“Heads up” for week of 27-Feb-2012: Budget, rezonings (Rize tower, more), problem changes to public hearings, campaign finance

[Update 2 pm, Feb 25] Here is the CityHallWatch “heads up” list for the week of February 27, 2012. There are several HUGE items on meeting agendas: likely approval of the $1.1 billion budget, quiet but very problematic changes to the city’s Procedures By-law (affecting how Public Hearings work), and some major rezonings. The hottest issue requiring public involvement this week? Probably the huge tower rezoning proposed by Rize Alliance at Kingsway and Broadway. Residents Alliance Mount Pleasant is asking citizens from around the City to check out this issue and let Council know your thoughts as it is a citywide story.

About CityHallWatch  “heads up” notices: We highlight topics that have caught our attention. Our goal is to package info concisely to help people engage the decision makers on critical issues. Where possible, we provide comments and links to info that presents the neighbourhood/citizen perspective. Please visit the official City website for up-to-date agendas and documents. We welcome tips and comments on this web page or by e-mail to citizenYVR@gmail.com.

ACTION: Contact your elected officials with questions, support, praise, or opposition regarding any issues that concern you and your community. Contact info for Vancouver Council is here: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/mayorcouncil/index.htm.

Featured in this issue:
Parks Board (Feb 27)
Vancouver City Council
- Public Hearing, 7 pm, Feb 27
- Regular Council, 9:30 am, Feb 28
- City Finance & Services, 1:30 pm, Feb 28
-  Planning, Transportation & Environment, 9:30 am, Feb 29
- Special Council Meeting (on 2012 Budget) for speakers to speak, 6 pm, Feb 29
- Special Council Meeting (on 2012 Budget) for Council decision, 7:30 pm, Feb 29

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BOARD OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Regular Board Meeting
Monday, Feb 27, 2012, 7 pm
Park Board Office, 2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver
http://vancouver.ca/parks/board/2012/120227/index.htm

Notable staff reports and motions:
Report: Power to Be Proposal for Stanley Park at Second Beach
Report: 2012 Operating Budget Initiatives
Motion: Stanley Park Children’s Farmyard

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VANCOUVER POLICE BOARD
The Vancouver Police Board meets in public each month. Next meeting is Mar 21, 2012.
http://vancouver.ca/police/policeboard/Meetings.htm

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VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL

NOTE on BUDGET: The 2012 budget goes to council on February 28, with speakers accepted and decision expected on the evening of Feb 29. Staff have made suggestions on how to cover a $52 million shortfall. Read more here.

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PUBLIC HEARING
Monday, Feb 27, 2012, 7:30 pm
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120227/phea20120227ag.htm

1. HERITAGE DESIGNATION: 2627 West 7th Avenue (The Bielby Residence)
2. TEXT AMENDMENT: Miscellaneous Text Amendments (city-wide)
3. REZONING: 4350 Oak Street (Beth Israel Synagogue)
4. REZONING: 998 West 26th Avenue (Talmud Torah School)
5. TEXT AMENDMENT: 3837 Point Grey Road (Jericho Tennis Club)
6. REZONING: 228-246 East Broadway and 180 Kingsway (Rize Alliance, huge and controversial tower development)
CityHallWatch comment: Item #6 may turn out to be one of the hottest rezoning issues of 2012. The local community is hoping the whole City will take notice and support it, as it speaks to many systemic problems at City Hall. More info:
Residents Alliance Mount Pleasant .
Note: This hearing is likely to spill out over several evenings. The proposed amendments to the City’s Procedures Bylaw (see Feb 28 meeting agenda) appear to be intended to create an obstacle to citizen participation in controversial hearings like these. Vision Vancouver appears to be setting things up to reduce what they have to listen to, then make their decisions as they wish to do.More on this later. Looking at the agenda, the meeting is expected to adopt the amendments on the very day they are proposed. It IS CLEAR that Vision Vancouver intends to apply the amendments immediately to the Rize Alliance public hearing, which will be in process (proposed text says “This By-law is to come into force and take effect on the date of its enactment.”).  Meanwhile, real estate/development industry marketing firm has entered the debate with a thought-provoking article posted online (http://www.braunallison.com/blog/2012/02/why-nimbys-could-be-calling-the-shots-on-how-our-city-is-planned-and-built/). The article has been re-published verbatim by CityCaucus. How will Vision Vancouver-dominated (8 of 11 votes on) City Council be able to make a fair judgement on this application, having been reelected in what was probably the most expensive (per vote) civic election in Canadian history, with funding coming primarily from developers and unions. Parties are not required by law to report their donations for the November 2011 election until late March.

