Mayor of Vancouver getting serious about Port of Metro Vancouver’s plans to expand coal terminal.

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March 12, 2012 Council Update: The Mayor’s motion is referred to the Standing Committee of Planing, Transportation and Environment, on Wednesday March 13, at 1:30 pm, in Council Chambers.

At the next Vancouver Council meeting, Mayor Gregor Robertson will introduce another motion on the Port of Metro Vancouver Plans to expand it’s coal terminal. It makes sense because coal is the worst emitter of Green House Gases (GHG) and if coal exporting increase if will negate all the work that is being done by the City in its Greenest City Action Plan. Also, the transportation of coal has many public health risks that need to be studied.

Here is Mayor Robertson’s Coal Expansion Motion:

WHEREAS

1. Port Metro Vancouver has expansions planned for coal loading capacity at the Fraser Surrey docks and Neptune Terminal; which would make the Port the biggest exporter of coal in North America,

2. The transport of coal by train to PMV exposes residential communities to diesel exhaust and coal dust;

3. A February 2013 study “Human health effects of rail transport of coal through Multnomah County, Oregon” by the Multnomah County Health Department stated that “there are significant gaps in the scientific literature regarding how much coal dust is shed by trains carrying coal, how far coal dust travels from rail lines, and the health effects of inhaling this environmental coal dust”;

4. PMV has no responsibility for impacts from Port activities outside of the Port;

5. Metro Vancouver has the regulatory authority for air quality within the Greater Vancouver area;

6. Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan calls for continuous improvement in local air quality;

7. The BC Lung Association, the BC Public Health Association, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and several other public health experts wrote to PMV in December 2012 urging PMV to delay any
decision on coal export expansion pending broader public engagement and review of potential health impacts;

8. The Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authorities both wrote to PMV in December 2012 requesting to be involved as a key stakeholder equivalent to government agencies, due to the potential for upstream
and downstream impacts of Port activities to impact other jurisdictions;

9. VCH and FH Authorities both requested that Health Impact Assessments take place to evaluate current and future Port expansions, as is the case at the Port of Los Angeles;

10. Coal is the single biggest source of climate changing CO2 pollution;

11. The Province of BC, through the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act, is required by law to reduce GHG emissions by at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020;

12. The City of Vancouver, through its Greenest City Action Plan, has set the target of reducing its GHG emissions by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

A. THAT City staff report back on a bylaw to prevent the expansion of, or creation of new, coal export infrastructure within the City of Vancouver;

B. THAT the City of Vancouver write to the Prime Minister, the Premier, and Port Metro Vancouver stating that:

(i) The City has concerns about the GHG and health impacts of increased coal exports, particularly the unknown impacts of coal dust on human health;

(ii) The City supports the call by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authorities to be involved in PMV planning and project review processes as key stakeholders equivalent to government agencies, and that Health Impact Assessments be undertaken for all new coal export expansion proposals.

C. THAT the City of Vancouver forward a copy of this motion to Metro Vancouver to support the integrated air quality and greenhouse gas management plan and its goal of continuous air quality improvement.

It is quite a daunting list of “Where as” that could be potential health hazards for residents of Vancouver. The step to instruct staff to to draft a bylaw to prevent the expansion is a serious shot across the bow of the Port of Metro Vancouver. Is this the first shot in war of jurisdiction between the City of Vancouver and the Port?

Does the City of Vancouver have a displacement plan for renters evicted for redevelopment?

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Public Open House
Proposed Development of 1365 Burnaby Street

-Pre-Development Permit application Open House
-New Construction of a 21 Unit Rental Aartment
-6 Storeys within conditional parameters of RM-5A Zoning Bylaw

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Time: 4 pm-8pm
Place: Sandman Suites Hotel
1160 Davie St reet
2nd Floor Meeting Room

For futher information, please contact:

Project Coordinator: Derik Giner: mail@amanatarchitect.com
Presented by Amanat Architect
Suite 100-1515 W.7th
Vancouver BC
V6J 1s1
1365 Burnaby now WR
It is widely known that the rental stock in Vancouver is aging and is in need of renovation or redevelopment. Particular with the ambiguous 3 storey walks up of the West End are coming to end of their viability as housing stock.

For example,1365 Burnaby Street is a 10 unit rental building that is in much need of renovations. While the owners of the building are permitted under the rules of the Rental Tenancy Act (RTA) to evict tenants to do major repairs, what happens to these renter when they are displaced from their homes? While there is much need in Vancouver for affordable rental stock, there is no plan by the city to assist tenants to find new homes when their building is being renovated or redeveloped. Also there is no rules in RTA that state tenants have the right to come back to their homes after it has been renovated or redeveloped. With a large portion of the rental stock coming to the end of its viability the city should be planning with such low vacancy rates, to assist tenants who will be displaced through renovation and redevelopment.
Related article:Does the City of Vancouver need a rental advocate?

Endorse Kevin Washbrook for the Board of the Port of Metro Van

My friend Kevin Washbrook, who is a founding director with Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) and a long time activist, is campaigning to be a director on the board of the Port of Metro Vancouver. I wholeheartedly endorse him for this position.

I hope you too will endorse Kevin by writing a letter to Port Nominating Committee and the Federal Minister of Transportation. Select Here Endorse Kevin to send a message.

Recently, the Port of Metro Van announced that they were going to expand their coal terminal without a rigorous consultation process. Kevin with others has been shepherding a grass roots campaign, highlighting the lack of consultation on the coal terminals expansion and the consequences that this will have on global warming.

In a “policy note” for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative with co-author David Green, Kevin noted the following:

“Coal is the “dirtiest” fossil fuel – it produces the most global warming pollution of all fossil fuels when burned to make electricity, and virtually the same amount of pollution when used to make steel. BC is the biggest exporter of coal in Canada. When the emissions from all the coal exported from BC are added up, they are equal to the emissions we produce here at home.”

Here is link to the whole artile that is well worth a read: CCPA Policy Note

The part that really crystallized the issue for me is there is a huge effort by the City of Vancouver to build a more sustainability city and I support this. In my own humble way, I have tried to reduce my own carbon footprint. But my own efforts and the city’s would all amount to nothing if the coal that is in the ground now were mined. Right now the mining industry wants to expand extraction of coal at a time when we know that we dramatically need to reduce the amount of Green House Gases emitted. The short-term gain to the economy with the development of coal does not out way the long-term impact of climate change.

The Port of Metro Van argues that they did a full consultation with the users of the port facilities and this all that their mandate requires. Additionally, the Port stated that the issue of climate change is not within their mandate to consider as a factor in whether the port terminal for coal should be expanded. This wilfully blind corporate double talk is exactly why we need Kevin Washbrook on the Board of the Port of Metro Van.

Here is what Kevin pledges to do if he is on the board:

1. push for thorough and transparent consultation with the residents and municipal governments of all Metro Vancouver communities, prior to any decisions by the Port Authority on major developments, so that regional impacts of these developments can be properly evaluated;
2. call for recognition of Regional Health Authorities as government-level stakeholders in all Port Authority decision making processes;
3. initiate full disclosure of the regional and global health and environmental impacts of major exports, and seek to ensure that those impacts are duly considered in Port decisions;
4. develop a closer working relationship with municipal and regional governments, as well a non-governmental organizations from all sectors of society, so that the region’s concerns and aspirations are fully reflected in the Port Authority’s vision, mission, values, strategic goals and day to day operations;
5. call for an internal review of those powers delegated to Port Authority staff, to ensure that the Board of Directors provides good oversight of Port Authority operations and maintains a strong focus on environmental sustainability and social equity in all its decisions and practices; and
6. work to ensure that the Port Authority strives to meet the entirety of it’s federal mandate, including the requirement that it operate with broad public support in the best interests of Canadians.
We know that we are living in a time of climate change that has resulted from the human activity of burning fossil fuels. If we are going to avoid the calamitous effects of climate change we need to develop a more sustainable economy that reduces CO2 emissions in the atmosphere that we know are causing this problem. What the future economy will look like and be is not entirely clear but given that we know that coal is the major source of green house gases it would make sense that as a global economy we need to find a way of reducing its use.

