The Fall 2011 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Rental Report.


The CMHC 2011 Rental Report was release today December 13, 2011. The trend of lower vacancy rate is continuing while prices are remaining near the rate of inflation.

Highlights of the report for Vancouver

-Vacancy rates edge down form 1.9 in October 2010 to 1.4% in October 2011 for purpose-built rental apartments.

-The average rate of rent increase between October 2010 and October 2011 was 2.3%, near the rate of inflation of 2%.

-Most of the increase in the stock of rental units was from secondary market rental condominiums.

-Vacancy rates edged down from 2.2 % to 0.9 % in October 2011 for rental condominium apartments.

-Population growth, employment opportunities, and the relative affordability of rental accommodation compared to ownership housing are expected to support demand for rental housing.

Rental Affordability Indicator Lower

The CMHC has developed and tool to measure affordability for renters. The tool is called the “Rental Affordability Indicator”. The tool is predicated on the notion that households should only spend 30% of their income on housing to be in a prudent financial state. To spend more than 30% of a households income on housing is a known risk factor for homelessness.

The indicator uses a three-year moving average of the median income of renter household and compare it the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The CMHC market rental report states that:

“An indicator value of 100 indicates that 30 per cent of the median income of renter households is necessary to rent a two-bedroom apartment going at the median rent. As the rental affordability indicator increases, the market becomes more affordable: as the indicator declines, the market becomes less affordable.”

In Vancouver from 2010 to 2011 the affordability indicator fell to 83 from 86.

Now that Vancouver has this tool to measure “affordability” residents will be able to track and benchmark progress on this is issue. Given that the median household income in Vancouver is $47, 000 and over 50% of residents are renters the Rental Affordability Indicator will be a important tool in measuring the progress that the City is making as a whole on developing affordable housing options.

Full report is available here:CMHC Rental Market Report

Congrats, thanks and disappointment

Congratulations to all the candidates who were elected in Vancouver’s civic election yesterday. Thanks to all of the candidates who put their name forward.

This has been an exciting two months. It was humbling and an honour to be a COPE candidate in this election for the Vancouver Park Board. The experience was exciting and I am so proud of what we accomplished during this campaign. Everyone on our COPE team worked hard to bring our ideas forward in a positive, creative and authentic way.

This campaign has been personally rewarding and I’ve learned an incredible amount about leadership, group dynamics, campaigning, policy and politics. I have talked with so many wonderful people throughout this city and had many rewarding experiences. I will always be grateful to my family, supporters and friends who have unfailingly encouraged me. I even think my public speaking is getting almost passable.

I am so happy that Allan Wong was re-elected on the School Board. Allan is such an intelligent, thoughtful and committed person. Vancouver is the better for electing Allan. However, I am disappointed that Alan Blakey and Jane Bouey were not re-elected yesterday.

My heart goes out to Ellen Woodsworth. I had so much fun with Ellen and learned a great deal from her. Ellen has effectively represented important issues and constituencies for the past three years as a city counselor . I feel so disappointed for her. She has been one of the hardest working people I know. I am proud to be a member of the same party as her.

There are no guarantees in elector politics. You have to work your hardest, try your best and put your ideas forward as effectively as one can. I am disappointed that I did not earn the support of Vancouver residents, but the voters have spoken. I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who did cast and entrust their vote to me.

COPE Releases Full Election Platform. Vancouver Can Count On COPE.


November 8th, 2011

COPE released their full election platform this morning at SFU’s Harbour Centre. City Council candidate RJ Aquino, along with Park Board candidate, Donalda Greenwell-Baker, and School Board candidate, Jane Bouey, outlined the party’s plans to create a Vancouver for everyone.

Their comprehensive platform spoke to a number of issues ranging from transit, housing affordability and the economy, to democracy, justice, the arts, schools and parks.

Some highlights included their plans to tackle housing affordability through the creation of a City Housing Authority, an arms-length authority charged with making affordable home ownership a reality.

“The authority will create semi-market housing – units that can only be sold at pre-determined rates. The Authority will also support non-profit developers to build and sell new units at the cost of construction. Finally, it will be charged with monitoring the state of housing affordability in the city, and ensuring inclusionary zoning laws are applied to all new developments.”

The party also emphasized the need to support small, local businesses through a tiered business taxation system.

“Small businesses shouldn’t be paying the same tax rate as a big corporation. Its not fair and it’s killing small business,” said Aquino. “Small businesses create local jobs and keep our economy thriving, and without them, communities loose their character.”

Finally, they advocated for electoral reform and changes to elections spending. “COPE also wants to see big money taken out of Vancouver politics by limiting election spending and donations,” said Aquino.

