Tag Archives: npa

Where do Vancouver’s City Council Candidates Live?

Vancouver doesn’t have a ward system, so city council councillors don’t represent a neighbourhood, but rather the city as a whole. I don’t want to go into the pros/cons of a ward vs at-large system, but it is interesting to see where candidates live.


Vision-blue, NPA-red, and COPE-yellow, other-purple – I chose to put the other parties as purple dots to prevent clutter.

Interesting notes:
– south-east Vancouver has no candidates (from the major parties), even though it is densely populated.
– The breakdown of candidates by large geographical area is:
– Downtown: 1 Vision, 4 NPA, 7 other
– West side: 4 Vision, 3 NPA, 1 COPE, 8 other
– East side: 3 Vision, 3 NPA, 2 COPE, 15 other
– NPA candidate Bill McCreery lives in Richmond

Note: the address of each candidate is listed on their nomination papers available on the Vancouver Votes website.
Continue reading Where do Vancouver’s City Council Candidates Live?

In Defense of Jason Lamarche

Jason Lamarche is an NPA candidate for city council in Vancouver. As much as I despise the NPA for its opposition to bike lanes, they do have 2 likeable candidates Jason Lamarche and Sean Bickerton. Jason is young, dorky, progressive, and most importantly wired-in. He has an extensive online history, and the media (mostly CTV) is using it to hammer the guy.

Last week, CTV reported on a blog post Jason wrote in 2007 that discussed a ‘scandalous’ matrix to rate women. This week, they dug a bit deeper, and found entries on urban dictionary (a website devoted to documenting slang terms, often with racy content) presumably written by Jason between 2005 and 2007. The full list of entries is here, and includes words like binner, click fraud, 337, proverb, phisers, and 3 musketeers. *gasp*

Jason’s response went from “I have a sense of humour; stop smearing me so we can focus on the issues” (paraphrased) to “that wasn’t me, you can’t prove anything” (also paraphrased). Sadly, he’s now pulled down most of his online content, including a video feature he had on YouTube called Liberal Minute that showed off his personality and opinions on issues much better than any of his campaign material.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the media has gone after a young candidate for online content that really isn’t that shocking. Last provincial election, NDP candidate Ray Lam was forced to resign when Facebook pictures of him pretend groping a female friend were leaked.

If Facebook pictures, old blog posts, and entries in urban dictionary entries are enough to disqualify a candidate from running for public office, no one from my generation will ever be elected. This has to change, but won’t until some young candidate stands up to the media.
Continue reading In Defense of Jason Lamarche

Poll Shows Mayor Gregor Robertson With Huge Lead

The latest polling numbers released in the Vancouver election are good news for Mayor Gregor Robertson. Thankfully, Suzanne Anton’s anti-bike lane agenda seems to be floundering.

What interests me is the analysis of the numbers done by Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail – Poll shows Gregor Robertson in lead but predicts divided council

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson starts the 2011 municipal campaign with a comfortable lead, but could end up heading a divided council that could stall the agenda of his Vision Vancouver party, a new poll suggests.

What a flawed conclusion. The raw numbers from the polling are as follows:

Mayor
Gregor Robertson 68%
Suzanne Anton 32%
Parties
Vision 37%
NPA 29%
Green 19%
COPE 11%

I’m guessing the conclusion that this would result in a “divided council” was made by taking the party support and assuming that it would correlate with the number of councillors elected from each party. But that’s not how the voting system works.

Each voter gets 10 votes for city councillors, to distribute as they see fit, but only the NPA is running a full slate of 10 candidates. COPE and Vision are running a co-operative slate of 7 and 3 candidates respectively, and the Green party only has a single candidate for Council.

Only the last sentence of the G&M article addresses this:
“since Vision and COPE are supporting each other and their supporters are likely to vote for each others’ council candidates, the two parties had combined support of 48 per cent in the recent poll.”

This is key. That and which other 9 candidates the 19% of respondents backing the Greens will vote for.

Because the pollster doesn’t ask about 2nd choice preferences, it’s difficult to judge what combinations of candidates voters will choose. But there is one indicator – the vote for mayor, which Gregor Robertson leads 68% to 32%.

Conveniently, if you add up Vision + COPE + Green party support, you get 67%. So, it’s highly likely that supporters of those parties will vote for candidates from the other parties. The only problem is there are 11 candidates and only 10 spots. That will likely allow 1 or 2 NPA candidates to squeeze in, but is unlikely to lead to a “divided council”. I wonder if Frances Bula was just trying to add some drama to the election.

