Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is Naomi in Trouble?

Riding projections from √Čric Grenier  at CBC suggest that the NDP have a reasonable chance to take North Vancouver-Lonsdale.  There's some speculation that Yamamoto being hurt by the oil tanker/Kinder Morgan issue.

Safe is greater than 95% chance of winning seat, Likely is 80%-95% chance, Lean is under 80% chance (if election held today). Methodology here.  

(Image below from CBC)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wake Me When It's Over

Am I alone in pretty much ignoring our provincial election so far?  Does it all seem rather tired and like a sorry recycling of the last time around?  Does anyone really think that Christy Clark will deliver on all of the eleventy-dozen promises that she rolled out in the pre-election period? And will John Horgan be brave enough to actually come up with a Left Wing platform idea?

(Seriously, the Libs don't like government paying for post-secondary education, and think it's OK for students to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  The NDP also don't like government paying for post-secondary education, and think it's OK for students to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Except interest free.)

Yamamoto. Thornthwaite.  Do either of these people excite you?  And if not, can you name the Green or NDP candidates running against them?

(OK: NDP candidate Michael Charrois and Green Party candidate Joshua Johnson are both looking to unseat Jane Thornthwaite.  Green Party candidate Richard Warrington  and NDP candidate Bowinn Ma are trying to defeat Naomi Yamamoto.)

And of course, Ralph Sultan, fighting off NDPer Mehdi Russel and Green Michael Markwick.

I'm betting on a very low voter turnout this time, because the NDP is putting people to sleep, because it's already a forgone conclusion that the Liberals will win again, and because the majority of voters can't see any real difference between the two big parties.

We're halfway through the campaign, and I don't think one person has started a conversation with me about the election.  This is not a good thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Chick, Chick. Chicken On The Way?*

Next Monday Tonight the District of North Vancouver will be debating the idea of allowing home owners to add a chicken coop.

Pros: fresh eggs are better, and homegrown hens aren't full of hormones and antibiotics.  Good project for the kids too, and hens can be entertaining.

Cons: could be smelly if your neighbour doesn't clean the coop, and some people believe that chickens will attract bears and other varmints.  Noise shouldn't be an issue since home coops are limited to hens, not roosters.

* a jingle from my childhood in Calgary

Sunday, April 02, 2017

North Shore Municipal Transportation Committee

As reported in the North Shore News, all three North Shore municipalities have agreed to create a North Shore Municipal Transportation Committee.   Transportation staff have always compared notes, and obviously a lot of transportation planning involves multiple jurisdictions, but this creates a formal working group with all three municipalities represented at the table.

As reported:
Under the committee’s terms of reference, top transportation, engineering and planning staff from each local government will meet at least four times a year to co-ordinate on local priorities, consult with and advocate to senior levels of government and outside agencies like TransLink and report back to their respective councils. 
The challenge still remains that many significant transportation corridors also involve the Province, Metro Vancouver, or the ports authority in some fashion, but perhaps a unified voice will aid in dealing with these "senior" government entities.

One good point raised by West Vancouver Coun. Mary-Ann Booth is that this new committee is only comprised of staff, and doesn't seem to include a specific way for the public to be involved in these discussions.  Hopefully the two North Vans will find a way to integrate their respective citizen transportation committees into the new structure.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Liberals Promise End to Rain in Lynn Valley

Sources have confirmed that as part of today's campaign kick-off for North Shore MLA Naomi Yamamoto, Premier Christy Clark will announce that the government of BC will fund the construction of a geodesic Fuller dome over Lynn Valley in North Vancouver.

In a prepared statement Clark and MLAs Yamamoto and Jane Thornthwaite explained that "Lynn Valley is a place for families, but during the 27 days of rain last month many of those families were forced stay at home, and they became unhappy families.  Our government is committed to put Families First, and protecting Lynn Valley from rain is one way that we'll do that."

The dome is budgeted to cost 3.6 billion dollars, just a bit more than the previously announced investment in public transit.  The DryDome will be financed through revenues expected from the growing LNG industry, and still awaits matching funds from the Federal government and the Mayors' Council. Work is expected to begin in 2019, with a completion date of 2036.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Boring Gets It Done | Andrew Saxton for Leader

If you've been following the Conservative leadership race, you likely have been watching the front runners like Kevin O'Leary, Kellie Leitch and maybe Michael Chong.  It's been easy to forget that we have a local boy running as well, and he just released the following campaign video.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cashing Out Condos

As reported today
"Owners of a 114-unit condominium complex in North Vancouver have become among the first to achieve court approval to sell their entire complex to a developer. 
The BC Supreme Court approved Anthem Properties’ bid of $51 million for the 6.5-acre Seymour Estates project on Lytton Street in North Vancouver district in December. The transaction closed in late January."
For those who don't follow strata legislation, the Province changed rules last year to allow a vote of 80% of owners as enough to force the sale of an entire strata complex, pending a review in the courts.  Previously the vote had to be unanimous for a sale to happen, something that was pretty much impossible.

