FOI reveals green grants about “thought experiments” and “symbolism”

See the Greenest City Grant Applications

A few weeks ago, we were the first media outlet to bring your attention to a new program Mayor Gregor Robertson was introducing called “Lawns to Loaves”. The ambitious program is part of a much larger set of green grants valued at over $300,000 that the City has doled out over the last three years.

We were told that the Lawns to Loaves program was meant to encourage homeowners to get rid of their front lawns and replace them with mini-wheat fields. The Mayor wants to grow enough wheat to produce a few locally made loaves of bread. It’s the kind of goofy program that alongside the backyard chicken scheme, has helped to reinforce the Mayor Moonbeam image for Gregor Robertson.

Over the last week or so, a few left-leaning columnists have leapt to the Mayor’s defence by taking a few pot shots at Suzanne Anton for her criticism of the program. They ask why Anton would dare criticize the program when it is being put forward by the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA), a group committed to environmental sustainability.

I must say I find it rather amusing to watch how Vision Vancouver and their supporters duck for cover when the crap hits the fan. When it happens they have no problem shielding themselves behind the homeless, youth or seniors. They hope by doing so that they can deflect attention away from the sheer silliness of these initiatives, and distract the public from the ineffectiveness of Mayor Gregor’s costly green dreams.

When the Greenest City grants were brought to council, the elected officials were only provided with a high level summary of the staff recommendations. I’ve confirmed that Council was not provided with a copy of the application forms attached to each grant request. That’s why decided to place a freedom of information request to see exactly what a few of the applications actually looked like.

Upon review, it would appear the Lawns to Loaves program is yet another “symbolic” initiative of this Mayor and council. Rather than tackling the tough decisions related to better land use planning, which would have a bigger environmental impact, we’re stuck with an endless list of “symbolic” media-friendly announcements.

In fact, the application for Lawns to Loaves confirms my theory that the so-called “green” initiatives being pushed out of the Mayor’s office are all about style over substance. Have a look at the goals and objectives for the program as indicated in the application form:

The Lawns to Loaves pilot project aims to explore small-scale grain production in the urban environment by assisting people in coverting their conventional grass lawns and concrete cityscapes into wheat-producing spaces. It is a novel experiment exploring the limits and possibilities of how and where our daily bread comes from. The goals are ambitious yet simple (emphasis ours):

  1. To successfully cultivate a hundred pounds of organic spring wheat within the City of Vancouver. [Editor’s note: that works out to about $50 per pound of wheat]

  2. To engage our progressive city in a thought experiment regarding what defines a farm and to redefine the dominant scale of grain/food production.

  3. To overlook traditional notions of efficiency in favor of the power of symbolism.

  4. To teach, engage and excite those involved in the project and the greater public about the benefits of local food, the long term empowerment in growing our own food, and the joy of communal food processing and celebration.

Another “green” initiative that didn’t get as much attention as the wheat fields program is the decision by council to give the Vancouver Area Cycling Coaltion (VACC) a $15,500 grant to set up a new bicycle courier company.

If you actually read through the full application for the grant, it’s abundantly clear that the money is not being used to simply purchase more equipment. According to their application submitted to the City, the funding will allow them to undertake a public relations campaign to help extol the virtues of the Mayor’s separated bike lanes.

Wow, isn’t that convenient? Just as we head into an election, one of the Mayor’s top boosters and most active City Hall lobbyists is provided a grant to help bolster the fortunes of the Hornby Street bike lane.

Here is an excerpt from the VACC application (emphasis ours):

Furthermore, we will actively demonstrate that the new separated bike lanes represent an opportunity for businesses, reframing the discussion around downtown infrastructure.

…we hope that this grant could represent the beginning of a long-term partnership with the city.

With the recent controversy around the installation of separated bike lanes downtown, we recognize a critical need for engagement between the cycling community and local businesses. By engaging business clients and demonstrating that the bike lanes represent a business opportunity, we are building support for improved cycling infrastructure and the Greenest City goals generally.

The Greenest City Grant would allow us to offer a free promotional campaign for cycling as a preferred means of transportation , in which SHIFT would host a campaign of the VACC, encouraging cycling and positive relations between bikes and businesses.

Despite what some Vision-friendly columnists would like you to believe, the green city grants that were doled out a couple of weeks ago give little or no value to taxpayers. Even Mayor Gregor had to admit in a news conference that this is about symbolic gestures, not about reducing our city’s carbon footprint.

These green schemes are convenient props for Robertson and his financial backers to use as part of their 500-year plan for the universe. They merely provide bullets on a PowerPoint slide when they head out on the speaker circuit to brag about how environmentally-friendly Vancouver has become under Gregor’s watch.

Meanwhile, we have witnessed massive cutbacks to the Park Board budget since Vision took office. It’s so bad that we don’t even have the staff to cut the boulevard grass in the summer.

Something tells me Vancouver Council needs to make a major re-adjustment of its priorities soon, or else they run the risk that voters will do if for them on November 19th.

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

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  • The VACC is it’s own worst enemy. 550 kilograms of extra wide cargo and rider barreling down those already too narrow bike lanes in typical courier fashion is a disaster waiting to happen. Translink funds the VACC. Your tax dollars hard at work.

