Mirror, Magnifier, Microphone

Many players influence City Council’s decisions and Vancouver’s future. CityHallWatch balances the game by giving citizens tools to engage City Hall effectively.  More here.

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Report: B.C. municipal election campaign finance reform, April 14 media briefing – statements by IntegrityBC, Green, COPE

Adriane Carr and Dermod Travis panelists

CityHallWatch and IntegrityBC co-hosted a media briefing at 4:30 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014, with the title of “B.C. Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform – Implications for Democracy.” The agenda and reference links are here. NPA declined the invitation, while Vision Vancouver, the BC Liberals and NDP failed to respond as organizations (though a few individual MLAs did reply).

Many valuable facts turned up at the meeting. Popular political blogger Pete Quily (@pqpolitics) has prepared a detailed report and commentary (Part 1 here, Part 2 is pending). Below is video from the event.

Related, today Regular Council was to consider Councillor Adriane Carr’s motion on Campaign Financing Limits for November 15, 2014 Vancouver Civic Election. A sudden amendment by Councillor Andrea Reimer resulted in the core part of the motion (on voluntary limits) being referred a committee meeting on April 30, 2014, at which time speakers can address Council. Is this a cynical delay tactic? Time is of the essence — BC Legislature is set to adopt related Bills 20 and 21 by late April or early May.

Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC introduction

Adriane Carr, City Councillor, Green Party of Vancouver, explains her motion on finance reform:

Tim Louis, COPE, introduction

Jacquelyn Miller, Green Party of Vancouver, self-imposed donation caps and spending limits:

Glen Chernen, Cedar Party, was also in attendance and offered  comments on finance reform:

Q&A: panelists on closing loopholes, lobbyist registry:

Update: In the meantime at Vancouver City Council, the main debate on Councillor Adriane Carr’s motion has been delayed until April 30, 2014 as a result of an amendment by Councillor Andrea Reimer. Here is the video of the April 15th Council meeting:

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Why we need finance reform: $5,905,589 total spent in 2011 Vancouver civic campaign, $40.78 per vote


The declared spending by all municipal parties and candidates in the 2011 Vancouver municipal election was a total of $5,905,589.51. This amounts to $40.78 per vote cast or $14.10 per registered voter. Continue reading

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MEDIA BRIEFING – 14 Apr (Mon) 4:30pm, VPL – B.C. Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform

MEDIA BRIEFING

B.C. Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform – Implications for Democracy

Monday, April 14, 2014  – 4:30 to 5:20 pm
Vancouver Public Library – Central Branch (350 West Georgia Street)
Peter Kaye Room (Lower Level) (Room opens 4:10 pm)

IntegrityBC_logoOrganizers: IntegrityBC, CityHallWatch

Inquiries (RSVP appreciated but not required): citizenYVR@gmail.com. The public is welcome too, but please note that this is event is offered as a service for media, not a public forum.

Note: Some of the speakers may be available for on-on-one interviews after the main event.

Program

1.   Issues about B.C. election campaign finances, Bill 20 and Bill 21 – Dermod Travis, Executive Director, IntegrityBC 7 min.
2.   Motion: “Campaign Financing Limits for November 15, 2014 Vancouver Civic Election” (Motion in Council 15 April) – Councillor Adriane Carr 5 min.
3.   Comments – What is your party’s position on the election campaign finance issue? What are you committed to do?
  • Vision Vancouver – Invited
2 min.
  • NPA – Invited
2 min.
  • Green Party of Vancouver – Jacqueline Miller, Executive Director
2 min.
  • COPE – Tim Louis, External Chair
2 min.
4.   Comments from Provincial parties on B.C. municipal election finance
  • BC Liberals – Invited
2 min.
  • BC NDP – Invited
2 min.
  • Independent – Invited
2 min.
5.   Media questions, moderated 23 min.
6.   Closing remarks 1 min.

