Summer catch-up: Last two columns for 24Hrs Vancouver.

Yes, I know…. but there is only so much summer and not enough time to get it all done. And considering I generally dedicate about 10 months of the year to politics, summer is a welcome reprieve.

So, as this weeks column comes out later today, here are the links to the last two!

Last week:

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/07/29/monster-homes-shadow-richmond-council

A headline caught my eye, but not because of the heated language used by a civic politician — it was the resurrection the mega-homes issue in Richmond.

By no means is this a new issue, nor is it limited to one city. As has happened in other communities, when the issue is left ignored or unresolved, emotions and resentment fester. The resulting rift doesn’t build communities, it builds walls.

At the heart of the matter are complaints from many residents that the massive homes are not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood, and they are built so close and so large to property lines the sun is often blocked in neighbouring yards.

Richmond is a city surrounded by dikes and because basements aren’t possible, mega-homes are built up in addition to out — often to three-storeys high.

In an attempt to resolve growing discontent and complaints from the homeowners who feel increasingly hemmed in, council was to vote on an amendment to the residential zoning bylaws in June.

Citing the need for more public consultation, the majority of councillors opted to postpone the vote and separate public forums were scheduled — one for the general public, and one intended for builders and developers.

In light of my recent column on how residents across Metro Vancouver feel developers have too much influence on city governments, that developers were given their own forum is interesting in itself.

After considering public input, all but two council members voted in favour of a new set of bylaws on Monday, intended to reduce the size of mega-homes but ultimately giving builders the concessions they wanted.

It was then that Coun. Carol Day called the process and bylaw “half-assed,” partly because council ignored the advice and recommendations of their own city planners on how best to amend the bylaws…. READ the rest at the above link.

 

And the week prior:

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/07/22/vancouver-lacks-vision-for-campaign-finance-reform

In last week’s column, I called again for a ban on corporate and union donations after readers across the region shared that they felt big campaign contributions have too much influence at city hall.

Following that column, I was advised that Carr already had a motion on notice that would significantly reform financing and spending in Vancouver elections.

In response to the inadequate changes recommended by the provincial report on spending limits for municipal campaigns, Carr’s motion called not only for limits on spending, but a ban on corporate, union and out-of province or country contributions as well.

In addition, her motion asked that elector organizations be required to release annual income and expense disclosure forms, including donor lists in the years between elections. This could shed some light on the aptly named “dark money” that comes into civic parties in between reporting periods.

These are all great changes and in a TV interview prior to the council vote, Carr expressed hope that the motion would pass.

Council has expressed that they are in favour of such reform, but they clearly don’t agree enough to make it happen.

Instead of voting in favour of her motion as is, Coun. Andrea Reimer presented a motion to refer the issue back to committee, which was supported by council with only three votes opposed.

This move has city watchdogs alarmed…. READ the rest at the above link.

 

3 thoughts on “Summer catch-up: Last two columns for 24Hrs Vancouver.

  1. nonconfidencevote

    Hmmmm,
    Both city clouncils “talk the talk’ but wont “walk the walk”.
    When push comes to shove. Politicians blink in the face of laws that will threaten their campaign contributors.
    Seems pretty clear that big money has big influence at the civic, provincial and federal levels.
    Time for a complete ban of corporate, union, religious, special interest, charities, whatever groups.
    Complete disclosure of ANY other monies spent on endless advertising between elections AND a ban on all levels of govt pumping out ads funded with taxpayers dollars telling us how great they are at building bridges, schools, courthouses……….all with our money.
    Enough taxpayer funded self propmotion. Do the jobs you were elected to to and if you do a good job I’ll reelect you.

    The Harper govts’ $178,000,000,000.00 increase in the federal debt ( to its highest level, $640 Billion, in the history of Canada) over the past 10 years of his mandate is particularly galling when conservative ads insist that they are the ONLY answer for “a strong economy”.
    It makes one shudder to think what he could do with another 10 years.
    Lies and the lying liars that tell them.

    Like

  2. erik

    I haven’t seen folks connect the dots between high real-estate prices and collapsing neighbourhoods/micro-communitites. The unsettling of individuals with and without properties is not a healthy condition if there is value in constancy.

    Like

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Total agreement.
      I think that the current real estate market in the Lower Mainland is ridiculously unsustainable and the Harper govts recent lowering of interest rates (when the US govt.is expected to raise theirs in mid Sept causing our dollar to drop even lower), easing on CMHC rules (to allow 100% of rental income to be calculated towards a mortgage qualification), and the new “promise” of a home reno credit if he is re-elected.
      ALL of these actions are the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a forest fire.
      But, where there is imbalance, there will be painful rebalance.
      I expect housing/real estate in the lower mainland to get “hammered” in the next year…..and it wont be pretty.

      Like

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