Changes afoot

Post by Mike Klassen in



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Three years ago today Daniel Fontaine and I were exchanging emails and phone calls over his idea to run a political blog. The biggest struggle was what to call it. Our criteria included that the name had to connote cities, as we were urban dwellers interested in politics and policy. Furthermore it had to suggest a conversation, a place where people would meet and share opinions and ideas. Lastly the domain name had to be available, as neither one of us wanted to bargain with a domain re-seller.

Thus was born.

Three years later we're proud and somewhat amazed with where this blog has gone. 4.7 million page views, over 4,000 Twitter followers, 2,000+ posts from dozens of contributors, and tens of thousands of comments. Our ground rules were simple. Do not let the writing on this blog spiral into name-calling. Make sure our facts were sound. Manage comments for rude language and libelous claims. Whenever possible, keep it fun.

Has it been perfect? Of course not, but we've always stood by the stories we've broken and have been accountable for our opinions. While I can't say I've read every comment on this blog, when a problem is drawn to our attention we always respond. We never limited anyone from posting here who showed respect for others.

For three years we've delved into dozens of topics, though eventually we were dubbed as the "unofficial opposition" to Vision Vancouver. With a moribund NPA organization wounded by an internal divide, and a lone councillor outnumbered by council colleagues uninterested in any viewpoint but their own, it wasn't a hard decision to step up. We told ourselves as long as readers kept coming, we'd continue to write.

It wasn't without personal sacrifice. Our respective small families often competed for our attention while we spent far too much time in front of our computers, or on long phone calls. Bigger priorities many times took a back seat in the rush to get something posted. But in the end we created something we could be proud of: a new, highly recognized brand in B.C. politics, admired by fans, reviled by critics, and respected by media who depended upon it as a reliable source.

Today, on the eve of our third anniversary, is a turning point for Daniel and I have decided that it's time for change. Partisan commentary might have kept the fires burning here since 2008, but there are much bigger issues than what Vision Vancouver are cooking up in the backrooms at City Hall. The Fourth Estate – our local journalists – given appropriate resources and the support of their editors can keep Gregor Robertson accountable instead of us. So, too, can the political opposition we just elected.

Over the coming weeks, with your input, we will decide the future of and the subjects we should discuss. Most Canadian urban centres are grappling with stagnant economies, jobs fleeing to the suburbs, industrial land threatened with re-zoning, aging populations and housing affordability to name just a few.

We'll take your feedback with the goal of relaunching this site in the New Year. We'll be courting new writers and focusing on different subject matter. In the interim we'll carry on this discussion with many of you through our comments section, exchanges on Twitter, Facebook, follow-up posts, and maybe even over glasses of mulled wine during the holidays. Daniel's 24 Hours column will continue to be republished here on the blog as well, and I will once again take over as editor of the blog during this transition.

Thank you for a great three years and, we hope, a few more.

- post by Mike Klassen


thank you Mike. I don't think most people appreciate what is involved in keeping a blog as active as CityCaucus. You and Daniel obviously did not do it for the money and you both deserve our thanks.

I have had the pleasure of chatting with you on a couple of occasions. My world is like a little boat that must float on top of civic election cycles, political partisanship and social stereotypes. It's not always easy and I sometimes feel very marginalized.

From my perspective our local society is in crisis. Vancouver is turning into a wealth based city rather than an income based city. Solutions stretch beyond politics and election terms. Solutions also stretch beyond what is politically prudent.

I am hopeful that CC can harness the passion and mind power of your vast readership to find consensus and shape a future of our city that is not only sustainable but delightful.

Echoing Julia, congratulations, thanks, and good luck. Hopefully some of the partisanship on display over the past three years mellows out and the interesting analysis, speculation, and focus on urban governance issues (maybe across Canada?) comes to the fore. CityCaucus is a great organ for interesting conversation on city issues; when it's good, it's really insightful and you have a very engaged readership. It would be sad to think of the site as just the (shrill, negative) stand-in NPA of 2008-2011, because there's a lot more to it that will hopefully continue.

Julia has hit the nail on the head with "Vancouver is turning into a wealth based city rather than an income based city" though I suspect I understand this in a different way. I would like to see Vancouver become much more entrepernurial and to become a place where wealth is created, widely, and reinvested, locally. I am not convinced that the current paradigm of employment can or should survive.

The power of CC is that it lets a Vision supporter and 'eco-facist' like me have open conversations with and learn from people like Julia (and Mike and Gerry ...). I also learn al ot from the guest posts and would like to see more and more regular contributions.

And I am willing to help as well.

Mike you and Danial have done a great job, keep doing it!

Thank you for three great years!

