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Posts Tagged "council"

2Oct

Vancouver council approves fees for ride-hailing trips in the city centre | CBC News

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People taking an Uber or Lyft within the confines Vancouver’s central core will be paying nearly $1 in municipal and provincial fees.

Vancouver became the first municipality in the Lower Mainland to pass regulations around ride-hailing on Wednesday, with council approving up to 60 cents in fees — a 30 cent fee for every pickup and drop off in the “Metro Core” region — defined as the area east of Burrard Street, west of Clark Drive and north of 16th Avenue. 

The fee is in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with revenue going toward managing congestion.

An additional 30 cent fee has been created by the province for all rides in B.C., regardless of time, with the money supporting accessibility. 

In both cases, the fees will not apply for accessible vehicles. Most major cities in Canada have additional fees of 20 to 30 cents per trip.

In addition to the municipal and provincial fees, ride-hailing companies in B.C. will have to set the same minimum rate as taxi companies, which varies between $3.25 and $3.95 depending on the region.

The province’s regulations around ride-hailing do not allow municipalities to withhold business licences but allows them to put additional regulations on companies operating within their borders.

“It’s important for us to bring in some interim measures immediately to do our best to manage the launch of ride-hailing,” said Lon LeClaire, Vancouver’s director of transportation.

Rides would have to pay a 30 cent fee for trips between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. that begin in Vancouver’s Metro Core and an additional 30 cent fee if it ends in the Metro Core. (City of Vancouver)

$100 yearly business licence fee

While councillors were on board with the 30 cent fee, there was significant debate over a proposal by city staff of a $100 yearly business licence for each driver.

Representatives for both Uber and Lyft worried that if other municipalities copied Vancouver with their own fees, drivers would choose to stick to the one or two municipalities with the most customers and fewest municipal boundaries.

“Are we putting in too many barriers, so most people choose to just drive in Vancouver because it’s the most profitable market?” asked Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung. 

“I [don’t support] a Vancouver-only model that moves ahead without looking at an entire municipal approach. What that smacks of to me is the taxi approach, where we are creating false challenges to having vehicles go across municipal boundaries.”

City staff noted they were also lowering the yearly licence for taxis to $100 ,down significantly from $616, in order to create the more “level playing field” between taxis and ride-hailing companies that council had previously asked for.

In the end, an amendment was passed directing staff to review the $100 licence fee after six months, following consultations with other municipalities in the region.

City manager Sadhu Johnston said he expected Vancouver’s legislation to serve as a template for other municipalities, but Vancouver would continue to fine tune its bylaws when they see the impacts of ride-hailing company operations  which are expected to begin by the end of the year.  

“This will be very dynamic,” he said. “We’re going to be watching it closely. We’re trying to avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve seen in other cities.”

12Sep

Delta council to vote on motion opposing Uber and Lyft

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https://vancouversun.com/


FILE PHOTO: Long-time former City of Delta mayor and current councillor Lois Jackson wants her colleagues to back a plan to suspend the introduction of ride-hailing in B.C.


Ric Ernst / PNG

Longtime former City of Delta mayor and current councillor Lois Jackson wants her colleagues to back a plan to suspend the introduction of ride-hailing in B.C.

On Sept. 16, at the regular meeting of City of Delta council, Jackson will present a motion opposing the ride-hailing rules introduced by the Passenger Transportation Board on Aug. 19. Jackson will also ask that an emergency resolution be presented at the Sept. 23-27 Union of B.C. Municipalities conference calling for all municipalities to oppose the regime of rules that she believes are unfair to existing taxi companies.

The move comes as Surrey mayor Doug McCallum has promised there will be no ride-hailing in his city, and as taxi drivers pursue legal action to override the set of rules introduced by the board.

Taxi drivers are particularly upset with the rules that limit where they can drive, while ride-hail cars can cover a wider area, that there will be an unlimited number of ride-hailing cars, while taxi numbers are limited, and that ride-hailing operators will be able to charge what the market will bear during busy times.

In Jackson’s motion she also points out that taxi companies are legally obliged to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles in their fleet, while ride-hailing companies are not. The motion states that the Passenger Transportation Board did not consult with municipalities, regional districts, public transit agencies or disability groups when they came up with their rules.

Staff at the City of Richmond have also recommended that the city ask the provincial government to look at the discrepancies between rules governing taxis and those governing ride-hailing. The recommendation was approved by council on Sept. 9.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issued a statement that the City of Surrey could not prevent ride-hailing companies from operating in within its boundaries.

