Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

NEIGHBOURHOODS FOR A SUSTAINABLE VANCOUVER (NSV)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
www.nsvancouver.ca

November 16, 2011

Contents

1. BC Hydro Smart Meters
2. Transparency/Accountability
3. EcoDensity
4. Public Spaces
5. Offshore Ownership
6. Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA)
7. Wards versus At-Large System in Vancouver
8. Shark Fin Sale or Consumption

1. Smart Meters

QUESTION: BC Hydro is in the process of installing wireless “smart meters” around the province, to collect electricity usage data from homes and other buildings, and transmit them to a central location. Public concerns prompted the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (www.ubcm.ca) to endorse a motion in September calling for a moratorium on the meters’ installation and for an independent inquiry about them. What is your position on these wireless smart meters?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • Many Vancouver citizens have contacted us expressing concerns about BC Hydro’s Smart Meters, as well as about other devices that collect and transmit information through radio frequency waves.
  • We are aware of the vote by the Union of BC Municipalities.
  • If elected, NSV would as soon as possible present the following motion (draft) to City Council.

NSV DRAFT MOTION ON BC HYDRO WIRELESS SMART METERS
WHEREAS significant and serious concerns about health, privacy, financial cost, and other issues have been identified regarding the installation of wireless “smart meters” in British Columbia;
AND WHEREAS BC Hydro is proceeding with its program to install wireless smart meters in British
Columbia AND WHEREAS there is currently active discussion and ongoing research into the possible health and environmental effects related to radio frequency signals and the World Health Organization has called for further investigation on this matter in its press release issued May 31,2011
AND WHEREAS BC Hydro initiated the introduction of smart meters without meaningful public consultation
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Vancouver (“the City”) call upon BC Hydro to immediately initiate a moratorium on the installation of wireless smart meters in the City
AND THAT the moratorium continue until further notice to BC Hydro from the City, in order to allow the City time to engage in meaningful public consultation regarding public concerns, to collect and study scientific information and independent advice, to consider alternatives, and to decide formally in City Council on the way forward.

2. Transparency/Accountability

QUESTION: CBC Television recently featured Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who enjoys a 90% popularity rating in his city. On his website he posts a monthly list of all external meetings he hosts as well as a quarterly list of the expenses of his office. If elected as mayor are you willing to adopt these policies and what others would you adopt so that Vancouverites don’t have to worry about misuse of taxpayer money and back-door deals with special interest groups?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • NSV candidates would do all of these steps by Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.
  • In addition, the NSV team once elected would seek to restore media access to City Hall, with regular mayoral briefings and an atmosphere of openness. We would work to improve freedom of information (FOI) processes. We would seek to release the full text of Vancouver Services Review.(http://www.vancourier.com/Watchdog+waits+years+page+services+review/5643347/story.html).
  • We would introduce motions in City Council to implement many of the 1,000 opportunities identified for changing the way that services are delivered.
  • For example, we would promote better financial disclosure, and centralization of the currently-disparate financial control under the Chief Financial Officer/Director of Finance. We believe that it will be possible to save millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and have more resources to deal with critical issues such as homelessness.
  • Going beyond City Hall, we would also introduce Council motions seeking greater accountability and transparency at the regional level, by advocate for both Metro Vancouver and TransLink to have more fiscal accountability to the public and more public transparency of processes and meetings (including live and archived web video of board and committee meetings).
  • NSV supports and independent civic auditor that is directly accountable to the public through a public advisory committee.
  • For more information about our transparency goals in several other areas, please visit http://nsvancouver.ca/about-us/principles/ and search for the key word “transparency.”

3. EcoDensity (edited 17-nov-2011)

QUESTION: What is NSV’s position on EcoDensity?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • For input on our policies on EcoDensity and density in general, please visit http://nsvancouver.ca/about-us/principles/ and search for the key word “density.” We believe that EcoDensity from the Non-Partisan Association, later rebranded by Vision Vancouver and incorporated into the “Greenest City” approach, oversimplifies the issues and has done serious damage to our city.
  • We would initiate a repeal and review of the role of the EcoDensity concept on our city and seek many reforms to get Vancouver back on track. We would return Vancouver to neighbourhood-based planning.
  • We would also seek changes in density bonusing policies, which are causing many problems in Vancouver.

4. Public Spaces

QUESTION: Occupy Vancouver is being used as a political football to score points, with one key issue being the use of public space. But what about Critical Mass (large group of cyclists riding bicycles on last Friday of each month to promote cycling, but also obstructing traffic on public streets). What is your position on Occupy Vancouver and Critical Mass and to what lengths do you think the public should be permitted to go in their use of public space to further their cause?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • We support freedom of speech while respecting regulations and legislation.
  • We believe that movements, groups and individual citizens also need to respect the rights of others to use public spaces.
  • Having said this, we believe that Both Critical Mass and Occupy Vancouver have important messages about crucial issues of society. We hope that the messages are not lost in discussions about specifics (e.g., location, number of tents, etc.).
  • If elected, we would have a discussion on these matters with Critical Mass organizers to develop a mutual understanding
  • Regarding Occupy Vancouver, please see this media release (Nov 15) on this topic. We encourage the City not to go in aggressively but to negotiate in good faith. NSV mayoral candidate suggested a five-point solution: The five suggestions are as follows: (1) Encourage the City and Occupy Vancouver to negotiate a reduced but round-the-clock presence at the Art Gallery. This should include food and clothing distribution tents and at least several sleeping tents. (2) Encourage the OV participants to commit to a policy of peaceful coexistence and non-interference with other public events, such as celebrations, protests, etc., that have already been planned–or may be planned in the future–for the square. (3) Encourage the City to commit to providing reasonable security and assistance as needed, and to convene discussions with the OV participants in regard to use of the site and City policies that could be created or changed to address legitimate issues and problems raised by the OV movement. (4) Encourage the City to reopen four low-barrier HEAT shelters as soon as possible, and create additional ones if required. The OV Tent City is a consequence of insufficient shelter space because, despite winter conditions, the low-barrier shelters have not been reopened. (5) Encourage the City and Occupy Vancouver to agree upon a site in the downtown area for a temporary Tent City, with appropriate supports and services, to house those who cannot find space in a shelter until adequate (not overcrowded) shelter space is available. Tent Cities are a poor substitute for shelters, which are a very poor substitute for homes. But they are better for health and safety than the alternatives–doorways, garbage bins, remote industrial or park areas, etc.

5. Offshore Ownership

QUESTION: Offshore ownership of real estate in Vancouver is blamed in part for skyrocketing housing prices, the loss of affordable housing, the erosion of neighbourhood character due to demolition, and many vacant homes. What is your position on this issue?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • NSV would introduce a motion to have the City study the (1) current situation and trends, (2) impacts of offshore ownership of Vancouver real estate, and (3) best practices in other cities of the world to address similar situations.
  • We would then create meaningful discussion and consultation with the public to obtain more input.
  • Based on the input, we would present a motion in City Council to address the issue.
  • It is possible that we would be proposing some means of regulating foreign ownership, or mitigating the negative impacts on Vancouver citizens.

6. Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

QUESTION: What is your position on CETA?

NSV RESPONSE:

  • We are concerned about these negotiations taking place between Canada and the European Union. Citizens have expressed concerns about potential impacts on municipalities, school boards, transit, water, electricity, healthcare and other social services delivered locally in our own municipality of Vancouver, and that CETA could profoundly change Canadian culture and many aspects of life in our country. We are concerned that the public has received little information about CETA through the mainstream media, and feel that the parties negotiating have not provided sufficient transparency or facilitated public engagement. If elected we would encourage a full public discussion of CETA, make an effort to gauge public opinion, and work to have public concerns adequately addressed in City Council. Among others, we refer to this information source. http://www.canadians.org/trade/issues/EU/index.html.
  • We would support the introduction of a motion in City Council something along these lines indicated below (draft):WHEREAS the government of Canada and the European Union have been negotiating a trade agreement known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); and
    WHEREAS the European Union and EU-based corporations are reportedly insisting on unobstructed access to procurement by subnational governments – including municipalities, school boards, universities, hospitals and other provincial agencies – which could significantly reduce or eliminate the right to specify local priorities when public money is invested in goods, services or capital projects; and
    WHEREAS Canadian municipalities have expressed growing concerns with trade agreements and their potential impacts on municipal programs and services and local autonomy; and
    WHEREAS unobstructed access to Canadian municipal procurement by both EU and
    Canadian corporations, combined with investment protections in CETA on government
    concessions related to transit, water, electricity and other social services delivered locally may encourage privatization and reduce economic development options for local communities; and
    WHEREAS the provincial and territorial governments have been actively involved in negotiating CETA with the European Union:
    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Vancouver:

    • request the BC Government to provide a briefing on the scope and content of trade negotiations with the European Union, including the details of its procurement, services and investment offers to the EU; and
    • request municipal staff to review available information on any impacts CETA may have on municipal governments, with special emphasis on procurement and the delivery of social services, and request staff to produce an opinion for City Council;
    • review input from all sources, and engage the public in meaningful discussion on this matter; and
    • depending on the outcome of the above-stated actions, consider requesting the BC Provincial Government to negotiate a clear, permanent exemption for the City of Vancouver from CETA.

7. Wards versus At-Large System in Vancouver

QUESTION: A common grievance among Vancouver citizens is the failure of Council to respect or protect the interests of the City’s communities. Instead it seems to be motivated by small vocal or financially well‐endowed special interests. Many feel that a change in the form of representation would be beneficial to the interests of the citizens. Which type of representation do you feel would best serve the citizens of Vancouver? Please explain your choice.
a. At large (current system, with all councillors elected from the entire city).
b. Ward (each councillor represents a specific area or ward, elected by residents of that ward).
c. Mixed “at large” and ward.
d. None of the above.

NSV RESPONSE:

  • Each option has various pros and cons, but we are leaning toward (c) Mixed “at large” and ward.
  • This approach would structurally ensure that some elected officials were accountable to the entire city, and others to their own neighbourhoods. Ward councillors would have to spend money less to reach their own communities, and would be better able to know and represent their communities’ needs.
  • Elections could be less expensive, eliminating the need for large donations from vested interests.
  • Our NSV principles (http://nsvancouver.ca/about-us/principles/) say this about Civic Governance:
  1. Study and consider implementing a ward system or partial similar alternative, in order to provide more local area representation at City Council.
  2. Study and consider implementing neighbourhood councils.
  3. Ensure citizen advisory committees are independent and have adequate representation from neighbourhoods.
  4. Keep election terms to 3 years. Do not seek an extension to 4 years. Study the option of reducing terms to 2 years to increase the accountability of City Council.
  5. Ensure neighbourhood group opinions receive due weighting in report back on public consultation and in city policy.

8. Shark Fin Sale or Consumption

QUESTION: Would you support a ban on shark fin sale or consumption in Vancouver?

NSV RESPONSE: We would want to eventually ban the possession and trade of shark fins in Vancouver.
Rationale:

  • Extinction of some shark species and a serious global decline in shark populations is driven largely by demand for shark fin soup.
  • To solve the problem, LEADERSHIP is needed. Vancouver should show leadership in the Metro Vancouver region.
  • Before seeking a ban, though, we should (1) conduct research into the actual consumption of shark fins in Vancouver and the region, (2) study the impacts (costs and benefits) of a ban on businesses, (3) work to raise public awareness about the issues, (4) work to encourage restaurants to use alternatives, (5) work with all municipalities in the region to do this together, and (6) permit sufficient advance notice to allow everyone to prepare to avoid hardship when the ban comes.
  • We have found these sites useful for reference: http://www.wildaid.org/sharks
  • It is our understanding that Vision Vancouver’s position is NOT to introduce a ban, as they say people would just go elsewhere to consume shark fin. In contrast, NSV believes that Vancouver should show leadership in this area, and initiate the process as described above.