Posts Tagged "city"

28Jul

Vancouver city councillor wants temporary restaurant, bar patios made permanent | CBC News

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A Vancouver city councillor wants to make the temporary patios that have popped up outside restaurants, cafes, bars and breweries during the COVID-19 pandemic a permanent fixture in the city every summer. 

Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung says she’s filed a draft motion to Vancouver city council asking staff to report back on the results of the city’s Temporary Expedited Patio Program, as well as options to have an annual seasonal patio program. 

“I think it’s something that people would like to see stick around,” Kirby-Yung said.

“We’ve unleashed an appetite for much more creative, people-focused use of our public space, and I’d like to see that continue.”

260 patios approved

The city started accepting applications for the temporary patios on June 1, after the provincial government decided to allow businesses like restaurants, cafés and breweries to apply to expand their service licenses.

The province recognized the need to help the hard hit restaurant industry recover from the pandemic. The wider service area was not meant to increase occupancy levels, but to allow for physical distancing. 

Local governments were tasked with approving the patio requests, and since then, more than 260 patios have popped up throughout Vancouver. 

Motion to be reviewed on Sept. 15 

In addition to the social aspects of more patios, Kirby-Yung said they have been a lifeline for the city’s struggling restaurant sector. 

“They said they just couldn’t have made the numbers work with the physical distancing requirements if they had been limited to their indoor spaces,” Kirby-Yung said.

“This is something that has honestly kept them going.”

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said it makes “complete sense.”
 
“Business likes certainty and as a result they will be able to build patio sales into their business plan in the future,” Tostenson said.
 


 
As far as opposition goes, Kirby-Yung says she’s heard little pushback besides some accessibility concerns that have more to do with items like bicycles resting near the patios, which have to be taken down every day. 
 
The motion also proposes a review of the nine pop-up plazas across the city that provide commons-style gathering and eating spaces.

Kirby-Yung says the motion will be reviewed during a Sept. 15 meeting following the council’s summer break.

For now, people can enjoy Vancouver’s new patios until the end of October, when the current licenses expire. 

14Jul

5 things that separate the good neighbourhoods from the great, according to B.C. city planner | CBC News

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As the search for Metro Vancouver’s best neighborhood continues, a former Vancouver chief city planner says there are a few factors that separate the good from the great.

Brent Toderian, an urbanist who led Vancouver’s city planning from 2006 to 2012, says a neighbourhood is more than just a collection of physical things. 

“It’s also a social collection of people and things and activities that can be defined and assembled to make up a city,” he says.

“Debating which of those is better is going to vary greatly depending on what your own value system is.”

Brent Toderian says individuals’ values and needs ultimately matter when choosing what neighbourhood is best for them. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Toderian stresses that the greatness of a neighbourhood is ultimately based on an individual’s own needs but noted there are a few universal factors that separate some neighbourhoods from the rest of the pack.

WATCH | Brent Toderian explains the 5 things that define a great neighbourhood:

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former chief city planner, shares five things he thinks makes a neighbourhood ‘great.’ 2:51

1. Accessibility 

A complete neighbourhood is one that is able to meet all the needs of a resident within a short distance. Think easy access to the grocery store, parks and societal comforts all within blocks. 

Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood seen from a rooftop patio on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

2. Space

Toderian says great neighbourhoods encourage people to be active, mobile and healthy, because they are more able to walk to places for services, gatherings and recreation.

Having ample room for activity is a key requirement for a healthy neighbourhood. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

3. Diversity

Equitable and fair neighbourhoods allow for a mix of people from different backgrounds and economic status, says Toderian.

“All is not just tolerated but celebrated in terms of that diversity [when] you’ve built a level of equity into the physical and social fabric of the neighbourhood.”

Welcoming neighbourhoods are ones with a mix of people from different backgrounds. (Evan Mitsui)

4. Green and sustainable

Sustainable green neighbourhoods exist when their carbon footprint is lower due to design. If your neighborhood is more walkable or rideable by bicycle, residents end up using less energy, like fossil fuels, to get around, meaning emissions and air pollution are generally lower.

Having ample room for activity is a key requirement for a healthy neighbourhood. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

5. Character and identity

A sustainable and successful neighbourhood is one that people can fall in love with. It might have heritage, a great social life or is uniquely identifiable.

Toderian says a great neighbourhood is one that has its own personality and is easily distinguishable from living anywhere else.

A great neighbourhood is uniquely identifiable. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver? You can take part in the voting until Aug. 21 when a winner will be revealed.

10Jul

Vancouver park board staff drafts rules for overnight homeless camping in city parks | CBC News

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Vancouver Park Board staff have drafted proposed bylaw changes that would allow homeless people to camp overnight in city parks. 

According to a staff report, a rising number of people have been seeking temporary shelter in parks and public spaces due to the ongoing homelessness crisis in Vancouver, impacting public access to park space and amenities.

In July 2019, staff say they were directed to report back on options to manage camping and encampments in parks.

Staff is now recommending several amendments to sections of the Parks Control Bylaw, which restrict temporary shelter in parks.

Ban on shelters unconstitutional

The report cites a 2009 B.C. Supreme Court ruling which established that preventing a homeless person from putting up a tent for overnight shelter breaches their constitutional rights. As such, staff say several park board bylaws are unconstitutional, including: 

  • Remaining in a park after posted hours (Section 3b).
  • Taking up temporary abode overnight (Section 10).
  • Erecting any tent or shelter without permission (Section 11).

Park staff are proposing the Parks Control Bylaw be amended to allow people to erect temporary overnight shelters in parks “when they have no other housing or shelter options.” 

The relevant sections would be modified to allow for temporary shelters, with guidance on where they can be erected, what restrictions apply and how the space can be used. 

The report recommends that shelters only be permitted overnight and be removed each morning, that is dusk to 7 a.m., with an extra hour for cleanup, unless the park board general manager designates an area for temporary daytime shelter.

Shelter restrictions

Staff say they have identified several areas where shelters would not be allowed:

  • On or within a beach, pond, lake or dock, trail, bridge, seawall, roadway or park entrance.
  • Natural area.
  • Flowerbed or horticultural display area.
  • Pool or water park.
  • Sports field, sports court or golf course.
  • Community centre or fieldhouse.
  • Bleacher, stage, gazebo, public monument, picnic area, picnic shelter or washroom. 
  • Designated off-leash dog area.
  • Designated special event area.
  • Within  25 metres of playgrounds and schools. 

Other restrictions include:

  • A footprint no greater than nine square metres.
  • No campfires, lighted candles, propane lanterns or stoves or similar devices.
  • Shelters cannot be left unattended.
  • Shelters can’t be used to sell goods or conduct business without the permission of the park board. 

The amendments were supposed to be reviewed at a special board meeting in March 2020, but the meeting was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The special meeting will now take place July 13, 2020.

25May

City to consider using public space for public drinking, not just beaches and parks

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Imagine sitting on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery and having a beer with the grilled cheese sandwich you just bought from a food truck.

Two Vancouver city councillors are pitching the idea to create designated public spaces for the consumption of alcohol.

“It’s not going to be possible for all restaurants to have patios,” said Pete Fry, who co-submitted the motion with follow Green councillor Michael Wiebe.

The motion calls for working with Vancouver police and city staff to ensure public safety is maintained, and amenities like garbage and washroom facilities are made available.

Fry said possible locations could also include side streets in some neighbourhoods that could be turned into plazas if they are closed to vehicle traffic, pointing to Commercial Drive as a possibility for this.

“The key point being responsible consumption,” Fry added, “so it’s not about creating wild and crazy, beer garden, yahoo kind of experiences, but allowing us to come together and have a bottle of wine and chat about what it’s been like for the last couple of months.”

The city is already limiting cars on some streets to free up room for physical distancing.

Another motion on the agenda is aimed at the long-debated issue of allowing drinking in parks and beaches.

Parks and beaches are the jurisdiction of the Vancouver Park Board, which voted in December 2018 to study the feasibility of starting a pilot program to allow alcohol in some parks, but OneCity councillor Christine Boyle says that study has been delayed.

She’s drafted a motion calling for the city to work with the board and the province to allow responsible consumption in beaches and parks as soon as possible.

“I bike around with my family and we see people picnicking in nooks of parks all over the place,” Boyle said, “what we’re seeing is people acting responsibly.”

As for ensuring that public drinking doesn’t get out of hand, Boyle pointed to existing rules that already maintain public order, such as laws against public intoxication, public disturbances, and the 10 p.m. closure of parks and beaches.

“For something we’re all kind of looking the other way on anyway, we shouldn’t be punishing people,” Boyle said.

Both motions will be heard during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which will be conducted virtually.

