Sunday, January 6, 2008

How To Make The City DOGGONE SMART

Dear David,

Thank you for your wonderful article “Why you should have to acquire a licence to own a dog in Vancouver” – your observations are, unfortunately, right on!

If you’re interested, you could give your New Year’s wish some teeth by joining iCare (Informed Citizens Advocating for Responsibility and Enforcement), a local group of concerned citizens who are advocating for responsible dog ownership. You can learn more about iCare at:
FYI, here are iCare’s key messages:

What the City Needs To Do

To solve the current problems and restore harmony in our parks, iCare recommends the following actions on the part of the city of Vancouver:

1. The city needs to increase Animal Control bylaw compliance
o Vancouver’s current dog licensing rate should be increased from the current 24% to Calgary’s 90%.
o The current 60% of Vancouver citizens who report having witnessed or experienced problems with off-leash dogs should be reduced to 10%.
o Ensure owners dispose of their dog’s waste in an environmentally sustainable way.

2. It’s not rocket science – the city can increase bylaw compliance by enforcing Animal Control Bylaws
Per Calgary’s successful campaign that Ian Robertson praises in the Courier article:
Ticket owners whose dogs are not licensed.
Ticket owners who do not who do not pick up after their dog, or who do not leash their dog.
Increase Animal Control Officers’ enforcement powers by providing Special Constable status. Animal Control Officers are currently only effective if accompanied by a police officer. This is because if a dog owner refuses to give their name to identify them to receive a ticket, the officer is powerless to do anything. Special Constable status would allow the officer to lay charges when this occurs.
If Animal Control is not able to step up to adequate enforcement, transfer enforcement responsibility to Engineering (they already issue parking tickets).

3. And they can also increase compliance by Changing the Current Off-leash Program
Vancouver’s current Off-Leash Program was build with input from a few, limited sources (Vandog, Animal Control and the SPCA). Therefore, put a moratorium on the current program, and build a new off-leash program that:
Represents and balances the needs of all community stakeholders, including the approximately 90% of Vancouverites who do not own dogs.
Incorporates best practices learned from successful off-leash programs (e.g. Calgary’s).
Contains comprehensive criteria that are consistently applied to the selection of Off-Leash Areas.

Best regards,
Celena Benndorf

Boring Can Also be Expensive

Tunnel boring machines are being built in Canada, and beingused all around the world.The Campbell government has no excuse for the devastation it has caused byrefusing to use the available and promised boring machines for the $2Billion dollar Canada Line, and ripping up Cambie Street instead.

We, the families who own and operate small businesses all along thiscut-and-cover-up have for 2 years now, endured a level of hardship that isbeyond belief in a democracy. Well established businesses have failedthrough no fault of their own, and lives continue to be shattered by thestress and burden of our daily struggle to sustain our livelihoods. We havehad no respect or financial help from the project nor from our government.

Our neighbours in Seattle are currently using these Canadian boringmachines, as well as offering their citizens a comprehensive mitigation andcompensation package. Why not here?T

The approved plan for this mega-project was to use boring machines thatwould have left the community and street surfaces accessible to customersand traffic. Now we read in your paper that a world leader in thistechnology is here in our own country and shipping machines worldwide. Yetthe builder of the Canada Line, SNC Lavalin and our Provincial governmenthad secretly decided to mine a massive canyon instead down Cambie Street,the main route in and out of Vancouver. The devastating impacts of doingthis were well known to the builder, the City of Vancouver and the Campbellgovernment, but we were double-crossed and our concerns have been ignored.

The callous disregard for all these tax-paying hard working families is appalling and shameful.They chose the most destructive method of construction instead of using ourown homegrown resouces and acted with integrity.The injustice of this arrogance must be made right with compensation forthis now obvious needless suffering, and with legislation to ensure that itnever happens again.

Susan Heyes


3190 Cambie Street

Vancouver BC

V5Z 2W2

604 687-0721

The Gulag Known as Langley

Democracy is a fragile flower. Vigilance is called for. The idea itself is threatened at every turn.

The Province has a major story today that well illustrates our concern.

Langley Township council has quietly - very quietly - sold a major piece of public land to a local family.

The price looks like a song, a gift, a give-away. The land is beautiful wooded bog, home to much wildlife.

No FOR SALE signs, no tenders. Council members say they can't comment because the deal was made "in camera."

But it is the responsibility of elected officials in democracies to NOT make deals like this in camera. Where are we? Some banana republic?

At the heart of this insult is the Community Charter, a Provincial government legislation that does NOT require civic lands to go to charter.

How unprogressive is that?

The story in full is here. Read it then write Langley Council and ask them to return from the 18th Century and write your MLA and demand a change to the Community Charter.

Not in ANY Neighbourhood!

And speaking of selfishness, intolerance and shopping carts...

The quote of the week belongs to woman named Chreryl Clausen, who has paid a lot of money for her little square box in the sky near 7th and Pine.

Cheryl doesn't want the MPA Society to have a drop-in centre near her. MPA used to be called the Mental Patients Association, but it is now the Motivation, Power and Achievement Society.

But Cheryl, in her infinite wisdom, is a universalist.

Not content to lobby against anyone but the hoi poloi living near her, she adds,

"That drop-in centre shouldn't be in anyone's neighbourhood."

Now there's a thinker and a democrat.

Where, we might ask the kind and lovely home owner, should drop-in centres be? On the Trans-Canada Highway? At the PNE? Manning Park?

Garr on City Hall

Week in and week out, the best City Hall coverage comes from the pen of Allan Garr on the editorial page of The Courier.

In Friday's paper, he nails the on-going phantasm of homelessness and how it plays out at 12th & Cambie.

It's well worth a read.

Democratic Debate

The Democratic debate, presided over by ABC's Charles Gibson last night in New Hampshire, was in many ways much too cushy and comfortable an affair for my taste. Still, there were some meaty enough things being said.

And in the waining moments, both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama sent out the same message - no matter our disagreements, we are arguing about real issues - health care, schools, immigration, work, jobs, taxes, real estate.

They didn't spell out the chimeras and irrelevancies that seem to be occupying the Republicans. But here's a list of what I keep hearing at republican debates - God, religion, Jesus Christ, gays, abortion and more God.

May their own voices be loud enough to save us from their governance.

Sonny Stitt