Adriane Carr: Speaking truth to power in city hall

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      You don’t have to be on city council to notice things aren’t right in our city. You’ve likely been in more than one conversation about unaffordable housing, street homelessness, traffic congestion, construction towers, and empty condos.

      You’ve probably heard dismay over the bulldozing of beautiful homes and gardens and the loss of family-owned neighbourhood businesses. You may have crossed Cambie Bridge and seen green lights shining near Science World from the homes of residents outraged by the city allowing Concord Pacific commercial use of lands that for decades have been promised as a park. And you’ve likely heard the outcry from people in Oakridge, Mt. Pleasant, and the West End over high rise developments they feel are too dense and tall for their neighbourhoods.

      But have you noticed people talking about a deeper problem: that their effort to sway city decisions is all for naught?

      That’s been the real shocker in my first term as Vancouver’s first Green councillor: that people have lost trust in our local government.

      I hear: “I’ve gone to open houses, submitted input forms, but nothing has changed.” “I’ve come to speak because I care, but I’ve lost hope that you’ll listen.” “I think your minds are made up.” “We’ve spent years meeting on this plan but it’s not what we want.”

      It’s not just that things aren’t right in our city. Things aren’t right at city hall.

      The problem is that when city council is dominated by one party with a majority of votes, they don’t really have to listen. They can push through decisions without incorporating ideas from anyone else.

      That’s not good democracy. It raises concerns about abuse of power, especially when the majority party receives millions of dollars in donations from developers.

      I am running for re-election because the issues that drove me to run for city council back in 2011 are as dire now, if not worse. I want more transparency, genuine public collaboration, real affordable housing, and development that doesn’t threaten our city’s livability and the character of the neighbourhoods we love.

      As a cofounder of the Green Party of B.C. it galls me that Vancouver aims to be the world’s greenest city, but lets our roads clog with congestion, provides no long-term security for community gardens, is a laggard on solar energy and zero-net energy buildings, and is failing to meet our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      As a Green committed to a fair and just city, I’m appalled that street homelessness almost doubled this past year, and that despite more housing starts than in the last 40 years the vast majority of new housing is unaffordable for most Vancouverites.

      To solve these problems we need a new approach, and that takes a different kind of council.

      I am running as part of a team of seven Greens: three for council, two for park board and two for school board.

      Polling earlier this year showed that two-thirds of people think Vancouver would be better off if no one party dominated city council. If they vote that way, three Greens on council—myself, Cleta Brown, and Pete Fry—could hold the balance of power. We would make a real difference.

      We would put the public’s interest first: listen to people, weigh decisions thoughtfully based on solid facts, and work collaboratively to come up with practical solutions for making our city livable and sustainable.

      I hope the result of the November 15 election is not another overwhelming majority that votes in a block and uses their power to push through decisions without incorporating the ideas of citizens.

      I hope Vancouverites vote in a balanced city government that will create a better Vancouver, together.

      In 2011, Adriane Carr became Vancouver’s first Green city councillor. She earned an MA in urban geography from UBC, taught at Langara College, and was on the executive team at the Wilderness Committee, cofounded and led the Green Party of B.C., and was deputy leader to Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada. As a Vancouver city councillor, Carr has championed issues to improve peoples’ quality of life, create a greener city, and ensure peoples’ voices are not just heard but incorporated into decisions of council.

      Comments

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      7 Comments

      Jim East

      Oct 10, 2014 at 1:25pm

      Vision has a majority on council because the voters gave it to them. They wanted a council that gets things done rather then a bulging bureaucracy.

      Arthur Vandelay

      Oct 10, 2014 at 1:34pm

      “I am running for re-election because the issues that drove me to run for city council back in 2011 are as dire now, if not worse.” What drove you to run for City council is your ego and your failed attempts at every other level of elected office.

      “As a cofounder of the Green Party of B.C. it galls me that Vancouver aims to be the world’s greenest city, but lets our roads clog with congestion …”. As a citizen it galls me that you list every possible criticism of the current administration and your proposed solution/policy position is to trot out the oldest of political platitudes, “We would put the public’s interest first: listen to people, weigh decisions thoughtfully based on solid facts, and work collaboratively to come up with practical solutions for making our city livable and sustainable.” Blah, blah, blah.

