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NPA City Councillor George Affleck responds to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s damning report on the City of Vancouver’s FOI practices

Vancouver, B.C., June 23, 2016 – NPA City Councillor George Affleck is available today to comment on the report released this morning by B.C. Information and Privacy (OPIC) Commissioner Elizabeth Denham regarding the City of Vancouver’s FOI practices.

Commissioner Denham states in this morning’s OPIC news release: “… there is a need for change to the approach City staff use in processing access requests. We observed shortcomings in almost every step of the freedom of information process – from receipt of the request, to searching for records, to the timeliness of response to the applicant and the content of the response itself. This highlights the need for a move to a culture of transparency and service quality,” said Denham. Read more

NPA delivers on commitment to build new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre at the existing Oak Park site at Oak Street & 59th Avenue

Motion brought forward by NPA Park Board Commissioner, and Park Board Chair, Sarah Kirby-Yung calls for public consultations to begin in 2016, design and planning in 2017, and ground breaking for new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre in 2018.

Vancouver, B.C., June 14, 2016 – An NPA campaign commitment to build a new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre took a big step forward at last night’s Park Board meeting thanks to a motion brought forward by NPA Park Board Commissioner, and Chair, Sarah Kirby-Yung. The motion, which carried unanimously, calls for the community centre to remain at the current Oak Park site at Oak Street & 59th Avenue. The motion also calls for the consultation and planning process to begin as soon as possible utilizing consultation funding already allocated in the 2016 Park Board budget. Read more

NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson wants the City of Vancouver to step up and pay costs to operate Britannia Centre

Robertson says the VSB cannot afford to provide funding for a community centre outside its jurisdictional mandate when it is cutting literacy teachers, multicultural workers, and making a host of other program cuts that will directly affect student learning.

Vancouver, B.C., June 6, 2016 – With an historic $24 million budget shortfall still facing the Vancouver School Board (VSB), and unprecedented cuts to core teaching staff and services, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson says he wants the VSB to look at the Britannia Centre operating agreement with the City of Vancouver and implore the City to step up and properly fund the Centre’s many worthwhile community amenities rather than relying on a tight VSB budget for funding. Read more

NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova calls on Vision Vancouver to put public safety before parking tickets

New Beatty Street bike lanes in front of the Beatty Street Drill Hall were implemented without consultation and will have a direct impact on the health and safety of soldiers, cyclists and Vancouver residents

Vancouver, B.C., June 1, 2016 – Today NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova expressed her disappointment and concern over the implementation of the bike lane in front of the Beatty Street Drill Hall located on the 600 block of Beatty St in downtown Vancouver. With the newly painted bike lanes, military vehicles are now separated from the armoury by a bike lane, and the number of parking spots available for military vehicles has been severely limited.  Read more

NPA City Councillor George Affleck calls on City of Vancouver to re-examine unpopular plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge

Vancouver, B.C., May 24, 2016 – NPA City Councillor George Affleck is calling on the City of Vancouver to re-examine the unpopular plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge; an internationally recognized masterpiece of the Art Deco style and one of the most important and iconic heritage structures in the City of Vancouver.

Affleck wants City staff to re-examine the design options, including options that would be less visually intrusive and destructive to the heritage aesthetics of the bridge and views from the bridge, as well as re-examining the effectiveness of fencing as a suicide prevention measure within the broader context of suicide prevention and mental health strategies.

“The plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge was not presented to the public during the public consultation, and to me that’s a serious omission,” said Affleck. “Professional opinion is also mixed on the effectiveness of fencing as a suicide prevention measure, and I’d like to see a broader discussion of the various opinions.”

In his motion, Affleck notes that the City of Vancouver and its Council members place tremendous value on the city’s historically and culturally significant buildings, monuments, and other sites and structures.

Affleck also notes that many of the people who walk and cycle over the Burrard Bridge do so specifically to enjoy the spectacular views of Vancouver it offers. Creating an enjoyable walking environment, he says, is one of the City of Vancouver’s top priorities and an important part of the City’s effort to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

For a copy of Affleck’s motion, please click here.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

NPA City Councillors call on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis

Increased pressures on young families and millennials are making it harder for middle class residents to continue to call Vancouver home

Vancouver, B.C., May 17, 2016 – NPA City Councillors are calling on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis following a staff report presented today at Council.

According to the report, Vancouver has the highest housing prices and rents, but the lowest median incomes among Canada’s major cities. The report also states that “affordability challenges” have become more prevalent since 2011, despite the efforts of the City, and that it has become even harder for residents to find and maintain affordable housing in Vancouver.

“The Mayor and Vision are attempting to give themselves an ‘A’ with this housing report card, but Vancouverites know housing affordability and access to rental units has gotten worse, not better, over the last eight years,” said NPA Councillor George Affleck. “The City needs to reassess its housing policies because those policies aren’t working, especially when it comes to encouraging the creation of housing – including rentals – families and middle class Vancouverites can afford.”

A recent study by VanCity highlighted the high cost of living in Vancouver and the impact it is having on millennials in particular. The study shows that the wages of Vancouver millennials have stagnated to the point where their average household income is now the second lowest in Canada.

