Like many of you at this time of the summer, I’m trying to get the kids ready for a new school year while simultaneously harvesting the season’s bounty from the front lawn and using up the rest of my farmers market money before the termites get to it.
And with about two weeks to go before Vancouver City Council resumes sitting after its summer recess and its group retreat to Burning Man, the council agenda remains ominously blank, which tells me there can be only bad news ahead.
Granted, I could be projecting my own worst fears onto the vacant space of the handsome $3-million website in front of me, but here’s where we stand: Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver council are almost one year into their second mandate.
In politics this is known as the “we can get away with just about anything” window.
Okay, I just made that up, but as the bloggers say, “it could be true.” And the signs are there.
Take for instance the “temporary” closing of Robson Street between Hornby and Howe. In the deepest dog days of summer, any non-tourists left in the city are ignoring civic issues because they’re too busy marvelling at the B.C. Liberals’ “renewal” process, which vaguely resembles the flaming Hindenburg crashing onto the deck of the Titanic moments before the ship splits apart. Perhaps I’m overstating it. The point is that when no one was looking, the City of Vancouver announced that Robson Street, an important downtown thoroughfare, will be rendered impassable for the remainder of the year to accommodate the Pop Rocks or Bath Salts or whatever those things are.
No doubt awesome news for the wake-and-bakers and the dudes in flip-flops practising their devil-stick and stilt-walking wizardry on the art gallery stairs. But next week, when all of the working stiffs who wear shoes head back to their offices, I expect the novelty of the exciting public gathering place may fade.
This is just one example of what happens when no one is paying attention. I expect that the first council meeting agenda will contain these items:
– Motion to direct city staff to examine the feasibility of replicating the success of the city’s food cart program with other retail opportunities.
Yes! Why not a hair-salon truck, a lawyer truck, an accountant cart or a dry-cleaning truck? Think about it: Drop off your taxes and shirts while you grab a quick Brozilian followed by a Korean taco – all without ever leaving the block! Renting retail space is for suckers.
– Motion to amend the city’s street and traffic bylaws to prohibit cars from travelling on any public roadway on Sundays except in emergencies. This is a natural extension of the city’s wildly successful Car Free Days and would demonstrate that the city is serious about meeting or exceeding its Greenest City goals. Yes, there might be push-back from people who like to do things, but they’ll get over it once they experience firsthand the vibrant street scene, the aroma of burning sausage, and meet some of the interesting folks inside the “9/11 Was An Inside Job” tent.
– Motion to rename Pacific Boulevard, or a portion thereof, “Chip Wilson Is A Totally Righteous Dude Way.” (CWIATRD Way)
Vancouver has customarily named and renamed streets after prominent citizens who have made significant contributions to the city.
This will require final approval from the city’s street naming committee, but come on! He is a totally righteous dude! And he might buy more stuff for us if we name a street after him.
– Motion to make the City of Vancouver’s official greeting “Namaste.”
Not only does this acknowledge our city’s cultural diversity, but if done correctly, the salutation could become the city’s brand, and do for Vancouver what “Aloha” has done for Hawaii. The salutation would be incorporated into all of the city’s tourism advertising. For example, “Vancouver: We say Namaste around here.”
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn