The Past: Developers in Control of their Puppets
With less than one work week remaining between now and the 19 November 2011 Vancouver municipal election, Eye on Norquay offers this final perspective.
The key message about this election went out over a week ago: the Vision-NPA axis is funded by developers. These two parties care little for anything except payback to those who finance their electioneering. Any neighborhood where a developer looks to reap extravagant profit comes second. A prime example is what has happened to Norquay, especially with last-minute “considerations” that the community never saw before approval.
Look at this recent hard evidence:
Split Council is different than diverse Council. If slates exist, better one slate has majority.
Bob Ransford, the packager of three acres in Far East Vancouver, tweeted this opinion last Saturday to another big name in Vancouver development, Michael Geller. The deal was sealed on his rezoning package less than three weeks ahead of this election. What a no-surprise when NPA Ransford jumped up today to support Vision.
Developers pour a lot of money into both sides of the Vision-NPA axis, and don’t really much care who wins, as long as few or no winners are independent of the axis. Given their druthers, they prefer the autocracy that NPA was able to provide 2005-2008 and Vision 2008-2011.
This notorious expression of royal privilege spewed from the mouth of Councillor Geoff Meggs in 2009 —
The consultation was the election and this is the delivery.
— when a few prescient Vancouver residents objected to handing over to developers under the STIR program as much as $100,000 per unit to build condos that would rent for however much the developer could afterward extract from a renter. The jargon for this scam is market-affordable.
The Future? Independent Councillors Balancing All Interests
In this election, Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) offers a clear and credible and experienced alternative to the developer-funded axis. This electoral organization — not a political party — has put forward a candidate for Mayor and four candidates for Council. In particular, Elizabeth Murphy has stood with Norquay residents on many separate occasions since 2007. To round out a slate, NSV has also endorsed six additional candidates without seeking any reciprocity. Two of these additional candidates, Tim Louis and Ellen Woodsworth of COPE, have served on Council and exemplify many of the values held by NSV. The platform of NSV articulates principles and policy developed through years of advocacy for neighborhoods and their people.
East Vancouver Needs to Vote
The widening disparity between East and West in Vancouver traces to the control of elections by voters who live west of Main Street. See the percentage turnout in 2008 for your voting district on this map of Vancouver. How else to explain the imposition of the first two mass-rezoned “neighbourhood centres” on Kingsway & Knight and on Norquay, two adjacent areas in the heart of East Vancouver? According to sequence in time, the first two Community Visions — Kensington-Cedar Cottage and Dunbar — would have produced the first two neighbourhood centres. Yet Dunbar on the far west side will be the last place planners dare to go with this kind of abusive “planning.”
Historical aside: The second two centres were to have been Hastings-Sunrise North and Main Street-Riley Park. The first mentioned will be subsumed in the new simultaneous planning of Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and West End. The second has been overwhelmed by the Little Mountain debacle and the takeout of all of Cambie Corridor.
So-called city planning seems to have abandoned the huge efforts and millions of dollars that went into producing nine Community Visions. The past decade, and in particular the past two Councils, NPA and then Vision, have abandoned CityPlan because developers wanted helter-skelter maximization of all profit opportunities rather than sane progression toward a livable and sustainable city of 23 villages.
Affordability of housing is not encouraged by deliberately accelerating demolition of older stock. When developers replace those buildings with smaller, more expensive units, they often house no more people, but only bring in gentrifiers to displace the existing working-class and immigrant community.
Only a diverse Council of independent candidates can pursue a balanced agenda — abandoning an agenda which says no one except the developer will be heard, repudiating an agenda where the developer operates in the back room with planners until most features of a rezoning project are beyond significant change.