COPE Endorses “We Stand with the Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion”

Vancouver - Unceded Coast Salish Territories: Oil tanker traffic has increased 111% during Vision’s term and despite many promises, Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver haven’t put forward a specific plan against the projected massive increase of oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet. 

COPE is proud to sign the below letter from “The Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion” and continue to be the most active municipal party in Vancouver against tar sand products. 

Once elected, COPE will ask Vancouverites to vote on allowing oil tankers in the Burrard Inlet.

In the 1980s, COPE led the fight to make Vancouver a “Nuclear-Free Zone.” Today COPE believes in a future with no crude oil tanker traffic on the BC coast. COPE will work with Vancouver residents, other cities, First Nations, and labour unions to make this a reality.

In 2010 the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) called on the Federal government to reject the Enbridge pipeline and ban crude oil tanker traffic in BC. Now it’s time for cities to unite their opposition to the next level under a COPE government in Vancouver.

COPE supports the Kinder Morgan Five, First Nations, City of Burnaby, caretakers of Burnaby Mountain, and others on the front lines of the opposition of Kinder Morgan in the courtroom, in the boardroom, and on the ground. 

"I believe the city of Vancouver should support Lynn Quarmby, Stephen Collis, Mia Niessen and Adam Gold. These brave people are putting their bodies on the line to protect all of us,” said COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong.

(Note: One of the five protesters named in the Kinder Morgan lawsuit is  not named.) 

Meena Wong wins mayoral debate

For immediate release

Today at the CBC Vancouver mayoral debate, Meena Wong was the clear winner. Wong presented the best solutions to address housing affordability and transit woes. She also showed that COPE is the alternative people are hoping for.

The debate began with Wong saying that housing is too expensive and incomes are too low. In response, Robertson apologized for his failure.

While a desperate Robertson begged for the support of COPE voters, the plea fell flat as Wong demonstrated a superior grasp of the city’s problems and solutions.

In turn, Meena Wong looked into the camera and talked directly to Vision voters:

“I’m asking Vision voters - come home to COPE, vote your conscience - this is your chance to make Vancouver affordable,” said Wong.

On the issues, Wong presented a clear alternative to Vision. Meena Wong stood up for tenants, promising to ban renovictions. Wong highlighted that this election Vision took over $200,000 from corporations who are notorious for renovictions.

Wong stood up for protecting our city’s affordable housing stock, noting that Vision took over $1,000,000 from real estate corporations this election. She warned that under Vision, Grandview-Woodland will become a new Coal Harbour. Only COPE will stop Vision’s condo plan for Commercial Drive.

Wong presented an exciting plan for winning the transit referendum. She said we need to make transit more affordable by expanding the UPass program to Vancouver and other cities. That’s how to get the people excited about the referendum: it’s not just about addressing existing demand, but boldly expanding ridership and service to take a real dent out of carbon emissions.

Meena Wong: “This election we have a clear choice: do we want housing to be affordable for Vancouverites, or simply profitable for developers?”

“COPE won the debate today, don’t let the big corporations win on Saturday. If you vote your conscience, you will win.”

Backgrounder: Vision funded largely by real estate corporations

Major funders of the Vision campaign operate real estate development companies that are destroying Vancouver’s affordable neighbourhoods, through renovictions and redevelopment.

According to Vision’s campaign finance records released last week:

In Grandview-Woodland, Vision took $25,000 from Solterra, the corporation that evicted the Waldorf last year. Can we trust Vision to protect this heritage site?

In the West End, Vision took $25,000 from Gordon Nelson, the corporation behind renovictions at the Seafield Apartments - that’s where the terms ‘renovictions’ was coined.

In Marpole, Vision took $75,000 from the corporations behind Marine Gateway Towers.

In Mount Pleasant, Vision took $34,500 from Rize, the corporation behind the massive towers project at Main and Broadway.

In Little Mountain, Vision took $75,00 from Holborn, the company that destroyed Little Mountain’s affordable housing development.

In the Downtown Eastside, Vision took $30,150 from corporations that turned Burns Block into luxury “microlofts.’

