Lennie Small.
At some point in time one is going to be counseling the other..."

If you wonder who these two gents are, well, they are the main two protagonists in John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men'.
This city, and your conversation (Max and Julia) reminds me of them.

My question to you both is, considering that the 'disadvantaged' are paid 'in excess' of $10/ hour, does that mean that Penny Ballem works 32,000 hours per year?

She must be one of those miracle workers that work twice as good and four times as hard in order to be equal, or...maybe she is a total fraud.

Whaddaya' think?

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Glissy, nobody ever said life was fair. :)

The sad thing is, the Parks Board can't even do a decent job of trying to collect revenues. Try seeing how long it takes to get pay parking on a sunny summer day at Third Beach. The line-up at their single slow and pokey ticket ticket machine is close to half an hour.

Morning Glissy:

Recent news brought to light certain highly paid/over paid CEO's etc - listing their salary, benefits, pensions and other forms of compensation.

The person they missed in the list is Penny Ballem, because she is right up there with the rest of them.

Do I think she is worth the money? Hell no. But this is what you end up with when contracts are handed rather than competed for.

And speaking of, did anyone catch the story in the Georgia Straight this last week, 'Olympic Village tenants decry excessive energy bills'

Note the company involved Enerpro is a Solomon, Renewal, Robertson connection or 'friend' - another contract awarded without being tendered.

http://www.straight.com/article-402344/vancouver/tenants-decry-energy-bills

Daniel!

Where to what email address do we send those photos of our unkempt city?

Lots of fodder that is for sure!

@ Victor:

CC tweeted this:

Have you seen unkempt boulevards & public spaces in Vancouver this summer? If so, send your photos to

citycaucus@gmail.com

I haven't read the 50 or so replies since I was last here but I drove down Cambie yesterday and the boulevard looks fantastic.... as does QE Park.

The Thought of The Day

"Glissando Piano Concerto No. 2 on a Variation by Gerry McGuire"

Yes I did Max, yes I did,
And here's my post on Fabula...

...

57 Glissando Remmy // Jul 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm

The Thought of The Night

” QED – Quod Erat Demonstrandum or… ‘what was to be demonstrated’ ”

Gerry #50,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSCqcRfCPQ4

I have never came across this Riotson scripted recital before, the first part, I mean.
This is the past.

Here is my syntax for a theorem in the Riotson/ Solomon/ Vision/ City Hall scheme:

Theorem
“A group of American ex-pat leeches from up North on the Cortes Island, want to diversify ( Renew All :-) ) their portfolio of “green” businesses (Enerpro & comp) in BC, and cash in on the new Green Racket, starting with Vancouver… their Pied a Terre. A puppet is needed, thick skin, and lots of Bull.”

Proof 1
One self appointed guru, seer of the future, approve of his own 500 years plan, in the applause of his followers. All they need is a puppet.

Proof 2
Lookout for puppet ends in Vancouver Fairview. Puppet found. Approve funding for campaign. Campaign successful. Start collecting.

Proof 3
Starting @ 0.30 min in the video…re. Mayor’s Vision for Vancouver:

” extremely competitive tax regime here…we within a few years will be the lowest corporate tax rate combined in the G8… we like to be the green capital of finance in the world as well… the Switzerland of green finance if you want…”

If P1 is true and if P2 is true and if P3 is true, then as each step applies an inference rule, the truth of our theorem is established…QED.

However.

I would like to end with the present time:

To date, out of the 20,000 green jobs proposed… at the present we have … N/A.

NET BUSINESS GAIN for the City of Vancouver:

Chicken Coops and Sanctuary CHECK
“Trial’” Bike Lanes CHECK
Bee Hives… almost CHECK
Wheat lawns CHECK
Community Gardens CHECK
Incompetent Senior Management CHECK
…

NET BUSINESS LOSS for the City of Vancouver:

Competent Senior Management CHECK
Destruction of the Downtown Vancouver due to Mayor’s Foolishness CHECK
Businesses relocation outside Vancouver CHECK
Olympic Village White Mastodon CHECK
…

Soooooo…

We live in Vancouver QEF – Quod Erat Faciendum or… “what was to have been done”… and this keeps us busy.

PS.

Watch the Video closely, Gregor Robertson,this shmuck of all shmucks, puts his trademark Fagin's grin, and actually says on camera that he wants Vancouver to become the... capital... the Switzerland of $green$ finance!
I rest my case.
And least we forget.
Not long ago... from an older post of mine:

...