  • Julia

    I am puzzled why the city is messing with the free market. Are there not existing Courier companies with all the systems in place to make this happen for little or no investment?

  • Max

    I would be curious to hear the feedback from locl courier/taxi companies about the city funding direct competition to their services.
    They have set a goal to reduce cargo delviery services by a total of 3,000 trip per year.
    That is money out of someone elses pocket and potential jobs lost.
    Nice one.

  • Max

    As I read through the documents and noted the balnked out financial info, this artcile from yesterday came to mind: (Seem to be lots of wage $$ in the charity, non-profit sector)
    Thousands of charity workers earn sixs figure salaries: documents

  • Richard

    So the bikes drive themselves? No, of course not. More jobs will probably be created because it would take more bikes to deliver the same amount of stuff as trucks. Think about it for a second.

  • Dave

    Using that logic Richard why don’t we get rid of the fax machine and hand deliver all of our documents by bicycle?
    Just think of all the green jobs that would be created if we did this. It takes a lot more people to hand deliver documents than it does to fax them.
    Richard, your last comment defies good economics and any sense of logic. You are out to lunch on this one, again.

  • david hadaway

    I think anything with “green”, “bio”, or “empower” in it’s “mission statement” is now more or less certain to be a total fraud.
    Be it political opportunists, like Jasper, making ridiculous comments about park maintenance.
    Be it green spongers taking up city grants for “thought experiments”, as if they even know what such a thing really is!
    Be it the corporate spongers sucking money from public institutions
    Be it the corporate wreckers destroying BC Hydro along with our rivers, so ably exposed by Rafe Mair
    Be it the corporate wolves in sheep’s clothing destroying lives for profit
    (the article featuring our very own Bedford Biofuels at 502-suite 500, 666 Burrard Street).
    It’s said that if a guy tells you he’s honest you should hold on to your wallet, but if he tells you he’s green apparently we just hand it over, no questions asked.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    @ Gerry McGuire, @Julia, @ Max
    Exactly!! City Hall $$$ to VACC money is especially egregious.
    Gee, that and all those juice and cookie handouts on bike routes for the VACC crowd. Hope all that helps to get the vote out in November, Vision peeps!
    “Symbolism”. Hey, Mayor Rioterson, this is a little too simplistic (as well as tawdry) even by your already low standards.
    @Richard. Nice try.

  • Arno

    Richard, your argument displays a keen grasp of economics and is totally logical.
    We already have bicycle couriers delivering documents and small parcels. And trucks delivering larger parcels. A cargo trike is in between. Overhead is lower than a truck, so more people can be empolyed to deliver parcels in an efficent manner. With zero pollution, and less noise. A bonus is that the trike operators get lots of exercise while making deliveries. Would you rather have a polluting truck block your way while driving downtown? Seems to me that a cargo trike service is good for every one and I am happy that the city is supporting this endeavour with a tiny contribution so that all the residents can achieve the benefit of a cargo trike delivery service.

  • George

    Lets see if those trikes end up delivering at the new Save on Meats…
    connect the dots…
    they are having a delivery service for ..linens.. and the owner has several restaurants…I wonder..

  • Julia

    I have no doubt a bicycle delivery service has a place in Vancouver. It was widely discussed during the preparations for the Olympics when it was apparent that getting deliveries in and out of the downtown was going to be a severe challenge.
    The big feature was going to be helping tourists get their parcels back to the hotel so they could enjoy their day after spending lots of cash in the local businesses.
    Bonding, insurance, paying drivers (busy or not), dispatch etc. all made a temporary business prohibitive.
    If the Coalition thinks this is such a great idea, they should approach one of the existing couriers on a ‘on call’ basis. If nobody needs the service, nobody gets paid… no city money required.

  • Max

    If you note the documentation Julia:
    They are talking about paying their people ‘a fair working wage’ in rrelation to the city’s standards.
    ie: $18.75 start.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    @ Julia Exactly!
    What this is all about, is VACC using City funds to start this “business”. Vision pols then get and “halo” effect bounced back.VACC should be able to get this biz off the ground on its own. Julia, you can be their GM and marketing manager. They would make more $$$ that being on the TransLink and City teats!;-)
    And VACC keeps getting ore dollars to make Vision look good.
    Stop this use of our taxes for partisan purposes, please.

  • Max

    Sorry, just watched COV Engineering Dept. workers ‘move along’ 2 homeless guys sleeping in doorways across the street.
    Need to go check on Chris and maake sure they didn’t take his things…again.
    Funny, this is the same ‘behviour’ the City Ambassadors were accused of and the reason Vision pulled their funding.

  • Terence

    When Gregor said he wanted to create 20,000 new green jobs in Vancouver, I didn’t realize they were all going to be funded by City Hall and my tax dollars. What a joke

  • Julia

    I am not familiar with how Courier companies structure themselves but I would be curious if any of the field team earn $18.25 an hour net of expenses regardless of how many deliveries they make.
    I can’t believe we are talking about this – the whole thing is just wrong!
    Max, your observation is interesting. I am assuming it was in Kits?

  • Julia

    Richard, you say ‘More jobs will probably be created because it would take more bikes to deliver the same amount of stuff as trucks’
    I don’t imagine you own a business that has to turn a profit to remain open.
    The bike/cart courier service has to be cost effective for the customer or it simply won’t fly. As a customer, I don’t care if there are 10 packages in the couriers car/cart/bike, or 1 – the cost to me is the same and I will go with whoever can get something from A to B in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money – I don’t care how they do it.
    Cost will have to be competitive with all other conventional services or they will be out of businesses the minute the grant money runs out.

  • Ned

    Hello, hello what do we have here?
    A major story.
    Nothing really to add, it already makes me sick to my stomach to see all this uncovered…again. Our money spend on trivia projects.
    You want to know about the real plan? I just read the comment by Glisaando remmy few posts back, a sort of comment on a Gerry Macguire video.
    Please everyone watch the video and then read the commentary. LMAO Gregor was open on the idea that he was in bed with the Hollyhock mafia from the very beginning.
    Now with Glissando and Gerry permitting (hope you understand guys 🙂 ) I am going to post theirs video/ comment:
    The Thought of The Day
    “Glissando Piano Concerto No. 2 on a Variation by Gerry McGuire”
    Yes I did Max, yes I did,
    And here’s my post on Fabula…

    57 Glissando Remmy // Jul 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm
    The Thought of The Night
    ” QED – Quod Erat Demonstrandum or… ‘what was to be demonstrated’ ”
    Gerry #50,
    I have never came across this Riotson scripted recital before, the first part, I mean.
    This is the past.
    Here is my syntax for a theorem in the Riotson/ Solomon/ Vision/ City Hall scheme:
    “A group of American ex-pat leeches from up North on the Cortes Island, want to diversify ( Renew All 🙂 ) their portfolio of “green” businesses (Enerpro & comp) in BC, and cash in on the new Green Racket, starting with Vancouver… their Pied a Terre. A puppet is needed, thick skin, and lots of Bull.”
    Proof 1
    One self appointed guru, seer of the future, approve of his own 500 years plan, in the applause of his followers. All they need is a puppet.
    Proof 2
    Lookout for puppet ends in Vancouver Fairview. Puppet found. Approve funding for campaign. Campaign successful. Start collecting.
    Proof 3
    Starting @ 0.30 min in the video…re. Mayor’s Vision for Vancouver:
    ” extremely competitive tax regime here…we within a few years will be the lowest corporate tax rate combined in the G8… we like to be the green capital of finance in the world as well… the Switzerland of green finance if you want…”
    If P1 is true and if P2 is true and if P3 is true, then as each step applies an inference rule, the truth of our theorem is established…QED.
    I would like to end with the present time:
    To date, out of the 20,000 green jobs proposed… at the present we have … N/A.
    NET BUSINESS GAIN for the City of Vancouver:
    Chicken Coops and Sanctuary CHECK
    “Trial’” Bike Lanes CHECK
    Bee Hives… almost CHECK
    Wheat lawns CHECK
    Community Gardens CHECK
    Incompetent Senior Management CHECK
    NET BUSINESS LOSS for the City of Vancouver:
    Competent Senior Management CHECK
    Destruction of the Downtown Vancouver due to Mayor’s Foolishness CHECK
    Businesses relocation outside Vancouver CHECK
    Olympic Village White Mastodon CHECK
    We live in Vancouver QEF – Quod Erat Faciendum or… “what was to have been done”… and this keeps us busy.
    Watch the Video closely, Gregor Robertson,this shmuck of all shmucks, puts his trademark Fagin’s grin, and actually says on camera that he wants Vancouver to become the… capital… the Switzerland of $green$ finance!
    I rest my case.
    And least we forget.
    Not long ago… from an older post of mine:

    Speaking of the Mayor’s Gag Reel. This statement of his just surfaced today: “Vancouver is quickly becoming one of the most thriving, energetic downtowns in … the world,” he said. “In the coming years we’ll rival the downtowns of New York, of London, of Paris.”
    FROM: ‘City’s downtown in elite company: Mayor…London, New York, Paris models for Vancouver’ By ERICA BULMAN, 24 HOURS
    Get it? Vancouver is becoming a…most energetic …’downtown’! LOL
    Call me picky, cynical, pessimist, whatever… but having worked and lived in ALL of the above cities, my verdict is in.
    This Mayor has become, slowly but surely a certified LEED Laughing Stock. It almost makes me feel bad. I was wrong all along. He is not coming from Cortes Island… he must be coming from An-Delusia!
    Think about it. This is the guy who tops the Party who is keeping COPE on a short leash. Could you imagine the level of ineptitude that could be reached by this lovely tandem?
    O tempora! O mores!
    Now go do the right thing. Vote wisely!
    We live in VanLonPaYork and this keeps us busy.
    Glissando Remmy replied to comment from Max | July 10, 2011 2:17 PM | Reply

  • gman

    All these seemingly silly things are really just baby steps brought about by the I.C.L.E.I. There are hundreds of towns and cities in world have joined this U.N scam to help move Agenda 21 along.Go to,or go to THE GREEN AGENDA for a good history on how it began.Sustainability,global warming,overpopulation are all buzz words to move the agenda ahead.Google Agenda 21 maps and see where you will be allowed to live,where you will never be allowed to go,and where you will be allowed only with special permits.Many small towns and cities in the now bankrupt U.S have realised what it is and are trying to get out.I think Spokane is one.