DESCRIPTION – MAIN POINTS

  • Political donations are one of the most powerful factors affecting civic politics and elections in many municipalities in British Columbia, large and small, Metro Vancouver region, Vancouver Island, and all over the province.
  • In Vancouver over $5.9 million was spent during the 2011 municipal election, most of it by just two civic parties that gained almost all of the 27 contested seats for City Council, Park Board, and School Board.
  • Councillor Adriane CarrVancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr has a motion in City Council on municipal campaign financed reform to be introduced on April 15. Speakers to the motion will likely be heard on April 16.
  • The 40th BC Legislature is now reviewing Bills 20 and 21 – Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA) and Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act (LESAA).
  • Background on Bills 20 and 21: The second reading took place on April 7 in the BC Legislature, now they are in committee for review. Theoretically, it is possible for the Bills to be amended, and third reading could be any time end of April or early May.
  • In northern BC, referenda such as an non-binding plebiscite in Kitimat on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, have attracted the influx of big money. Big political donations could play an important part in 2014 civic elections in rural areas too.
  • This meeting is formatted as a media briefing, with an emphasis on serving the information needs of media. The public is also welcome to attend, though this is not formatted as a public forum. A video recording of the presentations and discussion (but not audience) will be taken for posting online later, for interested persons unable to attend the event.

KEY ISSUES AND QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED BY THIS MEETING:

  1. Continue reading
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Trout Lake Plan Open House April 15 (John Hendry Park Master Plan)

John Hendry Park

Park Board will be hosting an Open House to present a draft Master Plan for John Hendry Park (Trout Lake) on Tuesday, April 15th, from 5 to 8pm. This Open House will be held at 3360 Victoria Drive at the Trout Lake Community Centre.

The Master Plan for Trout Lake is in its final phase. The first public Open House was held on October 19th and a subsequent interactive workshop was held on December 3rd, 2013. The consultant working with the Park Board, Golder Associates, found an innovative method to allow workshop participants to ‘vote’ on their priorities for the park. Here’s a comparison of the ‘votes’ for the most and least popular park priorities:

Trout Lake votes

Please check back after the Open House. More analysis and the draft plan to follow.

John Hendry Park Workshop

Trout Lake beach

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Open House for 21-storey Rize proposal on Monday, April 14th

urbanizta:

This is a high profile case, relevant for all of Vancouver. It is important to notice the processes involved. Is the public getting treated fairly? Scrutiny required.

Originally posted on Residents Association Mount Pleasant Vancouver:

Rize April 14 renderings

The City of Vancouver is holding a public Open House to receive feedback on a revised design of the proposed Rize development at Kingsway and Broadway. The notification letter from the City advertises the Open House for the following date and venue:

Date: Monday, April 14, 2014, between 4:30 pm and  7:30pm
Location: St. Patrick’s Church, 2881 Main Street (at 13th Avenue)

As well, the City has set a May 5, 2014 deadline for written comments to be considered in an upcoming staff report.

Key differences between the proposal and the one that went before Council two years ago include the following:

  • 21-storey tower (up from 19-storeys, the maximum in the Council report)
  • 399 parking spaces (up from 320 parking spaces)
  • 258 condo units (up from 241 units)
  • no food co-op retail space

Mayor Robertson mentioned the planned (and now removed) food co-op when he supported the Rize…

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Heather Place – details on the rezoning application. Public Hearing starts on April 15th

Heather Place signThe rezoning application at Heather Place will be reviewed by City Council on April 15th, 2014 at 6pm. There are three other items on the Public Hearing agenda prior to Heather Place, so the start time may be a little bit later for this item.

People who would like to speak can register at publichearing@vancouver.ca (via email) or by phoning 604.829.4238 (the Public Hearing hotline). It’s useful for speakers to also ask for their number in line so they can track when they will be up to speak.

What are the details of the rezoning itself? The summary in Appendix F of the staff report claims that 230 units of social housing will be created in this redevelopment. Is this really the case?
230 Social Housing UnitsOn page 9 of the same report, it’s stated that there are currently 86 units of affordable housing on the site; 26 of these units are subsidized (30% of the total). These 26 subsidized units vary from the shelter rate to the HILs rate (BC Housing Income Limits levels). While the staff report states that 60 remaining (unsubsidized) units are “at current market rents, which are reflective of the age and condition of the units”, it does not provide any numbers. Heather Place was built in 1983. Heather PlaceA good comparison would be to try to find the rental rates for other units in this part of the neighbourhood of Fairview of a similar age and then compare. It’s more than possible that current Heather Place rents are more affordable than most rental stock in the vicinity. According to our sources, the rental rates currently range from $900 for a one-bedroom apartment while two-bedroom apartments go for approximately $1100. The rentals rates for new two-bedroom apartments, after the redevelopment is completed, are expected to start at $1800. Those rates would simply no longer be affordable.

