Vancouver City Councillor

Jim Deva commemorative plaza a step closer after West End consultation

A city consultation with West End residents and businesses has found strong support for a commemorative park or plaza to honour Jim Deva, the gay rights advocate and neighbourhood leader whose sudden death last year shocked the city.

As many expected, the community would like to see Deva honoured with a small park at Bute and Davie, the site of the “Heart of Davie” public space created last year as a pilot project. City planner Kevin McNaney set out the results of the consultation and next steps in a memo to council released earlier today.

April 13, 2015 Bookmark and Share

“Express entry” seems expressly suited to employer needs, not national interest

As Canada’s new “express entry” immigration system struggles to find its feet, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has been at pains to focus on the dramatic reduction in wait times for would-be immigrants, dismissing complaints by critics that the new program is driven primarily by the needs of employers.

But labour market demand was the main factor Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial immigration ministers agreed to priorize last year, when they set the goal of raising “economic class” immigrants to 65 percent of the total, an all-time high.

This was about the time that Ottawa decided temporary foreign workers would be limited to four years in this country, summarily sent home when their time was up.

The result has been an upheaval in immigration policy, one that makes it increasingly difficult for cities, where most newcomers live, to plan the future. Worse, it puts many new arrivals at the mercy of employers and economic cycles, rather than making a firm commitment to open the way to citizenship.

How cities can support the integration of new arrivals? That was the issue I was asked to explore April 9 at a leadership awards presentation by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, where the City of Vancouver won significant recognition.

What does it mean to support the arrival and integration of newcomers when their status is so dependent on economic goals, rather than national ones? When new arrivals are literally here today, gone tomorrow. I, for one, am not sure, and believe that the new direction taken by the federal Conservatives leads in the wrong direction.

Here’s what I said, reprinted here at the request of several members of the audience. My conclusion: we would be better served by an immigration policy that can be summed up in five words. “Welcome. Join us. Please stay.”


April 12, 2015 Bookmark and Share

Thousands of conversations: notes from the #yesfortransit campaign trail

“Where can I get my Yes button?” demanded the woman next to the back door on the Number 50. “You can have mine,” I told her. “I can’t wear it where I’m going now,” she told me in a low voice, “but I”ll put it on right after.”

It was just one of many conversations in the last week that tell me a real debate is under way across the region about the Better Transportation and Transit Plan as ballots reach every household. (Everyone is supposed to have one by tomorrow, but a number of UEL and UBC residents at a meeting last night were still waiting.)

It’s still unfashionable to be out and proud about supporting the Mayors’ Council plan, but many people do want to see congestion reduced, commuting times slashed and all the economic benefits that flow from the proposal.

The Translink haters have had their day. I think many will be voting Yes in the privacy of their homes.

Will it be in time to put the Yes team over the line? That remains to be seen, but in the course of four public forums in the last week and a number of other encounters, I find lots of room for optimism: [Read more →]

March 26, 2015 Bookmark and Share

Supreme Court verdict on Creekside Park may clear the way for new co-operation

A BC Supreme Court verdict upholding the City of Vancouver’s decision to allow Concord Pacific to locate condo sales offices on the future site of False Creek’s Creekside Park may actually speed development of the park, not delay it, as the False Creek Residents Association fears.

Despite the FRCA’s claim that the extension of the city permit on the site was improper, Mr. Justice Robert Sewell found the city acted with “sufficient justification, transparency and intelligibility” to justify the extension, which city staff say¬†will not be renewed after 2017. That’s the earliest date at which park construction could begin.

Strangely enough, all three parties involved in the suit — the city, Concord and the FRCA — agree that they want the park completed as quickly as possible.

With the FRCA litigation resolved, there is reason to hope everyone will now focus on working together to move the project forward.

The legal battering ram has not worked. The judge has agreed the city’s process is sound. The deadline for a decision is nearing.

There will be plenty of opportunity for collaboration and negotiation in the next few months as city staff prepare to report to council, as early as June, on the prospects for replacing the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, opening the door to a larger park with more waterfront green space.

The problem facing the city and Concord is simple. Park construction cannot begin until rezoning for Concord land on the parcel west of the site is complete. Soil in that area is contaminated and cannot be removed; it can only be stored safely under the future park. [Read more →]

March 4, 2015 Bookmark and Share