Speaking of the Mayor’s Gag Reel. This statement of his just surfaced today: “Vancouver is quickly becoming one of the most thriving, energetic downtowns in … the world,” he said. “In the coming years we’ll rival the downtowns of New York, of London, of Paris.”
FROM: ‘City’s downtown in elite company: Mayor…London, New York, Paris models for Vancouver’ By ERICA BULMAN, 24 HOURS

Get it? Vancouver is becoming a…most energetic …’downtown’! LOL
Call me picky, cynical, pessimist, whatever… but having worked and lived in ALL of the above cities, my verdict is in.
This Mayor has become, slowly but surely a certified LEED Laughing Stock. It almost makes me feel bad. I was wrong all along. He is not coming from Cortes Island… he must be coming from An-Delusia!
Think about it. This is the guy who tops the Party who is keeping COPE on a short leash. Could you imagine the level of ineptitude that could be reached by this lovely tandem?

O tempora! O mores!

Now go do the right thing. Vote wisely!

We live in VanLonPaYork and this keeps us busy.

"...I drove down Cambie yesterday and the boulevard looks fantastic.... as does QE Park."

Is this meant ironically, or has the grass actually been cut?

If the Mayor can't even ride properly, how can we expect any other cyclists to? What a great example you are Mayor Moonbeam! I am beyond sick of this clown. His 15 minutes are up.

Really Boohoo.

Of course it all looks good now.

Optics.

Just like Jericho (which was knee deep in grass and hay) now looks wonderful.

Just in time for the summer season.

So you mean they are now cutting the grass cause it's summer?

Wow, what breaking news.

Speaking of spending money on celebrations...

http://www.vancouversun.com/seeks+civic+status+Pride+Parade/5081498/story.html

I guess you think this is a bad idea too then right?

I don't know boo
what do you think...

Very interesting comments from citizens It seems Dave Pasin has touched a nerve.What I find really amazing is for years when our tax base was much smaller we were able to cut the grass,pull the weeds and practice Horticulural excellence in our City.Citizens and Visitors loved our magnificant Parks and green spaces.Now Our Vision elected officials try to tell us its unaffordable,suggest hard choices need to be made.I for one don't buy it.Every homeowner knows if you don't look after your property its worth less.Very simple if we want to be a World Class City lets present Vancouver in a positive way, look after our Parks and basic services that have been the hallmark of our great city for years.

"Jasper said the reduced mowing affects 14 per cent of passive, less-used parks in the city and will save the board $150,000 this year. All destination parks, such as Stanley Park, and playing fields are being maintained, he said."

I challenge anyone to go take a look at Connaught Park tomorrow and then tell me that Aaron Jasper is not a lying toad.

Connaught park (connected to Kits High school) It's a hub of competitive fastpitch in Vancouver. 4 diamonds, all in use almost every night of the week. It's used for rugby through the rest of the year. It's also used for cricket.

It's current condition is an absolute joke. The grass is weeding up to almost 5 inches. The city spent who knows how much on a massive improvment of the main rugby field a few years ago. It's the most spectacular display of 4-inch clovers in the city now!

A playing field that during the summer is used for sports that involve small balls rolling on the grass. I don't think a ball can roll more than 12 feet without coming to stop.

Total lies. I'll take a picture for everyone to see how "playing fields are being maintained".

Everyone on here who has dared to complain about the current vision dominated park board should be concerned as Aaron Jasper doesn't like it when the public doesn't agree with him. I wrote a complaint to him and the rest of the park board commissioners re:being harassed in a very aggressive manner by a park ranger in stanley park. I signed my name in this complaint letter believing my personal information would be kept confidential as the law states it must be. The park ranger's supervisor assured me that this man had been dealt with and that my complaint was taken seriously. About a month later I wrote another complaint letter to Aaron Jasper and the other commissioners due to several outlandish, false claims Jasper had made to the media re: dog owners. I told him he had no business being the chair of that board let alone a commissioner. I told him I hoped he wasn't running in the next election. I pointed out how the park board was incompetent. 4 days later Animal Control shows up at my house to ticket me $250. Aaron Jasper knowingly and intentionally used my personal information to harass, abuse and try to cause me harm which goes against the city of vancouver code of conduct bylaw. He also used my personal information for purposes it was not intended. He also shared my personal info with other city departments for purposes it was not intended. He told city employees in other departments to harass, abuse and try to cause me harm. Penny Ballem is covering up for this ass and now they are all hiding behind the legal department refusing to provide me with answers as to how my personal information was used in this illegal, malicious manner. Absolutely shameful and Disgusting behaviour. Any of you above could be his next victim

I want to thank all of you for writing in your comments and thoughts. This is a deplorable situation that needs attention.

I ask that you take photos of fields, boulevards, parks, washrooms and gardens that are in states of disrepair and unkempt and send them to Daniel or myself (you can get my email from Daniel) as we want to create a slide show of Vision priorities and their disregard for our City, our health and our neighbourhoods.

It seems Commissioner Jasper and his colleagues have now taken the tact that this is all about being green and eco diversity.

I would point out that various news casts, botanists and civic officials have had or commented on stories about invasive species such as hogweed, thistle, ivy, morning glory that are crowding out native plant species.

This isn't biodiversity its stupidity.
Since when is the systematic destruction of coastal native plant life "ecodiversity"?

It is readily apparent that it's all about appearance with this crew. Jasper admitted that Stanley Park and Queen E were prioities and are all looking great! Well perhaps he should wonder about those parks when there aren't any events on and take a look at the state of grasses, plants and gardens.

This is an issue that effects the whole City and needs attention.

Funny how there is money for parties and wheat fields and contracts for Vision insiders but none for what really matters...... our neighbourhoods and our communities.

Please keep that in mind.

I can assure you that the 1st Priority of an NPA led Park Board will be to fight for resoration of funding and autonomy of what was once a great Vancouver institution and spend time on the nuts and bolts of running the organization for Everyone not just friends and insiders.

That you can take to the bank!

"but what long term, sustainable approach can someone suggest to pay for the maintenance of blvds and parks you guys are crying for?"

Prison work gangs. Ontario is looking at bringing those back to do some of these exact types of tasks. They will probably focus more on highway clean ups however, no reason we couldn't use lower mainland parks.

Hey, Coast Health Care uses the mentally challenged to pick up garbage in certain areas, why not have them contract workers to work the parks.

And, at a fair working pay scale, just like every other city employee and well, now SHIFT bike cargo services.

In this mornings Vancouver Sun Jasper was quoted as saying

"the board's budget was reduced as a result of the economic downturn over the past three years".

Given that the City has one of the most stable sources of taxation in property taxes, the economic downturn should have minimal impact on services unless the City is adding services or their cost increases exceed the rate of inflation. I think it is both and it is time the City quits spending money in areas like climate change and focus on getting costs of services back in line.

Great article and posts. I just finished my morning walk along Kits beach, Vanier Park etc. The condition of Vanier Park is deplorable. Surrounded by beach and seawalk, Bard on the Beach, the Planetarium, Music Academy, the Maritime Museum not to mention home/nesting areas for eagles, what grass there is brown, patchy, overgrown and strangled by weeds. This is what...a 60-70 million dollar civic asset that has been run down to weed field. Plunked in the middle is some brutal metal sculpture.."Frozen Water" by an artist from China??? as part of the 125 year anniversary. A dismal failure by the city to maintain a park surrounded by culture that used to be enjoyed by many citizens for recreation. Unfortunately, did not have my phone so no picture but the small hillside adjacent to the parking lot of the Maritime Museum is a perfect example. The grass is long and full of weeds and dandelions. Great view for visitors.

No Boohoo

They are finally getting around to cutting the grass because so many people complained about the mess.

Optics, once again

Just in time for a festival that brings in lots of people.

I wonder if they'll pick up the garbage on the beach quicker as well?


Glissando Remmy...you just made my day...again!
Buddy, on whatever topic you write on, be it wheat to loaves or for the love for Penny Ballem and Robertson or weeds in our parks you are freakin brilliant.
Why don't you send a few words to City Caucus so we can comment on your editorial?
And I totaly agree, comparing vancouver with Switzerland is sooooo Gregor. How did this guy squeezed in this job in the first place. And once again, you should run for office Glissando. And I am dead serious when I say this. :-)

Glissando...
you know I agree with Ned...:-)

Getting costs in line also means that parks board workers who drive around and around and around looking at potential work need to WORK.

It isn't only the politicians who have to get back to the basics.

And if that's a problem then you contract the job out.

See how this works with you?

They don't do it--you complain they're not doing it.

They do it--you complain it's optics.

lol

Boohoo,
a bit of foam...on your right side...of the mouth...wipee, wipee...
Attaboy!

Seriously? You guys need to get out more. Or move to a city with real problems. First it was the "city councillor flies to national city conference in Halifax, eats local food (Lobster), posts twitter photo, SCANDAL" and now it's "parks board saves money by not cutting unused grass.". Have you seen the massive budget cuts for nearly every municipality in North America the last 3 years? Are you people advocating we raise taxes so we never have to cut services?

I can't believe this is for real. Up in arms over long grass? When I linked through to this article and read it, I laughed. I live at Cambie and 16th and commute along Cambie (bus or walk) and not once did I notice the grass. I was at Second Beach the other day and noticed the grass and thought "Huh, the grass is longer than normal." End of thought. Not once did I think it made the city ugly or the NPA attractive, in the least.

No Boo, that's not how it works.

Why is the City of Vancouver cutting costs in many areas and spending wildly in others? Who gave them the mandate?

The people who work for the City also have to examine how hard they actually working.
I don't consider it work if all they do is drive around and look at jobs (that they don't complete.)

It would not fly in the private sector, why should if be accepted in the public?

It's the taxpayers money.

Another one of Gregor's fluffers to the rescue.....

