Exclusive: City staff asked to generate support for Mayor’s green plan

Frances Bula may have been on to something when she tweeted this out to her followers

It’s been over a week since Mayor Gregor unveiled his costly, yet uncosted green plan for the City of Vancouver. The 162-page report included a myriad of "green" measures that will make doing business with the City of Vancouver a heckuva lot more expensive. Just how expensive remains left to the accountants who will undoubtedly pour over the numbers in the coming weeks.

Last Thursday a chorus of supporters showed up to Vancouver council to praise Mayor Gregor and his Vision caucus for their greenest city plan. At first blush it appeared as though these people just read the report and decided to show up to provide their endorsement. However, based on what we’ve been told, that does not appear to be the case.

CityCaucus.com has learned that City staff were directed by Vision councillor Andrea Reimer to drum up warm bodies to attend the public meeting and praise the Mayor. Instead of simply writing the report and presenting it to the public for feedback, staff were pressured to beat the drums and encourage as many "friendlies" to show up to the meeting and say good things in front of the media.

We’ve chosen not to reveal the identity of the staff person involved, but she wrote the following note to someone on the Greenest City Action Team (GCAT):

Andrea [Reimer] has asked that I get in touch with you to see if you might be interested in/willing to speak on the Greenest City plan at Council tomorrow? The meeting starts at 2.

What’s interesting about this is the fact that Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer is personally directing staff to get warm bodies out to speak in favour of the plan. In the past, this type of partisan activity would have been frowned upon by senior management. The staff person goes on to write:

Hi [identity removed],

We’re just looking for people who have been involved in the process to come and speak about their involvement, and their thoughts about/level of support for the plan. We’re always looking to hear about what the business community thinks. I think a letter would be fine too, if that’s something you are able to crank out today – probably better that given your role on GCAT.

I wonder if City staff were also encouraged by Reimer to speak to opponents of the green plan? I somehow doubt it. Perhaps the lopsidedness of the meeting was why Globe and Mail contributor Frances Bula sent out this tweet:

No-one but the choir here at city hall praising Greenest City Action Plan

Bula may be on to something when you review the video tape from that public meeting. Amazingly, it appears some people showed up to the Planning and Environment Committee and didn’t even know they had been placed on the speakers list.

For example, one woman looked puzzled as she came up to the podium and told the civic politicians:

I know I emailed but I didn’t know I got on the speakers list.

Huh? How could she not know she was on the speakers list? Then another young man was called up to the podium by Reimer and he stated:

I did not expect to speak today. That’s kind of a surprise.

If these people didn’t know they were on the speakers list, it begs the question just how they got on it in the first place? Did staff or politicians just arbitrarily put them on? If they did, that’s a real "no-no".

After spending 2 1/2 years writing and researching the GCAT plan, it took all but 48 hours to fall off the media radar. With the exception of the Vancouver Sun, which ran the story front page, none of the other mainstream media have provided the story with much coverage.

The one exception is the Vancouver Courier which ran a thoughtful analysis on Mayor Gregor’s green plan. Mark Hasiuk, who thankfully provides a bit of balance on that paper’s editorial page, has weighed in on what he thinks of Gregor’s plan to paint City Hall green. He states:

…last Thursday’s vote represents a fulcrum in Vancouver history, perhaps the most important political moment since incorporation in 1886. If followed, the plan will transform the city and help Robertson realize his wild green dreams. Environmentalism will trump all other city priorities. It’s why he ran for mayor, everything else was incidental. In many ways, the plan mirrors Robertson’s mayoralty. Enthusiastic but naive. Ambitious but myopic. It’s elitist to the core. Only a man of Robertson’s privileged background and political good fortune could present this plan with a straight face.

He goes on to state:

It targets developers, homebuilders and construction companies, prescribing stringent environmental standards and “higher permit fees” for “less energy efficient projects.” It’s a regulation blitzkrieg that will discourage development and investment, inflate construction costs and increase housing and rental prices. If you thought it was expensive to live in Vancouver in 2011, wait until the plan kicks in.

And one more excerpt for good measure:

Aware of the potential for revolt, the plan is one part policy, one part public relations. City officials must reach out to “new immigrants,” “faith communities” and folks of “different classes/incomes.” Tailor a green message for the Chinese community because “the way the green movement is being marketed with romanticism of going back to nature, may not resonate with cultures that have worked to distance themselves from nature.”

So as you can see, not everyone is buying into the Mayor’s green flavoured Kool-Aid despite the back-patting that took place when Vision/COPE passed the green plan.

Only time will tell if all of Robertson’s 2 1/2 years of greenwashing efforts will pay off in the ballot box come this November. Something tells me the return on investment might not be quite what he was expecting.

– Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/citycaucus.

Patti Bacchus must step down as Vision hack hire investigated
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  • The Angry Taxpayer

    Business as usual.

