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Oh no, Vancouver is No. 1 on some list or another again

July 2nd, 2014 · 32 Comments

At least there’s a chance that these readers won’t be staying around forever.

VANCOUVER, BC (July 2, 2014): The results are in: Vancouver is officially Canada’s top travel destination, according to readers of prestigious travel magazine Travel + Leisure.

Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards survey asks readers to evaluate cities on five characteristics: sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people and value. Vancouver’s score this year was 86.71, making it the top city in Canada and sixth best in North America (U.S. and Canada). And it seems that visitors are growing more enamored with the city every year: in the 2013 survey, Vancouver placed second in Canada and ninth in North America.

Vancouver also swept the World’s Best Hotel category with five of the top 10 Canadian hotels located here. Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver captured the title of Canada’s premier hotel, followed by Rosewood Hotel Georgia (2), Wedgewood Hotel and Spa (6), The Fairmont Waterfront (7) and Fairmont Pacific Rim (9).

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Transit referendum won’t be until spring 2015 at the earliest

June 27th, 2014 · 42 Comments

Mayors decided yesterday that holding it at the same time as the November election is just too early and would likely sideline a crucial group of voters — university and college students.

Story here.

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Big battle of political campaigns set for Surrey as Hepner, Rasode and maybe McCallum? teams gear up

June 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment

It is going to be a crazy election fight this year in Surrey if Barinder Rasode keeps going with her bid for mayor. She has got some heavyweights with her, including Mark Marissen (very experienced hand at rounding up the Indo vote for the federal Liberals), Jatinder Rai and, I hear, a veteran Conservative campaigner who worked on Christy Clark’s campaign.

Then, as we saw this week, Linda Hepner and Surrey First came out with a new team, plus their own set of heavy-hitting campaigners: Stew Braddick and Mike Witherly. Also, as I tweeted out on the day of the announcement, Patrick Kinsella is in the mix. Observers pointed out to me that my picture of Patrick also included Prem Vinning.

Needless to say, Mayor Dianne Watts made a point of boosting the Linda Hepner/Surrey First campaign with an unequivocal endorsement.

I’ve also just heard that former mayor Doug McCallum is planning to announce a run sometime in early July.

My Globe story on Hepner’s announcement is here. Kelly Sinoski at the Vancouver Sun was also present and, if you can get past the paywall to read it, her story with details I didn’t have is here.

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Riley Park Hillcrest members hold special meeting to remove community centre board

June 25th, 2014 · 5 Comments

Oh dear. Things not going well. Here’s the notice from one of the members

Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association

Extraordinary General Meeting

7 pm June 26

Hillcrest Centre Room 328


Special Resolution 1: Removal of current Board of Directors from office for cause:
• No financial statements issued since 2012 AGM
• No minutes of meetings issued since 2012 AGM

Special Resolution 2: Delete changes to bylaws made by current Board of Directors at 2013 AGM, but not published until April 7, 2014

Ordinary Resolution 3: Election of interim directors mandated to serve until 2014 AGM can be called

Only members may vote. You may join the Community Association at the Hillcrest Centre front desk.

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Young, diverse slate wins big at Vision park-board nomination

June 23rd, 2014 · 39 Comments

I dropped by the voting and the announcement yesterday of the winner’s in Vision Vancouver’s run-off for park-board and school-board candidates on this fall’s slate.

Obviously, Vision is touting this as a huge sign of democracy in action, with 1,650 voters out, and critics seeing it as a triumph of slate voting for a group favoured by the Vision backroom. It certainly is a success for Vision on one level, to get this group of relatively young people involved, with representation from the city’s increasingly active Filipino community and always active Indo community.

I’m not sure about either claim, as the obvious NDP vs. left (federal) Liberal partisanship that emerged was not totally what the party was looking for. In the past, Vision has tended to slightly favour the federal Liberals as a way of trying to capture the centre (remember when they chose fed Liberal Ian Baillie rather than forever NDPer Stephen Learey as ED for the party several years ago?).

Seemed to me, from what I heard, that the slate win was more an issue of a group that took advantage of lots of support from experienced NDP organizers (people who’ve worked with Dix, Eby, Elmore) to mount a full-on campaign that the others weren’t really expecting. (Nicholas Ellan, on Twitter, said it was coming into a knife fight with a bazooka — an apt metaphor.)

I know that some of those running — experienced community activists who have put in their time with Vision, like Catherine Evans and Brent Granby — were a bit stunned by the results, which saw the least well-known member of the slate, Corree Tull, come in a full 300-400 votes ahead of them.

And why all the interest in park board, you might ask?

Well, although someone on Twitter reprimanded me for suggesting it, it’s obvious that it’s a good first step for anyone who is contemplating a political career. Spencer Herbert was a park-board commissioner when his party wasn’t even in power but he used the position so effectively, garnered so much media attention through his savvy, that he was a shoo-in for the NDP nomination later. That doesn’t mean everyone who ran for park board is planning to move on up or that they don’t care about park-board issues. But clearly park board is a place for minor-league tryouts, to show how you handle being in the public eye and what you can do with your tiny position of power. (After all, these people only make about $13,000 a year and their budget is largely controlled by city council, so it’s not like they can remake the universe.)

