I am preparing this update as I have just returned from Hong Kong with a delegation of community leaders and the Vancouver Board of Trade. We had a very successful visit that allowed us to strengthen our economic relationship, share best practices and promote Vancouver in advance of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
In this report, please find updates on a number of the important issues our government is working on for you:
- Crime & Safety – Beach Patrol, Entertainment District, Con-Air
- Securing the future of BC Place & Vancouver Art Gallery
- $10 million for drug treatment & outreach services
- 2008 Beijing Paralympic Torch Relay
- EcoDensity update
- BC Children’s Hospital motion passes!
Thank you again for your ongoing interest in all these issues. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts and ideas.
One of the reasons this past holiday weekend was safe and enjoyable for so many was because three of our government’s important local police initiatives were in full effect:
- Last summer, we re-introduced the Vancouver Police Department’s Beach Patrol and they were out in full force this weekend patrolling local beaches.
- This weekend marked the start of permanent weekend street closures in the downtown entertainment district – building on our Project Civil City goals and a very successful pilot project last year that found significant reductions in public disorder.
- Vancouver police returned two more people to face justice in their local provincial jurisdictions under our Con Air program
These measures build on many other investments our government is making to reduce crime and public disorder, including:
- funding for more than 110 new police officers & 100 new civilian staff
- annual investment of close to $1 million for Community Police Centres
- expansion of Downtown Ambassador program
- implementation of crime free housing programs
- millions for police training & new equipment – including port patrols
During my annual State of the City address in January, I identified a number of our government’s priorities for the coming year. One of the most important was to secure the future of BC Place Stadium for generations to come.
Shortly after that speech, Vancouver Council approved a comprehensive plan – and last week the next major step was announced. It was an honour to join Premier Campbell and other community leaders at BC Place to unveil plans for a major renovation of the Stadium – including construction of a retractable roof after 2010.
Among other things, the proposal will:
- expand the city’s sport, culture & entertainment district
- feature a new home for the Vancouver Whitecaps
- provide a waterfront site for a new Vancouver Art Gallery
Renovations to suites, seating, washrooms, concession stands and enhancement of the existing roof liner will occur before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Vancouver Whitecaps will start playing at BC Place in the summer of 2011 – providing the team with an opportunity to apply for a Major League Soccer franchise.
The City of Vancouver has been working with PavCo, the Vancouver Art Gallery and Canadian Metropolitan Properties to move the Art Gallery from its current location to False Creek. In return for future development considerations on its False Creek property, Canadian Metropolitan Properties is providing the Vancouver Art Gallery with a waterfront site for its new 320,000 square-foot facility. The Province has already contributed $50 million towards the new gallery.
The revitalization of the Vancouver Art Gallery is a critical element of our government’s agenda for arts and culture. Last week we held our annual Creative City Conference at the Playhouse Theatre. This year’s event focused on four items that will help shape a Cultural Tourism Plan that Council can review and approve this summer:
- Facilities Review – including recommendations on how to convert boarded-up buildings to art studio space for students
- Public Art Reviews – including how to leverage over $1 million from Olympic Celebration Fund
- Multi-Year Grants – focused on how to provide increased certainty for community organizations
- Cultural Tourism Strategy – review best ways to allocate and leverage $1.5 million Cultural Tourism Fund and 2010 initiatives
Last week, Councillor Kim Capri and I joined federal Health Minister Tony Clement to announce a $10 million contribution from the Government of Canada to support Vancouver initiatives under the national anti-drug strategy.
As you know, we have been encouraging the federal government to recognize the social challenges of the Downtown Eastside as a national issue and make investments to help people suffering with drug addiction. More specifically he has been asking Minister Clement to support:
- street outreach teams
- initiatives that help women get out of prostitution
- innovative research treatment for concurrent disorders
- youth prevention partnership with Vancouver School Board
- First Nations health
Last week’s announcement delivers on a number of these initiatives and we look forward to more progress in the others in the coming months. Also last week, we:
- restated our government’s commitment to Insite
- declared May 19th 2008 as Hepatitis Awareness Day in Vancouver
- passed a resolution at City Council to make it easier for faith based groups in Vancouver to provide services to the homeless
Last June, City Council approved a proposal from Councillor BC Lee to express an interest in hosting this summer’s Beijing Paralympic Torch Relay. In September, BOCOG announced Vancouver had been selected with London, England and Sochi, Russia.
Since then, the city has been working with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and other partners to prepare for the relay’s arrival in Canada. We have been holding stakeholder roundtables over last six months and in a close vote, City Council approved funding to help host the event.
The Torch Relay is expected to arrive at Vancouver International Airport on August 28 and spend the day between Vancouver and Whistler on August 29. Approximately 60 people are expected to carry the Torch.
Plans regarding the route and other issues are proposed – not final – and subject to adjustments based on an upcoming community outreach process.
The 2008 Paralympic Torch Relay is an opportunity to celebrate diversity and recognize Vancouver as one of the world’s most accessible cities.
In previous reports, I have identified a number of some of the measures we are taking to ensure the City of Vancouver it doing its part to protect the environment. Chief among them is EcoDensity.
Well-planned density can help save our planet. In addition to making our city more competitive in the face of rising gas prices, the land use decisions which will flow from EcoDensity will have a significant impact on reducing city greenhouse gas emissions.
Last month, in honour of Earth Day, Councillor Suzanne Anton and I made a 30 Days of Sustainability Pledge which included – among other things – plans to introduce an improved EcoDensity Charter & action items to reflect public consultation. I am pleased to report these are now available for community comment.
The public will have the next month to send written submissions to:
Mayor & Council,
Vancouver City Hall
453 W 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC, V5Y1V4
In the coming weeks, I will also be announcing additional ways you can provide input on this groundbreaking plan through www.samsullivan.ca and our Facebook forum.
City Council will consider the revised Charter and initial actions on June 10 and consider amending the drafts further based on the input we receive.
In April, I introduced a plan to support the current Vancouver Children’s Hospital capital campaign through a special partnership with the Sunny Hill Foundation for Children. The Children’s Hospital is planning to invest almost $500 million dollars to establish a state of the art medical facility in Vancouver – located within close proximity of the new Canada Line.
I am pleased to report that City Council has now passed a motion asking city staff to start talks with Sunny Hill, confirm their plans to relocate and report back on the options regarding the sale of this property as a means to help facilitate the relocation of Sunny Hill and the current expansion plans!
I want to thank Councillors Elizabeth Ball, BC Lee, Kim Capri and Suzanne Anton for fully supporting these measures. In addition to being a tremendous asset for families living all across Metro Vancouver, a new children’s hospital will be a centre of excellence in health research and become a significant job creator.