Steve, I suspect a few beer (or Scotch) would prove we think more alike than we realize. :)

Mike and Daniel, dating back to the inception of CityCaucus in December 2008 through to the pre-election posts on your blog, I would like to thank you for the fine work the both of you undertook to keep those of us who care about city politics, and the attendant issues of growth and development, and the wide range of issues that impact on the livability of our city and region, front and centre.

I believe that your contribution has proved invaluable to the urban affairs dialogue that the both of you well defined as your bailiwick from the outset.

Am glad that you're both taking some time for your families during the holiday season, and look forward to reading a re-invigorated CityCaucus in the New Year.

Likely, likely - or a bottle of BC wine chosen by Mike.

Steve, Mike, that works too as long as its Red!

With all do respect honey, you don't know who you're going to sit down and sip that wine! Steven, lovely as he is, has this addiction for everything Vision and Gregor... CC could only invite trouble IMO. We've seen what happened to COPE after they cut a pact with Vision, and we also seen how they formed Vision from a fraction of COPE. But if you insists having CC become a Vancouver Observer Lite well... that's about it.
So my only advise to CC, Daniel, Mike... keep a strong voice, stay in politics because we need your angle and be careful who you're inviting in. My 2 Cents.

Don't let it spiral into name-calling? A search for 'mayor moonbeam' almost breaks google trying to show the number of posts where that turns up. The ugly and divisive tone of the blog had nothing to do with the city and everything to do with getting yourself back into city hall, only this time not sipping from Sam "Crack Van" Sullivan's slushy fund.

My two cents ... turn the blog into a forum to discuss City issues with no politics. A good idea would be to grab a current issue in Vancouver and tell us the who,what,where,why,when ... facts only. Present the issue barebones in and of itself and then let's look at it's merits and pitfalls. Let's look at what could be done to make it better and/or discuss a positive alternative to what is being done.

We all know City hall isn't listening or even cares what it's citizens wants so try leaving them out of the picture and discuss issues. If we come up with something better or new, something with enough merit that will spur readers on to share it and maybe even try to do something beyond this site. A good idea will gather it's own momentum and a bad one will fizzle.

The only place that doesn't need improving is Heaven and we are certainly not there so let's try something new in a new way ... my two cents

Higgins, Steven and his political persuasions don't scare me in the slightest. Isn't that the current problem, we have no interest in listening to another point of view. We just want to declare it evil and hope everyone agrees. Seems to me that strategy did not work very well for Suzanne Anton.

I might even be willing to sit down with someone from COPE but in that instance I would not likely waste my time trying to present another version of reality - they are stuck in 1960 and like it there.

PS. I would prefer you keep your condescending 'honey' attitude to yourself.

@Brian. It appears the ugly, divisive, nasty Visionistas are still visiting this blog and spewing out their nonsense. Good to see. It means we should continue to have some lively discussions for months to come.

Tom that makes cents to me,now is not the time to take our eye off the pea.

Good comments so far. Keep 'em coming.

The fact is when we started there was virtually no credible source discussing local (Vancouver mostly) politics from the centre-right. We filled a vacuum with a mix of opinion and exclusive insider information. The reason some people got so ticked at us is that we shared stories about Robertson & Vision that made them look not so nice.

But as I stated in this post, there are other ways to affect change. There are critical issues as Julia and Steven point out that need intelligent discussion in an accessible forum.

Keep sharing your ideas and let others know to weigh in by posting this page on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I absolutely echo the calls for a much less political bs and more discussion on policy, development issues and regional implications.

Really boohoo, really? How do you separate politics from development? Let's take Westbank holding a fundraiser for Vision just one week after Council approving Westbank's Telus Garden for example. (which the left-wing Georgia Straight was way more aggressive reporting than CC BTW) There are other forums where you can go and discuss development and architecture and pretend politics isn't in play.

Sorry about the echo.

Of course you can't separate it, but we can discuss policy, development, transportation issues, social, cultural, whatever it is without resorting to the typical 'vision did this' or 'npa did that'. That gets us nowhere. The whole 'left vs right' paradigm is utter nonsense and is just a simple way out of collaboration and working together.

I sincerely hope this blog turns into that forum for real discussion and not just petty stories about lobsters and wheat fields. There are so many more important issues.

yes, politics is all about preference and many of our city challenges are dealt with by 'preference' solutions. I don't know how we can avoid politics BUT...

Perhaps our preference can be focused around ideas rather than people.

Change or defeat is much easier to accept if you feel that you have been respected, heard and considered.

The Thought of The Day

"The moment one becomes soft... the bully takes over."

Mike and Daniel know my guilt, my weak spot, my passion. It's not fast cars, loose women or alcohol, naah, far from it. It's my acumen for controversy.

