Personal take on the Vision Vancouver platform

Vision Vancouver lead by Mayor Gregor Robertson is looking for a strong re-election along with their COPE compatriots.  Here’s my look at their platform.

1. Homelessness and Affordable Housing

This is one of the keystones of Vision’s campaign.  Some things have been accomplished with help from the BC government in the past 3 years.  There’s a lot of debate whether Vision’s methods have been more helpful to renters and the homeless or more helpful to developers.  This is such a complex issue that I’m at a loss.

The one thing I’d like to see is a foreign ownership tax.  If you are not a BC resident and you own a place, we should probably add a small tax on top.  A lot of our speculation is coming from overseas buyers.  I know many cities around the world have this kind of tax.  The first one that comes to mind is Taipei where mainland Chinese were on a buying spree for quite a while.  (Oops.  Did I just suggest that Chinese are foreigners in Taipei?)

2. Creativity and Jobs

It looks both the NPA and Vision have similar records and rhetoric in this respect.  Both the past few administrations have been looking to reduce the business taxes and raise property taxes.  It’s a tax shift that has been going on for 6 years under Sam Sullivan and Gregor Robertson.  I don’t foresee any change of course for either party.

I think it’s the right decision to keep businesses happier in Vancouver.  I think businesses have always found the cost of operating a company expensive in Vancouver.  Both parties promise to cut red tape.  It’s just a matter of how they carry it out.

3. Safe, Livable Neighbourhoods

I think Vision has done a good job over the past 3 years, if not controversial at times.  I like the separated bike lanes, but they certainly do cause a bit of havoc around them.  How long did it take me to make a right turn from Hornby onto Georgia?  A long time.  Have I tried the new separated bike lanes?  No.  I prefer to take transit downtown and walk once I’m there.  Is there a need for these lanes?  I think there is and you need bold actions to bring about bold changes. Unfortunately, it’s created a ruckus between drivers and cyclists, which are not mutually exclusive groups by any means.

Other accomplishments would be the food carts.  This is an A++ move for the city and it’s made life on the street a little more exciting, especially gastronomically.  Whenever I go downtown, I start to plan which food cart I want to try next in between my trips to my shops.

Something I’m not so hot about is the 30 km/h speed zone along Hastings in the Downtown Eastside.  Yes, there is a real problem, but is a 30km/h zone along a major, major thoroughfare the answer?

4. Greenest City

Another keystone idea to Vision’s platform is the Greenest City.  In principle, I strongly support this initiative.  I think cities are at the forefront of the green movement.  Provincial and federal governments seem extremely hampered by inertia.  Cities, on the other hand, are quick to respond and make the important on-the-ground, visible differences first.  This is where Anton really differs from Vision and believes that “common sense” should focus on paying for the basics.  The basics are good and all, but we need to do tangible things now.

I’ll slot my favourite transit item under here too.  I prefer Vision’s approach to more buses that serve more of the city over the streetcar that serves primarily False Creek and Downtown.  It’s more cost effective.  Again, I love streetcars and the idea, but money is tight and we need to have more buses at this moment, not a streetcar.  However, let’s not give up the streetcar idea completely because Anton is correct that the streetcar will attract investment.  Just look at Portland and Seattle’s South Lake Union area.  Development has really taken off in those two places.

That’s my quick and dirty look at the platform.  Just remember in our Vancouver civic politics, that a member of an organized party doesn’t always agree with the leader.  Some of the city councillors under the different banners may have very divergent views from the mayoral candidate.  Most importantly, just go out and vote on November 19.

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2 comments

  1. I agree with most of your sentiments. I think affordable housing is a huge issue, I just wish someone had a solution I could support. The foreign ownership tax seems to be the most realizable, but it seems too easily circumvented (couldn’t a foreign owner just invest in a Canadian company that is buying up Vancouver real-estate?) and slightly xenophobic (the focus seems to be on Chinese nationals, but what about rich oil barons from Calgary speculating on Vancouver real estate, isn’t that also a problem?).

    The problem with housing affordability is that any solution that has a significant impact will cause housing prices to drop across the board. That means anyone who bought in the past few years is SOL. Is that ok? And will any politician be willing to throw recent purchasers under the bus to improve affordability?

    1. Maybe the “foreign” ownership fee should be a BC resident exempt fee instead. That would do a lot to limit some of the empty condo syndrome we experience in Vancouver. We do special things for BC residents all the time, maybe this can be one more?

      I bought in the last 5 years and I would hate to see prices plummet severely. However, affordability is still a critical issue in keeping folks living in this city. Maybe bring back more co-op housing. I personally wish there were more housing variety in the city of Vancouver itself. There’s plenty of single detached housing and plenty of apartments, but how about more of the in-between choices like townhouses, rowhouses, and duplexes.

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