Meena Wong says that $1.4 million in corporate donations to Vision this election make them unfit to govern

Meena Wong says that $1.4 million in corporate donations to Vision this election make them unfit to govern

COPE will revisit Vision’s condo plans across the city, ban corporate donations, create Anti-Corruption Office, and reduce mayor and council’s salaries

For Immediate Release

Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories - Today, COPE candidates announced a concrete plan to address corporate influence at City Hall. While Vision’s policies are for property developers, COPE’s policies are for everyone. 

In 2014 Vision took over $1,400,000 from corporations, including over $1,080,000 from real estate corporations alone. Vision is in a real or perceived conflict-of-interest involving redevelopment plans in neighbourhoods across the city. Municipal reform is urgently needed. 

COPE Endorses Hot Pink Paper!

COPE is proud to endorse all eleven policies of the Hot Pink Paper by Women Transforming Cities

COPE is the only municipal party in Vancouver to explicitly dedicate spaces for women on its slates. 

Enshrined in COPE’s constitution and bylaws is the provision that at least 50% of COPE’s candidates have to be non-male, which is part of a larger affirmative action mandate to ensure equity and diversity within COPE.

These policies recognize the disproportionate barriers women face in politics and work to counter systemic sexism and racism in politics. 

The statistics of women in political office in Canada are disgracefully low at federal, provincial, and municipal levels. At the provincial level in BC, only 35% of seats in the BC legislature are filled by women.

The state of gender diversity in government at the municipal level is even worse. On average in municipal governments across Canada, only 26% of City Councilors are women.

In Vancouver specifically, 120 years since the incorporation of the city and over 75 years since the first woman City Councilor was elected on a platform of housing justice, we have never had a woman mayor or a majority of women on City Council. This clearly demonstrates the historic exclusion and ongoing marginalization of women in politics, and reiterates the importance of empowering women who come forward as strong voices for systemic change.  

The result of COPE’s affirmative action policy has been inspiring: strong and principled women candidates with diverse backgrounds and experience put their names forward for nomination, and COPE now has a majority of women on its City Council, School Board, and Park Board slates. 

As the only municipal political party in Vancouver with a majority of women candidates, COPE is modelling the kind of inclusive and gender diverse political environment we need to strive to build at the municipal level and beyond.   

COPE is making history with women in this election in another way too, as the first party in North American history to have three Indigenous women running at the same time: Audrey Siegl for City Council, Diana Day for School Board, and Cease Wyss for Park Board. 

 

COPE’s commitment to equity and diversity permeate all of its policies. COPE has a policy of  using an equity lens when assessing and developing all policies, including specific attention to how policies will impact women and girls, as well as other marginalized groups. 

A number of other COPE policies respond directly to women’s needs. COPE’s central focus on affordability and plan for a $15 minimum wage and a living wage for city workers are particularly relevant to women, who earn on average 30% less than men’s wages and are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs. COPE’s policies for affordable housing, affordable transit, and a city-wide strategy for affordable child care are particularly critical to women.

COPE also will provide more services for immigrant and migrant women and work to make Vancouver a Sanctuary City. Migrant women face barriers to health care, including access to pre- and post-natal care, and may stay in abusive relationships and not access services in cases of domestic violence for fear of being detained or deported as a result. Sanctuary City and access to essential services is critical for the well-being of migrant women. 

COPE firmly calls for an end to violence against women and will reallocate police resources to ensure full and proper investigation of complaints of male violence against women, in accordance with the recommendations of the Murdered and Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry. Violence against women must stop, and historic and ongoing violence against Indigenous women must be taken seriously and investigated. 

Endorsing the 2007 Living in Community plan to support sex workers right to form unions, live and work free of violence, and have access to supports on their own terms, COPE advocates a decriminalization and harm reduction approach to sex work and opposes Bill C-36 in its entirety. 

COPE is already modeling gender diversity in politics through its candidates in this election, but also calls for comprehensive electoral reform. Advocating campaign financing reform, reinstatement of a ward system in Vancouver, and implementation proportional representation are ways in which COPE is calling for greater change to the electoral system to remove barrier to participation and increase equity and diversity in municipal politics.  