Vision put out the exact vote count this morning. Appended here for the numbers oriented among you.
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NPA board will not endorse Denike and Woo for nomination

June 17th, 2014 · 153 Comments

Another NPA board meeting, another raft of news

Vancouver, B.C. (June 17, 2014) – The NPA Vancouver Board of Directors has voted to support the recent expulsion of school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from the NPA Caucus. The Board also decided that Denike and Woo will not receive the party’s endorsement as candidates in the upcoming municipal election.

NPA President Peter Armstrong said the Caucus’s decision to expel Denike and Woo was not unexpected.

“The Caucus has had ongoing issues with Ken and Sophia for a long time and the Board has been aware of this,” said Armstrong. “The raucous news conference called by Ken and Sophia last week was just one issue among many that forced the Caucus to take action.”

The NPA Caucus formally expelled Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from Caucus late last week having concluded that Denike and Woo did not share the same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and noting that the two had chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting the other members of Caucus.

The NPA celebrates and supports the diversity of all of the people in our city and fully supports efforts to assist LGBTQ+ and Gender Variant persons in our community and in our schools. Fostering inclusion and understanding is central among the NPA’s guiding principles.

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Barinder Rasode aiming to be first South Asian woman mayor in North America

June 17th, 2014 · 3 Comments

While everyone awaits the announcement on June 19 that Councillor Linda Hepner will be the candidate for Surrey First, breakaway councillor Barinder Rasode is out and running.

Her strategy of using her rented office space as a place for community events is kind of interesting — I haven’t seen that one before. And she seems to have gathered a fair bit of support already.

But it seems to be a very open question whether there’s enough dissatisfaction among likely voters in Surrey to overcome the Surrey First machine that Dianne Watts created. It’s still very early days in this race. I hear that various high-powered federal Liberal types are getting involved in Hepner’s campaign.

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NPA caucus is expelling school trustees Ken Denike, Sophia Woo

June 13th, 2014 · 82 Comments

Holy cow, this is a bombshell.

NPA Caucus Expels Denike and Woo

Vancouver, B.C. (June 13, 2014) — The NPA Caucus announced this afternoon that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo have been formally expelled from Caucus.

The decision to expel Denike and Woo was necessary given that the two have chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting with the other members of Caucus. The Caucus has concluded that Denike and Woo do not share the same level of sensivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.

The NPA Caucus celebrates and supports the diversity of all of the people of our city and fully supports efforts to assist LGBTQ+ and Gender Variant persons in our community and in our schools. Fostering inclusion and understanding is central among the NPA’s guiding principles.

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Two (or three?) more senior staff gone in Vancouver

June 11th, 2014 · 10 Comments

Word from various sources, including @VancouverInsider, that two more senior staff have departed Vancouver city hall: senior engineer Karyn Magnusson, the person who nobly provided her back yard for the mayor’s demonstration of the new organic-composting system last year, off to UBC, and Dennis Carr, assistant director in housing, gone back to Canada’s mysterious east.

I also heard that Eric Bayfield, also in engineering, quit. Handily, the city’s online staff directory is now helping out with that kind of update.

You are looking for: bayfield
Number of matches: 1

Name Telephone Title Department Email

Erik Bayfield
Streets, Traffic and Electrical Operations

Getting a little difficult to keep track of everyone’s who quit — and not just boomers retiring, but younger people, moving on to different jobs.

Can you help me make a list? I think is started, way back when, with
Melissa Scholefield (head of sustainability group, first senior staffer who left not because she was driven out as part of the old NPA team but suspected by all to have left because of weird working conditions)

Just prior to this group listed above, it was

Scot Hein (also to UBC)
Matt Shillito (back to England)
Vicki Potter (retiring)

There were, of course, various people who resigned right after Vision came in: Jody Andrews, James Ridge, deputy city managers.

Then a bunch of people in the middle

Don MacPherson, drug-policy director
Mike Flanigan, director of real estate services (off to BCHousing, viewed as a particularly big loss for the city)
Marg Coulson, city clerk
Jill Davidson, housing planner
Trish French, senior planner
Ronda Howard, senior planner
Kevin Ramsay, HR manager
Mairi Welman, director of communications (along with a whole other whack of people in communications, including one guy who quit six weeks after he was hired)

I know this list is extremely incomplete — remind me of the others?

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Character houses in Vancouver being demolished at higher rate than newer ones

June 11th, 2014 · 15 Comments

That was one fact that emerged from the presentation by general manager of planning Brian Jackson yesterday, in advance of today’s council vote supporting new policies that are an attempt to slow down the demolitions.

More details in Jackson’s Power Point here and my story here.

By the way, I popped over the the inquiries desk at city hall yesterday to check on demolition permits granted. Here is what was on the books, just since June 1:

3049 West 21st
4049 West 33rd
7457 Laburnum
2225 McMullen Avenue
6775 Fleming
2066 West 47th
7289 Adera (a deconstruction)
4157 West 13th
5811 Dumfries
7741 Elliott
5961 Wales

Prior to the meeting, I’d heard from an architect that there are so many applications to build new single family (which is Vancouver almost inevitably entails a demolition) in the last few months that application processing times have jumped from about eight weeks to 14. My guess would be a lot of people are rushing through in order to beat the city’s new character-protection policies. (Which is a sign that at least some people think they’ll be effective, even if some heritage advocates don’t.)

Jackson told me that, in order to unclog the backlog, he got the permits department to send out a message to the 250 people in the queue saying that if their applications were ready to come in right away. That brought 38 people down to the hall hotfoot and almost all of those have now been processed.

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