Posted by: VPSN | February 12, 2012

This week at Council – February 13 and beyond

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Our biweekly round-up of the public space-related items appearing in front of City Council and the Park Board.

In this edition:

  • Capital Budget, Community Services Grants
  • Local Improvements – Sidewalks and Speed bumps, oh my!
  • Artists and Studio Space
  • A City App?
  • Food Policy, urban farming, and a central food hub

Capital Budget, Community Services Grants

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, two reports are being presented on the 2012 Capital budget. The first takes place on Monday, February 13 at the Park Board. Here, Park staff will outline the proposed park and recreation facilities expenditures. Park Board will then debate and approve a formal request for these funds from City Council.

A day later, on Tuesday, February 14, City Council will be considering the Park Board request, along with a range of proposed capital investments in civic and transportation infrastructure, housing, social facilities and more. A total of $255m in expenditures is being considered ($171m for new projects).

Of particular note to public space enthusiasts will be:

  • $11m allocated for parks related projects – including a new pedestrian/bicycle connection and stream connection from Hastings Park to New Brighton Park
  • Conversion of streets to mini-parks in several neighbourhood
  • Replacement approximately 1,700 dying and diseased 1,700 street trees and the addition of approximately 1,100 new trees on street boulevards
  • The enhancement of Active Transportation Corridors, upgrades and installation of new pedestrian/bicycle signals
  • Seismic upgrades at City Hall
  • Public art – completion of Vancouver 125 projects and artwork at Hillcrest, Trout Lake Community Centre, Hastings Park, and Clark/Knight Corridor
  • Preliminary design for a new Marpole Community Facility, and funding for the renewal of Kitsilano Neighbourhood House;
  • City Archives building envelope rehabilitation, and building maintenance at the nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum
  • Design development for new library in DTES/Strathcona
  • Design/specifications for building envelope repairs of Vancouver Art Gallery’s underground vault and upgrade of Georgia Street plaza

More details, including the dollars and cents attached to the proposed allocations can be found in the Council report.

If financial allocations are your cup of tea, you may also want to read about the Community Services Grants that will be reviewed immediately following the Capital Budget Report. The City supports a large number of non-profits, including neighbourhood houses, childcare facilities, social services, and organizations like Information Services Vancouver and Volunteer Vancouver whose provide capacity to the city’s non-profit sector.

Local Improvements – Sidewalks and Speed bumps, oh my!

If you’ve ever wondered how small-scale neighbourhood improvements – such as sidewalk installation or traffic calming – are undertaken then this report may be of interest. Typically, local improvements require buy-in from local residents (whom often bare a portion of the costs). In advance of this, projects get ‘balloted’ amongst neighbours… and projects only move forward if 2/3 of the residents are in favour. But not every project gets sufficient support…

Artists and Studio Space

Finding affordable studio space is a constant challenge for artists in Vancouver. Councillor Geoff Meggs has a proposal on the table that would direct staff to report on the situation surrounding artists studio space in Vancouver, as well as the possibility of a pilot program to make available 10,000 square feet of space for studio use.

A City App?

Steve Jobs would be proud! Over the last few years, cities around the world have been experimenting with apps and smart-phone interfaces as a means of delivering information and providing residents with a means to report problems. Now Vancouver may be about to get its own app. Councillor Andrea Reimer has a motion on notice that would have City staff prepare “the financial analysis and timeline for a mobile ‘City App’ that works across common mobile platforms … and that allows residents and business to fulfill desired interactions with the City including access to timely information and services such as business licenses and recreation programs, as well as the ability to report problems in their local area.”

Food Policy, urban farming, and a central food hub

Later on Tuesday, at the City Finance and Services meeting (a Committee of Council), two other items will be considered. The first is a presentation on Food Policy by Director of Social Policy May Clare Zak. This is followed by a first report detailing the proposed provision of two City-owned sites for use in urban farming operations.

A second report follows, recommending that a one-time grant of $50,000 (donated to the City of Vancouver by VanCity Credit Union) be allocated to the Farmers Market Society “for business and site planning for a central food hub, called New City Market, to include functions such as a year round farmers market, and provide food processing, distribution, training and community outreach opportunities for Vancouver citizens.” You can read more on this in Jillian Glover’s article from February 9, 2012.

Have your say!

Got thoughts on any of these issues? Jot an email to mayorandcouncil [at] vancouver.ca.

You can also request to speak to Council, mail in your thoughts, or get in touch with your elected officials through other means. Click here for the details.

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