Given these policies, COPE is the only real option for feminists. Inclusion of women and marginalized people is not tokenistic, it comes from a systemic critique of how and why the political system is failing to answer the needs of these groups. 

 

This is why COPE doesn’t take money from real estate developers

For immediate release
November 7th, 2014

On November 6th, 2014 Vision Vancouver released its campaign donations for 2014. The same day, in an effort to divert attention from their funders, they sued the NPA for defamation. 

COPE refuses to be distracted by the American-style campaign tactics of Vision and the NPA, including their shallow ads funded by real estate money.

COPE does not accept money from real estate developers for a simple reason: receiving donations from property developers puts the mayor and city councillors in a position of a serious perceived or real conflict of interest. 

According to Vision’s own books, the majority of their funding comes from real estate corporations. That’s the reality behind the smiling face of Vision Vancouver. 

Quotes from Meena Wong: 
“Who do you trust to take tough action on renovictions? COPE, or Vision who took $25,000 from Gordon Nelson, who made the news for mass renovictions at Seafield Apartments in the West End? Vision also took thousands from Steven Lippman and his companies that are wholescale ‘renovicting’ hotels in the DTES.” 

“Who do you trust to represent the community at Main and Broadway? COPE, or Vision who took $34,500 from the Rize Corporation, the corporation that wants spot rezoning for a luxury condo tower? And do you want Commercial and Broadway to have 20 luxury condo towers in four years?”

“Who do you trust to make decisions for the people at Little Mountain? COPE, or Vision who took $75,000 from Holborn Holdings, the corporation that is redeveloping the site after evicting hundreds of families from social housing?”

“Whenever you hear or see a Vision Vancouver attack ad, remember who is paying for it - real estate corporations who want to make Vancouver unaffordable.”

Vision’s newest endorser is PR spin doctor for tankers

For immediate release

November 6th, 2014:

This morning Vision Vancouver held a press conference to highlight an important endorsement from former NPA president Michael Davis. 

Vision’s newest endorser is the public relations spin doctor for tankers. On February 6th, 2013, Davis published an open letter to the shipping industry, calling on them to do better in their communications efforts against environmentalists.

“So the marine sector is rarely in the public eye. Only disaster makes it into the mainstream news. All Joe Public sees is the tanker spewing oil and the pathetic birds dying in goo. We who know the industry protest against the unfair portrayal and wonder why, when we come to controversy, perceptions are so negative,” wrote Davis in the open letter to the shipping industry.

http://www.bcshippingnews.com/magazine/feature-article/pipeline-wars-who-speaks-shipping-michael-davis-reputations

“Vision’s warm acceptance of this endorsement from tanker PR specialist Michael Davis makes it clear that Vision’s commitment to environmental principles is only skin deep,” said Meena Wong, COPE mayoral candidate.

Vision Park Board relationship with Community Association in crisis

For immediate release

November 5th, 2014: The relationship between the Vision-majority Park Board and Community Centre Associations has reached a crisis point. Although six Community Centre Associations reached out to mediator Vince Ready to get involved in the the Joint Operating Agreement negotiations, the Vision Park Board has demonstrated it is not interested in finding a resolution outside of court to disputes ongoing since 2012. 

Indicative of the lack of progress and the community’s disappointment with the current Park Board, Renfrew Park Community Association recently left the process after 21 months and over 50 meetings of negotiations.

“That Vision Vancouver has let the relationship between the Park Board and the community deteriorate to such an extent is shocking,” said former Park Board Commissioner and current Park Board candidate Anita Romaniuk. 

“The relationship is so broken that only Vince Ready, who recently negotiated an end to such long standing and complicated disputes like the Ikea lockout and the teacher’s strike, can fix it. What does that say about the Park Board under Vision? Their relationship with the community has deteriorated so much that Canada’s top mediator will have to step in to fix the situation,” said Romaniuk. 

COPE Park Board candidates call for respecting Community Centre Associations as full partners and involving grassroots participation in neighbourhood decision-making. 

