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Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver is a citywide grassroots network of neighbourhoods with roots going back to 2007. In the spring of 2014, we are actively monitoring the situation in Vancouver, sharing information, providing support for neighbourhoods and citizens, networking, engaging in analysis and writing, and more. [For latest news see our NSV News page, or jump down below for intro to each news item.]

NSV aiming to be catalyst for broad electoral cooperation in 2014

NSV’s current aim is to be a catalyst for broad electoral cooperation in 2014, to restore real democracy and public accountability at Vancouver city hall.   NSV is guided by a set of basic principles that we believe are essential to Vancouver ‘s future as a truly sustainable and progressive City of Neighbourhoods that reflects the diversity and values of its citizens.  With well-established roots as a city-wide neighbourhood network since 2007, NSV became an electoral organization in 2011 to give a political voice to these principles and to citizens across Vancouver demanding an alternative to Vision and NPA-dominated city councils with developer-funded conflicts of interest.

There is currently a rapidly growing consensus across Vancouver that City Hall is out of touch with the balance of public opinion, and NSV is determined to bring all those who share that view together in 2014.  The NSV Steering Committee is currently pursuing a mandate to explore the potential for cooperation with other electoral organizations around the following NSV Principles (details here NSV Updated Draft Sec 1 Basic Principles V14).

1. Make City Hall Open and Accountable
2. Advance Campaign Finance Reform
3. Value Vancouver as Community—not Commodity
4. Support Neighbourhood-based Planning
5. Respect Existing Local Area Plans and Community Visions
6. Empower Community Initiative
7. Promote a Diverse and Sustainable Economy
8. Advance Social Justice and End Homelessness
10. Protect and Expand Rental Housing
11. Support the Arts, Film, Culture and Tourism
12. Protect Heritage Buildings and Viewscapes
13. Improve Public Transit
14. Preserve Development Revenues for Amenities and Social Housing /
       Reject Development-Based Funding for Transit
15.  Support Active Transportation
16. Promote Environmental Sustainability

 

Our objective is to offer voters a full slate of exceptional candidates for Mayor, Council, Park Board and VSB that is free of developer-funded conflicts of interest, dedicated to real democracy and representative of the broad diversity and values of Vancouver’s citizens and neighbourhoods.

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NSV writes City Council on Marpole Community Plan on April 2, 2014

Reproduced below is the full text of the NSV letter submitted to Vancouver City Council concerning the Marpole Community Plan. This planning document will be debated at a Council Committee meeting on April 2, 2014 at 2 pm.

April 1, 2014

Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors,

Re: Marpole Community Plan – April 2, 2014

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) acknowledges that progress has been made since the Marpole Community Plan process was extended. Concerns remain, however, that have not yet been resolved.

Although the controversial “Thin Streets” has been removed from the plan and much of the single-family zoning remains as requested by the community, other aspects of the plan still need to be resolved. These issues are of city-wide concern since they could set precedents and have broader impacts.

Some examples of the many concerns are as follows:

  • excessive heights proposed for development along the arterials
  • extent of areas designated to developer driven spot rezonings
  • number of older, more affordable rental buildings placed at risk of redevelopment
  • lack of affordable housing for displaced tenants
  • impacts on traffic and public transportation with a large increase in population
  • Canada Line’s capacity to handle the increased demand
  • lack of amenities for current residents and future growth
  • lack of consultation and no general support for possible future relocation of the Marpole Community Centre from Oak and West 59th Avenue.
  • absence of neighbourhood-wide survey (e.g. RPSC CityPlan Choices Survey) to establish level of community support for the range of proposed development areas
  • lack of clarity on how other city policies such as the Cambie Corridor Plan Phase 3 may further impact the area of the Marpole Community Plan within the Cambie Corridor.

For full letter click here.

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NSV writes City Council on Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan Bylaws, April 1, 2014

Reproduced below is the NSV letter submitted to Vancouver City Council concerning the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan bylaw changes that will be debated at a Public Hearing on April 1, 2014 at 6 pm. These bylaw changes will affect Gastown, Chinatown, Victory Square, Thornton Park, Hastings, Oppenheimer District, industrial lands and Strathcona.

