Vancouver Sun

Hor­gan con­duct­ing dam­age con­trol on sev­eral fronts

B.C. premier feel­ing heat fol­low­ing Al­berta’s de­ci­sion to stop buy­ing wine

- VAUGHN PALMER Vpalmer@post­ Twit­­nPalmer Vic­to­ria Canada News · John Horgan · Alberta · British Columbia · Kinder Morgan Power Company · Democratic Party (United States) · Rachel Notley · New Democratic Party (Canada) · Kelowna · Ben Stewart · Canada · United States of America · Vancouver · Ottawa · Justin Trudeau · New Westminster · Victoria · George Heyman · Lana Popham · British Columbia Liberal Party · Ian Anderson

Premier John Hor­gan is try­ing to cool talk of a trade war with Al­berta, hav­ing pro­voked the stand­off with a threat to block in­creased ship­ments of heavy oil through B.C.

“Our gov­ern­ment has ev­ery right to con­sult with Bri­tish Columbians on the best pos­si­ble mea­sures to pro­tect our lands and wa­ters from the po­ten­tial im­pacts of di­luted bi­tu­men spills,” said Hor­gan, re­spond­ing to Tues­day news that Al­berta would boy­cott B.C. wine in ex­change for the im­plied threat to ex­pan­sion of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line.

“Our con­sul­ta­tion on pro­posed new reg­u­la­tions hasn’t even be­gun, but Al­berta has seen fit to take mea­sures to im­pact B.C. busi­nesses,” the B.C. premier con­tin­ued. “If Al­berta dis­agrees they can make that ar­gu­ment in the proper venue, in our court sys­tem.”

But just last week Hor­gan sug­gested the op­po­site: it would be “pre­ma­ture” for Al­berta to file a le­gal chal­lenge against B.C. be­cause “there’s noth­ing to take to court.”

B.C.’s pro­posed reg­u­la­tions will first be sent out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions and re­view by an in­de­pen­dent sci­en­tific panel, a process that could take as much as a year, ac­cord­ing to En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man.

Wait a year then take us to court? One couldn’t ask for a more telling sum­mary of B.C.’s real strat­egy, which is de­lay­ing the pipe­line project un­til op­er­a­tor Kin­der Mor­gan loses heart and gives up.

But Hor­gan can hardly have ex­pected his fel­low New Demo­crat and “old friend” to sit on her hands, when Rachel Not­ley is fac­ing an uphill fight for re-elec­tion a year from now.

The neigh­bour­ing premier’s foray against B.C. wine posed an im­me­di­ate threat to $70 mil­lion in whole­sale pur­chases by the Al­berta liquor dis­tri­bu­tion branch ev­ery year.

Hor­gan in­sisted Tues­day and again Wed­nes­day that his NDP gov­ern­ment “will stand with B.C. wine pro­duc­ers.” But one could search ei­ther day’s state­ments in vain for what that might en­tail in terms of ei­ther sup­port or re­tal­i­a­tion.

The NDP min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, Lana Popham, briefly in­di­cated a pos­si­ble re­sponse Tues­day when re­porters caught up with her dur­ing a pre­vi­ously sched­uled tour of Okana­gan winer­ies.

“We bring in a lot of Al­berta beef into Bri­tish Columbia, so I would rather not go down that route,” Popham said. “And I don’t know where we’re go­ing to go, but one thing for sure, we’ll fight. We’ll fight as hard as we can for our winer­ies.”

Barely had she floated the threat to Al­berta beef, when the B.C. Lib­er­als fired back that Popham’s “shock­ingly bad idea” would end up hurt­ing B.C. pro­duc­ers.

A siz­able por­tion of B.C. beef pro­duc­tion is sent to Al­berta for fin­ish­ing, which is the sort of thing one might ex­pect the prov­ince’s agri­cul­ture min­is­ter to know.

On Wed­nes­day, the premier rode to her res­cue, as he did last fall dur­ing Popham’s botched han­dling of the fish farm­ing file. A boy­cott of Al­berta beef is not on, Hor­gan said.

He also ruled out any other form of re­tal­i­a­tion. Hor­gan fears an es­ca­lat­ing trade war could dis­tract pub­lic and me­dia at­ten­tion from the roll­out of his gov­ern­ment’s agenda for the year, start­ing next week in the leg­is­la­ture.

The Al­berta move against the B.C. wine in­dus­try also dove­tails with another event un­fold­ing next week, the by­elec­tion to fill the va­cant leg­is­la­ture seat of Kelowna West.

Not­ley drew at­ten­tion to the non-coin­ci­dence dur­ing her news con­fer­ence: “There is, I be­lieve, a by­elec­tion in Kelowna right now. I’m not sure who is ex­pected to win what in that by­elec­tion, but I sus­pect it (the wine boy­cott) will be a mat­ter of dis­cus­sion.”

Right she was. Ben Ste­wart, the for­mer B.C. Lib­eral MLA try­ing to win back the seat va­cated by Christy Clark, was soon out with the ap­pro­pri­ate news re­lease.

“The premier has stum­bled into this reck­less trade war with Al­berta, he’s the one who pushed the wine sec­tor into the line of fire,” Ste­wart said. “Kelowna West res­i­dents can send a mes­sage that it’s time for the B.C. NDP to stop the wine war — and stand up for B.C. jobs by vot­ing B.C. Lib­eral.”

The week’s ex­changes on this is­sue also in­cluded a let­ter to Hor­gan from the pipe­line op­er­a­tor, seek­ing a meet­ing and cau­tion­ing about the im­pact of the threat­ened reg­u­la­tions on the na­tional econ­omy.

“The im­pli­ca­tions of such a threat strike di­rectly at the heart of our coun­try’s oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ers, and pro­duc­ing prov­inces, en­ergy cus­tomers in the Lower Main­land, Canada, USA and over­seas, and the men and women who earn a liv­ing sup­port­ing the en­ergy in­dus­try in this coun­try,” wrote Kin­der Mor­gan Canada CEO Ian An­der­son.

“I hope that you will con­sider the sever­ity and con­se­quence of the ac­tions your min­is­ter has pro­posed and that you will ac­cept my of­fer to meet with you to dis­cuss these and any other mat­ters re­lat­ing to the op­er­a­tions of our com­pany in B.C.”

Not a chance, said Hor­gan. He won’t meet with the com­pany so long as his gov­ern­ment is in court, chal­leng­ing the fed­eral reg­u­la­tory ap­proval for the Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion.

Mean­while, se­nior fed­eral and B.C. pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials were sched­uled to meet in Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day to dis­cuss the is­sue.

The B.C. side is ex­pected to lay out the Hor­gan gov­ern­ment’s ra­tio­nale for its pro­posed move against Al­berta oil. The feds may in­di­cate what Ot­tawa could do to back up Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s in­sis­tence that the project can, should and will be built. Few out­side the ar­chi­tec­tural com­mu­nity talk about the beauty of Van­cou­ver’s ar­chi­tec­ture. But it’s there.

Look past the tow­er­ing trees lin­ing Van­cou­ver’s leafy, pre-1940s neigh­bour­hoods and you’ll no­tice a ca­coph­ony of ar­chi­tec­tural styles. Each of these homes was built in a slightly dif­fer­ent era by a dif­fer­ent builder fol­low­ing a dif­fer­ent set of ar­chi­tec­tural ideals at a time when the de­tails were para­mount; the gables, the dorm­ers, the handrails — there’s an au­then­tic­ity to their va­ri­ety that can’t be repli­cated.

Many of these were once home to large fam­i­lies, of­ten with sev­eral gen­er­a­tions liv­ing un­der one roof, which meant neigh­bour­hood parks were filled with kids clam­our­ing over play­grounds, fam­i­lies pic­nick­ing be­side soc­cer fields, el­derly cou­ples walk­ing dogs in the evening.

