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Civic Voices


DTES Local Area Plan pleases, and enrages, everyone

Wes Regan
Mar 16th, 2014

This mural graced the front of an empty store along West Hastings Street for a number of years. An allegory perhaps, regarding fears of investment, redevelopment, and displacement in the area. Photo by Wes Regan. 

Two years ago over two dozen of us began to meet regularly as a community led Local Area Planning Committee for the Downtown Eastside. As a resident, and as a representative of a local organization that was asked to participate with other community stakeholders on the committee, I was glad to have the opportunity to contribute. A local area plan had been badly needed for decades and it was clear that the City intended this to be a unique process.

In the end it is staff that write the plan however, and like many plans it gives everyone something they wanted and something they didn't. Sometimes compromise is a hard pill to swallow. Based on the perspectives we've seen shared in the discourse leading up to the plan's approval this past Saturday, and the views shared in Council Chambers by the nearly 200 speakers who showed up to speak, it would seem the 60-40 inclusionary zoning laid out in the Community Based Development Area (DEOD-Oppenheimer) is that pill this time.  

Cast a ballot, make your voice heard in the Vancity Board election

Allen Garr
Apr 5th, 2013

I should tell you straight away: I am running for re-election for the Vancity Board because I would like to continue working for an organization that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

Sure, I would like you to vote for me. But mostly I would like you to take a few minutes of your time and just vote. That’s because your vote can make a strong statement about how Vancity is run.

Vancity is a co-operative, which means it is a democratic member-owned organization and is here to serve those members. That’s you and me. And whether we have a few dollars in our account or we have a million, whether we joined six months ago or six decades ago, we each have the same single vote.

But Vancity is also a financial institution, which means it does a lot of the things banks do, like taking in your deposits, making loans, writing up mortgages for your home or your business and helping you with your investments.

We want our co-ops back

Mark Latham
Mar 18th, 2013

Photo courtesy of Mountain Equipment Co-op Facebook page

We can all help solve global problems, by taking a stand for informed democracy in our local organizations -- especially co-ops and credit unions. This month, members are voting at Mountain Equipment Co-op and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union. The issues at stake are crucial for ensuring the accountability of elected leaders to voters. 

Lack of accountability in our larger organizations (national governments and corporations) was a fundamental cause of the global financial crisis. After six years of doing derivatives arbitrage on Wall Street, I quit in 1995 to work on solving those problems instead of causing them. That was long before the damage became obvious to everyone. Because of my work in this area, in 2009 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appointed me to their Investor Advisory Committee, to represent individual investors.

Demonizing DTES restaurants the wrong place for activists to focus their energy

Wes Regan
Mar 5th, 2013

With the recent frenzy that has been set off in the wake of Downtown Eastside restaurant Pidgin opening just weeks ago, and a Local Area Planning Process currently unfolding in this part of the city, it seems an opportune moment to reflect on the past decade of social housing activism in Vancouver and question why activists would choose to spend so much time vilifying restaurant owners.  

The question will be explored this Thursday, March 7, at SFU City Conversations, through an interactive panel discussion at Harbour Centre. For anyone interested in these recent developments this free event from 12:30pm to 1:30 pm may be worth attending.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some recent history.

RIP (Revitalization, Innovation, Progression) Waldorf Hotel

Bonnie Foley-Wong
Jan 18th, 2013

On January 9, 2013, I learned that the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver’s east end was closing in 12 days. I’m tired of cultural and community gathering places being threatened or lost in the wake of property development.

It is, however, a complex issue. Housing is important. Thoughtful development of buildings and land to provide us with shelter and amenities in safe and sound conditions is important. But so is conservation of some of our heritage, history, community hubs, common areas, and public places. More importantly when a place exists, that is edgy, takes risks, and is an oasis in an otherwise forlorn part of town, we shouldn’t let it pass at the sight of the highest bidder.

It made me think of the long list of innovative, “at the bleeding edge” places I’ve been to in other cities or known about…

Metro Vancouver's garbage plan trashed

Jason Keenan
Dec 5th, 2012

The Lower Mainland's construction industry will be hit hard by Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Plan and its scheme to build a new garbage incinerator that will hike solid waste fees, axe competition on solid waste disposal, and ultimately add to affordability challenges in the region.

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) and the Canadian Home Builders Association of the Fraser Valley (CHBA-FV) said Metro Vancouver needs to step back from its heavy-handed and high-cost plan.

"This plan isn't about reducing waste in Metro Vancouver," said ICBA President Philip Hochstein. "It's about attacking private enterprise to create a government monopoly over waste management in order to fuel the new taxpayer-funded incinerator they want to use to burn garbage."

British Columbians are ready for a thoughtful conversation about taxes

Seth KleinShannn Daub
Dec 4th, 2012

Debates about taxes in BC can be as much a blood-sport as politics. But a major new opinion poll conducted by Environics Research (commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) offers some surprising insights into what people of different political stripes think about taxes, inequality and public services.

Open letter to Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall about Uranium Development Partnership

HUES3 Campaign Committee
Nov 19th, 2012

 We write to express our grave concern with public and private statements that you have recently made that leave no doubt that the Uranium Development Partnership agenda is still being actively promoted by you and your government. These statements openly contradict the wishes of Saskatchewan citizens and negate their input painstakingly laid out in the Perrins consultation report, The Future of Uranium Public Consultation Process (2009).  On page 105 of that report, it clearly states that 88% of respondents disagree with the UDP strategy for uranium development for Saskatchewan.

White House salaries put to shame by BC municipal paycheques

Dermod Travis
Jul 13th, 2012

Pity Jack Lew, President Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff, the highest ranking employee inside the Executive Office of the President of the United States.

Earning a paltry $172,200 a year, Lew's salary pales in comparison to George Duncan, the Chief Administrative Officer of – wait for it – Richmond, BC, who pocketed a cool $267,613 in 2010/11 for keeping the lights on in that Lower Mainland suburb.

And Duncan's salary isn't even an anomaly. The Chief Administrative Officers or City Managers of cities such as Delta, North Vancouver (City and District), Kelowna, Maple Ridge, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Kamloops, Langley City, Pitt Meadows, White Rock, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria all earned more than the White House Chief of Staff last year, according to the Vancouver Sun's Public Sector Salaries database.

Conservatives declare war on the environment, says Liberal MP Joyce Murray

Jenny Uechi
Apr 17th, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to gut environmental regulations shows that the Conservative government has has "declared war on the environment", according to Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra and Liberal Critic for Small Business and Tourism. 

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