Elizabeth Murphy: This civic election will direct the next 30 years of planning

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      I am running for Vancouver city council with Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV). There are many reasons for this.

      Foremost is my disappointment with the performance of Vision Vancouver this term. My colleagues and I in NSV worked in 2008 to help Vision Vancouver become our civic government as an alternative to the NPA. We did that on the strength of our perception of Gregor Robertson’s election platform and his promises to revive citizen’s involvement in governing our city. However, Vision Vancouver have not followed through on their promises.

      I know the municipal system since I have worked as a development officer in the city’s housing and properties department in the 1990s, and from a private sector perspective as a consultant, business woman, and community advocate in the civic and provincial process for over 30 years. My experience shows me that the last two Vancouver council majorities under the NPA and Vision Vancouver have taken the city in the wrong direction. They have moved us away from the livable city of which we are so proud, and have undermined sustainability contrary to their own stated mandate.

      Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver is taking a new approach. NSV will implement a process to restore public confidence in city hall. This will benefit the community as well as the development industry because transparent processes will produce community supported results in an efficient time frame.

      Under NSV, certainly development will take place, but decisions will be based on the public interest with a balanced approach to pace and scale with local area decision-making reflected in the outcomes.

      NSV only takes donations from individuals. We have not waited for the province to change the campaign finance rules to do this. This commitment allows NSV to be impartial and fair, representing all stakeholders without actual or perceived systemic influence from industry funding.

      The November 19 election is a critical turning point for the future of the City of Vancouver. Since Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy was approved in July, the City of Vancouver must, within two years of adoption, provide a regional zoning plan called a “Regional Context Statement”, which will guide planning within the city for the next 30 years. This regional zoning plan will be created under the next city council.

      The Regional Context Statement will require Metro Vancouver approval including consistency with TransLink’s plans to use development to fund transit under what TransLink calls the “Hong Kong model”. Once these approvals are in place, any future changes to that plan will also require Metro Vancouver and TransLink approval. This is a transfer of considerable land use authority away from the City of Vancouver to senior governments and undermines local neighbourhood planning processes even further than they are today.

      Since this 30-year plan will be established under the council to be elected on November 19, the next election in 2014 will be too late to make any significant impact on that plan.

      The NPA and Vision Vancouver are the same animal. Minor concerns, like chickens and bike lanes, are not the critical issues in this election. Suzanne Anton raises these issues in her attempt at a perception of difference between the NPA and Vision. A closer scrutiny shows both parties in the same camp.

      The reason that the NPA and Vision have implemented the same policies is their campaign financing. They are each supported in the campaign to the tune of around $2.5 million each, mostly by development industry funding. Since city council regulates land use and determines what will be built in the city, this is a case of the regulators being funded by those that they regulate, which creates actual and perceived conflicts of interest. Campaign financing is the fundamental reason city hall process is flawed.

      Candidates have said the province finance rules encourage this conflict. But the fact the province has not changed the campaign finance rules is no excuse for accepting large donations from the development industry when council is the regulator of that industry’s projects. It is systemically corrupt.

      For example, Vision have continued with the NPA’s plans at Little Mountain; and the privatization schemes to sell off public land continues. Under Vision, the city approved the demolition of hundreds of affordable family housing units at Little Mountain Housing two years ago, which displaced long term residents. The site has now been vacant for two years when there is an affordable housing crisis. There is an estimated $10 million of lost rental revenue that would have been collected from the rental units if they had been left occupied.

      The homeless count of which the Vision councillors are so proud, was done before our homeless shelters were shut down for the summer so homeless numbers are much higher than those reported. The shelters are one step in the right direction, but they are not a long term solution to housing people.

      All of the permanent housing projects that have been brought forward this term were started by the NPA last term. None of it has been initiated by Vision Vancouver

      Vision have rebranded the NPA’s EcoDensity as “Greenest City”, but it still green-washes the development agenda that permits huge density bonuses across the city. (For example, Vision approved towers in the historic neighbourhood of Chinatown as proposed by Suzanne Anton in the last Sam Sullivan NPA council.) Suzanne Anton’s objections to Greenest City only amount to arguments over branding. Although there are some good aspects to Greenest City, the problems associated with EcoDensity still remain.

      The public consultation process under Vision has been just as bad as the NPA. In some cases, Vision has had no consultation at all, such as when the Short term Incentives for Rentals (STIR) program was implemented. When it was brought forward to council the report was posted only two days before the meeting. Vision approved STIR in the face of strong community objections; Geoff Meggs said, “The election was the consultation and this is the delivery.” There are many different ways of delivering rental housing; the STIR program was never discussed during the last election.

      Vision Vancouver promised a change to the NPA’s policies but Vision have implemented the NPA’s policies and gone beyond them.

      Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver recommends a full slate to voters. It has a balanced mix of skills and interests that span the political spectrum in the spirit of TEAM under mayor Art Philips. The slate includes NSV mayoral candidate Randy Helten and council candidates Nicole Benson, Marie Kerchum, Terry Martin, and myself, Elizabeth Murphy. In addition, six other council candidates from other parties or independents are also recommended: RJ Aquino (COPE), Adriane Carr (Green), Sandy Garossino (independent), Tim Louis (COPE), Bill McCreery (NPA), Ellen Woodsworth (COPE).

      Elizabeth Murphy is a council candidate with Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver.



      Working Together

      Nov 14, 2011 at 12:57pm

      We are one of the most livable cities in spite of the efforts of people like Murphy resisting more housing in neighbourhoods for the last 40 years. It was only due to massive development in former industry lands allowing people to live near downtown and walk to work that we are a livable city. Unfortunately, that reduced the land available for business and forced jobs out of the city. Now that the city has decided that is a bad idea, the only option is to build more housing in existing neighbourhoods.

      It is pretty obvious that NSV is opposed to most development that is financially viable and will put in place cumbersome policies and processes that will make new housing less likely to happen and more expensive forcing people to live in the burbs and drive to work through Vancouver neighbourhoods decreasing the quality of life and livability of our city.

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      Thom Son

      Nov 14, 2011 at 3:06pm

      Don't waste your vote on NSV neophytes.

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      S Wong

      Nov 14, 2011 at 3:36pm

      Murphy is one of the most credible voices running for council. She has experience working in city hall, and in local business. We need people who know more, than just how to a politician. Murphy has my vote!

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      Joseph Jones

      Nov 14, 2011 at 3:41pm

      Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver has become an electoral organization and run candidates because Gregor Robertson told us one thing on 10 December 2008 – and then turned around and did something else. See it for yourself:


      This is a man you would trust? At the St. Andrews-Wesleyan Homeless and Housing debate, Robertson spoke several times of "leveraging" City-owned properties … with the help of "private partners!" Read his lips. Robertson is looking to sell off the land base established by TEAM that has made for Vancouver's triple-A credit rating.

      NSV is not composed of neophytes. We've been around longer than Gregor Robertson has been mayor! Our misplaced hopes and votes helped to elect him last time.

      Last time Robertson seemed to be the alternative. He proved to be a phony. NSV is not, and we offer a clear alternative to an unsustainable status quo.

      If the housing policies of the Vision-NPA axis are so effective, why has the affordability level only continued to degenerate?

      Commenters who continue to support these developer-funded parties and to see them as a "solution" to the very problems that they have aggravated must drink a lot of strange koolaid.

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      E. Murphy

      Nov 14, 2011 at 3:44pm

      @ Working Together

      The reason that Vancouver is the liveable city it is today is because of the efforts of citizens like those in Strathcona that fought back the highway and urban renewal projects of the late 1960's to 1970's. Thanks to their efforts we do not have a highway system coming into the city and our heritage districts were saved from massive demolition and the problematic urban renewal projects that most other North American cities have to deal with.

      The major brown-field industrial site developments were underway when I worked for the City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Department as a Property Development Officer. My portfolio of projects included NE False Cr., Coal Harbour, Arbutus Walk, Fraser Lands, etc. Each of these projects had a 20% social housing requirement that I was involved with the implementation of since the city provided the land through the rezoning process. Then I went on to see those projects through construction when I went to work for BC Housing as a Senior Development Officer. I have a lot of experience in building social and affordable housing projects.

      More recently I have been an independent business woman who has done heritage restoration, infill and rental projects that are creative ways to increase density while maintaining neighbourhood character. The problem with how Vision and the NPA are mismanaging land use is that they are bringing in policies that encourage speculation and land value inflation that is undermining affordability.

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      James G

      Nov 14, 2011 at 4:27pm

      I think I am in love with this candidate! I rarely see this mix of clear thinking, integrity and commitment. It was worth the very long line-up at City Hall around noon today to vote for her in the advance poll. Good luck to all of those running under the NSV and COPE banners.

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      Working Together

      Nov 14, 2011 at 10:41pm

      @E. Murphy

      Well, sure, stopping the freeways was huge. However, having higher density neigbourhoods near downtown like the West End, Yaletown and parts of Kits is also key where there are buildings of mixed heights including towers. My question is do you and NSV support such types of development in other neighbourhoods. From what I have heard and the experience over the last 40 years, it sure doesn't seem like that.

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      Nov 15, 2011 at 6:59am

      this might be the first candidate I've heard from who addresses a core issue: speculation on real estate. By that I mean people, many who don't even live in this city, if even in this country, who 'park' money in Vancouver real estate hoping that its value will continue to rise. Units they purchase in new towers are frequently left empty, thus removed as housing on one hand, and actively creating scarcity on the other. It's skewing our housing market, and developer-funded politicians just pretend it's not happening - or produce numbers suggesting it isn't happening very much ('most purchasers have Canadian addresses'. Of course they do! They can BUY a Canadian address! But do they actually live here?). Bring that to an end and you'll see a massive shift in housing 'demand' that makes addressing housing for those in the lower income scale possible. Right now developers have no incentive to do this. Why build affordable suites in the $200-250,000 range for 'poor people' when you can get twice that from a speculator, and who will probably buy four or five units at that price? Little Mountain isn't sitting bulldozed and undeveloped for any reason except this: it's far more valuable as a future tower than it will ever be as the new, improved social housing it supposedly is meant to replace. Under Vision or the NPA, there will never be a single suite of social housing built there. Not while there are people lining up to speculate on Vancouver housing. That must be changed.

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      Barry P

      Nov 15, 2011 at 10:02am

      I'm not a voter for Vancouver, however, I was happy to see that Elizabeth is running for Council. What most of the public don't know is what she knows and will use it to the publics advantage. She has voiced only once in a paper which is not read by most as to the Translink's programs and powers now being polished to override the muncipalities with regards to planning and development;that of which the public simply is not privi to.

      You might want ot pay attention. Its in your best interest to ask questions.

      Good Luck

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      Joe Mainlander

      Nov 15, 2011 at 10:19am

      Nimby's for a Super-expensive Vancouver

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