Vancouver City Councillor

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

St. James Community Square faces uncertain future as battle continues to save Hollywood Theatre

The Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition is stepping up its efforts to save that Kitsilano landmark amid reports that the St. James Community Square facility just blocks away is up for sale.

City council stepped in work with the community to seek solutions for the Hollywood in 2013 when the owners proposed convert it to a fitness club, but efforts by a community church to acquire the theatre for redevelopment fell apart earlier this year.

This week Brian Jackson, the city’s general manager of planning, circulated this memo updating council on a number of issues raised by the coalition as it seeks to step in to save the Hollywood. Also in the memo: news that the St. James Community Square facility, on land owned by a United Church of Canada congregation, may be up for sale, putting that community asset at risk as well.

March 4, 2015 Bookmark and Share

Julie, Danielle Raymond win long struggle to win regulation of party buses

When Shannon Raymond died in a party bus accident seven years ago, her mother Julie and sister Danielle sought to make sense of her loss by undertaking a campaign to win regulation of party buses by the province of British Columbia.

That campaign came to a successful conclusion today when Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced the province will require party buses to register for special authorization permits with the Passenger Transportation Board.

The Raymond’s efforts had faltered until December 2013, when a Vancouver Sun report on the problems in the industry caught my attention and provoked a motion to council urging provincial action, a motion later endorsed right up to the BC Police Chiefs Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.

Congratulations to the Raymonds for their persistance and courage. No one who heard their story could doubt the love they had for Shannon and their determination to make sure their loss was never repeated.

Just last night, I wondered in this space if BC would make a move. Minister Stone has taken that step and I, for one, welcome it and applaud him.

February 26, 2015 Bookmark and Share