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NPA starts to hit hard, saying Gregor Robertson hates the city’s resource economy, lies about homelessness

October 16th, 2014 · 20 Comments

Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association ramped up its game this week, with mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe announcing his party’s positions on housing and the city economy. My Globe story here makes it pretty clear that the party will go into the election championing Vancouver as a home to LNG, mining, forestry, and so on. On housing, LaPointe articulated a few new ideas — using city bylaws to make sure empty properties are maintained — but largely said the city needs to have a new conversation about how to accommodate development and create affordable housing.

I asked if HE has any ideas on that, since the typical ways that cities and agencies have found to create affordable housing is: give developers bonus density in exchange for guarantees of low-cost rentals or have the city contribute land in order to lower the overall price of housing on it. He said he’d wait to see what ideas come from the community.

It’s interesting to see how much stronger his language is getting when it comes to criticizing the mayor. At a Vancouver Board of Trade event on Wednesday morning, he said Robertson had lied to people about solving homelessness. (The previous week, he said it was an “act of cowardice” for Robertson to not come out to the Urban Development Institute breakfast.)

LaPointe got in a few more jabs that were well-received by the 140 or so at the VBOT, saying that he didn’t consider the Point Grey Road project so much a bike lane as a “gated community.” And he said that he is applying to be the mayor of Vancouver in this campaign, but that Robertson seems to be applying for a job as the mayor of Burnaby or as federal environment minister or as the chair of the National Energy Board.

In the meantime, Vision continues to put out news releases saying the NPA has voted against everything on the books — social housing, rental housing, an affordable housing agency, etc. — and that their platform is empty. Robertson went a little further this week in a scrum, saying LaPointe has never been to city hall once, which is why he doesn’t understand how anything works.

My story copied below as well, for those who can’t get beyond the wall

FRANCES BULA

Vancouver — The candidate with the best chance of unseating Mayor Gregor Robertson planted his flag firmly on the opposing side on two of the city’s biggest issues, saying Vancouver should be a proud host to resource companies and that it should get rid of the mayor’s failed housing policies.

That announcement by Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe arrived just a month before the civic election. The mayor has already promised to continue pushing for more rental, family, and subsidized housing, as well as repeatedly positioning himself as a vocal opponent to expansion of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline.

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Mr. LaPointe, heading the NPA’s third effort of the decade to win back control of city hall, staged his news conference next to the city’s port Tuesday, saying Vancouver needs resource-related jobs so that people can start earning enough to buy housing in this expensive city.

Mr. LaPointe’s ideas were immediately panned by the mayor, Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr and COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong.

Mr. Robertson said the platform had no numbers in it, just a vague promise to talk to people and let the market create supply. He contrasted it with efforts by his Vision Vancouver party, which include goals for social housing and a promise to use city land for low-cost housing projects.

Ms. Carr called Mr. LaPointe’s language “code for supporting Kinder Morgan and the coal and gas sectors” and that his solutions for housing were mostly “thin.”

Ms. Wong also called it “watered down,” saying her party is ready to take action on the issue of properties left vacant by investors immediately by charging a tax that would generate money for social housing.

Mr. LaPointe told his news conference Tuesday that Mr. Robertson is “ashamed of this economy.”

“Responsible resource development is the cornerstone of our economy. You need not choose between a great environment and a great economy. You can have both,” Mr. LaPointe said. “The NPA wants Vancouver to host the regional offices of future LNG developments.”

Mr. LaPointe’s stand is sure to win support from the Vancouver Board of Trade, which released a survey Tuesday showing that two-thirds of the 210 members polled want the city to be a champion for energy, resources and the port.

The NPA candidate danced around his position on Kinder Morgan’s proposal to double the size of its pipeline – an issue that became a defining election topic in the provincial election last year.

He said he’s comfortable with the fact that there’s never been an oil spill in the harbour, but he said he’ll be a strong advocate for Vancouver at any National Energy Board hearings and ensure that the right environmental safeguards are in place.

On the housing front, Mr. LaPointe panned Mr. Robertson’s six years of effort to encourage local developers to build affordable housing and to manage the city’s boom in condo construction. He said the mayor hasn’t created anything affordable and he’s broken the trust of neighbourhoods by ramming through developments.

Mr. LaPointe said his government would get rid of Rental 100, the program Mr. Robertson’s Vision party brought in, which gives developers incentives to get them to build rental apartments. Several thousand units have been built under that policy already, and Mr. Robertson is partly relying on it to achieve his campaign promise of 4,000 new rental units in the next four years.

Mr. LaPointe said that program has led to speculators flipping apartments, but he didn’t provide details on why he thought that was happening with the rental projects, which have legal agreements attached to them requiring them to remain as rentals for 60 years.

Mr. LaPointe also said the NPA would launch a new comprehensive city planning process, similar to the CityPlan initiative former mayor Gordon Campbell created more than 20 years ago when faced with his own affordable-housing crisis.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Warren12

    How close is he to breaking his own commitment not to run a dirty campaign if he’s calling Gregor a corward and a liar?

    Reminds me of the Adrian Dix and the NDP (under Carole James as well). Complain, complain, and complain. Empty of ideas when the spotlight is on.

    They are relying too heavily on the anger against the current government. Let’s see how it works out this time around.

  • boohoo

    Yeah, yelling about how bad the other guy is while providing no ideas of your own…real leadership there.

    Not sure running a platform in Vancouver, in 2014, promoting 19th or at best 20th century technologies is a winning one.

  • Warren12

    I’m getting a bit sick of VV’s antics, but geez, you have to give us something to vote for. Take a STAND Kirk.

