Summary of candidates debate in Mount Pleasant (October 20, 2014)

Reblogged from Residents Association Mount Pleasant (RAMP):
Crowd Heritage Hall

Heritage Hall was completely packed for a Vancouver City Council Candidates’ debate held on October 20th, 2014.

We’d like to thank Miranda Nelson of the Straight for moderating the debate. A big thanks also goes out to all candidates who participated: Councillor George Affleck (NPA), Pete Fry (Green), Keith Higgins (COPE), Ken Low (NPA), Councillor Adriane Carr (Green), Nicholas Chernen (Cedar), Councillor Raymond Louie (Vision) and Tim Louis (COPE).

We will post additional photos and videos of the event. The first half of the debate consisted of crowd-sourced questions. Questions from the floor were answered during the second half of the debate.

moderator and panel for Oct 20 Candidates debate

The following crowd-sourced questions were posed to the candidates:

A. Questions (First 3 to be answered by each candidate, 90 seconds):

A1. Form of development

UBC Professor Patrick Condon has stated that the population of Vancouver could be doubled by building only 4 storeys or lower along arterials.

Question: What is your view on the form of development for the City? (Should highrise towers be limited to the downtown core? Or should the tower form of development be used in neighbourhoods across Vancouver?)

A2. Public safety, property crime

The Surrey election is all about public safety. But in Vancouver, official statistics and the perception of crime may appear to be lower. Nonetheless, we received the following question from Mount Pleasant:

“What about safety in our neighbourhood? There have been numerous break-ins, assaults and thefts in stores and businesses. We worked hard for 10 years to rid the area of crime, but now it is back.”

Question: If elected, what will you do about property crime, bike theft, shoplifting and vandalism?

A3. Spot rezonings

Increasing density in a neighbourhood is often a lively and contentious issue. And debates about density are often about the building form (high rise, medium rise, low rise, etc.) that will be used to increase density.

Question: Should residents of neighbourhoods, such as Mount Pleasant, be given more choice in the way density is increased? If elected will you commit to stopping the practice of “spot rezoning”, particularly when it contravenes the content, intent and spirit of neighbourhood plans? Continue reading

IncluCITY: Can Public Process Be Truly Public? Oct 27, Arts Club Granville Island

IncluCity poster 27-Oct-2014
IncluCITY
http://spacing.ca/vancouver/2014/10/20/event-inclucity/
WHEN: Monday, October 27, 6:30pm
WHERE: Arts Club Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street
Moderated by Dr Maged SENBEL associate professor, ubc school of community & regional planning
Marta FAREVAAG principal, pfs studio
Patrick CONDON professor, ubc school of architecture & landscape architecture
Scot HEIN urban designer, ubc
Mahbod BIAZI development officer, city of vancouver
Trish FRENCH former assistant director, central area planning, city of vancouver

Absolutely zero mention of 2014 civic election on front page of 9 English and Chinese daily newspapers today. Why?

Vancouver papers front pages 20-Oct-2014a(Updated, comment at bottom) The photo above shows the front pages of the nine major English and Chinese daily newspapers serving Vancouver today — Monday, October 20. The 2014 civic election (November 15) is less than a month away and the stakes are extremely high (four year term). Yet none of these papers gives the slightest mention of the election on the front page. It’s time to put a spotlight on these publications.

Despite the rise of social media, printed daily papers still have an enormous influence on public awareness and public opinion, so they also have a huge social responsibility. They need to earn their way and trust as sources of timely, unbiased, and relevant information.

These nine dailies have absolutely no mention of the civic election on their front pages today. But to be fair, some of the papers carry decent coverage within their pages, and some have done special events (web interviews) and feature initiatives. And on other days, their election coverage may be more extensive. (Note that this article covers only the print dailies, not weeklies like the Georgia Straight and Vancouver Courier.)

Are these publications doing their job? Below we ponder some questions, and provide screen shots of the publisher information displayed in each paper today. Most people read their newspapers without much thought to who owns and manages each publication. Yet behind every image, every headline, every placement decision, every sentence, and even every comma, is a person and system.

