Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Last Word

At the end of the day nothing written in the last few weeks has changed my mind, and no-one has stepped up to take over, so I am preparing to let the North Vancouver Politics blog disappear.

If you would like to share some fond memories, now is the time.  Later this month we'll turn off commenting.  Once we've backed up and archived the content, and allowed the Wayback Machine to give it one more capture, we'll put it to rest.

Believe it or not, I actually think that there is merit in preserving what's been posted here in the last few years, and will make sure that happens.    Surely future historians will want to have access to things other than Council minutes and North Shore News archives.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Call For Volunteers

Folks, I remain unconvinced that the North Vancouver Politics blog serves a useful purpose any more.   I'm at one of those points where I need to abandon or hand off a few projects to better focus on core activities, and this is a job that I'm giving up.

If you would like to step up and take a shot at running this place, just email me and I'll hand over the keys to the kingdom.   

My parting advice to anyone who steps in to manage this place is straightforward:  It's of little value to have the same dozen people making the same dozen arguments about the same dozen topics.  Echo chambers never changed anything.

If you want this site to have real value, and to have real influence in the governance of our communities, you'll need to find a way to reach a much larger audience, to get them excited about local politics, and (perhaps most important and difficult) convince them that their opinions and actions will actually make a difference.

Ultimately that's why so few people use this blog, why voter turnout is so low, and why the default in North Vancouver is just to complain about any and all new ideas.  People feel disconnected from their local governments, just as they feel disconnected from senior levels of government, and from the corporations that loom over so much our lives.

That sense of powerlessness is not accidental, and affects each and every one of us. (book recomendation)

If there is one reason to keep this blog alive, it is the continued dismantling of the traditional news media in Canada.  As the giant media conglomerates shut down more and more newspapers, and reduce the actual reporting at those that remain, it is even more important that we develop alternatives.

To be blunt: for the vast majority of North Vancouver residents all news about their local government comes from two sources: The North Shore News or word of mouth.  That's not enough.  The former has too few resources, and the latter is too unreliable.

The challenge here, as in almost every community in Canada, is to find a vehicle that will allow everyone in our community to be well informed in an easy and trustworthy fashion.  A lot of smart people are working on that, but thus far they haven't found the magic formula.

So step up and offer to take over,  If there's no serious interest I'll archive the content and turn out the lights.

Otherwise, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Friday, November 24, 2017 Why continue all this nonsense?

In February of 2005 this blog was founded with the following words: Why start all this nonsense? 
Quite simply because as residents of North Vancouver there are several layers of political activity that can have a dramatic impact on our lives. Many (If not most of us) tend to leave the goings on a City Hall, the provincial legislature or Ottawa to the political junkies and those with an immediate vested interest in a particular decision or initiative. We believe there is a need for an open forum for all of us to share our thoughts on the local political scene, and over time, make them available to others. We will put the topics forward, propose different points of view, and let everyone jump in. Right or wrong. We'll see if it works, but there will be no harm done in giving it the old college try. North Vancouver needs to be heard!
This was almost to the day when Facebook was launched at Harvard, and a year and half before Facebook opened their doors to people other than students.  It was a year before Twitter launched. five years before Instagram, and two years before the iPhone appeared.  It was eleven years before Russian trolls  started flooding social media with Fake News about Hillary Clinton.

At that time blogs and forums were the platforms of choice, and email lists still ruled the Internet -- as well as Usenet.

Times have changed in in cyberspace, and the way that people discuss politics has changed with it.

After many months of moderating this blog I have to ask the question: does it still serve a purpose?  Local politicians avoid it like the plague, as do most informed and thoughtful people in the local political scene.  The number of non-Anon participants can be counted on one hand, and my suspicion is that even the Anons number less than two dozen people.

On one hand I'm pleased that we've managed to greatly reduce the flame wars, trolling, and one-issue content that made the blog so unpleasant.  I'm glad to see the end of inflammatory and unfounded allegations about our elected officials.  But although the quality of discussion has improved greatly, the volume of traffic has slowed to a crawl, and even that tends to repeat a handful of themes over and over.

In looking at archived pages over at the Internet Archive it's apparent that is nowhere near the thriving place that it used to be.

