Mayor’s Communiqué: Celebrating Arts, Culture & Our Great Beginnings

Mayor’s Communiqué: Celebrating Arts, Culture & Our Great Beginnings

In this edition

  • Remembrance Day Services Across Vancouver – Free Parking for Veterans
  • Improvements to Chinatown, Japantown, Gastown & Stratchcona
  • Investing in Arts, Culture & Heritage
  • Meeting of Canada’s First Ministers
  • Liberal Party of Canada Leadership-Biennial Convention coming to Vancouver

Clr. Elizabeth Ball (2nd from left) with Mayor Sullivan and members of the East side arts community.
A shuttered Hastings Street business is now a vibrant art studio.

Remembrance Day Services

I hope you and members of your family will take the opportunity to participate in one of the many special Remembrance Day services taking place across the City. Lynn and I will be attending the City’s annual service in Victory Square. Prior to the service, the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir will perform.

For the second year in a row, vehicles displaying veteran license plates have been exempted from on-street parking meter fees from November 4 to 11. EasyPark will also provide free parking to vehicles with veteran license plates.

City Hall will be closed on Tuesday, November 11 for Remembrance Day. It will reopen Wednesday, November 12 at 8:30 am.

Improvements to Chinatown, Japantown, Gastown & Strathcona

penn-hotel.jpgLast week, Councillor Elizabeth Ball and I introduced the first round of projects approved under the $10 million Great Beginnings initiative announced by BC Premier Gordon Campbell earlier this year.

The goal of Great Beginnings is to help revitalize four of Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods to mark the province’s 150th birthday celebrations. The City of Vancouver will allocate funds to support projects in Gastown, Japantown, Chinatown and Strathcona.

The program is focusing on improvements to public spaces & private property, arts & culture, community living and civic pride. More than $1.5 million will be invested for the first set of projects which include:

  • Lighting & Signage – new neon signs with ties to Vancouver’s past at the Pennsylvania Hotel & the Chinatown Plaza Parkade
  • Clean Streets Project – expanded street and lane cleaning to 40 blocks within the Downtown Eastside in partnership with United We Can and the Coast Foundation
  • Graffiti Removal & Art Project – expanded mural program & removal of graffiti tags
  • Community Gardens – convert vacant lots in targeted neighbourhoods into food production spaces and/or artist-designed community gardens
  • Building Improvements & Awning Replacements – funding to restore facades, alcoves and worn awnings on select heritage & non-heritage buildings
  • Princess Avenue – interpretive walk for children will includes murals, community markers and a structural children’s silhouette sign
  • Heart of the City Festival – expanded capacity with a focus on the 150 year anniversary and the vibrancy of traditional founding urban communities
  • Blood Alley community greening in Gastown

Premier Campbell with Mayor Sullivan, April 2008
Premier Campbell & Mayor Sullivan announce Great Beginnings last April

Projects will seek to employ local residents in easy to enter jobs. Backgrounder: Great Beginnings: Old Streets, New Pride – First Projects

Investing in Arts, Culture & Heritage

Investments in our historic neighbourhoods compliment a series of other investments our government has made to strengthen Vancouver’s reputation as a premier international destination for arts, culture, film, heritage and entertainment. A summary of accomplishments includes:

  • $60 million upgrade of city’s civic theatres – including Queen Elizabeth & Playhouse Theatres
  • $2.2 million upgrade for Pacific Coliseum & the Forum at Hastings Park
  • approved development plan to secure future of BC Place Stadium in our community for generations to come and allow for the construction of a new art gallery in False Creek
  • leveraged Olympic dollars to improve recreation & community facilities
  • collaborated with arts groups & local entrepreneurs to expand artist studio space
  • provided funding to support Vancouver’s bid to host 2009 Juno Awards
  • $1.5 million over five years to establish a Cultural Tourism Fund
  • $1.7 million annual funding increase over 2005 civic budget for Vancouver arts, culture & heritage projects
  • approved bonuses for construction of performance studio with festival facilities in new downtown CBC development
  • restored funding for annual Canada Day fireworks celebration
  • free admission Downtown Olympic Plazas during 2010 Games to showcase local performers and Aboriginal artists
  • established “Vancouver 125” plan to celebrate city’s anniversary in 2011
  • introduced first Poet Laureate for Vancouver
  • created Mayor’s Film Industry Task Force & Arts Roundtable
  • renewed three-year funding agreement with Vancouver Heritage Foundation
  • initiated plans to establish multi-year funding for arts, culture & community grants
  • supported Vancouver Whitecaps Major League Soccer bid
  • established a new Sport Hosting Strategy to bring major events to Vancouver – including the 2009 World Police and Fire Games, one of the largest international athletic events after the Olympics

I want to thank Councillor Elizabeth Ball for her hard work and dedication over the past three years. Without her contribution, many of these successes would not be possible.

Elizabeth Ball & Mayor Sam Sullivan
Mayor Sullivan and Elizabeth Ball with members of Vancouver arts community

Meeting of Canada’s First Ministers

In advance of this week’s meeting of Canada’s First Ministers, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) called on the federal government to accelerate infrastructure projects across the country to help immunize Canada from a recession in the worldwide economic slow down.

First Ministers met in Ottawa this week to discuss ways to secure jobs and economic growth in Canada. To make the case, the FCM released:

  • a study by economic forecasting firm, Informetrica Ltd. that demonstrates accelerated infrastructure spending is the best way to boost Canada’s economy as it is about to be hit by a worldwide slowdown
  • a list of projects across the country for consideration – including upgrades to the Main Street Skytrain Station & safety improvements for the Burrard Street Bridge

The study, conducted in June and updated in October, looks at the economic impact of accelerated infrastructure investments. It compares the stimulus impact of $1 billion in tax cuts (personal & excise tax) to the same amount in accelerated infrastructure investment. The findings include:

  • a combined $2-billion tax reduction would produce fewer jobs and a lower economic stimulus than $1 billion dollars spent upgrading roads, bridges and water mains
  • an increase in infrastructure spending of $1 billion would grow the economy by about 0.13% and create more than 11,000 jobs
  • an additional federal investment in the order of $3 billion – if supported by matching provincial and municipal dollars – could create almost 100,000 jobs
  • because of administrative delays, the cost-shared $8.8 billion federal Building Canada Fund (BCF), announced in the 2007 budget, has, so far, financed very few projects leaving close to $3 billion in unspent federal money

Note that the BCF is cost-shared between the federal, provincial and municipal governments so every dollar Ottawa invests will leverage an additional two dollars from provinces and municipalities.

Liberal Party of Canada Leadership-Biennial Convention Coming to Vancouver

Last week, I wrote to the Liberal Party of Canada urging them to hold their national leadership convention at Vancouver’s new Convention Centre this May. Tourism Vancouver officials suggested the convention would bring $10-15 million to our local economy.

On Saturday, they agreed to have the Convention in Vancouver!

Send us your feedback by emailing

Yours truly,

Sam Sullivan

Sam Sullivan
Mayor of Vancouver