Posted by: VPSN | February 27, 2012

This week at City Hall, part II – budgets, arts, procedures, loops, crude

Earlier today we reported on the Public Hearing scheduled for this evening. While said hearing is still going strong (it’s going to be a late night!) we’ll take this opportunity to update you on some of the other public-space related items being debated at City Hall this week.

Tomorrow starts of with a 9:00am meeting of Council… and an agenda packed with a number of big items.

The 2012 Operating Budget – a report by the City’s Finance Department outlines details of the anticipated 2.5% tax increase this year, with a focus on the public consultation that was undertaken earlier this year.  As with previous years, this review is interesting because it shows the difference between where the public (residents and business) want to see tax dollars allocated and where the dollars actually go.   (One example: of the $15m or so that will be raised through the proposed tax increase, over 50% – the lions share – will go to the VPD.  But asked about the categories of expenditure that they would be ok seeing reduced… and the VPD is up there as well).

Creation of an Arts and Culture Advisory Committee – the City is proposing to retool the various arms-length arts committees and creating a new over-arching Arts and Culture advisory body.  The basis for this proposal is a Council motion from last summer calling for “the establishment of a single advisory committee which would advise on all civic programs that relate to arts and culture.”  There’s some consolidation gojng on here – as the new model would see the current Public Art Committee subsumed into the Arts & Culture Committee. However, the other Arts-related Committees – dealing with Civic Theatres, Cultural Infrastructure, and Hastings Park – will remain distinct for the moment.

Restructuring Public Art Funding – Also on the arts file – a motion by Councillor Heather Deal that “requests staff … report back with recommendations for ways to structure the City Public Art Program to stimulate additional investment in public art in Vancouver.

Procedure Bylaw – Changes proposed.  One of the most interesting regulatory tools to be found in the City is the Procedure Bylaw – the document that sets out how it is that Council meetings, hearings and other events are meant to be run.  If you’ve ever heard one Councillor call another on a ‘point of order’, chances are it’s the Procedure Bylaw that’s being involved.

The City Clerk and Legal Services Office are proposing to update the Procedure Bylaw to include a number of new sections – in particular describing how public involvement in the process can take place (e.g. a single five minute presentation, only one spokesperson for an organization, a two-page or 1500 word written submission, comments to be posted publicly, etc.).  According to the accompanying staff report, these are designed to modernize the bylaw as well as provide clarity on procedure… as in the past most of these considerations, where they existed, were identified through less formal means – on the City website, or at the beginning of meetings.  The proposal now is to enshrine them in the bylaw.  Another suggested plus?  Improved public involvement.

Have a look at the report and bylaw changes.  We’d be curious to know your thoughts on this new regulatory direction.

Granville Loops – Architects Appointed for Urban Design Review – if you’ve been following the discussion around the Granville ‘Loops’ (Granville and Pacific), you’ll have heard about the plans to develop a series of ‘gateway’ buildings.  There have been some interesting designs put into circulation – which have also generated lots of discussion because of their anticipated height and form.  With this report, Council is proposing to appointing a series of four architects Mr. Stefan Behnisch, Mr. Peter Clewes, Mr. Walter Francl and Mr. Mark Ostry – to assist with the urban design review.

Other Items 

Other items include a motion from Councillor Andrea Reimer that would seek to raise the issue of campaign finance reform at the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities Annual Meeting and solicit broader support for proposed changes…. As well as a motion from Adriane Carr on the subject of energy company Kinder Morgan’s proposal to increase the shipment of crude oil through the Burrard Inlet.  Carr’s motion requests that “Mayor and Council send a letter to Kinder Morgan Canada requesting that the company consult with the City of Vancouver regarding any plans and any application it makes … to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline and crude oil shipments through Vancouver harbour.”

Anti-bullying

In the afternoon… things kick off with a proclamation for anti-bullying and then move to a discussion of two reports on property taxatation assessments and averaging.

Finally, Wednesday caps off the currently scheduled meetings with Planning, Transportation & Environment in the morning, and a special evening session to hear from members of the public on the 2012 Operating Budget.

Naming Streets

The morning PTE Committee spends a bit of time (2 reports and a PowerPoint slide show) on the subject of naming things. The meeting starts with a presentation by City Clerk Marg Coulson on enhancing public involvement in the naming of civic assets. That cues things up for two reports. The first deals with naming a new block of Smithe Street (to be created as part of the proposed development just south of the BC Place stadium (in the parking lot). The second covers the ‘creation’ of a brand-new street – or at least the labelling of one. The laneway east of Thurlow and south of Melville

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