NPA fundraiser cancelled, Anton unveils tax platform and vows to end "pet projects" at City Hall

Bike lanes will be spared but other 'pet projects' will get the axe, Vancouver mayoral candidate, Suzanne Anton, tells the press.

Vancouver Mayoral candidate, Suzanne Anton, speaks to the press.

2011 Vancouver Municipal Election: During a rare burst of September sunshine outside Vancouver’s highbrow Mink Chocolate Café this morning, 2011 mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton unveiled another peek at her Non-Partisan Alliance (NPA) party’s proposed City Hall mandate. Anton, surrounded   by fellow NPA candidates, announced that as part of her “common sense platform,” her administration would return tax dollars to Vancouverites, cap city spending, reasess the small business tax regime and put an end to Vision Vancouver’s "pet projects."

“In 2008, Gregor Robertson inherited a 15 million dollar surplus from the NPA. Current estimates at the second quarter of 2011 project the Vancouver surpluses will exceed seven and a half million dollars. These dollars should go back to you.”

The money would be reimbursed by limiting property tax increases, she said, adding that the NPA would keep housing taxes at “inflation or better” and end the “the bottomless ATM of taxpayers” currently sitting in the council lobby.

Vision staffers were quick to respond to today's announcement, challenging Anton’s record on city surpluses.

“She's flip flopping on her position,” Vision Councillor Raymond Louie said in an interview with the Vancouver Observer.  “In 2007, when I made the motion to return 12 million worth of strike savings that came as a result of the NPA, Anton voted against it. She has some explaining to do why now and not then.”

In 2007, a multi-month citywide services strike resulted in a huge sum of unpaid wages and service costs.

Louie also added that the 7.5 million-budget surplus Anton mentioned was a mid-year speculation and that any extra dollars the council takes in this year will be put into a fund to cover unexpected expenses. And he defended City Hall’s current Vancouver Services Review strategy, which he says has already eliminated hundreds of thousands of dollars of redundancies and is now targeting spending inefficiencies the NPA has made as part of their platform.

Anton, a former crown prosecutor and two-term council veteran, is the sole challenger to incumbent Gregor Robertson whose party all but eliminated the NPA from Vancouver’s political memory in 2008.  The once leading party has struggled ever since, and yesterday cancelled their $225-per plate Sept 27th fundraiser for undisclosed reasons. 

The relationship between the sole NPA rep and the Vision dominated council has grown increasingly sour as the campaign has gotten underway. It started earlier this month with a series of NPA sponsored attack ads and rhetoric challenging the mayor's environmental record, blaming him for the hockey riots in Vancouver and accusing his government of being secretive and awash with frivolous spending.

“We will eliminate wasteful green washing programs that do nothing for the environment and make no common sense,” she said. Specific initiatives like Visions’ water meter program, the Greenest City plan, chicken coops and city wheat fields would also be on the NPA chopping block.

“That’s the kind of goofy frivolous spending that drives people crazy,” Anton said.

Bike lanes and Streetcar

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Is there some sort of typo in this para?  It doen't hold together for me.

"The NPA has been struggling to rebrand its campaign from earlier media follie, saying that the NPA’s current attack on progressive environmental initiatives, green-wash or not, is a careless political move in Vancouver’s young and green-minded left leaning electorate. On the heals of Ladner's surprise criticism, Anton was pushed by interviewers to publicly endorse the lanes and commit that she wouldn’t scrap Vancouver’s controversial downtown bike lines."

And that is "heels".

What can make a streetcar better or not.

Just a detail that people need to know about streetcars. If their tracks are shared with cars then they can get stuck in traffic just like a bus can and therefore aren't an alternative. (Look at Toronto.)

What makes a mode of transport a good alternative is when they have their own separated track or lane, not the particular technology of how they move. It could be a streetcar with it's own track not used by cars, it's own dedicated lane, a separate lane for buses only, etc.

An important distinction to recognize when designing where one would go.

Mr Louie

Mr. Louie puts the brakes on a Vancouver Street Car while supporting one of the most expensive and least vehicle reducing urban rail initiatives in North America, the RAV Line (Canada Line).

With only a 6500 person per hour capacity the Canada Line is filled with previous captured transit users made to deboard their suburban buses at Bridgeport Station in Richmond to fill the debt train.  Another aspect of filling this train was the implimentation of the U-Pass which deeply subsidizes university, college and other student transit fares by more than 60%.

The traffic flows into the city have not decreased since the opening of the Canada Line.  What has increased is the number of Vancouver residents leaving their city for work in the burbs.  Seems Vancouver can no longer provide sufficient jobs for its population.

Another one of Louie's "sound" financial decisions was his boosterism of the 2010 Olympic Games and his inability to read the various agreements signed in 2002-3 when he was a councilor which clearly indicated that the City of Vancouver was responsible for financing the Athlete's Village.

Mr. Louie was in complete denial in 2003 regarding the city's financial responsibilities for not only the Athlete's Village but for the other city assets that required alterations for use by the 2010 Games.  The City continues to pay for these commitments.

The problem with the NPA and Vision is that all of them supported the Games so you will hear nothing of these fiascos during the 2011 campaign.

The lot of them are mismanagers of the public trust and voters in Vancouver should break from the party system and choose their own leaders from amongst themselves.  Folks know who those community leaders are in their neighbourhoods all they have to do is convince them to run for local government.



Wondering about costs

We are pleased to read that Ms Anton once again endorses the Hornby bike lane. 

We also wonder how much city wheat fields and chicken coops actualy cost the city; in particular, how much our city can expect to save if our chicken coop and wheat bylaws are repealed.

We are also pleased to read that Ms Anton will support and promote the return of streetcars to Vancouver.  As an interim, low-cost measure to improve transit infrastructure and reduce our car dependency, we would like to suggest that Ms Anton and other City Council hopefuls investigate the improvements to be gained by doubling the trolley wires on existing east-west bus corridors.  This will allow the addition of express trolley lines between SkyTrain/Canada line stations and UBC.  Adding new east-west express lines will also help ease the crush loads now being endured on the Broadway B-lines.

The Big Disconnect

Bicycle accidents are up 15% from 2009-2010. But the human carnage is ok because we're reducing GG's? We're not. Vehicle usage is constant and idling and distance travelled has increased. So the bike lanes hurt people, increase pollution, and are a good thing that Vision and the NPA both endorse...

Questioning 'The Big Disconnect'

We have seen nothing in the media to support Mr. McGuire's claim about bicycle accidents.  Would he please provide the source of his statistic.