I emailed John Sharpe and Barry Forward a while back, suggesting that maybe it's time to wrap up the site.  No word from them, but I'm still feeling that way.  I'm also open to handing it over to someone with more time and connections who can, just possibly, revitalize it.

So folks? What say you?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jane Thornthwaite, Champion of Transit!

The North Shore News reports that MLA Jane Thornthwaite is now a proponent of a Skytrain line to and across the North Shore.  She has even come up with a map.
It would have been nice if our MLA had championed this level of transit improvement when her party was in power. As far as I know Thornthwaite never so much as made a peep while the Liberals underfunded transit in favour of bridges.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Real Estate Prices, Here and There.

Who says Vancouver real estate is out of control? In much of the Vancouver region you can pick up a habitable house for around 1.3 million.

Then again, if you spend the same amount in Normandy you can get:
Spacious 18th Century 6 Bedroom Petit Chateau with Coach House and Stables and Dovecote set on 7.4 acres of Garden and Grounds with orchard, small Lake and far reaching Views. Approached over it's own tree lined private driveway this superb property offers 300 m² of living space with the potential to create further accommodation in the attic and lower ground floors. Located 45 minutes from the regional capital of Caen and 15 minutes from a town with main line railway connections to Paris (2 hrs). The property which provides a large comfortable family home has huge potential to create a Chambre d'Hotes and Gite accommodation if required. Many original features are retained including Parquet floors and Marble fireplaces. 

Are we mad to live here?

Thursday, October 05, 2017

"The Global Canadian" hits the streets

In an age when printed newspapers are supposed to be dying off, the North Shore just added a new publication.  The Global Canadian can be found in a handful of locations in North and West Vancouver, with broader distribution (and a web site) coming soon.

The new paper is the brainchild of Gagandeep Ghuman, perhaps best known for the Squamish Reporter, which took aim at the North Shore News' sister publication The Squamish Chief

The Global Canadian is a broadsheet, a format that seems to say "serious journalism," and it seems that Ghuman likes long form journalism that allows the writer to really dig into a story.   The question he'll need to answer is whether North Shore Readers (and advertisers) will prefer the more hard news style of his paper over the light and breezy North Shore News.

Included in Issue One are stories on:
  • Horseshoe Bay ferry pollution
  • the ONNI bowling alley
  • Edgemont trash cans
  • Mayor Walton's higher learning
  • West Van's bridge to nowhere
  • Bike lane opinions
  • A two page infographic about North Shore churchgoers.

You can find the paper at:

WV Locations

Marine Drive and 25th (Dundarave, outside IGA grocery store)

Marine and 15th street (Behind bus stop, outside the gas station)

6330 Bay street (Horseshoe Bay, across from Blenz coffee shop near the ferry terminal)

Bellevue and 17th (outside CIBC bank, east of Fresh St Market)

CNV Locations

Lonsdale between 13th and 14th (Outside Scotiabank)

Lonsdale between 14th and 15th (Outside McNews)

Lonsdale between 16th and 17th (Outside Loblaws)

Lonsdale between 17 and 18th (Across from Browns)

Esplanade and Lonsdale (Outside the Pinnacle Hotel)

Brooksbank and Cotton Rd (The bus stop besides the mall)

DNV Locations

Edgemont and Crescentview drive (outside HSBC bank)

Edgemont and Highland (Outside COBS Bread)

Woodbine and Edgemont

Pemberton and 15th (Outside ethnic food aisle)

Gallant Ave and Panorama (Deep Cove, outside Café Orso)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How Much House is Too Much?

This week a client living in the Caplano Highlands told me that they were looking for a new house.  In her words "2500 square feet is just more than we need."  That would be two adults, two kids, and a dog.

Lucky for them both the City and District are looking at ways to take single family lots and turn them into two family homes.