Connaught park is not unused grass.
They even have plans to renovate that field at the end of the summer. So they've decided to just let it grow during the time that people actually use it......and then lie straight faced about what is being left to grow.

Of course, the side that was already renovated is being allowed to grow over too.....

Meanwhile.....They've got $100k+ a year plus pork barrel pension to piss away on a Climate Policy analyst!

Climate Policy analyst?!!! For a city?!!! What a joke.
We might as well have a baseball policy analyst too.

"Why is the City of Vancouver cutting costs in many areas and spending wildly in others? Who gave them the mandate?"

The majority of people who voted in Vancouver. That's the way democracy works. Sorry, sucks when it's not your 'team'.

And who said they are spending 'wildly'?

Actually Boo, I don't have a 'team'.
I would like to see some accountability.
From whomever is elected.

Look no further than 'Climate Policy Analyst' to see wasted money that could go elsewhere.!

Do you have any idea what a Climate Policy Analyst would do? I don't, but it sure sounds like something I should rant at out of ignorance!! Baahhhahaha I'm angry the government's not doing what I want! bhaahbha!

Another very disturbing priority for the vision parks board is to target and harass dog owners in stanley park and use us as another source of income. They ignore the fact that dog owners are a large group of people who pay taxes in this city.

Yet they turn a blind eye to a well known area in Stanley Park consisting of a few trails right across the street from the childrens playground which is a well known cruising spot for men. They have sex in there 24 hrs a day, leave used condoms and drug paraphenilia all over and this has been going on in there for at least 20yrs. Yet if a person gets caught walking their dog in the trails off leash, they want us to be fined $250 and portray us as criminals.

And I am positive that parents who take their children to this playground daily have no idea what is going on right across the street in the woods or they would hit the roof. I asked the park board commissioners why they turn a blind eye to this activity and they refused to respond.

Perhaps the whole "lawns to loaves" strategy is being promoted so that when Constance Barnes drives into your front yard, the long grass will slow the car and reduce the impact?

@rf:

Funny you bring CB up - does anyone know if she has repaid the loan, the $20,000 she borrowed from 'the City' for rehab?

Jason;

Some of us taxpayers expect value for our dollar.

And not all of us have a spare $17,000 laying around to donate to a political party of choice.

It's hardly a donation, Max!

Guys like Jason donate $15,000 to the Tides foundation. They then get a nice tax receipt that they deduct from their income.

Tides then gives the money to Renewal Partners.

Renewal Partners than gives the money to Vision Vancouver.

Vision Vancouver then gives Jason a fluffy contract to spew 'communications' on blogs like this.

Then Jason takes the cash and donates it back to Vision.

Easy peasy.

I don't think she borrowed the whole $20,000, it was a smaller sum that it was surprising she wouldn't be able to raise herself especially as you'd imagine there'd be some savings from not running a car for a year and not going in to work. Didn't she also say she'd return the salary she had taken while absent?

I'm sure it must have all been paid back by now, maybe one of the regular Vision visitors would like to comment. If she's having problems I understand that there are some excellent job opportunities at the moment for people with the right eco credentials.

"Are you people advocating we raise taxes so we never have to cut services?"

I think "we people" (and doesn't that turn of phrase give away your arrogant attitude?) are noting that taxes are going up, at way over the inflation rate, on top of them we are paying more user fees, and we are getting steadily less in return.

You may think that you are getting value for money from this government, and judging from rf's comment you probably are, but please don't expect everyone else to be happy at seeing their tax dollars diverted from important uses to the self indulgent obsessions of your political soulmates.

david,

You are correct. This is from a GS article, Feb, 2011:

Although she’s now alcohol-free, Barnes said she won’t be debt-free “for four or five years”. She owes ICBC approximately $20,000 from the single-vehicle accident—an amount she said she will dispute—and owes $18,900 for her 42-day recovery program at the Orchard Recovery and Treatment Center on Bowen Island. She has paid off a contentious $3,000 City of Vancouver loan issued to help pay for her rehabilitation.

****

Didn't Stevenson also get tagged for a DUI back in 2007?

The Thought of The Day

"Never seen a Mogus this Bogus."

I am a climber.
A Himalayan.
I love amber,
Know what I'm sayin'?

I went to Tibet,
A Sherpa, a Local,
A guy that I met,
Gave me his Focal.

Brass, copper and silver.
Tibetan bracelet dingus,
The 'Om mantra' on 'er,
'Anus Jogs Om Anilingus'

Jason Mogus... Bogus.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.


The Red Bull National Wake 2.0 is coming to the Potomac River on Saturday starting at 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM at 137 National Plaza, National Harbor, MD where the Potomac River runs just outside of Washington, DC. Red Bull Athletes and Professional Wakeboarders Brian Grubb and JD Webb will will fly, soar, and amaze the crowds with wild airs and double overhead sprays. This is going to be a great day on the Potomac! See you there!

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