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The debate over Vancouver’s 2010 bylaws

July 22nd, 2009 · 48 Comments

In another ring of the Vancouver city hall circus these days, the city’s proposed bylaw changes to noise, graffiti and other bylaws is generating all kinds of heat and light.

Here’s just one small sample of the exchanges going on.

—–Original Message—–
From: Michael Healey
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:39 AM
To: Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Deal, Heather; Jang,
Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer, Andrea; Stevenson, Tim;
Woodsworth, Ellen; Robertson, Gregor
Subject: Proposed by law restricting protests at 2010 olympics

Dear Mayor and Council

In the July 21 edition of the Vancouver Sun, columnist Daphne Bramham
reported that City Council is planning a new bylaw to restrict peaceful
protest at the 2010 Olympics. If this is true it is completely
unacceptable and a black mark against a supposedly “progressive”
Council. It reminds of the fiasco around the APEC meeting in Vancouver a
decade ago when citizens were walled off from parts of their city and
pepper spray happy police doused peaceful protests. Our ancestors fought
hard and bravely opposed just such restrictive laws as these to gain the
right of peaceful civil protest for all of us. If Mayor and Council
rescind these rights in support of a morally bankrupt institution like
the IOC it will be a sad comment on their civic values and on our
democracy. If this bylaw passes I hope that all Vancouver citizens will
protest where it is forbidden simply to show this Council that
constitutional rights cannot be brushed aside in the name of profit.


Michael Healey
Professor Emeritus, UBC

From: Geoff Meggs

Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:57 AM
To: ‘Michael Healey’; Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Deal,
Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Reimer, Andrea; Stevenson, Tim;
Woodsworth, Ellen; Robertson, Gregor
Cc: Sweeney, Steve; Magee, Michael
Subject: RE: Proposed by law restricting protests at 2010 olympics

Hi Michael:

I am drafting a reply to Daphne’s column, which is quite wrong. The
bylaw changes have nothing to do with preventing peaceful protest, which
is obvious if you review them. They do improve the city’s ability to
deal with graffiti, commercial advertising and the management of live
sites, among other things.
You should be aware that since our election, our council has:
– restated its commitment to the human rights aspects of the Inner City
Inclusivity statement in the bid book;
– assisted the Integrated Security Unit to begin consultations with an
arms-length panel of human rights experts, chaired by retired Judge
Jerry Paradis, that was created in part by BCCLA;
– had our own senior staff meetings with the Civil Liberties Advisory
Committee chair by Paradis and increased our own city engagement with
communities likely to impacted by the Games;
– supported the VPD’s clear commitment to uphold Charter freedoms during
the Games.
The ISU policies are based firmly on the conclusions and recommendations
of the Hughes review of the APEC affair. I appreciate your concern on
this matter. I believe it is shared by the entire council.


City of Vancouver

Categories: Uncategorized

  • A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to visit the Environmental University of Curitiba, Brasil (yes, with an “s”).

    Built in a disused stone quarry on the outskirts of the city it is very much reminiscent of the Tarzan tree house of the old b&w Johnny Weissmüller movies.

    Classrooms, all offices and facilities were dangling in mid air: all six surfaces, isolated and exposed, walls, roof, and floors connected by flying, Tarzan-like, cat-walks: structure of un-milled tree branches and trunks. Talk about maximizing energy loss . . . and in an environmental institution of all places!

    The director, a very decent man, drove me back to my hotel explaining how Brasil is energy self-sufficient for the next 50 years.

    By clearing Amazonia to plant sugar cane, he explained, the raw material of ethanol is in abundance: hence 50 years of stuff . . .

    Maybe in the sub-tropics that isn’t important. But it sure as hell is in Vancouver BC, Canada.

    Back home I wonder how many Hallistas, critical as they were during their student activist years, are now enabling the very toxic stuff they once abhorred. Does the word ” integrity” resonate?

    Does the concept “INTEGRATED URBANISM” ever enter the lexicon?

    The point is, we are so eager to delude ourselves into believing all this sustainability shit, all the eco-friendly and climate change nonsense we miss the big picture and we have no qualms about seriously discussion some rampant thing on Marine Drive. . . hey jobs . . . jobs . . . jobs . . .

    How does PCI shape up in all these good intentions? Why, of course, eventually we must give them the go . . . that’s how it has always worked at the Hall!

    Maybe this “Vancouver city hall circus”, as Frances describes it, will find resolve . . .

