Last Chance to comment on Metro Vancouver’s Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan

Metro Vancouver is consulting on a new Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan to guide the management of solid waste in an affordable and environmentally responsible way.
For more information visit: www.metrovancouver.org

PUBLIC MEETING
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Registration: 6:30 – 7 p.m.
Public meeting: 7 p.m.
Metro Vancouver, 2nd floor Boardroom
4330 Kingsway, Burnaby

If you wish to speak at the meeting, you will be asked to register at the front desk (five minutes per speaker). Written submissions are encouraged, and will be acknowledged. Issues raised in correspondence and at the final public meeting will be addressed prior to submission of the final plan to the B.C. Minister of Environment for approval.

Please note that this is the FINAL public meeting and will be the last opportunity to comment on the Draft Plan, and that the Metro Vancouver Board and Committees will not be accepting delegations on this matter after this date.

Send your comments by July 14, 2010 to:

Lois E. Jackson, Chair, Metro Vancouver and Greg Moore, Chair, Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee who will be chairing the meeting.

EMAIL: icentre@metrovancouver.org
FAX: 604-432-6297
MAIL: Metro Vancouver,
Public Involvement Division,
4330 Kingsway,
Burnaby B.C.
V5H 4G8

What Does Redevelopment Really Cost Us?

Don Cayo, of the Vancouver Sun, wrote an interesting article in the June 19th, 2010 edition of the Vancouver Sun. He posits that, “If Cambie Street grows as hoped, City of Vancouver will lose big bucks.” In the article Cayo states that, “The proposed rezoning of Cambie Street properties served by the new Canada Line may cause economic hardship that erodes or outweighs any potential benefits.” He goes on to state:

To understand why, consider how differently business and residential properties affect the city’s financial health.
About 92 per cent of assessed properties in Vancouver are residential, leaving just eight per cent commercial — a number that is steadily declining as the city increasingly becomes a place to live but not to work.
This relative handful of business properties pays half of the city’s total property taxes. Yet the cost of services they use — streets, police, fire protection and such — adds up to only a quarter of City Hall spending.
Thus for every $2 businesses pay in property tax, the city spends just $1 in return, leaving a 50-per-cent “profit” the city can use to subsidize homeowners. And subsidize they do, spending about $1.50 on residential services for every $1 in residential property tax.

A number of points within this article could just as easily be written about New Westminster. The comment, “as the city increasingly becomes a place to live but not to work,” certainly sounds like our City.

Recently Mayor Wright called himself a “development mayor“. As our taxes continue to rise and our City’s budget increases (by approx. 45% over the last 7 years) one has to wonder how much
New Westminster’s development is costing residents and businesses. Is our current mayor’s vision driving away the few remaining businesses and making our City less and less
affordable for young families and our seniors?

Metro Vancouver’s Consulation Meeting with the Residents of New Westminster

As mentioned earlier, last week Metro Vancouver consulted with the community after presenting their Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan. There were a number of City councillors (Harper & McEvoy), Mayor Wright, as well as a number of Voice members and directors (Gavin Palmer and Neil Powell) present. Although this forum was technically a consultation meeting it was very obvious to anyone present that Metro Vancouver was doing their best sales pitch for incinerators/WTE facilities.
After thanking Metro Vancouver for actually having a meeting in New Westminster this time around and for actually consulting with the community, unlike in 2008 when they tried to expropriate the Canfor site in the Braid Industrial area of New Westminster, Neil Powell addressed the panel. He mentioned that the move to ensure recycling be mandatory at multi-family buildings in the region is a positive move. This would be an especially impactful move for New Westminster as we become more and more dense with many new high-rise developments. Powell also expressed concern that if Metro Vancouver goes with the option of building incinerators/WTE facilities that the region would in fact be committing itself to supplying these incinerators/WTE facilities with fuel (garbage) which would mean that there would likely not be as many resources committed to recycling, composting and other zero waste initiatives.
A number of representatives of New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP) were also present and had their own questions and concerns. One of the NWEP members, Ms. Jane Armstrong, spoke about the successes of the Glenbrook Zero Waste Challenge. Kudos to all those participating in this challenge and who are an inspiration to the rest of the City. It is encouraging to see that we can reduce our curb-side waste by concerted efforts to recycle and compost at home. Of course, one other huge component of reducing our waste is to be thoughtful about the amount of materials we allow into our homes in the first place.
It is reported that the Sapperton neighbourhood is planning on beginning their own Zero Waste Challenge. Glenbrooke North has certainly set the bar high.

