Thursday, November 27, 2014

Vancouver Courier Opinion Another 10 predictions for the next 4 years! November 24, 2014

Last week I offered 10 predictions for the next four years of civic government in Vancouver.
In case you missed my column, I addressed possible changes to the electoral system, the future of the viaducts and Broadway subway, housing affordability and choices, and possible staff changes at City Hall.

Unfortunately, space did not permit me to share all my predictions, so here are ten more for the forthcoming term of office.

1.      There will still be homeless people sleeping on the streets in 2018. While many of today’s homeless will be housed, new homeless people will take their place. Fortunately, the City Manager’s office will realize it is counter-productive to place large concentrations of hard-to-house people in expensive new buildings and homeless people will be increasingly accommodated in scattered apartments throughout the city.

2.     As Vancouver residents forego car ownership in order to afford a roof over their heads, they will take more taxis. They will also increasingly use various alternative transportation services such as London style mini-cabs and Uber’s ‘ride-sharing’ service. To counter their popularity, Metro’s taxi system will be reformed to increase availability and reduce fares. Surrey cabs will no longer have to return empty from the downtown.

3.     Vancouver’s dream of a popular and cost-effective bike-share program will still be a dream four years from now because of the provincial government’s helmet law.

4.     To further protect heritage houses and compensate owners for the corresponding loss in property value, Vancouver will change its zoning bylaws to offer a modest density bonus to those who keep a pre-1940 house, which can be combined with unused density to build laneway houses and back-yard coach houses for sale.

5.     To help fund his goal of planting 150,000 new trees in Vancouver by 2020 as outlined in the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, Mayor Robertson will announce a tree dedication program that allows residents to contribute towards the cost of planting a tree to commemorate a person or life event. A small plaque will accompany each tree. It will be a very popular program and the Mayor’s goal will be reached by 2018.

6.     Noting the 2014 Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan has resulted in very little new social and market housing in the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District, with few new businesses opening up in derelict and vacant storefronts, Brian Jackson, Manager of Planning and Development will recommend changes to the zoning bylaws to encourage new housing developments in the neighbourhood.  Council will also agree to review policing policies to reduce the increasing number of drug dealers openly operating on the streets.

7.     The mayor’s promise to build 1000 childcare spaces and update hundreds more will not be achieved as it is realized the combined effect of provincial and city standards results in costs well in excess of $125,000 for each new childcare space. Courier columnist Mike Howell will remind the mayor this should not be a surprise since his May 2014 story reported that 37 new spaces at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House facility cost $4.6 million.

8.     In response to complaints that too many Vancouver buildings are either grey or dull green, the City planning department will institute an Awards Program in 2015 encouraging  Vancouver architects to ‘brighten up the city’.  The awards will recognize outstanding achievements in the use of colour. By 2018 Vancouver residents will be complaining that the use of colour is becoming quite jarring and architects will be encouraged to return to grey and green.

9.     The City will not offer free parking at certain times, as promised by Kirk LaPointe. Instead it will reprogram parking meters so that evening and Sunday rates are reduced in many locations. The City will also propose that meter parking begin at 7 am, not 9 am with additional monies to be used to fund additional bike lanes. Following a public outcry City staff will agree to delay the start of meter parking until 8 am. The Mayor will thank the Courier for initiating such a valuable discussion.

10.  The Courier Opinion Page will welcome a new columnist to replace Michael Geller.

Next week I’ll write about something completely different.
Twitter: @michaelgeller


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