Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hey Big Spender!

Mark your calendar for 7pm on January 9th, when District of North Vancouver Council invites you - yes you! - to step up and tell them what you think of their budget for next year.  As was pointed out recently by the ever eager Matthew Bond, last year's meeting was attended by exactly one member of the public.

Let's see if we can't increase that by at least 100%!

You could just e-mail Council I suppose, but we won't get to watch you live on the 'net.

You can download the Financial Plan Workbook here.

Just to get you interested, the Budget in Brief section says:
The 2017 Draft Budget proposes an overall property tax increase of 3.0%, with 2.0% to fund municipal operations and 1.0% to support funding for asset renewal. Operational savings achieved in prior years are still being realized in this budget despite higher levels of activity.
Official Community Plan related activity in the town centres and the natural renewal of aging housing stock in single family neighbourhoods are contributing to the changing face of the community. Organizational pressures continue to be managed as construction activity continues, several large projects are underway and we make further investments in our parks, recreation and transportation services. 
The 2017 operating expenditures, totalling $152.3 million, reflect these circumstances. Maintenance, renewal, and expansion of capital assets are achieved through a $49.2 million capital budget. The District’s long term funding strategy balances the costs of the District’s current and future operations with its revenue sources and financing opportunities. 
Here are some numbers.  Although lacking in detail, they do sketch out a picture of how you spend nearly $265 million dollars.

You can go here to see the Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) which  includes audited financial statements and information (to 2015) about:
  • remuneration paid to the mayor and council (Roughly $100K and $40+K respectively for 2015) (If someone sends me the 2016 numbers I'll update this)
  • salaries paid to District employees over the threshold amount of $75,000
  • amounts paid to suppliers of goods and/or services to which we paid more than $25,000 

I'm sure most of Council would love to hear your ideas for sensible, politically feasible, and popularly acceptable income and spending improvements.  Keep in mind that lot of the budget items - things like policing and services passed through by the regional government - really aren't negotiable.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Sun Answers All Your Traffic Questions!

Go ahead. Read the Sun story North Van the new Port Mann? North Shore bridges at 'tipping point' and pick you favorite "Say what?" passage.

Notably absent is any discussion of transit as a way to reduce traffic on bridges. But hey, Cristy Clark's PR officer wouldn't have approved that angle so the Sun couldn't print it.
Traffic is bad all over Metro Vancouver, but the worst spot to emerge in the last several years is the bridgehead at the Second Narrows in North Vancouver. 
Municipal leaders were told in 2015 that the North Shore’s woes coincided precisely with the expansion of the Port Mann Bridge to 10 lanes in 2012.
Also, Lotsa video, graphs, and pictures!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Baby Boomers, Young Turks, and Regional Planning

In time honoured tradition the North Shore News, letter writers, and NVP members have managed to mash up some pretty interesting topics.

It started with the News writing about "District of North Vancouver development debate strikes generational rift," followed the next week by a letter from sometime candidate Hazen Colbert "No generational rift over OCP review in District of North Vancouver."

These led to a handful of NVP comments (copied below) debating the boomerness of various DNV Councillors, the need for a review of the Official Community Plan (OCP), and a call for regional planning that encompasses the entire North Shore.

I'm of the opinion that tagging people as part of one generation or another doesn't really help us to understand North Shore problems, and have known people who were old fogies at the age of 23, and others who were young at 70.  It's about vision, not age.

I'll also suggest that the OCP is actually a pretty well thought out framework for moving the District into a new century, and I'm not convinced that spending time and money to "review" it is the best option right now.

Beyond that, read the comments below, and see what you think.

Addendum: also read the OCP Progress Monitoring Report from February of this year.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Surviving the Snowpocalypse!

It's winter on the North Shore, and once again the people who live here are spending a weekend asking "When does MY street get plowed?"

It's a fair question, given that we see snow at least a few times every year, and given that the first snow of the season seems to always leave side streets clogged with frozen slush for at least a day or two.  More if you live high enough up.