Sapperton Day: Another Community Success Story

Congratulations to the Sapperton Day Street Festival organizers for another fantastic Sapperton Day Festival. The event was masterminded by the Sapperton Business Association’s directors Guy Ciprian and Marnie Kurylo.

Once again Wesgroup and co-hosts the McBride Sapperton Residents’ Association (MSRA) along with their volunteer staff started the day off with the event’s pancake breakfast. The pancake breakfast is really a great example of residents, developer, and other local businesses working together for the benefit of the community. Many local businesses, some outside of New Westminster, donated supplies for the breakfast.

Local realtor, Steve Kasper, could be seen flipping pancakes while MSRA directors mixed batter, flipped pancakes, cooked sausages and served breakfasts. The MSRA reported that they served over 400 breakfasts and raised over $1600 for the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. This year, because of the ongoing street work some new entertainment was incorporated while others were not able to be a part of the event. Highlights of the day included the Vancouver Circus School & its “Inner Ring”, the Knot’s, the Real Canadian Rock Band, Korki the Clown, Extreme Trike Race (sponsored by Caps) Silent Auction, The Sapperton Royal Express Train, Tin Lizzie Donuts and over 97 local vendors.

Throughout the day the Silent Auction generated over $1400 for the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. The MSRA directors sold 50/50 tickets, draws were held every hour on the hour, to raise funds for the E. Columbia Sidewalk Mosaics that will be incorporated into the new sidewalks. The MSRA reported that their 50/50 sales raised $670 for the mosaic project. The Sapperton Business Association is projecting that the event raised between $9,000 and $10,000 for the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundatin, the event charity.

Organizers have received compliments from city council, local media and more importantly the Sapperton residents. They have also received reports back from the police that they were impressed the event went off, once again, with out any situations. Shaw’s, “The Express”, did a remote broadcast which was aired June 15th. Attendance again hit a record capacity.

Special thanks to Senator Yonah Martin, announcer John Ashbridge, Adam Popowitz, SASS and the Teamsters (local 31).

Civic center bombshell drops on New Westminster arts community

The New Westminster arts community is up in arms after finding out that the city’s new 80,000 square foot civic center will not have any gallery space for exhibits and displays.

This bombshell was revealed at a planning workshop last Thursday night and we’ve received more than a few emails on the subject over the past several days.

According to one source, the question of having a dedicated gallery space was quickly brushed aside at the planning workshop with a vague suggestion from city staff that gallery space could perhaps be part of the centre’s foyer.

However, another source in the arts community has indicated that the city has no intention whatsoever of putting a gallery in the new civic centre and the source was told to stop lobbying for gallery space because it was already decided prior to the public workshop that there would be none.

The obvious question to ask at this point is who decided this? What information informed this decision? And why go through the pretence of a public consultation if the decisions have already been carved in stone beforehand?

Many who’ve contacted us feel this is another example of the city making important decisions in a hasty manner without taking the time to review or even reflect upon input from the public.

To say the least, the planning process around the new civic center appears to be anything but open and transparent and it has the hallmarks of yet another “done deal” process emanating from the backrooms of City Hall rather than being the product of an input-driven process involving the citizens of this city.

One resident who contacted us said the city needs to start recognizing that they don’t have all the answers and that, when given the opportunity, the residents of New Westminster are creative problem solvers the city can count on to help. Residents should be the first resource in planning processes like this one, not the last resource or an afterthought.