March 31, 2014

Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors,

Re: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan Zoning and Other Bylaw Amendments – April 1, 2014

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is opposed to this proposal for the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan zoning and other bylaw amendments. The issues raised when the Local Area Plan was approved by council still apply, and this rezoning should not be approved as proposed.

The plan covers very diverse neighbourhoods with many varying community interests. However, this plan is not supported by the affected communities. The process appears to have been orchestrated by the City to put these communities in greater opposition to each other to better serve development interests. A neighbourhood-based process is needed to better address local concerns and needs.

Some examples of the many concerns are as follows:

  • Much of the community is made up of vulnerable low income people who will be further threatened, displaced and impacted by the increased development proposed.
  • Redevelopment will not help the vulnerable populations that need senior government supports which are not addressed.
  • These areas were previously heritage protected both by the province and the city. This is no longer the case. The proposed plan encourages redevelopment without adequate heritage protections that will further inflate land values and increase heritage density transfers that can now be landed in the neighbourhood instead of transferring to outside of the area to reduce development pressures.
  • The tower form of development contemplated for this area is not consistent with the heritage character and will make housing more expensive without adequately addressing real affordability.

For full letter click here.

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MEDIA RELEASE (March 27, 2014): NSV calls local elections campaign Bills 20 and 21 a DISASTER for DEMOCRACY in Vancouver: Election cycle extended from 3 years to 4 years immediately, with no significant change to campaign financing

(Vancouver) Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is not impressed by the BC government’s Local Elections Campaign Finance Act (Bill 20) and the Local Elections Statutes Amendments Act 2014 (Bill 21), both tabled in the BC legislature yesterday.

Bill 20 pays little more than lip service to campaign finance reform and delivers no significant changes prior to the 2014 civic election. For those concerned about the corruptive influence of corporate, developer, union, and foreign political donations, this legislation is a disaster for local democracy.

Read the whole release online here, or download PDF below.
 Media Release

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NSV writes to Council for Public Hearing  on Temporary Sales Office as Conditional Use in RS and RT (Residential) Zoning Districts — OPPOSED. March 14, 2014. Excerpt:

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is opposed to this proposed text amendment to the RS (Single Family) and RT (Duplex) zoning and development by-law.
This proposal has significant implications for neighbourhoods across the city, yet no effective notice has been provided or consultation conducted to establish the extent of public support.
Temporary Sales Offices represent a substantial change in use of residential areas, which is currently not allowed because of impacts related to traffic, parking and signage associated with their commercial nature.
We request that the City consider other more appropriate options such as…

Read full letter here: http://nsvancouver.ca/nsv-to-council-on-sales-offices-in-rs-rt-zones/

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NSV writes City Council on Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan, for Committee Meeting slated to make final decision – March 12, 2014

Excerpt:

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is opposed to this proposal for the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan.

The plan covers very diverse neighbourhoods with many varying community interests. However, this plan is not supported by the affected communities. The process appears to have been orchestrated by the City to put these communities in greater opposition to each other to better serve development interests. A neighbourhood-based process is needed to better address local concerns and needs.

Download PDF: NSV-DTES Plan, 12-Mar-2014

Read full letter online: http://nsvancouver.ca/nsv-dtes-plan-public-hearing/

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NSV issues media release on Campaign Finance Reform and submits letter to the BC Provincial Government

BC Legislature(Vancouver, January 31, 2014) Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver today submitted its comments to Coralee Oakes, B.C.’s Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, on the White Paper on Local Government Elections Reform. Today is the deadline for public comment.

The main points of the submission are:

  1. Please retain the three year terms of civic office. Do not change to four years.
  2. Proposed “Reforms” do nothing to restrain corrupting influence of “big money” in municipal politics.
  3. Some “key changes” will actually hurt grassroots campaigning and free speech.
  4. Please do not allow Vancouver City Council to makes its own rules for election campaign finance. NSV believes that the current City administration is too compromised by systemic conflict of interest to be entrusted with this responsibility.
  5. Expense limits are not enough. Caps are also needed on campaign contributions – in the 2014 civic election.

The full text of the NSV media release and the submission to the Provincial Government is available here.

