Governance & Politics
February 13, 2019

The Real City Hall Watch: City Staff & Accounting for Expertise

As the new Vancouver Council rolls forward with regular meetings, committee meetings, and public hearings (available for public viewing via the city’s streamed broadcast), I’m struck by the performance of various levels of staff at the podium.

Some pretty impressive people in streets, waste, planning, engineering, licensing, social and cultural programs have been presenting and answering questions — sometimes technically complex or strategically nuanced, but often both — the past few months, and giving their elected representatives their first few impressions of the calibre of the people who really run the city.

It’s also the first time for members of the public — a few dozen in attendance at City Hall and apparently not many more online — to recognize and parse out this dynamic. In other words, even as I work, I get to watch them work. A lot of hoop jumping, and careful performances. It’s not to be envied, and it prompts a lot of questions about the staff-council dynamic.

Are they understanding each other? Is there mutual respect? Do they agree with, or even like, one another?

My impression is that these questions are less important to answer than the other question that’s often raised about city staff — why are they costing us so much?

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Skytrain rapid transit continues to be a much-discussed topic in Metro Vancouver.  HERE’s Nathan Pachal, Langley City Councillor and friend of Price Tags, writing in his South Fraser Blog about the Skytrain to Langley being proposed for Surrey.

With the switch from light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey to SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley City, TransLink has set up a new website about the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain Project.

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Maybe this won’t become a thermal coal port

Port Metro Vancouver has cancelled the permit for a project that would have resulted in more thermal coal shipments, these from Fraser Surrey Docks.  The only reason currently available is that the permit’s 83 conditions have not been met — specifically one requiring substantial start of construction by November 30, 2018.

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The NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson has won the January 30, 2019 byelection, and our Province’s slim GreeNDP coalition lives on.

Now, let’s talk transit.

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Tomorrow, Vancouver City Council will receive a report from engineering about public engagement on proposed improvements to the Granville Bridge that would add safe, accessible facilities for cycling and walking, and connect up to similar facilities at either end.

What might that look like? Details aside, we already know the likely, big picture outcomes — you can see them on Burrard Bridge, and most recently, on Cambie Bridge.

Speaking of which, our friends at small places have a new before and after video called Cambie Connected: Cycling Smithe, Nelson, Beatty, and the Bridge

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On the latest episode of the This is Vancolour podcast, Vancouver City Councillor Christine Boyle and Squamish First Nation Councillor Khelsilem chat with host Mo Amir and dive deep into the issues affecting our region.

And it’s no surprise that housing and affordability remain the most important issue of the day. In this episode, both councillors offer solutions on how the City can build more housing while meeting the objective of making Vancouver more affordable.

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