“We have to get back to a culture of respect and equality in the ownership and operations of Vancouver’s treasured Community Centres,” said Romaniuk.

COPE Reveals Financing for 2014 to date, challenges Vision to reveal 2012/2013 developer contributions

For Immediate Release
 
November 4th, 2014: COPE revealed today that the electoral organization raised $18,440 from unions and $200 from one corporation so far in 2014. Individual donations over $100 made up $28,065. Donations under $100 totaled $13,409. The total so far in 2014 is $60,114.
 
COPE challenges Vision Vancouver to reveal party donations from 2012 and 2013. Elections BC only requires disclosure of contributions from January 1st, 2014-November 15th, 2014 and there are no campaign spending limits.
 
"People are calling money raised outside of election years “dark money” because it never sees the light of public scrutiny,” said COPE candidate for mayor, Meena Wong. “I challenge Gregor Robertson to reveal Vision’s dark money donations from non-election years.”
 
COPE’s platform, created by and voted on by COPE members, calls for tough municipal election campaign finance reform. A COPE government will enact limits on the amount individual entities can donate to municipal political parties, and limit the amount individuals and parties can spend during an election.
 

View COPE's list of Union, Corporate, and Individual donations over $100. 

Meena Wong is the only mayoral candidate with a plan to build city-owned affordable housing

Meena Wong is the only mayoral candidate with a plan to build city-owned affordable housing

COPE will expand city-owned housing stock by 800 units per year

On October 29th, 2014, mayoral candidate Meena Wong unveiled COPE’s plan to build new city-owned housing. Wong already made waves this election campaign with her plan to place a duty on vacant properties to increase rental supply and to generate funds for city-owned housing. Increasing the supply of publicly-owned housing is a crucial part of building a Vancouver that everyone can afford.

There is insufficient public housing in Vancouver...

COPE Questions Why Fireworks Allowed on Halloween But Not Diwali

October 22nd, 2014

“Fireworks, including firecrackers, are essential to a Diwali celebration”, says Imtiaz Popat, who is running for Vancouver Park Board with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).

Diwali is the Indian festival of lights to welcome the new year. This year it falls on Thursday, October 23rd. However, Vancouver City by-laws state that fireworks are only allowed from October 25th to October 31st leading up to Halloween. 

“Diwali dates change from year to year. Vision should have planned for this year's celebration,” says Popat. Fireworks permits can be applied for in designated spaces under the City bylaws. “Vancouver Parks and Recreation can also organize permitted fireworks events in Vancouver Parks on Diwali,” says Popat. 

COPE’s Meena Wong is Only Mayoral Candidate Who Will Ban Renovictions

October 20th, 2014

Meena Wong will ban ‘renovictions’ as part of her strategy to make Vancouver more affordable. While her Duty on Vacant Properties will increase supply of rented housing and generate funds to build real affordable housing, we also need to keep rents down in existing housing supply. To do this COPE will stop landlords from circumventing rent increase regulations.

To get around legal limits on rent increases, some landlords kick out tenants for repairs - often minor repairs. Once the renovation is complete, landlords often increase the rent an ‘extraordinary’ amount. 

“We have a very simple plan to stop renovictions in their tracks,” said Meena Wong. “We’ll put a condition on renovation permits to guarantee that tenants can move back at the same rent they were paying before.” 

COPE’s Meena Wong Will Extend Universal Transit Program to All Vancouverites for “a dollar a day”

October 15th, 2014

COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong announced today that COPE will work extend the universal transit pass program to all residents of Vancouver for “a dollar a day.” The universal (U-Pass) program has been a success at colleges and universities by increasing ridership and reducing fares, congestion, and carbon emissions. COPE will put a Vancouver Pass, or V-Pass, in everyone’s hand.

The V-pass will make transit more affordable

“To build a Vancouver everyone can afford, we need to reduce transit fares,” said Meena Wong. “A dollar-a-day Vancouver transit pass would save each transit rider $1,680 per year.”