NPA Promises Streetcar Network

Olympic Line at Granville Island
The NPA might have hired the same communications team as Rob Ford, but it appears they’ll be using a slightly different strategy in this fall’s election. In Toronto, Rob Ford was elected on a promise to end the ‘war on cars’ by tearing up bike lanes and street car lines. While the NPA is opposed to bike lanes, it is now promising to fast track street car lines.

I’m encouraged by the idea. I’d rather see the NPA compete on ideas like this, than on the negative attacks that have been their hallmark for the past year. I’m a huge fan of Vancouver’s planned streetcar project, but I have a few concerns with the NPA’s proposal.

One, it doesn’t make integration with TransLink a priority. The original press release didn’t even mention TransLink, but Anton has since clarified that she would try to integrate the streetcar with the existing public transit system. Considering how many transfer points would exist between a streetcar system and the SkyTrain, smooth integration should be a main priority.

Two, it doesn’t mention any links to a new UBC Line along Broadway (TransLink’s next priority in Vancouver). One of the most intriguing designs presented for the UBC Line was Combo 1 (my personal favourite) – involving a SkyTrain extension from VCC-Clark to Arbutus, and a street car line from Main Street-Science World to UBC. If the NPA is so enthusiastic on a streetcar network, why not use the opportunity to address the biggest transit need in Vancouver – a rapid transit route along Broadway.

Lastly, the NPA plans on funding the streetcar network with a public-private-partnership (P3). I like the idea of Vancouver sidestepping TransLink to get transit investments faster, but P3s are bad news. Public transit should be something Vancouver’s municipal government has a say in, but the regional nature of TransLink and its weird governance structure makes that very hard today. However, if a streetcar network is important it should be funded and controlled by the city or Translink. P3s are just convenient way to balance the books, and as Stephen Rees has pointed out many times there are many negative consequences.

How Councillor Suzanne Anton Lost My Vote

I used to have a lot of respect for Councillor Suzanne Anton. She is the lone representative of the once mighty NPA and she gets a lot of pressure from anti-environmentalists to oppose bike lanes. Until recently, she resisted those voices and supported cycling infrastructure (she is after all a dedicated cyclist).

In August, after the Dunsmuir vote, I sent Councillor Anton an email thanking her for supporting cycling and letting her know I’d vote for her in the next election. The beauty of Vancouver’s electoral system is I get 10 votes, and I like to mix it up. I received this response:

So thx for your support and yes I will continue to be a strong supporter of cycling.

On Tuesday night she voted in favour of the Hornby bike lane, ensuring the vote was unanimous. Everyone knew that the Hornby lane would be approved, but no one was sure if Councillor Anton would vote in favour. I was pleasantly surprised, and told a few people on Wednesday how important it was to vote for her in the next election because cycling shouldn’t be a partisan issue and stressed how important it is to have strong voices within the NPA who support cycling.

However, this morning she sent out a press release attempting to rescind her support for the project.

Personally, I feel betrayed and disappointed that she has bowed to pressure and rescinded her support from a project she likely agrees with. She has constantly refused to attack the bike lane, instead attacking “the process”. I’ve noticed a few other people recently say: “I support bike lanes in general, just not this bike lane because of the process”. I call bullshit. Who cares about the process? Honestly. There are only two reasons to oppose “the process”:

  1. you oppose the bike lane, because you don’t cycle and you’re worried it might make driving more inconvenient. Yet, you don’t want to be a curmudgeon or offend cyclists. So you pretend to support bike lanes “in general”. How very NIMBY.
  2. you secretly support the bike lane, but you’re trying to score cheap political points and appeal to people who oppose the bike lane. Classic political maneuver when you’re in opposition and the governing party does something you like. It is opposition for the sake of opposition, and it makes politicians look like cynical liars.

I think Councillor Anton falls into the 2nd group, and it saddens me. Let this be my official press release rescinding my support of her.

Debunked: Arguments Against Cycling

map-separated-bike-lanes
Looks like Downtown Vancouver is getting another separated cycling lane. The Hornby lane will connect the separated bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge to the separated bike lane on Dunsmuir. Once this is complete, the last piece in the puzzle will be the Helmcken-Comox Greenway, which planing should start on next year.