  • BruceWayne

    Gregor PropellerHead Robertson
    You are certifiably nuts if you think forced extra costs will be acceptable to Vancouver citizens and businesses.
    You can fool some of the voters some of the time but you will not fool all the voters all of the time.
    Shove this “green plan” in front of us and we’ll show what we think in November.

  • Julia

    I will bet the farm that economic analysis has not been done for this Plan, and will never be done to this plan.
    Planning does not have to be economically sustainable – that would be far too responsible.

  • gasp

    I agree with your comment.
    Every time this Council talks green I start to see red knowing it’s going to cost a lot and achieve nothing meaningful.
    Too bad this green Mayor doesn’t have a clue about what being environmentally conscious means to most people – preserving and working with the natural environment, not destroying it.

  • Julia

    even tax planning is not done. Did you know that the redeveloped area at Cambie and Marine will net the city fewer taxes once it is complete than the way it is now because of the way industrial land is taxed? Ask Brent T what the tax implications are for the redevelopment site and he won’t be able to tell you – it is not a function of Planning.
    Interesting how the city wants to put a water meter on a house but at the same time is allergic to the idea of using consumption as one of the factors that determines the distribution of property tax.

  • Max

    What I found interesting was the idea, or better yet, the plan to force people to change through implementing higher costs on basics like hydro, gas etc.

  • Max

    And the Vision fluffers are rallying the troops – one thing obviously missing: how much???
    jamesgemmill James Gemmill
    Mark Hasiuk is a climate change denier. Public should ask those trumpeting his anti “Greenest City” op-ed if they believe same. #vanpoli
    alvinsingh Alvin Singh
    by claysuddaby
    NPA living in the past, can’t see how critical enviro is to our future. @COPEVancouver @VisionVancouver are planning for the future #vanelxn

  • Steven Forth

    All in all I think the Greenest City Plan is excellent and there was a lot of community imput developing it. More than I know of for any other set of city policies. You would have had to be actively ignoring civic issues to have missed it. Personally I don’t think it goes anywhere near far enough on a number of dimensions, it is especially lame on issues like urban biodiversity and primary productivity. There could have been more creative work on how to leverage market mechansisms as well. But it is a good beginning.
    Does the NPA and CityCaucus have a policy or platform on resilient and sustainable cities? I sure hope so, but I do not know what it is. Where can I go to learn something about it. If the NPA is planning to run on a reactionary platform that tries to shift environmental costs onto the public or into the future then they should say so. This seems unlikely given that Mike Klassen and Sean Bickerton have in the past had some good ideas in this area (I especially like Mike Klassen’s ideas on walkable cities). But Mike Klassen at any rate seems to be letting his partisan side get ahead of his policy and governance ideas.

  • Bill

    “Does the NPA and CityCaucus have a policy or platform on resilient and sustainable cities?”
    “Sustainable” is a word that is in vogue right now but I would appreciate that if you mean that without adopting this “Green Plan” (or similar plan), the city of Vancouver would be “unsustainable”, then what exactly would happen. Would we all move away? Roving bands of starving citizens be scavenging for food because we didn’t create our urban farms? Would property values crash? A ghost town?
    What is unsustainable is to continue to add to taxpayer supported costs and ignore the demographic and economic shifts that are going to see a smaller proportion of workers paying for all the public services and for the increase in retired people whose demands on the health care system will grow much faster than the economy. What does that mean? Take a look at Greece.

  • Scott B

    Having the city staff show up for a cheer fest sound familiar doesn’t it? Like the communist parades of Stalin and Mao. Lost of reluctant people forced to show up and tow the communist party line wearing smiles that mast total contempt. Remember, if you don’t play ball with comrade Gregor you get forced out by means of intimidation like allot of senior city staff who did not play ball with the head of the new Vancouver communist party.

  • gman

    People youve been delphied.If you think this is a local agenda just look at what carbon Cadman has been up to.This is a very long video,and starts somewhat awkwardly but if you can stick with it you might be suprised. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEHWsdimVO4

  • Mark

    Gregor Robertson’s silly ideas have already cost us big time. Imagine the mess we’ll be in if he is allowed to complete his ‘plan’. I use the word ‘plan’ tounge-in-cheek. I think it’s pretty clear now that this guy never had a plan to begin with. It’s all about green green green, which is exactly what it’s costing us a lot of. Geez, what a nightmare. When is the election?

