Will Councillor Hector Bremner recuse himself from vote on changes to liquor bylaws at April 17 (Tues) Public Hearing? Potential conflict of interest?

bremner

Corporate lobbyist, NPA City Councillor and mayoral hopeful, Hector Bremner

(Epilogue: During the meeting, he recused himself from this vote. Related article: Conflict of interest complaint against Vancouver councillor has merit: watchdog. Mayoral hopeful works for PR firm that represents real estate developers and other industries, by Jen St. Denis, StarMetro Vancouver)

Who is he working for — Vancouver citizens? Or his corporate clients?

City Councillor Hector Bremner is hoping to be chosen as the NPA’s mayoral candidate in a May 29 decision by his civic party members.

But more immediately, as Councillor he will be at a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 17, from which clients of his employer, the lobbying and communications firm Pace Group, may benefit financially. Will Bremner do the right thing, declare conflict of interest, and recuse himself from participating in discussion and voting on this item? He should. This could be considered a test, and people should also watch to see how he conducts himself.

 

The April 17 problem relates to this Public Hearing item: “Minor Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Enable Liquor Retail Stores in Grocery Stores.” If approved by Council vote, the proposed bylaw will limit liquor sales to only very large footprint grocery stores (over 929 square meters) and exclude small and mid-sized stores. If approved, the bylaw changes will benefit his firm’s clients.

Incidentally this is not the first case of potential conflict of interest for him. On April 12, theBreaker reported about other areas of concern with Bremner. “NPA mayoral hopeful Bremner accused of conflict of interest: NPA Coun. Hector Bremner’s continued vice-presidency of a firm that lobbies for real estate, construction and retail companies has sparked a citizen’s complaint to city hall that the rookie politician is breaching the code of conduct.”

Back to the bylaw on liquor retail sales. Overwaitea Food Group (which includes Save on Foods) is a client of Pace Group. So is the BC Wine Institute. Bremner is on record having lobbied on the side of large grocers and liquor (BC Wine Institute). Continue reading

Park Board to create city-wide advisory committee to revisit VanSplash Aquatics Strategy, a 25-year plan

pexels-photo-863988.jpegHot off the presses! Further to our post yesterday “Big update on ‘Connaught Park Mega Pool’: Kits Community group shares findings of FOI inquiry” just today the Vancouver Park Board has announced the following. For this process to be most satisfactory for the most people, and really serve the City well for decades ahead, it will be important to have a fair and diverse composition of people on the advisory committee. Official text follows below verbatim.

Park Board will create city-wide advisory committee to revisit VanSplash Aquatics Strategy, April 5, 2018

http://vancouver.ca/news-calendar/park-board-will-create-city-wide-advisory-committee-to-revisit-vansplash-aquatics-strategy.aspx

The Park Board will invite an external advisory committee to assist in developing a revised version of VanSplash, the Board’s long-term aquatics strategy for Vancouver.

This decision follows an 18 month city-wide consultation which surfaced a wide variety of viewpoints on the future of our pools and beaches.

Advisory committee members
The advisory committee will represent residents from across the city and include stakeholders from key aquatic areas including recreation, skill development, fitness, sport, and therapy.

An external facilitator, who has not thus far been involved in the project, will assist the Park Board in identifying priorities and refining the VanSplash Strategy. Continue reading

Big update on ‘Connaught Park Mega Pool’: Kits Community group shares findings of FOI inquiry

pexels-photo-261185.jpegLast year the Vancouver Park Board completed its VanSplash consultation and long-term plan for aquatics in this city. There were some specifics and a lot of generalities in the report. Once word came out that the VanSplash propal included plans to turn the current Vancouver Aquatic Centre in the West End into a smaller local spa pool, and to build a major new “destination” pool and complex at Connaught Park in Kitsilano, Rebecca Lockhart and her team at the “Kits Community” group went into high gear to find out more and get the public more involved.

As they were finding that a lot of the information was not being made available to the public, the Kits Community group did an FOI request and obtained the architectural “test fit” plans for a potential 160,000 square foot, two-story mega pool facility with pay parking at Connaught Park. The complete report from the consultant is dated July 2017. Why did the City and Park Board withhold this information from the public? Why has there been no real public consultation on this? Clearly, the plans for this pool were much further along than officials indicated to the public.

Some people across the City, outside the neighbourhood might want to see another Hillcrest-type of destination pool built, though even that one has its supporters and detractors. And what about the wishes of local community? How can consultation be done fairly and in good faith, respecting all views?

Read the summary (http://www.kitscommunity.com/2018/03/19/the-megapool-plan/) and check out the details of the test fit plans (FOI response documents – http://www.kitscommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Kits-Megaplex-and-Pool-Test-Fit-blank.pdf). Extensive background and resources on the updated Kits Community website (http://www.kitscommunity.com).

The group also has a petition, here.

https://www.change.org/p/vancouver-park-board-commissioners-no-destination-pool-at-connaught-park-without-community-approval

April 2018 events for public input on City affairs – Vancouver

City HallSelected events listed below as of April 4, 2018. To be updated. Open houses on rezoning applications, City council and Public Hearing, Urban Design Panel, Development Permit Board, and more.

