Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Monday is the first anniversary of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's thumping re-election victory over challenger Suzanne Anton. Compared with the dramatic events of his first term – the Olympics, the fiscal fiasco of the Olympic Village, the Stanley Cup riot – the first 12 months of Mr. Robertson's second term have been relatively quiet. Nonetheless, there were issues for the mayor to address in a review of the past year, and yes, he intends to run again in 2014.

Given that you might go down in history as the Bike Lane Mayor, do you find the public's fixation on bike lanes frustrating?

Yeah, it's exaggerated on every front. But that's the way it goes with iconic changes to a city's fabric. It's such a small percentage of the overall road space activity in the city. Within Vancouver, bike lanes are enormously popular. My entire team got re-elected. Most of the criticism comes from outside the city proper, people who don't pay taxes or vote in Vancouver.

Story continues below advertisement

Meanwhile, however, your hope for public bike rentals has been clouded by the helmet issue. Are we ever going to see such a system?

We are on track to see a public bike system by the middle of 2013, and a helmet solution will be part of it. But there's ongoing work to arrive at the best solution. I don't think there's any question people will embrace the availability of bikes on our streets. But the helmet piece is part of why we've taken longer than other cities in getting going.

How is the city doing on your well-publicized pledge to end street homelessness by 2015? Can it be done?

We've made enormous progress for several years. This winter, we have 160 more shelter beds and 100 units of interim housing that will help get the numbers down through the winter. But street-homeless numbers are directly tied to funding for shelters and housing, so it will completely depend on our partnership with the province. We have a long way to go to reduce the overall number of homeless people.

It has stabilized, but now we need to bring it down with permanent housing.

Since so much relies on outside funding, was it a little foolhardy to boldly state your homelessness goal?

I believe it was essential to commit to that goal, and do everything in our power to bring our partners along. It's ultimately a moral issue, that we commit to not leaving people outside with no options. I'm confident the federal and provincial governments are going to come through. It's taken longer, but I think, increasingly, they are realizing we spend more money managing homelessness without housing and shelters, when you look at costs of health care and the justice system.

Story continues below advertisement

Lately, you've been focusing on affordable housing, which everyone would love to solve, but few succeed. And right off the bat, you backed away from narrowing streets, which was a key recommendation of your task force.

It's still out there as an option, but the challenge with housing generally is making sure that it fits reasonably well with existing neighbourhoods. We're running out of empty space and we're not willing to re-develop industrial land as other councils did. That means we're having to really look hard at where affordable housing might fit. That's not easy. But I didn't expect it would be.

You've now been mayor for four years. What have you learned?

That's a tough question. Boy … I would say I've certainly learned a lot about the inner workings of city hall and its connection to Victoria and Ottawa. That's a big advantage for getting things done, day to day. It also means I probably don't make as many edgy and bold statements about where the city can go, based on those challenges. When you look at affordable housing, it will be a long road to see the sweeping changes we'd like to see in place.

Will you be around to see those sweeping changes?

Yes, I hope so. My plan is to run again in the next election. A lot is taking longer than I expected, but we're tracking well on most of our goals. That's been really fulfilling, to see progress on many fronts that people said were impossible.

Story continues below advertisement

Speaking of impossible, will we ever see rapid transit along the Broadway corridor?

(Laughs) Yeah, I've been pushing hard on the Broadway rapid-transit front, given we have a funding predicament with the province that we may see a breakthrough on this winter. We need rapid transit on Broadway desperately. Getting SkyTrain underground through the Broadway corridor is a must to deal with congestion, the bus pass-ups and growth along Broadway.

Do you still like being mayor?

I love it. It's been an incredible four years. It's a relentless pace, but I find it works for me. I'm just happy to have the confidence of Vancouverites to keep going.

So we're going to have you to kick around for a while longer.

I hope so. It's up to the people.

Story continues below advertisement

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies