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Battle for Vancouver council shows a tight fight between Vision, Greens at bottom of list

October 31st, 2014 · 5 Comments

Yes, I know, polls. But they remain, as imperfect as they inevitably are, a good way for us to understand what is going on with campaigns beyond the spin and headlines.

This Justason poll, which I wrote about here, is the first attempt to get online panelists to look at something resembling a ballot to make their 10 choices for council, so it’s more accurate than just asking people whether they will support COPE or Greens or Vision or NPA.

It doesn’t account, of course, for variables like — who will actually get their voters out to the polls in the real world. But, still, thought-provoking.

Here is the Justason release on the council candidates and also her earlier poll on the mayoral race.

This poll was done between Oct. 12 and 18, so any pollster or civic reporter would expect these numbers to be changing significantly in the next few weeks.

But it’s hard to see the numbers changing a lot for the new NPA candidates for council, who all fell well below the 10th-place mark for council. They are getting no push from the party in any of the advertising, which is entirely focused on mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe and the party name. They are out at community meetings in force, but speaking, as far as I can tell, to people who have already made up their minds. And, although they appear at NPA news conferences, they rarely get to speak and sometimes don’t even get introduced by name.

That’s in sharp contrast to the way Vision has been pushing new candidate Niki Sharma, who is front and centre in news conferences with the mayor, on stage at the fundraisers, and frequently mentioned in news releases.


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Robertson stumbles as he tries to answer LaPointe question about union deal

October 27th, 2014 · 39 Comments

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson can be forceful about the issues he has convictions on, but something I’ve noticed over the years is how poorly he handles questions where he thinks he might be accused of doing something wrong but he isn’t quite sure.

That was on display full force Sunday, when the mayor was asked about the audio recording made at a union meeting recently, where Geoff Meggs assured union leaders that the mayor had re-committed to a position of not contracting out any new services. Later, after Meggs and three other members of the Vision team had left, the union talked about who it would support with campaign-finance donations. Vision was the big winner, although COPE, OneCity and PEP (the last two being COPE breakaways), got some too.

Bob Mackin got the audio recording, presumably from a CUPE 1004 member, which you can listen to here and here. (Can’t imagine who that union member might have been, ha ha — see previous stories on CUPE 1004.)

The mayor could have come up with a number of reasonable-sounding arguments and even a counter-attack –i.e. was the NPA planning to privatize city services? A red herring, but, hey, that’s what campaigns are all about.

Instead, he flopped and floundered. He tried to turn the argument to the NPA’s detail-free platform. (People started jeering.) He implied, both in the debate and the scrum afterwards, that somehow Meggs was down there on his own doing some kind of freelance policy improvisation. He didn’t even seem to know that it’s been his own party’s longstanding policy not to add to what is already contracted out. He said there was no iron-clad commitment on that. (My story here.)

Robertson “clarified” all of that this morning. In the meantime, the NPA went out in full force this morning, talking about a corrupt union deal, while other anti-Vision types have been on the phone to me suggesting this is a criminal act of influence peddling.

For those wondering what it takes to be charged with actual influence peddling, a couple of examples here and here.






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This week in the Vancouver civic election campaign 2011

October 25th, 2014 · No Comments

A look back in history:

Oct. 20

Mayor Gregor Robertson pledged Wednesday a Vision Vancouver council will institute a moratorium on expanded gambling in the city if reelected on Nov. 19.

Saying citizens had made it clear they don’t favour destination casinos, Robertson said his council “would ignore” any future studies that support the expansion of gambling in Vancouver for as long as they are in power.

Robertson made his announcement – the first announcement his party has made in advance of the Nov. 19 civic election – against the backdrop of BC Place.

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

Oct. 25

Vancouver’s two major political parties will launch similar but divergent economic platforms Tuesday for the Nov. 19 civic election, heavy on the reduction of red tape and the creation of a business-friendly environment.

Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton both say their platforms will focus on job growth, and they’re using a Vancouver Board of Trade debate, the first major debate of the election, to highlight their plans.

