COPE's Tim Louis pokes fun at Vision Vancouver and opposes using city site for new art gallery

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      Today may have been the first time that Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara's image ever graced the inside of Vancouver's exclusive Terminal City Club.

      That's because former COPE councillor and park commissioner Tim Louis dropped by the West Hastings Street venue, which is a favourite hangout of some of the city's wealthiest residents.

      Louis came to speak at the Burgundy Luncheon Club about his efforts to revive his left-of-centre civic party.

      The back of his wheelchair featured a large image of Che, an Argentina-born revolutionary who helped Fidel Castro seize power in Cuba.

      Che Guevara appeared on the back of Tim Louis's wheelchair.
      Charlie Smith

      Louis didn't disappoint the mostly business audience, generating enormous laughter with his wisecracks about Mayor Gregor Robertson's political party.

      "Vision Vancouver is the NPA with bicycles," he said at one point.

      Louis, a lawyer, also claimed that Vision and the NPA were like "Tweedledee and Tweedledum".

      On a more serious note, the former chair of Vancouver's finance committee said that unlike the two other parties, COPE is opposed to expensive megaprojects.

      That prompted a question about COPE's position on a proposal for a new $300-million to $350-million art gallery.

      It may be built on a city-owned parking lot—known as Larwill Park—across from the Sandman Hotel on West Georgia Street.

      In April, Green, NPA, and Vision Vancouver councillors all voted in favour of leasing this $200-million property for free to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

      This is provided that the VAG board meets certain conditions, including raising $100 million each from the federal and provincial governments.

      Louis conceded that COPE doesn't have a position on this issue.

      Speaking personally, he said that he would prefer to monetize the site for affordable housing.

      "I'd love to give $200 million to the art gallery but I think it's a question of priorities," Louis commented. "If you asked me to make a very difficult decision—$200 million to the art gallery or $200 million to really address the crisis of homelessness, not by producing shelters but actually affordable housing—I'd give the $200 million to producing housing."

      Then he added that perhaps this should be put to the voters in a referendum.

      "You've got $200 million," Louis said. "Does it go to the art gallery or does it go to addressing a crisis of homelessness? At the end of the day, life is about choices. You never get to have everything. You have to choose one or the other. So I'm not anti-art gallery. But I don't know that we should be spending $200 million there."




      Jun 21, 2013 at 3:21pm

      Better $200-million for an amped-up VAG, than say $2-billion for the Port Mann bridge replacement. Wanna bitch about lack of affordable housing in Vancouver Tim? Tell Victoria.

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 3:21pm

      COPE doesn't have a position, and Louis waffles like a seasoned politician.

      Now that's a perfect way to improve political fortunes, eh?

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 4:37pm

      why is he still involved in municipal politics? he does not represent anything new, rather he reverts back to old way of "trench warfare" politics and politics for the sake of politics. he's not refreshing at all.

      it's frustrating to see cope aligning itself with people like tim louis.

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 6:01pm

      Half of the city are renters, working two jobs, with no money or time to go to the Art Gallery. Maybe when COPE builds the affordable housing I can quit one of my two full time jobs and go and see some Emily Carr paintings.

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 8:04pm


      Did you not analyse this past provincial election? The only way to win elections against corporate right wing political party's is to take it into the trenches.

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 8:08pm

      Good for you Tim Louis, on talking with Terminal City folks. There has to be a place in our neighbourhoods for old folks wanting to stay and new folks wanting affordable rent that doesn't require 24 story mow downs of whole neighbourhoods with the only thing remaining being photo's hung on a gallery wall. I for one am glad at your willing to speak truth to power.

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 8:12pm

      Yes to affordable housing before much else.

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      Tina Anderson

      Jun 21, 2013 at 9:11pm

      Wonderfully articulated Tim!!! I'm a public school primary teacher, and see first hand every day, the effects of poverty on children and their families, and the dysfunction and despair that results. As a huge supporter and promoter of art and culture as well, I agree whole-heartedly that when resources are finite and in short supply, priorities must go the way of essentials for people. Addressing poverty and homelessness is "essential" - and if taxpayers can't support the elimination of these two societal diseases for social justice reasons, they ought to for economic reasons - because they are the most costly issues we contend with in Canada today, and the root cause of most societal ills we fight against! As we say in the education community........ "If you think schools are expensive - try ignorance"!

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      Jun 21, 2013 at 10:29pm

      I always vote for Tim Louis, because he is the smartest person on the ballot.

      As usually Tim doesn't disappoint. (Though our new bicycle lanes were actually planned under the NPA, and Peter Ladner is a bicyclist too)

      He could also have mentioned, that we used to have a billion dollars in our property endowment fund, that could have been tapped to support social housing in every part of Vancouver.

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      Fred Bass

      Jun 21, 2013 at 11:36pm

      We have an art gallery.

      We do not have enough affordable housing.

      Investing in the arts is a very positive investment; however adequate housing for the people of Vancouver is a higher priority. Federal and provincial governments have failed to meet basic needs. The federal government of Canada, for decades, was the only OECD nation not to commit funds regularly for housing!!! Very few Canadians know this.

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