Both the City and the District can tell you how they plan for plowing and salting - but a nice colour coded chart doesn't help you to get out of your driveway and off to work.
As if to rub our noses in it, West Van seems to get streets cleared by mid-morning, even at the top of the British Properties.  Is it just money, or do they know some secret that North Van doesn't?

Oh well, if it makes drivers feel a little bit better, it's worth noting that bike lanes don't get much attention either, and sidewalks are pretty much entirely ignored.

Maybe because the District doesn't even have a bylaw requiring people to shovel their walks?

Really, none of this is intended to complain about the people at the City and District who have been working so hard this week to keep us all moving.  They work hard this time of year, and deserve all of the thanks that they get, but are there things we could do to help them do the job better, and make the people who rely on them happier?

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Livin' La Vida Loca in LoLo

The ever interesting Price Tags blog had a short post last week titled "North Van City Waterfront: Persistence Pays."  It offers a very upbeat assessment of all of the changes down around Lonsdale Quay.
The City of North Vancouver has been working on the transformation of the Lower Lonsdale properties at the waterfront for … well, it seems like decades.  After all, Lonsdale Quay and the Seabus Terminal opened in the late 1970s – but the lands to the east retained their industrial purpose, with little change to the property at the very foot of Lonsdale.  There was no there there.
Now, with the development of the Versatile lands and the arrival of the Polygon Gallery, it’s coming together. 
Reading that got me thinking that the City has done a pretty good job of building a successful "town centre" in Lower Lonsdale, with the requisite density, restaurants, shopping, and the upcoming move of the Presentation House Gallery. (Which I gather will sadly be renamed after the developer, Polygon.)

The District has "town centers" in the works at Lynn Valley, the bottom of Mountain Highway, and the foot of Capilano Road.   I wonder what lessons can be learned from the City.

At a minimum I'd argue that density alone isn't enough.  You need varied shopping options, entertainment or cultural options, easy transit connections, and hopefully some sense of the history of the neighborhood.

More details on the Lower Lonsdale developments here.

Friday, December 02, 2016

North Van Politics: Under New Management

Hello passionate people!  This a very short notice to tell you that  John Sharpe, our hard-working Admin of the last few years, is taking a well-deserved break from overseeing the North Vancouver Politics site.

I'll be stepping in, and hope to do a respectable job of filling his shoes.

You're absolutely invited to email me directly with any ideas or suggestions. I'm all ears.

In the meantime, I was intrigued to discover that, according to Google, more than half of the pageviews for the blog are coming from Japan.  Who knew?

Barry Rueger

Entry...............................  Pageviews
Japan................................  611
Canada.............................  275
United States.................... 107
Germany............................  56
China................................   28
Portugal............................   26
Moldova...........................   21
France..............................   15
Russia..............................   15
Ukraine..............................  6

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There Will be Oil!

In celebration of one year as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has gone ahead and approved the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline that runs into our fair ecosystem.
Once completed, the $.6.8 billion Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project will increase the capacity of existing infrastructure to 890,000 barrels per day, up from 300,000 bpd.  The 1,150 kilometre pipeline expansion would run from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., where it would pump Alberta-mined bitumen and synthetic product onto tankers which would sail through (local) waters for Asian markets.
There is no shortage of opinion out in the wilds of the Internet, and no doubt there are several court challenges to come, but at the end of the day our new eco-friendly PM has thrown in his lot with the petro producers of Alberta.

Several Lower Mainland municipal governments opposed this pipeline, as does our own local Tsleil-Waututh Nation, but it appears we're stuck with it anyhow.

At least the Premiers of Alberta and BC seem happy.

Local MP Jonathan Wilkinson, the parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, was quoted by CBC as saying,
"Within my riding there is a group that is opposed, and opposed and opposed, and will always been opposed," he said. "And then there's a group who's in favour, and in favour and will always be in favour. And then there's the vast majority, in the middle, who have legitimate questions and concerns that they want to ensure are addressed."
I guess that I fall into the first group, and would have been happier if a our shiny happy new Federal government had decided to work to eliminate fossil fuels and global warming.