Jackson is one of seven persons on council. In last October’s municipal election Jackson was one five elected that ran under the Achieving For Delta banner.

Globally, ride-hailing is dominated by Uber and Lyft. In April, May and June this year, Uber lost $5.2 billion, while Lyft lost $644 million – both off increased revenues.

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11Jun

City council expected to debate policy preventing legal weed sales in DTES

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The debate on a motion proposing easier access for opioid alternatives in the city’s Downtown Eastside is expected to begin again Wednesday, when Vancouver city council meets to discuss policy and strategic priorities.

Submitted by Coun. Rebecca Bligh in late May, the motion titled “Cannabis as an Alternative to Opiates and More Dangerous Drugs on the Downtown Eastside” proposes amending an almost four-year-old exclusion zone keeping medical marijuana from being sold to one of the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“What I’m asking is well-considered exceptions to that rule, and that city staff come back and make recommendations to council,” Bligh told CTV News Vancouver in an interview Tuesday.

Vancouver’s city council approved a restrictive licensing regulation for “medical-cannabis” dispensaries in the Downtown Eastside in 2015, prohibiting marijuana sales on any properties that do not have a property line on either Hastings or Main streets.

In her motion, Bligh suggests the idea behind this exclusion zone was to limit the amount of cannabis being sold to a significantly vulnerable subset of the population. This decision was made before the opioid crisis set in however, and since April 2016, the councillor says more than 3,600 people have died in B.C. due to overdose, including 1,000 people in Vancouver alone.

“I don’t propose this is the right time to simply dismiss the exclusionary zoning, even though studies show in North America exclusionary zoning … it’s just not the best way to go about city planning,” said Bligh.

The councillor cites a study by University of British Columbia cannabis science specialist Dr. M-J Milloy, which showed hard drug users respond better to marijuana than opioid substitution treatment plans.

“We’re hearing form frontline workers and they’re dealing day to day with what’s happening in the Downtown Eastside, and I’ve heard from countless people that this is absolutely something we need to be taking proactive action on,” she said.

As it stands, there are four locations in the DTES with approved Development Permits from the city. Bligh contends, however, that in order to move forward with the mandatory provincial licensing application phase, they would need to shut down with no guarantee they’d be able to re-open. 

The councillor says the city should acknowledge the research done and funded by UBC and Simon Fraser University to ensure policies aren’t restricting a “progressive program” that could help people in the Downtown Eastside.

Referring to Milloy’s research, Bligh says shutting down those shops in the Downtown Eastside would limit people’s ability to access affordable legal marijuana, which could result in them turning back to opioids.

She adds that before the legalization process took hold,  a medicinal cannabis shop was able to sell at prices between three and six dollars per gram, which she says is affordable for people on disability or social assistance programs.

“As the recreational use of cannabis and the licensing that goes with that comes into effect, so does management of the supply chain, and management of the margins,” said Bligh. “Now we’re looking at these shops opening up and their market value for cannabis is now $12-15 per gram, which is totally unaffordable for people on limited income.”

This could effectively rob DTES residents and drug users of access to retail cannabis for the foreseeable future, the councillor claims.

The motion argues that both the Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society and High Hopes Social Enterprise, a DTES support and sustainability organization, support low-cost, legal cannabis options backed by Dr. Evan Wood, the executive director of the BC Centre on Substance Use, as well as Dr. Mark Tyndall, Executive Medical Director for BC Centre for Disease Control, and Dr. M-J Milloy.

Bligh said she believes the city and Vancouver Coastal Health have an opportunity to good for a large group of people working together, however admitted it could be difficult for the health organization to endorse a motion that affects a smaller, yet high-need group of the population.

“Evidence is leaning towards this as a viable recommendaiton and option towards harm reduction, but this would be far too soon for Coastal Health to eb able to bless that, and we deeply respect the work they do,” the councillor said.


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25Mar

Vancouver council approves supports for homeless campers in city Park

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man stands by his tent as Vancouver Police and Fire crews check for safety violations at the homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Vancouver’s council and park board have directed staff to provide support for dozens of campers living in Oppenheimer Park, but its not clear when that will happen.

The move comes as a new B.C. Coroners Service report has shown an alarming uptick of deaths of homeless people in the province, particularly in Vancouver.

Council earlier this month approved a motion directing city and park board staff to work together to provide 24-hour washroom access, storage facilities and a temporary warming station in or near Oppenheimer Park. The Downtown Eastside park has had, by some estimates, between 80 and 100 homeless people bedding down in tents each night in recent months, including through last month’s cold and snowy weather.

