Residents built our communities but now see a decline in quality of life due to disruption caused by endless rebuilding By Corrie Kost I feel like an end of an era in municipal governance is about to take place. In my opinion, and this is a change I’d welcome, many municipalities in the lower mainland …
Article in The Globe and Mail today regarding foreign ownership of real estate in Vancouver and suburbs. Definitely applies to North Vancouver:
Quoting in brief:
Many argue the new city policy to prioritize locals at the start of a presales launch won’t return the housing stock to local income-earners because it’s a question of money earned elsewhere. The percentage of homes in the new buildings that are purchased with foreign money is, of course, an unknown. But the source of the money is, to Mr. Robinson, the crux of the problem. People working at local jobs can’t compete.
“Let’s be real, this is what’s going on: For the last 30 years properties in Vancouver have been bought up by people who don’t earn money in Vancouver and don’t pay taxes in Canada – that’s how you can have the average home price get to 25 times the average income,” Mr. Robinson says.
Comment from Voices: We thought that a comment to this sad article in the North Shore News today would benefit from a wider distribution. It was posted by a Disqus reader and according to the privacy rules can be distributed. We don’t know who wrote it:
In the rush to develop. Mussatto, Keating, Buchanan the (slate) have failed the citizen’s for safe walking, even though they promote walking, cycling,transit in every breath they speak.
It’s still unsafe to cross ,3rd east of Lonsdale anywhere ,as council waits for Moody Ville developers to pay for maybe 1 light hopefully.
There is people, restaurants everywhere with no lights 1st, 2nd, lower Lonsdale . It’s almost criminal the lack of safety. Try to cross as drivers blow through crosswalks.
The council has ignored these locations jamming development down our throats while not updating crosswalks and much other infrastructure .
This CNV must take partial responsibility for this death,and any future deaths, also counting the 2 others that have already been killed.It will happen again in these locations.
Safety first should be the main concern of any corporation except the CNV, has ignored its responsibility.
Mussatto, Keating ,Buchanan, chose expansion and development at a fast pace in the process neglecting crosswalks,lights and other safety for its citizen’s.
If u don’t believe cross at 4th,5th, 6th, Lonsdale or east 3rd ,200,300,400 I dare you🚗🚗🚗
Failing to make it safe to walk in our community while taking multiple donations from developers to expand density, population seems blatantly ignorant by CNV planners and Councillors Buchanan, Keating and Mayor Mussatto.
Mussatto ,Buchanan ,Keating in their rush to please their corporate donors have left the citizen’s to fend for themselves on our streets.
If u think this over dramatic try and cross the street in any of these locations..Run if u can.
Do something council ! It’s our tax money. The city coffers are full yet this stretch of Lonsdale remains a drag strip.
Vote this group out citizen’s.
Don’t let Mr. Attermann sad death and tragedy to this family be followed by another person rundown in these crosswalks.
A design rendering of the 179-unit residential development at 150 East Eighth St. as it will look upon completion.
City of North Vancouver council voted on Monday to allow for 179 condo units at 150 East Eighth St.
Despite neighbourhood outcry over a shortage of parking and an excess of density, four out of seven councillors favoured construction of two six-storey buildings as well as 17 ground-floor townhomes.
Besides being “13 townhouses wide,” one six-storey building becomes seven storeys where the sloping site reaches its lowest point, noted neighbour Linda Hayes.
The site resembles a right-angle triangle with the longer sides running along East 11th and Eighth streets and the point jutting towards Lonsdale Avenue.
The project’s mass and height will leave neighbours “dwarfed” while failing to provide housing the city needs, Hayes argued.
“This is a market condo building, not affordable housing,” she said.
While there’s a theory that greater density will breed affordability, the North Shore’s increase in density hasn’t provided “any marked improvement in affordability,” Coun. Don Bell noted.
“We’re seeing a changing demographic on the North Shore that is worrying to me,” he said. “We’re seeing people being driven away because of economics,” he said.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto conceded that developer Crest Adera will sell the units for “as much as they can,” but he countered that the project is still more affordable than buying a single-family home.
The project is near the 229 and 230 bus routes, close to shops, and a quick hop from the Green Necklace cycling route.