This is a time for change and to envision our economy and well being in a new way. The expansion of coal exports that cause climate change, at this time when we need to radically rethink an economy based on resource extraction, is morally and fiscally irresponsible.

The Government of BC estimates that over the next 100 years the effects of climate change and rising sea levels will cost $9.5 billion. The cost could be much higher by some estimates. It’s perplexing that Port of Metro Vancouver would have plans to expand coal export facilities at a time when we know that we need to be reducing its use. Coal emits greenhouse gases when it is burned to make steel or to create electricity. The effects of climate change will affect the entire planet.

All residents of BC should have an opportunity to express their concerns about the expansion of the coal export facilities in Metro Vancouver. I am supporting Kevin Washbrook for the Board of the Port of Metro Van because he is a person of exemplary character. I am confident that he would make a significant contribution to the board. He is deeply committed finding the responsible solutions to how Canada will mitigate the cause of climate change while still pursuing a vital and sustainable economy now and for the future of our children and grandchild.

I hope you too will endorse Kevin by writing a letter to Port Nominating Committee and the Federal Minister of Transportation. Select Here Endorse Kevin to send a message.

Council update: Beach Tower rezoning approved with a stipulated on the starting rents

Vancouver City Council today approved the rezoning of 1600 Beach Avenue with a stipulation that the starting rents be regulated by contract in a “Housing agreement” between the city and the owner of building.

Cl. Stevenson moved the motion from the staff report recommending that Council approved the rezoning and seemed to take the point on pushing this project through the public hearing process. The surprising moment from this meeting came when Cl. Louie who moved a amending motion to the staff report, asking staff to regulate the starting rents in the new units in negotiation with the owner of the building.
This is a good step for Council to be directing staff to stipulate starting rental rates. While Council Louie’s amendment is vague on details in terms of setting “affordable” rates it is a move in the right direction.

Here is an unconfirmed copy of the amended motion:

AMENDMENT:
i) a rent roll indicating the initial monthly rents for each rental unit

ii) a covenant from the owner securing those rents for the first 12 months of occupancy at the initial montly rents, after which time the rental rates will be subject to the provisions of the provincial residential tenancy act.

iii) A covenant from the owner to, prior to issuance of an occupancy permit, submit a finalized rent roll to the satisfaction of the managing director of social development and director of legal services that reflect the rental rates in the housing agreement on either a per unit or a per square foot basis in order to address potential changes in unit mix and or sizes between the rezoning and development permit stage.

iv) Such other terms and conditions as the director of legal services may request and the owner agree.

While it is unclear at this point on what the rents will be, it seems that the rents will set a the price that is state in the staff report which is between $2.60 and $3 a square foot. This would mean that studio would rent between $1,225- 1,340, 1 bedroom $1,390- 2,600 and 2 bedroom $1,900 – 2,700. There where no prices state for the town houses on Beach Avenue. Unfortunately, these price would be well be the household income many residents in Vancouver and the West End. It important to remember that the average income in $34, 000 in Vancouver and 38,000 in the West End.

The majority on Council have tried to make the argument that going forward in the future these units would be affordable, which can be describe as “time-machine” policy making. Residents need affordability rental units now.

The central question is on the distribution of the benefit from the rezoning, if 133 units are not affordable then they are not equal accessible to a majority of residents in Vancouver. This makes the rezoning problematic.

Affordability and Beach Towers rezoning

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The rezoning decision of Beach Towers is before Vancouver City Council on Tuesday February 26. Beach Towers are four rental apartment buildings on a whole city block in the West End with 3 towers on Beach Avenue and one on Harwood Street. There are 601 rental units in the complex and that represents about 3% of the rental units in the West End. The apartment buildings were built in 1960s. The rezoning would increase the number of rental units by 133 including some townhouses on Beach Avenue.

