People who live in walkable neighbourhoods and have access to parks in Metro Vancouver save the health-care system tens of millions of dollars each year, and have lower rates of chronic illness than those who don’t, according to a new study.
The report, called Where Matters, used data from two existing studies — the My Health, My Community Survey, and the B.C. Generations Project — and clearly shows the correlation between health and neighbourhood design, said study lead Lawrence Frank.
“That’s unusual. Then, we monetized all those results and showed wildly reduced health-care costs, relatively speaking, across the continuum of place types — from the most sprawling, exurban, car-dependent to the most walkable urban. That’s never been shown before, no one’s ever had that,” said Frank, who is a professor in sustainable transport and the director of the Health and Community Design Lab at the University of B.C.
Direct health-care costs — such as medication and hospital visits — for diabetes are 52-per-cent less for those living in walkable areas than in car-dependent areas. The cost for hypertension is 47-per-cent less, and for heart disease is 31-per-cent less.
Walkability is a measure of the physical characteristics of neighbourhoods that support walking, such as a higher concentration of housing units, a mix of land uses and smaller block sizes.
The direct health-care costs for those living near parks are also significantly lower. The spending on diabetes is 75-per-cent lower for people who live near six or more parks than those who live near zero to one park. The costs are 69-per-cent lower for hypertension and heart disease.
Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said at the report’s unveiling on Monday that containing costs is important in the health-care system, but it shouldn’t be the only reason to create healthy environments and improve the health of the population.
“We need to do this because our citizens value this. They value their good health, the good health of their family, their friends and their loved ones,” Daly said. “When municipal, provincial governments and other decision makers are thinking about what work needs to be done, they should be keeping this in mind.”
Daly said she hopes the report will give those decision makers good data to make healthy decisions.
The report also shows, unsurprisingly, that people who live in walkable areas and near parks get more exercise and are healthier.
Those living in a somewhat walkable area or a walkable area are 20- and 45-per-cent more likely, respectively, to walk for transportation than those living in car-dependent areas. They are also more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity.
People in walkable areas are 42-per-cent less likely to be obese and 39-per-cent less likely to have diabetes than car-dependent people. Those in moderately walkable areas are 17-per- cent less likely to have heart disease.
Living in a walkable area means people are 23-per-cent less likely to have stressful days. They are also 47-per-cent more likely to have a strong sense of community.
People living in an area with six or more parks are 20-per-cent more likely to walk for leisure or recreation, and 33-per-cent more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity than those living in an area with no parks.
They are 43-per-cent less likely to be obese, 37-per-cent less likely to have diabetes, 39-per-cent less likely to have heart disease and 19-per-cent less likely to have stressful days. Those living near six or more parks are also 23-per-cent more likely to have a strong sense of community belonging.
Frank said he hopes that the study will make those in power more comfortable acting on making investments in active transportation and developing policies around growth and development that support physical activity and active living.
Andrew Devlin, manager of policy development for TransLink, called the work “cutting edge” and said the onus will be on governments and agencies like TransLink to take the information and use it to create policy.
“I think what’s really unique to this piece of work, besides being a local data set for us to draw from to make decisions, is really the monetization element of it,” he said.
James Stiver, manager of growth management and transportation for Metro Vancouver, said the information will help with the future development of regional plans.
“This work is critically important to the work we do at Metro Vancouver and ties really nicely into the theme of the work we do connecting transportation to infrastructure to build complete communities,” said Stiver.
The project was a collaboration between Metro Vancouver, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., the City of Vancouver, and TransLink, which contributed a total of $320,000 to the project, and the University of B.C.
“What makes it really cool is that all of these agencies are working together, and that’s what could make this region a better place,” said Frank.
The B.C. government’s new budget will probably look a lot like its old budget. That is deliberate, says Finance Minister Carole James, because the governing New Democratic Party’s priorities haven’t changed: affordable housing, child care and climate change.
“What we’re looking at is budget 2019 basically building on what we did in budget 2018,” James said of the budget she’ll deliver on Tuesday.
“We started off with a shift in approach from the previous government, where they really told people you either had to have a strong economy or investments in people. It was either-or. Our budget really said we need both.”
There’s another reason for the similarities between this year and last year: The NDP government’s biggest promises on affordable housing and daycare are 10-year visions that aren’t even close to fruition. Each year, James said, she’ll put aside more money to try to get closer to specific election promises like $10-a-day child care.
“Young families haven’t had a lot of hope in British Columbia, in our urban centres in particular,” said James. “They’ve seen their costs rise and struggled to get by, whether it be on housing or child care. So we’re really focused on how we can give back hope to those families.”
There will be one major difference, however. Most of the revenue-generating measures the NDP promised in the 2017 election — tax increases on high-income earners, corporations, luxury homes and the increased carbon tax — have already been enacted. James might have to curtail some spending ambitions unless she can find new sources of cash for the provincial treasury.
Despite a healthy surplus, the province’s fiscal security is at risk with the financial meltdown at the Insurance Corp. of B.C. — where losses could reach $2.5 billion over two years — and a $1-billion taxpayer bailout on deferral accounts at B.C. Hydro.
“ICBC and B.C. Hydro have been a huge challenge to the budget, a huge challenge to families and the public when it comes to the dollars they’ve had to take on for the messes left us,” said James.
“But it’s a big issue and I continue to be concerned. It’s not a piece I feel comfortable about. We’re headed in the right direction and making changes we need to occur. But there’s a cost to that.”
Last year, Postmedia spoke with several people about what they were hoping to see in the February 2018 budget, including a prospective homebuyer, a renter, a mother and a businessman.
We’ve caught up with those people to find out if the improvements they had hoped for in 2018 happened — as well as their wish lists for the NDP’s second full budget on Tuesday.
LISTEN: Mike Smyth and Rob Shaw answer all the important questions raised by the B.C. NDP government’s throne speech. Why all the populist measures? Can the B.C. government really act on changing your cellphone bill? What do allies and critics think of the speech? Smyth and Shaw also talk about Liberal MLA Linda Reid having to resign her assistant deputy speaker’s job and Premier John Horgan resisting calls for a public inquiry into money laundering.
The main theme of the NDP’s throne speech on Feb. 12 was affordability, and the government focused on several areas that include tackling expensive ferry fares, stopping mass ticket-buying by scalpers and taming sky-high cellphone bills. But the speech offered little new on the main reason B.C. is expensive: the cost of homes.
Housing affordability was a key campaign promise when the NDP was elected in 2017. But to help renters, the throne speech made only a general promise to “speed up much-needed rental housing” and a vague prediction that rock-bottom vacancy rates would rise.
Last year at this time, Liam McClure, of the Vancouver Renters Union, hoped the 2018 budget would include specific measures, such as a rent freeze, improved tenant rights language to deal with issues such as renovictions, and the creation of more social housing.
But renters are still waiting for significant action.
“We just haven’t seen the movement in the last year that we were hoping for, and it has been a bit of a disappointment,” McClure said.
“I think at the provincial level there hasn’t been as much energy as we’ve seen at the municipal level in terms of putting forward policies and solutions for some of the problems we are seeing.”
