City Hall liveblog: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan debate
Live from Vancouver City Hall: Deciding the fate of the DTES.
It might get loud.
10:03am O'Shea: Needle drop was at 300 needles/month seven years ago. Needles found around dumpsters, so Yaletown BIA wanted to reduce number of dumpsters. Now half as many dumpsters, and they're corralled away from staircases. O'Shea correlates this, along with better street lighting and easily-identifiable rent-a-cops, with the violent crime reduction. Then they actually started talking to the street-homeless population. "Now the only enforcement they [need] down there is parking tickets."
9:58am O'Shea: events are mega-expensive: policing, permit costs, etc. Her goal is to have something like Nuit Blanche (Toronto).
9:55am O'Shea: "We've added more brick." [To make it look more like NYC?] Also removed grafitti. [To make it look less like NYC?] "We're evangelical about our neighbourhoods." Claims no serious street crimes in last four years.
They want to bring a mini-Burning Man to Vancouver. Wow. [Note ot O'Shea: You cannot call it "Burning Midget". You just can't. So don't.]
9:50am Annette O'Shea, Yaletown BIA: "Mistake in staff report re: levy rate. Lowest levy rate is $1.62, not $3. Also, highest rate is off... by $97,000,000." Small biz doubled in Yaletown. O'Shea reminds Council of the two-week street party during the 2011 Olympics. "Let's do it again!" Taste of Yaletown entering its 10th year.
9:48am Louie: Have budgets been vetted to prove they passed muster? Vaisbord: Yes.
Speaker: Leanore Sali, Gastown BIA: "Gastown BIA celebrating 25 years."
Speaker: Sharon Townsend, South Granville BIA: "If you're bored, ... this is a copy of our annual report." [It's, like, dictionary-thick.] Different BIAs have "different flavours" and characters. "Fascinating to see the work going on in our city by some dedicated and wonderful folks."
9:45am Charter allows for rejection of BIA budget renewal if 1/2 of owners representing 1/2 of value of businesses are opposed. City policy has been to go with 1/3, though. (Speakers today are grouped by BIA affiliation: Pt Grey, Mt. Pleasant, etc.)
9:30am Meeting started. Mayor Gregor Robertson, Clr. George Affleck, Clr. Adriane Carr, Clr. Heather Deal, Clr. Ray Louie (Chair), Clr. Andrea Reimer, Clr. Tony Tang.
Items w/out speakers adopted on consent: #1 and #3 (See below). On to #2: Approval of BIA Renewal Budgets. Speaker: Peter Vaisbord, Planner, BIA Program: "If the BIA renewals are approved... the respective budgets must also be approved. Recommendations are intended to be severable: if one is not approved, the others can survive.
9:26am Also on the schedule:
- Approval of 2014 – 15 Business Improvement Area (BIA) Budgets (pdf)
- Approval of BIA Renewals and 2014-15 BIA Renewal Budgets (pdf)
- 2014 Capital Budget Adjustments and 2013 Q4 Closeouts (pdf)
- 2014 Property Taxation: 3-year Land Assessment Averaging (pdf)
Well, I'm here, so, you know what, f&ck it: if it pops up before the DTES hearing, I'll liveblog it. Among the speakers for BIA Renewal Budgets are NIgel Pike (Cascade Room) and David Duprey (Fox Cabaret, the soon-to-be-deceased Rumpus Room. #TooSoon)
9:06am 126 scheduled speakers for the DTES Local Area Plan. Gonna be a long day.
(Also, taping the list down on the media table like this is silly. If even one person shows up, those pages must be ripped up. Surely it's more sensible to have them in booklet form. We have to share 'em anyway.)
Background info: DTES Local Area Plan
In a sense, the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan lays a blueprint for carving up the area among real estate developers, with whose industry the majority Vision Vancouver party has a very cosy relationship. The current situation isn’t tenable either: anti-poverty activist Wendy Peterson described existing SROs as “crappy” when talking to the Vancouver Sun, and she was being diplomatic. SROs are not proper social housing: they’re low-end hotel rooms. Very, very low-end hotel rooms.
However, the vague redefinition of "social housing" proposed at the March 12 meeting raises eyebrows in light of the fast-forward spot-rezoning of Mount Pleasant.
Just the other day, we learned that East Van brunch mainstay The Rumpus Room would be closing. The building was sold, and will be turned into condos, as co-owner David Duprey had predicted last year.
On March 11, the Strathcona Residents Association posted a formal response to the DTES LAPP, pointing out what it sees as shortcomings in the plan, and calling out both city and province for not doing enough to help Vancouver's most vulnerable.
For its part, the province has said that it will not throw money toward the DTES plan, no matter what Council decides.
Pete Fry, Chair of the Strathcona Residents Association, wrote, “We are extremely concerned that the over 450 pages of plan and associated reports have been released with less than two weeks to read and analyze before it goes to council. Ostensibly, we are being told the plan is essentially the same as earlier iterations with only minor technical details, although we note at least one major change in the form of a significant increase in the population projection for the area. As they say, the devil is in the details.”