The Seymour Estates deal has been in and out of the courts for several years.

There are a lot of strata developments on the North Shore. Many are forty or more years old, and facing massive repairs to basic infrastructure.  How many more will opt to sell out, and what impact will this have on our community?

There are a number of these applications working their way through the courts right now, usually with one or two hold-out owners refusing to sell.

The wildcard in all of this is the new Civil Resolution Tribunal, which has already shown a willingness to force a strata to do essential repairs even if owners voted not to spend the money.

Yard Waste!

Hello all - I'm back a after relaxing week of detached retina reattachment. Note - if you've got a topic that you think is worth pursuing we can give you posting privileges on the blog. Yard waste would have been a good one. Just email me.
New Topic? New DNV Garbage collection Program

The New program eliminates any yard trimmings that do not fit into the two carts. That's right, when you do your spring cleanup their suggestion is that you keep the green waste at your house and use it as filler in your organics cart when every you have free space. Or you can haul it to the depot for a fee. Or you can dump it** in the forest where it will become forest fire ladder fuel. (**hefty dumping fine may apply)

When did this cease to be a public service? You should be able to put your yard waste out for free or a reasonable fee curbside rather than having thousands of households driving to the depot.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

DNV Contractors as "Good Neighbours"

One of the things that District staff have struggled with in recent years are the number of residential construction projects happening within our town.  It's one thing to plan and orchestrate a big project like Seylynn, but keeping an eye on the dozens of single family homes being built or renovated is another thing altogether.

Monday evening at 7:30 District planning staff will present a report to Council called "Single Family Home Renewal Initiatives Update," which is a good indication of the ways that the District is trying to balance the desires of builders with the needs and concerns of the people living in the surrounding neighbourhoods.  Read it here before commenting please.

The District did an on-line survey, with a special focus on Upper Capilano.  The top six themes identified by local residents were:

  • New house size and impact. This category includes concerns about height, placement, building coverage, and setbacks.
  • Loss of trees and vegetation. Comments include loss of green space, gardens, and mature plants.
  • Transportation. Examples of comments include truck traffic, parking (during construction and overall supply), road closures, and delays.
  • Garbage, debris and piles. For example, dust, materials stored on streets, debris, and garbage on or near construction sites.
  • Noise. This includes comments on hours when construction noise is permitted, and general complaints about construction-related noise.
  • Change in neighbourhood character. Comments reflected unease about changes to the look, feel, and loss of older houses. 
As far as solutions, there will be a revision of the existing Good Neighbour package for builders, but more interesting suggestions include adding a maximum principal building size to RS-1 zoning, and examining whether there is a need for a look at "impacts of basements construction including tree and vegetation loss, potential slope stability, and groundwater impacts."

I'd be happy if they could just get construction crews to listen to something other than "Classic Rock" on their DeWalt radios.

Friday, February 24, 2017

CNV Coachhouses and Suites

At the top of the City of North Vancouver's newsletter this week was news that:
This week the North Vancouver City Council unanimously supported allowing both a secondary suite and a coach house on single family properties. Positive feedback from the community was immediate.
“It's extremely important that the City continues to address housing affordability through a variety of options such as allowing single family homes to potentially have two rental units," says Mayor Darrell Mussatto.
It's interesting that at a time when lots of people are worried about development and increased density, the CNV has decided to support a plan which could double or triple the number of occupants on a specific property.  One has to wonder about parking, and the increased demand for municipal services like water, sewer, and waste disposal.

Learn more about Council's Housing Action Plan.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Discussion topic: Why should we vote NDP?

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the Clark regime, and as seems to be the case with every election in recent years, I'm struggling to figure out who I will mark my ballot for.  I suspect that I'm not alone.

Liberal fans at least have the government's track record (alleged or otherwise) to point to when making their case, but what can the NDP do to sell their brand?  Can a member of the party faithful step up and make the case for voting NDP? Jim Hanson? You out there?

All that I ask is that we avoid rehashing events of twenty or thirty years ago - the fast ferries are ancient history, as is Vanderzalm.  Even Gordon Campbell is arguably now irrelevant. And let's agree that "Well, we're not the Liberals" is not really a valid argument either.  Let's try to keep the discussion to what's happening now, and to concrete policies.

I'm ignoring the Greens right now. Although they actually have had excellent candidates in recent elections, and I've even voted for some of them, they don't have a realistic chance of forming a government.

Then again, you can argue that neither does the NDP.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

VCH Office for Youth with Addictions

It's election time, and once again the Liberals are just brimming with money to help people that they've ignored for the last four years. This week Christy (and her local North Shore contingent) really, really care about kids with substance abuse problems, and really, really really want to help them.
If you follow such things you'll know that the provincial government has grossly underfunded services for at-risk youth, and that treatment for addictions in particular has been lacking to a frightening degree. (see also below)

(Moved from the previous topic)

Anonymous said...

A North Shore resident, and journalist Bob Mackin has a new topic for discussion:

".... January 9th in North Vancouver with the four North Shore BC Liberal MLAs Jane Thornthwaite, Naomi Yamamoto, Jordan Sturdy and Ralph Sultan - to announce a new Vancouver Coastal Health office for youth with addictions will be opening in May.

The 9,000 square foot Foundry North Shore is described on a VCH website as a "one-stop shop for youth needing easy access to mental health, drug, and alcohol services and social services on the North Shore."

Sounds like a step forward. Except the building next door is a liquor store. ...."
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 11:07:00 pm

Anonymous said...

The real objection to the location is from the owner of the liquor store: Riedlinger said. “It’s not going to help our business in any way. It’s going to make it more difficult to operate there.” First it's wine sales in grocery stores, then liquor sales in hair salons. Now he wants to opposes services to at risk youth. Maybe its time for him to move out of the neighbourhood if he feels he can't be a good neighbour. It's a bit late for him to be sounding so concerned now that the building is constructed.
Thursday, February 09, 2017 9:28:00 am 

Anonymous said...

One can buy smoking cessation aides at the prescription desk of the pharmacy and, at one time, pay for them at the front cash while buying cigarettes. The liquor store and the office for addictions story is simply the private sector model of revenue and profit maximization applied to the public sector as promoted by the Alt-Right.
Thursday, February 09, 2017 10:59:00 am

The Tyee today looks at the case of Alex Gervais, who committed suicide while in the care of the Province.
There is no guarantee bad things won’t happen to children and teens, in or out of care. Mistakes will be made, warnings missed.
But Alex didn’t end up in that motel, desperate and a mess, because a mistake was made. The government had set up an underfunded, dysfunctional system that failed him repeatedly, even when the need for help was obvious. ... 
Minister Stephanie Cadieux reacted in the usual way, with sympathy, claims work is already under way, promises of action and some misdirection. 
The problem was not a lack of resources, she said. But that’s not true,  ... If the ministry was adequately funded, ...  Alex would not have been shuffled from placement to placement. He would have had an effective care plan, regularly updated. ... His life could have turned out very differently. ... 
In 2009, when 12-year-old Alex was moving into his fifteenth placement, the ministry budget was $1.4 billion. This year, it’s $1.45 billion. If funding had simply kept up with inflation, the ministry budget would be $51 million higher.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bygone Days in Lynn Valley

There are actually some pretty big things going on - more pre-election announcements from the Liberals, who suddenly have gazillions of dollars for all sorts of things like bridges and... bridges, but in the meantime check out this gem of a report The Lynn Valley Local Plan - Planning Report from back in 1998.

It's fascinating to see how this might of led to the current Official Community Plan, but also how priorities have changed in that time.  There was a strong emphasis on maintaining single family homes, but they also saw a need to protect existing rental housing - something that lots of Lynn Valley renters would  appreciate today.

My favorite part though was about the lack of entertainment in Lynn Valley:
"The lack of entertainment in Lynn Valley was a common concern expressed by people of all ages; the suggestions included a theatre, cinema, bowling alley, a dance club and a pool hall (the last two coming from youth). As well, people of all ages expressed the need for more gathering places. Youth desire affordable places to meet their friends; older people have requested restaurants and attractive resting/seating areas. Private enterprise should be encouraged to provide restaurants and entertainment venues."
A pool hall for Lynn Valley! Love it! Those crazy "youth!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

NSN on Population Changes

If you don't rush to the door each week to breathlessly peruse the North Shore News you may have missed today's lead story by the prolific Brent Richer: West Vancouver’s population shrank in 2016 and the accompanying editorial titled: Blame game(The image above is from the story, and obviously is property of the North Shore news)

In a nutshell, despite the outcry about increased density, the populations of the two North Vancouvers have only seen marginal increases, and West Vancouver has actually lost people.

In their editorial the News makes a very specific and succinct point:
The most commonly blamed culprits are our growing population and residential redevelopment. But, it seems we may have made a wrongful conviction. According to stats released by the province ...  there are fewer people living on the North Shore today than there were a year ago. 
According to BC Stats, in a region where growth and densification are the norm, we’re the laggards despite how it may appear. ...  
It’s time we started having a more evidence-based debate about the problems of and solutions for the North Shore.
If the North Shore is actually losing people it's a significant story, and  one that should frighten any of our local politicians.  I don't think it impossible that the population decline in West Vancouver could make its way across the Capilano River.

As the story in the News suggests, we still need to wait for next batch of statistics to emerge if we're going to have better idea why these changes are happening.

In the meantime, I'm going to agree with the News: lets make decisions based on facts, not emotion, and in the context of this site, let's debate facts, not speculation.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

CNV Ponders Liquor Changes

According to our friends at the North Shore News, the City of North Vancouver is in a minor tizzy over some of the new BC liquor laws.   It seems that the fine publicans at Sailor Hagars feel that competition from restaurants, hair dressing salons , and hardware stores could drive them out of business now that those enterprises can also apply to serve liquor to customers.
“Many businesses – once granted a liquor licence – will stretch the rules of their licence to the nth degree,” he wrote in a letter discussed at council Monday. “We already have many food primary licences (restaurants) that act like bars … do we now want to have barber shops and bookstores operating like bars as well?” 
That may be a fair criticism of the Liberal's changes, but to give credit where it's due, they've been promising "liberalized" liquor laws for a few decades without ever delivering much of consequence beyond allowing a tiny handful of supermarkets to also sell BC wine. Let's applaud an actual effort to live up to a campaign promise.

I would love to see small, quiet enough to have a conversation, big-screen TV-free pubs scattered about the North Shore, close enough to walk, and filled with locals and their dogs, but that is apparently far too radical a notion for this province.  I'm still wondering why there isn't a quiet drinks place in Edgemont Village.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Designated Corruption Thread

The last comment by Hazen Colbert has been removed from the previous discussion topic because it really wasn't on-topic. I had asked who or what we should name things after in our District, and there were actually several interesting suggestions.  Accusations of bribery don't really fit under that umbrella.

Allegations of corruption on the part of our local politicians have plagued this blog for years, usually without any real documented evidence beyond "Developers gave money to their campaign" and "They voted to build a high-rise building that I didn't want."

If there is actual evidence of corruption -- a paper trail, bank records, plain brown envelopes, secret videotapes -- then yes, everyone needs to know about it.

To date, as far as I can tell, no-one has produced the smoking gun.

If you can back up your accusations, this might be one place to do it. If you would prefer, you can email me directly and I'll vet what you have before posting it.

Here are the ground rules before you start typing furiously.

  1. The lack of proper campaign finance laws in this province is not proof of corruption.
  2. I do not think that any of our local officials are lazy enough or shallow enough to be swayed by a couple thousand dollars in campaign donations.  And if they are, then your solution is obvious: dig into your own pocket and make a similar sized donation.
  3. If I give money or time to a politician's campaign, it's because I assume they'll further some cause that I support.  Usually people give money because of a politician's current or past positions, not because they think it will make them vote differently in the future.
  4. However, it's obvious that people who support a campaign in some fashion will have the politico's ear more than someone who doesn't.  That's also not "corruption," it's human nature.
  5. Usually when a local politician votes for something that you don't like it's not because they're "corrupt," it's just that they don't agree with you.
  6. Donations to campaigns are not kick-backs and do not usually directly benefit the candidate.  Yes there are ways to game the system, but on a municipal level we're talking small potatoes, and I doubt many people would bother.
  7. Similarly, developers' contributions to community amenities are not "bribery," even the absurd idea of British Properties paying for extra planning staff in West Van.  Just because it's crazy doesn't make it "corruption."

Two final points before opening this up.

Before you write anything alleging "corruption" or "bribery" I'll expect you to define pretty specifically what those terms mean to you.

Second, the opinions of someone like Hazen Colbert, who not only posts under his own name, but has actually run for office, carry a lot more weight than most Anons.

Disclaimer: If developers, Anti-developers, mountain bikers, oil companies, unions, Marxist-Leninists, or the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation want to finance me I will certainly run for office.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Who Are Our Heros?

News today was from Saskatoon, the Council of which decided not to add a sign at city limits in praise of local girl Joni Mitchell because "Saskatoon is ‘probably too large’ to have a sign saying so at the edge of town."

That got me thinking about what greets visitors to the North Shore when they come over our two beloved bridges - I'm not even sure if there's a "Welcome to..." sign on the roadways.

Assuming there is, what famous North Shore native would we choose to proclaim as one of our own? Karen Magnussen? Bryan Adams?  Todd "Digger" Fiander? Chief Dan George? Al Neil?

Or, even better, do either of the North Vans have an official tag line like "City of Champions?"

Just to get your creative juices flowing, here's an example from Whitesburg KY. When I lived there it only listed one grouch.