Greenest City 2020 town hall meeting with Andrea Reimer: Identifying the city's worst enemies

Profanity, urbanity, and cost-of-living insanity. Vancouver's ambitious sustainability goals face tenacious enemies: Affordability, development, and apathy.

Town Hall meeting with Andrea Reimer: Wine casks, candles, and PowerPoint.

Real talk

When it comes to getting involved in our city, “three out of every 100 people are assholes.” City Councilor Andrea Reimer said it, but we’ve all thought it. The Town Hall meeting for the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan featured a refreshing dose of profanity from presenters and audience alike. We gotta talk honestly. If you can't sit in a room without feeling safe enough to drop the odd s-word or f-bomb, getting clear of the party line, then what will you really be able to say?

Reimer hosted a town hall at the sort of place a town hall should be hosted: a Railtown wine bar.

Vancouver Urban Winery

Rather than an antiseptic classroom, the meeting space at Vancouver Urban Winery felt more like the set of 10,000 Maniacs’ MTV Unplugged performance

Natalie Merchant: 10,000 Maniacs

In this intimate space, we discussed how community is the linchpin of sustainability. It wasn't an evening of statistics, but about sharing our experiences in a city that often feels distant and beyond our control.

Joining Reimer were Wes Regan, Executive Director of Hastings Crossing BIA; and Trish Kelly, member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council and the city’s fiercest pierogi advocate.

Regan would point out the external and internal obstacles to civic engagement; while Kelly would hammer home the idea that sharing food is the best way to bring people together, an idea demonstrated at the Late Nite Art/Changemakers event a week earlier. (However, no food was provided for this particular Town Hall: what’s up with that?)

Many attendees lived far from the downtown core, if even in Vancouver at all; and faced challenging journeys to get here. Great distances; unsafe bike rides; complicated transit connections; or the SeaBus, which gleefully throws a monkey-wrench into carless journeys to the North Shore.

Know your enemy

The looming spectre over these proceedings was Vancouver’s insane cost of living. The sky-high prices of this city has actually fueled the epidemic of social isolation in Vancouver, as we feel like visitors in a Disneyland for the rich. The Vancouver Foundation's 2012 Connection and Engagement Study(pdf) placed the cost of living in the top five complaints related to social isolation.

So most of us rent (including Reimer), and therefore cannot directly control the building materials used in our dwellings, or whether or not compost is collected. Getting landlords to fix the shower is hard enough, never mind proactively greening a building or instituting a compost program.

One attendee took matters into her own hands: “I guerrilla-composted in a park by my house, until a neighbour complained.” The fear of rats trumps the benefits of composting in Vancouver, it would seem: this is because composting systems don’t enjoy the effective PR that rats do.



All together now

When talking about the city, it's “not the big C, but the little c,” said Reimer, in that the people who make up the city can best bootstrap localized green initiatives the quickest.

But, she later asked, "How do you get people to give a shit?" It has to be safe to ask that question in that way.

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Comments

SeaBus

"the SeaBus, which gleefully throws a monkey-wrench into carless journeys to the North Shore."

No, it doesn't.

SeaBus is the most reliable part of the transit system in this region. It sails at regular intervals and stays on schedule more than any other route. If your journey takes you to the central park of the North Shore - mostly the City of North Vancouver - then it is probably the best transit choice to make. For other Journeys - to West Van or the District - you are probably better off taking a faster, more direct bus journey over the Lions' Gate or Second Narrows bridges. West Van Blue Bus probably has more fans than CMBC.

  

Zero waste and housing

Very interesting to see that there is a policy in Vancouver for deconstruction. 

I have just witnessed the total destruction of two houses @6th and Ontario. They were just crushed to make way for another office building. 

The houses were full of renters.

What is the city policy of preserving existing housing in the Mount Pleasant area? they actually are discouraging the restoration of homes in the industrial area. These home are over a hundred years old --   Way to go City Hall !

Green for All

What you eat impacts on your health, animal rights, and environmental degradation. The UN food council states that factory farming/eating animals is the biggest impact on Global Warming. We must move towards a vegan lifefestyle.

We must also address the various forms of violence in our communities. The Vancouver Aquarium profits from violent  "entertainment". The dolphin slaughter drives that supplies aquariums, the imprisonment of dolphins, and the experiments on wildllife promotes speciesism. It is time to stop the abuses!

 

Sh..

Eat Rats and Real estate developers.

6th and Ontario houses

mark wrote:

Very interesting to see that there is a policy in Vancouver for deconstruction. 

I have just witnessed the total destruction of two houses @6th and Ontario. They were just crushed to make way for another office building. 

The houses were full of renters.

What is the city policy of preserving existing housing in the Mount Pleasant area? they actually are discouraging the restoration of homes in the industrial area. These home are over a hundred years old --   Way to go City Hall !

The houses were owned by BC Hydro and a hydro substation was built there (not an office). They were offered for free to anyone who wanted to take them away but no one was interested in them. Architectural salvage recycled everything that wasn't rotted through and the rest was beyond reclamation.

So nice of you to leave a comment so we can all see what the 3% are like.

So