Without controversy nothing moves, no one talks, everyone would be a quiet "death sentence" carrier, so, if if one day we get there, please pull the plug on me, pronto!

I like the diplomacy of people asking others to not talk politics... funny, because they are people in politics, or in close vicinity to politicos, or with vested interests in politics.

despite the win, Vision's Ego & Gregor Robertson's Teflon Frying-pan, would have been without a scratch, if it wasn't for City Caucus Forum of Mike and Daniel.

Sure, we could talk civic issues, design merits, and fundraising alternatives all you want in here, on the window sill at JJ Beans, or during a walk around the Downtown core.

Talk involved - 100%.
Matters tackled - 100%.
Solutions found - 100%.
Change influenced - 0%.

Because, as per Guffy Meggs not too long ago arrogantly stated: "Consultation was the Election, and That (His opinion) was the Delivery."

This single statement IMHO speaks volumes. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the direction the City of Vancouver is heading... oh, wait, cube that! As in Democracy Cubed! :-)

If all the NPA, Green, Independent, COPE (as COPE and not as Vision-COPE) candidates would have started their campaigns the days after 2008 Election, we would not be in the foul smelling pile we are in right now.

Just to put it a bit in perspective and show you how far lies, riots and misdemeanors, can get you a majority in Council + the Mayor's chair, munch on the following:

$2.4 million for Stanley Cup Riot - CHECK
$800 K ++ for Occupy Vancouver - CHECK
$ NOT ONE BUCK $ for Homeless/ Street Homeless/ -20DegreesCelsius Sidewalk Homeless... CHECK!
Someone needs to get their priorities right! Right?

"The City of Vancouver will prevail. Things are going to improve!" as the Vision mouth pieces would say... "In the summer!"

Yeah, right!
What can one expect from a City that rejected a Mayor for the 100% and elected instead... one for the 18%?

Vancouver needs a great voice, a strong voice, a "get to" Forum, where civic issues are discussed,dissected and then put back together again, all done with finesse, professionalism and last but not least, with a great political swagger,that, of course,if you want all the great ideas to stick.

What I want City Caucus to become!?

"A News Maker,
A Mover,
And a Shaker,
Ask Your Barber,
Taxi Driver,
Your Baker!"

Soft talk? Naah, I get that in Mozarella.
Talk, talk, talk, without a Political Whip is like a Luigi with no Erection.
You can look at it. You can laugh at it. You can scream at it! In the end, it's only good for pissing against the wind...
And we already have the MSM fulfilling that role!

There, any questions? :-)

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Other than waxing pseudo-poetry, if you believe all that why do you bother commenting?

Do you think CC was effective as the tough, political talker?

@ boohoo – “about lobsters and wheat fields"

Fair enough but it is nice once in a while to look at the lighter side of politics. No humor would make for a dull discussion.

I don’t have a problem with this site being partisan. Mike and Daniel are fully entitled to their opinion/beliefs and if one was to think it pervades too much of their point, they can choose to ignore or not visit the site. Based on the traffic numbers and the regular posters of different political stripe, I don’t think that has been true issue; more a red herring.

As I said in a prior post, I really hope CC stays in business and hope Mike and Daniel can find a mechanism to share the work load.
If the site was previously 80% VV “feet to the fire” and 20% policy/other issues, maybe it is time to reverse those trends. However, moving the VV “feet to fire” to zero content would be a mistake IMHO. MSM only does so much; there is still room for the canary in the coal mine….

"Do you think CC was effective as the tough, political talker?"

Yes.I Do!
(yeah, I know how it sounds, so stop grinning)

COPE is history. Well deserved.
NPA doubled their seats in Council.
The NPA candidates, despite some rookies, were good, honest, hard working people that truly wanted a change for the better for this city. Their timing was bad. Or too short.
Hard to fight a SIX YEARS continuous Vision campaign, using taxpayer's resources, politicizing the bureaucracy... with a SIX MONTHS canvassing day in day out. As for Suzanne, she basically forfeited a shoe-in Councillor job.
Kudos to them all!
Same consideration here for ALL INDEPENDENTS: Gerry McGuire, Sandy Garrossino, Randy Helten, Terry Martin, Golok Budai...
I consider that more back breaking work than Vision Council and Robby put together in their whole three years term!
The problem stand not with City Caucus but with the gullible Vancouver Voters...
Every one who voted Vision should order one of my signature T-shirts:

boohoo... you want one?

If not for boohoo and others like Chris Keam the debates in the CityCaucus comments section might not be so interesting. While boohoo and I see the politics under Vision differently, I admire his passion for the subject matter and respectful contributions here.

To boo and others: what are subjects that are important to you (aside from ending political "bs" of course)? Do you think about what the future holds for Vancouver's economy, or how young families will be able to afford to live here? How about citizen engagement – what can we do better?