Park Board candidate Donalda Greenwell-Baker highlighted COPE’s opposition to park service fee increases and called for more public washrooms around the City. “Parks and recreation facilities are community hubs that foster connections among Vancouver residents. COPE is opposed to fee increases for services, unless used to create a more sustainable option, and is committed to keeping our parks and services accessible to everyone,” said Greenwell-Baker.

Jane Bouey, School board candidate running for re-election, stated: “COPE will support and advocate for a strong, public school system that meets the needs of every child. This means smaller class sizes, support for children with special needs and more English as a second language instruction.” She also underlined the need to keep Vancouver kids safe and healthy through seismic upgrades and an emphasis on environmental sustainability.

The entire COPE platform can be foundhere

COPE Putting Neighbourhoods First Through Neighbourhood Councils


Media Release

For Immediate Release: Saturday, November 5th, 2011

COPE Putting Neighbourhoods First Through Neighbourhood Councils

Vancouver – COPE’s ‘neighbourhood’s first’ philosophy is being exemplified in their most recent platform announcement: the creation of Vancouver neighbourhood councils. The party is looking to bring democracy back to the grassroots level by supporting local area councils to represent each Vancouver neighbourhood.

“Nobody knows what’s best for a given community better than the people who actually live there. Let’s let them have a say in how their communities develop,” said COPE City Council candidate, RJ Aquino.

Modeled after advisory boards such as the Urban Design Panel and the Vancouver Food Policy Council, the boards would advise the city on matters regarding their respective communities.

The councils would be given input on rezoning applications and development proposals, and their signature of approval would be important for project validation.

“It is important however, that if these advisories are going to have legitimacy, they are inclusive councils, that accurately reflect the make-up of a given community,” said COPE City Council candidate Tim Louis. “The last thing we want to see is a council that only reflects a small group of interests within a given community.”

“This initiative has the potential to change the face of city planning and local politics – empowering communities to play a leading role in helping shape their neighbourhoods,” said COPE City Council candidate, Ellen Woodsworth.

“You can count on COPE to put neighbourhoods first by allowing them to decide what their communities look like, what direction they move and how they develop over time, ” added COPE Park Board candidate and former president of the West End Residents Association (WERA), Brent Granby.

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Candidates will be available for follow-up interviews and comments throughout the afternoon.

Media Contact: Nathan Allen – 604.833.0748; nathan@cope.bc.ca

Mae Price
COPE Media Relations
605.255.0400 or 778.986.5863

COPE candidates calling on Hastings Park to come under Park Board Governance


Media Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

COPE candidates calling on Hastings Park to come under
Park Board Governance

Vancouver – Unlike most Vancouver green space, Hastings Park is not governed by the Park Board. COPE Park Board Candidates Donalda-Greenwell Baker and Brent Granby want to see this changed, and called today for the governance of Hastings Park to be moved under Park Board jurisdiction.

As it stands, Hasting Park is governed by the PNE board, a private, closed, corporate board responsible to the PNE Corporation and not to the public.

“Right now, the PNE board is both the landlord and the tenant of the park. This model excludes public accountability and does not take into account community input,” said Greenwell-Baker. “The governance of Hastings Park needs to be open and transparent to the public, and right now that’s just not happening.”

“With the proposed development and expansion of the park that is planned for the next 20 years, having a publicly accountable governance strategy is more important than ever,” added Greenwell-Baker. “We need to include the community in any decisions regarding its development.”

COPE emphasized however, that although they would like to see the governance of the park be transferred to the Park Board, they do not want to see any jobs be lost in the process.

“The PNE and Hastings Racecourse employ hundreds of men and women. You can count on COPE to ensure that these hard working individuals do not loose their jobs through this transfer,” said Granby. “COPE is committed to working with the different parties involved to make certain the economic benefits of the park are maintained. COPE would make sure PNE management and the Park Board management would be streamlined to improve efficiency and ensure jobs and services are protected. ”

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Media Contact: Mae Price 778.986.5863; media@cope.bc.ca

COPE Candidates Competing in VACC’s Share the Road Challenge


Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Vancouver – COPE candidates Ellen Woodsworth, Brent Granby, Gwen Giesbrecht and Al Blakey will be finding out which is the fastest way to get around Vancouver in the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s ‘Share the Road Challenge’.

The candidates will each be using one method of transportation – car, bike and bus – to race (respecting road rules, of course) to the Vancouver Public Library, during morning rush hour. COPE and the other teams will compete to see which is the fastest method of transport.

The Candidates will be arriving at the finish line, between 9:00 – 9:45am. Speeches and photo opportunities will take place at the finish line – the Northwest plaza of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.