“If you’re going to put density somewhere, this is the place you’re going to put it,” Mussatto said.
The city’s guidelines allow a maximum of six storeys on the site – measured from the highest point of the lot. Those parameters limit floor space ratio – which measures the project’s total floor area against its lot size – to 2.6, which includes a 1.0 FSR bonus.
The developer is slated to pay $8.1 million for that extra density, of which $1.6 million is earmarked for the city’s affordable reserve fund and $6.5 million for the civic amenity reserve fund.
That money “can go right to Harry Jerome,” Mussatto said, noting the high cost of the forthcoming recreation centre.
The financial arrangement didn’t persuade Coun. Rod Clark to support the development.
“I don’t want cash in lieu,” he said. “I want the affordable housing units.”
The project’s preliminary application included 12 units at below-market rates. That component was scrapped.
Clark suggested the development was “shoehorning density in an area that’s already pretty dense.”
The project includes 235 parking spots, including 30 spaces for Telus employees who will work in the building on the eastern side of the site.
The extra density will exacerbate a parking scarcity that has sent many customers into the large parking lots around Park Royal in West Vancouver, said Coun. Pam Bookham.
“We’ve been hearing a lot from our business owners about the challenges of providing adequate street parking for their customers,” she said, mentioning the challenges faced by customers at the Club 16 fitness centre on Lonsdale.
If North Vancouver wants to support a small business community, as opposed to a mall, “we need more people,” Coun. Linda Buchanan argued.
Buchanan also took issue with her council colleagues calling for affordable rental.
“It is pretty rich for some councillors to say we need more purpose rental building when they in fact (voted against) a purpose rental building two blocks up the street.”
The market development is essential for North Vancouverites who want to own rather than rent, she said.
“These young people in our community need to have hope that they can actually afford to buy something in our community.”
Coun. Holly Back praised the developer for providing ample parking and an off-leash dog park.
“I don’t see how this six-storey building is going to overshadow anything,” she said. “The Telus building has been pretty ugly there for the last 50 years so thank you for beautifying the area.”
While housing prices have risen amid an “unprecedented building boom,” Coun. Craig Keating reminded the packed chamber about the delicate nature of council’s responsibilities.
“I would not sit here in front of council and say, ‘I’m the councillor who’s going to help everybody’s housing prices go down,’ because if you own the house you don’t like that idea,” he said, adding that it’s a different matter for residents hoping to buy homes.
The project should, “help us replace the single-family home,” he said.
Council’s decision was supported by Philip Tarrant, who described himself as a millennial in support of density.
“Density is the only way my generation can afford to live and buy homes on the North Shore,” he said. “Adera will take an under-utilized property in a great location and turn it into 179 new homes.”
The units range between 600 and 1,900 square feet.
Crest Adera is also on the hook for $635,000 worth of in-kind contributions, including a dog park facilitated by moving the cul-de-sac eastward, public art, and the relocation of the grizzly bear sculpture on Lonsdale Avenue and Eighth Street.
This article was published earlier in the print edition of The Global Canadian, which is now available online. As we move further into the local election year (Oct 2018), we thought the comments in the article by various people including Council members are worth noting:
‘The new BC government led by NDP is proposing a ban on corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations to $1200.’
Worries Continue About Big Money in Small-Town Politics
Former Sunshine Coast mayor asks whether new election rules will have sufficient teeth.
New rules introduced for municipal elections in British Columbia are a step forward, but may not be enough without strong support for enforcement, says a former Sunshine Coast mayor.
“The rules are only practical if they’re going to be enforced and if there are consequences for breaking the rules,” said Barry Janyk, who served in local government in Gibsons for 15 years starting in 1996, including 12 years as mayor.
“If people want to cheat the system and they have the resources to do it, then they’ll do it. I don’t know what the answer is.”
In the fall session of the legislature, the provincial government passed a bill that set a cap of $1,200 each year for individual donations to any one candidate or to candidates running as part of the same elector organization, or party.
A donor can still give $1,200 to multiple candidates if they are running independently and not part of an official slate or to candidates in several municipalities. Bill 15, the Local Elections Campaign Financing Amendment Act, 2017, also banned all donations from outside of the province, as well as those from corporations and unions.
A spokesperson for Elections BC, Andrew Watson, said in an email, “Elections BC is confident that we will be able to administer the changes to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act effectively, and will seek additional resources if necessary.”
Uneven playing field
The day the bill was introduced, Union of British Columbia Municipalities president Wendy Booth endorsed the change. “Elections shouldn’t be won or lost on who has the most money,” she said. “We think these changes will level the playing field for candidates.”
Concerns about municipal election financing, particularly in Vancouver, go back many years. The Tyee published City Hall for Sale, a series that a decade ago exposed the “lax regulations that allow virtually unlimited contributions with little public scrutiny.”
In October, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the changes were needed in smaller communities as well. “I’ve certainly heard stories in different communities and the one that stands out is in the Sunshine Coast where a $20,000 contribution was made to a mayoral candidate,” she said. “In that campaign in a small community it was a significant contribution.”
The current mayor of Gibsons, Wayne Rowe, didn’t respond to requests for an interview.
According to a spreadsheet Janyk made using Elections BC data from the 2014 municipal elections, Gibsons had the highest spending per capita of any community in the province. Candidates and third parties spent more than $19 per person in the community, more than double what was spent in Vancouver.
Janyk said the amount spent on the election is a sign of business interests hoping to influence the outcome.
In particular, a plan from Klaus Fuerniss Enterprises Inc. for a marine resort and condominiums on the waterfront has been controversial in the community.
The plan was first proposed around a decade ago, and Janyk opposed it as mayor. “I got cold feet on the whole plan because I thought it was so out of step with the little town of Gibsons.”
The community was already struggling to adjust to development, he said. There’s a need to find more drinking water, he said, adding, “The ferries are a gong show, always overloaded, always late.”
‘Development plum’ and influence
People have been willing to spend money to influence elections in Gibsons because they hope to benefit from projects council can block or approve, Janyk said. “It’s all about money. That’s all it’s about. It’s made me really cynical about local politics in a community where there’s a development plum.”
Even with the new rules, much will depend on people’s honesty and integrity, he said. When something is improper, he said, “Unless you get someone who’s going to leak it, it’s very difficult to prove it.”
Elections BC’s budget request for 2018/19 included $1.69 million to administer campaign financing rules during the 2018 municipal elections. The agency added 11 full-time staff in 2014 after the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act was first adopted.
Watson said Elections BC didn’t seek more funding to administer the changes made last fall because Bill 15 had not yet passed when the agency appeared in front of the legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services during the budget process in November.
“We are working to determine if additional resources are required to administer the requirements of the Bill, and will meet with the committee early this year with a supplementary funding request if required,” he said.
Elections BC tries to resolve any compliance issues through education first, Watson said, but can take further steps if necessary.
“The Chief Electoral Officer has the authority to conduct reviews, investigations and audits of the financial affairs and accounts of candidates, elector organizations, third party sponsors and assent voting advertising sponsors to ensure compliance with [the law],” he said.
“They also have the authority to require individuals or organizations to provide further information respecting compliance with the Act. We follow up any complaint we receive regarding potential contraventions of the Act, and may initiate an investigation if required.”
The new law made the rules retroactively effective starting on Oct. 31. Local elections will be held across the province on Oct. 20, 2018.
‘Big Money’ to Be Booted Out of Municipal Politics READ MORE
The following article news4 was published in the Nov 15th issue of The Global Canadian, a new North Shore community newspaper, available at various locations (contact us for a list).
The Limits of Free Speech: When a citizen spoke to Mayor Mussatto:
AT A RECENT COUNCIL MEETING, MAYOR DARRELL MUSSATTO WELCOMED A CITIZEN TO THE PODIUM BUT HASTENED TO PULL OUT THE RULE BOOK ON THE WHAT, WHY AND WHEN OF SPEAKING BEFORE THE COUNCIL.
