Category Archives: City Hall

Calling All Consultants

The City must have decided that the employment rate for consultants is dangerously low. How else to explain the sudden deluge of Requests for Proposals on the CNV website – eight bid requests posted for the month of November, of which seven are opportunities for various flavours of consultant. Let the billing begin! But no worries, the City must be flush with cash from all those development fees coming in.

Bid Topics and programs range from:  Family Friendly City, Sidewalk Program, Zoning Bylaw Height Envelope, Functional Space Program (Harry Jerome), Consulting Services (Harry Jerome), Mosquito and Mackay Bridge Replacement, Microsoft Reseller, Water Utility Zone Study.  Full details here: http://www.cnv.org/City-Services/Bid-Notices

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A New Voice Speaks Up

City of North Van Council Meetings for the past two plus years have generally been  ignored by the public since the change in rules to the Public Input period (2015), and the very common 4-3 slate vote.  Most nights at Council meetings the gallery consists of less than five interested residents plus City staff or people connected with an agenda item. 

That seems to be changing with people taking note of a new speaker at public input for the last two meetings.  Bryan May’s topic this week was “Bowlinggate”, the notes of his input follow.  The video is here: http://www.cnv.org/your-government/council-meetings/2017-meetings/council-videos Meeting Oct 16, public input, 12 minute mark.

Script from Mr. May:

In 2018 Team Slate MUST be flushed from The Swamp .

The best political enema …. archived videos of Council meetings.

Political kryptonite for Team Slate …

Voters can be guided ,with laser precision, to meeting dates , Item #s and speaking times where Team Slate show complicity with their 2014 campaign donating developers…. who now run the City .

A synonym for complicity is collusion.

Collusion on steroids upgrades to corruption and public trust issues .

Consistent 4:3 Team Slate votes renders Council impotent.

A recent series of video incriminations of Team Slate…Bowling Gate

Bowling Gate capsulizes, on video, how Team Slate and senior City staff are blatantly complicit with the developer and how new citizens like The Dickinsons who don’t want to live over a bowling alley they never knew would be there when then signed on for $600,000….get verbally eviscerated by Team Slate for showing up here thinking it’s actually Democratic …

Councillor Back …developers are not bound to tell you anything about other tenants ..

Councillor Keating … it’s not what we do here , deal with your landlord…

Bowling Gate …on archive video…

Developer has already told NSNews …. excavation WAS a mistake

Developer then tells City …NO mistake

City planner has no clue of possible space usage…

City planner … well, actually the space will be an undersized bowling alley … ..no room for anything else !

..and then…abra caddabra …it’s a Commercial Social Recreational Facility , with regulation full sized 10 pin bowling , pool tables , food and licenced beverage service…. all for developer profit!

Councillor Bell sites large transfer fee shortfall versus small developer gift …Councillor Bookham says developer gift acceptance is complicity ..

Vote .. Team Slate 4: 3 for developer

Councillor Clarke moans Team Slate 4:3 …again ! and later raises fiduciary obligations to citizens likes the Dickinsons

The Dickinsons are then out of order, …with their backs turned as they are escorted out , His worship pops …get a lawyer and… welcome to North Van …a cheap shot from his sandbox…

The morning after the 2018 election Team Slate will be writing their sequel to Hillary Clinton’s …What Happened.

Soon after ,some senior City staff may be mounting wrongful dismissal suits as well as possibly preparing defence in corruption and breach of public trust charges !

Check the bowling alley transformation timelines and clearly no amount of due diligence by the Dickinsons would be of use…

Voices comment: the reference to the Dickinsons is explained in this NSNews article:http://www.nsnews.com/news/split-council-ok-s-onni-bowling-bid-1.21227298

 

Permit red tape holding up 69,500 housing units: Development industry

Article in the Vancouver Sun today.   Judging by the comments we are not alone in being thankful that housing units are being held up – imagine even more development underway and the ensuing disruptions.     Who is all the development benefiting?  

Quoting from the article, the City of North Van got a mention:

McMullin said one example of needless complexity is the way municipalities deal with rising sea levels expected this century; North Vancouver City requires a higher building height above sea level than nearby Vancouver.

