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2012: Out with some of the old, in with a few new things like … City Plumber

January 2nd, 2012 · 72 Comments

The tree is down, we’ve eaten shortbread for breakfast for the last time this season, and it’s time to tackle the new year.

And it feels as though this one will be significantly different for all kinds of reasons for people in my world:

– Vision has a solid second mandate and already appears to have launched the 2014 campaign, with quick, symbolic announcements about lobbying for late-night transit, an affordable-housing task force, childcare, cultural grants and more.

– The Non-Partisan Association will be looking for a new way to mount political opposition, now that Vancouver’s interesting experiment in political-blogging-as-campaigning, CityCaucus, appears to have ended. Although it still exists, the tone, I think we all agree, is vastly different from the posts that were starting to appear three years ago. CityCaucus changed the landscape in Vancouver temporarily, becoming a source for non-news-release news about city hall and a tip sheet for major media outlets.

– COPE and the Green Party, of course, will be adjusting to their new realities and figuring out where to go.

– The Evergreen Line is finally on its way and the equally evergreen debate about how to pay for it has now ceased, something to be truly grateful for. Now, at least, we can move on to another phase of this debate.

– Office towers are proceeding apace in Vancouver, something that will change the look and feel of the downtown.

– Metro Vancouver is facing some big, tough, infrastructure questions — a waste incinerate, a new treatment plant for the North Shore — that the new Metro chair, Poco’s Greg Moore, seems to want to take a strong leadership role on.

In keeping with all of that, I thought it would only be right for me to try something new as well that I’ve been thinking of for a while.

This blog sometimes gets a bit stuck in grinding through the big issues of the day, with new variations as a new study, building, bike lane, or bylaw gets put in place.

But there’s a lot of other interesting city and regional business that happens month after month that isn’t usually big enough to make the news, but has an impact on people’s lives.

Occasionally some of you in my blogworld send me questions about that: Why is city hall covered in tarps? Why do some houses on a tilt in this part of town? What is the latest happening with the Squamish land near Kits Point? What should I do when a city inspector comes to my door? Where did this street get its name? What is that weird thing at the corner of wherever?

So, a new weekly feature called City Plumber.

What I’m proposing is that I take one question a week and try to get you the answer, either by plumbing (get it? har har) the vast depths of my knowledge or phoning someone up to find out. I’ll post the answer and, of course, all of you who know more than me can add your comments.

The rules: The questions have to be genuine efforts to get information, not rhetorical questions or attacks phrased as questions (“Why is the deputy manager of City X such a numbskull?” is an example.)

I’ll accept questions all week and then pick one that I’ll post the answer to Monday, depending on my idiosyncratic tastes and what I think people are most interested in. But I’ll keep a list of all of them and, I hope, get around to everything eventually.

I’ll take questions from any city, as long as they’re city-related.

This is an experiment. I’m going to try it for a while to see if it’s doable, especially time-wise, and useful.

Send your questions to me through the blog or my email for now. I’ll set up a special space to receive them this week.



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