Just trying to prompt some discussion...

I want one! With your signature. I will wear it with my Pinko Commie Cyclist bike jacket.

I like aggressive political discourse. I prefer to spend time on blogs where many people disagree with me, as long as I am learning something from them. So I have no problem with CC being an NPA oriented blog and having it be highly critical of Vision. When I lived in Tokyo, my brother-in-law, who ran a reasonably large general contractor, would always read Akahata (Red Flag) the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, before he would read the Nikkei, as Akahata generally had the hardest hitting stories. I am pretty sure he voted and donated to the LDP for most of his life.

Issues I think we need to continue to talk about...

How does the larger collection of GVRD municipalities work together to solve shared problems?

What can we learn from other cities around the world?

And then there are the common themes: homlessness, cost of housing, transit.

And the emerging themes: new approaches to zoning, taxation, planning, mega projects vs. smaller projects, waste treatment, other utilities, economic growth.

And 'my' issues: company creation and innovation, arts, investment, life-long education.

Out of curiosity, who was the "Mayor for the 100%" you are referring to. Didn't see one running in Vancouver. Nor do I believe any politician is for the 100%. They may think they are, if they think they know what is best for everyone. (Still want that T-Shirt)

Glissando, you need to give us better warning before you start talking about Luigi. I now have coffee all over my monitor.

Subjects in no particular order

-Regional issues. As shocking to some as it may be, there are things that happen outside Vancouver. We live in a metro region, we need to think regionally to solve problems that involve all of us.

-Land use planning. The biggy that the City has a direct role in. There are massive changes afoot (cambie, fraserlands, ne false creek) but we rarely here about it until something sexy happens like all those sales on cambie recently. Better PR during the planning stages is critical. Not your role specifically, but it ties into:

-Public engagement. It's shit. How can we engage people and make 'boring' policy/high level planning decisions matter to joe public. The whole traditional open house/feedback form thing doesn't work. Not sure what the answer is but we need to have the discussion.

-Public space. Parks, streets, plazas, community centres, etc... We need more lively discussions about the roles these places play and how we can better use them. With more and more densities across the city these spaces are absolutely critical.

-Transportation--obviously a big one although somewhat out of the hands of any one city. A discussion about where we really want to be in 10-20-50 years is needed and then actually take steps to get there. real steps.

a few random thoughts...

We are blessed in Vancouver...high prices and all. Try the economy south of the border. Don't see our economic issues as that bad. What is good for business is good for the economy.

Kiki, I must sound like a broken record but I am so passionate about the subject.

When we shop at home, $75 dollars out of every hundred remains in the local economy. When we head across the border or go online for our purchases $0 stays home. That $75 go to taxes, payroll, community sponsorships, local services such as couriers, window washers,... the list goes on.

We have been thinking global for so long we for get that the local economy, or the local businesses are also the local employers. When a business is successful, they hire more staff so they can grow. We have more jobs, our kids have jobs. We might see a raise... or more benefits.

The notion that a business owner is always eager to skim off as much profit as possible is really bad myth. You need to spend money within your company to make money.

I am extremely disturbed that there is very little consideration given to retaining businesses that currently operate in the city of Vancouver.

I look at the Vancouver Economic Development Commission Economic Action Plan and I hunt for strategies to retain current businesses and employers. That is where economic sustainability meets real life on the commercial streets of our city.

We all seem to want that shiny new company to come from somewhere else so we can say 'see - we are attracting business from _____ !' It is far more difficult and costly to compete for and attract new employers than to support the ones we have.

It's not rocket science.

I keep looking at that horrific stat that in the last 13 years, Vancouver has a net gain of 46 business licenses but added 83,267 residents. That is not a NPA or Vision problem, that is a Vancouver problem.

Does this not set off alarm bells for anyone else?

We want to live where we work. Do we really believe the employees that work at the base of the Shangri La go upstairs to their condos at the end of the night? Affordable housing, with employment opportunities to afford that same housing should be our priority.

A friend said to me, which comes first - the house or the job. How many people think like that?

If we don't start thinking beyond 3 year election cycles and balancing the needs of both businesses and residents we are doomed as a city.

The Thought of The Evening

"Late Night, Top Ten List, with boohoo."

Many years back in New York, David Letterman was conducting a little experiment. He was throwing different objects, in different shapes & weight, from the top of a five stories building.

It was a mess! Funny, but still a mess. And BTW, everything went to pieces, well apart from the Wally E Coyote! :-)

Same with your list, boohoo. You probably covered, everything local, regional that a few thousands bureocrats from different levels of bureacracy don't bother doing, during their working hours.

So, why would a normal citizen, a commoner with no klout, what-so-ever bother with all this? It gets nowhere if you have no voting power.