The council motion was introduced by COPE Coun. Jean Swanson, who says that in her four decades of anti-poverty work in the Downtown Eastside, she has never seen as many campers living in the park in snowy conditions as this year.

“For heaven’s sake, we have all those people living there, and they have no place to pee at night,” Swanson said Monday. “That is a public health nightmare.”

The city council motion, approved March 14, followed a similar motion approved on March 11 by the Vancouver park board, directing park board and city staff to work together to provide supports in Oppenheimer Park.

Those additional supports were not yet in place as of Monday, the City of Vancouver wrote in an emailed statement Monday, and “city staff are still determining the timeline and next steps for implementing the direction from the council motion.”

The original language of Swanson’s motion, which she tried to introduce last month, directed city staff to work with B.C. Housing “to rent a hotel or motel to house the Oppenheimer Park patrons.” But other councillors amended the motion this month to replace the words “rent a hotel or motel” with “continue to explore ways to fund temporary and/or permanent accommodations, with appropriate support services.”

Over the years, groups of varying sizes have camped in Oppenheimer Park, including a tent city that grew to as many as 200 tents in the fall of 2014. But the number of campers there this winter was thought to be a record high for the time of year, said Fiona York, a coordinator with the Carnegie Community Action Project, which supported Swanson’s motion.


Even during the cold spell last month, there were plenty of people living n tents in Oppenheimer Park.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

York said Monday she had counted 42 tents in the park over this past weekend, many of which could be shared by two or three campers.

Last week, the Coroners Service released a report showing that in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the province had 175 deaths of homeless people, a 140 per cent increase over 2015. The city of Vancouver had a 250 per cent increase in deaths of homeless people in that period.

In 2016, 53 per cent of deaths of homeless people resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning, an increase over previous years. B.C.’s chief health officer declared a public health emergency in April 2016 over the surging number of drug overdoses, mostly linked to fentanyl.

Since 2017, Vancouver’s modular housing program has provided homes for 606 people who had been facing homelessness, using funding from the provincial government.

Many activists, including Swanson, have said the modular housing is a welcome addition, but the need far outstrips the supply.

The most recent Metro Vancouver homeless count found 3,605 people homeless in the region, up 30 per cent from the previous count in 2014. The City of Vancouver’s own count last year found 2,181 homeless residents in the city proper.

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15Feb

TransLink mayors’ council votes “yes” on SkyTrain to UBC

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Buses and riders at the UBC bus exchange on January 30 2019.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

The TransLink Mayors’ Council has endorsed SkyTrain as the technology for the transit extension to the University of British Columbia.

At a meeting Friday morning, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted in favour of moving ahead with planning for SkyTrain, with only two mayors opposed. The decision was in line with a recommendation made by TransLink staff in late January.

Ahead of the decision, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that in the interest of acting “collaboratively” on a regional decision, he would not be calling for a weighted vote.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum told the council he’d heard from UBC students and employees in his city who were looking forward to getting to campus by rapid transit.

“We’re certainly fully supportive of it,” he said.

Several mayors said they supported transit to UBC, but had concerns about the cost of the line and its priority over other transportation projects.

“It is not the only important transit project in the region,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan, adding “we need to look at the long-term needs of the region.”

White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker worried the council seemed to be “rushing headlong into something several years out,” without really knowing what future growth of the region would look like.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart had questions about SNC-Lavalin and its involvement in future SkyTrain projects.

A staff report included in the meeting’s agenda said staff believe “an extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line is the only technology option that can provide sufficient capacity to meet demand beyond 2045.”

The report also noted other potentially lower-cost alternatives, including light rail transit (LRT), had been “thoroughly explored and eliminated because of capacity limitations and deliverability challenges.”

Ridership for a new rapid transit line from Arbutus to UBC is projected to exceed 118,000 in 2045, which is more than the current Millennium Line corridor.

During the meeting, the mayor’s council also heard from several people who work at UBC and supported the line. Some spoke about their difficulties getting to and from campus on existing transit.

A representative of UBC’s Alma Mater Society said the line would promote “accessibility and equity of education and employment.”

Engineering student Kevin Wong told the council he commutes for two to three hours each day, some days leaving home at 6 a.m. and not returning until 11 p.m.

“SkyTrain to UBC would cut my commute in half,” he said.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has been a strong advocate of extending rapid transit to UBC.

