PM Justin Trudeau is first prime minister to visit Vancouver City Hall since 1973

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      A warm reception from Vancouverites outshone the typical Wetcouver weather that greeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Vancouver City Hall on Thursday (December 17).

      His appearance marks the first visit by a sitting Canadian prime minister since his father, Pierre Trudeau, visited in 1973.

      It also marks Justin Trudeau's first visit to a Canadian city hall since he was elected.

      As has been seen in other scenes around the world where Trudeau has visited, the reception by Vancouverites was more akin to a rock concert, with wall-to-wall people crowding the city hall lobby and cheers erupting every time Trudeau waved.

      The prime minister was greeted by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who accompanied him indoors.

      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor Gregor Robertson inside Vancouver City Hall at a press conference.
      Craig Takeuchi

      Inside at a media conference, Robertson presented Trudeau with a historic black-and-white photo of Pierre Trudeau being greeted by Mayor Art Phillips at Vancouver City Hall. It was taken on December 7, 1973, when Pierre signed over 37 acres of federal land at Jericho to become a city park.

      Robertson said it was "a symbol of the cooperation between the federal government and the city, helped and abetted by citizens".

      Robertson was pleased to report that he had a productive meeting with Trudeau. During their meeting, he said they discussed numerous issues, including the "ambitious" 10-year transit plan (which includes projects like the Broadway subway), to help Canada meet its climate change goals; affordable housing; the importance of investing in infrastructure, including cultural infrastructure like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the creative economy; and welcoming refugees from Syria.

      "It's so refreshing to have a partner in Ottawa that treats cities with respect and recognizes that we are so vital to the country's success," Robertson said. "We had a good example of that yesterday when we were opening the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, which had been closed for a couple of years so I want to thank the Prime Minister for following through on that important commitment to take care of the safety of our waters here."

      Trudeau said when he was planning his visit, he was surprised to learn that the last visit by a prime minister was from his father 42 years ago. He was also excited to be back in Vancouver, which was home for him for several years.

      He reassured attendees that he wants to make Vancouver concerns a priority.

      "The mayor pointed out that he feels fortunate that the priorities I have put forward for our country resonate with and are similar to the priorities that the people of Vancouver have put forward," he said. "I can assure you that it's not an accident. We work very, very hard to listen to people across the country and the kind of cities they want to live in, the kind of country they want to live in."

      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about issues ranging from transit to marijuana.
      Craig Takeuchi

      After Trudeau left the press conference, Robertson was asked how the relationship between Vancouver's civic government and Canada's federal government has changed.

      "There's already been a big shift in the relationship between our city government in Vancouver and our federal government led by Prime Minister Trudeau and that started the moment that he was elected and signalled in his acceptance speech that they were committed to working with local governments and advancing investments and infrastructures and taking care of Canada's cities," Robertson said. "We've got important priorities that are now being recognized by our federal government. That was not the case with the Harper government. We did not see significant investment in Canada's cities and our infrastructure, and we slipped behind. That strained relationships. They remained respectful but certainly that was damaging for Canada and we've seen the Canadian economy lag in part because investment in our cities was not keeping pace....So I think we've got a much different tone from Ottawa, strong commitments in the election platform and already in the initial weeks of the Trudeau administration, follow through on commitments, promises being delivered, like the Kits Coast Guard base being reopened."

      During the press conference, Trudeau and Robertson both fielded questions from reporters on various topics such as Shoal Lake, marijuana, the Canadian dollar, housing, transit, and pipelines. More coverage of Trudeau's visit to Vancouver can be found here

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