NPA would embrace B.C.'s resource industry: mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe (updated with video)

 

Party would move Vancouver Economic Commission away from funding startups to focus only on attracting private-sector investment

 
 
 
 
Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.
 
 

Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.

Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

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VANCOUVER - A Vancouver governed by the Non-Partisan Association would be open again as a home for resource businesses, including B.C.’s emerging LNG industry, and would cut some of the programs of the current Vision Vancouver administration, party mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe said Tuesday.

In a speech broad on policy but not nearly as detailed as his Vision counterpart, LaPointe said he believes a key to affordable housing is improving the economy and prosperity of the city. When people have higher-paying jobs, they can afford better housing, he said.

LaPointe disagreed with the idea of the Vancouver Economic Commission being involved in venture capital funding for startups and wants it to focus solely on attracting private-sector investment in businesses that create those high-paying jobs.

And he said the city will give back to neighbourhoods the right to determine how they develop and densify, as opposed to what he said was the “ad hoc and spot rezonings” being allowed under Mayor Gregor Robertson.

LaPointe unveiled the policies at Crab Park on Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet waterfront, against a backdrop of industrial and resource activities that he said Robertson appears ashamed of supporting, but which the NPA believes is a backbone of the city’s economy.

LaPointe pinned his plans to encourage housing affordability — particularly for seniors and young families — on the nearly two decades-old CityPlan, an unfinished master plan to control and direct community development.

In making the pledge, LaPointe also turned his back on his predecessor NPA mayor Sam Sullivan’s Eco-Density program, a planning exercise that replaced CityPlan and which was the forerunner of Vision Vancouver’s current planning process.

“We need to step back to take our next steps ahead. To address this challenge, an NPA government would revive CityPlan, an neighbourhood-based city-wide zoning plan that lays out the principles behind how we should change and behind community preservation,” LaPointe said. “This would move us out of the shadow of Eco-Density and the adoption of its principles by Vision Vancouver.”

That community power, he insisted, could even go so far as to allow neighbourhoods to veto high-density projects.

LaPointe poked a nerve raw for some Vancouverites who believe Robertson’s party is too cosy with certain developers, who he said “know the secret handshake” to get their projects approved.

On several fronts, LaPointe was specific. He said he would dismantle the city’s Rental 100 program, a rental housing policy that rewards developers who commit to renting out units for at least 60 years. LaPointe said he agreed with critics who believe the program doesn’t make units more affordable.

He also said he would order a study of the issues underlying foreign absentee home ownership, with a view to trying to get more of those homes rented to or sold to local residents.

And LaPointe reiterated a promise to reform the Community Amenity Contribution program and other developer fee programs that are used to create extra density, which he said “under Robertson has created a culture of coercion, a system of soft extortion, and a secretive system that has corroded confidence in our city.”

Unlike Robertson, who has issued details on how he would encourage rental housing and end street homelessness by 2015, LaPointe’s election platform contained only broad promises with no numbers, framed around what he sees as righting a badly-run city.

LaPointe said Vancouver suffers under Robertson’s single-minded focus on green jobs and things he cannot control, such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion debate, with the result the city is losing contact with other governments.

“He (Robertson) has cut Vancouver off from the important conversations with leaders from across the country and abroad,” LaPointe said. “He has let ideology trump practicality. He has created problems instead of solving them.”

LaPointe said Vision is using the Vancouver Economic Commission as a venture fund manager for local start-ups, which he said should not be the role of a civic government. He also dislikes that the commission acts as the dispensing arm for the city’s Greenest City Action Plan program, which has poured millions of dollars into grants and loans for small businesses and community organizations to mount green initiatives.

For his part, Robertson zeroed in on the absence of details in the NPA’s plan.

“It really is a lack of a platform. I am frightened to see that the NPA is saying nothing meaningful about housing,” the mayor said. “They have said nothing about rental housing, nothing on social or supportive housing, no targets for new housing being created, in really stunning contrast to Vision’s platform ... We have robust plan on housing, and once again the NPA is a no-show on housing.”

Robertson acknowledged that it is difficult to change the economics underpinning the city’s high cost of housing. With factors such as the city’s great livability, pressure from housing investors and an almost-zero rental housing market, it is hard for Vancouver to make a dent in reducing costs for low and middle-income families.

“We are definitely working on that challenge, which is a daunting challenge for Vancouver,” Robertson said.

But LaPointe has a different view of what is Robertson is doing.

“He is focused on what he can’t deliver and he has failed to deliver on what he should focus. We need to focus on our prosperity. You need not choose between a great environment and a great economy. You can have both.”

jefflee@vancouversun.com

Follow me: @SunCivicLee

Click here to report a typo or visit vancouversun.com/typo.

 
 
 
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Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.
 

Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.

Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

 
Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.
Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.
Kirk LaPointe talks to the media at a press conference in Vancouver in October 14, 2014.
NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe unveiled four key policies Tuesday for the November 15 civic election, including an economic growth strategy, plans for new seniors and family housing, addressing foreign investment in housing and rewriting the controversial community amenity contributions program.
NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe unveiled four key policies Tuesday for the November 15 civic election, including an economic growth strategy, plans for new seniors and family housing, addressing foreign investment in housing and rewriting the controversial community amenity contributions program.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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