A personal reflection on two years of CityCaucus.com

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CityCaucus.com celebrates its 2nd birthday December 7th

Happy Anniversary! Yes, it’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since Mike and I turned the lights on at CityCaucus Towers. Who would have thought that our small operation conceived in backrooms by titans of industry over glasses of expensive port wine and the scent of Cuban cigars hanging heavy in the air could have reached the heights it has in less than 24 months?

Here are a few interesting statistics I thought you might like to read as we all blow out the candles on our birthday cake. We launched on Dec 7, 2008 and since then our team have written 1888 posts (not including this one). Besides Mike and myself, we’ve had a number of contributors to keep the civic debate going. They include former COPE councillors Tim Louis and Fred Bass as well as former NPA councillor Gordon Price. Eric Mang has been a regular contributor of ours from Toronto. Real estate developer and all round nice guy Michael Geller has also weighed in along with Kerri Brkich, Erin Chutter, Vivian Krause and so many others.

As you can see, it takes a lot of work and dedicated volunteers to effectively run CityCaucus.com. We believe it’s the quality of our product that’s helped to catapult CityCaucus.com into a lead position when it comes to civic affairs blogs.

The raw numbers tell the story of our growth over the last two years. In December 2008, we averaged only 350 visitors per day. We’ve attracted nearly 100,000 page views per month since the end of August just through our web traffic alone.

In addition to those directly visiting the blog, we also have other people who follow us using other social media tools. We have over 1300 Facebook friends, over 2300 Twitter followers and well over 1000 subscribers to our daily email digest. If a story appears on CityCaucus.com, rest assured it’s being read by a targeted group of savvy readers.

Our team has also had the good fortune of working with many of our mainstream media colleagues. Several dozen of the stories we’ve uncovered were featured on GlobalTV, CBC Newsworld, Fairchild TV, CKNW News, News 1130, 24 Hours, CBC Vancouver, CTV Vancouver, Vancouver Sun, The Province, Globe and Mail, Shore 104FM, Metro News and the list goes on and on. We’re huge supporters of the hard work our mainstream media colleagues do every day to keep us all up to date on the latest issues.

According to our statistics department on the 12th floor, we’re just about 2 weeks away from attaining four million page views, helped along by the 2.5 million we received during the 2010 Games alone. That number just blows me away when you consider that the perception is voters have lost interest in civic government and urban issues. It wouldn’t appear so based on what we’ve experienced.

I believe our biggest accomplishment to date has to be the Where to Be for Free Guide we developed for the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Games. What started out as a vague concept triggered by a conversation I had, turned into a unique service that allowed us to market Vancouver’s Games to hundreds of thousands of people looking for free events all members of the family could enjoy.

Where government and institutions missed out, the blogosphere stepped up.

Amazingly, on Feb 12th, our guide helped to attract over 150,000 visitors to the blog in one day. The traffic momentarily crashed the site on a couple of occasions, but in the end everything held together for the duration of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I should note that we owe a debt of gratitude to CKNW’s Bill Good, GlobalTV News, along with TransLink’s The Buzzer blog  who were early champions of the Guide and helped to make it a big success.

Most of all I’d like to credit my colleague Mike Klassen who took a month off away from clients, and made the 2010 Free guide a full-featured mini-site where people could share their tips and comments on over fifty free attractions. His video reports and feature interviews from all the venues attracted thousands of views, and acclaim from places as far off as Toronto, Texas and Australia.

We’ve discussed a lot of subjects in the last two years including urban sprawl, budget cutbacks, chafer beetles, water usage, property taxes, bike lanes, backyard chickens, density, industrial land usage to name but a few. When we first started this blog up we weren’t sure we’d have enough material to keep it going every day, but it’s clear our fears were unfounded. The election of Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision team back in ’08 all but guaranteed we would not run short on political scandals and issues to round out the week.

Thank you Mayor Gregor, and keep up the good work.

