Governance & Politics
October 21, 2018

Results and Comments – 2018 Vancouver Civic Election

Gordon Price and Ken Ohrn have collected their thoughts.

It’s not over yet, since a mayoral recount is in whisper stage.  But it probably is, since a recount will be hard to pull off, let alone succeed.

NPA’s back room controllers will likely review every possibility of electoral malfeasance and blunder, probably all related to slow ballot processing by those infernal machines.  They’ll have to find 1000+ new NPA votes, or to disqualify a similar amount of Stewart’s, or a combination.  Plus some mail-in ballots are not counted yet, quantity unknown, but somewhere in the “few hundreds”. Let the strident accusations begin.

An NPA success at recount would turn a difficult council controlled by no faction into one controlled by the back rooms at NPA HQ. With neighbourhoods fossilized by unconditional grant to any and all of veto over any sort of meaningful change to density. These are big stakes.

Onwards to more observations on the results.

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Some recent stories about the impact of ride-hailing companies, particularly Uber, and the longer term implications.

First, another confirming story that ride-hailing is measurably increasing congestion – from Tech Crunch:

In San Francisco … ride-hailing services are undoubtedly partially to blame (for the rise in traffic and congestion), but not entirely to blame, according to a new study from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. …

Between 2010 and 2016, according to the SFCTA, ride-hailing services accounted for:

  • 51 percent of the increase in daily vehicle hours of delay
  • 47 percent of the increase in vehicle miles traveled
  • 55 percent of the average speed decline
  • 25 percent of total vehicle congestion citywide

So not surprising, then, that Uber wants to address the problem of congestion by supporting a mechanism that would reduce ‘free-riders’ on the streets they help congest.

From the Seattle Times:

Uber says it plans to spend money lobbying for congestion pricing in Seattle as part of a $10 million push for “sustainable mobility” policies in various cities.

The ride-hail app company and its rival, Lyft, have previously expressed support for the idea of tolling downtown streets in Seattle, where Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration is working to develop a proposal.

But Uber’s new commitment to actively press for congestion pricing in the city, shared with The Seattle Times last week, could be the biggest boost yet for an effort certain to encounter political roadblocks, including concerns about affordability.

Uber thinks big and it thinks strategically – literally globally.   It can afford to.

From Vanity Fair:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had received proposals from Wall Street banks estimating its initial public offering at a market valuation as high as $120 billion, virtually twice its current private-market valuation, and larger than the combined market capitalizations of General Motors , Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. …

Uber … has a large, global footprint, and is possibly a primordial holding company for a series of future companies …  Uber already has one of the largest food-delivery platforms around today, and it is expanding its freight business, which has the possibility to grow infinitely. And then there’s the driverless car I.P. that the company owns, not to mention the investments in other global ride-sharing services …

“Some people see Uber as a car company,” (an Uber insider said).  “Uber sees itself as the next potential Amazon.”

I think this is bigger than even the evolution of another Amazon (if it first doesn’t buy or dominate Uber.)

We’re still thinking about transportation as essentially a problem of hardware: expensive pieces of metal crammed with technology, jamming the streets and highways. Motordom 1.0.

We analyse the problem from the point of view of the user, each distinguished by the hardware of choice: car or truck drivers, transit users, cyclists (and okay, maybe shoe wearers).

We assume this is primarily a problem for government – the owner of the streets, the licensor of vehicles, the regulator of traffic.

We need to shift our focus to Motordom 2.0 – the integration of every imaginable mode of movement, joined by information technology, delivered to us by a service provider who sells us transportation in the way telecommunications providers sell us data.  The TSP: the Transportation Service Provider.

We should be thinking not about hardware but about what Motordom 2.0 will really be about – issues of ownership, regulation, taxation and equality.  Above all, the vision we have for our urban environments, what we build, for whom, and who gets to decide.

Uber or its successor will likely want to be that decider – the shaper of cities, the creator of wealth, the leader of civilization.  Because that’s what we call what we build, how we move, and who rules over it all.

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I wasn’t able to identify the firm or designers who did the Concord Community Park by the time I posted some pics here.  Fortunately I ran into Derek Lee from PWL, who sent this:

…  a pic of the North East False Creek temporary park that our associate Katya Yushmanova took on her commute this morning.  She was instrumental in the park design among several of our other talented staff who pulled this off.

Notice the new paint job on the ground plane that is intended to celebrate the brilliant colours and forms reminiscent of our world’s fair – certainly a colourful a shot of joy in the proverbial arm of False Creek.

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Two excellent articles point at the need for a comprehensive approach in choosing the candidates for Mayor and Council in the various Metro Vancouver municipalities this Saturday.

Noted journalist Daphne Bramham points out the “complexity that the City of Vancouver has a voters’ planning guide on its website with candidate-supplied photos and profiles of the 21 people running for mayor, the 71 who want to be on council, and the 33 running for each of the park and school boards. Of course, Vancouver voters aren’t the only ones facing difficult choices with so few incumbents running, the collapse of traditional parties and so many Independents. In Surrey, there are 48 council candidates, eight running for mayor and 30 for school trustee, while Richmond has six mayoral candidates, 30 people running for council and 26 for school trustee.”

Decisions need to be made about housing affordability,  transportation accessibility and the overdose epidemic. And it is the  Duke of Data, Director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program that has come up with the “Handel’s Messiah or Highway to Hell” analogy. The people elected by citizens need to act for the greater good of all residents, not just the interests of the newly elected pundits’  inner circle. That includes diversity and listening to different voices.

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