Oh well, as they might say in Westmount, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Too good not to add.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

One Year Since Trudeau Elected

Wow how time flies! Recently the North Vancouver Liberal Constituency Association sent out reminders of a volunteer appreciation event in Lynn Valley to celebrate "one of the greatest victories in Canadian political history".

So how is our North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson doing for us anyway?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

DNV Land Disposition for Affordable Housing Initiative

At the September 12th, 2016 Regular meeting of Council the disposition of 6 or 7 undeveloped lots in the DNV were on the table for discussion. These lots, if sold would be worth approximately 7 million dollars and the idea would be to use this money towards affordable housing. Being public information I had occasion to view several of the lots under question in the Lynn Valley area where the majority of them exist. I was quite interested that there were actually any undeveloped lots like these in Lynn Valley. As examples; One lot was on Kilmer, one on Hoskins, and another on Lynn Valley Road and Henderson. I did not venture out to view the other one or two lots that were I believe, in the Blue Ridge area. So the question becomes to sell or not to sell these lots for the aforementioned reason? Discussion at the council meeting on the 12th of September suggested this money could be used in transportation corridors 'in line' with the current OCP.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Election Anticipation!

An election is in the offing, and the floodgates are opening up as the ruling Liberals try to shift gears from being mean spirited Scrooges to become touchy-feely donors of all things that are good and true.

In the last week MSP premiums suddenly weren't being increased, and Christy announced a rather vague promise to build 2900 units of rental housing, at a cost of a cool half a billion.

At this point it even seems possible that she'll promise to give disabled people back their bus passes, and raise welfare rates to something approaching a livable level.

Meanwhile the NDP... um....

And the Greens are busy debating whether or not the Israeli government is good or bad.

The question today though, is "What does the North Shore need from whatever government is formed after the next election?

I'm partial to driving stake through the heart of that monster that is Translink, and just funding transit properly.  And killing off MSP premiums entirely, like most of the country. And writing off student debt, like in Newfoundland.

But that's just my dream.

What's yours?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lynn Valley Caterpillar sacrificed for Bike Lanes

The famous Lynn Valley caterpillar hedge is slated to be uprooted as part of work to add the final stretch of bike lanes on the DNV side of the Upper Levels.

Details here.

The District says: "The hedge creature — located at the intersection of William Avenue at Lynn Valley Road — will also have to be removed. While our Parks Department will make every effort to restore the hedge creature, it is a series of inter-connected shrubs, with a large, complex root system, that will be difficult to transplant."


(Couldn't find a photo online. )

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Topic: Affordability

(Cross posted from the previous topic)
Anonymous #1 said...According to there are 279 detached houses for sale in the District and City of North Vancouver and only two are below 1.1 million? One is halfway up Indian Arm and is boat access only, and the other is for a million on a 4,500 sq ft infill lot on Lynn Valley Road. 
Oh and the median price of those listings is 1.79 million 
Anonymous #2 said...What's the discussion? We know what the prices are.
Anonymous #3 said...Since we are all anonymous here... I guess the big one is do we care enough about affordability to do something, or do prefer to just talk about it, and secretly enjoy parks and trails that aren't busy, low crime rates, educated wealthy neighbors, and none of the visible negatives associated with poverty which is more prevalent in other areas?
I never said it was going to be a nice topic.
Central to the whole discussion about housing has to be the seldom mentioned reality that there is a need for more than just detached single family homes and strata developments.

Decently priced rental accommodations need to be part of the mix, as does subsidized housing for those with low incomes - especially our growing senior population.

Even though the District has only about half the proportion of renters that is seen in the City, it's still something that can't be ignored.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

City Mayor Advocating for Cigarette butt recycling

A deposit program similar to the kind we're used to for bottles and cans, is being pushed by City Mayor, Darrell Mussatto. Butts could be taken to a recycling depot to regain the deposit of 5 to 10 cents per cigarette paid at the purchase point. Cigarette butts are quite toxic and do pose a significant environmental hazard especially to fish in local streams when eventually flushed down storm drains when it rains. A Province wide program would obviously be most effective.