12Apr

City of Vancouver hopes survey adds to argument for provincial bailout of municipality | CBC News

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A survey commissioned by the City of Vancouver could bolster its mayor’s argument that a provincial bailout is needed to keep it from going into an operating deficit.

This week the city said that it could face a $189 million dollar deficit by December as it spends money to respond to the coronavirus crisis, while losing revenue at the same time.

It has asked for $200 million from the province and help with other measures to avoid going into an operating deficit, which municipalities are not allowed to do according to provincial laws.

On Sunday, Mayor Kennedy Stewart released the results of a small online survey that suggests 46 per cent of residents have either lost their jobs or experienced a reduction in work hours and lost some income due to the ongoing pandemic.

‘Backs against the wall’

Kennedy is worried that people will not be able to afford their mortgages or rents along with paying property tax. That could plunge the city into further financial difficulty.

“Our backs are against the wall here and it does look like if we don’t get some kind of relief from the province and the federal government, we’re going to be in deep trouble.”

The city has already laid off 1,500 workers. Stewart said more layoffs could follow and affect the city’s ability to run its police force, fire service and do things like collect garbage.

The survey said that 25 per cent of respondents plan to pay less than half their 2020 tax bills.

Stewart said if 25 per cent of homeowners default on their property taxes, it could cost the city another $325 million in revenues. He said if this happens the city would have to spend all of its reserve funds, plus sell city property to cover the shortfall.

“The City of Vancouver has never faced anything like this before,” he said.

Help wanted

So far the province has said no to the $200 million. Stewart is still asking for it though and wants the province to expand its provincial property tax deferment program to help homeowners who will otherwise default on their taxes due to the pandemic.

The program currently provides low-interest loans to people who are elderly or living with a disability, while giving money to municipalities to make up for the deferred property taxes. 

Stewart said the program needs to include all residents, businesses and non-profit agencies struggling financially during the health crisis.

The city has also urged the province to delay remittance of non-city property tax items collected by city hall until taxpayers receive the payments themselves. The items include provincial school taxes, TransLink fees and Metro Vancouver fees.

Stewart hopes to hear from Housing Minister Selina Robinson this coming week about plans the province is mulling to help homeowners and municipalities alike.

With revenue streams evaporating amid the COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Kennedy Stewart presented three scenarios for the city’s 2021 budget, with deficits between $61 and $189 million. 1:48

The city’s online survey was conducted by Research Co. between April 9 and 10. Stewart said it cost between $4000 and $5000 and came out of his mayor’s office budget.

The results for employed residents are based on a sample of 421 Vancouver residents, with a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

The results for homeowners are based on a sample of 278 Vancouver residents, with a margin of error of +/- 5.9 percent.

The results for renters are based on a sample of 301 Vancouver residents, with a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percent.

22Nov

New book lays out the ways a city is designed to make life tougher for women

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Feminist City: How to Build a More Just, Sustainable Vancouver

When: Nov. 27, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Salon 20—30, 580 W. Hastings St.

Free:sfu.ca


In her new book Feminist City: A Field Guide author and Mount Allison University associate professor and professional coach Leslie Kern outlines how urban environments marginalize women and minorities and offers ways for a city to become more equitable, affordable, sustainable and safe for everyone.

A Fulbright scholar, Kern took some time to answer a few questions for Postmedia News before she lands here in Vancouver for the Simon Fraser University co-hosted event: Feminist City: How to Build a More Just, Sustainable Vancouver.

Q: You are described as a feminist geographer. What does that title mean to you?

A: It means that no matter what kind of space I’m looking at, I’m always concerned with power. This includes considering how any space functions to uphold (and in rare cases, challenge) the norms, values, and beliefs of the society that created and maintains it. As a feminist I pay particular attention to how gendered norms are “built into” spaces such as cities, but I also think about inclusion and exclusion more broadly across a wide range of identities and differences like ability, race, class, and sexuality.

Q: How do cities continue to marginalize women and make their daily lives more difficult?

A: Women remain under-represented in the professions and positions that shape cities: municipal politics, policy-making, business development, real estate development, architecture, and urban planning. A lack of consideration for women’s needs and ignorance of their daily experiences means that women struggle with everything from getting a stroller onto the bus to balancing their safety needs with their needs for affordable housing and good jobs.

How many women turn down or ignore employment opportunities that would require them to work or travel at night or in unsafe areas? How much money do women spend taking cabs or public transit rather than walking or biking? How many women see their careers stalled because they can’t effectively juggle parenthood and work in cities with too few/too expensive daycare spots, unreliable and inaccessible mass transit, and a lack of affordable housing near places of good employment?


Leslie Kern author of the new book Feminist City: A Field Guide will be speaking at the Feminist City: How to Build a More Just, Sustainable Vancouver event on Nov. 27, 2019 at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. The event is open to the public and free. Photo credit: Mitchel Raphael

Mitchel Raphael /

PNG

Q: How can we begin to change our cities into more gender equal places?

A: One top-down approach is gender-mainstreaming: making sure all policy and spending decisions are oriented toward gender equity. Cities like Vienna have seen enormous progress with this method.

Issues such as safety and freedom from fear must be prioritized; public space and services must be safe and accessible; there should be communal or collective options for responsibilities such as child care, cooking, and care of the elderly and sick.

In a more radical way, though, we have to challenge the structures that make women responsible for most of this labour. A more gender equal city would offer affordable housing that doesn’t assume or prioritize a traditional nuclear family, for example.

Q: What are the foremost signs of a city’s livability?

A: Most people would agree that factors like walkability, green space, and safe public spaces are hallmarks of livability. I don’t disagree, but I think we have to ask harder questions about who has the means and the perceived right to enjoy these factors; who is excluded by surveillance and over-policing; and who decides what the appropriate activities and behaviours are in such spaces.

Q: What do you hope the individual and groups (government, planning departments, developers) in charge of cities take away from your book?

A: That moves made toward gender equity in cities are about more than making women’s lives “easier.” They are about fundamental issues of economic and social equality. At the same time, the changes I talk about are also connected to wider issues such as accessibility and environmental sustainability, and have the potential to benefit everyone in cities, not just women.

Q: How does gentrification fit into this story, this issue?

A: Women continue to experience a wage gap, are more likely to be single heads of household, have higher rates of core housing need (such as living in unsuitable or unaffordable housing), and are more reliant on the close urban connections between school, work, and home. As gentrification pushes housing costs up, women are further disadvantaged in the market. As women are displaced out of central areas, they are stretched thin trying to juggle their already complicated routines around work, home, and family.

Q: What kind of affect has #MeToo had, or will have, on making cities more livable?

A: #MeToo is exposing the widespread nature of all forms of sexual harassment and assault, including those in the urban public sphere, and illustrating that these are not momentary experiences: they have profound effects on women’s ability to participate in public life.

#MeToo is also helping to illuminate rape myths, including those that suggest that women are responsible for avoiding certain places and staying out of the public realm at night. The more we can continue having this conversation, the further we can move toward creating a public realm where women are equal and unafraid.

Q: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has long been a place of marginalized people and great unease. What do you see as vehicles for change and what can citizens do to help support that change?

A: I think anti-gentrification movements and the push to maintain affordable housing and a locus of social services in the DTES are key to creating a supportive yet livable neighbourhood. When people are well-housed, have access to harm-reduction sites and services, feel connected to community, and have their basic needs met, the things that make people uneasy start to fade away. Citizens can support the work of the DTES Women’s Centre, safe injection sites, and affordable housing campaigns.

Q: Let’s talk about public toilets. Why are they so terrible?

A: Not only are they terrible, but true public toilets are almost non-existent today. As part of many cities’ rush to revitalization, toilets have become focal points for fears about things like drug use, public sex, sex work, and homelessness.

Getting rid of public toilets or severely curtailing access is not only a harsh punishment for homelessness. It also makes life much more difficult for people with illnesses and disabilities that lead to frequent toilet use, for parents and caregivers, and for those who don’t have the means to purchase items in stores and cafes that have washrooms for customers only.

Q: When did headphones become armour for women?

A: Probably when the first Walkman appeared! Headphones are a subtle, non-aggressive way to signal the desire to be left alone. They can permit women to ignore men’s comments and questions without seeming rude or angry. Given that women are often faced with verbal and physical assault when they “hollaback” or even just ignore men, headphones offer a line of first defence against unwanted intrusions.

Q: How do we women learn to reframe how we think about our choices and instincts? How do we go from: “that was a stupid thing to do. I’m so lucky I wasn’t murdered,” to: “That was smart. That was brave?”

