Heads up on Procedure Bylaw changes: On July 24, City Council is set to change meeting rules and limit public participation (Outcome: POSTPONED)

Epilogue first: Council reached consensus to POSTPONE th

COV council consensus to postone Procedural Bylaw amendment 24-Jul-2019

e amendment of this bylaw. Minutes of the meeting will likely be online within a couple days.

(Update: The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has submitted a letter to Council opposing the proposed amendments and pointing out numerous issues that need to be addressed. See list added to bottom of this post.) City Staff seek to exert more control over Vancouver City Hall by changing the rules of Council meetings, just as the city embarks upon a four year process to develop a City-wide Plan. The text of proposed changes was just made public a few days ago.

Just a few of the important changes being proposed include …

  • cutting the time members of the public are permitted to speak at committee meetings from 5 minutes down to 3 minutes
  • limiting the scope of discussions
  • increasing the lead time required for Councillors to bring forward motions
  • (Conversely, staff want to be allowed to continue to bringing forward reports to Council at the last minute, without warning.)
  • See more below

The Standing Committee on City Finance and Services agenda for Wednesday, July 24, 2019 contains an agenda item to amend the Procedure Bylaw (these are the rules that govern meetings of Council).

We encourage people to get familiar with this and let City Council know your views immediately. Watch for updates – we will provide more info by Twitter and in this post.

In addition to the above points, this report also contains proposed changes …

  • to keep video archives of Council meetings online for only four years
  • strengthen the power of the meeting Chair
  • ban applause from the gallery
  • explicitly empower the City Manager to comment on all advisory committee reports to Council.
  • prohibit the public from questioning or challenging statements by city staff on issues in staff reports to Council or general comments by staff
  • permit electronic meetings by Council, although the proposal has no restrictions on what could be discussed our decided, or how the public will be able to scrutinize their elected officials’ deliberations, or how Council will be accountable to the public (e.g., broadcast live and recorded for later viewing)
  • City Council members would have to submit motions on notice two meetings prior (to being put on the agenda, not one as it is now); also motions introduced in Council would not be heard the next meeting (but rather two meetings down the road)

There are other concerns not covered in this post, still being identified.

The report is submitted to Council in the name of the City Clerk, and unsurprisingly, “the City Manager is recommending that Council adopt the changes.”

An ominous implication regarding the timing is that Vancouver is setting forth upon a four-year process to create a City-wide Plan. Is the stage being set to reduce the public’s rightful voice in the planning process and increase the power of the staff and those who can influence them? Continue reading

Council discusses Clr Swanson motion (Expanding Downtown Eastside Greenspace and Waterfront Access) to support Crab Park

[Update: Council adopted an amended version of the motion. Click on the Council agenda within a couple days for the meeting minutes, containing the approved text.]

On May 29, Vancouver Park Board approved a motion on this topic, and now it goes to City Council today, with a motion by Councillor Jean Swanson. Council agenda details are here, plus link to Council video stream.
https://council.vancouver.ca/20190710/pspc20190710ag.htm

Backgrounder: Crab Park Expansion and Healing Centre Info Sheet2019 07 04 Peanuts from Port, Crab Park
2019 May 27 Crab Full Info Package For PB Meeting

Here is the text of the motion and further below are some links for further reading. See Vancouver Sun article for explanation of the photo.

Motion 8. Expanding Downtown Eastside Greenspace and Waterfront Access

At the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services meeting on June 26 and 27, 2019, due to time constraints, the Committee referred the following motion to the Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meeting on July 10, 2019, to hear from speakers.

Submitted by: Councillor Swanson

WHEREAS

  1. On May 27, 2018, the Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved an amended motion requesting that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority identifies further opportunities to make investments in the local Downtown Eastside community with a particular focus on parks, recreation, and Reconciliation, and that the Park Board explore the initiation of a working group in partnership with the City of Vancouver and community stakeholders with a goal to transition the development and construction of an indigenous-focused healing, wellness, and/or cultural centre out of the theoretical and into action and reality;
  2. In 2015, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced the Centerm Expansion Project, which involves a series of improvements at the Centerm container terminal, including extending the terminal to the west;
  3. On April 18, 2018, a project permit was approved for the Centerm Expansion Project;
  4. On June 20, 2018, City Council approved recommendations for staff to continue to work with community, health sector, foundation and government partners to plan for the development and operation of an Indigenous Healing and Wellness Centre in the Downtown Eastside;
  5. Waterfront spaces are critically important both culturally and ecologically to the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and every opportunity should be sought to partner with them on the potential of such spaces;
  6. Based on the City’s support of the Park Board’s park provision targets, the Downtown Eastside is park deficient and would benefit from the addition of greenspace;
  7. Community members have expressed an interest for an indigenous healing centre/arts and cultural centre in CRAB Park;
  8. The Port Authority has stated its commitment to being a good neighbour to local communities, municipalities and First Nations, and to demonstrating this commitment through its investments in those communities.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED Continue reading

LANEWAY HOUSING: Everything you wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask! (GWAC meeting 8-Jul-2019, Mon)


http://www.gwac.ca/news/laneway-houses-july-8th-meeting

LANEWAY HOUSING:Everything you Wanted to Know, But Didn’t Know Who to Ask!

July 8, 2019 (Monday), 7pm
Learning Resource Centre under the Britannia Library
Organizer: Grandview Woodland Area Council (www.gwac.ca)

GWAC has assembled a panel of experts to speak to their first hand knowledge of everything you may want to know & definitely need to know before committing to infill housing.

Richard Bell LLC, a lawyer, will speak to the legal aspects; Jake Fry, of Smallworks, who co-founded Small Housing BC, will speak to the challenges & opportunities of laneway housing, as well as the ins & outs of development from the contractor’s perspective; Matt Henry, realtor, will describe how one can market a laneway house; as well Dan & Felicia Cooper, who are in process of tangling with the City for approvals for a laneway house in Hastings Sunrise, will describe their experience seeking those permits and more.

GWAC has also invited some occupants of local laneway houses to share their experience of living in infill housing.

Development applications snapshot 1-Jul-2019

For an explanation of our monthly snapshots please visit this page:
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/city-hall/snapshots-rezoning-development-applications/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a separate monthly snapshot of the Rezoning Applications and Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website. The rezoning list contains valuable information on each application, and indicates scheduled “open houses” and Public Hearings. The development list shows applications currently in progress as well as upcoming Development Permit Board meetings. Spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested.

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/

Download the full list of development applications we created in PDF format:
Development applications snapshot 1-Jul-2019

For a current list of applications, click: vancouver.ca/devapps/.

Below is the list as of 1-July-2019. Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot 1-Jul-2019

For an explanation of our monthly snapshots please visit this page:
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/city-hall/snapshots-rezoning-development-applications/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website. The list contains valuable information on each application, and indicates scheduled “open houses” and Public Hearings. Spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested.

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/

Download the full list of rezoning applications we created in PDF format:
Rezoning applications snapshot 1-Jul-2019

For a current list of applications, click: vancouver.ca/rezapps/.

Below is the list as of 1-Jul-2019 Continue reading

Lead confirmed on Vancouver synthetic turf playing fields: Moratorium sought

Press release from Clinton Neighborhood Committee, dated June 6, 2019.

Lead confirmed on Vancouver synthetic turf playing fields

Lab tests done last month confirmed the presence of lead on synthetic turf playing fields at Trillium Park and VanTech Secondary School in Vancouver. Vancouver residents Kathy Lau and Peter Nicol collected crumb rubber pellets that appear to have been washed out of the Trillium Park synthetic turf playing field perimeter and had them analyzed for lead at Total Safety/Maxxam Analytics Lab in Burnaby. The crumb rubber pellets tested positive for lead at 15.9 micrograms per gram. The lab report states that “When lead-containing coatings are disturbed… or otherwise abraded, lead dust, mist or fumes can be released into the… environment and be inhaled or ingested…”. The crumb rubber infill from VanTech, the oldest public synthetic turf playing field in Vancouver, was analyzed at Element Lab in Surrey, and measured 12 micrograms of lead, and the plastic turf blades measured even higher for lead at 24.3 micrograms per gram.

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Caption for photos: Turf field have been multiplying around Vancouver, and the Park Board plans to install more. In the close-ups, the green bits around the drains are the plastic turf blades from a turf field, while black bits are the rubber infill. Tons of infill are added to fields annually to replenish what is depleted. Runoff ends up in the ocean, but Vancouver does not have an adequate filtration system for waste water.