I’d also like to acknowledge some of the other civic bloggers who while I don’t always agree with them, should be recognized for all their efforts. A few in the Metro Vancouver area such as Paul Hillsdon, Jordan Bateman, Alex G Tsakumis and Jonathon Ross have helped to develop a critical mass of interest in civic government issues. It’s kind of what I call the Richmond Auto Mall effect. All those dealerships in close proximity to each other help to “drive” business to each other. More bloggers writing about civic issues means an increase in the level of awareness and interest in the issues.

As for the MSM, I’m also grateful that people like Frances Bula and Jeff Lee take the time out their busy day to regularly give us their take on civic politics. Over at 24 Hours, Bob Mackin has also become a prolific Twitterer of civic news and regularly breaks stories that others aren’t covering. I want to pass along kudos to everyone in the local civic arena, such as Jeff Nagel of the Surrey Leader, plus writers Sandra Thomas, Mike Howell, Naoibh O’Connor, Allen Garr & Mark Hasiuk of the Vancouver Courier.

It’s incredible how many of us now creatively use social media as a means of engaging the public on urban issues, compared to two years ago.

I should note that increasingly we are getting dozens of thought provoking and insightful comments on each of our posts. In fact, on a couple of them we’ve even had well in excess of a hundred comments. I can assure you that I read every one of the comments and thoroughly love the debate and dialogue that we’ve kick started on this blog.

I’ve never met boohoo, spartikus, Glissando Remmy, George, Max, rf, Landlord, Julia, The Angry Taxpayer, Glen Hall, Chris Keam and other commenters…but rest assured I enjoy the fact they continue to respectfully stir things up. Your passion for urban affairs and politics is clear.

The last thing I’ve ever wanted for this blog is for it to become a one-way dialogue of people talking to themselves. It doesn’t look like we have much to worry about.

Thanks again to all of our thousands of regular and first-time readers for tuning in on a daily basis. It’s been a fun ride over the last two years and one never knows what awaits us in a civic election year.

– Post by Daniel

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  • Congratulations, Daniel and Mike!

  • Susan

    I really appreciate all your posts and your dedication, just wonderful – Have your B’day cake and eat it too!!!

  • LJ

    Congrats, guys. Keep up the good work.

  • Steven Forth

    Congratulations. Glad to see you have staying power. And I am glad to see someone else rides fixies in the snow, though I have a Redline, a Brodie (Vancouver made) and a Viva not a Surly. I hope that in 2011 you can catalyze some actual discussion of policy. If the NPA is going to run a credible campaign I think it is going to need to do it on clear policy. The old days of “we have the best people and the best connections” won’t cut it anymore. Some policy isses I would like the NPA (and Vision, and whoever else is out there) be clear on
    – Cost of housing
    – Homelessness
    – Transit (including cycling)
    – Rezoning, density, urban agriculture
    – Sustainable and resilient economy (and a policy of ‘who cares’ or ‘this is not relevant at the municipal level’ is fine, just say it and be prepared to justify it)
    I am also planning to spend some time in 2011 getting up to speed on waste management, water and sewage – some posts on those areas to get me started would be great.
    May everyone have a great holiday season.

  • Suzanne Anton

    Happy Birthday to Daniel and Mike, and to all your staff in the CityCaucus tower. Way to make your blog into the “go to” blog for civic politics in Vancouver. Congratulations and may you enjoy many more birthdays.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    Congrats, guys.
    Where’s the cake? 😉

  • Jesse Johl

    Happy Birthday Mike & Daniel
    I have to say I always enjoy reading your reports.

  • Max

    Your site was brought to my attention during the Olympics – my brother recommended it to me.
    And what can I say, after a few visits, I was addicted!
    I find the information you provide interesting, relevant and on topics not touched on in the MSM (unless they read it hear and then report on it after the fact)
    Keep up the great work – the MSM has lots to learn from you both.

  • bill McCreery

    Happy birthday CC & many more!
    As I said when we spoke last week Mike, CC & some of the other civic blogs have changed the political dynamic in Vancouver. Among many benefits, your hard work & dedication is bringing MUCH more to light than even a well performing MSM has traditionally been able to do. Whether you agreed or not with your perspective there is a lot of hard core information presented & readers can form their own opinions.
    Good on you! &, to the other civic blogs also.