Budget consultation — forum TODAY and public meeting Thursday

The public will have only two more chances to voice their concerns about $28.1 million in proposed cuts to libraries, community centres, parks and other city services.

First, complete Think City’s 2010 Citizen Budget survey by Dec. 1 (today!) at http://www.thinkcity.ca/citizen_budget_2010_survey.

Second, speak at city council’s special pubic hearing on the budget on Dec. 3 where Think City will also present the results of the Citizen
Budget survey.

To speak to Council on Thursday at 7:30PM, you must register by emailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca or calling 604.873.7276.

Fewer than 350 citizens took part in the city’s own budget survey. Make sure city council knows what your priorities are for the 2010 budget.

To learn more about why the mayor is proposing tax cuts for businesses and service cuts for citizen, please attend Think City’s City Budget Debate on Tuesday, Dec. 1 (TODAY!). Details are here http://www.thinkcity.ca/citizen_budget_debate.

The parks and library boards reluctantly adopted $4.4 million in cuts to meet the council’s budget targets. Library hours will be cut, the Bloedel Conservatory shutdown, the Stanley Park farm shuttered, and community centres will have fewer staff – it’s very bad news for Vancouverites.

But this decision to bring in major service cuts is unnecessary. City hall has enough money to make sure no frontline service cuts are made in 2010. Council needs to defer a $22-million tax holiday for some businesses to bring city hall that much closer to a no-cuts budget.

This multi-million dollar corporate tax break or tax shift was brought in two years ago by Mayor Sam Sullivan when the city’s economy was roaring during the boom years. Now, things have changed. The world economy is in recession, making it impossible for the city to afford this kind of corporate subsidy. In hard times, everyone needs to pay their fair share – residents, mom-and-pop stores, big businesses and industrial land owners. Think City has already gathered nearly 1,400 surveys as part of our annual Citizen Budget initiative and will present the results to council this week.

The city is facing hard times, but the cupboard is not bare at 12th and Cambie. No other major Lower Mainland municipality is cutting their operating budget the way the City of Vancouver is. Our mayor and council have choices – they can protect public services by ending the needless business subsidy.

COPE is the only party to have consistently voted against the tax shift from businesses to residents and we share Think City’s concerns about service cuts. We encourage you to participate in Think City’s budget, attend the forum and come and speak at city council Thursday to make your voice heard!


Olympic “free speech” by-laws returning to council

The revision of the Olympic by-laws are a major victory for the BC Civil Liberties Association, concerned residents, community groups and your COPE councillors who fought so hard for the changes

Nearly all of the changes made were amendments originally proposed by COPE Councillors Ellen Woodsworth or David Cadman at the by-laws’ first review at city council during the summer. It was only with the work of the community that significant pressure was leveraged to make the changes first defeated by the council majority.

The new versions address such issues as political vs. commercial expression, the length of effect for the by-laws, the size of "bubble zones" around venues and explicitly name the right to protest. However, concerns remain around political expression within venues themselves as well as differentiating between small local newspapers and corporations breaking sponsorship regulations.

The by-laws will come back to council on Thursday at 9:30am. To speak, signup by emailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.

West Coast LEAF supports call for Olympic sponsors to take a stand against discrimination

Last week, West Coast LEAF signed onto a letter from city councillors David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth, calling on Olympic sponsors to pressure the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow women ski jumpers to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

“The West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action and Action Fund is deeply concerned about this blatant example of discrimination against women in sport and the lack of accountability in the staging of the 2010 Olympic Games,” says West Coast LEAF Legal Director Kasari Govender.  “We fully support the inclusion of a women’s ski jumping event at the Olympics, and urge the IOC to reconsider.”

As a result of the letter — which was sent to worldwide Olympic sponsors (which include Coca Cola and Visa) and Olympic sponsors (which include The Hudsons Bay Company and Petro Canada ) and recently, to official partners and suppliers (which include CanWest and Air Canada) – a petition was created. It can be found at

It is the COPE councillors’ hope that – while the courts might not be able to enforce the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect the rights of the female ski jumpers – corporate sponsors might be able to leverage their power to pressure the IOC.

The entire letter is copied below. As of today, December 1, none of the CEO’s have responded.

West Coast Leaf’s mission can be found at: http://www.westcoastleaf.org/index.php

Note: the letter below has some changes from the one originally sent to the CEO’s – however, the differences are minor and the intent remains the same.

Dear Olympic sponsors,

As you are likely aware, 14 international female ski jumpers have gone to court in British Columbia requesting that female ski jumpers be allowed to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Justice Fenlon, who made the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling, acknowledged that the failure to run a female ski jumpers event is substantively discriminatory, as discrimination is defined under s.15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The BC Court of Appeal concluded that the responsibility for determining which events would run at the 2010 Olympics lies with the IOC and therefore outside the realm of the Canadian Charter.

VANOC and the City of Vancouver have both endorsed female ski jumpers’ call for equal participation in the 2010 Olympics. VANOC has also stated that if instructed to include the women’s participation in the upcoming Olympics, it would do so.

We ask you to approach the IOC to request that women be allowed to participate as equals in all Olympic events. As a corporate sponsor committed to excellence, you may be interested to know that the current jump record for the small hill at the Whistler Olympic facility is held by a woman. We request that you act quickly to help redress this discrimination, which contravenes international human rights law, Canadian law and City of Vancouver policy by discriminating against women — who make up over 50 per cent of your consumer base.

We urge you to communicate forthrightly with the IOC and make clear that you cannot support discrimination against women under your corporate sponsorship.

Sincerely,

David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth

Vancouver city councillors

And,

West Coast Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund

Sign the petition!
http://www.petitiononline.com/corpoly/petition.htm.

December 1, 2009: budget consultation, women ski jumpers and Olympic by-laws

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