GAGANDEEP GHUMAN November 15, 2017 It’s a seemingly routine task that most mayors and councillors are familiar with. A speaker comes before the council, is formally welcomed and allowed to speak while politicians listen patiently. It doesn’t matter if the speech is boring or irrelevant or repetitive and it may not even matter if the politicians are really listening or merely pretending to do so. The idea matters, the idea that you are being listened to by those who have the power to shape your city. The whole scene is an affirmation of democracy and this political contract between the people and politicians plays out in the villages, towns and cities across the country. It does play out in the City of North Vancouver as well but a recent council meeting could make anyone wonder if the spirit of democracy is being squeezed out of even this basic symbolic act of a citizen speaking and the councillors listening. At a recent council meeting, Mayor Darrell Mussatto welcomed a citizen to the podium but hastened to pull out the rule book on the what, why and when of speaking before the council. “You spoke about development on the second and the 16th (in October). Are you speaking about development again? Are you speaking about developers and development again? You are allowed to speak only once every three months on the same issue. Well, you can’t speak about development. You can speak about other things but you are allowed only one topic every three months. I know you come every week, but you can’t say the same thing every week,” he said, warning a speaker before him. “I will speak and see how it goes,” the man said. “Yes, give it a shot,” the mayor said laughing, and then reminding him again about the rule. “We have a rule. You have to speak about something different. You can’t just come back with the same thing,” he said “It’s not the same,” the man insisted. “It’s the same. It’s about developers and my name will come up in the next 30 seconds and how bad I am. You can’t just do it every week. You can do it once every three months. Just in the future, you can talk about one general issue every three months, so you get the full two minutes when it comes to development, but if you wish to talk about something separate… find a topic you haven’t talked about in the last three months and then we would love to hear from you,” Mussatto said. Fred Dawkins of North Vancouver City Voices says this kind of limitation only serves to discourage public engagement. “It’s clear that the mayor and his voting bloc on council too often view citizen input as an inconvenience, not a welcome sign of an engaged public. It’s hard enough to get people to engage in municipal affairs without putting a lot of arbitrary restrictions on their right to speak. If civic officials can’t take being criticized in public for their decisions, they shouldn’t be in politics,” he says. The changes to the public input were introduced after a heated debate in 2015 when a staff report suggested to council the public input be done away with altogether because the input was often accusatory, repetitive and not relevant to the topic being discussed. After hue and cry, the council decided to keep the public input period, but not without restricting it with limits on the number of times one topic can be discussed in three months. Other changes also included limiting the numbers of speaker to five unless there is a unanimous vote to allow more speakers. In fact, when he reminded the speaker about the only-once-in-a-three-month rule, the mayor seemed to be keeping a promise of being strong in implementing the rules. “You have to be respectful and play by the rules and I will be firm,” he said back in 2015. “No member of council or public can question the motives of the council. They can’t question the motives. They can’t express a negative opinion of the personality or the character of the council member and nor can they speak disrespectfully. I will rule with a tougher hand,” he said. Former councillor Bob Heywood says the policy is on the slippery slope of public’s right to freedom of speech, access to elected officials, and bona-fide public input for council to make its decisions. “If this policy is being used to weed out individuals that are against certain applications or future decisions, then the policy cannot withstand the test of “fair and reasonable”. We don’t really know if all persons and lobbying agencies are being held to the same policy test. Perhaps it is time for someone to challenge this policy, maybe a review by the BC Ombudsman?” Heywood says. Former council candidate Amanda Nichol says she feels the elected officials used their position and power to change policy to muzzle criticism. “I feel like it might have been done to censure particular individuals that a majority of the council did not like, did not want to hear from, and did not want those watching council to hear from. It might lead one to question, why? What, in two minutes, are those individuals saying? How is it that the questions, comments cannot just simply be addressed and/or followed up on at a future meeting?” Former mayoral candidate Kerry Morris says it’s wrong to limit speaker input at council meeting to just five individuals, and it’s wrong to limit the topics on which anyone can speak, over and over again, if that is what they choose to do. Council watcher Cathy Lewis says there have been several times that the speakers have been interrupted and told they were not allowed to speak on the same issue that they brought up in the last three months. “At most meetings, there are no more than three speakers and many times no one signs up to speak. Whether I think it is fair? I think it is a change to the bylaw that has muzzled the public from being heard,” Lewis says.
It’s clear that the mayor and his voting bloc on council too often view citizen input as an inconvenience, not a welcome sign of an engaged public. It’s hard enough to get people to engage in municipal affairs without putting a lot of arbitrary restrictions on their right to speak. ” FRED DAWKINS North Vancouver City Voices