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

Oct. 26

Protesters camping out on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery for a second week are likely headed for a showdown with the city and Mayor Gregor Robertson less than a month before he goes to the polls to try to keep his job.

“Once it starts to look less like a temporary five-day protest and more like a permanent encampment, the mayor will have no choice but to move in,” said University of Victoria political science professor emeritus Norman Ruff.

“The mayor was likely hoping the situation would resolve itself, but that looks more and more unlikely,” said Ruff.

Meanwhile, Occupy Vancouver protesters spilled into the mayoral debate at Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus Tuesday night.

Susan Lazaruk, The Proince

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Campaign pressures strip some of the veneer off mayoral candidates LaPointe, Robertson

October 25th, 2014 · 8 Comments

It’s tough to be on the political stage. A real testing ground where previously unknown (to the public) aspects of someone’s personality come out. Some critics say campaigns are a terrible process for deciding on candidates, since they’re scrutinized for the smallest and sometimes most picayune things. On the other hand, the campaign crucible does show how they respond to pressure, whether it’s over serious issues or ridiculous non-issues. I’ve always wondered whether I would survive intact, given my numerous personality defects, including the short fuse.

In this campaign, we’re seeing how both of the main candidates are dealing with that. We also see how well they defend some of the statements they make. This campaign has been rife with some gigantic whoppers or unprovable generalizations from various candidates. As the weeks go on, reporters are getting less patient with those manipulations of the evidence.

With Gregor Robertson, the public and reporters have some sense of that already because he’s been through a few election cycles. But this is the one where he’s clearly a lot less loved (putting it mildly) than in previous campaigns and he’s a guy who doesn’t deal with criticism well.

So far, it’s been much of the same we’re used to: repetition of stock lines, a heavy amount of eye-rolling (very much on display this week at the first debate) at criticisms, some strange-sounding denials.

For examples, take a look at how he did in the debate held at Langara College last week. Some key questions were from Charlie Smith, asking him if he was involved in any way with the last-minute decision to dump 15 towers into the Grandview-Woodlands plan. (Absolutely not, he said, to the disbelief of many). From Langara student Ash Kelly, asking him about the difficulty accessing city hall to get basic information. From me, asking him about how the city’s policies, which allow developers to pull down old but cheap rental housing and replace it with new and expensive rental housing. (Current examples are rife along Main Street, where redevelopment signs are sitting in front of a string of beat-up looking old fourplexes and small apartment buildings.) I pointed out that, although renters are told they can move back in with some discount on the new rent price, it’s unlikely most (or any) of them can afford that new rent, even discounted. Not the greatest answers to any of them.

But of course, it’s always more interesting to watch the newcomers. And especially someone like Kirk LaPointe, who has been on the other side of the digital recorder, notebook, and camera for most of his life. As some of you may know, he lost it a little bit at the end of a news conference this week, declining to respond to a question from me, saying he didn’t have an answer for it and that it was a “bit of an empty question.” It came at the end of a newser where he’d been challenged quite a bit by several reporters and clearly he had kind of had it.

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The NPA transportation plan: counterflow lanes on major arterials, more buses, an “affordable” subway

October 24th, 2014 · 21 Comments

I’m a few days late with this, I know. Getting kind of hectic out there.

Anyway, the NPA’s Kirk LaPointe presented the party’s plan on transportation, which was mainly more buses, an “affordable” subway built within five years (or at least aim for that), and something a lot of reporters were intrigued by — counterflow lanes on major commuter routes in Vancouver. My Globe story on it is here.

It was a bit of an odd one. You wouldn’t think it would have appeal for a lot of Vancouver residents, since the counterflow lanes would likely be most appreciated by commuters coming from the east (Burnaby/Coquitlam/North Van), north (West and North Van) and south (Richmond, Surrey, Delta).

Anyway, at least it was a new idea, so we all jumped on it.

After deadline, I got a callback from a couple of people I respect on transportation issues who gave me their assessment of the idea.