The Creek – Building 5 Info Session
April 4, 2018 (Wednesday) at 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Creekside Community Recreation Centre, 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, BC V5Y 0B1, Canada

Little Mountain Temporary Modular Housing – Open House
April 5, 2018 (Thursday) at 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Immanuel Baptist Church, 109 East 40th Ave, Vancouver

708-796 Renfrew Street Open House
April 5, 2018 (Thursday) at 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Hastings Community Centre, 3096 E Hastings Street
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/708renfrew/index.htm

2601 East Hastings Street – Open House
April 10, 2018 at 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Hastings Community Centre, 3096 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5K 2A3, Canada
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/2601ehastings/index.htm

Rezoning Application – 2542-2570 Garden Drive &
2309-2369 East 10th Avenue
Open house Thursday, April 12, 2018 from 5-7pm at the Croatian Cultural Centre, at 3250 Commercial Drive
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/2542garden/index.htm

Rezoning Application – 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street – Open House
Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 5-7 pm at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, at 1607 East Hastings Street
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/825commercial/index.htm

Rezoning Application – 815-825 Commercial Drive & 1680 Adanac Street
5:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at the Shaughnessy Heights United Church, 1550 West 33rd Avenue
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/825commercial/index.htm

********************

Deadline for input on Granville Island Transportation Study. 8-April-2018 (Sun)

https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/granville-island-transportation-strategy-input-deadline/

******************** Continue reading

City’s info session to give update on proposed changes to Chinatown development policies: April 3 (Tue) 5:30 pm

ChinatownHere is an announcement from the City of Vancouver, issued the afternoon of 29-March-2018.

**********

Information session provides updates on proposed changes to Chinatown development policies

The City will host a public information session on proposed changes to development policies and zoning in Chinatown which would help new development fit better with the historic and cultural character of the neighbourhood.

When: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 5:30-7 pm

Where: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
578 Carrall Street

Registration: To register, visit: https://chinatowndevpolicy.eventbrite.com.au

The session will provide an opportunity to learn more about the proposals, ask questions and offer feedback. A presentation will be made in English and Cantonese, and language facilitation will be available throughout the event.

The proposed changes respond directly to issues over the form and pace of new development that the community has raised since the development policies were adopted in 2011, which aimed to maintain the special qualities of Chinatown while helping it to thrive. These changes will be presented at an upcoming City Council meeting and referred for consideration at a public hearing. Continue reading

No parking fees at Spanish Banks this year: Park Board cancels plans to charge for parking there in 2018

Spanish Banks BeachBig news from the Park Board today. The proposal to start charging for parking at Spanish Banks came suddenly, was strongly opposed, and now it looks like it is of the table for now. When first announced, it was a done deal. But it took a lot of quick work by citizens, and some great community leaders, like David Fine (@DavidFineGuy). His petition kick-started a mini-movement. Many people wrote and spoke to the Park Board. Mainstream media played a role in raising public attention to the issue.

Public follow-up is required. Under Mayor Robertson and Vision Vancouver, City Council was attempting to usurp power from the Park Board and has been choking off its funding, resulting in decisions to commercialize the public parks with restaurants and other income-earners. This cash grab from Spanish Banks parking was in that context. A good topic for your list of questions for candidates in the October 2018 civic elections.

Text of the media statement follows. If you appreciate this decision, feel free to contact your Park Board commissioners and say so!

**************

Park Board will not implement seasonal pay parking at Spanish Banks beaches in 2018 (Media release, 28-March-2018)

After a thorough staff review the Park Board has decided it will not introduce seasonal pay parking at Spanish Banks this summer.

Staff have advised that for this year, the revenue from Spanish Banks parking is not required to balance the budget, so plans for the introduction of pay parking in four Spanish Banks lots are currently on hold.

In addition, Park Board Commissioners raised concerns at the time of approval about the lack of transit alternatives to this more remote beach location. Additional work is required with our transportation partners to find suitable options.

The Park Board will review operational and financial considerations next year and will carefully consider submissions from residents concerned about access and affordability to beaches with limited transit options for families and persons with low incomes. Continue reading

Proposed new B.C. property tax school surcharge: WPGRA letter to premier points out problems, asks for changes

pexels-photo-209224.jpegCityHallWatch has obtained a copy of a letter from the West Point Grey Residents Association to BC Premier John Horgan and their MLA, Attorney General David Eby (download PDF version). Many of the points have immediate and long-term implications province-wide. See full text below. If you are concerned about this topic, you are encouraged to contact your MLA. (Key e-mail contacts – premier@gov.bc.ca ; john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca ; Carole.James.mla@leg.bc.ca ; FIN.minister@gov.bc.ca ; david.eby.mla@leg.bc.ca ; andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca )

Related media:

“NDP demonstrates irresponsibility and incompetence with new taxes”: http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/gordon-clark-ndp-demonstrates-irresponsibility-and-incompetence-with-new-taxes

“B.C. Undermines Municipal Tax Base and Affordability”: http://vancouversun.com/ opinion/op-ed/elizabeth- murphy-b-c-undermines- municipal-tax-base-and- affordability

***************

March 27, 2018

BC Premier John Horgan, Victoria, BC and Honorable David Eby, MLA, Vancouver-Point Grey

Dear Premier Horgan and Mr. Eby,

Re: Proposed BC Property Tax School Surcharge

While we encourage the province to provide increased funding to the public school system, we are strongly opposed to the proposed property tax surcharge that is an encroachment on the municipal tax base and has serious consequences affecting both owners and renters.

The provincial increase in the school portion of the municipal property tax works against the province’s stated objective to make life more affordable for British Columbians, both for owners and renters. This proposal should be withdrawn and replaced with other funding sources that are under the provincial tax base or reconsidered entirely.

Our concerns are as follows:

  • The assessed value of a property has no relationship to an owner’s ability to pay or the equity they may have in the property since it may be highly mortgaged. A large surtax based on assessed value will put many owners in the position of being taxed out of their homes, forced to sell, to raise rents on secondary suites, or to go into debt because they legitimately do not have the income to cover this large increase. Most of the houses that would be affected are old and certainly not luxury. This tax will also put further pressure on demolition of the character houses that are more affordable than new and tend to have more secondary rental suites.

Continue reading