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Vancouver City Council votes on 2013 budget and talks bullying

The regular Vancouver City Council meeting of Tuesday, November 11, 2012 came to order at 9:37 am.

Councillor Raymond Louie gave the welcome and acknowledged that Monday, November 10, 2012 was the first anniversary of the inauguration of the current council. He reflected on the important work that city council has done in the last year and wished everyone a happy holidays.

The clerks then took roll call. The only councillor not present was Tim Stevenson, who was on a leave of absence.

On behalf of the Governor General of Canada, Mayor Gregor Robertson presented the Governor General's Certificate of Commendation to Michael John Fuller. On February 1, 2010, a vehicle crashed in the Massey Tunnel and Fuller and another man tried to help the driver escape the burning vehicle. Unfortunately the driver did not survive, but Fuller was able to help other motorists in the tunnel evacuate. His wife and three children were also present for the ceremony. 

Council passed a motion to meet for an In Camera meeting later in the day and announced that a number of appointments had been made at the previous In Camera meeting on November 28, 2012. The full list of appointments is available from the ciity clerk's office. (I've acquired the list, but it's too long to include here. If you're interested in a specific department, please ask about it in the comments.)

Four administrative reports were adopted on consent. The first was "Business License Hearing Panels—January to April 2013," a recommendation from city staff on when business license hearings should take place and which councillors should be part of the panels.

The second was "2012 Organizational Capacity Development—Grant Allocation to Vancity Community Foundation." It asks council to approve a  $62,600 grant to the Vancity Community Foundation, which would be used to create a Financial Literary Program Framework for cultural non-profit organizations. The program would include financial workshops and technical assistance.

"Expropriation of 1026 Powell Street for the Powell Street Grade Separation Project" asked council to approve the expropriation of a site that currently belongs to Chevron. The site is needed in order to complete the Powell Street overpass project and the Vancouver Charter allows the city to expropriate property if it can't come to an agreement with the owner.

The final administrative report accepted on consent was "Funding for Expropriation of 1026 Powell Street for Powell Street Grade Separation Project," which asked council to approve the funds needed to buy the site from Chevron, deconstruct the gas station and convenience store on the site, and fix the contaminated soil on the site.

A communication, "Appointment of Council Representatives to Metro Vancouver Board," was held for debate by Councillor Elizabeth Ball, and a policy report, "Amendments to the False Creek North Official Development Plan Concerning Area 5b East (68 Smithe Street)," was held for debate by Councillor Adriane Carr.

Council then took on the unfinished business of the "2013 Operating and Capital Budget." A public hearing was held on December 4, 2012, where Mayor Robertson and city councillors heard from six speakers. The budget was then referred to Tuesday's meeting for a decision.

Councillor Louie made a motion to adopt the budget with some amendments, which he had distributed to the city clerks. The clerks tried to bring the amendments up on the councillors' computer screens, but for some reason it wasn't showing up for councillors Ball and Carr. While the clerks fixed the problem, staff gave a walk-through on a memo they had sent to council, answering questions the councillors had asked at the public hearing.

Once staff had explained the memo and all councillors had a copy of Louie's amendments, he was able to introduce his motion. There were four main points that Louie's amendments addressed:

  1. A 2 per cent property-tax increase;
  2. a request that cultural and social grants be indexed so that they can be protected from inflation and that staff report back on the gap in social grant funding;
  3. an additional $3 million dollars for sport field facilities and public washrooms;
  4. that staff include as part of the year-end surplus report the possibility of additional funds for child care.

Before speaking to the motion, councillors had a chance to ask questions about the budget.

Several of the councillors asked questions of staff, but there were also questions for Councillor Louie.

Councillor Ball asked Louie about his changes to part C of the motion, which spoke to the cultural and social grants. She wanted to confirm that it wouldn't exclude the possibility of additional funds for arts programs.

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Comments

CityHall: Vancouver City Council votes on 2013 budget

Chelsea, a damn fine bit of reporting. Don't think I've ever read a report on Council (or governance at any level, for that matter) that was as detailed, and contained as much information (and reflected the 'flavour' of a meeting, as well) as your very fine report for the Vancouver Observer. Thank you for, and congratulations on, your superior, decidedly non-partisan and fine journalistic work.