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Fact-checking Vision campaign promo-tweets: Week 1

October 10th, 2011 · 35 Comments

Some of you have full, rich lives that aren’t routinely punctuated by tweets from the three main parties competing for seats on Vancouver city council. In others words, you’re not me.

I am getting these tweets. Vision, in particular, started running them in the last week like crawlers at the bottom of the news, occasionally sending out the same or a similar tweet on a topic two or three times.

Some seemed reasonable but others made my fudge-o-meter start twitching. As a public service, I’m listing everything here that I received in the last week (though not the duplicates), in order of how they came out and with my assessment. I reluctantly anticipate seeing CityCaucus/NPA tweeting out the negatives and Vision/Kevin Quinlan tweeting out the positives. I’m sure that those tweets will swing the voters, my friends.


Vision created the 1st new co-op housing in 9 years to provide affordable options in our city’s newest neighbourhood

Amended with new info. It is the first new co-op housing in nine years. But the co-op building in the Olympic village has only 23 units of the 84 that are rented at rent-geared-to-income rate. It’s being rented at market rates for the most part, i.e. $1500 or so for a one-bedroom.  And the city didn’t set out to create a co-op building. But, after a mess over the bidding by other social-housing non-profits, the co-op was the only group left standing at the end.


Vision helped land new offices in Vancouver for major companies like Pixar, Sony Imageworks, Canon Canada, & Telus –

The city’s economic development commission did work hard to convince these companies to come into Vancouver. But other factors played a part. Among them: the downtown is an attractive place to do business for many these days, because of the city’s 20-year plan to bring life to it through the addition of lots of residential.

FUDGEE FACTOR: Moderately low

Vision opened two new fenced off-leash dog parks at Devonian Park and Fraser River Park.

Vision may have opened these parks, but surely they were in the planning long before 2008. I can’t find any information on this so don’t want to assign a mark til I hear more.

With @BC_Housing & Bladerunners we repurposed #YVR#DTES Remand Centre into 90 units of supportive housing

This is absolutely a Vision-only initiative, as far as I know. I started hearing about it one year into their mandate and the housing centre and council worked hard to get these extra 90 units added to everything else that was already underway.


Partnered with the federal govt for Stanley Park upgrade, including a refurbished seawall for cyclists and pedestrians

Good grief, this was just federal infrastructure money that was available to everyone. Surrey also “partnered with the federal government” to get two bike bridges worth $10 million.

Amendment: Vision people are saying I am not giving enough credit for this, because the city got $70 million in spite of people’s worries that this city government could not work with the feds. I checked with Surrey to see how much they got overall, as a comparison. It was $46 million. I’m still not sure that I feel Vision should get high marks for getting its fair share of the money.


Secured funding for 1,500 new units of low-income affordable housing –

Uh unh. Even diehard Visionistas will admit that the previous Sam Sullivan council did nail down some of the funding for the 14 new social housing sites before he was turfed. (His council also did the gruntwork of getting an initial commitment, as well as taking the 14 sites through an expedited public-consultation process and greasing the wheels for them to go through the development permit process as quickly as possible.) Six of the projects had committed funding. It is true that Vision had to do some serious backroom negotiating to get a firm commitment for the money for the last eight sites. My understanding is that the province, as a result, agreed that ALL of the profits from the Little Mountain site would go to pay for social housing in Vancouver. The original agreement was that only 50 per cent of the profits would go to Vancouver; the other 50 was supposed to go to other municipalities.


Action on homelessness led to the first decrease in homelessness in over a decade – 110 less people – from 2010 to 2011 –

Homeless count in 2011 was 1605 total for Vancouver: 145 on the streets; 98 no fixed address (couch-surfing etc); 1362 in shelters, according to data from Metro Vancouver.

The counts given in the city’s report on the 2010 homeless count are as follows.

2005: 773 in shelters; 591 on streets; 1364 total

2008: 765 in shelters; 811 on streets; 1576 total

2010: 1294 in shelters; 451 on streets; 1715 total

So it’s right to say that the count dropped by 110 between 2010. It’s also technically right for the NPA to claim that homelessness, by count numbers, increased between 2008 and 2010 (by about 140) or between 2008 and 2011 (by about 30).

The more dramatic numbers are in the people on the streets: from 811 on the street in 2008 to 145 in 2011.


Achieved the lowest per capita GHG emissions in North America

Who knows? Is this anything to do with city policy?

FUDGE FACTOR: Potentially high, but who knows

Added 450 new community garden plots in 2010 –

Yes, many new community garden plots opened up but is any of this to do with Vision policy, except for the one on the lawn of city hall? Unless I’m mistaken, these plots are opening because of policies introduced by previous councils and, in particular, Peter Ladner’s push to loosen up some rules that made it easier to open new plots.


Made regulatory changes to allow Farmers’ Markets to expand and make them easier to open

The Vision council definitely did make some changes to rules for farmers’ markets, but according to those running them, there are still some problematic barriers. Farmers markets are still classified as “temporary special events,” meaning they don’t have any certainty about where they can go. And there are still rules that prohibit them from operating in parks or too close to other retail spaces.


In 2010, Vision partnered with the@RickHansenFdn to build the 1st fully accessible playground at Kits Beach.

Oh, for crying out loud, as though this is something ANY city council wouldn’t have done. Hadn’t noticed the NPA was anti-accessible playgrounds, the last time I looked.


Collaborated with YWCA on 20 units of supportive housing for women and children as part of a new library in Strathcona

Technically true, but the Vision councillors got badgered into this by the community and COPE, particularly Ellen Woodsworth.


2011 Homeless Count shows first decrease in Vancouver homelessness in over a decade. –

As above.

Vancouver is leading the way to help immigrants find work with a mentorship program

Don’t know enough about this to say one way or another. Blogsters?

Deployed 1st time ever in #YVRinjunctions on landlords of #DTESSRO’s, to fix and maintain buildings & protect tenants

FUDGE FACTOR: Zero, as far as I know

despite record deficits due to a global recession, we did not cut city $$ to arts & culture programs

True, though did not increase amounts to match inflation, so equates to a small cut. But I haven’t heard any complaints from the arts community, who generally felt supported by the city in this area. The lack of enthusiasm for the Vancouver Art Gallery and the lack of targets for creating/saving artist studio space — well, that’s another thing.


invested in improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, including separated bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge

Improved pedestrian infrastructure? Where? Other than putting all the pedestrians on one side of the bridge and removing the bikes, so they won’t get knocked over as they walk, I can’t think of any major improvement for pedestrians. Am I missing something? (NOT including regular improvements the engineering department would be doing as part of its ongoing work.)

FUDGE FACTOR: Moderately high

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