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Dianne Watts: “Saddened and disappointed” by Rasode’s actions, “will not engage in electioneering”

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

This just out from Mayor Dianne Watts’ office

SURREY, BC – “I am saddened and disappointed that Councillor Rasode feels she is unable to work within the team environment to bring issues forward to council and our committees.

Myself and council will continue to support Councillor Rasode in her role as the Chair of Community Safety. As she has held the Public Safety portfolio for the past two years we will continue to encourage her to bring issues forward to council chambers for discussion.

There is a significant amount of work we are undertaking to move the City of Surrey forward and this continues to remain my top priority. At this point in time, I will remain focused on that task and will not engage in electioneering.”

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Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode quits Dianne Watts’ party, says “systemic failure” at city hall

April 17th, 2014 · 2 Comments

This is erupting all over. Here is Rasode’s actual email, courtesy of the Surrey Now.



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Anyone want a job bringing a civic political party back to life? COPE is looking for an organizer

April 16th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Okay, before you sent the angry comments, I know that COPE is full of life, brimming over with passionate policy advocates and their ideas on how to end inequality in this city.

But I meant back to life on council, school board and park board.

Anyway, here’s the job posting.

In the leadup to the November civic election, the Coalition of Progressive Electors is hiring a full-time Organizer. The organizer will be responsible for COPE’s on-the-ground campaign.

COPE’s Executive Director Sean Antrim said: “Two weeks ago, our members got together and adopted policy to build real affordable housing, protect renters, eliminate transit fares, and make Vancouver a Sanctuary City. We’re going to beat the real-estate backed parties by knocking on doors and talking about these policies.”

A job posting is available on the COPE website at

Applications will be accepted until 10:00am on May 5th.

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Hillcrest community centre sees battles erupt inside and outside board

April 15th, 2014 · 18 Comments

What a mess.

The two groups of board directors from Hillcrest Riley Park were at B.C. Supreme Court most of yesterday (somewhat to the bemusement of Judge Anthony Saunders, who had been called in from New Westminster to deal with this pressing case) with tales of directors being ousted from the board, unexplained spending, charges for membership going through to a charity affiliated to president Jesse Johl, and much more.

In the meantime, back at the centre, there have been huge fights over releasing association money for Halloween and Easter activities to the park-board staff trying to plan things. Local residents are irate. Park-board staff are feeling harassed. Et cetera.

This is all with a backdrop of Hillcrest being one of the most vocal associations fighting the park board over its plan to get all its centres to sign on to a single-membership deal and to share the money they take in from their programming with have-not community centres. While all the associations have concerns about the park board’s plans to change everything, six associations decided to fight it in court rather than negotiate privately.

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Vancouver mayor hopes to channel immigrant, international-investor money out of real estate, into other businesses

April 14th, 2014 · 22 Comments

There’s nothing that makes a person realize how much their city is just a pebble on a beach that the ocean’s tides are washing over more than going to an international convention about real-estate development. (BLOCK that metaphor, someone is begging right now.)

Three thousand people gathered at the convention centre last week to talk about where global capital is flowing and what kinds of real-estate products it is interested in, using language that is way beyond most of us. But the underlying message was clear in many panels: International investors like Vancouver. They’re going to keep coming. They might even start buying whole apartment buildings, not just condos and houses.

We shouldn’t feel picked on, though. Everyone is everywhere. Canadians are buying American real estate. The Dutch and Germans are buying American real estate. The Australians are interested in Japan. China is buying everywhere.

I wrote about one small piece of the conversation from the Urban Land Institute convention, quoting the mayor and deputy city manager on the issue, among others. (It’s always instructive to hear how your city officials talk to an international audience compared to the at-home one.)

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Vancouver election time: $50,000 dinners, $25,000 lunches, candidates coming and going + more

April 8th, 2014 · 175 Comments

Tried to wrap up all various things going on election-wise with the two big parties these days, which is a fair amount. This is all I could cram in to my Globe story.

But to sum up what’s in there, plus more:

- NPA fundraiser/gala May 7, where they will announce some candidates. Apparently no nomination meeting? The party’s green-light committee is going through applicants now (who apparently have to pay a $2,000 fee for the privilege). Although the NPA spokesperson said there might still be a nominating meeting, hard to see how that could get organized and put on in the next 30 days. And wouldn’t there need to be a membership cut-off, etc?

- NPA charging $3,500 a table for regular folks, and 20, 30 or $50,000 for those who want to be bigger sponsors/partners or whatever

- No word yet on Vision major fundraiser, but as Sam Cooper reported in the Province a while ago, Bob Rennie organized a $25,000-a-plate lunch with the mayor for developers in February.