CIGARETTE BUTTS are the most littered item in America!!!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Viva Las... North Van?

It was reported last week that the Province, under the guise of the BC Lottery Commission, would like to plant a new casino on the North Shore.

They figure that the casino would bring in between $25 and 40 million a year, with the lucky municipality that hosts it being offered (in my opinion) a paltry $2+ million.

Am I alone in thinking this is a pretty far-fetched idea?

The question of location alone is interesting.

I can't see West Van ever going for this, and can't think of anywhere in the District that would make sense.  (OK, maybe as part of the Lynn Valley Center development.)

Would the City welcome a shiny new casino on the waterfront?  On Lonsdale?

Or would a location on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation lands make sense?  How much casino traffic could the Dollarton highway survive?

Mayors Musatto and Smith were "unavailable for comment," and Walton would "seek guidance from Council."  All of which suggests that they're trying to avoid actually saying anything.

The bigger question is why Victoria is floating this now, in the run-up to the election.  Is there a "surprise" in the works?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Liability for DNV recreational trails? Revisited...

"Ladies Only Trail" roller coaster jump ramp on Fromme Mtn. 
(DNV- approved?)

Back in June 26 2012, I wrote about this very topic:

It is a topic that needs to be revisited. The following verdict may become a game-changer for the District of North Vancouver and other municipalities:

County liable for man's catastrophic biking incident in Bruce Peninsula, court rules

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TORONTO -- A man rendered quadriplegic after a mountain biking accident won his battle Tuesday to hold the Ontario municipality that operated the adventure park fully liable for his injuries.

In its decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the municipal County of Bruce that it was not at fault, and that the victim, Stephen Campbell, was at least partly responsible for his catastrophic injuries.

"The reality is that several riders had been injured, including seriously injured, on the wooden obstacles in the trials area before (Campbell's) accident," the Appeal Court said.
"Had the municipality adequately monitored previous accidents and been aware of the number of accidents at the park -- and on Free Fall in particular -- actions would have been taken that would have prevented (Campbell's) injuries."


The District of North Vancouver also operates and funds a mountain biking "adventure park" of sorts on Fromme and portions of Seymour. They allow various "amusement park"-like structures to be built, along with putting various amenities in place for the mountain bikers.

There have been many injuries and even one death coming from those DNV-approved man-made MTB structures in the public forests. We know that mountain biking is already an inherently dangerous sport, without the added "liability" structures.

Those man-made mountain biking structures bring into the picture much bigger liability issues, I believe.

The District of North Vancouver lacks the pertinent parks staff, rangers, etc. to oversee the building and day to day activities. It's still very much a wild west in the woods. What happens if an injured mountain biker should sue DNV. someday?

What will this Ontario court decision mean for BC municipalities, especially the District of North Vancouver? Only time will tell. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ministry and DNV reveal plan for Cut, Council skeptical

Last week the Ministry of Transportation and DNV planners revealed a new possible plan for The Cut. Traffic congestion problems in North Vancouver are ongoing and it seems almost everyday sometimes twice, there is some sort of of traffic incident that involves the approaches to the Cut being backed up for kilometers. Sometimes it's just sheer volume of traffic that causes the 'slow hours' Is the new plan the solution?

        Image result for the cut in north vancouver, b.c. canada
   The North Shore News ran this report....     

Related article from 2015:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Controversial letter and DNV Public Input segment from Hazen Colbert

             Public Input @ 22:23, April 11th, 2016

Your Worship, Council and Mr. Stuart

Last night I provided public input on the subject of public safety, I provided that input on request of others who fear for their safety, the safety of their families and the security of their property specifically from members of the NSMBA.  They do not consider council chambers a place of refuge where they can provide input. Apparently they do consider that I do not back down from bullying and threats.

Councillor Bond's diatribe directed at me proves their concerns.

Instead of disavowing anti-Semitism and violence on Fromme trails Bond lite into me like a cruise missile. Not one of you rose to defend, not me, but others who may have been threatened by the map and the narrative that followed. It was transparent to me, that you agreed on the approach during the special closed meeting. I trust you had never seen that map before I presented. If yes, than I pray for us all.

It does not help the matter that you fund $100,000 to the NSMBA.  On the advice of the RCMP who tell me they do not enforce the Community Charter, it appears the only way to challenge that particular is through the Supreme Court where the DNV can rely on the public treasury to fund a defence. That is what I called institutionalized bullying.

I started mountain biking, including racing holding a semi-pro license in 1995. I love the sport. I have biked in a wide variety of places  around the world. The NSMBA is a bizarre organization which fails to comply with even rudimentary trail etiquette and land conservation. The threats by NSMBA members against others are unprecedented and chilling.

I request a public hearing on the matter.


You are welcome to forward the email below along with the attached public input to anyone interested.

It is my position there needs to be a Public Hearing on the matter with everyone allowed to attend and speak safely.


Hazen S. Colbert

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How is North Vancouver doing under new Federal Government?

Although it's still early days, so far there are no specific or concrete funding proposals for North Vancouver. Based on the Trudeau government's election platform, it would seem we can assume there will be Federal money spent in North Vancouver on infrastructure (transportation and housing). Announcements will likely take place within the next few months, at the latest.

Image result for justin trudeau sunny ways

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The "A" word is a back

Merging municipalities, re-unification, Amalgamation, call it what you will this topic has probably been discussed more than any other here on the blog since inception in 2005. This Jan. 25 council workshop was the focus of re-unification and the reports have been made public for your reading enjoyment.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Non market housing discussed on District council

Agenda item 9.6 of the Feb.1st regular District Council meeting saw robust discussion on the topic of  District land that could potentially be used for non market housing. Council unanimously accepted this motion that originated from Councillor Hanson. During the last Municipal election in 2014 this was an issue that kept coming up at All Candidates Meetings and seemed to have support from the voting public. The purpose of bringing this motion forward was to determine if Council would at first support the idea in principle.

Friday, January 22, 2016

So what's happening with Mike Little?

Former District Councillor, Mike Little didn't run again in 2014 presumably because of his federal political aspirations which didn't go his way. Now he sits on the District Library Board. Is this Mr. Little's posturing for seat back on council or perhaps a run for Mayor in 2018?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mountain Highway Interchange to cost $150 million

Construction for the interchange will start this year and it is hoped that local and Highway 1 traffic congestion in that area will be reduced. Improvements to the Fern Street and Dollarton interchanges are part of the plan, but will come later. The Highway bridge will not be widened or replaced and the Cut will also remain unchanged. There will be improved access to Highway 1 and to Keith Road from the new interchange, but it looks like current congestion at Mountain Highway and Highway 1 will be shifted over to the new intersection at Keith and Brooksbank. Until the Cut is widened if ever, and the (green) Highway Bridge are replaced one has to wonder if there will be only nominal changes to local and highway traffic problems.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No public hearing for Braemar Land

A District Council vote to go to Public hearing is defeated. With Councillor MacKay-Dunn absent due to the flu, the vote was 3 in favour and 3 against for a public hearing regarding the rezoning which could have resulted in an amendment of the OCP to remove a portion of the Braemar land from public assembly. If development had passed through the public hearing process the land would allow for a four lot detached residential development. Councillor Hanson said (paraphrased) he could not support moving in to a public hearing which could possibly remove the land from the public assembly category. Councillor Bassam said (paraphrased) he was deeply concerned and thought that no public hearing was undemocratic. If the land had been sold to development, the funds from the sale would have gone to Argyle Secondary improvements. Councillor Muri said (paraphrased) there must be another way to raise the money and criticized the provincial government for their lack of education funding support.