David Eby assails Vision Vancouver over Olympic bylaw

He narrowly missed a city-council nomination with Vision Vancouver last fall, but now lawyer David Eby claims he’s glad he’s “not sitting on council right now”. Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, told the Straight the ruling civic party’s support for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic bylaw, which restricts signs and advertising during the Games, would have left him in an impossible position.

“I would have been torn between caucus solidarity and my own personal beliefs around free speech,” Eby said by phone. “It would have been a very difficult position to be in, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for some of those people on council.”

Eby claimed that council packed the agenda in “the dead of summer” on July 23, and rushed the bylaw through with little public debate or attention. Eby has thrown his support behind Olympic critics Chris Shaw and Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, who launched a court action against the City of Vancouver on October 7. They filed documents with the B.C. Supreme Court, challenging the bylaw on constitutional grounds.

Referring to Shaw and Westergard-Thorpe’s statement of claim, Eby cited the bylaw’s “city land” section 4B(d) as problematic. The section states that a person must not “install or carry any sign unless licensed to do so by the city”. Games provision 104(8), also singled out by Eby, states: “A person must not exhibit, place, display, install, or erect a sign on a street” in or above a venue corridor or an “Olympic lane”, except for existing signs and celebratory or wayfaring signs approved by Vanoc or the city.

“It boggles my mind that people with a history of environmental or labour activism are supporting this anti-free-speech bylaw,” Eby said of Vision councillors.

Vision councillor and onetime union official Raymond Louie did not return a message left by the Straight before press time. First-term Vision councillor Andrea Reimer said she and Eby have a “difference of opinion on what the bylaw entails”.

“I continue to be the head of an organization [Wilderness Committee] that organizes a lot of rallies and events out on the streets, and I do not see this bylaw in any way impacting on our ability to do that during the Olympics,” Reimer told the Straight by phone.

Regarding the court action, Reimer said, “You know, I work in advocacy. I know there are certain tactics you use to draw attention to issues, and court is certainly one of them.”

In a later phone conversation, Reimer gave the following assurance: “I will be interested to see how the court interprets it, because there was no intention to restrict the civil liberties of individuals and, in fact, quite a lot of discussion with legal [services] and on the floor of council with staff to ensure that wasn’t happening.”



ursa minor

Oct 15, 2009 at 9:23am

Vision Vancouver are little more than self-indugent poseur sellouts who should be slapped silly at the polls the next time around!!

Shame on Gregor Robertson and his caucus for continuing the transformation of this city into a corporate police state!!


Oct 15, 2009 at 1:36pm

Gregor has some innovative ideas. However he clearly has caved in to big, cross party labels, financial interests that have vested interests in this Owelympics.

With Union Pension Funds & Campbell Clubbers: Podmore/Poole et al . . . . all rolled into Concert Properties (formerly, Greystone and VLC Properties but same cross pollination players) that has led the highly biased charge since the Bid stage and sham Referedum Vote . . . and its CEO ubiguitous re: too many Owelympic Venues (BC Place, Convention Centre & Athletes Village 'Advisory Panel - a Village that Concert in blatant conflict of iterest tried to bid on under the radar & outed by Dr. Shaw) - the operative question is:

Has Gregor been influenced too much as he keeps his possible future political supporters 'happy' with their agenda surrounding these 'Games' fuelled by OUR expense?


Oct 21, 2009 at 2:50am

It is not a hard decision to make whether to support the new Olympic bylaw: either you belong to a gang (VISION) or you do the right thing.


Oct 22, 2009 at 12:44pm

Shame on Andrea Reimer using the same tactics used on her organization to marginalize and depreciate significant concerns. She should know better. Perhaps she should stop having coffee with the other so called environmentalists whoc sided with Gordon Campbell in the last election. Shame shame shame.