  • Tiktaalik

    I’m sorry but resource development is not at all the “cornerstone of our economy.” The tech industry employs more people in BC than mining, oil and gas, and forestry combined. http://www.straight.com/life/620111/bcs-high-tech-sector-bigger-employer-mining-oil-and-gas-and-forestry

  • pretty clear that the party will go into the election championing Vancouver as a home to LNG, mining, forestry, and so on.

    I’m not sure how much luck they’ll have convincing the likes of state-owned Petronas to move their HQ to Vancouver or what incentives they’ll offer but as for other types of resource companies…they’re mostly here already. According to this article in the Sun, 60% of the world’s publicly-traded mining companies are listed in Canada and “most of those” are HQ’d in B.C.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/well+positioned+capitalize+expected+mining+boom/8262105/story.html

    And as mentioned already, the resource sector is now much shrunken part of our provincial economy and, thanks to mechanization and off-shoring, employs less.

  • Off topic but Glen Chernen/Cedar Party have had another lawsuit dismissed. The judge ordered Mr. Chernen to pay Gregor Robertson’s court costs.

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Lawyer+Gregor+Robertson+tells+court+that+oust+Vancouver+mayor+from+election+race+political/10295902/story.html

  • Voice of Reason

    I think you will find that a significant amount of the output of the tech industry is to service our resource based economy.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Metro+Vancouver+reliance+resource+sector+huge+report/10283749/story.html
    The issue isn’t what sector is more important, but rather how do we develop and benefit from both sectors.

  • Eri

    While the number of employees is important, the value to the province in royalties and taxes earned from the goods or the services sold is also highly important.

  • Stand Firm

    He is giving you something to vote for. He’s clearly stating that resources, and the shipment thereof, are a big part of Vancouver’s economy. And he is pointing out that Robertson frequently comes out against that. Also clearly stated is that Robertson is focusing on many issues which are completely out of municipal control, with the inference that he will focus on municipal issues.

    Whether this is a winning strategy remains to be seen. To my mind the best outcome of the election is to break the Vision majority and have genuine debate with a mix of Green, NPA, Visiion and maybe even a COPE
    councillor.

  • logan5

    Oh geez, somebody please help me decide who I should vote for! This election is a sham. An exercise in pseudo-democracy. Makes for good talking points though.

    Purely fantastical thinking here, but if I were elected mayor my first order of business would be to fire the UDP (can I do that?). They are either incompetent or corrupt. Go glass city.

  • Brilliant

    And everyone of those tech jobs could pack up and leave for a place with lower tax breaks tomorrow.

  • Paul Tolnai

    It will be very interesting to see how voters respond to LaPointe’s messaging. Just last year in the city of Vancouver over 92,000 people voted for Christy Clark’s pro natural resource platform. Those people are probably still around. Can Captain Kirk inspire them enough to come out and vote for him?

    Regardless of who wins, I’ll be interested to see if Vancouver is really as green-washed as Mayor Moonbeam makes us out to be.

  • And he is pointing out that Robertson frequently comes out against that.

    It’s just oil & coal shipments.

  • Is this the same Christy Clark now representing West Kelowna? 🙂

  • Warren12

    If tankers and pipelines are out of the city’s jurisdiction, what can Kirk do to promote them?

  • Warren12

    I’m sure the good people of Pt Grey who sent David Eby to Victoria would vote along the same lines and keep Gregor in place. Right? right?

  • Tech companies leaving is only a concern for the satellite offices – like Microsoft and Facebook. They’re here more because of visa problems in the US then any tax breaks. I don’t see the US fixing its broken visa system anytime soon. Besides, the majority of the tech jobs in Vancouver are smaller companies and startups. Companies founded by and staffed by people who choose Vancouver because of the quality of life. They’re not going anywhere.

  • Brilliant

    Those ones are bought up by some international company and then they close their office here. Maybe the exceptions are the ones that get sweet deals from the city.

  • TessaGarnet

    There’s that honorable, clean campaign we all heard about.

  • Lewis_N_Villegas

    We had dinner on Water Street tonight. I dropped the family off at the Old Spagetti Factory and went to look for parking. The OSF is one of the original franchises to join the revitalization efforts in Gastown (Victoria, Seattle and New West)… but it was surprising to see the extent to which the street involved have taken over from Hastings and Main to Hastings and Carrall, and then north from there. Water Street is still off-limits but the panhandling is very much in force.

    If this is going to be a change election, then we need to ask: “What’s going to change?” And here I agree with Frances, it is not enough for the challengers to take a bye and wait for the answers to come in from the people.

    Gastown was revitalized after a sitting council of the day approved building a freeway (and wiping out Strathcona, Chinatown and Gastown) and then were routed in a ‘change election.’ Significant point here: the previous council’s actions were reversed and a new wave swept over our city.

    We need that again.

    The answers one wants to hear is that the street involved are going to get something better to do than to hang on the wide sidewalks of Hastings between Main and Carrall. We need to hear that the connection between mental health, addiction and homelessness is going to be at the heart of the new program. It is not going to work to ‘park’ these folks in a hotel (the Biltmore). Rather, if we heed the lessons from Chicago, we are going to provide housing for up to seven folks with supports.

    Scale turns out to be an issue not just in the so-called DTES. Our neighbourhoods are reeling from the “Skytrain and Towers” Vision of paying off the developers, damn the torpedoes.

    Where is the transit? What’s going to happen on Broadway? On Main? On Arbutus Corridor? On 4th Avenue, 41st, Marine Drive, and every other major arterial in our city choking with slow bus service and too many commuter trips?

    The candidates have to answer that. And they also have to provide an answer to the cost of housing… Are we favouring the retiring boomers at the expense of the next generation? And the next one after that?

    If this is the political calculus we are playing, then we have two ticking bombs. One, an overheated real estate market. The other, the tipping point when enough of the boomers are no longer with us to represent a voting block.

    http://lewisnvillegas.wordpress.com