    The Formshift winner reminded me of Tarzan’s tree house too . . .

  • “climate change nonsense ”

    Dare I ask what part of climate change you consider to be ‘nonsense’?

  • SV

    Yeah. And maybe double check that you’re commenting…on the right… post. 🙂

  • Yes of course Chris . . ask!

    In my opinion, substantiated by wiser authorities than myself, multi-millennium oscillations of the Sun cause climate change: ergo, in a way it’s sort of out of our hands . . . but it is within our control to adapt.

    Yet we are not trying very hard . . .

    Pollution is a different, more damaging and indeed within our powers to control.

    Climate change is as much a sociological series of events that cannot be dissipated by pretending to build “ecologically” and (I cringe at the word) “sustainable” things.

    We cannot control climate change by playing nintendo and pac-man and calling it Formshift: ergo NONSENSE!

    Google the IMECA reading for DF and you will see what I mean . . . and I may be right in assuming Vancouver air quality isn’t much better. I lived in both cities for extended periods . . .

    I dunno both are shrouded in a blanket of rust . . .

    Yeah . . . nonsense . . . .

  • “bylaw changes to noise, graffiti and other bylaws is generating all kinds of heat and light.”

    Yup right post . . . jeez there are alot of smart asses on this blog . . .

  • Oh and BTW Mr. SV sir . . . “and other bylaws”.

    The golden rule of a healthy civic democracy: do not let the elected body and its buraucracy set and control the agenda . . .

    Capiche . . . and god bless . . .

  • spartikus

    substantiated by wiser authorities than myself

    Obviously this wise counsel does not include the majority of the world’s climatologists.

  • new reader

    Hey urban…here’s another question for you. What’s the difference between “smug” and “condescending”?

  • spartikus . . . yup . . . there is a strong counter argument building refuting global warming as man made . . .

    As for anecdotal evidence . . . I sailed up to Desolation Sound and Toba Inlet last August . . . and believe me it was cold . . .

  • Chris y spartikus . .. global whatever . . . dig this . . .

    and this . . .

    Hey what do I know . . . I’m only a small town architect . . .

  • PS . . . Man made GM, apparently, is up for grabs . . .

    Man made polution isn’t!

    Yunno after a rain storm airborne trace solids accummulate in the bottom of the self draining cockpit of my sail boat . . . and I thinq . . .

    Wow are we breathing that stuff?

    And I guess we are!

    Put that on “city hall’s circus” Mr Canny Scot . . . please . . .

  • spartikus

    there is a strong counter argument building refuting global warming as man made . . .

    Like those that denied the ill effects of smoking in a previous generation, there is small denialist industry, well-funded by the likes of Exxon et al whose purpose is to throw sand in the eyes of the public.

    But if you have a link which actually makes “a strong counter argument refuting global warming as man made” please…do share with the peanut gallery.

  • Well hey spartikus I have done just that on message 9

    but evidently it is err pegged as, “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    Don’t ask me why . . its pretty straight forward harmless??????????????????

    And by the way . . . a typo in message 10 GM should read GW i.e. global warming . . . sorry . . . too much caffein as the wag says . . .

  • And I also included my personal anecdotal evidence on last August’s cool cool summer i.e.

    I don’t thinq Frances likes us to include too many links on one post . . . she says its too spammie

  • spartikus

    I’ll write a more substantive reply later, but I note your citation is written by one “Dr. David Evans”. David Evans isn’t, in fact, a climatologist and none of his work on climate-change has been peer-reviewed. More on his background here.

  • Anecdotal evidence is an oxymoron, esp. with regard to something as complex as climate change.

    Just sayin’

    Actually, this Filbrandt cartoon sums it up neatly:

    Other than that I’m going to step away from the climate change debate due to my vested interest… in not having my future grand-children view me as a source of protein in my dying days, NTTATWWT.

  • Oh dear spartikus . . .

    Even Al Gore, the guru of gurus, is now being accused of profiting from carbon swaps by pumping his “An inconvenient . . . ”

    Seems, no one is imune from criticism . . . Evans is’nt the only dissenster.

    I tend to disbelieve “warming” and have turned my concerned to man made environmental toxicity . . . that at least we can control if we only had the will and let’s home Mr. Canny Scot has . . . he seems like a good guy . . .

    I’ll be interested to read your rebuttal . . . take your time I’m off on my boat in this beautiful weather . . .

  • PS remember Al Gore’s hockey stick . . . well it turned out to be a short term distortion of a long term up and down . . .