Check out the Development Permit Board par example... gen. public, development rep., heritage rep., prominent urban designers advise the "Board" made out of one planner, one chief engineer and Aufochs.
Basically the whole advisory panel can talk all they want. In the end... no klout. Any development could pass by a 2 to 1 vote, which in my opinion is stupid and totally wrong... on so many levels!

So, again I want to see some constructive swagger and klout attach to any issue discussed in here.
BTW you put together a very good list! Cheers.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Steven, sure thing re. T-shirt.
In 'Headline' Font.
As for your question... I believe Suzanne's message was "for the 100%"!
Oh, well. At least she was heading for the top %!

Excellent comment, Julia!
Actually you hit the nail on the head!

"I keep looking at that horrific stat that in the last 13 years, Vancouver has a net gain of 46 business licenses but added 83,267 residents. That is not a NPA or Vision problem, that is a Vancouver problem."
This is a MUST print-out for the coffee & cooler corner.

"Do we really believe the employees that work at the base of the Shangri La go upstairs to their condos at the end of the night? Affordable housing, with employment opportunities to afford that same housing should be our priority."

FYI, as I was a bit familiar with James Cheng's project... SEVEN members of the same Middle Eastern family bought condos in the tower, money... not a biggie.

"A friend said to me, which comes first - the house or the job. How many people think like that?"

I'd add "family" to that.



"I keep looking at that horrific stat that in the last 13 years, Vancouver has a net gain of 46 business licenses but added 83,267 residents. That is not a NPA or Vision problem, that is a Vancouver problem.

Does this not set off alarm bells for anyone else?"

I guess this doesn't set off alarm bells for me because I personally don't have a fullsome picture of what more residents with the same number of business licenses really means. More larger companies and fewer smaller ones (as an example) could mean the same employment level with fewer business licenses. My wife and I moved downtown not too long ago (where I already worked) and so we are two of those 83,267. I think that getting existing downtown workers to live downtown instead of commuting from the suburbs is a good thing, in general, as it makes for more complete communities. Taken in isolation, if lots of those new people already worked here then the increased residential tax base and lower commuting levels would be a positive.

Now, if all city employment is shrinking, while the number of suburban jobs are increasing, then that would be a concern. But it would be because of the number of jobs, not just the number business licenses.

Good topic, thanks for posting.

Tell you a secret. Word on the street is that retail sales are in the toilet. Unless something kicks into gear,fast... this is going to be an ugly Christmas for many businesses. You won't hear that news officially from anyone until February - but by then it's too late.

My plea to anyone listening -Shop Local as much and as often as you can.

It's a big picture list of topics, nothing specific.

But it's quite easy to sit on the sidelines and just throw meaningless barb after meaningless barb I guess. I guess you're consistent if nothing else.

Jeff, from the data I have seen, your last scenario seems to be the reality. Reverse commutes are on the rise.

Thanks Daniel and Mike, your site has been a must read for my spouse and I since you started.

As for issues, I have posted here before about arts and civic engagement - I think grassroots, we should engage our youth, they have to take Planning 10 as a requirement to graduate, why not a civics requirement? This course devolves into a study block for academic track students and a resume writing course for others in some cases - they should have to do a project that engages them with their local parties and politicians. It could be anything from a research essay, to a youtube interview.

Or re:Julia, they could do a Xmas spending project. Say they have to take X amount of dollars to spend on family and friends but only shop locally - see how creative they get and how many different businesses they end up with.

My favourite - Tell a 17 yr old they have enough money for two hockey tickets, but that same money will get them 8 tickets to independent live theatre, maybe 3 tickets to a concert, or a new smartphone (without a plan). Then have them write up why each one would be a good choice, not what they would choose, but the merits of each one. You would be surprised at how many change their minds, when they have a chance to compare the different values.

This may sound consumerist to you, but we live in a democracy and besides getting to choose what we spend our money on, we also get to choose what we value. I would never make it illegal for someone to take their car to the corner store, but at the same time I hope that I educate the people around me that there are other choices for getting there.

example: I have a young cousin who refused a gift of coloured hair extensions when she found out the hair came from India. The stylist could not guarantee the hair was sold ethically, so this young woman said no thanks.

looking forward to lots of interesting discussions

there is a campaign born out of the US called the 3/50 project. It is basically a challenge to spend $50 per month in 3 independent businesses in your community.

I am less inclined to be picky about the definition of independent but I AM extremely picky about putting our money where our house is.

We may not be able to save the world but perhaps we can save our local economy.

I am tired of waiting for our provincial and federal governments to do the right thing. We have to step up and do it ourselves. In the same way we need to step up as individuals and community groups to solve the issues of homelessness.