      You vote against densification despite that being clearly the greenest option. You purport to act as if residents have new fresh ideas for change when all they ever want is the status quo and say ‘not in my back yard’. Your only use for Green is as a shield, and your only real objective is your career. You, Madame, should be ashamed of yourself.

      Juddc

      Oct 10, 2014 at 4:45pm

      She certianly hits the nail on the head when talking about how I feel as a a Vancouverite trying to connect with the current council on issues related to my neighbourhood. All optics, no one is listening.

      Ungagged

      Oct 10, 2014 at 7:56pm

      Ms. Carr is 100% correct that things sging has turned communicating with the city hall into something like dealing with the Kremlin.

      Bloated wages for an outrageous amount of managers requires major culling.The overpaid, over controlling, abusive city manager is the biggest problem of all at 12th and Cambie. She’s done a fabulous job of politicizing staff across the board. Poor treatment of employees has trashed moral. The type of city manager that is appointed by a political party speaks volumes about what kind of mayor and council they are, and what kind of values their party represents.

      Ms. Carr provides a ray of hope in what has been a long dark and disturbing chapter.

      LER

      Oct 11, 2014 at 9:49am

      TO ARTHUR: You don't seem to be paying attention to what has been going on in the city. Perhaps if you went to the many hearings at City Hall that I have witnessed first hand and seen how arrogant the mayor and Vision party is then you might have some insight. You don't need to post what you did and you sound like a bully. Adriane Carr is the ONLY one on council that really cares about the city and the taxpayers and what we want. What we want is for council to listen, really listen and not make a mockery of the hearings and the general public. Every Community Plan in the city has been nothing but a farce and a waste of time as Vision just does what they want, where they want. They are in the developers pockets.

      Nelson100

      Oct 11, 2014 at 2:36pm

      Some interesting observations from the comments of Jim East and Arthur Vandelay, the Vision spokespeople on this blog. Jim thinks that engaging with the citizens of the city is simply "bureaucracy". Arthur Vandelay claims that residents never have any fresh ideas and only want the status quo, so why bother to talk to them? Together they perfectly express the problem with Vision, a complete and utter disrespect for the opinions of the citizens of this city. To Vision Vancouver citizens are simply a road bump to drive over on route to handing over the city to their developer supporters.

      Adriane Carr has been a breath of fresh air and honesty in this poisonous council. Giving the Green Party the balance of power in November would be the best thing we could ever do for our city.

      James G

      Oct 20, 2014 at 11:08am

      I keep hearing what a fine person you are in your private life and I have no quibble with that. Neither can I discount entirely your term at Council. The cigarette butt initiative was at least worth trying.

      However, the body politic that called the unfortunately named 'Green Party' into being had more to do with the needs of 'health food' stores and bicycle shops than for the overall good of environmental needs. So instead of progressive, you actually founded a party reflecting needs like low wages and benefits. Then too, while an increasingly singular NDP (which has and always will have better environmental initiatives than you could ever sponsor) embraced entirely social issues like women's reproductive rights and gay rights, your party became a bit of a catch-all for heretics and backwoodsman types.

      The party on the world stage you most closely resemble is Hungary's "Smallholders Party", and again, there is nothing wrong with giving a voice and a political vehicle to such folks, but also trying to tie your flag to Germany's or even Australia's rather progressive Greens was stretching yourself both thin and utterly false.

      The key failing for me, as a retired civil servant is your misunderstanding of pension issues. For you to say you want "a say in how OUR money is spent" regarding municipal employees pensions is downright scary. Pensions, like salaries and benefits, are part of the compensation package an employee is given in return for their work. After retirement, it is usually governed by a board of sorts and no longer under the pervue of any City Councillor to use or not use for various vanity initiatives, with or without 'Green' veneers. Since the sub-prime market crisis and the artificially low interest rates that have made pension funds unwieldy, it is something of a miracle that some funds are withstanding that storm, irrespective of the political interference of halfwits.

      You are not qualified to remain on City Council and I very much hope that you are not re-elected.