My Interview with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is facing tough opposition as he attempts re-election as Vancouver mayor on Saturday November 19th.  Vancouver Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton has ramped up her campaign with just a few days to go. Mayor Robertson is also focused on the stretch drive and yet he still had time for a quick interview to discuss all the important issues facing voters.

What will be your top 3 priorities if re-elected Mayor of Vancouver?

Gregor Robertson: Affordable housing, a better transportation system, and a greener city.

You’ve stated that you want to end homelessness before 2015. What are you going to do to reach that goal?

Gregor Robertson: We will continue to build affordable housing at a record pace, and maintain the emergency shelters until there no longer needed, and keep building our partnership with BC housing and the federal government to go beyond the 1500 units were constructing now.

How are you going to create affordable housing for people in Vancouver?

Gregor Robertson: Well we will leverage the city’s land base to help create partnerships with private and public bodies and we’ll continue to streamline the planning from them to accelerate construction, and look for creative ways to create rentals and laneway and these types of housing that can support seniors.

It’s still pretty tough to find affordable housing. Why do you oppose foreign ownership restrictions and speculator taxes as a means of controlling the Vancouver housing market?

Gregor Robertson: We don’t have really solid data on the impact of foreign ownership and what it does on housing markets. There are growing concerns and I believe that we need to investigate this further and then address the impact.

How will you create more jobs in Vancouver?

Gregor Robertson: We’re attracting great companies like Pixar, Sony and Telus headquarters. We are working with cities around the region to attract jobs and investments. We’ve had great success with our Olympic business program and created just over 2500 jobs in Metro Vancouver. With my background it gives me an edge in reaching out to entrepreneurs and getting Vancouver on the map.

 That’s great but how are you specifically going to keep and help small local businesses stay in Vancouver?

Gregor Robertson: We have Vancouver economic extensions that created a great action plan to support local business and make sure city hall makes changes to make doing business easier. We will continue to be very supportive to our small business community it’s really the core of Vancouver’s economy.

How are you going to help baby boomers and seniors who depend on affordable housing, and quick access to health care?

Gregor Robertson: We’re focused on many new seniors affordable housing projects. We’ve approved several this year and what we are encouraging is more to come forward as seniors look to age in their neighborhoods. There is an inadequate supply so we’ve made a priority with the projects at city hall and that will continue.

When will those projects be developed?

Gregor Robertson: Several are being built right now in Marpole and Shaughnessy. We’ve approved 3 or 4 over the last 18 months that are now in construction.

Do you have any plans to expand on the downtown Vancouver bike lane trial?

Gregor Robertson: We will assess the success of those trials before their made permanent and continue to make improvements. There are no new separated bike lane plans for downtown. Our next focus is on a public bike share system and improving the safety of the bike network around the city on many of the bike routes that need improvements to attract more riders of all ages.

What will you do to prevent another riot from occurring in Vancouver during large-scale events?

Gregor Robertson: We’ve created a large event organizing committee with plans for big future events that hopefully would impact the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs for the Canucks and they will over see the cities plan working with organizing groups. The riots…. that was a worse case scenario and we need to be prepared for that in the future and make sure that combination of booze, rapid transit, and over crowding in downtown doesn’t occur again.

What grade would you give yourself and your staff on the handling of the aftermath of the riot?

Gregor Robertson: I think the city did a good job with the internal review and supporting the independent review that created strong recommendations to prevent a future riot. That was the main focus for the city post riot was the reviews and then taking action on recommendations which I think the city has done a good job of responding to those next steps.

How come you did not read the 1994 Vancouver Riot report?

Gregor Robertson: The city implemented the 1994 recommendations and the big fan zones where a part of that to make sure there were events downtown organized so people had something to do.

Are you saying you read the 1994 Vancouver Riot report?

Gregor Robertson: No I hadn’t read the report beforehand because it was much easier and city staff implemented those recommendations right after 94. Those pages were in place long before this years playoffs on the cities side. So that’s a big red herring in this…. that implemented all the recommendations and the province did not on the alcohol policy which ended up being a real issue once the independent review looked at it.

In the beginning why did you and your city staff allow tents to be put up on the Occupy Vancouver sight?

Gregor Robertson: The police chief , fire chief, and city manager decided that there was too much risk to prevent the tents being set up where thousands of people were protesting on October 15th. They’re had been conflict in other cities when police intervened and Vancouver chose not to repeat that mistake. You know there was a lot of concern about potential problems on October 15th the first day of protest and the tents went up on that day downtown.

How come overdoses, a death, constant drug use, bylaw infractions, and other health violations have been allowed to occur at Occupy Vancouver without any consequences?

Gregor Robertson: The city has been focusing on life safety and enforcing the Supreme Court injunction on the fire bylaw… so many changes have been made to the site to make it safer and were seeking an injunction to enforce our land unit bylaw and ensure that the tent camp comes to an end. We are very concerned about the health and safety issues so we had our firefighters and city staff  monitoring the site 24/7 and we have first responders to deal with the medical emergencies that arose. We need to see the tent camp ended and we need to have it end peacefully unlike other cities where that created violence and even bigger protest.

Why have you waited so long to get a court injunction to get rid of the Occupy Vancouver protesters?

Gregor Robertson: We’ve been seeking a peaceful resolution and the cities had dialogue with the people at Occupy Vancouver to work at and make the protest encampment but to support the right to continue protesting and these protests and encampments are in over 2000 cities around the world now and with many having difficulties resolving the tent camp which are not sustainable. Vancouver is taking an approach that is cautious and seeking a sensible ending but we’re seeing very few examples of succesful endings to the tent camps around the world.

How would you make sure another Occupy Vancouver type of protest never occurs in Vancouver again?

Gregor Robertson: Well people have the right to protest and assemble that’s a Canadian right and freedom. The tent camps are not acceptable. Historically Vancouver has had many and they all end in deteriorating conditions. We will seek to resolve this as soon as possible without provoking conflict. It’s a challenging situation and each protest or tent camp has to be managed carefully. They have unique circumstances. This is a global movement and Vancouver is one of 200 cities involved and that makes this very different from the tent camp in our parks and the Woodwards squat which where very local protests. We’re watching many cities around the  world very closely and working on a solution that will accomplish a peaceful ending in Vancouver.

What do you think of the Mayor Moonbeam video? Did you see it?

Gregor Robertson: Yah I saw it. It’s disappointing to see an attack ad and a negative approach by the NPA. Their campaign has been very negative… kind of US style attacks rather than campaigning on substance and their vision for Vancouver. I’m surprised because their just hasn’t been many positive ideas put forward. We’re focused on our platform for the next 3 years we’re proud of our record. If all they can come up with is a silly cartoon that shows how desperate they’re getting to be.

What are your future political plans if you’re not re-elected Mayor on November 19th?

Gregor Robertson: I hope to be re-elected.

Before you go what else would you like to tell potential voters?

Gregor Robertson: I encourage everyone to vote on this Saturday. Take a good look at how much the Vision Vancouver team has delivered. We’ve had a very positive, constructive team that has made our city safer, greener, and hosted the Olympics and made solving homelessness, and building affordable housing a huge priority. We are very focused on continuing that momentum and serving all the people of Vancouver at city hall.

Thank You very much for your time Mr. Robertson. Good Luck on Saturday.

Gregor Robertson: Thank You, Thanks Har.

  1. […] its demolition, and subsequent sale to private partners. While initially the idea was made in vague reference to “leveraging the city’s land base to help create partnerships with private and public […]

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