Quick hits

  • I tend to agree with the sentiments of Harvey Enchin when it comes to his opinions on controlling spending at City Hall – but I think that there needs to be a little bit of context given as a backdrop to his comments.  First, over their three years of working together as Mayor and City Manager, Sam Sullivan and Judy Rogers added 15.6 per cent to the city’s operating budget with little to no scrutiny.  Enchin’s math is also wrong, because the increase in expenditures from last year to this year is $54.8 million (page 6), (not $60.2 million.  Of that figure, $34.9 million is going towards a four per cent wage increase for city workers.  These increases come of course from the collective agreements signed in 2007 by Sullivan as Mayor.  The Mayor is taking the remainder of $19.9 million and devoting it to four priorities – affordable housing, the environment, public safety and arts and culture – all of which he campaigned and got elected upon.  So, while I agree with Enchin’s sentiments as a general rule of thumb, this Council is by no stretch of the imagination going crazy with spending increases as the previous Council did.
  • MLAs like Jenny Kwan and Adrian Dix are doing a fantastic job of keeping parents riled up about school closures, with new lines of attack on the decision coming everyday.  Two things I want to mention, however:  1) These MLAs should be swinging away at the BC Liberal government, which continues to add costs onto the shoulders of school boards while at the same time cutting back budgets – it isn’t the school boards’ fault and 2) When schools are operating at 50-70 per cent capacity due to a lack of enrollment, something needs to be done to consolidate.  I understand that if I had a child in one of the schools potentially slated to shut down, I would be fighting tooth and nail against such a decision.  But because I do not, I am able to take a position that is a little less emotionally involved and understand that schools that are cavernous because of too few students does nothing to help children, learning, or budgets in the future.
  • Kingsway is pretty dangerous for cyclists (I have seen some pretty close calls driving into Vancouver during rush hour over the years), and so while it won’t happen during this term, this idea seems like one that is bound to emerge in the next few years.  More importantly, it should also point out to the minority of rabid anti-cycling zealots that the desire to make forms of transportation easier, safer and more accessible to citizens is something that isn’t only originating from within City Hall – it is a movement that more and more people are catching onto at the neighbourhood level.
  • Is it true what I am hearing about the NPA’s nomination meeting on November 20th?  That they are simply going to re-nominate their already elected incumbents to mark the most anti-climatic outcome to a date that the party has been promoting for many months?  If that is indeed the case, it is a pretty pathetic sign of the interest level surrounding the possibility of carrying the NPA banner around in the next election.
  • Forget about the cultural divide that might exist in Surrey when it comes to secondary suites – the more pressing issue is the affordable housing options that these suites offer to new immigrants and others who are moving into the city at a rapid pace.  I think that the “opt-out” provisions for communities who do not favor suites that the City of Surrey is thinking of offering is ridiculous and will just create more of a headache in terms of administration for a city staff that I am aware is bursting at the seems in terms of workload.  I am shocked that a city like Surrey, where secondary suites are so prevalent, is the last major municipality in the Lower Mainland to deal with the issue.  For the sake of safety, for the sake of uniformity, and for the sake of creating a stock of rental housing that can accommodate the influx of 1,000 people per month, they need to get their asses in gear.
  • Stuart Mackinnon has written a piece about how community gardens are supported by the Park Board and the City of Vancouver, and so even though the multicultural plots proposed for Sunset Beach have been rejected by residents, there will be another location somewhere for the concept.  But is any proposal for community gardens the “right” location?  Because it seems to me that many community garden proposals – take the one that was proposed as a new “rooftop farm” atop 211 East Georgia street – are always opposed by property owners.  I understand certain individuals having an issue with land that was previous accessible to all being given away to “private interests.”  On the other hand, a rooftop garden, or one that might fill in a rarely used parking lot, or even one that adds a little colour and character to a non-descript patch of land, all seem like innocuous offerings to the broader community.  Is this typical Vancouver NIMBY attitudes or something else?  Personally, I find the consistent opposition confusing and frustrating.  Here is the idea behind the original concept of the inter-cultural Sunset Beach Community Garden proposal.
  • Aside from having no tolerance for line-ups, attitudes and high drink prices (plus the fact that I feel old these days any time I enter one), this is yet another reason why clubs just aren’t for me anymore.  I tell you, the atmosphere on Granville Street these days on a Friday and Saturday night, and the kinds of things that happen in these crowds in and outside of the venues, just aren’t the way things used to be.  And yes, before someone mentions the legend of Bindi Johal being shot up on a dance floor on Richards street, let me just say that it just doesn’t feel the same – people are going out not only to have fun, but with something to prove.  Sorry, not exactly my bag.

Ok, that’s it for now folks.  Have a fantastic day.

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