Vancouver City Councillor

1999 Broadway Corridor transit study found LRT most expensive, predicted bus service would be at capacity . . . now

As the Translink Mayors Council works to create a regional transportation investment plan to put before voters, the findings of a 1999 study on Broadway Corridor transit options seem eerily prescient.

As those long-ago planners predicted, bus rapid transit on the corridor is bursting at the seams, well ahead of their 2021 estimate,  and light rail options won’t do the job. That left a Skytrain tunnel option at least to Arbutus (combined with rapid bus to UBC) as the best option, because it’s faster, less disruptive and cheaper overall than LRT.

The $200,000 joint study by Translink, Vancouver and the province predicted that rapid bus service from Commercial to UBC would have “its capacity tested in 15 to 20 years.”

Fifteen years later and the 99 B-Line carries more riders than the Millennium Line, despite help from a range of new crosstown routes introduced in the meantime.

(A more recent Translink study has confirmed that it’s time for rail on the corridor.)

The favoured solution in 1999? The report did not make recommendations, but it is striking to see light rail transit was beaten by Skytrain for overall cost and operating cost, not to mention impacts on the nighbourhoods west of Commercial.

As the 1999 report concluded, [

April 18, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Tenants are the winners as rental database drives down number of building code violations

Vancouver city council’s decision to shine a light on landlords with bylaw violations is producing dividends for city renters, driving down the number of outstanding violations by 75 percent.

Using the city’s rental database, home-hunting renters can check out a building ahead of time. In 2013, seven buildings had more than 100 violations; today, the number is zero.

The reduction in violations, announced in a news release today by Mayor Gregor Robertson, delivers on one of a series of measures the Vision council has undertaken to support tenants, including a crackdown on slumlords and a successful program to increase the construction of rental housing.


“We wish every municipality in the province had a Rental Standards Database like the City of Vancouver,” said Tom Durning of the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC).  We speak to over 9,000 tenants per year through our Tenant Infoline and the most common issue we provide information on is repairs.  Using the City’s Rental Standards Database, Vancouver tenants can now see if prospective landlords are serious about maintaining their buildings to health, safety and housing standards required by law.  TRAC is pleased to hear that there has been a 75 percent drop in property violations in licensed rental buildings.  We hope other municipalities will see these positive results from the City of Vancouver’s actions and adopt similar initiatives to better protect tenants across the province,” concluded Mr. Durning.

April 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Is Vancouver treating civic affairs reporters fairly? The city manager has surveyed a range of cities to find out

Ever since the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, when the City of Vancouver’s public relations apparatus received a major upgrade , city hall reporters have been bending the ears of councillors with complaints.

In the the good old days, back in 2007, they could call any city staff person and interview them on and off the record. City Hall was a reporter’s paradise, with spin doctors restricted to Mayor Sam Sullivan’s office and senior city staff accessible at all hours of the day and night. And so on.

Now, they, say, it takes days to get a call back if you get one at all from behind the closed doors of the city communications branch.

Not long ago, council asked city manager Penny Ballem to report on the current state of affairs. Her detailed response is here.

Read and discuss among yourselves.


April 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Missing from #vancitybird nominees: our own urban Northwestern Crows

Vancouver Park Board’s Vancouver City Bird contest is getting lots of attention, with the five current candidates fighting it out on social media under the hashtag #vancitybird. (You can cast your ballot until May 10.)


Richard Tetrault’s Chinatown Crows, one of a comprehensive series.

But where is the obvious candidate, our own Northwestern Crow, which seems to me to be a defining feature of city life?

(BREAKING: the crow won in 2014! I should jave researched further. But I could, I’d keep the crow again.)

Without going negative on the other candidates, I would point out that the crows are an important part of the city in many ways:

  • they flourish in every neighbourhood, from the Downtown Eastside to Kerrisdale;
  • they clean up waste, admittedly littering quite a bit when they do so;
  • local foodies, they forage for mussels on the shoreline or bugs in the grass;
  • gregarious, they like to talk and get together in groups;
  • they’re smart, innovative and loyal.

On the downside, most of them commute to Burnaby to sleep .

The leading artistic advocate for the crow is,  of course, Strathcona artist Richard Tetrault, whose Urban Crow series is a comprehensive catalogue of the birds in every possible setting.

Smart, urban, resilient, immortalized in art . . . the bird has to the crow. Case closed.


April 11, 2014 Bookmark and Share