VSB trustees accountable for toxic work environment

POSTED ON
June 23

With the recent resignation of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) superintendent I’ve been asked, “What was really going on at the VSB?  I don’t know what to believe.” 

Looking back at the trustees’ behaviour I witnessed and reading the two investigation reports I believe VSB staff were bullied and harassed.  As a newly elected trustee, I stepped into a pre-existing board dynamic that I found overly partisan and very challenging to work in, and did not fully realize the impact of trustees’ behaviour on staff. 

janet_fraser_sun_oped_june2017_450x299.jpgDr. Janet Fraser (Green Party of Vancouver)
Elected Vancouver School Board Trustee in 2014

Trustees have the right to ask hard questions, and should do so to better serve the district’s students, but along with that right is the responsibility to ensure that all employees have a safe and respectful work environment. The WorkSafeBC report gives four specific examples of inappropriate conduct or comments that a trustee reasonably ought to have known would cause staff to be humiliated or intimidated and were seen as bullying and harassment. The Goldner report accepts that relentless and aggressive questioning created a culture of fear in which staff dreaded their attendance at meetings where they would be expected to report to the Board, particularly if they knew that their recommendations would not be well received.

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Councillor Carr Motion for 100% Social Housing @ 105 Keefer Site

POSTED ON
June 13

AC_in_green_at_Council.pngToday Vancouver City Council voted on the rezoning application to develop a 12 storey mixed use tower, including luxury condos, at 105 Keefer Street and 544 Columbia Street in an area that had been zoned for up to 9 storeys and an area that is home to seniors on fixed incomes as well as cultural centres and independent shops that could all be driven out of Chinatown through increased rents throughout the neighbourhood as a result of projects like this.  Council heard from concerned members of the community over four days of public hearings, on May 23, 25, 26 and 29. Throughout our city, residents have taken to writing op eds in the media; rallying their friends, family and colleagues online and in person, concerned about the very serious impact this project could have on the unique historic community of Chinatown. The public input brought forward about this project was massive – perhaps bigger than for any other proposed rezoning in recent years – with the majority of speakers, emails and petitioners opposed to the project, noting it is too high and too big. 

During the final discussion and vote today, Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr raised a number of key questions, including:

  • What is the timeline for Council consideration of the City’s Chinatown Revitalization Process, including staff recommendations that tall and wide buildings will no longer be considered and that the Rezoning Policy for Chinatown South should be cancelled.
  • Clarification of the number of market condos that have been built recently in Chinatown. .
  • How many other inquiries and applications for rezonings are underway in current HA-1A (Chinatown Historic Area) zoned area.
  • Whether BC Housing agreed to purchase the 25 social housing units proposed for 105 Keefer at cost or at a profit to the developer.
  • Whether the project’s 149 foot frontage on Keefer contravenes zoning or policies, as was suggested by a number of speakers.
  • Explain why there are no Community Amenity Contributions being offered by the developer?
  • Whether more profit would be generated with the sale of condos on the top 3 floors (the additional floors that are the subject of the rezoning) than lower floors.
  • Whether the City owns property of a sufficient size and zoning to do a landswap with the proponent.
  • Whether this application could be referred back to staff to reconsider appropriate height and massing for the site.
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Monthly Donor Incentive Program

POSTED ON
June 11

The Green Party of Vancouver does not accept funding from developers. As such, we rely on individual donations from valued supporters such as you. We are launching a new campaign this month to reward those individuals who sign up to become a monthly donor.

Monthly donations help to ensure reliable and consistent funding, enabling the Green Party of Vancouver to be a voice for our local communities and to prepare for the upcoming municipal election in 2018.

Between now and July 15, 2017, new monthly donors will receive the following rewards as a gesture of our gratitude:

  • $10/month or more: a customized Green Party of Vancouver tote bag.
  • $20/month or more: GPV tote bag + invitation to our donor appreciation event at Portside Pub in Gastown.
  • $30/month or more: GPV tote bag + invitation to Portside + additional invitation to an exclusive reception with your elected Green Caucus!

You may receive a call from one of our volunteers over the next few weeks to tell you more about it, but no need to wait for a phone call. You can leap ahead by signing up today!