Who: COPE Candidates Ellen Woodsworth, Brent Granby, Gwen Giesbrecht and Al Blakey
What: The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s Share the Road Challenge
When: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 at 9:00am
Where: Northwest Plaza of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch (corner of Robson and Georgia)

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Media Contact: Mae Price – 778.986.5863; media@cope.bc.ca

Count on COPE Candidates Tim Louis, Brent Granby and Al Blakey to put Bike and Pedestrian Safety First, Through City’s Master Cycling Plan


Media Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 10:00am

Vancouver – As bicycling becomes an ever-popular mode of transportation for many Vancouverites, the question of road sharing, or sidewalk sharing, as it may be, is becoming increasingly important.

“If cyclists don’t feel safe on the roads, then they end up using the sidewalk.  This in turn puts pedestrian safety at risk,” said COPE Park Board Candidate Brent Granby.  “COPE is committed to improving overall bicycle safety through education, enforcement and infrastructure.”

The City of Vancouver is currently working on a 10-year cycling master plan to be incorporated into their Transportation Plan 2040 – a longer ranging vision of the City’s future transportation development.

“COPE will ensure that bike safety education, increased cycling infrastructure and better by-law enforcement, are included in the master plan, so that we can create a Vancouver that is accessible to everyone,” said COPE City Council Candidate Tim Louis.

“Pedestrians need to feel safe on the sidewalks, while cyclists need to feel safe on the road. Stopping drivers from speeding down bike ways, and stopping cyclists from biking on sidewalks should be a priority,” said Louis.  “This problem can be addressed through meaningful by-law enforcement.”

“At the same time, cyclists need to feel safe on the roads,” continued Brent Granby, COPE Park Board candidate.  “That needs to happen through increased cycling infrastructure, including separated bike lanes.  The fact that Suzanne Anton wants to place a moratorium on separated bike lanes is completely backwards.  We should be creating a vast network of bike infrastructure that connects every corner of the city, not inhibiting it.”

COPE has also committed to providing bike safety education in the school system.  “If we want to create a society of safe, respectful and committed bicyclists, we need to start educating our children about safe biking,” said COPE School Board candidate Al Blakey.  “Just seven months ago New West decided to fund bike safety education in their schools.  We can do this too.”

In March, 2011 the City of New Westminster committed to funding the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s Ride the Road program for all grade 7 and 8 students.

COPE is also calling on the City of Vancouver to pressure ICBC to include substantial training for new drivers on how to respectfully share the road with drivers.

“COPE strongly believes that the bicycle is an excellent form of sustainable transportation and wants to do everything possible to make it an essential component of long-term transportation planning,” said Granby.  “You can count on COPE to keep Vancouver moving safely.”

Day of Purple to end homophobic bullying


Wear purple to stand in solidarity and show support to those struggling every day through homophobia.

This event takes place everywhere. All you have to do is throw on a purple shirt, tie up a purple tie, wear some purple shoes.. Just put some on yourself, somewhere.

Candle light Vigil at Emery Barnes Park
(Davie and Richards st)
Thursday October 20, 2011
gather at 6pm-ceremony at 6:30 pm

The vigil is to remember the youth who took their own lives due to homophobic bullying and to show people that IT GETS BETTER.

Facebook Event Page

My purple letter to Premier Clark and Minister Abbott


Dear Premier Clark and Minister Abbott:

I am writing you in support of the Purple Letter Campaign to urge you to ensure there is
a province-wide policy in every school in BC, to make schools safe and inclusive for all
students and to end discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation or
gender identity.

The issue of ending bulling, discrimination, depression and youth suicide is extremely
important because it has such devastating effects on families, communities, friends
and individuals. We all need to work proactively to develop and implement policy that
support and build inclusiveness. The safety of all students and youth must be paramount
in our institutions and particularly in our schools.

Eliminating homophobia and transphobia has to be all our goals everywhere in the
province. Please adopt a province-wide policy to ensure that all children are save and
have chance to mature and be happy.

Yours sincerely
Brent Granby
Purple Letter Campaign

Vancouver Park Board public consultation on toilet in Nelson Park and Garden on top of West End Community Centre

Information Session – Nelson Park Public Toilet

Thursday, October 27
4:30 – 7:30 pm
Lord Roberts Annex
1150 Nelson St.

The Park Board will be installing an accessible automated public toilet unit in Nelson Park in the coming months. You are invited to an information session to view the design and location and to ask questions of Park Board staff.

Tiina Mack,
tiina.mack@vancouver.ca
Manager of Park Development
Phone: 604-257-8471

Rooftop Garden, West End Community Centre

Wednesday, October 26
3:30 – 6:30 pm
Lobby, West End Community Centre,
870 Denman Street

The Park Board is considering the installation of a communal garden on the rooftop at the West End Community Centre. Come share your vision of what the garden could be

Tiina Mack,
tiina.mack@vancouver.ca
Manager of Park Development
Phone: 604-257-8471