“Can a leopard change its spots?” City councillor Geoff Meggs’ move to provincial chief-of-staff raises problems for coalition government plan to ban Big Money (E. Murphy, Vancouver Sun)

A serious topic. Here we summarize the main points of this opinion piece by Elizabeth Murphy in the Vancouver Sun on July 10, 2017.

UPDATE. The Vancouver Sun article and link has been removed but we leave the main two points.

Her main points are (1) that the public wants the coalition government to act immediately to ban big money from provincial and municipal politics, but (2) the recent announcement of former Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs as the chief-of-staff for NDP premier-to-be John Horgan could be a huge risk factor for the NDP/Green coalition’s slim minority government, affecting the lifespan and survival of this coalition and the results of the next provincial election.

Trump Meggs Holborn

Geoff Meggs (right) at announcement of naming of Trump Tower, November 2015. Meggs resigned as City Councillor to become Chief-of-Staff under the NDP premier-designate John Horgan

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

B.C. election priority: ending big money in politics (by Elizabeth Murphy, printed in Vancouver Sun, July 10, 2017) 

City of Vancouver development applications snapshot, 1-Aug-2017

A tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications): https://vancouverapps-fa328.firebaseapp.com/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Our count for 1-Aug-2017 shows 37 “DE” applications and 137 “DP” applications (excluding 1 MMRU – Medical Marijuana-Related Use Development Applications). Of the 144 DE & DP numbers, 17 are “concurrent with rezoning.” The “Centerm Port Expansion Project” is listed without a number. Two applications are “revised,” one is “on hold,” and 1 is “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board.” Some may have also had a change of address, a mysterious and tricky practice.

Anyone interested in these projects is also encouraged to periodically check the Urban Design Panel (UDP) and Development Permit Board (DPB) schedules, as many projects appear before them as part of the approval pipeline. Check often, as sometimes their agendas appear publicly online as little as one hour before the meeting. Upcoming UDP meetings are August 9 (for 105 Keefer Street & 544 Columbia Street, 8559 Oak Street, 77 E Broadway, 138 E 8th Avenue, Cambie Corridor Plan – Phase 3 – Oakridge Municipal Town Centre) and 23, and September 6 and 20. Upcoming DPB dates are September 5 and 18, mostly major buildings by major developers (August 8 and 21 agendas were cancelled). Download the official DPB list (on Aug 4 very much out of date, still showing March 31, going only to July 10): http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/current-development-applications-development-permit-board.pdf

Consider writing Mayor and Council asking them to make Development Applications archives available online. The City website provides a list of archived Rezoning Applications (here) going back to 2011, so why not full information on past Development Applications too?

For current (at time of viewing) full list of applications online, click: http://former.vancouver.ca/devapps/.
For our PDF version saved August 1, 2017: CoV Development Application snapshot, 1-Aug-2017

For reference, we’ve reproduced the full list of development applications as of today:

Continue reading

Peace groups want to “End Our World’s 72 Year Nuclear Misadventure” and decry Canadian government, commend Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal

(Updated) Fifteen peace organizations across Canada issued the following statement in light of the Canadian government’s boycott of the recent UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty negotiations, and the upcoming commemoration of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6th & 9th, 1945). The statement commends Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, for issuing statements “In the spirit of keeping the lessons of history alive.”

Vancouver has issued proclamations declaring Hiroshima Memorial Day for Aug. 6, 2017 and Nagasaki Memorial Day Aug. 9, 2017.  (See Wikipedia for short history on bombs dropped there.) The peace groups’ statement quotes Vancouver’s declaration “to remember the devastation of these Japanese cities in 1945, and to renew our commitment to remove the threat posed by nuclear weapons, here and everywhere.”

Everything is connected. Vancouver, B.C., is only about 500 km from where the material for bomb dropped in Nagasaki was produced. The Hanford site is still a major nuclear hazard. The government is still trying to deal with the nuclear waste to this day. See “How safe is Vancouver from (Hanford, Washington State) plutonium finishing plant tunnel collapse today? (May 9, 2017).”

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

End Our World’s 72 Year Nuclear Misadventure

On the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, peace activists across Canada are calling out the Canadian government for its recent boycott of the United Nations negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty was approved by non-nuclear nations on July 7 on a vote of 122-1 with one abstention.

“We feel like we are back in the recent era, behaving like an embarrassing dinosaur on the international stage,” the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Canadian Section), said in a statement. The group went on to add, “Although Canada’s international record in pressing for nuclear disarmament has been weak at the UN and the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, which our international office actively monitors, Canada was the first nuclear-capable country to renounce nuclear weapons and has historically been an active participant in any such negotiations.”

