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.