November 15, 2019

Greens’ Adriane Carr on Working with Communities to Prepare for Sea Change

If you needed more evidence that environmental issues are no longer fringe issues, all you have to do is look at Vancouver Greens’ Adriane Carr.

Her 74,000 votes in the 2014 municipal election was the most by a Vancouver council candidate since 1996…and perhaps ever? Had she run for mayor in 2018, she might have won, and by as many as 20,000 votes.

Born at VGH and raised in east Van, Carr’s future political life began auspiciously — a Master’s degree in Geography under the tutelage of UBC’s David Ley and Walter Hardwick. Her thesis? On the role individuals play in community, specifically entitled, “The Development of Neighbourhood in Kitsilano : Ideas, Actors and the Landscape.”

Such fertile ground for our ‘meat and sizzle’ interlocutors Gord and Rob. And oh yes, they go there — the question of the role of individuals in shaping the community, the city, and city-wide planning.

But first, a few dozen questions…about such matters as what got her into politics? (Desperation….about wilderness protection.) How did she translate that ambition into the role of power broker? (By founding a provincial political party, of course.) What does she wish she had more of? (Power.) And once she made it into City Hall in 2011, who censured her, told her she wasn’t allowed to speak to staff? (Two people, and you’ll have to listen for that nugget.)

Perhaps the question of the decade for Carr, though, is whether she would like to be mayor. It’s also likely both the city’s worst kept secret, and best maintained electoral strategy — yes and no. (Sorry Hector, but you know the drill.)

Over the course of the discussion, the trio get into the big issues, like dealing with density, taxes, character, and tree cover, plus the distractions of public life in the digital era.

And if you thought age and authority would mellow out this green, wilderness warrior, think again. Carr still espouses civil disobedience — non-violent, mind you — as a key tactic to get people to acknowledge the kind of change we’re going to have to undertake to avert, or cope with, the climate emergency.

But do we really need to take another three years, and $16 million, to talk about it? Have a listen, and let us know what you think.

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According to Vancouver Green Party councillor Pete Fry, consultation won’t build us the city of the future.

“Where we’re going, we don’t need sticky notes on a wall,” he said (kind of). To Fry, consultation simply means, ‘the plan has already been written’ — not the right approach for the city-wide plan. Ironically, it was a lack of consultation that almost resulted in a freeway blowing through his Strathcona neighbourhood, but that’s a story for another time.

He wants co-creation. Neighbourhoods helping to design their communities. And if people — like, any people we assume, but at the very least highly organized people, unless he literally meant all people, but honestly we’re not entirely sure about any of this — if these people see something planned for their neighbourhood they don’t like? Council could, Fry suggested, “consider veto feedback on its merit”. (Really.)

That should go well.

This idea of co-creation, whether belonging to Fry alone, Vancouver’s Green Party, their fellow councillors, or (just maybe) staff themselves, is either a brilliant new way to govern, or a new word for old tricks. It could also be a moot point, as it is likely doomed to fail, though in principle we see it working already; certainly, one could interpret the recent rejection of the Granville Street townhouse development as one outcome of co-creation. No surprise to Green-watchers, of course, that all three Green councillors confoundingly voted against the application (“I stand by the Shaughnessy vote,” says Fry).

As he chats with Gord — and meat ‘n’ sizzle co-host Rob McDowell — Pete Fry is crystal clear on one thing: as keen as he is to co-create with his fellow citizens, there are still some hills upon which he’s willing to fight, and we presume die.

Like the pending Georgia and Dunsmuir viaduct removal. Or what we do with the city’s existing zoned residential capacity. And why reconciliation is part of decolonization.

More important, though, is what Pete Fry thinks Elizabeth Murphy really doesn’t get about our housing crisis…

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In recent years, critics have accused both Liberal and NDP cabinets of rushing through inadequate electoral reforms via BC’s Local Election Campaign Financing Act, or LECFA. The most recent round of changes took effect last April, impacting the 2018 municipal elections across the province.

What were they all about? Are BC municipalities in-line with campaign financing limits and disclosure requirements at the provincial and federal levels? What is “the dark money”, and why is that still a thing in local politics?

John Whistler, financial agent for the Green Party of Vancouver, joins Gord in the studio to dig into the details of the recent changes — how they impacted candidates and voters last fall, and additional changes he’d like to see in how election campaigns are conducted in British Columbia.

Want more? In October, Gord published John’s 5-part series on “Failure and Reform: BC’s Local Elections Campaign Financing Act” — simply search for ‘LECFA’ on the blog.

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