In a letter to the Vancouver Park Board from Dr. Bruce Lanphear (Letter from Dr. B Lanphear to VPB April 2019a), a professor at SFU Health Sciences and clinician scientist at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, he urged the Park Board Commissioners to put a moratorium on artificial turf installation because “children are exposed to lead and other toxic chemicals in the rubber and plastic materials in artificial turf”. His research on the impacts of lead on children’s health led the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to declare, “There is no safe level of lead in children’s blood”. Lanphear states in his letter that despite 17% of the chemicals in crumb rubber classified as carcinogens by the US EPA, “there are no long-term studies to quantify the extent of children’s exposure to lead and other toxic chemicals found in synthetic turf playing fields.” The residents have learned that the California EPA is due to release this summer, results from a study of the chemicals in crumb rubber infill and the plastic turf and backing that will provide exposure information and a health impacts assessment.

Along with Nicol, another concerned City resident, Janet Brown, met with Park Board Commissioners John Irwin and Gwen Giesbrecht at Trillium Park recently, where the Commissioners seemed shocked to see the piles of crumb rubber pollution that had escaped beyond the fenced fields and appeared to have been washing into adjacent storm water drains. The residents’ hope is that Irwin and Giesbrecht will persuade the remaining five Commissioners to join them in rejecting further synthetic turf with toxic crumb rubber infill in Vancouver. Continue reading

Opinion: Vancouver growth targets don’t add up (Elizabeth Murphy, Vancouver Sun, 7-Jun-2019) – Crucial motion coming June 12

ElizabethMurphyReprinted here, with permission. Elizabeth Murphy writes in a Vancouver Sun op ed challenges the City’s numbers.

Excerpts: Vancouver’s housing strategy is based on population growth targets that are much higher than projections that census data would justify. City policies, programs and budget are based on faulty underlying assumptions. These unit projections were high even during the housing market expansion and do not reflect the current market correction. The housing strategy needs to be reconsidered.

Even the city admits that we can’t build our way to affordability, but their policies intended to address the issues are only making things much worse. The current rental incentive programs are a case in point.

…. It is precisely this demolition of existing, more affordable rental buildings in commercial arterial districts that Coun. Jean Swanson’s motion going to council on June 12 is intended to address.

CHW note: Here is a link to the June 12 Council meeting and motion by Clr Swanson. See “Referred Items” “5. Protecting Rental Housing Stock along Arterial Streets.” This motion merits public support! https://council.vancouver.ca/20190612/pspc20190612ag.htm

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

Vancouver growth targets don’t add up

OPINION: The current Vision agenda needs to change if we are to have an affordable sustainable future for the people who live and work here in Vancouver.

Vancouver Sun

By Elizabeth Murphy

June 7, 2019 online, Print edition June 8, 2019 page H2

Vancouver’s housing strategy is based on population growth targets that are much higher than projections that census data would justify. City policies, programs and budget are based on faulty underlying assumptions. These unit projections were high even during the housing market expansion and do not reflect the current market correction. The housing strategy needs to be reconsidered.

The former Vision council approved these directions before being tossed in October’s election. Yet the new council has approved the plans and policies set in place, including the budget to implement them. Staff have been pushing through their agenda by guiding a mostly inexperienced council with advice that continues to be blindly followed.

An exception is Coun. Colleen Hardwick, who has been raising questions of staff at council meetings regarding the disconnect between unit targets and projected population growth.

The last census in 2016 showed a population increase for the city of about 28,000 people from 2011 to 2016 at a total of 631,500 people. Total private dwellings were 309,000 (including 25,500 unoccupied or occupied by temporary residents) with an average household size of 2.2 persons per unit. That averages 5600 people per year over one of the highest housing growth periods in Vancouver’s history.

Even if the population growth continued at this pace for the next 10 years it would only mean 56,000 more people. At 2.2 persons per unit that should be 26,000 more units.

However, the city’s targets for the next 10-year period is for 72,000 more units. That is more units than the 56,000 new people, if increases kept up with recent growth trends and almost three times the number of units that would be reasonably justified by population projections.
Continue reading