25 September 2008

Neighbourhood facilities matter

On Monday night the Park Board commissioners will vote on the Capital Plan which will be presented to voters to approve (or the borrowing to pay for it) in November on election day. One item conspicuously absent is funding for the Mount Pleasant pool and old community centre. This despite promises that funding would be provided. Margery Duda and her heroic group of activists at the Friends of Mount Pleasant Pool have been campaigning to save this neighbourhood amenity. Even with a community consultation process that showed the residents wanted the pool and centre to remain and promises from the Park Board that they would support the residents efforts, the pool is once again absent in the Capital Plan.

Neighbourhoods are what make Vancouver a livable place. They are the heart and soul of the city. Community centres and neighbourhood parks are our playgrounds. The NPA dominated Park Board has been moving to a policy of destination facilities and away from neighbourhood ones. This may be cheaper in the short-term but it will decimate neighbourhoods in the long-run. It is a foolish short-sighted view.

If you don't want to see your neighbourhood facilities whittled away, then the Mount Pleasant pool fight matters to you too. Please send a letter to the Park Board saying neighbourhood facilities matter. That keeping an outdoor pool in Mount Pleasant matters. That destination facilities are the wrong direction to be moving in. It just might be your neighbourhood that loses next time.

24 September 2008


Media Release
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(VANCOUVER) The Vancouver Green Party has ratified a co-operation agreement with Vision Vancouver, and have endorsed Gregor Robertson as their candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. The Vancouver Greens met last week to discuss their election strategy, and voted to work co-operatively with Vision and COPE to bring progressive change to City Hall.

"I want to make Vancouver a leader in environmental sustainability, and I am thrilled to receive the Green Party of Vancouver's endorsement," said Vision Vancouver Mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson. "This is about a new kind of politics: different parties working together to bring progressive leadership to all levels of government in Vancouver."

"I am honored to be the Green's choice for Mayor of Vancouver, and will work hard to be the greenest Mayor Vancouver has ever had."

The purpose of the cooperative agreement is to ensure progressive candidates are elected at all levels of municipal government in Vancouver, and that a broad coalition of voices be presented to the electorate. It is not a joint campaign or a coalition, but rather an agreement to work together cooperatively on areas of common concern. Between Vision Vancouver, the Green Party, and COPE, there will be no overlap in candidates nominated.

"We are proud to be endorsing Gregor Robertson," said Green party deputy chair Desmond Rodendour, who oversaw the Green Party's nomination meeting. "The Green Party is looking forward to working together with Vision and COPE in a way that will help give the people of Vancouver what they want - a progressive government with political parties working together on their behalf."

The agreement means the Greens will not run against the City Council and School Board candidates nominated by Vision and COPE. On Park Board, one space was left for the Green Party, as well as Electoral Area A, which represents the UBC Endowment Lands and other areas of the region not represented by a municipality on the board of Metro Vancouver.

The Green Party of Vancouver nominated Stuart Mackinnon as their candidate for Vancouver Park Board, and Ben West as their candidate for Electoral Area A.

"This is a great time to be Green," said Parks Board Candidate Stuart Mackinnon. "People understand the immensity of our environmental challenges and that our voice is needed around the table. We are eager to get to work on their behalf."

Ben West, Green Party chairperson and the party's nominee for Electoral Area A, also reiterated the excitement about working together.

"This is an exciting time politically for people in Vancouver. We have an opportunity to address our ecological responsibilities and to make change for the better" said West. "With Gregor Robertson as our Mayoral candidate, Vision, COPE, and the Greens can work together to bring progressive leadership to all levels of local government."



Vancouver Green Party
Ben West – Chairperson & Electoral Area A candidate 604 710 5340
Stuart Mackinnon – Parks Board candidate 778 389 1956
Desmond Rodenbour – Deputy Chairperson 604 512 4487

Vision Vancouver
Ian Baillie – 604.761.5540

20 September 2008

Stuart Mackinnon: Green Party candidate for Park Board

On Thursday night I was honoured to be endorsed as the Green Party of Vancouver's candidate for Park Board. A full announcement of the decisions of the GPv membership will be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

14 September 2008

Encounter with a Recycling Vigilante

I recently moved into the Fraserlands area and walk with my dog along the river walk everyday. The path has been extended along the river behind the old White Pines mill. Today there was a guy out on the mud flats kicking over debris. He yelled up at me that it was treasure chest for someone who collected copper. There was quite a few pieces of old copper piping. He then started telling me just how much old metal there was in the river and how it was all breaking down and polluting this magnificent waterway. He told of an entire island upstream that was made from the dumping of old metal in years gone by and how now it was covered in trees. He said he was going to bring a video camera next time and record the toxic waste on the riverbank. He called himself the 'recycling vigilante' and that he did this because he loved the earth and wanted people to know what was happening.