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day
    “I keep Six Honest serving-men
    (They taught me all I knew);
    Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.”
    Rudyard Kipling
    This is what you should be asking yourself before praising a man-made propaganda pamphlet Steven.
    “All in all I think the Greenest City Plan is excellent and there was a lot of community input developing it.”
    Give yourself a head shake. Now!
    Maybe you can be saved.
    ‘Greenest’…than What, than Where, then Who, and Why, and How do you see where I’m going with this?
    ‘City Plan’…It’s a plan, a city plan, made by bureaucrats sitting at their desks, another day another buck, another glorious Power Point Presentation.
    It would be funny if it wasn’t damn scary to follow the city staff’s collective ass kissing and high five-ing over this Complete Made up Bullshit. There I said it!
    I haven’t seen such crazy phony hysteric adulation since watching as a kid in the eighties images from some Eastern European Labor Congress Conferences.
    This was their last approved Greenest Country Plan…
    Either sober up or cut out the cheap propaganda (which is most likely what you peddle in here).
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • George

    According to Andrea Reimer..this is where we should get our extra revenue…to further our Green Agenda…
    This from a woman that touts on her resume that she learned everything at the feet of Al Gore..the man that invented the internet…

  • Ned

    Bill absolutely right!
    “Sustainable” is a word that is in vogue right now but I would appreciate that if you mean that without adopting this “Green Plan”
    Steven Forth is most likely a middle level Vision operative on 50/50 issues approval, so it won’t turn into boohoo, or can’t remember their names, am i right?
    George…Andrea Reimer, if she didn’t suck up at the doors of some Tides funded ‘charities’ she would have been serving me Big Mac with fries.

  • George

    here we go. everyone can help with the Capitol Plan…wonder how much this cost us..

  • gasp

    I have already decided to vote against the next capital plan. I don’t trust anyone currently on Council to spend the money wisely – instead it will be used to advance the Mayor’s political agenda – regardless of who gets elected Mayor.
    This time, count me out. The City can wait a few years until we get a Mayor with some concern about the public interest, not just their own self-interest.

  • gman

    Ahh George,so now it begins.Beating delivery drivers with parking meters is now green.One can only guess whats next?

  • George

    what confuses me is how goods are to be delivered..not everything will fit on the back of a trike in mid winter…I wonder if trike’s are subject to pay..or are they special exempt 😉 😉

  • gman

    George carrying all those quarters around might slow them down a bit.Isnt there also a green industrial zone in the plan,seems to me that wouldnt be fair to all the other companies that dont pass the green poobas green test.What the hell is a green job anyway?

  • gman

    Hey George, if Gore invented the internet did GreGore invent the garden?

  • Max

    Maybe the trikes will pull a uhaul behind it.
    But remember, the city did invest in that groovey bike lane snow clearing machine…
    Remember, bike lanes were clear, sidewalks….not so much.

  • George

    naw he created the steaming compost

  • George

    could work Max, we did pay for electric power boosters..and yes the bike lanes are cleared immediately,
    but gman’s got a point that the quarters for the meters, might weigh them down…unless they are given an environmentally friendly credit card from the city to pay for parking..
    why not we pay for everything else..

  • Max

    I wonder if Reimer and VV realize any costs that are incurred by the companies will be downloaded to the end user?
    ie: costs of good increase for the consumer….

  • gman

    Max,you mean just like the carbon tax and carbon credits? Id say that you got that right.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day
    “Mr. Deeds goes to Town? Nope…seen this movie before. In B&W “Ms.Andrea Deeds goes to New York” is the new title… and Vancouver Taxi, Truck, and Car drivers… pay for it!”
    And this is the story gman, IMHO!
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • gman

    Glissy,so this was made in Neew Yeork Citay……git a rope!!!!

  • Richard Unger

    I wouldn’t know how to do it if my life depended on it, that is… to get and then set up a… titter account, but I bookmarked yours so I can take “witty pills” one or two a day just like the doctor… recommended, ha, ha, I am laughing by myself in the study right now.
    I am getting funnier only by writing to you, have I told you that laughing is the best medicine, another one, ha, ha…you are an inspiration to me son. God bless you!
    Oops, I completely forgot why I was here for. Is this the same Andrea Reimer, that flew to New York not long ago as reported in the media, on tax payers money, my money I may add? And she now has ideas?
    Parking is becoming harder and harder in downtown and throughout Vancouver, we are seniors and we have great need of our only way of moving around, longer distances, and not so very often. Expensive meters are springing everywhere. I have a good income still, but this is becoming ridiculous, all while the incompetency in the City Hall has become a virtue and as a matter of fact a requirement for getting and holding on to a job, a six figures job.
    Take my advice: to the young people of this city out there, pay attention, this is how it started. Seventy years ago in my country of Hungary, I’ve seen it and I lived through it all. My parents were lucky enough to have made it out.
    And be afraid. Very afraid. There is nothing worse than a group of self appointed arrogant nobodies like this newly formed Vision group trying to closed the doors to the labor camp on you. Something they don’t even bother to cover it up any more.
    God Bless Canada!

  • gman

    Richard Unger,what you say is very true and Im afraid the youth today are really missing what is happening.One person who is speaking all over the world about this subject,who I have followed for some time is Vaclav Klaus Pres.Czech Republic,he is very vocal and the world in my opinion could us more like him.