The City has designated one area for studying the possibility of of allowing duplexes to increase density.  Deadline for study participation is September 25th.
The Duplex Special Study will explore low density housing options (such as duplex development) for the 300 blocks of East 13th to 19th Street in consultation with area residents. This effort will contribute to the implementation of the City’s Housing Action Plan (2016) which established strategies to address the housing needs of City residents including the provision of smaller, more affordable ownership options and increasing the stock of accessory rental units in proximity to transit and services.
The District meanwhile is looking into the idea of subdividing large lots in Upper Capilano to allow two smaller houses.  As reported in the North Shore News:
District of North Vancouver council voted Monday night to begin drawing up an amended bylaw that would make it easier for people who own 66-foot lots in the Upper Capilano neighbourhood to subdivide them into two 33-foot lots. 
If approved by council following a public hearing, the district would create new “small lot infill areas” or SLIAs along the north side of Montroyal Boulevard between Cliffridge Avenue and Ranger Avenue, and on Canyon Boulevard and Clements Avenue between Ranger and Belvedere Drive. Council is also reviewing the possibility of adding the 1000 block of Prospect Avenue.
(I will leave it to others to imagine the impact of these subdivisions at a time when every road into or out of Capilano Highlands is still under construction.)

Missing from either of these proposals is a recognition that something like a third of people in the Lower Mainland live in rental accommodation. I've seen no tangible plans to increase that pool, though maybe our newly minted provincial government will find a way.

(Admin note: I have finally updated the list of links on the right hand sidebar. If there are any that you think should be added, drop me an email.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inter River Turf Wars!

Many thanks to Jerry Silver for pointing me to the Inter River Community Association, and their efforts to challenge plans to add two new artificial turf fields at the park of the same name. As they describe it on their web site:

The proposal includes the following key changes:

  • Replacement of an existing grass field with artificial turf
  • Removal of at least 1.5 hectares of forest to make way for a second turf field
  • Installation of tournament lighting towers on both proposed fields, allowing these fields to operate after dark
  • Additional parking plus a clubhouse and other sports club and tournament services

    There has been minimal consultation with area residents about these plans. Here are some of the issues residents are concerned about:
  • Loss of this forested area would have a negative impact to the overall quality of life to many people of diverse backgrounds in our community
  • Loss of this forested area would also represent a significant loss of ecological value and is a contravention of the District’s strategic commitment to tree retention and environmental sustainability
  • Increased traffic and noise, with fields operating year-round and late into the evening
  • The impact of artificial turf on health and safety
  • The loss of informal recreational space used by young families who live in the area and other residents, in favour of pay-to-play fields targeted to visiting sports teams

If this interests you, you should also be paying attention to the upcoming revision of the District Parks Bylaw.  These changes will impact every park user.  Check out the minutes and video from last May's Council Workshop.

And while still on Parks, do check out he new Lynn Valley Link trail loop, running from Princess Park, to Inter River, up to and beyond the suspension bridge, and across the Baden Powell back to the park.  The official launch is next weekend, and you should get out and hike part of it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to School Days

It's been a fairly quiet month since Christy Clark finally shuffled off to Buffalo Point Grey.  Despite the predictions of various right wing pundits and "Think Tanks" the world has not come to an end, people still have jobs, and anarchists are hardly ever seen rioting in the streets of Vancouver.  Somehow the Vancouver Sun/Province has managed to not to blame the Horgan government for all of the record breaking wildfires. (Then again, they seem to have also ignored stories about Liberal cuts to spending on fire prevention.)

Locally there are people in the City angry about the giant waterslide; in the District one council member is leading the revolt against the new "bear-proof" garbage bins, and we're heading towards the first possible approval of Beers and Haircuts in Lynn Valley.  And of course in both municipalities the big issue is, as always, traffic, bridges, construction, and the unholy combination of all three.

Or the lack of bike lanes, transit, and continuous sidewalks, if you're not vehicularly inclined.

It almost seems that after expending all too much energy on battling (or at least complaining about) the various "town center" and other major developments in recent years the activists in our cities have just run out of steam, and can't find it in themselves to raise a respectable ruckus these days.

Then again, it is summer, it is sunny, the PNE is on, and all of our North Shore concerns look pretty petty compared to what Trump is delivering south of the border.  Perhaps instead of looking for things to complain about, the nay-sayers are counting their blessings.

But September approaches, so if you've got a bee in your bonnet about local politics now is the time to sit down and write your version of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation."  Be sure to include some links and background information, and refrain from name calling, and email it to me.  If it's half ways interesting yours could be the first topic of the new school year.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Drunken Dreads Coming to Lynn Valley?

The Zazou Salon & Academy, located in Lynn Valley Village (aka at the Lynn Valley Library) has applied for a liquor licence.  (Disclaimer: I'm a sometimes customer, and really like the people there, their strong community involvement, and their impressive charitable work.)  I'm assuming that they plan on offering adult customers a beer or a glass of wine while they get a cut or colour.  I don't think they plan on competing with the Black Bear or Browns for the Friday night hockey game knock back a dozen brews crowd.

I say "I assume" because you would be hard pressed to find any more information, especially on the District of North Vancouver web site.

You'll recall that allowing some businesses like hair salons to serve liquor was one of the pre-election goodies doled out by ex-Premier Christy Clark.  Even though Christy has now disappeared back to her riding... um... Point Grey, the new regulations remain.

In many ways Zazou is probably a perfect business to try out this new licencing regime.  They're unique, they're local, and they always have been able to balance a sense of fun with the serious work of running a successful business.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a few Council meetings that will rival chickens for entertainment.

Edit: the application is expected to come before Council in September.

Added: Here's the notice from the District sent to local businesses.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Is the North Shore Ready for Fire?

Like everyone else I've been watching the wildfires in the interior of BC, and even had family members unable to get to their home near Kelowna.  It's all a good reminder that we're also sitting on the edge of forest, and sometimes the woods get pretty hot and dry.

Here on the North Shore we have a regional body that coordinates emergency services - North Shore Emergency Management. From their offices above the RCMP detachment in North Vancouver they offer workshops, training, and try to anticipate what kinds of disasters might befall us, and how we might survive.  They do good work.

Still though, if you scour their site you'll see a whole lot of "be prepared" advice - fill up your closets with food, water, and Grab and Go bags, and don't forget about your cats and dogs -  but not much about what is in place after the Big One arrives.

In working with the NSEM people the one thing I took away is that you really need to think about your own circumstance, how you might find yourself isolated if one or more bridges are blocked, and a realisation that it will quickly come down to every person for themselves.

As much as we might snicker at the Preppers south of the border,  we should understand that our local and provincial governments probably won't have resources available to help everyone who needs it.

This month, as soon as this year's fires abate, you can expect a series of stories describing a lack of resources for people who have lost homes or jobs,  shortfalls in government services, and complaints about mean-spirited insurance companies.  And, if we're lucky, an examination of how many of the recommendations that followed the 2003 Firestorm Review were actually acted on.

In the meantime we should all be talking to our elected officials about what we can expect in the event of an earthquake or major fire.

UPDATE: Hot off the presses at the District of North Vancouver is the new  Community Wildfire Protection Plan 

Monday, July 03, 2017

Sunny Days!

(Not a reference to either Trudeau or Lighthouse.)

We have a new government in BC, one which the Vancouver Sun is already painting as Dangerous and Socialist.

We have survived a sesquicentennial, that most pointless of celebrations, with only minor faux pas, aside from irritating the peoples who lived here before 1867.

The Grouse Grind is open, thousands of weekend hikers have come out of hibernation, and North Shore Rescue are working overtime to keep up with the demand.

Al Neil's cabin is being renovated, and kids of all ages are heading into sports, academic, Bible, or music camps.

Lynn Valley Days are a faint memory, but Harmony Arts is fast approaching.

So, is anyone still thinking about municipal politics?  Or does the North Shore find it impossible to tear itself away from the Bar-B-Que?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Meanwhile in Ottawa

In the Middle of the Road we have Justin Trudeau, who seems to be disappointing everyone except his mother.  On the far Right we have Andrew Scheer, a name and face unknown to probably 98% of Canadians, now leader of the Conservative Party.

And on the Left* there's another leadership campaign, except that probably 85% of Canadians don't know about it, in large part because the media doesn't seem all that interested.  My vote, if I were a member, would be for Chuck Angus, but that's mostly because I'm a major fan of his old band, the Grievous Angels.

Still though, I thought I'd toss up some tweets from some of  the other contenders:

Niki Ashton is probably too far left for the contemporary NDP, but hope springs eternal.
Apparently Atlantic Canada is the place to be for aspiring NDP leaders.  Just avoid Barrington Street.

I'm guessing that the "bilingual" comment is a thinly veiled reference to Kevin O'Leary?

With the next federal election coming up just another couple of years I have to wonder what the next campaign season will bring us.   Anyone care to guess?

(* The NDP of today steers clear of "controversial" positions, support Free Trade and Israel, and you would be hard pressed to find the word "union" on any of their campaign materials.  They may be "left" of the Tories and Liberals, but many people don't see them as anything but centrist.)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Branding the North Shore

You have to hand it to the City of North Vancouver - they've got their marketing on track, selling LoLo as the hip place to be, with condos, nightlife, and easy improved Seabus access to Vancouver.  In many ways the City has been pretty successful at reinventing itself.

So if Lower Lonsdale is the place for bearded, tattooed, flat white drinking  hipsters, who is the District aiming itself at?  Their web site doesn't really offer a clue, it's strictly nuts and bolts stuff.  The Official Community Plan talks about adding 40,000 more people to the North Shore, but doesn't spend a lot of time considering who those people will be.

Families? Townhouses in our strata have just passed the $1 million dollar mark, so a lot of small families will surely be priced out of Lynn Valley unless they have inherited wealth.  Seniors? A growing group all over the country, but they too are facing financial squeezes as pensions fail to keep up with rising living expenses.  Foreign investors and immigrants?  That seems to be where West Vancouver's real estate has been heading.

The question for the District of North Vancouver is probably pretty simple: do we keep trying to maintain whatever we are now (or believe that we have been in the recent past), or do we try to plan for a new type of community and population?  Do we keep believing that because the last few decades were about single family homes, that the next half century will be the same?

Or is it time for a laissez-faire approach, just hoping that everything will work itself out?

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where—" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"—so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Chickens Redux

Get ready to flock down to the District next Tuesday evening for the Public Hearing to discuss Bylaw 8211 – Keeping of Backyard Hens.

Keeping of Domestic Hens Bylaw 8211, 2016
Purpose of Bylaw:
Bylaw 8211 proposes to regulate and allow for the keeping of backyard hens in a safe, humane, and sanitary manner that is sensitive to the needs of neighbouring properties and the environment. The bylaw will permit from two up to six hens in the District of North Vancouver in any of the Single-Family Residential Zones (RS), subject to compliance with the bylaw.

Agenda here
Public Comments here
Report to Council with more information about chicken keeping than you ever thought you would need (132 pages) here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
7:00 p.m.
Council Chamber, Municipal Hall
355 West Queens Road,
North Vancouver, BC

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Sacred Single Family Home

Come on down, and join the throngs of people determined to eliminate the single family home.
Then we'll destroy capitalism!

The Sacred Single Family Home: What are we trying to protect and why?

With the interconnectedness of transportation and housing costs, is the concept of the “single family home” living in an (unaffordable) nostalgic past? How can we help facilitate more affordable housing while reducing environmental impact on the North Shore?

Join panelists Michael Geller, architect and developer, Krista Tulloch, member of the District of North Vancouver Official Community Plan Implementation Committee, Cameron Maltby, specialist in custom home design, and Neal LaMontagne , City Planner and Adjunct Professor at UBC and Langara College.

Wednesday May 17

7 – 8 pm, doors open at 6:30

Lynn Valley Village Community Room -1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver

Metro Conversations has partnered with SFU Public Square and the North Vancouver District Public Library to take on the 'burbs of North Vancouver: what are we protecting with the single family home and why? Doors open at 6:30pm.

Register here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Single, in Single Family Homes

Wow. An amazing stat tonight from Mathew Bond:

In District of , 1780 people live alone in single family homes. 11% of single family homes. I'm unsure what to think about that . .

Obviously each home represents a specific story. My mom, now 89, sold the big old family home and bought a great, small, bungalow in Kelowna, and expects to live there til she dies. Or until the ever increasing Hydro rates finally overtake the never-increasing CPP and OAS pensions she lives on.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is Naomi in Trouble?

Riding projections from Éric 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.