Personal take on NPA Vancouver ads

Has anyone else heard the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) ads on the radio?  Here’s my take on some of their stances in the ads.

1.  Vancouver budget has jumped $135 million.

I have no trouble believing this to be true.  In the larger scheme of things, what percentage of the entire Vancouver budget is $135 million.  Plus, it’s since 2008.  So over 3 years, the budget may have jumped $135 million.  That’s ~$44-45 million a year.  If the budget didn’t go up to cover the rising costs of fuel and labour, I’d be concerned.  A quick glance at 2010 Statement of Financial Information from 2010 actually shows a surplus of roughly $5.8 million.  It’s not like the city is losing money.  However, $135 million increase in budget really depends on how you look at it.

2. Budget surpluses should be returned

That sounds like a great idea.  So let’s take the $5.8 million surplus and return it to the ~500,000 denizens of Vancouver.  So that’s about $11 bucks per person.  So does that go to just to property owners or all residents in the city?  Who decides who gets what?  How much does it cost to refund $5.8 million?  Is it really worthwhile. I’d rather the city hold onto that money for a little longer for emergencies.  If I as a private citizen can do that with my personal savings, the city should be able to hold onto that money.  It’s not worth returning it in my opinion.  Maybe we could use part of the surplus for the streetcar idea.

3. Support St. Paul’s Hospital by lifting height restrictions

I have no idea if Vision Vancouver council is purposely restrict the height of St. Paul’s or whether it is the pre-existing height by-law of the neighbourhood that keeps St. Paul’s from expanding vertically.  I’m all for this idea.  If you think of University Avenue in downtown Toronto, there are large hospitals like Sick Kids, Toronto General, and Mt. Sinai line the street and are fairly modern buildings.

4. Streetcars for Downtown Vancouver

I really like streetcars.  I’ve had the joy of riding the Portland Streetcar, which I think is well implemented streetcar, and the Toronto streetcars, which are nice but seem to incur a lot of traffic jams in the middle of the road.  However, I think in the greater context of the Metro Vancouver region, the streetcar has to be lower down the list of priorities.  I would like to see the Evergreen Line and a south of the Fraser River LRT completed before we venture into streetcar territory.  If the city wants to go and build and operate the streetcars on its own, fine.  However, I think it’s too costly right now given that TransLink has bigger priorities at the moment.  I prefer the Vision Vancouver take on transit where we cost-effectively run more buses until we can get a rapid transit line down Broadway.

5. Vancouver lags behind in new business licenses

I believe this to be very true.  However, I think this has been the case for many, many years in Vancouver under many different administrations.  Of course, we don’t have the stellar 5-digit growth in licenses that surrounding municipalities have because Vancouver is already a well developed city within its borders.   For a new business to open in the city, it usually means another one has gone under.  Therefore, the net growth is small in Vancouver.  Richmond, on the other hand, has new business parks popping up and is filling in much of its sparse land.  Rent is also cheaper out there.  That’s simply real estate and economics. No wonder businesses would flock that way.  To blame few new business licenses on one administration is short-sighted.  I think this has been a problem in Vancouver for a long time under many administrations.

One additional note:  I don’t listen to the radio all that much, but I have sensed a lot more air time for the NPA than Vision Vancouver or COPE.  I don’t think I’ve heard a single Vision nor COPE ad on the radio.

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