Last fall, the government accepted a Rental Housing Task Force recommendation to keep 2019 rental increases by landlords to the rate of inflation (2.5 per cent), rather than the 4.5 per cent hike recommended by the residential tenancy branch. This was helpful to renters, McClure said.
But the task force, which consists of three MLAs appointed last April by the premier, stopped short of backing a key idea that many tenants’ advocates, including McClure, believe is important: so-called vacancy control, which would tie rent controls to the unit, not the tenant, to stop a landlord from jacking up the rent when a new person moves in. Landlords were happy this policy was not endorsed, saying it gives them more money to invest in rental stock.
The task force’s top recommendation was to end renovictions — when landlords evict long-term tenants to renovate and then find new residents at higher rents. But McClure said the suggested changes don’t go far enough, and he would like to see stronger language in this year’s budget.
“I don’t have my hopes up, but I’m interested in hearing what they are going to do around ending renoviction because we haven’t had enough movement,” he said.
He would also like the budget to include funding for more social housing and non-market homes for low-income families and individuals.
Last year, the government introduced a speculation tax and a tax surcharge on homes valued at more than $3 million, part of a 10-year plan to help build up to 114,000 new affordable homes.
What is different going into this year’s budget is that home prices are falling, which has benefited Jodi Harris — who just bought a townhouse in Langley after trying to get into the real estate market for the past 18 months.
The lower prices allowed her to remain in Metro Vancouver, as the frustrated woman had been house hunting in areas like the Okanagan, which has slightly lower real estate prices. “I had prepared to leave the Lower Mainland. I really didn’t see my housing prospects changing,” Harris said.
She believes the province’s speculation tax played a role in dropping home values. “I think the frenzy around purchasing is starting to diminish.”
But she stresses the provincial government should not let its guard down because she knows many young professionals still struggling to buy their first home. Even as a nurse practitioner at Royal Columbian Hospital, and making a higher-than-average salary, she had extreme challenges buying a modest home.
“I don’t think any millennial has illusions of grandeur, that they will walk into (buying) a detached home,” she said. “I don’t know how everyone can be so short-sighted with this problem. You need young people to power the economy.”
Jock Finlayson, of the B.C. Business Council, said he believes the speculation tax has played a role in lowering prices for large homes and high-end condos, but he believes the federal government’s move to “tighten up mortgage rules coupled with higher borrowing costs has really been the key to the broader softening of the market.”
James says the speculation tax is just one element in her government’s 30-point housing plan. She promised to continue to boost the housing supply, although she offered no specifics. She also promised to improve transparency around home ownership and to create a condo flipping registry.
“I’m feeling cautiously optimistic in looking at the housing market right now. We’re seeing some shifts in all types of housing, a moderating of prices in detached homes, townhomes and condos. That’s really critical,” she said.
Child care: the $10 challenge
Tamara Herman put her son’s name on multiple waiting lists for licensed child care more than four years ago, before the boy was born, and he still does not have a spot in a daycare.
Even though the NDP promised universal $10-a-day child care when the party was elected in 2017, Herman is patient because she believes this government is moving toward positive change, albeit slowly.
“Our situation hasn’t changed because it is going to take many years to repair a completely broken child care system,” said Herman, whose 3½-year-old son, Emil Porter, is in the care of a nanny collective.
“It’s a little late for us personally, but I’m encouraged to see that progress is being made in general on child care … for the first time in many years.”
After the throne speech, Premier John Horgan said this year’s plan will likely include the continued development of the government’s fee-reduction subsidies of up to $350 a month and pilot projects of the $10-a-day model.
Herman is happy the NDP is investigating the $10 model, arguing it puts families back to work and therefore reduces poverty, but is “less enthusiastic” about the fee- reduction subsidies. “Instead of subsidizing individual parents, I’d rather see them investing in building more child cares and making it a fair industry for people who work in the field.”
Opponents of the universal $10 model argue it will be too expensive and will unnecessarily subsidize middle- and high-income families who can afford to pay for their own child care.
However, Sharon Gregson, with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. which has long lobbied for the $10 plan, hopes Tuesday’s budget will fund an expansion of the prototypes. She would also like the budget to include moving child care out of the Ministry of Children and Family Development and into the Education Ministry to become better aligned with the school system. She also wants a pledge of $200 million to build more licensed spaces and to train more workers.
“There has been more positive action on child care in the last 10 months than in the preceding 16 years,” Gregson said.
“(But) there’s still lots to do and it’s not perfect. Families need much more access to licensed spaces — especially non-traditional hours and in rural and remote communities — and early childhood educators need better wages.”
James said the government has 53 sites in B.C. testing the $10 plan, and that residents must wait for the government to finish designing its new child care plan to ensure quality, space and accessibility.
“It’s a 10-year program and we’re only going into year 2,” the finance minister said. “We have a review program going on on the prototypes for $10-a-day to make sure we see how they went and successes, and are there any pieces that need to be adjusted. And so that will be part of the work over the next year.”
She added that child care is the topic that most residents raise with her. “Despite the speculation tax and housing measures, it’s probably the biggest piece I get stopped by families to tell me the biggest change it’s made for them.”
The fiscal reality: taxes and spending
The NDP has now enacted most of the new taxes it had promised, including a one per cent hike to the corporate income tax rate, an income tax increase for those who earn more than $150,000, and those taxes on high-end and empty homes.
But besides the woes at ICBC and BC Hydro, though, there is mounting financial pressure on the NDP because the cooling housing market has reduced property transfer fees.
“There are some new revenue sources but that’s being chipped away by the decline in (home) sales, and therefore property transfers. So I’ll be looking to see how does the arithmetic on all that add up,” the B.C. Business Council’s Finlayson said when asked about budget finances.
“We are not going into the (budget) lockup assuming there’s going to be a lot of tax changes. Sometimes you are surprised.”
If there are no new taxes, it’s not clear where the NDP will get more revenue to fund new ideas or the growth of big-ticket programs.
There is good news for the province’s bottom line, though, in that the economy is still strong, the carbon tax is set to rise from $35/tonne to $40/tonne on April 1, and the previous Liberal government’s $500-million Prosperity Fund remains available.
Finlayson would like to see a small reduction in one of the NDP’s taxes, arguing the tax bracket for higher income taxes should rise from $150,000 to $250,000, to align with policies in Alberta and Ontario. He also wishes for some type of relief for the industries that are the most affected by the increasing carbon tax.
Still, Finlayson anticipates James will produce a balanced operating budget. He would like to see a slight increase on the capital projects side — but wants B.C.’s current debt-to-GDP ratio of 14 per cent to stay below 20 per cent so that the province can hold on to its triple-A rating.
“We think there is a lot of unmet need for capital, both maintenance and to build new bridges and tunnels and infrastructure,” he said.
The throne speech was silent, he said, on attracting business investment in B.C. “To me that sends a signal that the budget won’t have much around building the economy. Because that has not been much of a major focus of this government. Their agenda has been more social and environmental.”
Climate change, poverty reduction and other priorities
There are other items that are expected to be crucial elements in Tuesday’s budget.
Climate change, once dominated by discussion of the carbon tax, has taken on a new face with the NDP’s CleanBC plan. It is an aggressive proposal to increase electricity use across the province and reduce fossil fuel pollution from cars, homes and businesses. The budget is expected to lay out incentives for items such as heat pumps and electric vehicles.
