July 17, 2018

Park Board & Bikes: #wedontcare

This past weekend, I decided to take a quick ride over to Jericho from the West End, just to see what was happening with the Folk Festival.

Along the way, I found several long-standing examples of the City of Vancouver’s Park Board indifference to cycling.  (I know the commissioners would disagree, but the lack of action over so many years, regardless of all the plans, consultations and rhetoric, speak otherwise.)

For instance the path pictured above, just to the west of the Aquatic Centre, connecting Beach Avenue with the Seaside Greenway —narrow asphalt and worn grass — is ambiguous, inadequate and unsafe.  If it were under the jurisdiction of the City’s engineering department, it would likely have been rectified by now (it’s been this way for decades).

But it’s Park Board territory — and another example of their attitude: #wedontcare.

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Our latest Question for Candidates is:

“Are you in favour of electoral reform at the civic level?”

We put this out region-wide, to all candidates for mayor, council and school board (and Vancouver Park Board) in Metro Vancouver for the October 20th election. Here’s the first response – as always, email us your responses to pt.guested *at* gmail *dot* com, or you can also tweet us.

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Two more responses to our last question, sent to mayor and council candidates in the City of Surrey, Township of Langley, and City of Langley.

For the portion of the Surrey-Langley rapid transit line running along Fraser Highway, do you believe LRT or Skytrain technology is best, and why?

Thanks to all candidates who responded, and to Price Tags contributors for your commentary. 

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Our most recent question, sent to mayor and council candidates in the City of Surrey, Township of Langley, and City of Langley, was the following:

For the portion of the Surrey-Langley rapid transit line running along Fraser Highway, do you believe LRT or Skytrain technology is best, and why?

Here are early responses. We welcome commentary from all candidates; we will continue to publish submissions as they come in.

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Another sign (literally underfoot) of improved responsiveness and service from TransLink.

With approved plans and assured funding, TransLink has been fulfilling some of the promises made as far back as the ill-fated referendum. And that may be contributing to a more receptive response to the decisions made, as recently as last Thursday, to fill the funding gap required for Phase 2 of the $7.3 billion Ten-Year Plan.

It would have been unthinkable a year or so ago that regional politicians, months before an election, would approve the prospect of a gas-tax increase. And yet, most did, and (so far) the coverage has been balanced and blowback moderate.

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On the same day we published responses from City of Vancouver mayor and council candidates to our question “What would you have done to close the gap between the City & Kettle-Boffo?“, the Kettle-Boffo project team posted an update on their website Setting the Record Straight to address some of the speculation, conflicting stories and general fallout from their scuttled development application.

We welcome commentary from candidates who have not yet responded; Price Tags will continue to survey City of Vancouver candidates on a variety of topics and issues throughout the summer.

Here are a few more responses we received to our question.

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The question for all mayor and council candidates — “what would you do different” —was in itself not without some controversy. (See “Vancouver Candidate Survey on Kettle-Boffo Project: What Would You Have Done to Close the Gap?“)

Ultimately, the premise of the question was based on the idea that, as the project team stated, Kettle-Boffo “enjoys Council support”. Reliving the imminent failure of the project Groundhog Day style, we wanted to know how a prospective mayor or councillor might expect to work with staff and the applicants, and within the rules of established policy, to ensure project viability, and thus possibly a successful application.

We also felt it was a way for declared candidates to clarify their positions, especially given the degree of complexity in the topic, “the #1 issue” this election year.

Beyond positions, reasonable explanation of some of the core, underlying issues may serve voters. The presumption is some candidates have done their homework, and are figuring out how to bridge the knowledge gap with the electorate. Some at Price Tags are not too humble to admit we too can learn from the responses.

And this goes for not just the issue (“What moves housing forward in the city? What are the possible systemic problems?“), but also the candidates themselves (“Who thinks about housing the way I do? Who has ideas I’ve never considered?“)

Lastly, we were careful in our introduction to not position Kettle-Boffo as having claimed in their statement that there is something ‘broken’ in city hall, which they did not. Nor do we believe our representation of the City’s claim — that they extended every concession they felt they could to enable a successful re-submission of the development application, which ultimately Kettle-Boffo chose not to do — is not to be taken at face value.

With that, we present the first six responses submitted to our call-out; we will continue to publish submissions if and when they come in.

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Earlier today, The Kettle Society and Boffo Properties announced the cancellation of the Kettle-Boffo project, a proposed 12-storey, mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Commercial Drive and Venables. Kettle-Boffo would have provided:

  • up to 30 units of supportive housing to local residents
  • approximately 200 market homes (1-3 bedroom apartment units)
  • a new facility for The Kettle Society
  • 18,000 square feet of retail.

The proponents say that due to the city’s financial requirements, the project was no longer economically feasible; city staff say they ‘went to the wall‘ for Kettle-Boffo.

So we’re asking candidates in Vancouver’s 2018 civic election — what would you have done to close the gap between the city and Kettle-Boffo?*

We’re sending this question to every mayor and council candidate on the list maintained by The Cambie Report podcast team. We’ll publish responses as they come in.

*For the four incumbent councillors, the question is, “Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?”

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