I went to the information session at the Pacific Centre to ask a few questions and lend my support to the Hornby bike lane, and ended up in a 20-minute debate with a guy who kept repeating the same lame arguments I’ve heard before. He also insisted on calling me a “militant cyclist”, which I found amusing. I’m willing to be labelled a dedicated cyclist, an enthusiastic cyclist, or even a hard-core cyclist (although compared to most cyclists I know I’m not very hard-core). But militant? I don’t think I’ve blown up enough SUVs to deserve the ‘militant’ label.

Here are the most common arguments I hear against cycling debunked. They’re all used as justification for not investing in cycling infrastructure, and especially for preserving road space dedicated to cars. The guy I was arguing with tried to use all of them at various points in the conversation.

  1. Hardly anyone cycles. Why are we spending money on such a small minority? – The best statistics on cycling come from the long-form census (the same one the Conservatives are scrapping). In 2006, 3.7% of commuting trips in Vancouver were by bike. In the neighbourhoods bordering downtown it is around 10%. Not an insignificant number, but nowhere near the target of 10% city-wide set by a previous city council many years ago. The best way to get more people on bikes is to build infrastructure to make cycling safer.
  2. The cycling infrastructure we have is good enough. There are already bike lanes downtown, we don’t need separated bike lanes. – Sadly, the separated bike lanes are not for cyclists like me. I will use and appreciate them, but I already cycle and will continue to do so, even with modest infrastructure we currently have. If the city wants to get to 10% cycling mode-share it needs to attract people who are currently afraid of cycling downtown. That’s why the separated cycling lanes are so important, they make it possible for people who are unwilling to battle with cars to get to work by bike. If you build it, they will bike.
  3. Converting car lanes to bike lanes will result in traffic gridlock. All that congestion is bad for the environment. – I love it when people who spend their days sitting in traffic pretend to worry about the environment, when really they just want to get home faster. As we’ve seen with the the Burrard Bridge and Dunsmuir, it is possible to take away car space without causing gridlock. If gridlock is really a problem, we should consider congestion pricing, but it is hardly a problem in Vancouver. The number of car trips into the downtown has been steadily declining over the past decade, while cycling, walking ,and public transit is on the rise.
  4. Police should crack down on cyclists who flaunt the rules. They don’t wear helmets and they don’t stop at stop signs. – If you want to be a stickler for the rules, I’d guess that the average car commuter breaks at least one law every time they drive to work (rolling through stop signs, speeding, etc). It’s easy to find cars breaking the law. That’s no reason not to build roads. If we refused to fund highways because of speeding, there wouldn’t be a single highway in Canada. The worst cycling rule-breakers are the road warriors and bike couriers – people who currently dominate downtown cyclists and get a high out of getting around as fast as possible, regardless of the danger. As cycling infrastructure improves, and more business people, children, and families start biking I’m confident the pace will decrease and you’ll see more civilized bikers.
  5. Cyclists should be insured/licensed to ride on the roads. – This argument usually takes one of two forms. For licensing, it is to provide accountability and ensure cyclists follow the rules. For insurance, it is to have cyclists pay more because cars need insurance. But cars need insurance because of the huge damage they can cause when accidents happen, not really an issue with bikes. As for licensing, some cities have tried with no success. Momentum has a good summary of the bike licensing debate. I just want to add that in Vancouver bike couriers are actually licensed and they’re the worst cyclists on the road, so I’m not sure licensing would accomplish anything.
  6. Cyclists should be forced to pay a road tax because they don’t pay gas taxes. – Cycling saves the government money – mostly because bikes take up less space and cause less wear. Cyclists may not pay gas taxes, but the majority of transportation projects are payed for by property taxes that everyone pays. And infrastructure for cars costs way more then bike infrastructure. “Engineering staff figure, on a very rough estimate, that the overall allocation of city transportation infrastructure is about two per cent for cyclists, 20 per cent for pedestrians and 78 per cent for cars.” – Cyclists are not freeloaders (Vancouver Sun). For years, the only infrastructure cyclists got was paint and signs (pretty cheap stuff). The separated bike lanes are not cheap, but to put the costs into perspective: the Dunsmuir bike lane cost about $1 million to install, while a left turn lane at Knight and Clark cost $3.7 million.

The interesting thing about the cycling debate is it has little impact on the politics here. The opponents who are the most angry are suburb commuters and they don’t vote for our city council. And even if they did, every political party in Vancouver supports the bike lanes, and has for the past 20 years. So opponents can rant and rave all they want, they’re only spinning their tires.