Saturday, May 19, 2018

WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY (LYNN VALLEY) AND HOW CAN WE ACHIEVE IT?

Written by the late Errnie Crist in 2007.


The North American City is the product of the automobile. It shaped our lives, our culture, and our economic priorities. Land was plentiful, oil cheap and Henry Ford an American hero who turned mass production of cars into a religion.

However, the imperatives for radical change are now upon us. Our reliance on the automobile to commute in the city is past.

Whether we can make the transition to a new 21st century and human environment or not will determine our survival. Global warming is not a myth, the economic cost of single vehicle transportation is not a myth, nor is the waste of land nor is the staggering cost to our health and the depletion of fossil fuel. Change is no longer an option. It is a challenge we will either meet head on or we will suffer serious consequences.

The new 21st century liveable city is designed for people not cars, stated world renowned city planner Hans Blumenfeld on his visit to Vancouver almost 30 years ago. Indeed there are no cars to speak of and to the extent that they exist, they are the exception not the rule.

Transportation in the new city is based on mass transit. It is efficient, convenient, cheap, and pollution free. It is virtually noiseless and pleasing to the eye. It is in harmony with the city’s architecture. It is part and parcel of a new human friendly environment in which people speak to each other and relax while traveling at great speed moving to their destination. It is an antidote to alienation and comprises everything from rapid trains, noiseless street cars, to buses, ferries and mini buses.

The new city has plenty of trees, parks, playing fields, indoor and outdoor recreation and cultural facilities. Most neighbourhoods are self contained for efficiency and yes, there are high-rises. Indeed, compact developments are the rule rather than the exception while total green space is enhanced and pedestrian friendly.

However, the new proposal for high-rises in Lynn Valley is not conducive to this objective. It is the exact opposite. It is outmoded and reactionary.

Far from decreasing reliance on the car it will enhance it. Far from less pollution, there will be more. Far from generating less traffic congestion, there will be more. The reason is that the most important element of enhanced liveability, as outlined in numerous vision statements by the worlds most credible town planners, will be missing, namely a transportation system which reflects this concept and must be its backbone.

If the proposal for high-rises in Lynn Valley, in the name of motherhood and apple pie, is implemented as it will unless the people stand up now and stop it, everything which is outdated now will be worse. Any and all talk to the contrary is at best wishful thinking or an out and out hoax as was the previous densification of the Lynn Valley Core sold to the people of Lynn Valley as a “Pedestrian Oriented Town Center”.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Should Mountain Bikers Be Muzzled?

 From "Dirt Rag" magazine - Issue #67, August 15, 1998 

Well, we need to get this blog jump-started again.  And what usually gets things going is the ever-timely topic of the “out of sight, out of mind” off-road mountain (dirt) biking activities on our North Shore mountains, specifically... This is a new one...

Seems some mountain bikers are now taking aim at the commercial dog walkers, threatening them with violence, because a commercial dog walker or two found themselves on a heavily used mountain bike only/primary trails. Whether in jest, or not, from experience, I know that sometimes the forum dialogue spills onto the trails, in result.

There are so many rogue, hidden, and braided trails everywhere on our North Shore mtns. carved out by the mountain bikers (and “rubber-stamped” by the fine NSMBA on Trailforks.com) – it is very easy for someone to find themselves off the legit, main trail and end up somewhere they do not want to be, or should not be. Even mountain bikers may find themselves off-trail, accidentally – and on purpose...

If the following joked about violence on the NSMB.com forum actually happened, it would not be the first time a mountain biker on Fromme Mtn. trails has bitten a “walker” in violent rage (2015) – and this was a mountain biker who initially lied to the police about the incident, and got away with it! Other mountain bikers started to bully and harass the bitten hiker! Some known from the NSMBA! No arrests, no charges. Go figure? What happened? 

You have to wonder about our law enforcement officers always seeming to coddle these mountain bikers with white kid gloves (in a few more instances I know about.). A clear double-standard at work here. The trails are not a safe place to be for those on foot -- or dog walking, for that matter, in light of these facts. Now back on topic:

One mountain biker goes as far as to post this nasty meme on the topic of "Commercial dog walkers" found on mountain bike only/primary trails : “You never bite a walker. You gotta shoot em in the head.”  https://nsmb.com/forum/forum/the-shore-3/topic/commercial-dog-walkers-130233/?post=2419752#post-2419752 * (I don’t  really care where the reference to this meme comes from. I see this as a threat to overall public safety on the trails!) It pretty much spells out the over-entitled mentality of the mountain bikers who have been given far too much political clout and ill-deserved support and funding. 

The mountain bikers joke on this forum thread post:
“Its not the dogs fault for being brought by a walker onto a biking trail either. Bite the walker!”

 “Well, I guess I'll get a full-face helmet......then I won't be able to bite dogs or walkers!!!!”

You have to wonder at why so many politicians, government agencies, corporations, developers (such as MOSAIC and Polygon), etc. want to support and fund such a rogue lot in the first place? Maybe, it is because they actually admire these “amoral” dirt bikers in the woods? When you consider the lack of ethics in politics and corporations these days, is it any wonder they would choose to support and fund the wily NSMBA? I can't even begin to count all the things the NSMBA and other mountain bikers keep getting away, these days, as the general public continues to be asleep at the wheel.

With electric motorized mountain bikes on forest trails on the near horizon, I expect that the conflicts on the trails will become worse. Grouse Mountain plans to start renting those motor bikes, next month (innocuously calling them "pedal-assist bikes".) The BC gov't is considering allowing electric motorized mountain bikes on Crown land/park land trails, also. Vroom! Vroom!