There’s a good article on the subject posted on the Newsleader’s website pointing out that during last year’s public input on the civic centre, local art exhibit space was identified as a priority for the new centre and it was tied for third place with theatre seating and a visitor’s centre among respondents.

Metro Vancouver’s Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan Public Consultation Comes to New Westminster

The controversial plan for incineration of our garbage is still being considered as an option. You may recall that there were some discussions between Metro Vancouver and New Westminster in 2008 but the community was quite strong and vocal in their opposition to this idea and Metro Vancouver, Wayne Wright and council heard the message quite clearly. If the future of our airshed and the manner in which we deal with our solid waste concerns you at all you are urged to attend this meeting.

“Metro Vancouver is currently consulting on a new solid waste management plan – the Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan. Metro Vancouver is responsible for managing the garbage (called solid waste) produced by residents and businesses in the Lower Mainland. A solid waste management plan, evaluated and approved by the region’s Board and the provincial government, directs how our waste is managed.

The current goal is to improve reduction, reuse and recycling efforts so that by 2015, a minimum of 70% of our waste is diverted from disposal (landfill or waste-to-energy). The top priority in managing waste is to reduce our garbage as much as possible through the Zero Waste Challenge.”

The meeting will be held at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, 788 Quayside Drive, New Westminster.
Open House: 6–7 pm Public Input: 7–10 pm Q & A: 10–10:30 pm

Follow this link for the agenda of the open house.

Is the political ground shifting in New Westminster?

It looks like the political balancing act the Mayor has been pulling off for the past several years may be coming to an end.


Sources have told Voice New Westminster that the District Labour Council has made a decision to run their own mayoralty candidate in the next civic election rather than support Wayne Wright as they’ve done behind the scenes in the past three elections.


Voice has also learned that one of the District Labour Council city councillors approached the mayor to sound him out on what it might take for him not to run again and potentially split the Labour Council’s vote.


No word on what the mayor’s response was to the offer, but it’s clear that the District Labour Council has definitely decided to go with their own candidate this time around.


The extent of the growing rift between the mayor and the District Labour Council first surfaced during the last civic election when the mayor ran as part of two slates with a total of 7 councillor candidates vying for 6 council seats.


Reportedly, the mayor did ask the District Labour Council to drop one of their councillor candidates to make the arithmetic work but they refused.


On election night, one of the mayor’s running mates from his “non District Labour Council” slate (already hurt politically by suggestions of a conflict of interest over a real estate deal) ended up being the odd man out when the votes were tallied and only the mayor and his four person District Labour Council slate had been elected (plus two incumbent councillors running under the Voice banner).


The District Labour Council are also said to be unhappy with the mayor’s handling of issues relating to the high school site and the fact that the mayor has apparently cut the District Labour Council members out of the loop.


The District Labour Council’s strong ties to the unions and their ideological bent is also said to be a point of conflict, as is the mayor’s reported backroom wheeling and dealing with developers.


The District Labour Council apparently want to be the ones calling the shots with developers and clearly they’re feeling strong enough, or perhaps disenchanted enough, to go their own way this time around.


Only time will tell if this is just speculation on the part of our sources or whether things play out as they’ve been described to us.

Scathing report issued on VSB (SD39)

The Comptroller General has just released a scathing report on the Vancouver School Board (School District 39).

In her report, Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland says the current Vancouver Board of Trustees (dominated by COPE/Vision) “has not demonstrated they have the management capacity to effectively govern the Vancouver School.”

The Comptroller General also identified “a potential conflict of interest on the part of a trustee.”

Much of this will sound painfully familiar to many in the New Westminster community, and it could offer a glimpse into where the Auditor General’s current investigation of the New Westminster School Board may be headed.

Time will tell.

But for now, here’s a few salient quotes from the Comptroller General’s report:

The current Vancouver School Board of Trustees governance practices and philosophies are not fully consistent with the requirements of the Act to improve student achievement in a fiscally responsible and cost effective manner. The Board of Trustees does not take a balanced approach to its accountabilities, focusing on advocacy at the expense of stewardship. The majority of the Vancouver School Board trustees see their role relative to the Ministry of Education as one primarily related to advocacy, rather than as “co-governors” of the education system. The effect of this extensive advocacy activity deflects the accountability of the trustees from the overall financial stewardship of the Vancouver School Board.