- Vision is losing four of its five park-board commissioners. It’s a rough job that pays $8,000 for a whole lot of grief these days. Trevor Loke is staying, I think. Niki Sharma is going to make a run for council. Sarah Blyth, Aaron Jasper, and Constance Barnes are all moving on. I hear from various sources that they weren’t too happy about Niki Sharma being the one anointed to move on up to council, but none of them will confirm that. Blyth says she’s going to focus on family and volunteering; Jasper says he’s going to focus on his two kids under three and community work; and Barnes has something to announce soon, but I’ll let her do that on her own schedule.

- Besides Sharma, lawyer/community activist Catherine Evans is also planning to run for a council opening.

- Vision will hold a meeting May 4 to get members to do a “review vote” of incumbents, give them the green light to go ahead (or, in an unlikely scenario, not). Sometime between then and June 14, Vision will decide how many candidates it will run. (It only ran seven last time for the 10-member council under its agreement with COPE.) June 14 will be the run-off for any opened-up spots.

- I’m hearing lots of buzz about various possible NPA candidates. I don’t have time to call everyone up and get the runaround, so here are the names I’m hearing.

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Hillcrest/Riley Park community centre politics generate tizzy

April 7th, 2014 · 23 Comments

People keep sending me this change to the Riley Park community centre bylaws, which I note, among other things, will require anyone elected to the board to be approved by the other directors. Not sure how that will work.

Anyway, lots of buzz about this.



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Bike share: Coming to Seattle, delayed in San Francisco, doubted in New York — someday in Vancouver?

April 6th, 2014 · 30 Comments

It really takes a full-time national reporter to stay on top of the bike-share thing, with all the various news events. Among them in the past month:

- Montreal got four offers for the international arm of Bixi recently, but decided none were good enough.

- The City of Montreal will provide enough money ($4.3 mil) to keep Bixi bike-share going on its own city for one more year.

- Toronto is stepping up to keep bike-share going there, with a new name and Alta Bicycle Share (the company Vancouver is working with) managing the system.

- Seattle, which is also planning to incorporate a helmet-dispensing system, JUST LIKE US, and has been working with Alta Bicycle Share, JUST LIKE US,  is saying they’re hoping to be functional by summer.

- Negative stories recently out of New York and worries about poor operations of the system there. (Alta Bicycle Share)

- Continued delays of the system expansion in San Francisco/Bay Area

- A response from Alta

- And my story recently in Urban Land magazine, which took a look at the big picture. (Will the troubles of Bixi kill bike share? Umm, no. But there are some big issues to figure out.)

- By the way, we’re still waiting for news here in Vancouver.


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Downtown Eastside non-profits feel a chill in the aftermath of PHS implosion

April 2nd, 2014 · 7 Comments

Housing and service groups in Vancouver have been facing a tough question from the public, ever since an audit released three weeks ago showed that PHS Community Services was spending its money in all kinds of unexpected ways. That question: How do we know you are any more trustworthy?

After all, many people would think, PHS operated for 20 years without government apparently finding any problems. The wonky spending (travel to Europe, etc.) only came to light because PHS started to run deficits and provincial agencies started to ask for a closer look at the books, which then entailed a closer look at the VISA bills. By the normal measure for charities — how much is being spent on administration — PHS looked good.

So now, they’re asking, how do we know about any of you? Several people at several agencies, who said they’ve heard versions of those concerns, answered that question for me. One is looking at posting all of its audits online. Others are grappling with the issue in other ways. (And for those who don’t spend their evenings reading Twitter to keep on top of everything, the Vancouver Sun has been doing a good series looking at the financials for other non-profits in the Downtown Eastside.)

In other efforts to understand what happened at PHS, a writer I know well :) looked at some of the dynamics that led to the PHS mess for The Tyee.

One note: The Bloom Group said they have a note in their annual report indicating they make their financial statements available to anyone who asks. I took that to me they could be picked up at the office. In fact, anyone interested in that information can call to ask questions and, if desired, get a copy of the financial statement mailed to them. In other words, don’t trek down to the office.


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Greens step up efforts to get seats on Vancouver council, COPE sets new policy

April 1st, 2014 · 182 Comments

All of us who care about politics in the city are waiting to see which of the potential Vision challengers will mount the most effective, publicly appealing option for those wishing to park their votes somewhere besides with the ruling party.

The two parties on what some would describe as the left were in action the past few days, with COPE holding a policy-development weekend and the Greens announcing three new candidates who will run along with Adriane Carr in the fall.

Absolutely not to my surprise, Pete Fry of the Strathcona Residents’ Association is one of the new Green candidates, as is Tracey Moir, who has been leading the charge against Oakridge in that neck of the woods.

COPE chair Tim Louis said he sees the two parties as sharing a lot of values and he hopes that, whatever COPE members decide in terms of how many candidates to run, the two will complement each other rather than competing.


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