Are Vancouver’s daily newspapers doing a good job with election coverage? It is up to readers to judge. Here we ponder some questions:

  1. Is the paper providing enough election coverage? Is it prominent enough? (Page A1 or E93?) Frequent enough?
  2. Is coverage balanced and fair?
  3. Does coverage appear to be influenced by advertising revenues and advertisers? (This election we may see combined spending of as much as $8 million, mostly by one or two parties.)
  4. Who determines what gets covered?
  5. Who within the paper decides where an article is located and how?
  6. Who determines which images are used? Who decides on headline wording?
  7. Is the paper covering all the important election events? Is it giving fair balance in coverage of those events?
  8. Who is the corporate owner of this newspaper? Who are the top editors and managers? What are their political and ideological orientations?
  9. Is the quality, frequency and amount of coverage of civic elections a factor keeping voter turnout low (only 34% in 2011)Vancouver civic system-4
  10. Does low coverage benefit certain parties (e.g., those that can make up for it by paid advertising)?
  11. How is each print daily a factor in Vancouver’s dysfunctional civic system? (Positive or negative? Constructive or destructive? Part of the problem, or part of the solution?)
  12. Does any “coordination” occur among major media players regarding how they cover an election, and which candidates get what kind of coverage?
  13. Are reporters faithfully reporting things? For example, candidates debates accommodate at most a few hundred people. Are reporters faithfully reporting the sentiment of the meetings?
  14. Are reporters and media doing their job to challenge numbers and statements made? It is not uncommon to see coverage in our local papers by well-known reporters that read almost like they were taken verbatim from a press release from the political party. How does that get approved?
  15. To be continued…

Here we put in a word for Media Democracy Days, November 7 and 8, 2014. “Know the Media, Be the Media, Change the Media.” http://mediademocracyproject.ca. CityHallWatch will be an exhibitor at the  Media Fair on November 8.

Below are screenshots of publisher information of the nine top English and Chinese daily newspapers in Vancouver: Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Globe And Mail, National Post, Metro News Vancouver, 24 Hours Vancouver, World Journal, Mingpao, and Singtao. It is worth spending some time to look at who runs them. Continue reading

Province’s sale of family and seniors’ housing in Downtown Eastside opposed by residents

Stamps Place
The following post has been mirrored with permission from the Ray-Cam co-operative centre website for information purposes. Ray-Cam will be holding a Community meeting on Wednesday October 22nd 5:45-7:00 pm and hosting an All-Candidates Meeting: Saturday Oct 25th, 11:30 am -1:30 pm at the RayCam Centre at 920 East Hastings.

Province’s Sale of Family and Seniors’ Housing in Downtown Eastside Opposed by Residents

(Vancouver BC, October 15th 2014)

BC Housing marks Homelessness Action Week by selling off one of the largest public housing projects in Vancouver, jeopardizing housing for over a thousand children, families and seniors.

Residents of the Stamps Place social housing complex in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside/Strathcona neighbourhood were shocked to find out, late on October 3rd, that BC Housing was putting their homes up for sale.

“We found envelopes under our doors marked URGENT and saying that BC Housing would no longer be running our housing. I don’t think most people living here even know what this means.” said one resident, a parent of two.
The Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre, also located on the BC Housing land, received no notice at all from BC Housing despite being potentially affected by the sale. Upon investigation, it was learned that the Provincial government plans to turn over this public land and the housing to a non-profit housing agency to allow them “the opportunity to leverage these assets to ensure the long-term viability and capital renewal of their current rental stock.” The closing date for this tender is November 3rd — an incredibly short timeline that has made many residents suspicious and afraid.

“They must know who they want to buy this housing. We are scared this will mean our housing will go downhill — more people with issues moving in next to families and seniors. We are already struggling. How is a non-profit going to replace these buildings? They are falling apart!”

Stamps Place is the only family-oriented social housing complex in Vancouver’s inner city. At a time when the city is struggling to find solutions to house low-income families and seniors — and during Homelessness Action Week — the provincial action is confounding. The province’s Families First agenda would indicate that they should continue to support vulnerable families in Canada’s poorest postal code. Instead they are getting rid of a public asset — Federal lands which had been transferred to the Province in the last decade — without involving the residents and community affected. Continue reading

Ezra Levant visits CRAB Park, with message of resource-industry jobs, while environmentalists hold counter-demo

Ezra LevantSun News media personality Ezra Levant paid a visit to Vancouver’s CRAB Park on Saturday, October 18th. He was part of a event that was organized to show support for the resource sector. The organizers were advocating a message of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The venue was chosen in part because it has a clear view of the Port of Metro Vancouver.

Not everyone agreed with the position taken by the organizers of the ‘Yes Vancouver’ event.  A silent counter-demonstration was held. A number of large banners were held up on the beach with different messages. One banner read: “You cannot buy a new Earth.” Other messages were “This land was never yours to do with as you please” and “We Love this Coast.” Should environmental considerations be overridden at all costs in the name of jobs in the resource sector? Is there any other way of doing business?