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NSV calls for deeper and quicker reforms to civic election campaign finance rules, retention of a 3-year election cycle

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver submitted a letter concerning the Municipal Campaign Finance Reform Motion on Notice at Vancouver City Hall. NSV calls for deeper and quicker reforms to civic election campaign finance rules and the retention of a 3-year election cycle. The full text of the letter is reproduced here.

At a consultation with elector organizations on January 14, 2014, attended by Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Minister Oakes stated that she very much wanted to respect the request of the Union of BC Municipalities to switch from the current three years to a four-year election cycle, effective immediately. She said she would be fighting to achieve this when legislation goes up for debate within just weeks from now. 

During the public consultation on the White Paper, there was a footnote on the recommendation regarding the election cycle.

Election Cycle
·         Extend the term of office for local elected officials to four terms (8)

(8) UBCM subsequently passed a resolution to retain a three year term of office. The provincial government has agreed not to change the term of office.

The public has been led to believe that the four year term was not on the table, however, the most recent statement confirms the opposite.

We note that the Vancouver Councillor on the UBCM board is in favour of the four year term. NSV is very opposed to the proposed extension to a four year election cycle as stated in our letter to Council below, and are calling on Council to take a firm stand against the proposed extension.

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NSV statement on preparations for 2014 civic election

NSV logo, from header(Vancouver, November 18, 2013) NSV will be running and/or endorsing candidates for Council, Mayor, Parks Board, and School Board. The composition of the NSV slates has not yet been determined. NSV is also looking into the potential for electoral cooperation with other organizations that support the NSV principles, similar to what we did for the last election.

Some of our comments on the upcoming election are as follows.

  • NSV’s objective is a City Council, Parks Board and School Board dominated by representatives that are socially, environmentally, and fiscally responsible, firmly committed to community involvement in decision making, and free of conflicts of interest.
  • The previous councils in Vancouver over past several election cycles have done enormous damage to democracy and civic engagement, and we believe that Council needs to be more representative and responsive to its citizens.
  • Regulators should never be funded by those they regulate. We strongly call for election finance reforms, and self discipline/voluntary restraint by NPA and Vision Vancouver, the developer/union-funded parties.

Some background on NSV and our platform is available on our website  nsvancouver.ca

More information as follows:

Note: Our policies from 2011 are in the process of being updated and the current draft is here for download:  NSV Updated Draft Sec 1 Basic Principles V14

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MEDIA RELEASE

NSV says local government election “reforms” conceal a Trojan Horse that will weaken democracy, and calls for deeper and quicker reforms, retention of 3-year election cycle

(Vancouver, October 23, 2013) Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver today submitted its comments to Coralee Oakes, B.C.’s Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, on the White Paper on Local Government Elections Reform. Today is the deadline for public comment.

Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is disappointed by and largely opposed to the so-called “reforms” put forward by the provincial government in its recently-published White Paper on Local Government Elections Reform.

LegislatureAccording to the White Paper, proposed changes “are the most significant in nearly two decades”.  But the proposed package of minor adjustments, stemming from work of the Local Government Elections Task Force established in 2009, includes absolutely nothing to restrain the corrupting influence of “big money” on municipal politics.  Instead of practical and progressive measures to reign in the unlimited campaign contributions that are undermining the democratic foundations of accountable civic governance, the proposed “reforms” amount in many respects to a regressive attack on grassroots political organizing and free speech.

The main points of the submission are:

  1. Proposed “Reforms” do nothing to restrain corrupting influence of “big money” in municipal politics.
  2. Some “key changes” will actually hurt grassroots campaigning and free speech.
  3. Please do not allow Vancouver City Council to makes its own rules for election campaign finance.
  4. Expense limits are not enough. Caps are also needed on campaign contributions – in the 2014 civic election.
  5. Please retain the three year terms of civic office. Do not change to four years.

NSV is concerned that the cosmetic changes to campaign finance rules — including a possible shift to four-year terms of office — conceal a Trojan Horse that will weaken democracy.

Download RELEASE MEDIA_NSV_election finance reform public comment_23-Oct-2013-WEB
Download SUBMISSION NSV_submission_election finance reform_23-Oct-2013-Final

See the whole submission online here: http://nsvancouver.ca/nsv-submission-campaign-finance-reform/

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Sign the non-partisan Get Big Money out of Civic Politics!” - Petition for Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform. Much is happening in your city of Vancouver. Stay tuned for more news.

Vancouver City Council made Large Changes to Heritage Density Bank and Transfer of Density on Sept 25th, 2013. Read the full text of our letter to Council here. The changes have implications all across the City. Council heard from speakers on this item at the City Finance and Services meeting on Wednesday, September 25.

Citywide Rally and March on City Hall Sept 24, 2013

Neighbourhoods from across Vancouver gathered at a large citywide rally on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. The demonstration protested the City’s top-down planning processes. Neighbourhood reps previously met on September 15 from many parts of the city to connect the dots and compare notes. Hastings East, Hastings Sunrise, Marpole, West End, Dunbar, Kits, Point Grey, Mount Pleasant, Riley Park, Little Mountain, Yaletown, Norquay, False Creek, Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland, and more. The common thread seems to be that communities are being excluded from meaningful planning processes. This article and photo in Eye on Norquay put this rally into historical context, going back to the Ecodensity debates of 2007. NSV was born at that time as a network of neighbourhoods, a grassroots response to the greenwashing of “Ecodensity” and top-down imposition of centralized planning under the NPA regime, which has been accelerated under Vision Vancouver. Both regimes have been funded primarily by the development industry.

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Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver continues to stand for…

 Neighbourhood-based Real Democracy

  • Reform campaign finance: Regulators of land use policy should not be funded by those they regulate. The development industry is the largest funder of the NPA and Vision Vancouver.
  • Respect neighbourhoods: We promote local community grassroots planning processes that respect existing visions and local area plans.
  • Strengthen neighbourhood representation: Through partial or full wards, neighbourhood councils, community advisory bodies and other mechanisms such as polling on significant issues based on the voters’ list to determine public support.

 Sustainability

  • Strive for a holistic balance: Environmental, social and economic sustainability implemented through community engagement.

 Vancouver-based Solutions

  • Find solutions that work: Accommodate growth in ways that suit the uniqueness of Vancouver and the character of our neighbourhoods.We pledge to act on the public’s interest for the people of Vancouver.
Check out our core principles: http://nsvancouver.ca/about-us/principles/

 


Skytrain system

Local funds shouldn’t pay for transit
Opinion: If Victoria and Ottawa don’t pay, property taxes and development fees are diverted from other programs

This article by Elizabeth Murphy was a Special to The Vancouver Sun July 23, 2013.

Excerpt: Using development to fund transit shifts to municipalities a provincial/federal funding responsibility and undermines local community planning objectives. It is time to dismiss this model and look at sensible options, with broad consideration of more affordable transit alternatives. Read more…

For full article in Vancouver Sun, click here.


Vancouver’s development plan lacks public input
Opinion: If you haven’t heard about it, you’re not alone

This article by Elizabeth Murphy was in print as special to the Vancouver Sun  May 24, 2013. It is about the “Regional Context Statement – Official Development Plan” going to Public Hearing on June 11. This is the first coverage that has appeared in any mainstream media. Image caption: The Official Development Plan and Regional Context Statement plan will direct all development in the city for the next 30 years.

RCS-ODP map in Vancouver Sun 24-May-2013

Excerpt: Vancouver’s over-arching plan that will direct all development in the City of Vancouver for the next 30 years has been referred to a June 11, 2013 public hearing without prior public input. This is where all of the city’s development and land use policies are bundled up into one document and presented with a plan to Metro Vancouver (the Region, GVRD) for approval.

Called the Official Development Plan and Regional Context Statement, the plan is second in importance only to the Vancouver Charter, which legally governs the city.

City hall has been working on these plans with the region, province and TransLink under the public radar for more than a decade. It continues to present them as merely procedural, even though they will affect the future of every neighbourhood and every citizen of Vancouver.

For full article in Vancouver Sun, click here.


Update: For video and a brief report of our “Panel Discussion on Funding our Community Centres to better serve the needs of all” on March 13, 2013, at the Hollywood Theatre, please click  here.

Hillcrest Centre, Killarney Community Centre


 

 

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