COPE WANTS SWANSON IN MAYORAL DEBATES
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
PARK BOARD CONSIDERS INDIGENOUS NAMES
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  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
PARK-BOARD MOTION TO ENSURE PUBLIC ACCESS
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.
> CARLITO PABLO