Standing room only for music, art, politics at grace-gallery

Dave Taylor (left) at grace-gallery May 13.Geoff and friends at grace-galleryMore than 60 turned out May 13 to enjoy music, art, good food and politics May 13 at Vancouver’s grace-gallery. The Envision Vancouver event, organized for Geoff’s campaign by Brenton Walters, featured outstanding music by Dave Taylor and Melisa Devost. The turnout was more evidence, if it’s needed, of the growing engagement in civic politics, and Vision Vancouver, right across the city. Thanks to all who came out, including mayoral candidate for nomination Al De Genova and park board hopefuls Melissa De Genova and Sarah Blyth. Grace-gallery is the artists’ display area for a building that formerly housed an artist’s metal shop but now includes the gallery, a bar and artists’ studios — 1898 Main St. at 3rd.

Ecodensity: save the best, junk the rest

  • Geoff’s letter on Ecodensity published in the Georgia Straight April 17, 2008.

Editor, The Georgia Straight:
Sam Sullivan’s Ecodensity Charter (patent pending) has sparked an uproar in communities that were comfortable with their community plans and committed to sustainability. They are indignant that the city seems to be trying to impose some massive density increase on them without consultation.
Vancouver desperately needs policies to make housing available to average working families. In the current market a family needs annual income of $147,000 to own a relatively modest home.
If anything, Ecodensity has set back changes in city policy that would make a positive difference.
Vancouver was well on the way to a sensible approach to increase the stock of affordable, sustainable housing until Sullivan’s NPA came along.
Sullivan voted against the Woodward’s project, a model of sustainable development, with a mix of affordable, social and market housing, as well as public space, commercial space and cultural amenities. Developer Bob Rennie now touts it as the way forward. (Woodwards is an example of reciprocal zoning, in which developers can achieve extra density in return for amenities like affordable or social housing.)
The South East False Creek plan, including the Olympic village, set an ambitious goal for mid-range market housing, but Sullivan’s NPA ripped out that provision as one its first acts in office. Now Ecodensity has neighbourhoods in turmoil.
Until communities feel their needs are understood and respected, Vancouver will be unable to move forward. The Mayor wants to make change, he would do well to shelve his current scheme and ask neighbourhoods to help chart a new direction.

Geoff Meggs

  • Geoff’s April 12 Ecodensity letter to the Vancouver Sun, not published.

Editor, The Sun:

The Sun is absolutely right that “smart policies will be needed to ensure Metro Vancouver remains a place where people can live” given the staggering disconnect between the average price of a Vancouver home and the earnings of average Vancouver families. (Growing population needs creative, affordable housing solutions – April 12) A family needs annual income of $147,000 to buy the average home, but more than half of Vancouver’s families earn only $60,000 or less.
But the current NPA council reduced the affordable housing component of the Southeast False Creek project as one of its first acts in office. The new Ecodensity charter — which has sparked a uproar in Vancouver communities — makes passing reference to affordability, but only vague commitments to how it could be achieved. This is not a smart way to proceed.
Private sector developers can help solve the problem of lower cost market housing, but they need clear policies from the city; swift and transparent approval processes; access to “reciprocal development” that links increased density to provision of affordable housing; and political leadership prepared to focus on the needs of communities, not patenting the latest buzzwords. None of those factors are present at the moment.

Geoff Meggs

25 join Geoff for a downtown exploration of labour history

Labour history walkAbout 25 Vancouverites joined Geoff Saturday, May 3 outside the Trade and Convention Centre for a walking tour of Vancouver’s hidden labour history. It was one of scores of such walks planned across North America as part of the Jane’s Walk events, organized in honour of Jane Jacobs, the woman who did more than almost anyone else to inspire progressive thinking on city planning.

Geoff’s two kilometre walk highlighted the many locations in the downtown core and the Downtown Eastside that have provided the backdrop for some critical events in our province’s history. A number of participants expressed interest in attending another such walk. If you’re one of them, contact Geoff at info@geoffmeggs.ca.

Meggs urges Vision to democratize mayoral nomination process

UPDATE: Vision Vancouver’s executive decided April 23 to use a preferential ballot to resolve the problems I identified in this release. The polling station at the Croation Cultural Centre will be open for most of the day June 15 and Vision members will be able to select our mayoral nominee by indicating their first, second and third preferences on a single ballot. This is a good solution.

Vision Vancouver should allow its members to vote in polling stations across the city when they select Vision’s mayoralty candidate, says Geoff Meggs, to ensure maximum participation from the hundreds of new members joining the organization in the past few weeks.

“We need to put the democratic rights of the members ahead of media considerations,” Meggs said. “As it stands, the Vision nominating convention will last hours, with speeches, a vote of thousands of members, a vote count and then a run-off process that could last all day. Most people can’t take that kind of time.

“I am urging Vision to give up the idea of a single nominating convention and make it easy for people to participate,” says Meggs. “The current Vision nominating plan turns the democratic process into a marathon that makes it impossible for working families, seniors and many others to participate properly.

“Vision should consider staffing polling stations in five to 10 locations across the city for a period of several hours. If a run-off is required, do it over again the next week. Yes, have a place for the media to go, but make the members’ needs the priority.”

Vision’s membership is reported to have at least doubled from the 1,200 members claimed at the January Annual General Meeting. Meggs said. “Let’s make sure those people have every opportunity to have a say.”

Meggs is seeking a Vision council nomination. In that vote, expected in September, the top vote-getters will be declared nominated, so no run-off is required. Meggs is not personally impacted by the proposal he is making today.