And…

The current Board of Trustees has not demonstrated they have the management capacity to effectively govern the Vancouver School Board or fulfill all of their accountabilities and duties of the Act. This is evidenced by the quality of board discussions, their focus on short term decisions at the expense of long term sustainability, the lack of strategic and long term plans, and an unbalanced focus on advocacy versus financial stewardship, delaying decisions that would see the effective use of existing or available resources.

And…

We also identified a potential conflict of interest on the part of a trustee between their business interests and their obligations as a board member, in contravention of the School Act. The Minister of Education and the Board of Trustees should take steps to determine whether the conflict of interest has been realized.

And…

The Vancouver School Board had many policies and procedures to promote good conduct and high ethical standards. Notwithstanding these policies and procedures, consistent concerns about the ethical and organizational culture at the Vancouver School Board were strongly evident from our review. These concerns focused on the lack of impartiality of a number of Trustees and a lack of trust, confidence and respect between the Vancouver School Board Trustees and the District Management Team.

And…

The Vancouver School Board‟s present financial and operational situation is the result of choices made by the current and previous Boards of Trustees. The culture and governance practices of the Vancouver School Board, and ultimately the decisions or non-decisions, are reflective of these choices: a number of the decisions have been less than optimal from a financial sustainability perspective. Opportunities to reduce costs, generate revenues and maximize the available resources to the benefit of students have been missed.

New Westminster’s “Living Wage” Bylaw Receives Comment from Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Our elected City officials protest that they are supportive of businesses in our City while we become even more of a bedroom community than we already are. Well, it appears not everyone believes our council’s actions and decisions are supportive of businesses, or taxpayers, of our City.

Ms. Laura Jones, vice-president of Western Canada for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, had the following op-ed piece in the June 3, 2010 The Province. It is reprinted here with her permission.

Union greed in disguise ‘Living wage’ shuts out small business

By Laura Jones, The Province June 3, 2010

New Westminster city council should be ashamed of itself. It recently passed a policy that promises to increase property taxes for everyone and shut small businesses out of opportunities to bid on local contracts.

Municipal politicians in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows should give their heads a shake for considering following suit.

Those pushing this policy came up with a very enticing name for it: a “living-wage” policy.

The “living wage” effectively becomes the new minimum wage for city staff in New Westminster and anyone wanting to do business with the municipality.

How much are we talking about? The minimum wage in this province is $8 an hour. The “living wage” was last calculated at $18.17 an hour.

More than doubling the minimum wage is seen as credible policy.

Provincial politicians are smart enough to know that doubling the minimum wage would cause a massive increase in unemployment and make many people in this province a lot worse off.

If you are a municipal employee earning less than the living wage and now get paid more, you feel great. But what if you are on a fixed income and property tax rises to pay for the extra cost of those municipal wages?

And taxes will have to go up unless the city plans to lay some people off — but I can’t see that as being in the spirit of the policy.

What if you are the small business owner who wanted to supply muffins to the city cafeteria but you cannot stay in business if you pay your dishwasher $18.17 an hour? Most small businesses will be shut out of bidding on local contracts.

Since most people working for the city probably earn more than the “living wage,” you may be tempted to conclude it’s a stupid, fairly benign policy. Think again.

If the lowest wage is now $18.17, what does the person who was earning near that want now? The policy was rejected in Calgary after its city staff pointed out “a living-wage policy could fundamentally alter the city’s approach to collective bargaining as the establishment of fair compensation is no longer determined by the labour market.”

The living wage would set a new floor for wage negotiations, which would cause wage inflation — paid for with more tax increases. Let’s call the living wage what it really is, union greed dressed up in compelling words. Don’t fall for it.

– Laura Jones is vice-president of Western Canada for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.