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Vancouver mayor sets a decisive new tone in housing and transit talks

March 6th, 2017 · 4 Comments

There have been times in the last year when I’ve wondered whether Mayor Gregor Robertson is just phoning it in. He seemed absent, even when he was here, and disengaged. But that person was not in evidence last week. The mayor, in one of the strongest speeches I’ve heard from him in a long time, […]

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Vancouver’s unclear rules on lobbying raise questions as ex-chief of staff looks for work

February 16th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Gregor Robertson’s former chief of staff, Mike Magee, has told any number of councillors that he has no plans to do any lobbying work for developers or others as he strikes out in his new post-city hall career. But he is visiting with people in the development community and, not surprisingly, observers are unclear about […]

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TransLink kicks off its first service bump in a long time, amid many questions about when the big chunk of federal money will arrive

January 19th, 2017 · 2 Comments

TransLink is going to be rolling out many, many announcements about improved service in the next while — all aimed at reminding people that their tax money is going to good use. They had their first on Tuesday. (My story here.) But amid the celebrations over more cars for Canada Line service, 15-minute service on […]

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The empty-homes tax is done. Well, maybe … except for an exemption to come for “family use”?

November 17th, 2016 · 4 Comments

It was one confusing council meeting at one point Tuesday, as Councillor Kerry Jang made a motion to amend the empty-homes tax, basically asking staff to study new data coming in in 2017 and decide whether there should be some kind of exemption for secondary homes “frequented for family purposes.” Your guess is as good […]

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Empty-homes tax might go even higher than original two per cent proposed, with higher penalties

September 20th, 2016 · 9 Comments

Vancouver councillors debated the proposed empty-homes tax this morning, with some unexpected results. (Well, at least to me, so perhaps I’m clueless.) The NPA councillors came out AGAINST the tax, which I thought would have been seen as very popular with their base. (See my story for their various reasons.) And then Vision councillors started […]

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UBC economists recommend a surtax on vacant properties, as the call for new strategies to moderate housing speculation grows

January 19th, 2016 · 22 Comments

As likely most of you who read this blog know, a group of UBC and SFU economists and/or business professors put out a joint statement yesterday calling for a tax on vacant homes. That follows an interesting op-ed piece published last week by SFU public-policy prof Rhys Kesselman for a surtax on expensive properties whose […]

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NPA, LaPointe apologize to Vision mayor, councillor over statements during election

September 21st, 2015 · 10 Comments

We could see this one coming after the last Supreme Court judgment. VANCOUVER, Sept. 21, 2015 /CNW/ – During the 2014 civic election campaign the NPA, through its election materials, and mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe, made allegations of impropriety on the part of Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Geoff Meggs in seeking a campaign contribution […]

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Vancouver’s revolutionary city manager is gone, leaving behind a lot of change and debate over her record

September 17th, 2015 · 13 Comments

The rumours about city manager Penny Ballem leaving the city had been circulating for so long that many of us got lulled into wondering if, in the end, nothing might happen. So the announcement Tuesday that she was out came as a surprise, as the mill had been quiet for a while. (My story in […]

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The post-plebiscite transit mess: Surrey, Vancouver look to self-financing, mayors’ council on verge of blowing up

July 16th, 2015 · 28 Comments

In the aftermath of the resounding no in the transit plebiscite, yes, it’s a mess out there. Mayors are looking at self-financing their big projects in Surrey and Vancouver. (And even Delta is considering using its own money to run some needed buses.) Senior execs are being fired at TransLink, and there are calls for […]

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Judge: It’s completely acceptable for politicians to promise to do things in exchange for campaign donations or votes

April 21st, 2015 · 42 Comments

On the off chance that this savvy crowd missed this on Friday: Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers dismissed the petition from Randy Helten and others to have the mayor and councillor Geoff Meggs removed from office for conflict of interest or accepting gifts (those were the two provisions of the Vancouver Charter the case relied […]

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