All Candidates Meetings in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant Riding

These by-elections will be held in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain electoral districts on February 2nd.

There are two all candidates meetings, one is at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House on Tuesday, 19 January 2016 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, click here to RSVP. The other is at the Carnegie on January 27, more details to follow.

The following letter was sent by GWAC to the Citizens’ Assembly recommending a ten year moratorium on spot zoning in Grandview-Woodland.

April 17, 2015

Dr. Rachel Magnusson

Chair, Citizens’ Assembly on the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan

Submitted via e-mail

Subject: Grandview-Woodland Area Council Recommends a 10-year Moratorium on Spot Rezoning

Dear Dr. Magnusson,

At the monthly meeting of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council on Monday, April 13, GWAC unanimously passed a motion recommending a moratorium on spot rezoning in Grandview-Woodland for 10 years.

During the discussion of the motion, speakers noted that in other neighbourhoods, such as Mount Pleasant, spot rezoning has been used by the city to circumvent local area plans and introduce development projects very different than those envisaged by community plans. Such spot rezoning has undermined the effectiveness and intent of community plans. Speakers also commented that spot rezoning has often been used to permit large condominium tower projects and that, once a Grandview- Woodland Community Plan is in place, spot zoning should not be used to permit such projects where the plan does not allow for them.

The Citizens’ Assembly’s final report and recommendations have not been issued yet, so obviously GWAC has no position on whether it supports or not the report and any or all of the recommendations it may contain. However, it is GWAC’s view, that once a community plan has been adopted by the City, after the extensive Assembly process and the numerous public consultation meetings within the community, the City should not then invalidate the adopted Community Plan in an ad-hoc manner by the use of spot-zoning. Such an outcome would be extremely disrespectful of the extensive work put in by the members of the Citizens’ Assembly, as well as to other members of the community who have provided input by attending city community planning workshops, through written submissions, or in other ways.

The explicit intent of the motion was that it be conveyed to you and, through you, to all of the members of the Citizens’ Assembly, and to strongly urge the Citizens’ Assembly to include a strong direction for such a moratorium in its final report and plan to the city.

Sincerely,

Jim Fraser,
on behalf of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council

Dorothy D. Barkley, President
Gordie Clapp
Andre Montagliani
Eileen Mosca
Garth Mullins
Craig Ollenburger
David Parent, Treasurer
Nick Pogor
Viki Scully
Rasmus Storjohann
Micah Waskow, Membership and Communications Secretary

Local Elections Expense Limits

The following is a letter sent on behalf of Grandview-Woodland Area Council to the Provincial Legislative Committee studying limiting contributions/expenses during local elections.  Many felt after our recent City elections that too much money was contributed by corporations and unions, leading potentially to undue influence over planning  and other decisions by Council, School Board and Parks Board.  Submissions are welcomed by this committee and can be sent via the green link below.  For more information about the committee, you can link to:    http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/leel/
 

Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits                                   April 13, 2015
Room 224, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, B.C., V8V 1X4

Submitted electronically at: https://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/leel/submission.asp
  

Dear Committee Members

This letter is a submission on local elections expense limits on behalf of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC), which is a residents’ association that strives to represent the interests of this Vancouver neighbourhood, to inform and activate its residents, and to advocate for the protection and enrichment of our community. 

We write to urge you to recommend and pursue the implementation of expense limits for local governments in British Columbia, and especially for the City of Vancouver.  It is our view that limits on allowable campaign expenses should be low enough to promote fair participation by all parties in local government elections, and should be strict enough to prevent circumventing expense limits.  The use of third party organizations to promote an individual, a party, or a ‘slate’ in a local election is an example of a means of circumventing expense limits placed on local government candidates, slates or parties, and expense limits should be structured to prevent such tactics.  Similarly limits on campaign donations should be strict enough to prevent schemes to, for example, channel donations through other persons or entities once an individual or organization has reached the maximum allowable donation.

In the 2014 Vancouver civic election, there were approximately 422, 000 registered voters in the City of Vancouver and the University Endowment Lands, combined.  Of those 422,000 voters, approximately 182,000 actually cast ballots, for a voter turnout of about 43 percent.  Reported spending by the 3 major parties was as follows:

Vision Vancouver                    $3,313,450
Non Partisan Association    $2,021,090
Green Party of Vancouver    $88,388

[Notes:
1.      source: ElectionsBC – Parties financial disclosure statements; vision Vancouver figures do not include separate statement for School Board Election.
2.      The Green Party of Vancouver does not permit donations from developers and fossil fuel companies, and caps eligible contributions at $5,000 per donor.]

Based on the above figures, the three parties spending per registered voter, and per vote cast, was as follows:

Party                Spending per reg. voter    Spending per vote cast

Vision Vancouver                    $7.85                $18.21
Non Partisan Association     $4.79                $11.10
Green Party of Vancouver    $0.21                $0.49
[Rounded to the nearest $0.01]

The Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail, and the Georgia Strait, all reported on very large donations by development companies and other business or business owners, and by unions.  As the Vancouver Sun said in a sub-head to an on-line feature on the top ten municipal campaign contributors: “ Unions, corporations and real estate developers dominate the list of the top ten political donors to city halls across Metro Vancouver.”

The lack of expense limits of local government elections has a corrosive effect on democracy.  If elections are not seen to be fair, the faith placed in the motives and actions of elected officials is quickly eroded and replaced by cynicism and skepticism.  We have seen this in our own neighbourhood.

Vancouver is currently consulting with residents and businesses in Grandview-Woodland with the goal of developing a neighbourhood plan.  A key focus of this plan is land use and zoning within the neighbourhood.   At several of the meetings and workshops GWAC members have attended they have heard people express the view that the City will simply approve a plan that gives developers what they want.  Whether true or not, this is an example of the corrosive effect that large campaign donations from those who may be perceived to benefit from future city council decisions, can create.

Toronto limits campaign expenses to roughly $0.85 per elector per candidate.  It limits campaign contributions to $2,500 for mayoralty candidates and $750 for councilor or trustee candidates, and corporate and union donations are banned.  If the Toronto limit was adopted for Vancouver it would be $358,700 per candidate or, if applied to a full slate of candidates in Vancouver (27), the total limit would be $9.6 million, if the approach suggested by the Committee’s December 15, 2014 report of “…no separate additional expense limit for elector organizations…” is adopted.  Consequently, the Toronto example is far too high.  However, the Toronto expense limit is coupled with a limit on contributions, which provides a functional limit on the ability of candidates to raise money for expenses from large contributors.  For these reasons, the Toronto example, if taken for campaign expense limits only, is much too high and should be discarded.

Montreal limited 2013 spending for a municipal party running a full slate of candidates for its 103 council and borough positions to $1.65 million or $1.50 per voter.  The limit for individual contributions was reduced in 2013 to $300 per individual contribution.  If the Montreal limit was adopted for Vancouver, then based on the number of voters, the total allowable expenditure limit would be about $633,000.   This provides a more reasonable example of a campaign expense limits, but only if coupled with stringent campaign contribution limits, including a ban on corporate and union donations.  Without stringent limits on campaign contributions, the limits on campaign expenses is arguably still too high and should be in the range of $0.75 to $1.00 per voter.

Yours Sincerely,
On behalf of Grandview-Woodland Area Council Directors:

Dorothy Barkely
Jim Fraser
Garth Mullins
Vicki Scully
Rasmus Storjohann
Micah Waskow