  • rf

    How long until we find out the cargo bikes are running a Dial-a-dope service as well?

  • Julia

    we should probably separate the merits of the cargo bike courier service (which I happen to think might be a good one) and the notion that a civic government should be funding this sort of initiative instead of mowing the grass in the park.
    Properly funded and managed core services – that is all I agreed to as a taxpayer. Since when is all this other crap part of the civic government mandate.

  • chris (one of many)

    Since politicians (for many years)have decided that the way to get people to re-elect them is to cater to every special interest group in the planet.
    All the while forgetting things like sewers, water lines, sidewalks, streets,etc,etc. (until they fall apart and then take forever to fix)
    These things aren’t as ‘sexy’ sounding as ‘Lawns to Loaves’ and whatever other program catches the politicians eye (or they make up)
    After all, it isn’t their money that they’re spending.

  • Max

    I knew a few bike couriers when I first started working in Van. They received min wge and then a percentage per run. I don’tknow if that still stands.
    As for the COV, yes, it was in Kits.
    The one homeless guy I recognized, I’ve taken him sandwiches, the other is newer to the area, but I have seen him up on West 4 in front of Capers spare changing. He is truly messed up, you can see what the drugs have done and are doing to him.

  • Eric

    Anybody see these tweets on the sidebar? Gregor is going on a hiring spree to help support his green plan. Check this out.
    @MayorGregor hiring a “Sustainability Business Relationship Manager ” @ “$106,177 plus an excellent benefits package”
    @MayorGregor hiring a “Sustainability Monitoring & Reporting Planner” for “$46.26 per hour plus an excellent benefits package”
    @MayorGregor is hiring a Climate Policy Analyst @ “$46.26 per hour plus an excellent benefits package”. Bu… (cont)
    Out fricking rageous! What a waste of money.

  • Drew Snider, here, from TransLink. Just to clarify Gerry McGuire’s remark, we do not fund VACC. We contribute to specific projects, namely, Bike to Work Week, StreetWise Cycling Course, Business for Bikes (an outreach to businesses to help them accommodate cycling) and VACC’s School Programs. We do not provide any ongoing administrative funding to VACC and would not support any organization setting up a business.

  • Julia

    Max, it is interesting that the city grant would not follow the financial structure already tried and proven in the industry. I get so furious when politicians and city staff think they have the knowledge and expertise to run a business on my dime.(read Olympic Village)
    Not sure what to think about the doorway sleepers. I see the issue from both sides of the coin. Not sure why a doorway should be the location of choice for someone living rough when it is a confrontation waiting to happen with a shop keeper trying to run a business and pay his bills. Surely there must be better options.
    I have always thought it was a bylaw issue rather than a policing matter so to have COV staff enforce the trespass act does not hurt my feelings. If they can hand out tickets for illegally parked cars, and fine businesses for over sized fruit stands that exceed the permit… they surly should be able to ask someone to not block a doorway or sidewalk.
    Human Rights Tribunal has still not rendered a judgement on the Ambassador issue.

  • Max

    Interesting tweet put out by the GS:
    Straight News Anatomy of a news release: how stupid does COPE think we are?

  • chris (one of many)

    For $46.26 an hour I’ll sit at a desk (if they are even at a desk) and pretend that what I am doing is relevant.
    I’ll shuffle papers (actually e-mails) and talk in eco-talk. I’ll tell everybody about the ‘STUDIES’ that have been done. Studies by whom?
    All in a very serious manner (while laughing my way to the bank)

  • Max

    If the monies are being dumped into a central pot, how do you know what they are being used for?

  • Steven Forth

    Julia – Do you consdier the massive subsidies provided to personal autombiles in the form of space and infrastructure investment an example of the free market at work? Let’s go for an even playing field in which we recognize externalities for what they are – subsidies that the public provides private companies and individuals.

  • Julia

    Steven, I am not going to go down that path with you.
    the space you mention is shared by police, fire, ambulance, food deliveries, school buses, transit buses, supply trucks etc. Seems like we need all of them. Perhaps the car gets a free ride on that infrastructure!
    That is not the issue – the issue is spending money we don’t have on stuff we have NO business getting involved with.

  • “As a customer, I don’t care if there are 10 packages in the couriers car/cart/bike, or 1 – the cost to me is the same and I will go with whoever can get something from A to B in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money – I don’t care how they do it.”
    Sorry to say it is precisely this attitude on the part of courier service customers that creates an environment where couriers have to take risks and break laws to make a living.
    You usually present balanced and reasonable arguments Julia, but I think this one could use a bit of work.

  • “How long until we find out the cargo bikes are running a Dial-a-dope service as well?”
    Generally speaking, the two-wheeled drug dealers seem to prefer American-made V-Twins to get around.

