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