Poll after poll, going back decades, shows that the vast majority of Canadians strongly oppose nuclear weapons. It is therefore baffling that the “Canada is Back” government of Justin Trudeau chose to abandon the rest of the world on an issue of such vital importance to Canadians and people around the world.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, set in motion not just an atomic chain reaction, but a chain reaction of consequences that continue to threaten our planet even without another nuclear detonation. Continue reading

City of Vancouver rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Aug-2017

 

As a free public service we take a monthly snapshot of the City of Vancouver’s Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

A  tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two  handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications). They are typically right up to date:
https://vancouverapps-fa328.firebaseapp.com/rezapps.html

Below is the snapshot of the rezoning applications as of August 1, 2017. Listed here are 66 “proposed” rezonings; 65 “approved”; 27 “enacted”; 0 “open houses”; 2 items “referred to public hearing”; 1 “withdrawn”; and 4 “updated.”

The open houses and public hearings deserve special attention as they are important chances for the public to obtain information and give feedback. Public hearings and open houses are typically on pause for the summer hiatus, until September.

If you see any of the rezoning applications that deserve public scrutiny, please feel free to send us an e-mail (citizenYVR@gmail.com) with your concerns and we’ll see if we can look into it further. Or let the media know of your concern.

This list below is simply copied from the City’s Rezoning Centre website. There is no guarantee that the City’s links will continue working over time, so you are advised to download anything important. For the current official list, click: http://former.vancouver.ca/rezapps/. Note that the Archives link carries links to past rezonings from 2011 onward.

Download this list we saved in PDF format: CoV Rezoning Applications snapshot, 1-Aug-2017

Continue reading

Lawyer Nathalie Baker shreds Vancouver’s new housing initiative: “Nothing more than a repackaging of an eight-year-old program”

nathalie_baker

Nathalie Baker

This opinion piece appeared in The Province dated July 29, re-published here with the author’s permission.  We have taken the liberty to bold some of the key points, and start with two choice quotes. Lawyer Nathalie Baker points out flaws in the rental housing promotion policies of the City of Vancouver over the past eight years that made them ineffective at creating truly affordable rentals, and that the new initiative, announced last week by Mayor Gregor Robertson with much fanfare, is not much different.

*********

 

This “new” initiative is almost identical to the city’s eight-year-old Rental 100 Program. The only real difference is the city is now going to require some of the units to actually be “affordable.”

… As I see it, the city’s big announcement is nothing more than a repackaging of an eight-year-old program.

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

Opinion: Nothing new about city’s new housing initiative
By Nathalie Baker, in The Province, July 29, 2017
http://theprovince.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-nothing-new-about-citys-new-housing-initiative

On July 23, the city revealed plans for a new initiative to help struggling renters in Vancouver. Although little detail was provided, the gist is this — the city is going to require developers in the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre to ensure that 20 per cent of units in new rental buildings are affordable to households earning an annual income of $30,000-$80,000.

In exchange, developers will get incentives such as increased density, parking relaxations and Development Cost Levy waivers. Under this new pilot project an “affordable,” two-bedroom unit, for example, would rent for between $1,700 and $2,100. The city says this “new approach is part of the city’s update to the Housing Vancouver strategy — the city’s new way to deliver the right supply of housing to match local needs and incomes.”

If this all sounds familiar, it should.

After reading Frances Bula’s recent Globe and Mail article about the proposed pilot project, “Vancouver maps out plan to help the city’s renters,” I was overwhelmed by an eerie sense of déjà vu. In the article, Mayor Gregor Robertson describes a general framework for delivering more rental housing. The new initiative will aim to encourage developers to build a certain percentage of affordable rental units for households in the target income range and to “lock-in” lower rents.

Ring a bell yet? This “new” initiative is almost identical to the city’s eight-year-old Rental 100 Program. The only real difference is the city is now going to require some of the units to actually be “affordable.” Continue reading

Make Gregor keep his promise! Come to a Gregor Roast!

Civic activist Jean Swanson is circulating the following message, and interesting counterpoint to this week’s media blitz  (like this release) by the City’s large corporate communications department about huge projected achievements in creating affordable housing.

***************Gregor Robertson

Make Gregor keep his promise! Come to a Gregor Roast!

What: BBQ & Speeches
Where: 58 W Hastings
When: August 2, Wednesday at 1 pm

Background: One year ago today on August 2nd, Mayor Gregor Robertson promised that 58 W. Hastings would be rezoned for 100% welfare/pension rate community controlled housing by June, 2017. It’s almost August. Our Homes Can’t Wait has been working diligently with the city to get our community vision for 100% welfare/pension rate community controlled housing, but so far there is no rezoning and the City plan is for only half the housing at 58 W. Hastings to be at welfare/pension rate, and for it to be controlled by the Chinatown Foundation.

Let’s make Gregor keep his promise! Come and speak out for housing in our DTES community that low income people can afford. BBQ and speeches. Starts at 1 pm, Wed., Aug. 2nd. Keep your promise Gregor!!