 Make_a_difference.jpg

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Housing Reset Needs Real Public Consultation

POSTED ON
March 30

Screen_Shot_2014-04-16_at_1.26.03_PM.pngThis week Vancouver city staff presented to Council a grand re-think
of the city’s Housing and Homelessness strategy. It’s obvious they needed to do this. Our housing strategy has failed.  We’re more unaffordable than ever.  The vacancy rate is near zero. There are more
empty homes, many owned by non-residents, than ever. Employers can’t retain talent. People, especially young families, are leaving. 

Ever since I was elected, I’ve been pushing at the Council table to link our housing strategies to the true measure of affordability: that a household should spend no more than 30% of household income on rent. That’s finally what staff have recommended. And that’s exactly where any successful housing strategy has to start.

The Housing and Homelessness Strategy Reset is refreshing in its candid acknowledgement that Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis is getting worse; that increasing supply isn’t the answer (unlike what is often said by developers or senior governments); that the real solution is in the right supply – i.e., housing that is truly affordable to people who live here.

Building more supply hasn’t created more affordability. The market rate rental units we’ve enticed builders to build by waiving millions of dollars in development levies and Community Amenity Contributions is unaffordable for the majority of renters. It’s frightening to realize that 46,000 renter households in Van spend more than 30% of their incomes on rent. And that most have no long term leases or security of tenure.

The report is grounded in all the right principles. But it did raise some major concerns. Staff consulted with senior governments and convened many expert advisory committees, but they did not meet with Vancouver’s existing resident associations.  They suggested a complete “rethinking” of the city’s RS (single family) zones, but didn’t allow the time that would obviously needed to consult on that kind of major change.

I feel strongly that this is the right time to change how the City of Vancouver “consults”. What we need is a truly robust engagement process that generates ideas and builds consensus, maybe even a detailed household survey that gets neighbours discussing their answers over coffee or tea as happened during the CityPlan process of the 1990s, not “Talk Vancouver” on-line input and story-board open houses.

That’s what led me to move several amendments.

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Unanimous Support for Mackinnon Motion on Cetacean Ban

POSTED ON
March 10

stuart-mackinnon.jpgVancouver, BC - On Thursday, March 9, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously voted to amend the Parks Control 
By-law to prohibit cetacean captivity in Vancouver Parks. 

The Park Board considered four options and heard from speakers over the course of two consecutive evenings. The options included:

  1. Call on City Council to include an
    assent question (plebiscite) in the
    2018 municipal election.
  2. Accept the Aquarium's February 20th announced plans (bring back belugas
    from other institutions to the Vancouver Aquarium but discontinue display of belugas by 2029).
  3. Amend the Parks Control By-laws (including a ban).
  4. Maintain the status quo.

After hearing from speakers, Green Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon moved and NPA Commissioner Kirby-Yung seconded the following motion:

"THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation directs staff to bring forward for enactment by the Board an amendment to the Parks Control By-law to prohibit the importation and display of live cetaceans in Vancouver parks and report back not later than May 15, 2017."

In 2010, Commissioner Mackinnon moved a motion calling for a plebiscite on the future of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver Parks in the 2011 Vancouver municipal election. While that motion did not succeed, his latest motion calling for a ban was supported unanimously.  After hearing from speakers, 0ne by one, each of the seven commissioners voted in support of the motion.

"Tonight is the culmination of thousands of caring people's work. I stand shoulder to shoulder in pride with them. It was a very good night," said Mackinnon of the outcome of the vote.

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Council Gives Green Light to Carr’s Motion for Judicial Review of Pipeline Approval

POSTED ON
February 22

DON_4215_cropped.jpg

(VANCOUVER, BC - February 22, 2017) In an 8:2 vote today, Vancouver City Council passed a motion submitted by Councillor Adriane Carr to pursue a judicial review of the Province’s decision to give environmental approval to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline Expansion project in BC. The motion was seconded by Councillor Andrea Reimer. The two NPA councillors present voted against the motion.
 
Speakers to Carr’s motion included Councillor Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil Waututh Nation, who told Council that her First Nation had completed their own independent assessment of the Kinder Morgan project, included studies by 12 scientists, and had offered to share the results with the Premier and Province but did not even receive a response back to their request to meet.  Speakers also included representatives of the Georgia Strait Alliance and Wilderness Committee.
 
“I’m very happy with the decision,” said Councillor Carr who explained that the city’s legal staff will now have to prepare a petition to be heard by the Supreme Court of BC which, if successful, will lead to the Court then conducting the judicial review of the Province’s decision. If the Court determines that the Province erred in issuing the Environmental Assessment Certificate, it could require that more environmental studies be done.

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