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REGULAR COUNCIL
Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012, 9:30 am

http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120228/regu20120228ag.htm

REPORTS
1. 2012 Operating Budget and Public Consultation Update
Patrice Impey, General Manager, Financial Services Group, will provide a Report Reference on the 2012 Operating Budget and Public Consultation Update.
CityHallWatch comment: Very important. Read more here.
http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/lets-talk-money-city-council-set-to-approve-billion-dollar-2012-operating-budget-feb-29/

2. Establishment of an Arts and Culture Advisory Committee
Richard Newirth, Managing Director of Cultural Services, and Margeret Specht, Director of Grants, Awards and Support Programs, will provide a Report Reference regarding the establishment of an Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.

ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
1. Temporary Appointment of Architects to the Urban Design Panel: Review of Proposed Higher Building at 1400 Howe Street
CityHallWatch comment
: This is for a high profile tower project by Westbank Projects Corp, at the north end of the Granville Bridge. Info here:
http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/1412-1460howe/index.htm. CBC Feb 15 coverage of “unique condo tower” here.
2. Public Hearing Procedures and Amendments to Procedure By-law No. 9756
CityHallWatch comment:
Of the items above, #2 (Public Hearing Procedures and Amendments to Procedure By-law No. 9756) is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. While staff have presented it positively, it could be very negative for democracy. We will write more on this within hours. Visit www.CityHallWatch.ca over the weekend on this topic. The Georgia Straight has covered this story Feb 24:
http://www.straight.com/article-617791/vancouver/public-hearing-procedures-proposed-vancouver-city-hall

3. Business Licence/Chauffeur’s Permit Hearing Panels – April to July 2012
4. Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) AGM and Conference, May 9-11, 2012, Whistler BC
5. Water Service to Richmond Island
6. Lease of Five New Affordable Rental Housing Units at 728 West 8th Avenue to Heritage Housing Co-operative
7. 1450 SW Marine Drive (the Fraser Arms Hotel) – Modification of Encroachment Agreement
8. Vancouver City Planning Commission – 2012 Operating Grant [Note: Grant for about $58,000]
9. Capital Grants to Kitsilano Neighbourhood House and Japanese Language School
Requires eight affirmative votes
10. Grant to Atira Women’s Resource Society: 106 West Hastings Street (Argyll Hotel)
Requires eight affirmative votes
11. 2012 Heather Marina Moorage Rates and Other Fees

POLICY REPORTS
1. CD-1 Text Amendment – 1549 West 70th Avenue (Formerly 8495 Granville Street)
[CityHallWatch note: Marpole Safeway site, 3-tower project by Westbank Projects Corp, with Henriquez Partners Architects ]

2. CD-1 Rezoning: 8018-8150 Cambie Street
[CityHallWatch note: This is the huge Marine Landing project. Article here.]

CityHallWatch: Both of these above relate to very large developments, including STIR incentives for developers. Search “Granville” and “Cambie” on CityHallWatch for other stories on these.

BY-LAWS
1. A By-law to Designate a Business Improvement Area in that area of the City known as Marpole
2. A By-law to Grant Money for a Business Promotion Scheme in the Marpole Business Improvement Area
3. A By-law to Designate a Business Improvement Area in that area of the City known as Fraser Street
4. A By-law to Grant Money for a Business Promotion Scheme in the Fraser StreetBusiness Improvement Area
5. A By-law to amend Noise Control By-law No. 6555 (104-150 East 1st Avenue)
6. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 (1880 Renfrew Street – Renfrew Care Centre)
7. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 (8440 Cambie Street)
8. A By-law to amend Procedure By-law No. 9756 regarding public hearings
(Subject to approval of Administrative Report A2)
CityHallWatch comment: Clearly, Vision Vancouver is prepared to pass this problematic amendment as-is. See above.
9. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 (555 Robson Street, 775 Richards Street and 520 West Georgia Street – Telus Block)
CityHallWatch note: Huge project by Westbank Projects Corp. with Henriquez Partners Architects.