The organizers offered free hot dogs and candy floss to people who dropped by, and had an inflatable bouncy castle for kids, along with tents, a sign-in and more information about their goals. Participants were able to meet with Mr. Levant, who was more than eager to speak with everyone. One of banners for the main event read “we [heart] jobs”. Another banner added support for “environmentally responsible development” in mining, forestry, LNG, oil sands and pipelines.

You cannot buy a new earth

There’s likely a lot of disagreement on what “environmentally responsible development” really means. After the recent Mount Polley disaster that resulted from the collapse of a giant tailings pond, should the public be skeptical of track record and promises of the resource industry? We’ll note that there were indeed workers employed in the resource sector in attendance at this event, and they did make the case for jobs. Kinder Morgan has a market capitalization of $41 billion USD, and a resource industry worker said “it’s going to happen” (in reference to pipeline expansion). More tankers means more jobs, at least for some. But at what cost? Is there another way?

Crab Park

Links (opposed):

Links (Sun News, Yes Vancouver):

Included below are a number of photos of the event and the counter-demonstration. [Check back for more! To be added later to this post: Last week, CityHallWatch corresponded with Mr. Levant about his organizations, with some interesting revelations, which we will add later. In fact, at some levels, people who think they are in opposing camps may have common ground — and perhaps this is a basis for healthy discussion. And we ponder the idea of “cheater economy” versus the “true cost economy” advocated by Randy Hayes of Foundation Earth (www.fdnearth.org).) Continue reading

Mayoral candidates shock voters by promising to release campaign donor lists BEFORE election

Toronto Dundas SquareSorry folks, this news is from Toronto, where election day is October 27. Not Vancouver (Nov 15). But the fact that it is being done in Canada’s most populous city suggests that it is technically and administratively possible. All citizens in Vancouver should call upon incumbent Mayor Gregor Robertson to show leadership and make the same declaration. Over to you, Gregor. Who’s paying for your election campaign? If they can do this in Toronto, Vancouver citizens deserve as much.

John Tory to release campaign donor list, joining mayoral rivals
(by Daniel Dale, The Star, 18-Oct-2014)
Dollar signs, CHWDoug Ford and Olivia Chow have already said they would release their lists before the election; Tory joined them Saturday.

Excerpts:

  • John Tory will join his rivals in releasing a list of campaign donors this week, his campaign said Saturday.
    The Tory campaign made the announcement in the middle of an Olivia Chow media scrum in which she called on Tory to disclose the information, as she plans to do on Wednesday.Doug
  • Ford said Friday that he would release his list ; Tory’s campaign had declined Friday to say either way. The campaign said Sunday that it will release the list in the “days following” Tory’s last fundraiser, on Sunday.
  • The law only requires candidates to reveal their donors five months after the vote. Starting in 2003, when Tory ran for the first time, all but one Toronto mayoral contender has issued the list prior to the vote as a show of transparency.
  • Tory, Ford and Chow all say they support mandatory disclosure. That would require a change to provincial legislation.
  • See full article: http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/10/18/john_tory_to_release_campaign_donor_list_joining_mayoral_rivals.html

Note that in the 2011 Vancouver elections, it was ONLY Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver ($38,000, PDF media release) and the Vancouver Greens (about $15,000) who disclosed their interim figures on donations, on November 17 that year, in response to a challenge by Occupy Vancouver. The others were silent until the mandatory disclosure deadline. (Source: CityHallWatch)

Debate of City Council Candidates (on planning issues — all neighbourhoods, citywide) Oct 20 (Mon), by RAMP

RAMP 2014 election_debate_oct20_8-5x11Monday, October 20, 2014, 6:45 pm to 9:00 pm (doors open 6:30)
Heritage Hall (Main Street and East 15th Avenue)
Moderator: Miranda Nelson (The Georgia Straight)
Participants: Heather Deal & Raymond Louie (Vision Vancouver), George Affleck & Ken Low (NPA), Adriane Carr & Pete Fry (Green Party), Tim Louis & Keith Higgins (COPE) and Nicholas Chernen (Cedar Party).

The focus will be on neighbourhood planning and other topics that City Hall sets policy over. Ask the candidates “what’s their plan for your neighbourhood?” Come join the debate and ask questions. This is a free event. There will be an open microphone to take questions from the audience during the second half of the debate. Refreshments will be provided.

Questions for the first half of the debate will be crowd sourced. Please send your questions to questions@rampvancouver.com by 1pm, Sunday October 19th. Posters: full page colour, two per page handout, four per page handout, black & white full page flyer, four per page black & white handout

More details on the debate are available on RAMP (Residents Association Mount Pleasant) website:  rampvancouver.com