Vision Vancouver’s Raymond Louie has claimed his Non-Partisan Association council colleague Suzanne Anton is “entering the realm of the silly season” over her opposition to a proposed $5,000 grant for urban grain production.
Shortly before today’s (June 14) council meeting, the NPA’s lone councillor and mayoral candidate assembled her election team in front of the City Hall community garden on the north lawns. Anton was singling out Vision Vancouver for the upcoming vote on $100,000 in green grants for a raft of projects across the city.
“A number of these have caught my attention, but there’s one in particular which I am drawing to your attention today, and that’s the proposal to spend $5,000 to investigate whether or not we can grow wheat on people’s front lawns,” Anton told reporters. “Now this, to me, is another one of Gregor’s goofy ideas, right up there with homeless chicken shelters. It does not show respect for taxpayers’ money.”
The proposed $5,000 grant will be issued to the local Environmental Youth Alliance Society, assuming it receives the required eight votes at council. The EYA is a local nonprofit which has been operating since 1993 and recently lost a third of its annual operating budget due to a Service Canada grant cut.
Anton told reporters she grew up on a farm in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, and is a gardener herself.
“I understand these things pretty well,” Anton added. “I also know that city gardeners are incredibly inventive. They do not need taxpayers’ money to tell them what to grow in their gardens. We do not need to spend taxpayers’ money on this.”
NPA councillor Suzanne Anton voices her opposition to a $5,000 grant for urban wheat production.
Anton then unveiled overalls and a pitchfork, which she said she was issuing Mayor Gregor Robertson “so that Gregor can go back to farming”.
Louie brushed aside the opposition on the basis that Anton and the rest of council had not even heard the staff presentation.
“Ultimately, council has not made a decision on this yet,” Louie said at City Hall. “We’ll have to ascertain whether or not there is value, and understand more fully when we get presentations from staff, and we’ll hear. Obviously, Coun. Anton’s mind is closed on the issue. She obviously appears to have enough information already, without a staff presentation, and I certainly will keep an open mind prior to making a decision on the issue.”
Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie dismisses NPA criticism as "silly season" politics.
The concept of council giving money to certain community organizations to “explore opportunities” is not a new situation, Louie added.
“We’ve done a number of grants to a number of different organizations, to support their initiatives,” he said. “But as I said, this is the silly season. Coun. Anton is trying to score political points, and her stunts will be easily seen through by the electorate.”