Mr or Ms. Government, get out of the way, we have work to do.

hi all .. thankyou Mike and Daniel for this great space to express opinions and ideas.. I read a terrific article today in this week's Georgia Straight re local craft markets booming.. .. I'm heartened to see appreciation for local artisans as I lean towards the crafty myself.. I'm enjoying the banter here and have a few thoughts that are simmering on the back burner .. not quite ready to post yet .. but soon .. cheers!!!

Boohoo... you got me wrong, buddy!
It must be "The Boy who cried Wolf" thingy... you don't trust anyone, anymore, in here!

"Same with your list, boohoo. You probably covered, everything local, regional that a few thousands bureocrats from different levels of bureacracy don't bother doing, during their working hours."
This statement was not directed at you, or your list, but at the topics, which as you said were 'big picture' hence hard to pin down.

"So, again I want to see some constructive swagger and klout attach to any issue discussed in here."
This was an honest wish.

"BTW you put together a very good list!"
This... was a compliment!

Cheers. :-)

Julia is right that thriving local businesses are critical to the city and that large national and multinational chains drain of money and vitality. I now cycle over to Commercial to buy most books, though I can find some things I am interesred in at Banyen. But is is not just "buying local" that matters. It is also making local. How can we have a resurgence of local manufacturing? I think the emergence of 3D printers, a new generation of NC machine tools, and new approaches to design, assmbly and packaging can bring us a renaisance in local manufacturing. The current model of stretched to breaking global supply chains will likely peak in the next 20 years, we need to be laying the groundwork for a new phase in which people use their hands, their brains, and their social networks to make the stuff we use every day. We need to bring manufacturing back into Vancouver and weave in into our neighbourhoods.

Steven, I agree wholeheartedly but I tend to keep my 'local' a little broader simply because I think baby steps are more realistic.

I work in an area with some pretty amazing national chains. I know that with the international chains that $75 shrinks because profits leave the province but I will be content with some $50 staying home rather than none for now. Those nationals still employ and buy local services.

The lack of industrial land is very concerning. Cambie and Marine may be creating jobs in its new redevelopment but how many of those jobs will pay wages that can afford the housing. South Fraser Lands is the same.

Then there is the whole other issue of the tax implications of taking industrial or commercial land and converting it to residential. Under our current tax policies this exercise causes huge deficits in tax revenue that must be picked up by the rest of the tax base. This image is a few years old but tells a very scary story. When you listen to rezoning applications, there is no requirement to perform economic analysis for the property. If they would, we would have fixed this by now.

You have to be careful about the "buy local" approach. It's much more complicated than that. I work in hi-tech. Practically everything we make gets sold to customers in the US (and other parts of the world).

This is not just my company, it applies pretty much across the board to any hi-tech business in the lower mainland.

What happens to all those high-paying jobs if/when the US customers decide to "buy local"? You won't be worrying about the people driving across the border to spend $100 or $1000 on something in Bellingham, you'll be worrying about all the people with discretionary income packing up and moving somewhere else.

It's bad enough that our local politicians and city planners have pursued policies to turn Vancouver into a vacation resort for rich foreigners. We shouldn't blindly do things that make our region even more economically unattractive.

I also work in high-tech so I get your point. The number of customers for LeveragePoint in Vancouver is too small to justify the investment in R&D. But, the thriving centers for innovation like Silicon Valley and Cambridge/Route 128 are intensely local. If we want Vancouver to be a center for innovation we have to forge much more powerful local networks, invest in local businesses and develop solutions based on integrations of each other's solutions. Local companies need to be able to grow beyond the R&D phase to the market expansion phase and beyond. The emerging model may look something like that pioneered by YKK for zippers. YKK started by making zippers, it graduated to making the machines used to make zippers and leasing these around the world, and as NC machine tools matured it came to focus on the software to operate standard machines.

This is a rich theme, one I hope we can go deeper on in CC.

Back in the 1990s when I had a consumer packaged software business I could only sell into most Canadian national chains through a US distributor. This jaded me on national chains. We sold to local chains directly or through a national distributor. Things may have changed and this may have been unique to that business, but I suspect many national chains are entrained by global (read US) supply chain. Still, you are right, it is by small steps that we will make change.


The number of closed shops on West Broadway and West 4th is growing.

Sadly, my favorite 'Dollar' store is one of those now closed up.

My guess, the rents are too high - which leaves only the big box stores and pushes out the small mom and pop shops.

And I agree, support our local economy before supporting the US. I often wonder when I see the line-ups at the border (TV)- how many of those people are those that cry about wages and benefits in Canada, yet eagerly take their $$ across the border.

