Three important questions that were seldom raised at all-candidates’ meetings, and Vision’s answers
With all-candidates’ meetings over and five days of door-knocking remaining before Saturday’s election decision, I realize there were three questions I expected but seldom encountered at all candidates’ meetings. I participated in about six meetings, I think — it’s all a blur — from small community centre affairs to the large transportation forum chaired by Gordon Price last week.
But I heard little about:
1. The crisis for renters
Although half the city rents, few meetings had the intensity we experienced in 2008 with “renovictions” soaring and vacancy rates near zero. The situation for renters has not improved, but the very significant launch of a new rental housing coalition got little coverage last week. Only Vision Vancouver is making specific commitments to help renters and has generated significant new rental housing construction since the last election.
2. The crisis in the global economy
Although Greece’s economy imploded since nominations closed and Italy has gone to the brink, the economy almost never arose. Meetings generally stayed close to local issues like zoning and housing prices. (Many discussions centred on the impact, if any, of mysterious “foreign” investors.)
But Vision’s platform does lay out specific proposals to support job creation and innovation in Vancouver. I spoke hopefully, in an early-campaign news release, of “economic recovery,” a prospect that seems to be fading in light of the latest news.
3. Climate change and global warming
Perhaps because support and engagement around the Greenest City Action Plan is so broad, there were few arguments about the need to work harder to make Vancouver green. But the decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline means that the push to export bitumen from Metro Port Vancouver will intensify. Vision is the only party with a comprehensive environmental program and convened a special council meeting last year to shine a light on growing oil exports from our port.
Without a strong Vision team at all three levels — council, school and parks — Mayor Gregor Robertson will be hard-pressed to deliver on these commitments, despite their obvious importance.