Now, many of these neigh­bour­hoods are shells of their for­mer vi­brant, di­verse selves; The play­grounds are no longer full, the side­walks are all but empty, the lo­cal busi­nesses strug­gling. These are ghost neigh­bour­hoods. This could be about to change.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, Van­cou­ver city coun­cil ap­proved amend­ments to the Zon­ing and De­vel­op­ment By­law that could be key pieces of the hous­ing-cri­sis puz­zle. Though still in their ges­ta­tion pe­riod, once en­acted, these amend­ments could mean own­ers of char­ac­ter homes built be­fore 1940 could strat­ify their prop­er­ties through a rel­a­tively stream­lined per­mit­ting process. A home that once housed a sin­gle fam­ily could soon be di­vided up and sold as sev­eral dif­fer­ent units.

If this gets the pickup it de­serves, this could start a snow­ball ef­fect. See, the real ben­e­fit of this hous­ing so­lu­tion isn’t just to the home­own­ers who will be able to down­size in place, main­tain­ing their con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity they may have lived in for decades. The real ben­e­fit is to the “miss­ing mid­dle” who could soon find new hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

While a char­ac­ter home on a dou­ble lot may

Kelowna West res­i­dents can send a mes­sage that it’s time for the B.C. NDP to stop the wine war.


B.C. Lib­eral can­di­date

The ben­e­fits of re­vi­tal­iz­ing these ghost neigh­bour­hoods will have broad reach

have been priced-out of a sin­gle par­ent-led fam­ily’s reach, a thought­fully de­signed unit within it might not be. Though a young pro­fes­sional cou­ple may not be able to af­ford an im­pec­ca­ble pre-1940s home, they might be able to make a ren­o­vated por­tion work.

The ben­e­fits of re­vi­tal­iz­ing these ghost neigh­bour­hoods will have broad reach; it will touch the in­fra­struc­ture, the schools, the small busi­nesses near these homes.

If it’s suc­cess­ful — and I be­lieve it will be — Van­cou­ver could act as a blue­print for other re­gions with his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant homes, like New West­min­ster and Vic­to­ria.

It has pained me to see beau­ti­ful old homes torn down, pulled into pieces and tossed in a land­fill; an en­vi­ron­men­tal trav­esty. Now, by di­vid­ing homes that may once have been des­tined for de­struc­tion into mul­ti­ple units for mul­ti­ple own­ers, they stand a chance of be­ing not just sal­vaged, but re­stored. And bet­ter yet, re­pur­posed.

I think of this ap­proach as “sen­si­tive den­si­fi­ca­tion.” Un­like new town­homes and condo tow­ers, strat­i­fy­ing char­ac­ter homes will not sig­nif­i­cantly change Van­cou­ver’s streetscap­es. In­stead, it will beau­tify them by pre­serv­ing the rich ta­pes­try of ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails, the ma­ture trees, the mem­o­ries these homes hold.

Un­like some of the big­ger-news den­si­fi­ca­tion plans, this doesn’t in­volve broad de­vel­op­ment on ma­jor ar­te­ri­als. In­stead, many of these homes are on quiet streets with a calmer rhythm, where peo­ple can get to know their neigh­bours and live at a slightly slower pace. They’re of a more hu­man scale.

Un­like the build­ing of ma­jor de­vel­op­ments, this plan doesn’t re­quire ad­di­tional in­fra­struc­ture — slight mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the wa­ter, sewer or elec­tri­cal setup, maybe, but for the most part these are al­ready in place.

By den­si­fy­ing, this ap­proach di­ver­si­fies by bring­ing back to Van­cou­ver’s ghost neigh­bour­hoods peo­ple of all back­grounds, ages, in­comes and fam­ily struc­tures. This is thought­ful re­vi­tal­iza­tion with the po­ten­tial to make Van­cou­ver’s old­est neigh­bour­hoods as vi­brant as they used to be and, by wel­com­ing back the “miss­ing mid­dle,” more di­verse than they ever were.

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