First Mike & Daniel, if I haven't already thanked you for this site, I do so now. I was one of those who blithely voted nearly all Vision in 2008, only to have my eyes opened by reading City Caucus. Now, while some of the items may have veered close to "let's see what sticks", there was a lot of meaningful content that was not getting play elsewhere that made me decide I really couldn't vote for Vision this time around.

I hope that Mike stays involved with the NPA in some capacity. One of the things that lead me to question Christy Clark's depth was finding out that she did little for the NPA after having parachuted in to try for their mayoralty nomination and losing. Its hard to respect that lack of commitment.

It's simple. Most are "Canadians' by adoption, don't give a damn about the local economy unless they want to cut a deal with their BMW dealer. Mos5t don't speak even proper English. The papers they are reading deal more with what happens in China, Philippines, Singapore, India, Russia... less to do with Canada. Most of the people I know that go to US weekly, have nothing else to fill their lives with on a rainy weekend. The house in New West, Vancouver or Coquitlam is mortgage free, the kids are all grown up, driving back and forth 200km to kill some time and have an all you can eat extravaganza in Bellingham, is the highlight of their experience. They can say top their relatives ... back home that they travel 'abroad' often LOL!

LMAO, Julia, thank you for pointing that out. Somehow I missed that one! This Glissando guy... is such a character!
And btw, I want to point out that I liked what Glissy said here "Vancouver needs a great voice, a strong voice, a "get to" Forum, where civic issues are discussed,dissected and then put back together again, all done with finesse, professionalism and last but not least, with a great political swagger..." and I second it! You leave the business of the city to Vision and we are screwed, for good! Good commentary and political education go hand in hand. Way to go, Mike, Daniel and City Caucus!

Max, from my observations, neighbourhoods evolve and we see each community increase in value as well as lease rates. With that evolution (I do not consider what is happening along Canada Line evolution- that is more like a cataclysmic event), the business should be able to keep up. Not all can and it ends up acting as a catalyst to weed out the stronger businesses from the ones that really are not viable but trundle along anyway. I call it Darwin.

I sometimes wish there was a test for shop owners before getting a business license. You have to wonder what some of them are thinking.

That said, I am very empathetic to retailers that do all the right things and they still get slapped in the face by uncontrollable changes to their business model. It can be those bike lanes, or transit strikes, or changes in transit routes, embargo's, suppliers going broke, minimum wage goes up, or the exchange rate going nuts or the value of the land they rent going sky high and the subsequent property tax bill along with it. When your profit margin is 5-10% it does not take much.

Independent retail is not for the faint of heart.

Almost the first article I read on City Caucus was about the 'community farm' in the parking lot of the Astoria on Hastings Street. It was informative and a real expose of the way that public funds, under the guise of a good cause, could be diverted to the undeserving. Just yesterday I noticed another of these has appeared in the DTES on the former Olympic homeless encampment site.

The site I think belongs to Concord Pacific. What a fuss about the cost of the tent cities and yet these subsidies to the rich and influential go unremarked.

My request, therefore, is plenty more along those lines and as much controversy as you like. Consensus is the smooth faced enemy of truth!


I am damn curious to know to whom the 'green grants' were given. You know - the ones that Ms. Anton was threatened with legal action 'by the City' if she released the information.

It is our tax money and therefore we do have the right to full disclosure.

Sadly Julia, if the only companies able to set up shop in neighborhoods are national chains that can 'afford' the rent - all retail strips are going to become cookie cutter and well, boring.

This will cause shoppers to look elsewhere for diversity.

Kits, West 4th Avenue, was once know for its eclectic shops. Now it is all yoga, babies and sushi. The only really interesting shop on West 4th right now is the 'Scoop', pop-up-shop which is hanging around until December 20th or so.

And I admit, I don't spend nearly the dollars on West 4th anymore that I once did. (Okay, with the exception of the 7 Seas, fish monger) I head over to Commercial Drive and Main Street.

this is American but the reality here is the same.

those 3 businesses you mentioned are independents so we may not be the target customer but they are still keeping the cash at home - I wish them well. The market will ultimately dictate who survives. Enjoy your shops on Main while you can - those that are marginal will be next. Commercial Drive has already been hit and as leases come due, business owners have to wonder if selling water beds is still appropriate in this market.

If we want our streets to stay the same but we don't spend our money there - we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

But again, my pet peeve, why is the city adding to the challenged by heaping so much of the tax burden on those little shops on 4th or Commercial or Main. That reality is as destructive as a recession.

Mike I forgot add, it would be fascinating to read an unvarnished account about what its actually like campaigning for municipal office, but I realize that a truly candid account would probably be burning too many bridges ;)

Everyman, I am laughing because I am sure it is a little like 'design by committee'. Everyone knows how it is supposed to be done but everyone's idea counteracts the other (but they are right and after all because they have experience) and at the end of the day, the message is so compromised that it is useless.

