Vision locks in green goals, NPA still critical

"We now have a Greenest City Action Plan," said Coun. Andrea Reimer, hardly containing her excitement, following hours of speakers and questions at city hall Thursday.

And with a cheer of approval and a long, hearty applause, Gregor Robertson's plan to make Vancouver the "greenest city in the world" moves forward.

City Hall in Vancouver, where councillors voted Thursday in favour of adopting the Greenest City Action Plan.

Vancouver city councillors voted in favour of the Greenest City Action Plan, following an outpouring of public support, and despite persistent objection from lone-NPA councillor and mayoral-hopeful Suzanne Anton.

"It's great to have the words and intentions very clear, but it's even more important to get to the actions stage and get solution on the ground that make it possible for the city to get in this race to the top," said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The 162-page plan, the product of almost three years of work, includes 10 "greenest city" goals, including measures in the areas of green economy and jobs, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, clean air and drinking water, local food and reduction of solid waste -- all in the name of earning the "world's greenest city" title.

Each goal includes "highest priority short term actions," items that will see work done within the next three years. 

The "three year plan" includes work on more than 40 short term initiatives such as building four new renewable energy systems, sorting out a Broadway corridor rapid transit plan and launching a public bicycle sharing program.

Coun. Anton and others in the Non-Partisan Party Association said Vancouverites deserve to know how much these measures will cost the city before the plan can be approved, and that a decision like this should be taken to the public.

Former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, who was among 29 speakers who addressed council Thursday, responded to Coun. Anton's assertion. He said he thinks it's "a nutty idea."

"It's called leadership," he said. "If you want to have an action plan like this or a new public policy, you run in elections, and you win or you lose. You're either for or against it, and you take your lumps or your kudos at election time."

Asked by Coun. Heather Deal if he thought the plan would work, Harcourt simply responded, "yes."

In an interview Wednesday the NPA's Mike Klassen, who is running for council in November's civic election, said he'd like to see what the whole plan is going to cost.

"If you're going to go out there and spend hundreds of thousands if not millions or tens of millions of dollars trying to retool the public service of Vancouver around some fanciful green dream, then you're going to have to go out there and try to explain to voters why they don't want to let them know what the cost of it is," Klassen said.

But city councillors involved in creating the plan say each item will have to approved by council before work can commence.

"All of the things within the three year plan will be fully costed and brought into the budget that will be brought forward in 2012," said city councillor David Cadman in an interview.

True to Coun. Cadman's word, city staff presented the first "highest priority action item," a water conservation measure, to council Thursday, complete with staffing requirements and annual costs. 

As if the passing of the Greenest City Action Plan was a foregone conclusion -- and it was, considering the outpouring of support for the proposal at the previous city council meeting -- the Clean Water Work Program also got the green light.

That plan requires water meters on all new single-family homes and duplexes. The city expects it will save 26.5 billion litres of water per year at an additional annual cost of about $500,000.

It's a significant addition to the $150,000 the city currently spends on water conservation, but still a modest expenditure relative to some other cities. Seattle, for example, spends $3.5 million per year, according to the staff report. 

The $705,700 Vancouver will now spend on water saving measures, or $1.05 per person, is still less than half of what Seattle spends per capita.

A new city staff position -- a water conservation policy analyst paid about $85,000 per year -- is included in the total expenditure. 

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This Plan

Unfortunely the majority does not agree with plan, the minority vision vancouver members plus others made up the 35,000 that had input, what happend to the 565,000 plus that are residents of City of Vancouver.Did you ask them?

What is the NPA's Plan?

Ken Lawson, I think what you meant to say is that "you are not convinced that the majority agress with the plan". Seems like a good issue for the November election. If the NPA is opposed to the plan then they should campaign on that and put forward their own proposals. I would love to know what Ms. Anton's proposals are on green issues. I know she is a supporter of large developments like the casino, other than that it is not clear to me what she stands for.

I find Suzanne Anton is

I find Suzanne Anton is getting more and more annoying as her only platform seems to be to say "no" to anything Vision proposes. I was at the casino expansion hearings and her questions were less than sterling, and in the end she voted against the expansion. Moments later she was in front of reporters saying what a bad decision it was to stop such a money maker. During the hearings she made very complimentary comments to David Podmore about his 600 million dollar roof for B.C. Place. She didn't seem to question that use of taxpayers money, but she's very concerned about using it for water conservation and environmentally sustainable job creation. I think she and Stephen Harper could share a few dinosaur awards.


So it turns out the meeting was packed, that is in the old fashioned sense of being filled by supporters recruited by a city employee on the orders of Ms Reimer. An abuse of the democratic process and (again) of the convention of civil service impartiality. This is why people like me, supportive of many of the claimed if often unfulfilled policies of Vision, are so opposed to its continuing in power. As for the water meters and other un-costed proposals. They have all the marks of elitist tokenism that will only actually impact poor and middle income people. Meanwhile the wealthy or those on well padded expense accounts or individuals and corporations receiving the "green" sinecures, and it's not hard to think of who these are in the current administration, are effectively untouched. You're worried about the environment? Well how about getting to grips, after nearly three wasted years, with the "number one priority" of the environment in which the increased numbers of homeless and quasi homeless and 'street' homeless are living. How about giving that priority over tax subsidies to developers, however much they contribute to Vision's political funding?

What plan?

This so-called plan is a joke. There are no financial details, no program details - just more happy, pie-in-the-sky talk to fool the citizens. Gregor must think we are idiots.