There was a time when we thought we could just dump anything in the river or in the sewers (which would end up in the river) and then walk away. We know better now. We know that what befalls the earth befalls us too, that toxins get into our body through our food and water. Hopefully we have learned...but then I look around and see all the plastic and metal littering our parks, and all the packaging in our stores and think maybe we really haven't learnt anything.

I am grateful to the 'recycling vigilante' and all the folks who shout and curse at our foolishness. Hopefully we are wise enough to hear them.

13 September 2008

She's got vision

September 12, 2008
By ALEX G. TSAKUMIS (24 Hours)

Every so often, a great candidate for public office will emerge and I'm then left wondering why we can't attract more of the same, or, if we will ever get as good in the future.

You've read here, time and again, my arguments for everything from an expansive compassion for the life of a politician - even though some may habitually fail us - to paying top dollar to get top drawer.

But to legitimize such generosity, the best kind of public servant has to be someone more than a walking resume.

Besides, casting your ballot for a candidate is always based on an emotional connection between you and them: Why do we trust them? Can they help a greater cause? Is their vision congruent with ours?

Well, if you're looking for a star in the making, even though I would argue she's already arrived, someone who you can trust and will be, at the very least, a capable steward in helping to manage an almost $1 billion annual City of Vancouver budget ... let me introduce you to Andrea Reimer.

At the outset and this should be of little surprise, Reimer, the Western Wilderness Committee starlet, with stellar "Green" credentials, is not someone whom I would find myself in agreement with on many issues: She believes in climate crisis, I believe we have climate change; she thinks Al Gore is bona fide eco-hero, I think he's a vacuous buffoon; she, as a Vision candidate for council, would have you believe we need to throw the economic book open and start reprioritizing, I hope they understand you can't multiply the city's wealth by dividing it first.

And so on ...

So why then do I think Andrea Reimer will make a great city councillor? Because she exudes trust.

I trust her.

It's not Reimer's intelligence, of which there is plenty, or her effusive care, of which there is an equal amount.

Andrea Reimer is not someone who will blindly follow if she feels that the greater good is to vote her conscience instead.

That's the kind of independence that used to be the hallmark commitment of NPA champions such as Lynne Kennedy, Gordon Price and George Puil. It's what made my old pal Harry Rankin a legend. It's what makes COPE's David Cadman a credible firebrand.

Moreover, Reimer's personal story is so very compelling. She has transformed from a "street kid" to an educated, polished, knowledgeable, clear-headed local hero that other young women (and men), can point to as the desired end product in a life otherwise riddled with successive challenges of monumental scope.

She doesn't take the easy way out. It must be a principled cause. It has to matter.

"Although I'm concerned about what we're doing in this city, I'm just as concerned about the way we're doing it," Reimer told me earlier this week. "Council has to have a compassionate agenda that speaks to the needs of the city as a whole," she said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Now, you may think it's the same message that we might get from any "candidate for change," but Reimer's plump credentials and gripping journey notwithstanding, her message is persuasive, if not reassuring.

"You can't let yourself down ... because people won't believe you can help them either ..." she says.

Andrea Reimer has an independent, progressive voice and she will lead this city (and perhaps, one day, the region) to a better place soon enough. Much better.

And, apparently, she doesn't let you down either.

10 September 2008

Vancouver's centre-left civic parties strike deal

Globe and Mail Update

September 9, 2008 at 2:40 PM EDT

Vancouver's three centre-left civic parties have struck a deal that will ensure Vision's Gregor Robertson will be the only mayoral candidate among them.

The deal also gives Vision, the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the Green Party each a share of council, school and park slates.

The three parties see it as the only way to beat the centre-right Non-Partisan Association, by ensuring that no progressive candidates are competing against each other.

