Summary of candidates debate in Mount Pleasant (October 20, 2014)

Crowd Heritage Hall

Heritage Hall was completely packed for a Vancouver City Council Candidates’ debate held on October 20th, 2014.

We’d like to thank Miranda Nelson of the Straight for moderating the debate. A big thanks also goes out to all candidates who participated: Councillor George Affleck (NPA), Pete Fry (Green), Keith Higgins (COPE), Ken Low (NPA), Councillor Adriane Carr (Green), Nicholas Chernen (Cedar), Councillor Raymond Louie (Vision) and Tim Louis (COPE).

We will post additional photos and videos of the event. The first half of the debate consisted of  crowd-sourced questions. Questions from the floor were answered during the second half of the debate.

moderator and panel for Oct 20 Candidates debate

The following crowd-sourced questions were posed to the candidates:

A. Questions (First 3 to be answered by each candidate, 90 seconds):

A1. Form of development

UBC Professor Patrick Condon has stated that the population of Vancouver could be doubled by building only 4 storeys or lower along arterials.

Question: What is your view on the form of development for the City? (Should highrise towers be limited to the downtown core? Or should the tower form of development be used in neighbourhoods across Vancouver?)

A2. Public safety, property crime

The Surrey election is all about public safety. But in Vancouver, official statistics and the perception of crime may appear to be lower. Nonetheless, we received the following question from Mount Pleasant:

“What about safety in our neighbourhood? There have been numerous break-ins, assaults and thefts in stores and businesses. We worked hard for 10 years to rid the area of crime, but now it is back.”

Question: If elected, what will you do about property crime, bike theft, shoplifting and vandalism?

A3. Spot rezonings

Increasing density in a neighbourhood is often a lively and contentious issue. And debates about density are often about the building form (high rise, medium rise, low rise, etc.) that will be used to increase density.

Question: Should residents of neighbourhoods, such as Mount Pleasant, be given more choice in the way density is increased? If elected will you commit to stopping the practice of “spot rezoning”, particularly when it contravenes the content, intent and spirit of neighbourhood plans?

[RAMP addition: Several blocks from here a spot rezoning is proposed — at Kingsway and 11th Avenue — that was not contemplated under the Mount Pleasant Community Plan.

Question: What is your opinion of Council policies such as Rental 100 and the Interim Rezoning Policy that can override existing zoning and community plans?]

B. Questions for every second candidate (one from each party)

B1. Campaign finance disclosure (quick response)

The main mayoral candidates in Toronto announced that they will voluntarily release the list of their donors prior to their municipal election.

Questions: Do you think this example should be followed in Vancouver? (Yes or no.) As a show of good faith, will you (and/or your party) promise to release any of your campaign finance data BEFORE this election, even though it is not required by law? (Yes or no.)

[RAMP note: Legislation only requires election financial disclosure 90 days after the election.]

B2. Preservation of heritage homes and character homes

“I live in Kitsilano, and I am very unhappy about the demolition of perfectly good houses in my area. Some blocks have 4 to 5 houses demolished. We are losing our heritage in Kits, losing the community feeling with all of the empty houses and of course the ridiculous prices to buy, forcing long time residents to move away.”

Question: If elected would you work towards stopping the demolitions and consider saving the Hollywood Theatre and other cultural heritage assets?

[RAMP note: Mount Pleasant is also losing old homes. For example a 100-year-old building across from Guelph Park at 348 East 7th Avenue was demolished recently without a review by the City. This house was not on heritage register]

B3. The Downtown Historic Railway (question from “Friends of the Olympic Line”)

The City of Vancouver invested 8.5 million dollars in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics for the Demonstration Streetcar from Granville Island to the Canada Line. This was three quarters of the investment needed to complete an operable community-connector streetcar service from Granville Island to Science World.

In the City’s proposed 2015-2018 Capital Plan, $400,000 of funding for “renewal of transit infrastructure” has been earmarked for “decommissioning” this Downtown Historic Railway. Many people believe there is considerable potential for a community streetcar service connecting False Creek Village’s 15,000 residents and surrounding Vancouver neighborhoods.

Question: What is your opinion of the idea of dismantling of the Historic Railway?

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