We Can’t Afford Four More Years of Vision Vancouver

October 8th, 2014

“Only COPE can be trusted to build a Vancouver everyone can afford,” says Meena Wong

In 2008 Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness. After six years of corporate tax breaks, luxury condo development, and renovictions, homelessness is at its highest level in recorded history. Today, while Vision is in court seeking to evict hundreds homeless people from Oppenheimer park, they are announcing that they want to make Vancouver affordable.

COPE Challenges Vision's Injunction

September 29th, 2014

The Coalition of Progressive Electors continues to stand in solidarity with the tenants of Oppenheimer Park and supports the challenge by Pivot Legal Society to the City of Vancouver’s injunction to evict the campers. 

Vision Vancouver is forcing the tenants of Oppenheimer Park into unsafe conditions by breaking up the camp without adequate housing in place. The injunction is seeking to evict all campers from the Park, where there are still hundreds of people residing in some 230 tents. 

The 70 new temporary shelter beds being offered by Vision Vancouver to house displaced campers is far too few beds to satisfy the needs of the camp. Additional temporary housing has been identified downtown to supplement the 70 beds, but this housing will not be available for at least another month while the eviction will be effective immediately, leaving potentially hundreds of Oppenheimer tenants homeless in the meantime. 

“The most important issue has always been safe, clean, affordable homes now,” said Audrey Siegl, COPE candidate for City Council. “This homelessness crisis that we are experiencing comes from a lack of action by the City to address the housing situation. People in the camp are taking matters into their own hands to create a safe environment out of necessity.”

“We need homes and permanent solutions to this housing crisis.”

“Minimum Wage Should be a Living Wage”

September 25th, 2014

At Vancouver’s biggest mall today, Meena Wong, COPE candidate for mayor, announced a key plank in the party’s plan to combat income inequality in Vancouver.

“I’m standing before you now to say this loud and clear: Vancouver needs a raise. Now, I don’t mean that City Councilors need a raise. In February of this year, the Mayor and City Councilors gave themselves a raise. And I don’t mean that the city’s communications department needs a raise. It came out last week they’re already getting $1.6 million. And for sure the property developers in this city don’t need a raise. They are making record profits under Vision Vancouver’s government,” said Meena Wong.

“I’m standing before here today to say that the people of Vancouver need a raise. Especially those who work the hardest and get paid the least. Hospitality workers, retail and food workers, caregivers, and more. These people are often women, people of colour, immigrants, indigenous people and students.”

COPE Statement on Mental Health Task Force

September 17th, 2014

“How can we take guidance from a Task Force that hasn’t genuinely included people who have experienced mental health issues?” –Meena Wong, September 17th, 2014

Long-time mental health advocate and COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong is speaking out against the final recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions. “The mental health task force has 64 members, almost all of them are politicians, CEOs, doctors and people with money and power,” said Wong. “Only three of the 64 are affected community members. I have heard loud and clear that the community is frustrated by lack of action on affordable housing and better incomes.”

“Why have the City’s task forces consistently failed to include the voices of the people who are most affected?” asked Wong. “Last year the housing task force was all developers without a single renter in a city of 50% renters.” Meena and the COPE team are opposing the recommendations of the Mayors Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions for the following six reasons:

COPE’s Plan to Monitor Vacant Properties

September 17th, 2014

“We will monitor vacancy rates as well as rent increases across the city,” says Meena Wong

Over the past week, there has been significant interest in COPE’s proposal to monitor Vancouver’s housing supply, including vacant or under-utilized properties.

“I am happy to have this discussion about vacant properties, because the housing crisis in Vancouver has only worsened over the past six years,” said Meena Wong, COPE’s Mayoral candidate. “We need to have a vigorous public debate about solutions.”

COPE would like to take this opportunity to be very clear about what we are, and are not, proposing.

A central part of COPE’s election platform, which has been developed democratically by our membership in consultation with grassroots organizations, is our Housing Authority plan. COPE’s Housing Authority will focus on new affordable and social housing construction, but it will also include an office to monitor the city’s existing housing infrastructure through a new Landowner and Landlord Registry.