“I’m pretty sure the sea level rises the same on both sides of the harbour,” she said. “Designers are having to do the same job more than once.”

Another example is a proposal from North Van City to require that all bedrooms in three-bedroom units have outside windows. While it “sounds good,” McMullin said designers find it hard to satisfy the rule and make efficient use of the available land base.

“It’s a problem, especially on the thin towers which are built in Metro Vancouver. Every bedroom has to have an outside wall. You’re using up a lot of real estate,” she said.

Source: Permit red tape holding up 69,500 housing units: Development industry

RESIGNATION BOMBSHELL: The Ballad of Brian Jackson

Article from the Vancouver Observer, quoting in part:   The cloud of developer campaign contributions has corroded public confidence to the breaking point. 

RESIGNATION BOMBSHELL: The Ballad of Brian Jackson.

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Public Notice concern – change in Council meeting day

This week’s regularly scheduled Council meeting will be held on Tuesday.  We noticed the change on Friday, when the agenda was published on the City website. We have queried the lack of notice with the City Clerk, following is the back and forth query and responses.  We do not believe adequate public notice has been given regarding the change.

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Voices to Karla Graham:    I have been asked to query the change of meeting day this week. It has been pointed out that the meeting agenda or notice of the change is not posted on the city home page.

Apparently, public notice has to be given to change the meeting date, pursuant to the council procedure bylaw,  section 12.2 (1).   Would you kindly advise how to respond.

City Clerk to Voices:    The meeting is posted on the City’s website where we normally post our Council Meeting schedule.  It can be accessed by this link … http://www.cnv.org/Your-Government/Council-Meetings/Council-Meeting-Schedule. 

Signage is also posted at City Hall in the “Normal Notice Places”, meaning the notice kiosk in the main entrance foyer at City Hall and on the City website.  We also post notice on the main entrance doors to City Hall. 

Notice is posted pursuant to Sections 12.5 and 12.6 of the Council Procedure Bylaw.  It is further provided in accordance with the provisions of the Community Charter, which only requires 24 hours.   I trust this assists.

Voices to Clerk:    Thanks for this, I’ll pass it on. Could you also provide me with the section in the Charter that refers to 24 hours?  I notice that it is now posted on the city website.

City Clerk to Voices:    The Council meeting schedule has been posted on the website for some time now.

Sections 94 and 127 of the Community Charter deal with notice of Council meetings.

Voices to City Clerk:  From what I’ve read, I don’t believe you are complying with the proper public notice (section 94 in the Charter).   The 24 hour rule seems to only apply to Special Council Meetings.

Section 94 has the rules for public notice, and revisions to the schedule (per City bylaws) must be posted in the public notice places.  There has been no notification in the newspaper,  which seems to be the usual procedure for public notices.

This was not posted on the home page (as usual on Friday) until later this morning.    I’ll leave it to others to challenge should they choose to.

References to the City Council Procedure Bylaw is here: http://www.cnv.org/~/media/F5FE8DFCE8EE4884BC5C748D54621111.ashx and the Community Charter Sections referred to here:http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/03026_00

 

 

Vancouver city hall under Vision is the Kremlin on Cambie

Comment from Voices:  This article from the Editor of The Province cites examples very familiar to residents in the City of North Van, particularly this quote ‘the most secretive and least genuinely consultative city government in living history’.  The most recent example in the CNV is the attempt to cancel public input at Council meetings.

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Gordon Clark: Vancouver city hall under Vision is the Kremlin on Cambie.

After winning office in 2008 on promises that included providing Vancouver with open government and listening to citizens, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his party of activists quickly and infamously transformed Vancouver city hall into the most secretive and least genuinely consultative city government in living history. This is not much in dispute; even the mayor admitted in the last election that he hadn’t listened enough to citizens, vowing to do better.