“It’s become clear that affordability in Vancouver is about more than just home prices, it’s also about creating economic opportunities,” said Affleck. “City Hall needs to focus on attracting jobs that will let young Vancouverites stay in the city and ensure that Vancouver remains a vibrant city.”

According to real estate records, the benchmark price for detached homes in April 2016 rose 30.1 percent from just a year ago to a new high of $1.4 million. April 2016 was also the highest selling April on record for homes in Metro Vancouver.

“Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to call home,” continued Affleck. “But if current housing and employment trends continue, living in our beautiful city will become increasingly out of reach for the average family. Vancouverites deserve an opportunity to work hard, provide for their families and stay in this great city. Vision is making that impossible.”

The staff report presented at Council today notes that “affordable housing” for Vancouver families must be of sufficient quality, with the right number of bedrooms to meet the needs of residents, and be found within neighbourhood locations that have access to transit, schools, childcare, as well as cultural and community centres.

The staff report goes on to state that “Attracting and retaining families is an important part [of] being a healthy, diverse and economically vibrant city,” and that many Vancouver families “still aspire to the Canadian dream of owning a home.”

NPA Councillor Melissa De Genova’s recent call for an Affordable Home Ownership Program was also noted in the report, along with Council’s support for an Affordable Home Ownership pilot program: “I was pleased that City Council supported for my Affordable Home Ownership motion last June. Hopefully it will lead to the creation of new housing stock in Vancouver that everyday families will be able to afford, while being respectful of taxpayer dollars,” said De Genova. “The NPA is committed to finding innovative, market based solutions to the affordability issue in Vancouver, and we hope our colleagues on Council will join us in making real affordability for families a priority.”

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

Call by NPA City Councillor George Affleck for quarterly release of Mayor’s office expenses receives unanimous Council support

Vancouver, B.C., May 3, 2016 – A call by NPA City Councillor George Affleck for the quarterly release of all expenses from the Mayor’s office budget, including expenses from the Mayor’s discretionary fund, received unanimous support at today’s Vancouver City Council meeting. Affleck says he is “pleased to receive full Council support” for his motion today.

“After four years on Council, I have made it a priority for City Hall to be open and transparent. Today’s decision is one more step towards that goal. I hope the Mayor and Vision Vancouver will continue to support my calls for openness and accountability,” said Affleck.

Expenses from the Mayor’s office budget have not previously been released to the public, either through the City’s online Open Data Catalogue Dataset or in a formal report to Council. Information detailing expenditures from the Mayor’s office “discretionary fund” for 2015 was recently released to the public through a protracted Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Affleck points Toronto and Calgary as examples of major Canadian cities that already exhibit exemplary openness and transparency best practices, including the proactive public release of Mayor and Councillors’ office expenses on a quarterly basis, along with detailed office budget information posted annually. The City of Toronto also posts PDF copies of all contractor and supplier invoices.

Expenses incurred by members of Vancouver City Council while conducting business on behalf of the City are already released to the public on a quarterly basis through the City’s online Open Data Catalogue Dataset, and annually in a formal report to Council. The release of Mayor’s office expenses will add a new layer of transparency and accountability to Council operations.

Affleck’s motion specifically calls for the quarterly public release of all expenses from the Mayor’s office budget, including expenses from the Mayor’s discretionary fund and copies of all contractor and supplier invoices (consistent with appropriate privacy protection legislation), beginning with expenses for the current 2016 Budget year.

His motion also calls for expenses from the corresponding office budget for City Councillors be released on a quarterly basis, along with line item details for the annual Mayor’s office budget and Councillors’ office budget to be included in all future City of Vancouver Budgets.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

 

NPA School Board Trustees disappointed by tonight’s VSB Budget Vote

Previous Vision-dominated boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students

Vancouver, B.C., April 28, 2016 – All four NPA Vancouver School Trustees are expressing disappointment at the result of tonight’s 2016/2017 budget vote; the Vancouver School Board voted 5 to 4 to reject the budget. By failing to pass a balanced budget, the Minister of Education could potentially dismiss the Board and appoint an Official Trustee to conduct the affairs of the district.

Although the next step is unclear, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson says he and his fellow NPA Trustees put students first in voting to pass the balanced budget recommendations brought forward by VSB staff. The NPA’s first priority is students and working to ensure that they continue to get the world class education they deserve.

Robertson says he hopes the Minister will consider “ways to work with the elected Board to find reasonable solutions to the district’s systemic budget issues.”

He adds that he and his NPA colleagues heard the heartfelt outpouring from parents, students and other engaged citizens about the 2016/17 budget and that they take the job losses and impacts on programing and students very seriously; but he adds that the Vancouver school district is in this situation because the two previous Vision-dominated school boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students.

“Instead of looking at facility needs, the Vision trustees prioritized paying for empty space over paying for teachers and support staff, and now it’s our students who are going to suffer as a result,” said Robertson. “While other school boards around the Lower Mainland have made the tough decisions and acted responsibly in the best interests of students, Vision chose to blame others and refused to take responsible action, leaving the Vancouver School Board in the difficult position it is in now.”

Over the past 10 years, the Vancouver school district has seen a decline of almost 8,000 students and has approximately 30 percent more space per student than any other district in the province. Maintaining that empty facility space costs money; money that is then unavailable to pay the cost of teaching and support staff positions and programs.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca