I love my job as a Vancouver city councillor. But I’d get a lot more done and the city would be better off if Pete Fry were to join me at the council table.
Dynamics were different at city hall when I was elected as Vancouver’s first Green councillor in 2011. The two NPA councillors—Affleck and Ball—were willing to second my motions even if they didn’t vote for them, just to ensure they got publicly debated. Vision councillors, who often tried to dissuade me from even making motions, occassionally seconded one, then basically quashed it by referring it to staff for review.
Things changed after the 2014 election when Vision’s majority was reduced by one, the NPA gained a councillor, and I topped the polls and my running mates, Pete Fry and Cleta Brown, came close to winning. Council is more hyperpartisan and rancorous, although I stay out of the fray. Both Vision and the NPA are increasingly reluctant to second my motions unless I accept their changes, which often means watering down my original intent. Sometimes no one will second my motion. And many are still referred by Vision to staff, meaning there’s no debate or vote on what I’ve proposed. That includes my motion to change our city bylaws to define housing affordability in terms of local peoples’ incomes, not market rents.
Why is this important? Because it’s through motions that I table new ideas and solutions to city problems, many of which come from residents themselves. Those ideas, especially concerning our housing and homelessness crisis, deserve debate and consideration. Goodness knows, the thinking and big-developer biases that have dominated council for the last 10 years haven’t solved our problems.
Vancouver needs a more balanced council, focused on protecting public interest, not on scoring partisan points.
Vancouver and I need Pete Fry elected to council on Saturday (October 14).
I first met Pete Fry in his role as spokesperson for the Strathcona Residents’ Association, fighting a dangerous proposal to dramatically increase commuter traffic through their neighbourhood as part of the viaducts removal. That proposal got dropped. I admired his dedication to community and asked Pete to run with me for council in 2014.
Pete is impressive and effective. He’s active on community boards and planning committees. He’s passionate about people’s quality of life, both in his neighbourhood and Vancouver as a whole. He is articulate and deeply knowledgeable about city issues, providing me with valuable information and answering matter of factly when grilled by councillors every time he speaks at city hall—on issues ranging from the impact of short term rentals on affordable long-term rental housing to small business concerns and community economic development to planning and transportation issues.
Pete is a people-person, just as easily connecting with Downtown Eastsiders as with the well-to-do; with homeowners as with renters; with policy wonks as with punk rockers. Pete listens to people's ideas and concerns around city decisions. He searches out new solutions, travelling to Portland and Seattle, for example, to check out the unique Dignity Village for homeless people and meet with planners about how they genuinely involve the public in city decision-making through neighbourhood councils.
Pete is practical. Although lobbying for senior government support is important, he’s focused on finding the ideas that Vancouver itself can act on to solve our escalating housing affordability and homelessness crisis.
Here’s Pete’s five-point quick-action plan on housing:
1. Change city bylaws to make affordable mean affordable: based on local incomes, not market rates.
2. Call for a one-year moratorium on demolition of purpose-built rental housing, and strengthen the tenant relocation and protection guidelines.
3. Protect and increase secondary and basement suites by making it easy to legalize them.
4. Launch a citywide plan to involve citizens in deciding how to add density, affordability, and “missing middle” housing into their neighbourhoods.
5. Create a Renter’s Office at the City, to better protect and resource the over half of Vancouverites who rent their homes.
Elect Pete and he’ll hit the ground running to move on these actions and more. He knows the ropes at city hall. We’ll work together on motions, and get double the time I now have to ask questions and debate. (Each councillor gets only five minutes.) He’ll change the dynamics at the council table. He’ll join me in putting public interest first.
There’s a mood for change in our city. Pete’s been leading in the polls. I hope voters turn out in droves on Saturday (October 14) to vote Green and elect Pete Fry.
I need Pete Fry on City Council. More importantly, Vancouver does.More