Oil Spills in Your Backyard & Opportunities for Citizen Engagement (June 6)

oil film in Stanley Park

Second Beach in Stanley Park (oily film present in aftermath of fuel spill)

An all day event entitled ‘Oil Spills in Your Backyard & Opportunities for Citizen Engagement’ is planned for Saturday, June 6th, 2015, 9 am to 4:30pm. Dr. Rikki Ott will lead the workshop at St. James Hall in Kitsilano (3214 West 10th Avenue). Dr. Ott was one of the speakers an event at SFU on April 29, 2015 that illustrated how Vancouver is unprepared for a major oil spill. and she is a member of The Alert Project.

The workshop is free; however, donations are requested to cover the costs. Tickets to the workshop are available here. For reference, we’ve reproduced the description of the workshop below:

Oil tanker preparing to dock at Kinder Morgan terminal

Oil tanker preparing to dock at the Kinder Morgan terminal

On April 8th, 2015 the grain freighter Marathassa spilled at least 2,700 litres of Bunker C fuel oil into English Bay, oiling the surrounding waters and prompting the closure of fisheries and beaches. The slow and inept response to the spill revealed that the different levels of government lacked adequate oil spill response plans and resources. With 70 huge tankers a year full of bitumen already travelling through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea each year, and industry and government pushing to expand those numbers by the hundreds, the English Bay spill was an alarming wake up call to the community.

Join us for a full day community training by Exxon Valdez survivor and internationally renowned oil spill expert and author, Dr. Rikki Ott. Dr.Ott will share her knowledge on the impacts of oil spills, debunk the English Bay oil spill response, and share stories from the frontlines of the Exxon Valdez, Kalamazoo, and BP Gulf Mexico spills.

Continue reading

Nine actions to reform our municipal government – No reason to delay

City Hall StatueNothing is going to improve with our civic governments until the public turns up the heat — a lot hotter. The next civic elections in 2018 are far too late for that.

We need to see at least the following, and there is no reason for delay:

  1. Provincial government decision to ban corporate and union donations and put meaningful caps on dollar amounts of donations.
  2. Municipal lobbyist registry – perhaps at the Metro Vancouver level
  3. Powerful, independent whistleblower system at municipal level – perhaps at Metro Vancouver level
  4. Ombudsperson for handling complaints at the municipal level
  5. Better standards for handling of freedom of information requests
  6. A bid committee for municipal government procurement, with full minutes posted online within 24 hours
  7. Continuous mandatory reporting of political donations to municipal politicians and parties
  8. Live and archive web video of all meetings of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and its committees. (Most municipalities already have this, and Vancouver Park Board started at last in 2015)
  9. Less use of in camera meetings (closed to the public, i.e., secret)

For an earlier version of this list, see Behold! Six actions to clean up Vancouver politics (2013). If we cannot have these democratic tools introduced in our local governments, what hope is there for the rest of our world?

“False Creek Flats Planning Project” launch event by City of Vancouver, May 27 (Wed) 4:30 to 7:30 – Info and issues


From “Eastern Core Statement of Significance” by Donald Luxton and Associates, April 2013

Today marks the start of a major discussion on development of the False Creek Flats in Vancouver.

Below is some selected info, media and web links.

The public launch event is as follows.

False Creek Flats Planning Project launch event
Circle Studio, 390 Industrial Avenue
May 27 2015, 4:30  – 7:30 pmCoV false-creek-flats-welcome-to-your-flats

Excerpt from City description: Welcome to your Flats! Meet your neighbours and local businesses over a snack from a resident food truck and buy a Flats-brewed beer while you explore the history, diverse economy, and unique industrial character of the Flats. Provide your input to City staff about the future of the area, learn more, and sign up for future events. … The Flats is a key job centre in Vancouver that’s over 450 acres large. Bound by Main Street to the west, Clark Drive to the east, Prior and Venables streets to the north, and Great Northern Way to the south, it’s home to over 600 businesses and roughly 8,000 employees.

The City of Vancouver has created a dedicated web page for this planning process:

(CityHallWatch comment: This land offers huge potential, and yet it sits in a hazardous zone (sea level rise, seismic risk, liquefaction, etc.) for us to be considering critical food, logistics, education, medical, and transportation infrastructure. None of the documents we’ve seen so far mention any of that risk. A sane and scientific analysis of the total context will be important, as decisions over the next two years will determine the future of this space for generations ahead.)



Save St. Paul’s Hospital Coalition: Flashback to 2006 – Documents and issues of the time still valid

Just for the record, below we provide some useful documents from 2006 and 2007: (1) a public information sheet from the Save St. Paul’s Coalition regarding key community concerns, and (2) letter from West End Residents’ Association to senior  Provincial officials regarding a “request to study disaster-response implications of St. Paul’s Hospital possible relocation.”

Though both groups are now dormant, at the time they raised some important points that have not really changed today in 2015, and the points merit good consideration in discussions of the proposed move to False Creek Flats.

On April 13, 2015, the Provincial government and Providence Healthcare suddenly announced plans (press release PDF) to move St. Paul’s Hospital to a new location on False Creek Flats, and they are now engaged in a consultation process. A large number of factors iSt Paul's Town Hall, 26-May-2015 posters involved, but certainly one of them is the opportunity to cash in on the enormous escalation in land values in the past ten years, and use that to fund the development. The plan to move was previously dropped abruptly in connection a scandal in 2010 when it was discovered that insiders were involved in land acquisition at the target site. But the plan is back.