Other issues that could be touched on in the budget include tackling money laundering, although the premier has deflected calls for a public inquiry; potential costs associated with the promise of historic legislation to enshrine into law the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and past promises to boost staffing levels in seniors’ care homes and reform the annual school funding formula.
The throne speech did pledge to roll out a poverty reduction strategy, after the government initially promised to do so last year. That could come with a hefty price tag.
“Certainly the throne speech is a roadmap, the aspirational road map for the government for the year ahead,” Horgan told reporters after the speech.
“The budget will be where you will find the resources, the funds, and the initiatives that we talked about. When we brought forward legislation on the poverty reduction plan, and when we brought forward our CleanBC plan, it was with the view of funding those initiatives in the coming budget. And I know Carole James is very excited to tell you about that herself (on Tuesday).”
The Rick Hansen Foundation is releasing a national survey on accessibility issues today. HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Two-thirds of Canadians are anxious about developing disabilities and challenges in the next decade that will impact where they live, shop and go for any reason, and about a quarter of Canadians say they already have mobility, vision or hearing challenges, according to a survey to be released today by the Rick Hansen Foundation.
The survey of 1,800 Canadians was conducted and sponsored by the Angus Reid Institute and focused on the perspectives and concerns of individuals regarding disabilities, mobilization and accessibility.
Hansen said it is striking that about a quarter of Canadians said they had mobility, vision or hearing issues and nearly half of survey respondents said they spend time with individuals dealing with such concerns. It is clear millions of Canadians are worrying about such challenges and how they will impact their own lives or those of their family members, he said.
Already, nearly a third of people say accessibility is a consideration when they think about where they go out. And a third of people said their own homes are not accessible to those with mobility, hearing or vision challenges.
About 70 per cent of survey respondents said Canada should have universal accessibility standards for newly constructed buildings and homes.
Hansen said long overdue is a “new, standard playbook” for consistent accessibility building codes across Canada.
“People in the design communities are rarely focused on accessibility, or if they are, they’re driven to embracing minimum codes. The other problem is that building codes and standards — and the interpretation of them — vary across municipal, provincial and national jurisdictions.”
In late 2017, the provincial government awarded the Rick Hansen Foundation a multi-year $9-million grant to help remove physical barriers and realize the goal of universal access for those with disabilities. The grant enabled the foundation to develop an accessibility certification service, which is a LEED-style system to rate accessibility in multi-family residential homes, retail stores, businesses and institutional buildings where people work, study, and pursue a variety of activities.
The foundation also used some of the grant to establish a partnership with Vancouver Community College to train individuals how to analyze and rate buildings for overall accessibility. After the course, the graduates (over 70 so far) must write a formal exam administered through the Canadian Standards Association. Besides developing the curriculum, the grant enabled free accessibility ratings for 1,100 buildings across B.C. and, in a further incentive, also allowed organizations seeking such ratings to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to use toward improvements such as automatic doors, ramps, and other necessary features.
While other provinces have yet to copy B.C.’s generous grant program, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Ontario have also created some college-level educational programs to train accessibility assessors, Hansen said.
“It’s wonderful to see that momentum is building across the country. This is going to be a made-in-B.C. social innovation, a national and global standard, and hopefully similar to the LEED certification program for energy efficient buildings. Our intention is to learn from that model.”
The B.C. Institute of Technology was an early subscriber to the program and the Vancouver Airport earned an “Accessibility Certified Gold” rating, for features such as counters with heights that are appropriate for those using wheelchairs, curbside ramps and numerous other features.
Hansen said the fact that the program can no longer accept new registrants for free ratings since it quickly reached capacity shows the huge demand for such a service. Businesses that still want to be rated and certified can be waitlisted and book the service through the foundation.
Referring to the fact that the Angus Reid survey showed that 21 percent of Canadians say they are more likely to support a business that is certified accessible, Hansen said scorecards can be displayed in windows; they’re a good form of advertising for commercial enterprises and a fine way to reveal which ones are socially conscious.
“This is not just a human rights issue, it’s becoming an important economic issue. Inclusive design is good for business, not just for society,” he said, noting that the survey shows 30 per cent of Canadians consider accessibility when deciding where to do business. Moreover, home builders would be wise to construct fully accessible single and multi-family residences since aging in place has emerged as a priority, he said.
“I thought I was trying to create a global movement when I was 27 and starting out on my Man in Motion tour but little did I know just how inaccessible and disconnected the world was,” Hansen said, adding that accessibility has finally become top of mind for many so “maybe the fantasy is becoming more real than ever.”
Domenica Fiore president Anna Wallner and production director Cesare Bianchini launched Novello di Notte extra-virgin oil that sees no light from its nighttime picking until the $65-priced stainless-steel bottles are opened. Malcolm Parry / PNG
MIDNIGHT OIL: Open a $65 stainless-steel bottle of Domenica Fiore Novello di Notte extra-virgin olive oil and its 500-ml contents should blink. That’s because three varieties of olives therein were harvested from an Italian hillside in the cool of night, promptly cold-pressed, and kept in the dark ever since.
“Olive oil’s big enemy is light,” production director Cesare Bianchini said at Commercial Drive’s Caffe La Tana where he and Domenica Fiore president Anna Wallner, the former Shopping Bags TV co-host, launched Novello di Notte and $9.95 jars of Datterino tomatoes. Both come from the Umbrian operation city-based global tycoon Frank Giustra bought and named for his mother.
WE NIGHT: Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger welcomed 20,000 youngsters to their 10th-annual WE Day rally in Rogers Arena, then dined with 70 adults at Lorne and Melita Segal’s Southlands home. First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and mother-in-law Margaret Trudeau attended by day. The latter stayed for supper chez Segal as, in earlier years, had Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and British global tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
The Segals occupy one half of the 14,000-square-foot house and host charitable and similar events in the other. Such functions can place 150 participants on a swimming pool’s temporary transparent covering with floodlit water gurgling below. This time, guests dined wholly indoors, some close enough to a six-metre-long gas fireplace to toast their personal hams while dining on sablefish, sweet spuds and wilted spinach.
Accustomed to gridirons, gay-disclosed NFL defensive tackle, author and WE Day speaker Esera Tuaolo had a cooler seat. So did former CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge. Freed from being shaved, made up and suit-and-tied for 29 on-camera years, he’d grown grizzled white whiskers and, although furthest from it, dressed for a casual at-home night beside the fire.
CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS ONWARD: To launch a $2,499-to-$3,499-a-month “subscription service” for nine makes of Asian, German and British luxury cars, Open Road dealer Christian Chia had Pear Tree restaurant owner-chef Scott Jaeger prepare matching snacks. They included marinated seaweed, pork-jowl schnitzel and hash-like bubble and squeak. No raisin-and-currant-studded spotted dick pudding, though, which would have complemented the paint job on an unlamented British Hillman Imp coupe. Portfolio clients may switch between 25 models up to four times monthly while driving 2,500 km. subject to “likely removal from the program if driving habits consisting of high volume proceed.” No Palm Springs back-and-forthing, that is.