"This is good for the city because we're not going to have divided slates now," said COPE Councillor David Cadman, who had talked frequently about the possibility of running for mayor earlier in the year.

In the last election, the nascent Vision and COPE, the party it had just split off from, had only a weak, and sometimes fractious, alliance that many say allowed the NPA to squeak to a win.

Vision co-chair Mike Magee said it was a tough negotiation that went on for months, since Mr. Robertson was chosen as the mayoral candidate in June.

It was complicated by the fact that an enormous number of people, enthused by Vision's surge, decided to run for office. The party now has 37 candidates competing for the 16 slate positions it has now negotiated.

"I think it's a fair deal," Mr. Magee said. "But it was emotional. There was a lot of give and take and it took a long time to get there."

Some had been predicting that there might be no deal at all because it was taking so long to put together. But Mr. Robertson started phoning Vision's candidates on the weekend to tell them the numbers.

In what came as a surprise to some, COPE is getting the majority of spots on the school-board slate, five of the nine.

But that was the price to pay for getting more Vision spots on council, eight out of the 10, and ensuring that no one ran against Mr. Robertson for mayor, say people from all camps.

"I'd hope [the COPE school candidates] would see the value of making this work," said Mr. Magee.

On park board, Vision will run four candidates, COPE will run two, and the Green Party will have one.

"Personally, I am pleased that we've been recognized as a force in civic politics," said Stuart Mackinnon, the Green Party's park board candidate.

"And Vision is running the greenest mayor we've ever had. Gregor Robertson could be a Green Party member."

In fact, the first provincial party Robertson joined in 2001 was the Green Party.

The "co-operative understanding," as it's been called, has been approved by the COPE and Vision executives.

It still has to be approved by the COPE membership, where it's expected that former councilor Tim Louis, who was the only COPE board member to vote against it Monday night, will suggest that COPE should run full slates and a mayoral candidate.

Vision and COPE have also agreed to identify three issues where they would have a common platform, said Mr. Cadman. But the two parties will not have a joint campaign.

The news comes in a week where all the civic parties have had to reassess their campaign strategies, given the reality that a federal election will dominate the news until a month before the Nov. 15 election date.

As well, the city may see two byelections, one in Fairview, one in the West End, in between the federal and civic elections.

Mr. Magee said he thinks the shortened campaign period will work to Vision's benefit, since it will give the NPA and its mayoral candidate, Peter Ladner, less time to run the negative campaign against Mr. Robertson that he has been anticipating.

As well, he said, the public may be turned off by negative campaigning by the end of the federal election.

But other analysts say that Mr. Ladner may benefit from the short campaign window, since he is better known than Mr. Robertson and four weeks will not be enough time for the public to get to see a difference between the candidates.

09 September 2008

Trout Lake Community Centre to be put on capital plan

September 9th, 2008 ·
Frances Bula

The Non-Partisan Association council is going to announce imminently that it will put the $20 milliion for a new Trout Lake community centre back into the capital plan for 2009-2011.

That’s coming as a great relief to community centre presidents, who got alarmed when all money for community centres got dropped from the capital plan in the spring. That was because the plan — which is essentially the spending for any large projects in the next three years that has to be approved by voters during the civic election — has been squeezed by the ginormous cost overruns for the Olympics-related community-centre improvements of the last three years. That’s the Trout Lake and Killarney ice rinks, plus the complete makeover of the Hillcrest centre, which will be the Olympic curling facility in 2010, then the community centre and swimming pool after.

As well, all kinds of police and fire big-budget items are also on the ticket.

Danny Yu, president of the Marpole Community Centre, said it’s a relief that the NPA have decided to restore at least one community centre to the plan. (In case you’re confused, the Trout Lake ice rink is just one part of the community centre, so it will have a beautiful new ice-rink building soon and then the regular main part of the community centre is what the tussling is over.)

He says the park board renewal plan, which aims to keep replacing the city’s aging centres at a regular rate, has only been proceeding at one community centre every seven years, when it really needs to be one or two every three-year capital plan.

He and others will be at the city’s Sept. 15 public meeting on the capital plan to also get the council to at least put in some planning money for the next two centres on the list, Marpole and Hastings.

Don’t you love election time and the way it loosens the purse strings.