I went to the all candidates meeting on Saturday at Kits House. Thirteen candidates showed up – impressive. There was a lot of concern expressed, both by citizens and candidates, about how Vancouver is becoming a city for the rich. I was able to ask two of my burning questions. The first was about the small businesses that are dropping like flies in my neighbourhood. I was impressed by the only attending NPA candidate; Ken Charko is a small business man himself, he owns the Dunbar theatre. Theatres have also been closing or under threat. He claims to never have received money from the NPA for his campaign, nor has he ever taken any from a developer, hasn’t even met one in fact. I realize the issue I raised is complicated, but Charko seemed to have some good ideas around taxation and at least I felt like there’d be someone there pulling for the small businesses.
When I posed my question, I added that if SkyTrain or Light Rapid Transit is put in along the Broadway corridor, the situation would get worse. Geoff Meggs, the only Vision candidate there was surprised by my comment. And very surprised that Green Party candidate Adriane Carr was agreeing with me. He said Vision is very much in support of expanding green transportation, and yes, along the Broadway corridor.
I attended one of Translink’s public consultations on the UBC Rapid Transit line. And what I found out was that after the Broadway and Commercial station stop, ridership drops by seventy percent. That means that more express buses leaving from Broadway and Main would do the job just fine and they wouldn’t have to decimate the character of a neighbourhood. It’s central Broadway that is the congested area, not the western most end. As I wrote in a previous post, “For what we are going to pay for a SkyTrain or LRT line, we could restore the entire streetcar system in the city, or dramatically improve the entire bus system, both community friendly options. Sure we would sacrifice a little speed, but it seems a small price to pay to preserve the flavours of our neighbourhoods.”
My other question was on addressing the issue of affordability when it comes to healthy food. I got the stock answers from COPE candidate, Ellen Woodsworth: more community gardens, more farmers markets, a food hub. The current municipal government must be congratulated on doing a good job in those areas. Problem is, a lot of seniors have mobility issues and gardening isn’t possible for them. Also not everyone wants to grow their own food. Urban agriculture is only a small part of the food security solution. As for farmers markets, I can’t even afford to shop at the west side ones, and I’m hyper-committed to buying local and organic. I fear that the food hub that is being developed to distribute more local food will just become another gourmet foodie outlet. What we really need are universal programs (think health care) that deliver pocket markets that are geared to low income and vouchers that are redeemable at markets and other fresh produce stores. And how about putting some affordable fresh produce carts in food (and community garden) desert areas of the city, like the one in South Granville. I’m not sure how pulled pork and deep-fried sea food is improving our health anyways.
I was also very impressed with Sandy Garossino, who is running as an independent. This lawyer and business owner has a very interesting background, she’s a supporter of arts and culture, and is big on public consultation at the neighbourhood level. She led the charge against the casino development, which is why she’s called “No Casino Garossino.”
Citizens from municipalities across BC will be exercising their democratic rights on November 19th. No matter what your political persuasion, get out and occupy a polling booth.