Whereas voter turnout for the 2011 election was low at 34.57% and voter turnout for younger generations is typically even lower and whereas the internet is easily accessible and engages a large number of people and in particular, young people, the Green Party of Vancouver should consider whether to promote online voting for City elections.
The fact that only 144,823 people voted for the 2011 City council, but some 704,008 votes were cast for Vancouver's favorite bird suggests that web engagement is a key to increasing voter turnout.
Other electoral districts are turning to online voting such as Leamington, Ontario.
Online voting also reduces environmental waste and cost.
As the internet provides access to information to the broader population and has great potential to facilitate a dialogue between the entire public, all decisions facing City council should be posted on its website with the opportunity for comment and polling. Such website would be consistent with creating a participatory democracy. The fact that Vancouver's favorite bird received more votes than the City Mayor and councilors did in the last election suggests that web engagement is essential to a community-engaged democracy.
Also, as younger generations rely increasingly on the internet and social media and generally participate less in civic affairs than older generations, their engagement would be encouraged through such a forum.
While community consultation remains at the heart of the Green vision, the provision of an additional or alternative way to access and discuss information would be a benefit.
Such a forum should also show how City councilors voted on each issue, which would assist voters in deciding on whom to vote for and would encourage accountability.
From Margit Boronkay:
There should be a law put in place which requires developers to give a percentage of their actual or projected profits to provide housing services to the people they kick out onto the streets. In a similar way, when new, large buildings go up, they must give 1% or a similar figure to buy public art for the building, such as a sculpture.
Seattle is expected to complete the development of its seven-acre Beacon Food Forest site – the largest of its kind in North America – which is expected to produce a bounty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs for free for the taking.
Vancouver should incorporate food production in local parks.
To encourage use of lawn space for local food production, an incentive such as a property tax reduction for proportion of lot used for same (whether garden, chickens, bees or fruit trees) could be implemented. This would also encourage owners to allow urban commercial farmers to use their land (in exchange for weekly produce), which would stimulate local independent food production in the City (providing bylaws are amended to permit commercial food production on residential lots.)
Commercial farming on residential plots is not permitted in Vancouver, yet urban farming is a growing movement that would support local, independent business and encourage sustainable land use and reduced transportation of goods. It would stimulate local economies by re-circulating money and possibly creating an income multiplier effect according to research done by Chris Hild. It would also enable farmers to sell directly to customers and eliminate handling fees.
There is another use for the word "densification" and that is by densifying the use of land not just the people that can live on it. This would be a start.
Home-based businesses should be able to have clients at premises (subject to certain limitations, such as number of clients permitted at time).
Currently, individuals cannot run home-based businesses where clients can attend. This deters start-ups and small scale businesses from operating as it means they are required to find alternative and more costly locations for meeting with clients and customers.
By permitting clients to attend at home-based business locations, this would encourage individuals and professionals to start more independent and neighborhood businesses.
Currently, a home-based business means one for administrative or craft purposes only and clients are not permitted at the premises. Individuals running such businesses, whether they are small scale craft-makers or professionals operating online, are required to pay a business license fee. In essence, a license fee is paid simply to be able to answer business calls from one's own home. In other words, it is a tax. It serves no useful purpose.
Also, it seems that a significant number of individuals use their homes for business purposes and have not purchased a business license. When a large segment of people are not complying with a bylaw, it raises the question of the legitimacy of and need for the bylaw.
This cost places an unnecessary financial burden on and deters small-scale businesses, start-ups and craft businesses. It should be eliminated.
Voting is a habit. Let's hook young citizens!
Young families are leaving the City of Vancouver en masse. I know because I have young children and I have conversations with the parents who are leaving all the time. Many are families with two professional parents who cannot find suitable housing with family features somewhere between a single family home which is too expensive and a condo which does not have appropriate indoor or outdoor play area or enough bedrooms. The downside of this will be neighbourhoods with fewer and fewer children and schools that will not be able to remain open. Not to mention people who live outside of the City and commute every day - most by car sadly - with all the GHGs that entails. Whistler has proven that it is possible to provide homes for families - and others - in a radically unaffordable market and we should look to their strategies. And also to coops who provide multi-unit dwellings with a combination of private and shared outdoor space that is family friendly. We need to zone and incentivize for stacked town homes, fourplexes and so on - and not just along busy arterials that are unsuitable for unsupervised play by young children. Many countries like Australia and the UK have tremendous programs to provide middle sector or workforce affordable housing so that teachers, nurses, firefighters and others can afford to live in the cities where they work. And I think this needs to be a priority for the City of Vancouver too.