  • chris (one of many)

    Really Chris?
    I’ve got to witness quite a few drug dealers who deliver by bike and by foot.
    Just wait by a Sky-Train station.

  • The guys who run the show aren’t on bikes or shank’s mare.

  • Arno

    Automobiles in the Lower Mainland are being subsidesed to the tune of over $6000 each! And who complained when the BC and federal governments subsidized drivers and car dealers by providing huge rebates on the purchase of hybrid vehicles? Who complains when the federal government doles out rebates for tranist riders?
    On the other hand, cyclists got hit with a removal of the PST exemption on bicycles and bicycle safety equipment when the GST got intoduced. Cyclists overpay for the roads they use (i.e. they subsidize drivers). Cyclists provide a benefit of about $2000 per individual per year based on health benefits alone. And when cyclists fuel up at a restaurant, they pay HST while drivers get an HST exemption for motive fuels.
    The city is offering a piddly $15,000 incentive to get a small fleet of cargo trikes rolling and to help make the city better for everyone. This is not the end of the world, folks. What it is, is a tiny nod to a group of people (SHIFT cargo trike coop) who want to improve our city.
    I’m glad that our council is working hard to try to ma

  • Bill

    “Sorry to say it is precisely this attitude on the part of courier service customers that creates an environment where couriers have to take risks and break laws to make a living.”
    Chris, I think there is a business opportunity here for you – “Free Trade Courier Service”. You could certify companies whose couriers don’t take risks or break laws and we could use their services at a higher cost but with a clean conscience. Surely there must be some City funding available to get this going.

  • chris (one of many)

    Of course they aren’t.
    But they are still doing the damage.

  • That’s a great idea Bill, but not a great fit with my skill set. At least we will know who to thank if someone else takes that ball and runs with it! 😉

  • Julia

    Chris K, you are joking, right? When I call the courier company, I have absolutely no idea of who is coming, what transportation they are using or how many customers they are serving at any given time. It is none of my business.
    I don’t want to make this conversation about the merits of bicycles, I want to discuss why the city is spending money on this project when there is no money for core services.

  • Arno

    This could be considered to be an extremely low cost transportation improvement project. By encouraging some delivery vehicles to use bike lanes, the city is creating more space on the travel lanes and parking lanes, thereby making more room for those who must drive. Good move on the part of the city since it is difficult to create more road space in the city.

  • “Chris K, you are joking, right? ”
    Absolutely not.
    “I don’t want to make this conversation about the merits of bicycles”
    This isn’t about bicycles. It’s about the courier business model, regardless of transportation mode. When you offer a reward for speed, and price the product so cheaply that a courier has to take risks to make a buck, individuals skirting the law and in some cases breaking road rules shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  • Higgins

    The Hollyhock gang is trying to fill out as many positions inside City Hall before they are booted out It is Communism 101 people! Freshly invented positions and titles… what a scam. The people in charge of the City Hall are robbing this city blind, wake up and smell the stink coming from Gregor and Penny’s offices!
    What is this, no money for that or the other, programs cut, amenities closed, parks in disrepair, the city in pain and in debt after Robertson RIOT and now we find out there is a slush fund for this mayor pet projects? Sick!

  • Julia

    this is not about the Courier business model… it is about the inappropriate spending of tax dollars.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    Chris Keam, you are trying to change the channel, from one of dumb-ass City Hall subsidy to one of “courier bike models?” Oh, please, that didn’t come to you till Julia mentioned it. And according to Arno a “trike” is rather a different bird than a bike courier, who is often carrying a satchel of #10 or manila envelopes as opposed to bigger packages.
    Don’t change that channel, bike peeps! VACC shouldn’t be getting this subsidy. If there is money in such a business, let a private group do it, or let VACC raise the funds itself.
    If not based on efficient service, Chris, (and I’m not talking just about speed, since very many people don’t send a package or letter on the fastest “direct” service”) what would this service addition to the bike prove?
    Other than trying to keep the bike lanes busy?

  • Max

    Sorry Chris:
    Have seen bike drug deliveries to the Bosman.

  • Max

    So, a cynic might thing:
    Bike delivery service starts ups, using bike lanes. Next city makes announcement that courier service is doing XX number of runs and wants to create more ‘safe routes’ for bike courier service to expand.
    One cause feeds the other and is pretty much in keeping with the attached documentation of what this service hopes to achieve as part of their mandate.
    Tis a Tojan Horse.
    I also am curious to see how long the mandate of delivering only items that are eco friendly will conitnue.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Evening
    ” QED – Quod Erat Demonstrandum or… ‘what was to be demonstrated’ ”
    you should have ended your comment in QED. Because that’s what it is.
    So many “green” positions to be filled out with Vision friendly fa(e)ces (pun intended), so many behind the doors severance packages to be signed up, so many contracts to award to Cinderella companies before the clock hits midnight, so many things to do, so little time till…November.
    Thanks for bringing that post up…
    not a problem with me.
    As for this new Vision treat in symbolism and thought control, the conclusion is in… The Country Mouse meets The City Mouse Experiment, is not going to end Happily Ever After for them; they have proved once again that they are all a bunch of highly paid kooks in a dire need of a long, long, loooooong vacation, say…for… good.
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • “Chris Keam, you are trying to change the channel, from one of dumb-ass City Hall subsidy to one of “courier bike models?””
    Uh no. Just having a conversation. Pointing out that Julia’s “don’t care how they get it there” sentiment leads to risk-taking behaviour. Could be bike couriers, automobile couriers, truck drivers, etc. When you have companies competing on price and speed it’s almost inevitable.