Here is the CoV staff report on the project for more details: rezoning report

The rezoning proposal is being brought forward by staff under the STIR program. The owner will have to sign a “housing agreement” with the city that will contractually guarantee that the new units will stay as rental units. I have written about STIR before:STIR

The STIR program is a tool for incentivising market construction of rental units. The current economics of Vancouver land prices, construction and development costs make the building of market rentals undesirable to development industry. Rezonings under STIR are not required to pay Community Amenity Contributions (CAC) Development Cost Levies (DCL) to help to make the creation of purpose built rental more economically viable.

Strangely with the Beach Towers rezoning city staff were able to negotiate with proponent of the project $1,249,913 for DCL, $243,00 for CAC (for the West End) and $181, 000 for public art on site and off. These payments raise the question that if this project was able to pay these amounts to the city why were the other big rezonings projects in the West End like 1401 Comox St. and 1225 Bidwell not required to make these payments? Were the densities granted in these past projects too generous?

Affordability

The city argues that the construction of market rate rental unit is “affordable” compared to buying. 50% of residents in Vancouver rent and many folks living and contributing to the city’s economic vitality will never be able to own. By being offered a comparison of something that one will not ever have is little comfort and more than a little odd. Even during the public hearings some councillors asked speakers if they thought going forward in the future if these units would affordable? Like government works on “time machine model” developing policy for the hypothetical future where solutions are delivered.

Typically new rental units are able to charge higher rents. Moreover, while new rental units will be cheaper than buying a new condo, it will make little impact on creating more affordability for residents. A significant intervention on affordability would for rents to be less than 30% of a household’s income including heating.

The city could negotiate in the “housing agreement” starting rents for 1/3 of the units to be 30% of the median income of a community to ensure that direct benefit flows to residents of surrounding a project. The city would also have to establish a process and criteria for selection. The city is under no legal obligation to grant a rezoning. Owners of the land pay for the value of the current zoning. The council will only grant a rezoning if it is in the “benefit” of the city of Vancouver. While residents of Canada and BC wait for their government to start a housing plan that provides direct money to cities and while residents waiting for the housing authority in Vancouver to take a direct capital position in housing projects to create more affordable housing, the city should mandate starting rents in new rezoning projects.

Good news for the Renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital redevelopment project looking for architects

From Providence Health Care:

“VANCOUVER, FEBRUARY 20, 2013 – The redevelopment of St. Paul’s Hospital continues to gain momentum with the posting of a Request for Proposals to provide architectural services for the project.
 
Announced in June 2012 by Premier Christy Clark, the St. Paul’s Hospital redevelopment project envisions a new state-of-the-art centre of health innovation, care, and research, housing numerous hospital outpatient clinics, diagnostic care and same-day surgical services. The renewal will also include important upgrades to existing buildings, including seismic and operational improvements.
 
“St. Paul’s Hospital is world-renowned for its research, teaching and care,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. “We’re making sure it remains a hub of innovation, excellence and compassionate patient care, serving British Columbian families far into the future.”
 
MacDiarmid added the redevelopment will benefit patients and health professionals alike with upgraded operating rooms and expanded hospital capacity to meet future demand.
 
The RFP invites Architects to submit proposals to provide managing consultant and architectural services for the conceptual design of an ambulatory care building – a critical initial component of the redevelopment project.
 
“Over the past several months, Providence has been working closely with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Ministry of Health to finalize the current redevelopment concept plan,” said Dianne Doyle, president and CEO of Providence Health Care. “Advancing a feasibility study to confirm constructability of the new ambulatory centre on the hospital site will further inform the planning for this project.”
 
The RFP can be viewed at the BC Bid website  (browse opportunities by organization under “Providence Health Care”).
 
Providence Health Care (PHC) is one of Canada’s largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 health care facilities in Greater Vancouver. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province, performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health and is home to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

-30-

Contact:

Dave Lefebvre
Senior Communications Specialist – Media Relations
Providence Health Care
dlefebvre@providencehealth.bc.ca
(604) 682-2344 xt. 66987
(604) 837-6003 (c)

“Walkshops”, West End Planning team invites thinking on the city designs

Cardero Street Mural

Cardero Street Mural


From the West End Planning Team:

West End Commercial Streets “Walkshops”

The West End’s four commercial streets (Davie, Denman, Robson and Alberni Streets) are part of the community planning process.