The staff report states that “all 26 existing subsidized tenants” will “be accommodated in the new development with their subsidy maintained.” It’s also indicated that “26 other existing tenant households who are currently paying low end of market rents” will be subsidized by MVHC (Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation) so they pay no more than 30% of their income to remain at Heather Place. This makes for a total of 52 units with some form of subsidy. In other words, the other 178 units will be set at market rental rates. The rents will also be higher than at present: Market rents in the new development will be higher than existing market rents because the units are brand new.” It’s unclear if the shelter rate or HILs rate subsidies will stay with the units, or whether these will be phased out as subsidized tenants leave. Language in the staff report clearly suggests that these subsidies will only stay with the current tenants and not with the new units.

Heather Place bldg C from report

Proposed Heather Place redevelopment

The “Public Benefit” that the staff report is using to justify the rezoning is 230 units of social housing. There’s no CAC or other benefit, but there’s a great increase in density and height. The reality is that only 52 of the units can initially be considered as any form of social housing. Are 52 units of new subsidized units enough to justify the redevelopment of the existing 86-unit affordable rental housing complex? Of the 86 housing units now at Heather Place, a total of 26 units are subsidized. Is there an overall net increase or decrease in affordable units? Will many individuals and families be displaced as a result of the proposed redevelopment?

The staff report claims that the MVHC would deliver subsidies for 30% of the units (69 total) within a 5-year period through a housing agreement with the City. There’s no complete draft of a housing agreement to examine, and hence it’s difficult to determine how it could be enforced.

Heather Place detailed context

There are actually two separate rezonings in the application, one for the entire northern side of the city block bounded by Heather Street, West 13th Avenue, Willow Street and West 14th Avenue. The second rezoning encompasses almost the entire southern side of the block, except for the two easternmost lots. The northern lot would include a 7-storey and a 10-storey building with a maximum height of 94′ (28.7m) and a floor space ratio of 2.84. The southern lot on West 14th Avenue would have a single 5-storey building with a height of 50.8′ (15.5m) and a FSR of 2.29.

The current zoning for the site allows for a height of 30 ft (9.14m) to allow for two storeys plus a basement and a maximum FSR of 0.75. There’s also a requirement to have “a minimum of 86 underground off-street parking spaces” for a “ratio of one space per unit” under the existing zoning.

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Council preview April 15-16: DTES bylaws, Heather Place, Tree protection bylaw, 2014 Campaign Financing Limits, Tax Shift, Procurement report and more

City Hall sign tulipsVancouver City Council will hold three meetings on April 15 and 16, 2014. Park Board will meet on Monday, April 14th. We’ve compiled a summary of some of the highlights from these upcoming meetings.

Council will kick off the week with a 9:30am meeting on Tuesday, April 15th by discussing the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan bylaws. While all speakers were heard on this item at the Public Hearing on April 1st, Council deferred debate to this meeting on April 15th. Will there be any last minute changes to the contentious Victory Square bylaws, to micro dwelling suites, or to the City’s definition of “social housing”? Stay tuned.

The Regular Council meeting will also look at making changes to the Tree bylaw and review the 2013 Annual Procurement Report. This report shows a number of contracts that were awarded last year, including one for $152,080 that was awarded to Vision Critical for Talk Vancouver. The Campaign Financing Limits for November 15, 2014 Vancouver Civic Election motion on notice introduced by Adriane Carr is on the agenda; speakers will likely be heard at the Wednesday, April 16th Committee meeting.

The main item at the 6 pm Public Hearing on April 15th is the contentious Heather Place rezoning application. There is also a rezoning application for 4099 Cambie Street (8-storey building at King Edward Ave) at this Public Hearing, a text amendment rezoning for 968-988 Howe Street and a Heritage Revitalization Agreement at 2856 West 3rd Avenue.

The City Finances Committee on Wednesday, April 16th will review the 2014 Property Taxation report and the distribution of taxes between business and residential. The report suggests a tax split of “approximately 54% residential and 46 % non-residential. The SRA Permit for 39-49 East Hastings report looks at replacing SRA-designated units with social housing and self-contained units along with market rental units. There will also be an update on the City’s Digital Strategy.

The Park Board meeting on Monday, April 14th has the Postal Delivery Change Impacts on Vancouver Residents item on the agenda. This motion includes a paragraph that would prevent Canada Post from installing super-mailboxes on parkland. A Public WiFi motion will be introduced to examine free wireless access in parks and on beaches.

For convenience, we’ve reproduced the full agendas below:

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