HERE’S TAE US: With fitting respect for accuracy, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation sidestepped evasive names to call an annual $60,000-range fundraiser City Drinks. Toasts were raised when foundation board chair David Dove and executive director Judith Mosley welcomed guests to the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’s recently renovated 1936 armory. Archivist James Calhoun spoke about the regiment’s past. Venerable artworks and artifacts displayed included a table bearing a Lewis machine gun, bagpipes and other lethal devices. Less belligerently, a large portrait depicted railway contractor turned brigadier-general Jack Stewart who commanded all Canadian and British military railway units in 1917-1918 wartime France and became the Seaforths’ honorary colonel.
BOLL WEAVING: Uwe Boll was in Whistler recently, but not to replace the closed Bavaria restaurant with a satellite of his feted Cordova-at-Carrall Bauhaus. It was for the premiere of moviemaker Sean Patrick Shaul’s F*** You: The Uwe Boll Story. The documentary addresses the 15-or-so feature films Boll made that incensed critics but made money for, among others, Brightlight Pictures founder and former Whistler festival chair Shawn Williamson. Boll recently addressed indie filmmakers at Vancouver’s 21-year-old Celluloid Social Club that screens their productions. Some doubtless applauded his having challenged harsher reviewers to meet him in the boxing ring.
ROSY PARKER: Director-producer Keith Cunningham’s debut feature-length documentary is about collaborative folk, not scrappers. Living History: 1000 Parker warmly examines that 105-year-old building’s past as a mattress and furniture factory. It also pictures some of the many artists and artisans there today who constitute the annual Eastside Culture Crawl’s largest participating group. Longest-term tenant Judson Beaumont established Straight Line Design in 1985 to produce child-oriented furnishings with barely a straight line in them. Cunningham hopes to film a documentary about Jacqui Cohen whose properties include the 1898 Army & Navy Stores complex and nearby 1910 Dominion Building.
TEN YEARS AGO: Seventeen days after being elected mayor and pledging that he and eight Vision party councillors would end homelessness, Gregor Robertson had Concord Pacific president Terry Hui greet him at the firm’s 20th anniversary party. That development company resulted from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing acquiring Expo 86’s 82-hectare False Creek site in a 1988 deal reportedly worth $145 million. Today, possibly planning to attend Concord Pacific’s 30th anniversary celebration Dec. 12, former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart has succeeded former NDP MLA Robertson. The Vision party is history, there are more homeless than ever, and Concord Pacific does multi-billion-dollar business in Canada, the U.S. and U.K.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Not all speakers deliver high fidelity.
SOS Children’s Village B.C. executive director Douglas Dunn and gala chair Nesrine Jabbour looked forward to a 4.9-hectare Mission site providing up to 30 new houses for foster children and youths to occupy. Malcolm Parry / PNG
CRYSTAL CLEAR: Chairing the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Crystal Ball for the second time, interior designer Jennifer Johnston saw it raise approximately $4 million. That is a substantial increase, if less precisely, over last year’s $2,815,129. The Beedie Group-sponsored 35th-annual event’s theme was unchanged, though. Funds raised will support B.C.’s “84,000 children and youth experiencing mental health issues,” of whom, “70 per cent aren’t getting the care they need,” Johnston said.
Raising four megabucks is now now more or less expected by big-time galas. Still, this Zen-themed event’s attendees witnessed something less achievable. As waidoko drummer Nori Akagi generated rolling thunder, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos played the four-finger-hole shakuhachi bamboo flute with fluency, tonal frequency and chromatic range that might mentally challenge others striving to do so.
JUSTICE SERVED: At its recent gala The Justice Institute of B.C. Foundation honoured Marvin Storrow with the Anthony P. Pantages QC Award. It recognized the litigator and former gala chair having “made a significant contribution in the field of justice.” The award also symbolically reconnected Storrow to a fellow “east-end yo-yo champion when we were kids.” That was former Supreme Court of Canada justice and past honoree Frank Iacobucci.
Longtime B.C. Sports Hall of Fame trustee Storrow attended the gala following the two or three sets of tennis he plays up to five times weekly. As combative athletically as in the courtroom, he once reported his nose broken four times by sports encounters and twice by “differences of opinion.” Representing JIBC’s 30,000-plus student enrolment, graduates-turned-lifesavers Franjo Gasparovic and Megan Rook received the Heroes & Rescue award. Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia were cited for community leadership, and the late Douglas Eastwood and Heather Lyle for lifetime achievement.
RING TIME: As for broken noses, the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese and North Burnaby Boxing Club’s 10-bout Night of Fights helped fund those organization’s scholarship and boxing programs. It also benefited the East End Boys Club and Camp Miriam. Italian Cultural Centre catering director Fabio Rasotto all but knocked out 600 attendees with pork spareribs, roast beef, chicken, salmon, pesto pasta, five salads, cold cuts, cheese and Italian pastries. The Angelo Branca Sportsman of the Year award went to local boxer Tommy Boyce, who won 175 of 185 amateur and 17 of 18 pro fights. An earlier recipient, Olympian Manny Sobral, founded and heads the Burnaby club. Calling under-141-pound light welterweight Freya Orr’s split-decision win over Aanika Sehgal, “a barn burner and fight of the night,” Sobral said the latter “feels better about her body image and more confident” after shedding 60 pounds at Surrey’s Savard Boxing Gym.
PUSH TO SHOE: The 15th-anniversary PuSh International Performing Arts Festival got off on the right foot recently. On the left one, too. That’s because board presidents Jessica Bouchard and Mira Oreck fronted a kickoff event for the 15th-annual running at Gastown’s Fluevog shoe store. The two described the Jan. 17-Feb. 3 festival’s 26 staged works as “visionary, genre-bending, multi-disciplined, startling and original.” Somewhat like designer John Fluevog’s shoes, that is. Interim executive director Roxanne Duncan and interim artistic director Joyce Rosario filled in for now-retired and much lauded PuSh founder Norman Armour. They and attendees also acquired shoes, Duncan’s being appropriately theatrical silver glitter “Munster” platforms at a price of $399.
HOTFOOT: Costlier footwear was offered at Aaron Van Pykstra’s bazaar-style charity event in his Autoform dealership’s showroom. Along with artworks, cigars, handbags, watches and suchlike Aleix Dai showed rare sneakers from his Richmond-based Stay Fresh operation. Priced at $3,300, Dai’s red-white-and-black “Off-White” Air Jordans complemented a 1964 Chevrolet Impala V8 convertible that cost US$3,196 (CAD$3,436) new in 1964. According to Van Pykstra, $54,995 would put your clodhoppers on its pedals today.
RIDE DALI RIDE: Howe Street passersby might paraphrase the 1953 novelty song by asking: “How much is that Dali in the window?” They’d be referring to the sculptures, lithographs and other works by late Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali in Susanna Strem’s Challi-Rosso gallery. In fact, a self-portrait in the window recently was by local big-canvas artist Pamela Masik, whose other paintings inside “interpreted classics of the master: Dali.” Somewhat surreally, two topless women pressed their pigment-coated upper bodies against canvases that, on a smaller scale, echoed Masik’s performance-art creations.
FOSTERING GROWTH: SOS Children’s Village B.C. should soon receive a 4.9-hectare site worth $6 million in Mission’s Silverdale area. With the Vancouver Native Housing Society, it plans to house foster children in some 30 dwellings there by 2021. So said executive director Douglas Dunn at a gala that reportedly raised $68,000 with more pending. It was chaired again by financial planner Nesrine Jabbour whose second child is due in February. Thirty-nine youngsters presently occupy the 34-year-old SOS chapter’s 12-house, five-transition-suite Surrey facility, Dunn said. The expansion should please delegates at the organization’s international conference here in May.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Trackside bettors might discount the pleas of jockeys whose horses ran second and third past the post.
Naz Panahi and Devi Sangara co-chaired the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation’s 23rd-annual Night of a Thousand Stars gala that reportedly raised $4 million for an MRI scanner and multi-campus programs. Malcolm Parry / PNG
STARRY HIGH: Hospitals always have the edge when fundraising. So it was when the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation’s 23rd annual Night of a Thousand Stars gala reportedly raised $4,000 for each star in its title. OK: $4 million. That total delighted multi-time chair Devi Sangara and Naz Panahi, who co-chaired this year after several at-bats with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball and Arthritis Research Canada’s annual ARThritis Soirée.
Still, the four megabucks raised were overpowered by last December’s $25 million donation from Gaglardi family members who received the foundation’s Leadership Award at the gala. The night’s proceeds will pay for a new MRI machine and support various programs at the two hospitals, the G.F. Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services. It was rewarding to see attending surgeons Marcel Dvorak and John Yee’s whose labours kept me working and, in Yee’s case, alive. Anyone disgruntled by this column now knows who to blame.
FORTUNE COOKING: Newly elected mayor Kennedy Stewart joined diverse attendees at the 11-year-old Vancouver Chinatown Foundation’s Vancouver Chinatown gala. The $1.1 million reportedly raised will benefit the 58 West Hastings social-housing complex. That sum was noteworthy for an event that Carol Lee founded only last year and that was MCed by former B.C. finance minister Carole Taylor and music-biz agent Sam Feldman. Fairmont Hotel Vancouver chefs served dim sum, shrimp har gow, chicken sui mai and smoked maple sablefish to guests, many being devotees of the brisket, chicken, duck and pork at Lee’s year-old and much lauded Chinatown BBQ on East Pender Street.
DOWN PAYMENT: Charity fundraisers seldom make seven figures at their first or even second events as the Vancouver Chinatown gala did. Still, Dreyer Group Mortgages COO Meryll Dreyer was pleased when her debut event for KARES (Kids At Risk Embracing Success) reportedly brought in $50,000 to aid disadvantaged 16-to-24-year-olds. Dreyer hopes to parallel the similar Invis Angels in The Night program where she also had a starter role.
BAA BAA: Fashion-industry professionals and customers celebrated Canadian Wool Week at Gastown’s Secret Location store recently. Before becoming cosy garments, sheep’s wool is washed, dried, oiled, carded, died, glazed and woven, not to mention sheared from sheep twice annually in two-to-eight-kg lots. Giving the event perspective, Butterfly Fibres principal Marianne Iberg brought three-year-old Shetland-breed twin ewes Sweetpea and Thumbelina from her family’s Langley farm. With winter imminent, having their fleeces clipper-ready mightn’t be the sheep’s best prospect. Encouraging for us, though.
SHINING LIGHT: Ryan and Cindy Beedie’s pre-48th-birthday party at Malkin Bowl in 2016 had Huey Lewis and the News entertain 3,000 guests. Lewis’s hit song, Build Me Up, may have suggested a possible birthday present. Ditto Take Me To The Top by Loverboy’s Mike Reno, who sang at a repeat outdoors party this year. The present actually took shape at the couple’s official 50th birthday rock party in the Commodore Ballroom on Sept. 7. It would be $50 million. Not for them, though. That sum would launch the Beedie Luminaries Foundation. According to property-development firm principal Ryan, the foundation will provide scholarships to “bright, driven students from disadvantaged backgrounds … who are smart, but constrained by circumstance.” Some recipients may progress to Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, possibly humming Lewis’s Give Me The Keys.
RED, WHITE AND BLUET: Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin and Margot Young,University of B.C. anthropology, oceanography and law professors, edited and recently released a book titled Memory. It was sparked by post-First World recollections and a 2017 discussion at the varsity’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies that Tortell directs. Accepting that “the essays share an appreciation of the fragility and fluidity of memory,” the editors also note: “Why we forget is just as important as thinking about what we can remember.” French consul general Philippe Sutter, who donated a memorable amount of Château De Fesles wine to the release readings, contrasted attendees’ red and white poppies by adding the cornflower “bluet” with which his nation respects fallen warriors.
EVER REMEMBERED: Margot Young’s father Walter headed the UBC and, later, the University of Victoria’s political science departments. As a wittily perceptive political columnist to Vancouver magazine, when local periodicals had such things, he was politely asked why one monthly opus was a little overdue. “It’s a good reason,” he replied languidly by phone. “I have a brain tumour.” He perished, to widespread dismay, at age 51.
LOVIN’ YOU: Peter Wall, whose institute published the Memory book, will present his own composition while hosting the Wall Ball on Dec. 18. Past events featured live cattle, an ostrich, Santa Claus and miniskirted elves criss-crossing the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre’s glass ceiling while ball-goers dined below. This year, Canadian tenor Richard Margison will perform a “love song” for Vancouver that Wall wrote and frequently warbles.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Where’s Wally Buono? In our hearts.
Vancouver residents will choose a new mayor and council in the Oct. 20 election. To help voters choose among an unusually high number of candidates, city columnist Dan Fumano has compiled brief summaries on where they stand on key issues facing the city. The following responses were submitted by seven top mayoral candidates (presented in alphabetical order) and four parties running council candidates, and have been edited for clarity and length.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Vancouver’s current plan is 91 years old and does not allow modern forms of housing in 75 per cent of the city. Vancouver is way behind comparable cities in terms of process and technology. Yes Vancouver wants to revolutionize the way housing is planned, zoned and approved in Vancouver.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Require 50 per cent rentals for all new builds, use rental-only zoning around transit corridors, build larger temporary modular housing units to accommodate families, switch co-ops to five-year automatic renewals after first 50 years, build more co-ops and social housing. Fix maximum social housing rents at 30 per cent of median area household pre-tax income.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st is committed to building affordable rental housing on city-owned land that will be targeted at costing the tenants monthly rents of $400, $900 and $1,300, for a bachelor, one- and two-bedroom unit, respectively.
Ken Sim (NPA): We need solutions that will make an impact immediately to relieve pressure on limited supply. That’s why the NPA would immediately allow two secondary suites in every detached home — of which there are around 40,000 in Vancouver. The NPA would also build dedicated rental buildings on city-owned land, fast-track housing for those who need it most, and clean up the development approval process.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need housing that’s affordable for everyone. My platform includes building 85,000 homes over the next 10 years, including 25,000 affordable, non-profit run rental units, 25,000 market rental units, and 35,000 new condominiums, coach houses, and townhouses. I’ll also streamline the development process for purpose-built rental, and create a new renters’ advocate office.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We can’t rest until we have a three per cent rental vacancy rate and the price per square foot for housing is a better match with typical wages. I will support more purpose-built housing to create thriving neighbourhoods for children, working professionals, seniors and businesses by using City resources, renewing leases on all co-ops, and encouraging purpose-built housing through faster permitting and fee waivers.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver will not sell one square inch of city land. To decrease pressure we will allow one additional rental unit per home. Longer term we will focus on purpose-built rental buildings and co-ops. Alongside rentals and co-ops, we have a plan to build entry-level homes intended to be within reach for millennials.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Over the past year Jean Swanson and COPE have been building a movement for a Rent Freeze, helping to reduce the 4.5 per cent rent increase for 2019. COPE will use all city powers to protect renters and small business tenants, and will tax mansions over $5 million to end homelessness in one year and build city-owned non-market rental housing in subsequent years.
Green Party of Vancouver: We will amend Vancouver’s Charter to recognize the right to housing, and redefine affordability in bylaws to be 30 per cent of income. We will set a goal of 50 per cent below-market-rate housing for new multi-residential developments and launch a city-funded, city-built housing program on city-owned land. We will change bylaws to enable affordable construction, encourage secondary suites and fast-track permits for affordable housing.
Vision Vancouver: Vision will speed up permits, zone to allow more housing options and deliver more city-built affordable housing, including co-ops, as part of a comprehensive plan for 88,000 new homes over 10 years. Vision’s school board candidates are working to pilot housing for teachers.
OneCity: OneCity believes housing is a human right. We are committed to renewing co-op leases and supporting more co-ops and co-housing. OneCity will utilize rental-only zoning and incentivize purpose-built rental housing across the city, attentive to the needs of urban Indigenous people, seniors, families, people with accessibility requirements, pet owners, and more. OneCity will strengthen tenant protections and build 25,000 truly affordable non-market housing units.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): While the tax is generating some revenue for social housing, the 25,000 homes that were apparently empty have not materialized and local residents are being trapped in complex and invasive audits. Yes Vancouver wants to review it and focus on building middle-class housing.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Modify the tax to have a laser focus on speculators. Increase the tax on a graduated scale, heavily increasing for properties over $5 million. Credits would be graduated, so that after 20 years of living in the home, the tax would be zero for residents who have lived in their community for close to a generation.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st has pledged to remove the empty homes tax, saying it is ineffective and punishes those it was not intended to tax. Vancouver 1st has also pledged to file a lawsuit against the NDP government to fight and end the new school tax surcharge on properties valued at more than $3 million.
Ken Sim (NPA): The idea that we can tax our way out of this housing crisis is wishful thinking. A much better approach is to bring new units on to the market right away — which the NPA will do by allowing two secondary suites in every detached home – while working on further increasing supply in a way that does not destroy neighbourhoods.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would triple the empty homes tax. We need to take tough measures to fight the speculation that is rampant in our city and protect our local housing market from global financial forces and speculators. Homes need to be used for housing people, not sitting empty as speculative investments.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I would triple it. Housing is more than an asset class, and we can’t afford to let desperately needed real estate sit there unused because someone wants to park their cash here without contributing to our community. Tripling the Empty Homes Tax will help ensure homes are used to house people, not to make a speculative investment.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This was a poorly designed tax and poorly implemented. It would be something we would address in office. Simply repealing it would be reckless at this delicate stage in the housing market cycle.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE was the first to propose the Empty Homes Property Tax in the 2014 civic elections. Other parties said it wasn’t possible, but now it’s common sense. COPE’s proposal included extending the tax to vacant commercial properties and empty lots. We support increasing the tax and targeting all revenues toward city-owned non-market housing.
Green Party of Vancouver: We will not remove the empty home tax, but will further clarify rules regarding exceptions. Pending a full report after the first year of implementation, we may consider increasing it. We will develop a strategy to expand the empty home tax to include commercial storefronts as a measure to reduce vacancies and prevent the hollowing out of commercial streets.
Vision Vancouver: Vision wants to triple the empty homes tax, from one per cent to three per cent, to get more people into vacant homes, to crack down on speculation that’s driving prices up, and to put more money into affordable housing initiatives in every neighbourhood.
OneCity: OneCity supports increasing the Empty Homes Tax, to ensure that homes in Vancouver are for living in, not just for investing in.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Yes Vancouver appreciates the angst about the recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. Coun. Bremner voted for it as density was kept within the current limits for homes with basement suites and laneway houses, so this is not a big change. It allows for more affordable home ownership options in Vancouver beyond multi-million-dollar houses.
David Chen (ProVancouver): ProVancouver opposes the city’s recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. There was insufficient community consultation, and no community plan was done. Most of Vancouver’s sewer, water, electrical grid and street widths were based on single-family homes with low density. Increasing density without upgrading infrastructure and amenities first isn’t smart.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Density must be undertaken mindfully. Vancouver 1st is pledging to revoke Vision’s misguided mass rezoning policy to allow duplexes (in single-family neighbourhoods). Vancouver 1st has also committed to developing a comprehensive official city plan so that there is a clear and transparent plan with a new core of density to be established in South Vancouver.
Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA agrees in principle with adding more housing for the “missing middle.” But the move by a lame-duck administration to mass re-zone much of the city to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods isn’t just bad for democracy, it’s bad policy. We need to have proper city-wide planning that respects individual neighbourhoods. And we need to be more transparent about decisions at City Hall.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Council’s recent decision to rezone single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes was of such magnitude that it should have been left for the next council. That said, building duplexes brings more affordable options for first-time homebuyers while retaining neighbourhood character. I would expand opportunities for ground-oriented housing in our least dense neighbourhoods.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): While I support gentle densification, we need to make sure that any changes have the support of the people who live in that area. Homeowners who want to add affordable units should get faster permitting and fee waivers, and we need to complete neighbourhood plans for the 75 per cent of neighbourhoods that don’t have one so we can move quickly.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We are against the Making Room Policy passed by council (allowing duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods). We will repeal it. There is not a housing shortage, there is an affordable housing shortage. This policy perpetuates the problem. We will ensure every neighbourhood is consulted before reckless policies like this one are passed. We will focus on purpose-built rental housing and co-ops.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE opposed the rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because there’s no city protection for tenants in these areas, some of which include a majority of renters. The duplex zoning doesn’t provide housing for people earning under $50,000 a year, and will likely trigger speculation. COPE supports density in neighbourhoods that have not taken their fair share of rental and social housing.
Green Party of Vancouver: Green Coun. Adriane Carr voted against rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because of the lack of prior public consultation regarding this city-wide rezoning, plus the simplistic focus on one housing form that may escalate land prices, and the threat of tear-downs and loss of currently affordable housing, was unsupportable. Greens support a comprehensive city-wide plan, co-developed with residents.
Vision Vancouver: Vision supports duplexes in single-family areas. We are committed to implementing the Making Room initiative and creating even more affordable housing options, including opening low-density neighbourhoods for townhouses, low-rise apartments, and other forms of housing that support affordable options for renters and families looking for affordable ownership opportunities.