  • Frances is being extremely tolerant in allowing this gibberish to carry on.

  • spartikus

    To spare everyone the apparent tedium, I’ve posted my response to Urbanismo here.

  • gmgw

    Any chance of getting this thread back on topic, or should it just be abandoned? It was a topic of some importance (sigh…)… (not that climate change isn’t, but there’s a time and a place, and this ain’t either).

  • Blaffergassted

    free speech sure can be a double edged sword, eh?

  • Frances Bula

    Hello all patient posters,

    Yes, this thread has gone off track and is becoming annoying to many. I am reluctant to become a censor, but in the interests of the greater good, I am pondering unapproving posts that go too far over the line in name-calling or irrelevance. I have done this a few times in the past — hope I don’t have to do so again.

  • 2010 bylaws . . .

    In view of the mayors insistence that nefc be greened this is relevant

  • gmgw

    To bend Voltaire to the breaking point: “I may not read anything you write, but I will defend to the death your right to write it.”

    Then again…

  • Yes, of course, to explore wider issues, especially if based on personal experience, in the 2010 civic by-law policy discussion and to . . . errr wander from the . . . errr . . . entrenched and narrow goat trail to participate can risky and . . . errr . . . somewhat disorienting: for those on said goat trail . . .

    Sin embargo, if the city does not consider, at root, each by-law to be based on inclusively, social, environmental and economic, then it will continue to be imprisoned by very narrow loquacious, deluded self-interests: the mantra please . . . view, world class, paradise . . .

    But ah, Vancouver will always remain . . . errr . . . Vancouver.

    Frances has given us a wonderful citywide forum: thanqu. Pity it has been high-jacked by a very small group of aggressive semi-intellectuals: conform or go to the back of the class . . .

    If she sees her role as Gauleiter, so be it.

  • PS . . . and, of course, since sparikus (sic), with his ovulating cheerleader gmgw, is intent upon ejaculating upon us his superior delusions it behooves me, the interloper, to correct.

    My purpose in introducing a counter argument, ineptly I admit, is directed particularly, to bylaws that may involve two city policies: Eco-density and climate change policy.

    There is overwhelming evidence that the protagonists in development design control, as it involves ED and CC, have an over enthusiastic approach to conventional wisdom and that global warming conventional wisdom is . . . errr . . .anything but wisdom.

  • spartikus

    Apparently Vancouver will be run by a beneficent dictator during the Olympics.

    “The City Manager would also be empowered to make other rules if warranted”

    I’m sure the trains will run on time.

  • Frances,

    2010 bylaw debate: zoning code, fire code, BC building code, BC building code amended to city code . . . Olympic security . . . and I’ll bet I have missed a lot . . .

    If your Praetorian guard will allow me to speak, especially the one who cannot spell his own name, it behooves me to recommend to the city a most potent contribution: i.e. examine the ever burgeoning lists there of and start eliminating bylaws that are irrelevant, out of date and obstructional, of which there are many . . . and that will take years even if the city can afford the staff and the time . . .

    In the sixty years of my professional practice I have seen exponential growth to which now we even have code consultants . . . and that if I may risk the wrath of your little people . . . that is ridiculous . . .

  • Peter G

    So Penny Ballem thinks that her responsibility is “to ensure the success of the Games”. Someone needs to remind her why she is really at city hall. Meggs and his cohorts, in their starry-eyed efforts to run with the big dogs of the IOC, seem to have forgotten who they represent. The voters will be around long after the 2010 circus has left town. Ask Slippery Sam what happens to the people who forget that.

  • Frothingham

    Frances: might be a good idea to correct the way you posted that the email into your blog. There is some real funky HTML markup going on. I would grab the email, plop it into textedit or notepad and re-paste as simple text… cheers

  • Frances Bula


    Hmm, I am looking at this post on the site and can’t see what you mean. I have noticed that when I cut and paste in text from outside, I sometimes do get coding notes that I have to remove but I don’t see them here. Anyone else noticing this?

  • spartikus

    Yes, the body of the text is one big link. I suspect you copy and pasted from Outlook?

  • gmgw

    Moi aussi. I kept clicking on the faux-HTML text and was terribly disappointed not to be wafted away somewhere else. My life is one long search for escape…
    Ovulatingly yours,

  • Frances Bula

    Okay, I’ve tried to fix it. Let me know if it looks any different now.