A: The “I’m so lucky” response is the only logical one in a world where violence against women is normalized, and even expected. I don’t blame anyone for having that reaction. Moving toward the “I made smart choices” response requires a greater respect for women’s agency and intelligence.Ideally, however, we have to move toward a world where violence against women, against anyone, is so rare that neither response is needed.

dgee@postmedia.com

twitter.com/dana_gee

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4Nov

Vancouver city council to consider regulations on sale of vape products, ads

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15Oct

Vancouver ramps up for more accessible city, but much more needed

by admin


Micaela Evans at Ash street and SW Marine Dr. in Vancouver.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

The City of Vancouver is planning to install up to 600 more curb ramps over the next few years to help make the municipality more accessible.

The initiative comes after the city’s engineering department identified about 5,000 locations “where curb ramps are missing” from Vancouver’s infrastructure, according to a recent request for proposal. The city plans to award a one-year contract to install 150-200 curb ramps, and may extend that contract at its discretion, according to the proposal.

But wheelchair users such as Gabrielle Peters, a disabled writer who used to sit on the City of Vancouver’s Active Transportation Policy Council, believe much more can and should be done to open the city for all to use.

In a 2017 motion passed by council, Peters identified that 8,000 of the city’s 27,000 intersections had no curb ramps whatsoever. Peters also calculated that the city budget allowed for 40 curb ramps to be built per year, meaning that it would take 200 years for Vancouver to be fully outfitted with ramps.

Asked what she thought about the city’s plan to put in another 150 ramps per year for four years, Peters said it was “raising a shockingly low number to an embarrassingly low number.” She said she believed the city had prioritized other things over ensuring access for many of its residents and users.

“What do you think that says to a disabled person living in Vancouver?” Peters asked. “Thank you eternally for almost treating me like I matter to you as a leader running my city, the city I live in.”

Micaela Evans, a wheelchair user who lives in Port Moody, said she doesn’t frequent many parts of Vancouver, but said older areas of most towns tended to be worse on wheels than newer areas. Still, she said she felt accessibility remained an afterthought rather than an integral part of design.

Eric Mital, a senior head of engineering with the city’s Streets Design Branch, said all new sidewalks in the city are now built with curb ramps. The 600 that have been prioritized were requested by members of the public, he said.

Peters has been a wheelchair user for over a decade now, so she has experienced the space by foot and by wheel. She said that when she started to use her chair, the Vancouver she knew suddenly transformed.

“I felt like I’d moved to a different city,” she said.

Peters described the place as a constant source of barriers, and most of them human-made. Asked if there were specific locations she could point to that were particularly accessible, she said “everywhere.”

Peters gave as an example the seawall ,”a spot where I tend to say that would be one of the more accessible, and it’s (still) not.” Accessing it around Denman Street near Beach Avenue involves crossing at least two intersections and a bike path, each of which includes its own set of challenges. Peters said she at times has needed to wait several lights to cross due to drivers who have blocked curb ramps with their vehicles. Once in the park, a relatively steep ramp that is not evenly surfaced descends to the path. And once there, wheelchair users will notice it is sloped, making for a tricky travel route.

Even sites that have curb ramps are not as accessible as some may think, Peters said. Some of the curb ramps at Burrard St. and West Georgia St., for example, unsafely exit wheelchair users directly toward the centre of the intersection, rather than into crosswalks, Peters said. There is a similar setup across the street from City Hall at 12th Ave. and Cambie St., she said.

Asked if she could compare Vancouver’s accessibility to other cities, Peters’ motion noted that for several years Calgary and Edmonton had budgeted for 250-350 curb ramp installations per year in intersections that had none.

mrobinson@postmedia.com

2Oct

Vancouver council approves fees for ride-hailing trips in the city centre | CBC News

by admin

People taking an Uber or Lyft within the confines Vancouver’s central core will be paying nearly $1 in municipal and provincial fees.

Vancouver became the first municipality in the Lower Mainland to pass regulations around ride-hailing on Wednesday, with council approving up to 60 cents in fees — a 30 cent fee for every pickup and drop off in the “Metro Core” region — defined as the area east of Burrard Street, west of Clark Drive and north of 16th Avenue. 

The fee is in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with revenue going toward managing congestion.

An additional 30 cent fee has been created by the province for all rides in B.C., regardless of time, with the money supporting accessibility. 

In both cases, the fees will not apply for accessible vehicles. Most major cities in Canada have additional fees of 20 to 30 cents per trip.