OneCity: We imagine a Vancouver with more balance in housing options, including apartments, social and supportive housing, multiplexes, and co-ops in all parts of the city. However, unrestrained development will not fix the housing crisis. That is why we will prioritize affordable housing options, because people of all income levels should have access to good schools, transit, jobs, and green spaces.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to reinvest in the Four Pillars office at City Hall and Yes Vancouver will support programs that replace street drugs with safer alternatives so long as it moves people to care and long-term treatment. No-barrier housing is critical to this, therefore Yes Vancouver will ensure significant investment in this area.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Increase the amount of temporary modular housing and push to decriminalize drug use as in the Netherlands. ProVancouver would also employ other streams of therapy like Beauty Night Society’s long-standing method of building self-esteem through wellness, life skills and makeovers.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st will focus on treatment and rehabilitation. We intend to build a state-of-the-art mental care facility on city property with more than enough beds for today and tomorrow, because so much of addiction and street living is caused by an inadequacy in mental health services. Vision and the NDP have failed these people.
Ken Sim (NPA): An NPA working group is seeking new ideas to tackle homelessness, the opioid crisis, and mental health. We also need to get needles off our streets and out of our parks. Three hundred dirty needles a month are picked up at Andy Livingstone Park, which is also a playground for Crosstown Elementary School.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would form an emergency task force to work with the community to improve the health and quality of life of Downtown Eastside residents. The task force will focus on preventing more deaths from fentanyl, negotiating a new Vancouver Agreement to foster greater cooperation between all levels of government, supporting front-line workers and identifying substance substitution programs.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We have allowed the opioid poisoning crisis to get worse by inaction towards addressing addiction issues through a comprehensive public health approach. My strategy supports the proven Four Pillars approach, community support models, comprehensive care access, and collaboration with senior levels of government. We need to move beyond misinformation, discrimination, stigma, and fear and deliver empathetic and effective responses.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This is a heartbreaking issue and it affects many more families than most people understand. I lost a son to this very crisis. We have a plan, to be released soon, to approach this from a new perspective that has never been tried before.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE will advocate for senior governments to decriminalize drugs and to ensure access to safe, clean and free drugs so people who use drugs don’t have to die. The city can also put oxygen tanks in community centres to help revive people who overdose and can fund community groups who support harm reduction and ending stigma against drug users.
Green Party of Vancouver: We will call on the federal government to decriminalize drug possession in order to treat addiction as a health issue. This means displacing the poisoned drug supply with clean drugs to be administered under medical supervision as the first step to treatment. We will push for more treatment beds and a comprehensive strategy including long-term treatment and stable housing.
Vision Vancouver: Vision will build on the City’s integrated opioid response plan by championing new Overdose Prevention Sites in supportive housing, an Opioid Crisis Fund to support first responders, a renewed focus on mental health and addiction, the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts while getting tougher on trafficking, de-stigmatization and prevention among kids, and clean, prescription options for people suffering from addiction.
OneCity: OneCity believes that the “war on drugs” has failed, resulting in disproportionately high incarceration rates in Indigenous and black communities and an epidemic of overdose deaths. We support evidence-based, public-health solutions that address the root causes of the overdose crisis, including decriminalizing all drugs, and taking a housing-first approach. We will strengthen supports for front line responders, expand city-wide needle collection and advocate for more provincial and federal supports.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The plan must include housing and jobs along the line that can both ensure this major investment is capitalized on and funded. That includes looking to UBC and ensuring we have a plan to unlock equity in the surrounding area to help generate funds to complete the line.
David Chen (ProVancouver): If the money is there and the deal is done, it should go to UBC. Stopping at Arbutus is illogical. For a more affordable option, switching to hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will keep costs down, increase capacity without trolley wires, and empty buses won’t impede full buses. The hydrogen fuel cell can be swapped out faster than recharging times needed for battery-powered buses.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants the subway to go all the way to UBC. The party wants a bored tunnel; not cut-and-cover. Because it’s going to be going to UBC, which will benefit greatly from it, it should pay in a suitable portion of the final bill.
Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA is 100 per cent in favour of the Broadway subway. It should go all the way to UBC. But we need a solid plan with UBC and TransLink to get us there. Too many billions are wasted because politicians make big promises before the details are ready.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I support SkyTrain along Broadway to UBC. We need to invest in our transit infrastructure, but we need partners to make this happen. I would work hard to secure federal, provincial, and UBC funding to extend SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor to the university.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I’m committed to working with all levels of government and partners to ensure we build the Broadway Subway all the way to UBC. We can’t create a choke hold at Arbutus. UBC represents a key economic centre and a major employer. Once we have started the digging process we need to complete the extension to UBC.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver is in favour of the subway extension all the way to UBC. We want to decrease the number of cars on the road, reduce pollution, and reduce congestion. Alongside what will be an extensive cut-and-cover building operation, we are also committed to helping businesses deal during the construction phase.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Vancouver needs a drastic expansion of rapid transit and buses, but transit must be affordable. COPE has a plan for a “U-Pass for the working class,” which includes free transit for kids and low-income transit users, and $41-a-month U-Pass for middle-income Vancouverites, taking 40,000 cars off the road. This program could be fully funded by Vancouver’s portion of B.C.’s recently announced carbon tax increase.
Green Party of Vancouver: The Greens would not seek to change the plan for the Broadway Subway to Arbutus, which is supported by regional mayors and significantly funded by senior governments — both of which are hard to get. Greens will push to protect businesses, heritage buildings and rental housing along the route, reduce the $500 million projected cost overrun and require studies to ensure the best transit options city-wide.
Vision Vancouver: Vision will fight to get the Broadway Subway built all the way to UBC, to improve commutes, reduce congestion, and make life better. We will make sure Vancouver seizes this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our transportation infrastructure, boost our local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
OneCity: OneCity supports more robust, affordable and accessible public transit in every part of Vancouver. We support the Broadway Subway plan, and will work with the Province and UBC to ensure it goes all the way to UBC. In addition, we support the #AllOnBoard campaign’s call for free transit for children and youth under 18, and a sliding scale monthly pass system based on income.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The electoral system is fine, Yes Vancouver says, we just need to stop passing decision-making to only two core groups: left and right, or Vision and the NPA. We need fresh perspectives that come from outside the status quo political thinking.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Before tinkering with established electoral systems, we need to work on reconnecting city hall to the people. Committed to holding town hall meetings once a year in all 23 sub-districts of Vancouver as two-way, face-to-face communication between the residents and council.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants more voices added to the debates.The province’s new election finance laws have stifled discourse by handcuffing candidates. Vancouver 1st wants more millennials out there participating, not just voting.
Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA says it is worried about the impact that secret money has had on this election. Labour groups paid for 100,000 flyers promoting Kennedy Stewart, and four full-time union staff are working to support Stewart and the rest of the labour council’s endorsed candidates, without being required to count it as part of his campaign expenses. We need to re-think the new electoral finance rules.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need to end anonymous advertising. Candidates and third-parties need to disclose donations. Our current at-large system lacks community representation. I promise this election will be the last under this system. Voters need to have confidence that city staff and politicians don’t have conflicts of interest. I will prohibit elected officials and key staff from accepting government contracts or lobbying for 12 months after leaving.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): My platform proposes a new Hybrid Ward system where five City Council members are elected to represent specific wards in the city, and five are elected to represent the city at-large to ensure that Council pays attention to local communities while still deciding on larger city-wide issues. I will also use my experience with facilitation to build a culture of collaboration and cooperation on council.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We have to get big money out of politics. Unions, developers and big business have been shaping policies for years and even this very election. This is wrong. With no ties to special interest groups, we will ensure that our electoral system is fair and operates in a way that benefits the very people we are meant to serve.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE has been fighting for a ward system for over 40 years because the current at-large voting system benefits parties with big money funding and makes it nearly impossible for neighbourhood activists to be elected. Wards can be introduced by a simple majority vote at city council. It may also be possible to introduce proportional representation in Vancouver, especially if the November referendum supports PR.
Green Party of Vancouver: We will require more transparency in budgeting and negotiations with developers, new guidelines for public engagement and more efficient permitting. We will increase access to Council with regular “open mic” sessions. We will push the province to amend local election financing legislation to close loopholes, cap donations and ban corporate and union donations all the time, not just in election years.
Vision Vancouver: Vision will take action to ensure residents are part of decision-making. We would call a Citizens Assembly on Local Election Reform to focus on these issues. In addition, Vision will improve inclusion by prioritizing engagement with people who are underrepresented in decision-making, including millennials, newcomers and urban Indigenous people.
OneCity: We support Vancouver’s 2017 Independent Election Task Force recommendation that the City convene a citizens assembly to make recommendations on switching to a proportional election system. Adopting a proportional election system would better reflect how Vancouverites cast their votes, and would create more diverse and representative city councils.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The politics over the last 10 years have been very divisive as we were not allowed the housing forms we need to support active transportation, but good transportation and good planning are linked. We need a city plan that people feel engaged in to build a Vancouver that makes them less reliant on a car.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Bike lanes are needed, but not on arterial routes. Idling cars create worse exhaust than cars moving from start to destination. All future bike infrastructure would be part of the complete community plan that includes planning recommendations, community and user input.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st believes cycling routes on the side streets should remain, and that all other cycling routes should be seasonal, with two exceptions: the West 10th Avenue cycling route in front of the hospital should be removed and the Adanac Overpass should be reopened to all traffic.
Ken Sim (NPA): Over the last 20 years our streets have gotten more congested, even though the number of cars hasn’t changed much. Bike lanes are important, and the NPA supports them, but there are some cases where bike lanes may be in the wrong places, such as near hospital entrances. The NPA will also review barriers to traffic flow, because we are all suffering from poor planning decisions.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Bike lanes are key to reducing road congestion. I support separated bike lanes as a way to encourage more people to cycle, and keep them safe. Ensuring people can afford to live close to where they work is the best way to encourage active transportation, and when we expand infrastructure we need to do it in a way that keeps all modes of transport moving.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I support the expansion of the City’s bicycle infrastructure. Having separated bike lanes is a safety issue. I support making cycling infrastructure safe for children, families, and seniors who might not otherwise feel comfortable using it. I commit to updating the Mayors’ Council Transportation 2040 Plan to increase the target for share of trips by bike from 12 per cent to 25 per cent.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): No new separated bike lanes unless one is removed from some place else. That said, we love intelligent bike lanes, just not bike lanes intentionally placed to obstruct traffic. We will audit all bike lanes for use and effectiveness. Common sense solutions, and we will get Vancouver moving again.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): The expansion of bike lanes increased dramatically starting in 1998 under the advocacy of COPE city councillor and climate scientist Fred Bass. COPE will continue to strongly support expansion of cycling and pedestrian safety infrastructure because these measures get people out of cars and are essential components in fighting climate change.
Green Party of Vancouver: We will aim to make Vancouver the most walkable city in North America. We support the expansion of Vancouver’s bicycle infrastructure, but would like to see improvements including connecting routes to increase efficiency; promoting safe cycling in public schools; a clear cost reckoning of city-subsidized bike share; and slower, safer residential streets with a mandated 30k speed limit.
Vision Vancouver: Vision supports protected bike lanes that keep people safe. Under Vision, Vancouver has seen tremendous growth in cycling in our city, especially among women and children. This is good for people’s health and the environment. Vision will continue to lead on active transportation by widening sidewalks and by expanding bike share in Vancouver.
OneCity: OneCity supports making the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users a priority. We will also initiate a city-wide accessibility audit and increase the city budget for curb ramps. OneCity believes a city that works for eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds is a better place for all.
Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to conduct a review to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars wisely, implement a new city plan that unlocks new revenue streams, and split residential from commercial (small business) and non-profit property assessments. This would level out tax increases and get us back on to a healthy financial track.
David Chen (ProVancouver): Lowering taxes without lowering expenses leads to deficits, borrowing and increased liability on the tax payer. A complete audit of the finances, core review and private contracts review needs to be done along with a switch from in-kind development amenity transfers to cash-only to normalize finances, then lower taxes if possible.
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Residential taxes for seniors will be frozen and reduced. An ombudsman for business will be set up to address on a case-by-case basis taxes paid by shopkeepers. Property taxes will be reviewed, and Vancouver 1st aims to significant cut property tax cuts as Vancouver’s fiscal situation is turned around.
Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA goal is to cap property tax increases to the rate of inflation. Right now, residents are seeing increases that are too high, without a corresponding increase in services. We will also do a much-needed full review of all the programs and policies at City Hall to find efficiencies. I think we’ll find a lot of room for improvement.
Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Tax policies would remain about the same if I were mayor. I have met with local business improvement associations and understand their concerns. I am committed to conducting a review of all city policies that impact small business, including taxation and permitting, to help support and grow our neighbourhood-based economy.
Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I will call for the appointment of a Small Business Ombudsperson. I also commit to delivering a financial report to the public on where tax revenue has been spent within 100 days as mayor to inform discussion about taxation. I’m also looking at working with B.C. Assessment and the provincial government to create a new assessment category for small businesses.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Immediately, city taxes and fees will be lowered. We will be ordering a full forensic review of the city’s books and be requesting that every department outside of sanitation find a five per cent reduction in costs.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE believes in progressive property tax, with a higher rate on more expensive properties. The Mansion Tax is a progressive tax whose revenues will be targeted to build modular and non-market housing. COPE will protect small neighbourhood businesses by seeking to establish progressive tax brackets for small, medium and large businesses.
Green Party of Vancouver: Residents can expect taxes to stay relatively the same. They can also expect more transparency, with detailed line items on city budgets — so that taxpayers know their money is being well-spent. We would seek to lighten the tax load for business through split assessment and targeted property tax reductions for long-term independently owned neighbourhood small businesses.
Vision Vancouver: Under Vision, council invested in priorities and public services that matter to people while balancing budgets. This approach has served people well. One provincial tax change we do want fixed is how small businesses are assessed at the much higher rate of a potential condo development. This is unfair for businesses and needs to be fixed.
OneCity: OneCity is proposing a Land Value Tax to dampen speculation while ensuring that real increases in land value create benefits for everyone. Revenue raised will fund affordable housing and expanded public transit. We will also work to make arts and cultural spaces affordable through a targeted tax exemption, and will support local businesses by creating a new classification of tax rates that differentiate between local independent businesses and chain stores.
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