  • SV

    gmgw-I knew there was something different about you lately.

  • gmgw

    You’ll have to ask Urbanismo about that.
    Or at least check post #25 in this thread.

    Note to Frances: Yup, looks like it shoulda.

  • spartikus

    Or at least check post #25 in this thread.

    I would recommend not. It might induce pregnancy.

  • Frances Bula

    Omigosh, Just read post #25 again. I must have blanked it out — some kind of post-traumatic effect. Yikes. And who ever said planning was boring.

  • SV

    gmgw- oh I’m all too familiar with post # 25.

  • Joseph Jones

    What does it say that only 2 out of 38 postings contribute much to the stated topic of Vancouver’s 2010 Bylaws?

    Spartikus at no. 26 takes note of Queen Penny’s power of decree (but fails to see that City Manager with Mayor and City Engineer form a triumvirate).

    Peter G at no. 28 spots the City Manager’s brief comment itself as lacking the “fair and reasonable balance” that the recommendation preceding the bylaw proclaims.

    The biggest unreported gem is that City Council passed the bylaw without having consulted its own ballyhooed Civil Liberties Advisory Committee. That committee gets to review the bylaw after the fact!

  • SV

    I think it says something about making lemonade from lemons. The thread was jacked from the get go and it quickly became apparent that there was a major obstacle to getting it back on track. And since the laughs just kept on coming some of us just rolled with it.
    I was hoping to discuss the issues of the 2010 bylaws but I figure it’s such an important issue that we’ll have another chance.

  • spartikus

    Spartikus at no. 26 takes note of Queen Penny’s power of decree (but fails to see that City Manager with Mayor and City Engineer form a triumvirate).

    I’m not sure I understand the comment. Do you mean for the Olympics, or in general? If the latter, I would agree the way the government of the City of Vancouver is set up is undemocratic. I think many would agree with that, on both the left and right.

    Quite frankly, I’m not sure where my outrage meter should be dialed to in regards to the City Manager’s new Olympic powers. It would be nice to know what happened in other Olympics cities, for context. At this point it strikes me as pure CYA: the CoV will be defacto shut down for 2 weeks and they need to have some sort of mechanism in place to quickly deal with the unexpected.

    That said, there is the possibility this could be abused and might be used to ram through an “agenda”.

    At this point nobody has done anything, so I will just register my unease.

  • gmgw


    I think that if you take the time to read Geoff Meggs’ apologia for the city’s action(s) on page C5 of Saturday’s Sun– which includes an egregious attack on the BC Civil Liberties Association as well as nauseatingly self-congratulatory assurances that Council has acted in the interest of the Greater Good in moving to protect those of us too stupid to realize that Osama might be lurking beneath our very beds– you might find your outrage meter registering a pretty good jolt.

    This is all starting to remind me of Pierre Trudeau’s complaint, made after he invoked the War Measures Act, about “weak-kneed people who don’t like the look of an army”. The mixing of liberalism and testosterone can yield bizarre results.

  • gmgw

    Just had a more careful look at Meggs’ note to Michael Healey, which Frances printed at the head of this thread, and noticed that it’s pretty much a rough draft for his Sun article (which is a more fully developed version of the same argument). Just thought I’d save anyone the trouble of pointing this out.

  • Joseph Jones

    The City Manager gets anointed at 4.1 – 4D [p. 28]. The Mayor gets anointed at 7.1 – 19A [p. 29]. The City Engineer gets multiple anointings at 10 – 104(1)(q) … 10 – 104(14)(e) [p. 35-42].

    At the Council meeting, Geoff Meggs displayed obvious frustration as he went into a routine about intentions are good, vague and sweeping language does not matter, Council should be trusted.

  • T W

    I am less concerned with the arbitrary and even capricious powers to be bestowed on civic officials during the 2010 Olympics. I am more concerned that, once having tasted the powers of unfettered discretion, our officials, elected and non-elected, might actually like to throw their weight around. The same “in the public good” argument might prevail.

    Just another Cassandra

  • Yeah, without a sunset clause and a strict definition of what constitutes ‘peaceful protest’ the bylaws are a total power grab and won’t be rescinded, no matter how pure the intent.

    This is such a choreographed Olympics, with the absolute denial of socially regressive actions early on, like this great number from the po’ about how they absolutely will not be moving homeless people to tidy up the streets: and then springing new plans, rules and bylaws complete with Bush-style free speech zones just months before the games. Can you feel the spirit?