  • Julia

    Chris K, I try really hard to read your posts with an open mind – really I do. But sometimes you take things so far out there that I simply have to write you off.
    I call a courier with an envelop to go downtown. Hot Rush is an hour delivery service – it does not take an hour to go downtown from most parts of the city. I pay premium for that service. There is absolutely no reason for the courier to risk his life, speed, drive recklessly or put anyone else in danger by providing the same service that I can accomplish in 15 minutes if I had a car and someone in the passenger seat waiting to jump out and deliver it while I drove around the block.
    So please, stop the dramatics and the rabbit trails of diversion.
    This project along with endless others has no business being funded with taxpayer dollars while there is graffiti on public streets, people sleeping in doorways and abandoned garbage stacked up in alleys.
    Full stop.

  • Bob H (2)

    “Richard, your argument displays a keen grasp of economics and is totally logical.”
    Just to be clear here: is this post Arno (Schortinhuis) congratulating past VACC president Richard (Campbell) on his post?

  • Max

    Reading this tweet:
    FYI@MayorGregor is hiring a Climate Policy Analyst @ “$46.26 per hour plus an excellent benefits package”. But no $ to cut grass

  • Hi Julia:
    I don’t think you could do it for the same price, even if both you and the passenger made minimum wage. My quick look at this rate sheet shows a downtown hot rush at $8.47. At best the courier gets around half of that. Even if a courier could scoop hot rushes all day long, assuming each one takes 20 min, they’d be making $12 bucks an hour. For a physically demanding job that requires a good deal of local knowledge and the ability to manage shifting priorities, it’s not a great wage.
    It’s almost a cliche that couriers ride like demons and treat road rules with a certain disdain. Respectfully, why is that do you think?

  • Julia

    Chris K. please explain to us why you think this is a good use of tax dollars.
    Please explain how this sort of project addresses the city’s mandate to maintain the city.
    Please explain why the City of Vancouver budget goes up annually faster than inflation and population growth and how you think that is sustainable.

  • gman

    Well Chris so far you have convinced me the present couriers ride like demons and are dangerous,so by the same logic I cant see unleashing these crazed tricycle truckers on the streets of the city it would be surely horrific.So I guess we can keep our 15grand and forget it was even brought up,thanks for clearing things up.

  • Max

    They must be new or running on the low scale Chris, becuase I can tell you that a lot of the local couriers charge at least double that for a hot rush.

  • George

    Have you ever driven an electric assist bike?…I have one, trust me they can go at a pretty good clip….

  • gman

    Hey George,ya my x has one it was a blast on sunny days.

  • George

    you know g,
    I wonder how fast one of those trikes can go, if the driver is in a hurry…especially if he is paid by the delivery..I’m sure it isn’t as fast as the two wheeled version. But money always makes things move faster..don’t you agree..

  • Hi Julia:
    “Please explain how this sort of project addresses the city’s mandate to maintain the city.”
    My impression is that you feel the city should restrict it’s activities to a narrow range of activities. That’s certainly your right. But I don’t share that opinion and don’t have a huge problem with the city spending a small amount of money to foster business innovation, esp. when that approach is taken by so many other jurisdictions that to not do so is to put local business at a disadvantage on the bigger playing field of our region/province.
    When I know that France is investing in thousands of specialized cargo e-bikes to deliver the mail, I see this project as a very small step that has the potential to create a successful local company that may well end up delivering the original investment and more back to the city through wages/taxes/business licenses, etc. Or not. Hard to say at this point, but based upon current trends, I’d say it has a good chance to end up a valued service for local businesses seeking a green delivery alternative.
    “Please explain why the City of Vancouver budget goes up annually faster than inflation and population growth and how you think that is sustainable.”
    Sorry, I don’t know if we are an isolated city in this regard, or if that charge could be leveled at any number of other cities, or if it’s a trend that started with the current administration. Without those facts I can’t offer a useful comment. How would you compare Vancouver to other cities? Are we the only ones facing this situation?

  • Gman:
    Is there a brand of tinfoil that makes the best hats, or can I get by with a budget brand?

  • “They must be new or running on the low scale Chris, becuase I can tell you that a lot of the local couriers charge at least double that for a hot rush.”
    Could be a dated rate sheet Max, or depending on destination, the rates change, as indicated in the link. The company itself has been around since the 90s.

  • gman

    George Im also worried about the GVW of these things and their stopping distance,Im seeing 400lb.runaway tricycles all over town,oh the humanity!!!

  • gman

    Chris I just use the regular stuff,but I think yours is a little tight you might want to try a size two.