VANCOUVER, B.C., JUNE 3, 2015, -    The Province staffer Gordon Clark in Vancouver, B.C. June 3, 2015. (Arlen Redekop photo / PNG staff)(Gordon Clark story)

Under Vision, projects are routinely shoved down the throats of neighbourhoods over the objections of the majority after pro forma public hearings; announcements are timed to limit debate (like the recent Burrard Bridge plan); slanted reports are generated to prop up the party’s platform (like the recent transportation report); budget documents are written as opaquely as possible; reporters’ access to senior staff and information are curtailed (unless you’re considered to be friendly to Vision); there has been a huge expansion of city hall’s public-relations team to spew out propaganda; and I’ve lost track of the number of issues that have ended up in the courts because of Vision’s apparent  inability to reach compromise with other city groups.

Under Vision, city hall has become the Kremlin on Cambie.

Robertson’s gang are not alone in using these grotesquely undemocratic methods — many of which they have poached from their U.S. political allies — to control information and limit debate. Other Canadian governments, including the current ones in Ottawa and Victoria, obsessively control information and keep secrets from the public. And the methods are not new, but are practised nowadays to a greater extent.

While Vision and the city hall bureaucracy under their control have long been cloaked in a veil of secrecy, until now, as far I can recall, they have not been caught providing misinformation. But Tobin Postma, the city’s main spokesman, has done it at least twice in the past two months over issues of significant concern to the public — road and bridge closures.

In mid April, the marijuana activists behind the 4/20 event in downtown Vancouver put out a press release thanking the city for agreeing to shut down Howe and Robson streets for their event in the middle of a business day so that they could set up booths in the streets to sell marijuana-related products. I thought it more than a little strange that city hall was co-operating so sweetly with lawbreakers.

I tried, but could not find on the city’s information-obscuring website, information about the closure, so I left a voice message with the city’s media-relations department seeking clarification on whether the streets would be closed and when — Howe Street, in particular, given that it’s a major artery out of downtown and on to Granville Bridge. Silly me, I thought the public should have the right to know about such a significant inconvenience.

At 10:03 a.m. on Friday, April 17, I received this email from Postma in reply to the basic questions in my voice-mail message: “We proactively close some streets to address the public safety concerns resulting in having many people on the site and on the streets. Hope this helps.”

Two minutes later, I wrote him back: “No, it doesn’t. Which streets are closed and when?”

At 10:08 he replied (and I provide his emails here without editing): “Partial closure of 700 Howe (between Robson and Georgia) starting at 9 a.m.

“Full closure of 800 Robson (between Hornby and How) starting at 9 a.m.

“These closures are to address public safety concerns.”

I tried again at 10:13 a.m., finding the lack of a straight answer pretty tedious: “And when does closure end? And what do you mean, partial closure? Total closure for certain times or all but one lane or something else?

He replied at 10:14 a.m.: “Closures will end once crowds begin to disperse.

“Partial means that entrance to Pacific Centre underground parking will stay open.”

Really? The city’s chief spokesman thinks that allowing people to enter the parking lot of a large private mall while entirely shutting down a street qualifies as a “partial” closure of that street?

I tried again at 10:29 a.m.: “And that (the dispersal of crowds) will occur roughly when? So, otherwise, Howe, the major street leading to the Granville Bridge, will be entirely shut?

At 10:35 a.m. Postma replied: “One block of Howe Street will be closed (between Robson and Georgia).

“I cannot give you a time estimate as it depends on the crowd but we would hope to have it open in time for the evening rush hour.”

I think I laughed out loud at the absurdity of that answer and replied at 10:40 a.m.: “Given that 4:20 in the afternoon is an important time for the event, I have trouble believing the afternoon rush hour won’t be a nightmare.”

At 10:44 a.m. Postma replied again, having spent likely an hour dealing with a simple question while refusing to give a straight answer: “Our special events team work very closely with VPD to ensure impacts are as minor as possible.

“We will be sending out a traffic advisory that day to remind motorists of the closures.”

As relieved as I was that city hall was going to give citizens virtually zero notice that they would be, with their decision, turning the streets of the downtown core into a virtual parking lot, my feelings moved to something else when later that day I discovered a map posted on the city’s website showing that Howe would be closed all day April 20 until 10 p.m. so that the city’s potheads could party.

It seemed odd that the city’s chief spokesman didn’t know that the road would be closed until 10 p.m. So was he lying or just hopelessly mistaken?

I wouldn’t have given the exchange another thought until I learned last week that our city editor had a similar encounter with Postma.