Meanwhile, tonight (Tuesday, May 26) at 7 pm, West End BC MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and community partners host a Town Hall at the West End Community Centre to hear from the public (poster on right).

While there are merits to moving, and merits to rebuilding at the current location, many of the crucial questions and issues remain just as they were in 2006 and 2007. So here we go, for the record.

(1) Save St. Paul’s Coalition – Issue Sheet, circa 2006 Continue reading

Week in Civic Affairs May 25-29: Council, Public Hearing, Park Board. Trans Mountain Pipeline, rezonings, housing/homelessness report, Telus Garden sign, etc.

City Hall from Cambie StreetThree meetings of Vancouver City Council are scheduled for May 26 and 27 (Tues and Wed) 2015 — City Council, Public Hearing, and Committee. There’s also a Park Board meeting on May 25 (Mon). We have copied the council meeting agendas below for convenience.

The Park Board meeting (agenda, Monday, May 25, 7 pm) we have covered already: Park Board preview May 25th: Empire Fields Public Art proposal, speakers on motions on notice and more. (Great to say, Park Board meetings are now captured on live and archived web video.)

People are encouraged to scan the agendas for items of interest. We have highlighted a few.

Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, May 26 (9:30 am):

A major item for the City Finance and Services Committee on Wednesday, May 27 (9:30 am) is the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Proposal (TMEP) – Summary of Evidence.

The Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 26, (6 pm) includes these items. As of today, there is virtually no correspondence submitted. .

  1. 4062 Commercial Street (Florence Anderson House)
  2. 1749 Waterloo Street (Morrison Residence)
  3. 325 West 11th Avenue (Wakefield Residence)
  4. Amendments to the Zoning and Development, Licence and Street Vending By-laws to Allow Sampling and Sale of Local Liquor at Farmers’ Markets
  5. 555 Robson Street, 775 Richards Street and 520 West Georgia Street (Telus Block)
  6. 468 West 33rd Avenue, 4956 and 4958 Cambie Street
  7. 5648-5678 Victoria Drive
  8. 3819 Boundary Road (3680-3684 East 22nd Avenue). Regarding this one, we have written how the City and developer failed to post a rezoning sign. Apparently, two days after we exposed the violation, the sign showed up on the site, on May 21 (Thursday, just five days before the Public Hearing). CityHallWatch has written City Council recommending this item be removed from the agenda to provide proper notice for a future Public Hearing. Interestingly, the staff report gives scant mention of the 400 people who signed petitions against the project.

Agenda below.

Continue reading

#DontHave1Million rally demands action on affordable housing from all levels of government

Action on affordable housing was a key demand by participants at a well-attended rally Vancouver Art Gallery. Eveline Xia, founder of #DontHave1Million affordable housing Twitter campaign explained how she started the campaign, and encouraged the crowd by saying that her experience shows that one person can make a difference. Saeid Fard spoke about his post “The Decline of Vancouver” and of the many difficulties facing young and middle aged residents in the City.

We’ve included several photographs of the rally held on Sunday, May 24, 2015 in the slideshow below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Immediate action needed: Precedent of asphalted yard proposed at 5444 Rhodes St (Norquay) has citywide implications

Below we copy an appeal and web post from Eye on Norquay. People who love Vancouver are encouraged to read below and write City Hall with their comments. The bottom line is that this proposal could set a precedent for all of Vancouver by allowing far too much of the site area to be taken up by driveways. If this multiplies, it could change the character of Vancouver neighbourhoods. You are encourage to read below, then send a brief comment by e-mail to the Project Coordinator (sangeeta.vishwakarma@vancouver.ca).

Development Application DE418931 under RT-11 Zoning

It has now been more than two years since Council passed the zoning regulations that guide implementation of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. Some of the build-out has conformed to the intention of the plan, and some has not.

In the past, we have alerted you to major new zoning implementation problems that seem likely to produce unfortunate consequences not only for Norquay, but for all neighbourhoods across Vancouver. Your support has often encouraged the City of Vancouver to reconsider what it is willing to let developers do.

We have new concern about a proposed development application in Norquay under RT-11 zoning (small house/duplex).  The proposal is for four houses (ranging from 1804 to 1967 sq. ft.) on two 33 x 122 lots.  Application DE418931 for 5444 Rhodes Street can be viewed at:

Our primary concern is that enclosing the parking spaces for the two front units within the unit results in 12-15% of the total site area being taken up by driveways. Although this configuration “may be considered” under the relevant zoning, there is a clear preference for parking spaces to be located on the lane. We feel that this is where they belong. Our complete comment on the application can be viewed at:

Please consider making your own comment to object to the paving of reduced open space merely to enable residents to access vehicles without going outside. A one-sentence statement of your opposition to this aspect of the development proposal would be of great help. Please comment as soon as possible to the Project Coordinator at:

Although the official closing date for comment is May 26, comments will be accepted until a decision is made. And more comments may result in the decision being deferred for more detailed consideration.

Post on Eye on Norquay

Continue reading