One was Dave Rudberg, the city’s former head of engineering under mayor Philip Owen and city manager Judy Rogers. He’s the calmest guy I know and a very straight shooter.

Dave said the city has looked from time to time at counterflow lanes and concluded that they’re not that practical.

In his words: “You’d have to search far and wide to find applications that would work. I wouldn’t dismiss the idea but the application is fairly limited.”

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Some residents near Granville Bridge surprised, dismayed by city decision to open shelter, hotel for homeless

October 21st, 2014 · 2 Comments

The city’s swift move to open a shelter at 900 Pacific Street, in advance of any provincial decisions about winter-shelter funding, and to lease the Quality Inn for two years, in the absence of any conversations with the province about support, is a sign of Vision Vancouver ramping things up even further in its aggressive efforts to tackle the homelessness problem.

But local residents only found out about this on the news (yes, some people still watch television, Virginia) and are not thrilled. My story.

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Province has a Friday surprise for Metro Van: Turns down bylaw on garbage-shipping ban, announces review

October 21st, 2014 · 2 Comments

Bad news always comes on Fridays in the media world, so there it was on Friday last week, the long-awaited decision from Victoria on whether to approve Metro Vancouver’s new bylaw 280. That was a measure designed to stop garbage trucks from taking waste out of the region to get it buried at cheaper landfills elsewhere.

There will be more fallout from this, I’m sure. In the meantime, waste haulers and companies wanting to build new-style recycling facilities are delighted, Metro Vancouver politicians are livid.

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Four years after CityPlan, two areas adopt Visions, but Dunbar opposed major change

October 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Council accepts Dunbar’s vision for neighbourhood: Planners said rejection of the report, which was opposed by some residents, would have undermined the future of the CityPlan.: [Final Edition]

Ward, DougView Profile. The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C] 11 Sep 1998: B4.

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COPE called CityPlan ‘weak, vague’

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments

CORE summary finds CityPlan `weak, vague': [FINAL Edition]

Bula, FrancesView Profile. The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C] 31 May 1995: B.5.

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Abstract (summary)

CityPlan: Vague, too general and weak? Or a broad vision of what people in Vancouver want that will be used to plan detailed changes to the city?

A handful of people from the city’s left-wing municipal party, Committee of Progressive Electors, held a press conference in front of city hall to talk about everything that’s wrong with CityPlan.

In the afternoon, planning director Ann McAfee presented her summary of CityPlan. However, council deferred any discussion until the last round of public delegations is heard on Thursday.

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A look back in history: CityPlan is finalized December 1994

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments

Kinda scary, but apparently I was covering CityPlan 20 years ago. A look back in time at some of the real debates going on.


Reaction to city’s urban-village vision of the future not all neighborly: [FINAL C Edition]

Bula, FrancesView Profile. The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C] 06 Dec 1994: B3.

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Abstract (summary)

Twenty thousand people participated to come up with what appears to be the final conclusion, at least as it shows up in surveys and questionnaires: Most people in Vancouver are willing to take in the 160,000 new residents calculated as the city’s share of the growth predicted to the year 2021 for the Greater Vancouver region. And if they have to take them in, they’d rather have them absorbed by building up about 20 urban villages in the city, rather than using up industrial land or spreading them out through Vancouver.

The burr under the saddle here is people like [Eleanor Riddell], Charles Dobson, Mel Lehan, Jan Pierce, Ron Hawkes, Gillian Watson-Donald and others. They’re worried about how fair the CityPlan process was and, more important, how much control neighborhoods will really have over development.

Some, like Pierce and Riddell, feel railroaded by the city. “There’s some concern that CityPlan was driven by projections that Vancouver would have to absorb a certain number of people,” said Riddell, who got involved with city planning through her neighborhood group, the Cartier Hudson Athlone Team. “I sat in as a facilitator at some meetings and certainly at the end of it, there was a feeling that we were driven to absorb more than what some people wanted.”


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