  • George

    downhill in the rain… 🙂

  • I think the issue here, as Julia and others have pointed out, is not whether cargo trikes are a good idea or not. The issue is whether a municipal government should subsidize them. I don’t think it is necessary.
    I think it would be just fine for the Mayor to publicly or privately encourage private sector, or non-profit sector companies to set up such operations….but it is not necessary for the city to put money into such initiatives.
    I had similar concerns with the city’s proposed financial support for a home energy retrofit program. Again, such a program is probably a good idea…the question is whether it is essential for the city take on financial risks to make it happen. Again, I don’t think it is necessary.
    I support the city’s interest in encouraging a green economy. However, I really think there needs to be a bit more economic reality and common sense brought to the funding of some of these proposed initiatives. There also needs to be a more public discussion on the relative roles of government and other sectors, especially when money is tight. And at the moment, public money is tight.

  • Julia

    Thank you Micheal – my point exactly.
    Most families have a set income. They do not go on holidays if the rent is not paid first or they don’t buy a new sofa if Hydro is about to shut off the electricity. Should a family choose to do so, it is generally termed bankruptcy.
    Let’s pay the rent and the hydro first and once we are done, let’s sit down together and all agree on where we want to go for holidays.
    Right now, Vancouver should be on a staycation.

  • Michael:
    AFAIK, the money is a start-up grant, not an ongoing subsidy. Maybe that’s just semantics, but I feel there’s a difference. Since the entire $100,000 program works out to $0.20 per resident and many of the initiatives are targeted to young people who we should encourage to be entrepreneurial IMO, this story feels a bit like a tempest in a City Caucus teapot.
    I would also point to your own ideas about transportation (quote below), and wonder if you were holding the reins of power if we would be helping local pedicab and taxi companies with funding to create new travel choices?
    Personally, I think gov’t can and should help business reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. We all benefit from that and I believe small investments at this early stage could pay bigger dividends in future.
    “With access to better transportation choices, including smaller buses, shared and private taxis — and yes, maybe even tuk-tuks and taxi scooters — we would have more housing choices that would not make us dependent on the automobile. But this will require regulatory changes, investment in new technologies and infrastructure, and attitudinal changes.”

  • Council is discussing a relatively large ticket item today, the expropriation of 7248 Knight St, part of a $3 million dollar left turn lane fiasco. $80,000 of it is for the cities costs due to failure to negotiate a purchase with the owner. I’m thinking sparks will be flying. If you can’t go in person (better than any hockey game in my opinion) you can watch it at

  • PS Meeting starts at 2:00, the expropriation Is down the list a ways.

  • boohoo

    Think of how many parks you could mow with 3 million. Where’s the outrage?

  • Max

    I would like to know how much monies this co is recieving in total.
    $15,500 may seem like a drop in the bucket for some, but when it is $15,500 here and $5,000 there and another $5,000 for this project and $7,000 for that project, the nickle and diming adds up.
    And according to the documents, the $15,500 will be used for advertising purposes.
    As for comparisons made to France, I watched an interesting program surrounding the issues in Greece (CNN weekend) and the warning went out to France, Britian, Spain and Germany as well as other nations to learn from Greece’s mistakes, with public sector employees and their billowing contracts. Or, we can see other countires end up in the same financial boat.

  • Max

    I just want to mention this: I’ve been watching my twitter feed and over the last couple of days there has been an ongoing dialouge between canditate for council, Bill McCreery and Van. Parks Board Comm., Sarah Blyth.
    So far she has tweeted out Bill is ‘old’ an ‘idiot’ and a ‘goof’.
    Now, I would expect people who get paid with our tax dollars and represent the city to act in a bit more of a ‘grown-up’ fashion.
    I also notice she is ‘Management at the New Fountain Shelter’. Personally, if this is the way she acts, I wouldn’t trust her to babysit my gold fish let alone deal with persons who have addiction/mental illness issues.

  • “And according to the documents, the $15,500 will be used for advertising purposes.”
    You are misrepresenting the facts. Let’s hope it’s due to poor reading skills and not a deliberate propaganda tactic..

  • Max

    The documents states:
    The Greenest City Grant would allow us to offer a free promotional campaign for cycling as a preferred means of transportation, in which SHIFT would host a campaign of the VACC, encouranging cycling and positive relations between bikes and business.
    My reading skills are quite fine, thanks.

  • gman

    I think people need to go back to the title of this post,its about tax money going to special interest groups to give the impression that the general public is on board.If your not familiar with the Delphi Technique that was developed by the Rand should look it up,it was developed for this very reason and were living it right now.

  • It doesn’t. VACC submits an application for funding for each individual initiative, which includes details of how the money is to be spent. After the project is complete, we get a final report.

  • Max

    Thank you.
    When reading their financials it is a bit hard to define where the money goes.

  • Julia

    I will bet the bank that once the grant money is gone, the project will die because it is not financially viable. So, again – please tell me why this is a good use of taxpayer dollars – regardless of how little it is per person.
    It blows my mind how Council frets and frets at budget time about increasing residential taxes by $20 a year in November but thinks nothing about spending that same $20 on stuff that is truly not necessary.

