Friday, November 21, 2014

Vancouver Courier Opinion: 10 predictions for the next 4 years Nov 19, 2014

So what did you think of the election?

While I and no doubt many of you were pleased with some of the results and disappointed with others, there is no doubt Vancouver residents were far more engaged in this election compared to previous years.

Furthermore, although the council makeup has not changed significantly, the election campaign may well change how Vision Vancouver governs over the coming four years.

On election night, I was pleased to join fellow columnist Allen Garr and Courier editor Barry Link in 20-minute-long live streaming video as we analyzed the results and discussed what might be in store for the coming term.

During the course of our election night coverage I made a number of predictions. While this can often be as dangerous as making promises, let me share 10 predictions for the coming four years.
  1. While there will be increased calls to adopt a ward system with elected representatives from different neighbourhoods around the city, this will not happen. However, some election reforms will occur. The province will approve much-needed limits on donations from individuals, corporations, unions and other organizations prior to the next election.
  2. Others will join me in speaking out for a need to redesign ballots to neutralize the unfair advantage granted to those whose names begin at the top of the alphabet. Consideration will be given to multiple ballots with each candidate’s name at the top, and an arbitrary scrambling of the names. However, both will be rejected, along with a proposal to have a round ballot.
  3. Considerable effort will be devoted to seeking public support for the referendum on transit funding. The Courier will do special features on alternative funding mechanisms and the experiences of other jurisdictions. The referendum will pass, although many residents will claim they did not really understand the question.
  4. Council will deliberate on whether to remove the viaducts. Despite opposition from NPA councillors and Adriane Carr, council will approve their demolition. However, four years from now they will still be standing as a result of numerous unforeseen cost considerations.
  5. There will be a lot of discussion about the design and funding requirements for the Broadway subway. However, construction will not begin during the four-year term as a result of numerous unforeseen cost considerations.
  6. Concern about foreign ownership of vacant properties will continue. Council will approve a study on what measures should be put in place to address the problem. However, the study will conclude this is beyond the control of municipal government and nothing will be done.
  7. The Vancouver Affordable Housing Authority will get underway with much fanfare. There will be much criticism from the public on the composition of the board of directors. While a few sites will be offered for lease, the VAHA will not have much impact on housing affordability in the city over the next four years.
  8. Senior city staff will agree with Kirk LaPointe’s campaign claim that it is time to dust off the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing report. The city will implement the proposal for a transition zone between arterials and single family zo

    nes where row houses and other forms of more compact housing will be allowed. A demonstration program allowing laneway and infill housing to be sold under certain conditions will also be successful.
  9. More rental housing will be built on parking lots and through regeneration of older rental properties. A few older non-profit projects will also be redeveloped to provide additional housing and generate revenues to upgrade the balance of the units. However, rental housing will remain expensive four years from now.
  10. There will be repeated calls for city manager Penny Ballem to leave city hall. However, she will still be with us four years from now, albeit with a more consensus-driven management style. At least one senior park board official will be gone, and despite praise for his governance, the mayor will decide not to complete his term. Four years from now, Vancouver will have its first Chinese-Canadian mayor.
Next week I’ll offer 10 more predictions.

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