In addition to the municipal and provincial fees, ride-hailing companies in B.C. will have to set the same minimum rate as taxi companies, which varies between $3.25 and $3.95 depending on the region.

The province’s regulations around ride-hailing do not allow municipalities to withhold business licences but allows them to put additional regulations on companies operating within their borders.

“It’s important for us to bring in some interim measures immediately to do our best to manage the launch of ride-hailing,” said Lon LeClaire, Vancouver’s director of transportation.

Rides would have to pay a 30 cent fee for trips between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. that begin in Vancouver’s Metro Core and an additional 30 cent fee if it ends in the Metro Core. (City of Vancouver)

$100 yearly business licence fee

While councillors were on board with the 30 cent fee, there was significant debate over a proposal by city staff of a $100 yearly business licence for each driver.

Representatives for both Uber and Lyft worried that if other municipalities copied Vancouver with their own fees, drivers would choose to stick to the one or two municipalities with the most customers and fewest municipal boundaries.

“Are we putting in too many barriers, so most people choose to just drive in Vancouver because it’s the most profitable market?” asked Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung. 

“I [don’t support] a Vancouver-only model that moves ahead without looking at an entire municipal approach. What that smacks of to me is the taxi approach, where we are creating false challenges to having vehicles go across municipal boundaries.”

City staff noted they were also lowering the yearly licence for taxis to $100 ,down significantly from $616, in order to create the more “level playing field” between taxis and ride-hailing companies that council had previously asked for.

In the end, an amendment was passed directing staff to review the $100 licence fee after six months, following consultations with other municipalities in the region.

City manager Sadhu Johnston said he expected Vancouver’s legislation to serve as a template for other municipalities, but Vancouver would continue to fine tune its bylaws when they see the impacts of ride-hailing company operations  which are expected to begin by the end of the year.  

“This will be very dynamic,” he said. “We’re going to be watching it closely. We’re trying to avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve seen in other cities.”

30Sep

Vancouver councillor says city needs to clean up streets and sidewalks

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A Vancouver councillor wants the city to get back to basics and fix bumpy sidewalks, potholes in the streets and tackle overflowing trash bins and litter.

NPA councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung is putting forward a motion Tuesday urging the city to prioritize core services such as maintaining streets and sidewalks and other public spaces, which she said has deteriorated in recent years, eroding civic pride and creating safety hazards for seniors and people with disability.

“I hear this consistently from the members of the public that they feel the city is looking a lot more rundown and it doesn’t look taken care of like it used to,” she said. “People used to be so proud of living in Vancouver — we’re known as a very clean and green city — and I don’t think people feel that anymore.”

The problem isn’t limited to the Downtown Eastside or the neighbouring areas of Chinatown or Strathcona, but throughout the city, said Kirby-Yung, adding overflowing garbage bins on the street are a common complaint.

From her previous tenure as a park board commissioner, Kirby-Yung said she is concerned about the difficulty park board staff has in accessing street medians the park board is supposed to maintain for the city, particularly along stretches of Knight Street where three-foot weeds and litter could be spotted.


A neglected median on Knight Street, south of 33rd Avenue, in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

The problem of uneven, dangerous sidewalks in Vancouver was also highlighted in a feature by Langara journalism students published by Postmedia in August.

While some may argue the city has more important issues than clean streets on its plate, including an affordability crisis and the homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park, Kirby-Yung said maintaining and cleaning streets and sidewalks are part of a city’s core responsibility — one residents and businesses expect it to fix, especially as property taxes have increased in recent years.

“People feel there has been a neglect of those core municipal services, and I think it goes toward the fact there are other priorities.”

It does not appear the city has shrunk its budget on these services. According to the 2019 budget, money allotted for street maintenance has increased from about $23 million in 2015 to a proposed $30 million in 2019. Street cleaning expenditures also jumped from about $7.3 million to almost $11 million over the same period.

Kirby-Yung said service levels need to be maintained along with population growth. She also noted there are new demands, such as needle pickups and dealing with illegal dumping in specific areas, that also has an impact on resources.

The motion asks council to recognize that maintaining and cleaning Vancouver streets and public spaces is part of the city’s core service delivery, and to upgrade and repair infrastructure as needed to restore civic pride and safety in neighbourhoods.

The motion also asks staff to identify, as part of the 2020 budget process, what expenditures, if any, are needed to clean up the city’s streets and sidewalks, including a proposed reallocation of funds from other budget items that would not add to any increase in property taxes and fees.

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan

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