MOTIONS (download from City website)
1. Process to Determine Southwest False Creek Lease Expiry Issues
MOVER: Councillor George Affleck
2. Letter to Kinder Morgan Canada
MOVER: Councillor Adriane Carr
3. Restructure Public Art Funding
MOVER: Councillor Heather Deal
4. Campaign Finance Reform
MOVER: Councillor Andrea Reimer
CityHallWatch comments:

  • Motion 2 (Kinder Morgan) is about environmental risk concerns and calls for Council to “send a letter to Kinder Morgan Canada requesting that the company consult with the City of Vancouver regarding any plans and any application it makes to the National Energy Board to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline and crude oil shipments through Vancouver harbour, including in the letter a request for a written response.”
  • Motion 4 (Campaign Finance Reform) requires careful public attention. Clr Reimer is proposing that “the Lower Mainland Local Government Association support a resolution to the 2012 UBCM Annual Meeting requesting amendments to the Local Government Act and the Vancouver Charter to allow municipalities to make rules for disclosure and regulation of election campaign finance that are appropriate for their circumstances.” We believe that the last four words are a serious concern. What does Vision Vancouver have in mind here? This entire topic of campaign finance reform requires a high level of public scrutiny. We would love to see Vision Vancouver unilaterally adopt the principles of reform and financial disclosure that they are asking Victoria to legislate. No need to wait. Actions speak louder than words.

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CITY FINANCES AND SERVICES COMMITTEE
Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012, 1:30 pm
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120228/cfsc20120228ag.htm

Agenda:
1. Property Tax Exemptions – 2011
2. 2012 Property Taxation: Land Assessment Averaging
CityHallWatch comment: The two options for council are to continue or to stop the three-year averaging of land assessments. Averaging smooth out rapid changes in values, and taxes paid by property owners (and supposedly this ends up on rents too, in the long run). Staff are recommending continuation. Vancouver Sun article here.
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Opinion+Averaging+Vancouver+property+taxes+shifts+burdens/6218836/story.html

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PLANNING, TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE
Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012, 9:30 cm
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120229/ptec20120222ag.htm

Agenda:
1. PRESENTATION: Enhancing Public Input into the Naming of City Assets
2. Smithe Street – Naming of Street Extension
3. Lane East of 600 Thurlow Street and South of 1100 Melville Street – New Public Street Name – “Hailstone”
4. 4807 Rupert Street – Request for Injunctive Relief
5. 727 Keefer Street – Request for Injunctive Relief

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SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETINGS
Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012, 6 pm
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120229/spec20120229ag.htm
Special Council – 2012 Operating Budget
(To hear from speakers)

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012, 7:30 pm
Special Council (2012 Operating Budget – Decision)

CityHallWatch comment: These budget meetings are VERY IMPORTANT meetings for our city. See separate post here.
http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/lets-talk-money-city-council-set-to-approve-billion-dollar-2012-operating-budget-feb-29/ 

Read up on the budget
Download staff report and budget here:
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120228/regu20120228ag.htm
City’s official website on budget consultation:
http://vancouver.ca/fs/budgetServices/operatingBudget/index.htm

Media (Use the comments section in the Straight to read and share comments with the world!)
Vision loves having control of your taxes (The Province) http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Vision+loves+having+control+your+taxes/6202945/story.html
http://straight.com/article-615086/vancouver/vancouver-police-take-most-property-tax-increase-2012-city-budget
http://straight.com/article-612881/vancouver/tight-budget-hangs-over-city-vancouver-labour-talks
http://straight.com/article-612606/vancouver/dozens-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-coming-vancouver

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