We invite you to attend a “walkshop” where we will encourage you to think about the way we design buildings, sidewalks, roads, landscaping, street furniture, signage, weather protection, patios, and other elements that make up a vibrant, active and viable commercial street. You will have an opportunity to learn about the history and character of these streets, and to observe and discuss how we design these important community places. The walk will be followed by a two-hour facilitated workshop intended to allow participants an opportunity to share what they think is working, and also where there are opportunities for improvements.

Walkshops:

Alberni Street
Thursday, March 7, 2013, 2 to 5 pm
For more information and to register

Davie Street
Friday, March 8, 2013, 1 to 5 pm
For more information and to register

Robson Street
Friday, March 15, 2013, 1 to 5 pm
For more information and to register

Denman Street
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 1 to 4 pm
For more information and to register

Note: We have scheduled most of the walkshops on weekday afternoons to help ensure participation by members of the local business community. If you are unable to make it to your preferred walkshop(s), we will be posting the material and feedback summary from the sessions on our webpage. You’ll be able to review this and submit your ideas and feedback to us online.

Best regards,

West End Planning Team

A place of remembrance, Inside Out Project, in Japan

Inside out.Place of remembrance
From Pia Massie, a Vancouver based film maker

“In November 2012, JR started an Inside Out Project in North East Japan, a region that was hit by a tsunami in March 2011. A group of Japanese artists took over a photobooth truck and traveled the area to meet inhabitants. This boat entered 800 meters inland during the catastrophe, destroying everything on the way. It is considered today a place of remembrance. In one night, JR and his team pasted the eyes of a local fisherman in honor of the tsunami victims.”

From Wikipedia:

“The Inside Out Project is an ongoing global multimedia, participatory art project started by the artist JR in 2011. It emerged after JR was announced as the winner of the 2011 TED Prize  which awards US$100,000 to use towards “one wish to change the world.”[1]

For the Inside Out Project, JR wanted to include the public in the artistic process and ”transform messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work.” As he told the New Yorker magazine, “Now I am just the printer.”[1]

Participants take photos of themselves and upload them to the Inside Out website. JR prints 36“ x 53“ black and white photos in his NYC studio and mails them to back to the participants who then paste them in their communities. Participants can contribute individual photos or can collaborate to create group projects. According to the official website on the 31st of May 2012 there were over 75,000 photos printed, around 9000 locations, and over 4000 projects.”

More on the artist JR and The Inside Out Project

Did Vision Vancouver Park Board candidates seek a mandate to change Joint Operating Agreements (JOA) with the Park Board?

Change is a difficult process whether on the personal level or on the public policy front. The plan for the Vancouver Park Board (VPB) to reform the relationship between itself and Community Centre Associations (CCA) has been a long-troubled process.

JOA between the Vancouver Park Board and Community Centre Association

Vancouver’s 22 community centres (CC) are jointly operated between not-for-profit Community Centre Associations (CCA). The relationship is governed by a contract called the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). The JOA outlines responsibilities and duties of the two parties over different areas of delegated authority. For example, the current JOA outlines that VPB pay the wages of staff, such as programmers, front-line workers and maintenance staff. The CCA sets policy for the centre through its committees and boards and advises programmers on community needs for programs. Programmers at CC hire contractors to deliver courses and programs and the CCA set the price of these programs. Revenues from the programs are retained by the CCA. The surplus in programing or “retained earnings” is controlled by the CCA and is usually spent in negotiations with VPB staff (see page 5 of GM’s presentation).ParkBoardSpecialMeetingPresentation

While on the surface it may seem a fair system for the CCA to control the surplus revenue that is generated at their Centre, there are some mitigating factors to be considered. Not all CC have the ability to raise the same levels of revenue. Also, it is important to remember that taxpayers’ funds were used for the capital cost of the building and also all expenses of the CC are paid from taxes. Even surpluses that have been applied to capital expenditures like gyms, came from the investment of tax dollars. Should all of these surplus dollars be retained and not shared at least in part over the whole network of community centres? This is one of the questions that the proposed reform of JOA is attempting to address.