In late January, Vancouver city council voted nine-to-two to endorse a SkyTrain extension from Arbutus Street to UBC, and to direct staff to “advance the design development including public consultation to determine station locations, vertical and horizontal alignment.”

Procurement has begun for the Millennium Line extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus through a bored tunnel under Broadway. It’s estimated that the project will cost $2.83 billion and be completed in 2025.

The second phase of the 10-year transportation plan for the region set aside $3 million to develop concept designs and undertake pre-business-case work for the line to UBC. The last evaluation of options for the line was done in 2012, so last year TransLink hired a consultant to do a study to consider technology, operating assumptions, demand forecasts and costs.

Four options had been considered: optimized B-Line bus service, light rail from Arbutus to UBC, light rail from Main Street-Science World to UBC and SkyTrain from Arbutus to UBC.

The updated study found that by 2030 the B-Line and parallel corridors would be overcrowded. By 2045, both light-rail routes would be near or over-capacity, and parallel corridors would be crowded. SkyTrain would also be nearing capacity, however, it could be doubled with higher frequency and longer trains.

A preliminary cost estimate, in 2018 dollars, for a fully tunnelled SkyTrain extension would be $3.3 billion-$3.8 billion. However, the report notes inflation would push the cost to $4.1 billion-$4.8 billion if procurement begins in 2025 and the project is completed in 2030.

With files by Jennifer Saltman

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14Jan

Free transit for youths pitch to be made to Vancouver council

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Coun. Jean Swanson wants the City of Vancouver to support free transit for children and youths up to 18 years of age.

Council members will consider her motion Tuesday to draft a letter to regional officials in support of more equitable transit fares including a sliding scale for low-income residents.

Swanson said Monday that her No. 1 reason for supporting a campaign started by #AllOnBoard last year is to increase safety for youths and adults.

She said people can sometimes get stuck if they don’t have bus fare and have to walk home or take “rides with people they don’t know. That’s not safe.”

She also supports free transit to increase accessibility to the city’s amenities. She estimated it would cost a family of five in east Vancouver $20 bus fare to ride to beaches on the west side of the city.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said.

“It means a huge proportion of people in our city just can’t enjoy parts of the city that other people that have more money can enjoy.”

Swanson also believes that lower bus fares and improved transit service means fewer trips by car which will help reduce global warming.

Swanson said she’s had nothing but “positive feedback” about her motion.

Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.


Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.

Nick Procaylo /

PNG files

She doesn’t have any estimate on costs, she said, because this is a first step in figuring out how to create a more equitable transit system.

“It is to ask the regional bodies in control of this to come up with a plan and source of funding,” she said.

“Some of the technical details still have to be worked out.”

The #AllOnBoard campaign by the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition has already been endorsed by Port Moody and New Westminster.

Jill Drews, senior issues management advisor for TransLink, said the organization is working with government officials to explore what it might mean to bring in free fares for younger riders.

TransLink doesn’t know how many riders under 18 it has because it doesn’t track ridership by age, she said.

“What we have seen in other jurisdictions that have opened up fare free transit for youths, they’ve had a big increase in ridership,” Drews said.

Drews said the cost of introducing free fares for youths “would be in the tens of millions a year” but had no specific details on the amount.

“We’re doing some modelling and looking at how we can quantify that better,” she said.

‘We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support’ for a free transit plan for youth, says #AllOnBoard campaign coordinator Viveca Ellis.


‘We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support’ for a free transit plan for youth, says #AllOnBoard campaign coordinator Viveca Ellis.

Mike Bell /

PNG

Viveca Ellis, who is coordinating the #AllOnBoard campaign, said transit should have much more public funding so access is as equitable as health care and education.

“Given our provincial commitment to reducing poverty, we need the mayors’ council and Metro Vancouver to discover the impact of mobility and lack of affordability on all citizens,” said Ellis, leadership development coordinator for the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

“We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support to make it happen to implement these necessary measures.”

In Metro Vancouver, a maximum of four children under five can ride on TransLink for free when accompanied by a passenger with proof of payment; children aged five to 18 pay $1.90 concession or $1.85 with a Compass Card in one zone.

Last year, Seattle city council voted to spend $7 million ($9.1 million Cdn.) to provide free bus service to 16,000 high school students. Seattle is now the largest city in the U.S. to provide free, year-round transit for high school students.

In Toronto, students 12 and under ride for free.

Calgary Transit addresses poverty in its sliding-scale fares based on income. A low-income monthly pass ranges from $5.30 for a single person household earning $12,699 or less to $53 a month for a household of seven people earning $56,997 to $67,055.

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