  • Max

    Funny, I Googled the Flour Peddler, Chris Hergesheimer owner/operator who is behind the Lawns to Loaves project and guess what you find – he has a connection with Robertson’s big money bag, Joel Solomon…..

  • Max:
    The grant goes towards more than just an advertising campaign. It’s pretty clear. You did do more than just read CC’s excerpts before commenting I hope? If you did, it’s clear that the ad campaign is only one component of the proposal. I certainly hope you read AGT’s tribute to Gary Bannerman, particularly the part where Mr. Bannerman offered the very sensible advice to always take a hard look at who’s asking the questions.
    In this thread you’ve mentioned a few times that you think the idea is a good one so long as the City isn’t funding it. Now you say it won’t be financially viable?

  • Max

    I read all 60 pages.

  • Well Max, section 14 of the document, immediately following the passage you quote, specifically mentions some of the other areas where the grant money will be spent, including equipment and operating expenses. I would have thought it would be hard to miss.
    So, are you suggesting that the money is just for advertising, or not? Because that’s how your original comment certainly reads:
    “And according to the documents, the $15,500 will be used for advertising purposes.”
    That is a very clear, albeit untrue, statement.

  • Julia

    as a stand alone venture, I don’t think it is viable. Not when it requires a phone, dispatcher, insurance, accounting, advertising, wages for a manager/dispatch/courier, and maintenance for 3 bikes.
    I don’t even have to read the document to figure that one out.
    Add the service to an existing courier operation and you have a fighting chance because the overhead is already covered.

  • Julia

    just scanned through the 60 pages. on page 7, the document states ‘we have carefully estimated our regular operating costs and we have determined that delivery revenues alone may not be sufficient to break even’
    later it goes on to say that they need supplementary revenue streams, sponsorship opportunities etc.
    So, the idea sounds very warm, green and fuzzy, but the math sucks.

  • re left turn lane expropriation at 57 and Knight on at City Council NOW.
    “Think of how many parks you could mow with 3 million. Where’s the outrage?”
    Thank you, boohoo, I was wondering that myself.
    PS Sorry I was cranky with you the other day.

  • daniel

    Do tell Max. What is the connection between Solomon and the Flour Peddler? Couldn’t find anything on Google.

  • Just because…
    The highlight (lowlight?) is the cycling parent that makes our hockey parents look like Bambi. Oh, they take bike racing verrrry seriously in Europe.

  • Max

    Solomon/Endswell is a key supporter of the 100 Mile Diet Society and Chris Hergesheimer particpated in the ‘book’ – advice (according to the acknowledgements)(and along with Capers, Urban Spuds etc.)
    So their paths have crossed.
    There is also a Joshua Hergesheimer listed as a contributing writer at the Vancouver Observor. Pic wise, he and Chris could be related and well, the name is not that common…

  • Max

    And don’t forget, Graham Anderson of SHIFT and VACC (board of directors) is also a writer at the Vancouver Observor.
    Tis a small Solomon world.

  • daniel

    Thanks so much for all that info Max. We’ve had a few cutbacks in our research dept last month, so any bit you can help with is much appreciated. And…as you know, we’re not funded by any big international foundations! No sugar daddy keeping the lights on at CityCaucus tower.

  • Max

    You and the CC staff are welcome.
    I am trying to look back as I can’t remember if Anderson was on the VACC board when the funding announcements were first made, or, if the VACC brought him on after in order to quell the concerns that SHIFT is not a registered charity and the VACC who took over ‘looking after’ the monies, is.
    As well, I am pretty sure that when the idea was first floated there was mention of the courier service being used to transport the wheat from the Lawns to Loaves project.
    Interesting that The Flour Peddler (located in Roberts Creek, BC) does not have a mill here. According to their website, you can purchase from them and delvivery is made to Vancouver 2 times a week. A $10 fee is attached as a delivery charge.
    Solomon sure has a lot of tentacles in the so called ‘green’ economy and it seems his ‘selected’ reap the benefits.

  • “George Im also worried about the GVW of these things and their stopping distance,Im seeing 400lb.runaway tricycles all over town,oh the humanity!!!”
    Fully loaded with rider they will weigh nearly three times that!

  • Max

    Odd, a few weeks back, I thought the Mayor was speaking out against motorized bikes/trikes using the bike lanes.
    But hey, I was downtown on Monday, walked home across the Burrard Bridge and two young women were biking on the walkway. The bike lane was right next to them.
    And yes….I did make a suggestion….

  • John Mouth

    Wow! I can’t believe the senseless, nay-saying, vitriol. “left-leaning Communists”… really? And that would make you an uber-right fascist, I suppose.
    I just returned to Vancouver after being gone for about 6 years and I must say I was incredibly impressed with the progress that has been made since I left. The network of bike routes for one is fantastic and one of the major reason my friends (mostly gainfully employed, engineers and scientists) enjoy living here so much. From what I’ve heard from Anton she’s little more than Rob Ford in a skirt. Fortunately for Vancouverites, we don’t let regressive suburban hicks vote for our mayor in this city.