4 principles of the proposed negotiation framework

At the well-attended and controversial special Park Board meeting on Monday, February 4 at the West End CC, the General Manager reviewed a proposed framework for a new partnership agreement. The framework agreement is built on 4 principles:

1. Equity Among Community Centres: All Vancouver citizens have access to a core set of programs that lead to healthy living and ultimately, to healthy communities.

2. Access to a Network of Community Centres: System that allows for a universal membership or other system to be used for all rinks, pools, fitness centres, and core programs across all community centres.

3. Access For All Citizens: Single policy and process that respects confidentiality to ensure all residents have access to basic recreation programs and services regardless of income.

4. Operational Sustainability and Accountability: An operating relationship for community centres that is sustainable, accountable and transparent.
(Page 11 of GM’s power point)

Equity and the distribution of low income cut off

27% of Vancouver residents fall below the low income cut off (LICO). LICO is a statistical tool used by Stats Canadian to give measure poverty in comparison to other families of similar size in their community. One can learn more about LICO on Stats Can website. In Vancouver folks living below the low income cut off are distributed over the whole city. With the highest concentration at the West End, Coal Harbour, Strathcona, Thunderbird and Marpole community centres having LICO populations of up to 40% (p. 12).

Leisure Access Card (LAC)

The Leisure Access Card (LAC) is program run by the Park Board to provide for more access to frec programs and service at the community centres, that is designed to be respectful and discrete for folks living below the low income cu offt. That card provides for a 50% discount on programs and service and one can learn more about the programhere. Unfortunately the LAC is not universally accepted at all the community centres.

JOA renewal

The JOA renewal process has been broken for a long time. I remember going to meetings when I was at the board of the West End CC in 2004. There has been a commonly held suspicion of CCA board members about the city infringing on the autonomy of the Park Board and of the Park Board undermining the independence of the CCA. The lack of trust has hampered the negotiations between the two partners. During the last election no civic political party took a position on what the solutions would be beyond vague generalities about “working with CCA partners in a respectful way”.

Is revenue sharing a form of progressive taxation?

There has been much consultation on the Park Board’s plans to renew the JOA between staff and CCAs with more than 30 meetings alone in 2012. The status quo is not acceptable and more equity needs to be established in our Community Centre network. Devising some negotiated formula to share surplus across the whole Community Centre network would be like a form of “progressive taxation” where some of the resources from rich centres would be re-distributed to centres that are lacking in comparison.

The very basis of progressive politics is the need to make change to create social justice and equity. No question the process of change is as important as the change itself. These changes that the current Park Board are proposing should have been raised in the last election. Some of the fear and anger around this issue stems from a growing mistrust of the democratic process and of elected officials. Elections seemed to be filled with platitudes, photo ops and sound bites and are lacking in real policy discussion. Let’s be honest too, a lot of the outcry about the proposed changes in the JOA is motivated by politics. The NPA are so desperate to regain control of the Park Board and City Hall that every change is being depicted as, “one of the most significant 125 year historical changes in the history of the Park Board”. This fearmongering in communities is deeply disturbing and a disappointingly exploitive tactic

Information Session on Housing in the West End

From the West End Planning team: Upcoming Event

Affordable housing and homelessness are important issues in the West End. As part of the West End community planning process, this session will be an opportunity to find out what we’ve heard about housing so far (from both the community and the area housing providers), and to share the housing issues faced by your community. City staff will be on hand to answer your questions at this drop-in session.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
5:30 to 8 pm
Coast Plaza Hotel, 1763 Comox St
Update Feb. 18: Due to a scheduling conflict at the hotel, the location for the Housing Information Session on February 26th has been changed to the Denman Room.