Straight Talk

The Georgia Straight - - Contents -


Jean Swan­son may not be run­ning for mayor of Van­cou­ver, but she should have a place in de­bates among can­di­dates for the top job in the city.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Rider Cooey, cochair of the Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Elec­tors (COPE), the party with which the cel­e­brated an­tipoverty cru­sader is run­ning for coun­cil in this year’s Oc­to­ber 20 civic elec­tion.

“It would be best for Van­cou­ver vot­ers to have a chance to con­sider Jean Swan­son’s re­sponses in any may­oral de­bates that are sched­uled,” Cooey told the Straight in a Septem­ber 11 phone in­ter­view.

Ac­cord­ing to Cooey, the in­clu­sion in pub­lic fo­rums fea­tur­ing may­oral con­tenders of a can­di­date not run­ning for mayor has been done in the past.

The COPE cochair cited as ex­am­ple the panel dis­cus­sion or­ga­nized by the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (UDI) in the lead-up to the last elec­tion. The Oc­to­ber 7, 2014, event in­cluded Green coun­cil can­di­date Adri­ane Carr, who joined then may­oral as­pi­rants Meena Wong of COPE and Kirk La­pointe of the Non­par­ti­san As­so­ci­a­tion. Mayor Gre­gor Robert­son of Vi­sion Van­cou­ver did not at­tend.

The UDI fo­rum was fol­lowed two days later with a fo­rum (run by the Metro Van­cou­ver Alliance) wherein Carr was also present along­side may­oral can­di­dates Robert­son, La­pointe, and Wong.

Ac­cord­ing to Cooey, Swan­son’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the may­oral de­bates would ad­vance con­crete so­lu­tions to the press­ing is­sues in the city, par­tic­u­larly hous­ing.

“It would raise the dis­cus­sion about hous­ing out of the muck of plat­i­tudes and gen­er­al­i­ties and put some meat on the bones, if

I may use a metaphor, put some sub­stance, in­ject some sub­stance into those dis­cus­sions, some sorely needed sub­stance be­yond the an­o­dyne boil­er­plate that tends to come from politi­cians,” Cooey said.

Among the poli­cies be­ing pro­moted by Swan­son and COPE is a four-year rent freeze. They also want to tax lux­ury homes to raise funds to build pub­lic hous­ing. Their plat­form like­wise in­cludes work­ing to­ward free tran­sit, start­ing with chil­dren and peo­ple with in­comes be­low $50,000 a year.

In the in­ter­view, Cooey also said that it’s pos­si­ble COPE will not en­dorse ei­ther of the two in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates for mayor: namely, Kennedy Ste­wart and Shauna Sylvester.

“We think that we have such a strong three­some of can­di­dates for coun­cil,” Cooey said, re­fer­ring to Swan­son, Anne Roberts, and Der­rick O’keefe. > CARLITO PABLO


When, in 1792, Capt. Ge­orge Van­cou­ver named the body of wa­ter that today flows beneath the Lions Gate Bridge the Bur­rard In­let (af­ter his friend Harry Bur­rard), Van­cou­ver did not ac­tu­ally name it but, more ac­cu­rately, re­named it.

By the time the Bri­tish ex­plorer ar­rived, the Tsleil-wau­tuth peo­ple had lived in this area for thou­sands of years. And to them, the Bur­rard In­let was called sel´ilw´ et (spelled Sleil­waut us­ing the English al­pha­bet, ac­cord­ing to the Bill Reid Cen­tre).

On Septem­ber 17, the Van­cou­ver park board will con­sider a mo­tion to learn the names that the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-wau­tuth peo­ple called ar­eas that today fall un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the board. From there, the civic body would work with mem­bers of the three Coast Sal­ish na­tions to “ac­knowl­edge those names at parks, beaches, and other pub­lic spa­ces within the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Park Board, in a way deemed most ap­pro­pri­ate by the Na­tions”.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view, the mo­tion’s author, Green party park­board chair Stu­art Mack­in­non, said these ac­knowl­edg­ments should be­come a part of Van­cou­ver’s rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process.

“Part of the col­o­niza­tion of Van­cou­ver was the chang­ing of tra­di­tional names,” he told the Straight. “My mo­tion is part of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Van­cou­ver, to rec­og­nize that these In­dige­nous peo­ple have been here for­ever and that they had place names long be­fore we were here.”

Mack­in­non em­pha­sized that the mo­tion does not spec­ify what ac­tions might be taken next.

“No one, at this point, is talk­ing about re­nam­ing any­thing,” he said. “But I was heart­ened dur­ing the [2010] Olympics that on the Sea to Sky High­way, that they had road signs that were in both English and Squamish. I think some­thing like that could be done in var­i­ous places in Van­cou­ver.”

Kál­kalilh – – Deanna Lewis is a coun­cil­lor for the Squamish Na­tion and a mem­ber of the coun­cil’s com­mit­tee on lan­guage, cul­ture, and her­itage. She worked on those signs that Mack­in­non men­tioned, which place Squamish names along­side English ones from Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port through the city and up the Sea to Sky cor­ri­dor to Whistler.

“Iden­ti­fy­ing and let­ting the broader com­mu­nity know about them [Squamish names], it feels like our cul­tural her­itage is alive again,” Lewis said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “It’s rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and hav­ing own­er­ship back.”

She ex­plained that the signs spark ques­tions, lead­ing to con­ver­sa­tions that ac­knowl­edge and cre­ate a larger un­der­stand­ing of B.C.’S colo­nial past and the In­dige­nous peo­ple who lived in B.C. be­fore Euro­peans ar­rived.

“To un­der­stand the peo­ple, you need to speak their lan­guage,” Lewis said. “Re­vi­tal­iz­ing these lan­guages, we’re bring­ing back a sense of be­long­ing and a sense that we should re­spect that his­tory and cul­ture.” > TRAVIS LUPICK


A Van­cou­ver park com­mis­sioner wants to en­sure that plazas cre­ated as pub­lic ameni­ties in pri­vate de­vel­op­ments are open to all.

These are called pri­vately owned pub­lic spa­ces—pops for short— and Sarah Kirby-yung has brought for­ward a mo­tion to guar­an­tee that they are ac­ces­si­ble.

“Of­ten­times, as part of the de­vel­op­ment project or zon­ing rights that the prop­erty owner is given, part of the ar­range­ment is to have a pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble space, but some­times they have been closed off and they haven’t been truly avail­able to the pub­lic, and that’s not the in­tent,” Kir­byyung told the Straight by phone Septem­ber 11.

Kirby-yung’s mea­sure fol­lows a mo­tion passed on July 20 this year by the se­niors’ ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee of the City of Van­cou­ver that asks coun­cil to pro­hibit pri­vate-prop­erty man­agers from re­strict­ing ac­cess to these places.

“One of the things that we can do is sim­ple mea­sures like en­sur­ing that there is sig­nage for peo­ple that says that this is open to the pub­lic and that they are wel­come,” Kirby-yung said.

Kirby-yung’s mo­tion is in­cluded in the agenda for the Septem­ber 17 park-board meet­ing.


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