I still feel that mountain biking needs to be strictly contained, properly managed, and well-enforced. For everyone's safety, including the wildlife being squeezed out of their habitat with the NSMBA's ever-growing trail network. Yes, more NEW trails being built on Fromme Mtn. and beyond, this year. It's insanity. 

Do you believe that mountain bikers and the NSMBA need to be “muzzled” in more ways than one? Let the fur fly, folks... Let's get this worthy blog jump-started again!

(Note: I expect that this incriminating forum thread link on NSMB.com will soon “disappear”, like many other evidences, I have collected from the local mtb rag over the years. That is why I have a hard copy of it, scanned and saved for future reference.)

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Alternate Approval Process - Valuable Tool or Abuse of Power?

"Alternate Approval Processes" (AAPs) have been used by various provincial and regional governments to sidestep around referendum requirements when the powers that be consider the issue minor. They are one of the few "negative billing requirement" type processes allowed by the Provincial Government.

In North Vancouver District the most recent one is to undedicate and detach a 5 x 150 metre section of Kirkstone Park. It was used last year to undedicate a portion of Keithlynn park for the new Mountain Highway interchange.

The two situations are entirely different - Keithlynn was to support a provincial government highways project. Kirkstone's is to facilitate the re-development of Emery Place by a private for-profit developer.

In his North Shore News letter Councillor Robin Hicks asserts the Kirkstone lands that are part of the AAP are "developable slivers". The catch is that in DNV parks there are NUMEROUS such "slivers" most of which contain trails connecting roadways and many are heavily used.

What makes Alternate Approval Processes so problematic is the high number of petitioners required and the short time allowed to collect them. Province-wide, 95+% of AAPs are "approved".

Many people feel AAPs are an abuse of power by governments and should be strictly controlled. It is next to impossible to get 10% of the entire community on pretty much any local area issue!

My personal view is that AAPs need to be discontinued altogether. I have heard the arguments on both sides and believe strongly AAPs do far more harm than good.

Even if AAPs are allowed to continue serious reforms are urgently needed.

Here are the legal amendments I advocate:

- Any AAP application needs to be advertised on the home page of the municipal website "above the fold" as well as in local print media

- AAP petitions should be able to be signed online on the municipal site. (I offer as an example the British Parliament site where there are strict legal requirements on what the government must do based on varying numbers of public responses.)

- The current requirement of 10% of the electorate signing an AAP petition should be lowered - I note that if the current AAP 10% requirement was required for the 2014 election only Mayor Walton (acclaimed), Councillors Muri and Mackay-Dunn would have been elected. I suggest a requirement of half the votes received by the lowest polling Councillor who was elected in the past general election.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Parks - Referendum vs "Alternate Approval Process"

Most District residents "know" that most of the parks in North Vancouver District were given status by referenda and require another referenda to remove their park status. Over 30 parks in NV District have "dedicated by referendum" status with 4 referenda passed in the election of 1996 and 15 more in the 1999 election.

However  that's NOT the view of District who believes that that only applies to the entire park and NOT to portions of it.

This issue came to the public eye due to a motion at the January 29th DNV Council meeting to apply an "alternate approval process" to de-dedicate a trail in Kirkstone Park to build a road where a trail currently exists.

"Alternate approval process" is a form of "negative billing" where District gives itself the right to waive a referendum unless a petition signed by 10% of the electorate is received by the required date.

1st, 2nd and 3rd readings were given to the motion which means that this parks de-dedication will come about UNLESS a petition with 5962 votes is received at District Hall by March 12th.

Because the first three readings were done on January 29th with no advance public notice this will be the only time this will appear on the agenda. Since the public can only speak at Council on non-agenda items at the discretion of the Mayor, Mayor Walton is able to prevent any public input on this matter at Council if he chooses.

During the Council discussion on the proposal it was claimed the cost of staging a referendum would be "too expensive". The referendum dedicating this park was held side by side with the 1999 election which elected the Mayor and Council. Any "expense" was part of the election.

Does anyone reading this not know that 2018 is an election year?

The public is entitled to ask "why the need for haste on this matter"?

The only possible reason why this road might be quickly needed would be to expedite the Mosaic Emery Place re-development proposal - but this proposal while it has had several public meetings has not come to Council yet for first reading! Anyone who follows municipal affairs knows it is extremely unusual for a major project to take less than 6 months from first reading to "shovel ready" - so why the haste?

The most likely reason for the "negative billing" "Alternate Approval Process" route is that District fears an outraged public might vote it down in a genuine referendum.

But that's a view Council has no right to hold - when the Council does first reading they have a legal and moral obligation to view the proposal with all the facts in plain view - maybe it's a great proposal maybe it isn't - but at this stage of the process this is not something Council can legitimately judge.

5962 with a 5 week window to collect that many names. Does that sound fair orreasonable to you?

One more point: District will only accept paper petitions on their form. These can be obtained at District Hall @ 355 West Queens. No online signatures or non-District petition forms will be accepted.

The voting public need to keep in mind that this "negative billing" process can be done with ANY District park and there are few neighborhood parks that could hope to get 5962 votes in 3-5 weeks.

While I'm sure Council would deny any intention to do so, using this "alternate" process all NV District parks could be de-dedicated without referendum one by one. While I'm sure their intentions are pure is this really a power we want in the hand of our elected officials?

If this passes the voting public will need to remember what has been done and remind the Mayor and Council with their ballots that this kind of end run around the referendum requirement is not OK and that we the people do not approve!

Friday, February 16, 2018

True democracy starts with the municipal


Greater public attention to the importance of municipal government in Canada is long overdue. In many respects, local government is the level of government closest to the people, and the state of democracy in the country as a whole is closely related to the state of democracy at the local level. The fact that voter participation in local elections has declined to abysmal levels is a symptom of the so-called "democracy deficit" that has now spread to the provincial and federal levels.