Sound about right, Mike?

@Everyman & @Julia. Campaign pros I know don't talk about talk about the experience of getting elected (or not) at least not right after an election. There are some amazing accounts of the election experience such as David Plouffe's Audacity to Win (see book review or even watching Robert Redford in The Candidate (1972) to whet your appetite

Campaigns are by their nature always tough on your mind and body. They can, however, really bring out the best in people. Election campaigns are a great way to make friends, and I'm extremely grateful for the bonds I created with so many on the NPA team.

What's your opinion on this?

The Vision Corruption Wave & Control of the City hall have started! Democracy is dead.

@Terry, I'm refraining from partisan comment here, but the appointments are somewhat interesting. First, I note they've struck the Transportation and Traffic committee and are now just down to Planning & Environment (Reimer chair) and Budgets & Services (Louie chair). T&T was formerly chaired by David Cadman.

I'm told that most of the appointments outside Metro Vancouver committees are not terribly influential (or lucrative), however it is pleasing to see Elizabeth Ball chairing the Theatre committee (Elizabeth formerly ran Carousel Theatre, a company she started) and George Affleck is chairing the Heritage Foundation committee.

It's also noteworthy that Adrian Carr was entirely locked out of any appointments. However, in terms of any significant committees, Tony Tang and Kerry Jang are also left on the outside.

I'm not sure if this represents a "slap in the face of democracy". I'm trying to recall who did the voluntary advisory committee selections over the last 2 councils. I think under the 06/08 NPA council BC Lee and Ladner chose the appointments. Under Vision's last term I think it might have been Chow and Woodsworth (this is only a guess). Vision at least made an attempt last time to add a COPE person to the selection committee.

What will be interesting is who the Mayor appoints to his housing affordability committee announced today in the inauguration speech. It's an opportunity to bring in some of the best minds on the topic, and not just political backers.

In terms of looking at the inauguration, I'm glad the mainstream media are providing some interesting perspectives. Note Jeff Lee's latest blog post:

Also check out GlobalTV's report on the event at It's not posted yet, but hopefully up later.

The Thought of The Day

"Vision's First Term in Office - STIR (Symbolic Term In Retrospect). Vision's Second Term in Office - STIR (Scenic Temperance Initiative Respect)..."

Right? :-)
Three years of Dzis & Dzat and Dze Other, taught them a lesson. They have to lie better, ahem, try harder this time around. For goodness sake what's an inauguration party when the sugar & honey is in the later details?

Call me a skeptic, say all you want,but the reality is, you put a Tuxedo... or a Kilt, on a Goat... still a Goat!

For the second term, their only constant is the number of Developers lining up, on the City Hall's Third floor. Period.
None... hat in hands, though, if you catch my drift.

Theater and Heritage Committee Chairs for Ball and Affleck? OK.
It's good that their names are on the list, but seriously, the committees are a far cry from the big leagues committees, you know, the ones that can really make a difference. Remember in school, when you were drawing for the soccer teams, some kids were picked for playing defense, others for playing forwards or middle, and then, the skinny guy with big glasses was left for... goalie?

Jeff Lee ends his post with the following:
"Can anyone explain to me why, given all this, that the inauguration doesn’t include the Park Board commissioners too? They are normally sworn in at their own headquarters in Stanley Park. But if you’re going to go to all this effort (and considering City Manager Penny Ballem’s efforts to bring the park board more under her umbrella) is there any reason why there should still be two city inaugurations?"

Big Dog's Table... Not For Puppies.
That's why.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

This is great Mike, but shouldn't it be a post in its own right!

Yes, you're correct. Daniel's 24 column is up here later today. Will see if time allows for some analysis after that.

Historically, we have looked to manufacturing for decent paying jobs. Not everyone can work in IT.

I am looking at the City of Vancouver tax roll. 2011 un-averaged values indicate that:
Class 1 residential was worth 153 billion and change.
Business (class 6) - 29 billion and change (but pay almost half the bills)
Major Industrial (class 4) was 195 MILLION
Light Industrial (class 5)was 622 Million

We can't create manufacturing jobs even if we wanted to - there is no place to put them.

Today I am heading back from a meeting and run into my favorite little food cart - which has been moved again.

This is their 4th relocation that I know of and as where they are now situated is set for demolition come spring - they will be shuffled once more.

Needless to say, they are not happy as each move keeps destabilizing their client base.

They told me they have been trying to place nice with the city but no more.

They are losing money.

Max, that is interesting. I thought those cart placements were static unless there was something significant going on like Occupy Vancouver.

Wonder how the mobile carts that end up in a different place every day are working out from a financial perspective.

I don't think I would have the nerve for the restaurant business.

Check out!

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