Last month, the paper learned through two independent sources that the Burrard Bridge would be closed June 21 for a mass yoga event. The editor contacted Postma, who said there was no such plan.

On Friday, Premier Christy Clark announced that the bridge would be closed for part of June 21 as part of International Yoga Day celebrations. When contacted that day, Postma again denied there would be a closure:

“I’ve spoken to our engineering, streets and special events departments and there are no plans to shut down Burrard Bridge between now and June 21.”

The editor then told Postma that the premier had announced it would be closed. Postma then told the editor to read his email and that between now and June 21 meant between now and midnight June 20.

Sigh …

He also said: “Things changed, the event was finalized between May 27 and now, from what I am aware.”

When asked who he contacted May 27 for confirmation about whether the bridge would be closed, Postma said “city staff.” He also said that the city’s “special events people” had dealt with Clark’s office, adding that he couldn’t recall if he had contacted the city’s events folks when he denied May 27 that the bridge would be closed.

But here’s the worst part of Postma’s June 5 comments — he said of the editor, and presumably the newspaper, “clearly you have something against us.”

This is worrisome for many reasons. Who does Postma mean by “us?” City hall or Vision Vancouver? Who is Postma working for? Vancouver citizens or his political masters?

His “us” comment and vague and misleading answers suggest he’s not acting, as he should as someone paid by taxpayers, as a neutral, professional civil servant. He sounds like a Vision apparatchik, mis-stating or misleading citizens about news that will result in negative stories about his bosses, such as unpopular bridge and road closures.

On Tuesday afternoon, Postma apologized to The Province for his comments.

When parties fill the civil service with political fellow travellers, as Vision has done from Day 1, in fact purging long-serving bureaucrats with the “wrong” views, citizens who have problems with government decisions don’t have a hope, and we lose a considerable part of our democracy.

The media’s most fundamental role in a democracy is to question government and get answers for citizens. The spokesman for a city government should understand that and not get snippy about such basic questions. Civil servants who do not understand that should resign.

It’s one thing for governments and officials not to comment about something, but when they mis-state, mislead or lie to journalists they are effectively doing it to citizens. How can anyone trust what they say in future?

Gordon Clark is the editorial pages editor and a columnist.

 

Come together (re amalgamation NS News)

Comment from Voices:  This editorial in the North Shore News and the article about the Fraser Institute Study quote Mayor Mussatto’s consistent refrain about successful shared services between the City and the District.  However, we know that the City has refused to participate in research regarding cost-savings.

 We also know that the City will not even communicate with the District in such things as co-ordinating development plans. We spoke before CNV Council in 2012 about shared services, and the City’s refusal to participate in a study:https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/delegation-to-council-september-17-2012/

At that time savings of approximately $3.6 M were suggested in the fire department alone. Why did the City refuse to participate?

EDITORIAL: Come together.

If you think amalgamating local governments will save money, think again, a Fraser Institute study concludes.

The study’s applicability for the city and district of North Vancouver, however, is widely open for debate. The Ontario-based review involved unwilling municipalities with little in common being forced together with almost no time to study how it could be done effectively.

The common assumption here is that the city would have the most to lose if its taxpayers suddenly had to take on the cost of servicing the sprawling district. That’s an assumption we’d like to see challenged with a fresh look into the matter.

But the questions we need to be asking shouldn’t just include dollars and cents. There are two separate rats’ nests of bylaws, planning policies, accounting methods, public processes and administrative hoops to jump through that could be harmonized for the benefit of residents, businesses, non-profits, senior levels of government and First Nations — basically everyone.

Are the city and district really such radically different places? It’s true, the city’s residents skew younger, live in smaller homes and have a lower income, but that’s true of all downtowns and the city effectively is North Vancouver’s downtown.

The 1907-split never should have happened to begin with. Think of the modern day equivalent of the Lonsdale corridor and waterfront industries hiving themselves off to save a few bucks.

The reward for amalgamating the two North Vancouvers might not be magically lower tax bills but rather a restoration of our collective sanity.

And you can’t put a price on sanity.

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Article in the News about the Fraser Institute Study: http://www.nsnews.com/news/amalgamation-costs-more-fraser-institute-1.1959874