2008 Campaign is
Underway

Message
to Members from Ellen Woodsworth

On Nov. 15, 2008, Vancouverites will go to
the polls and elect a new mayor, 10 city councillors, 7 park commissioners and
9 school trustees. Unlike previous elections, when the civic campaign earned
this year has seen unprecedented interest in who will be elected to decide the
future of
Vancouver for the next three years.

Media speculation on the mayoral race is
running on overdrive with the on-off Carole Taylor affair, Gregor Robertson’s “will
he-won’t he" candidacy, and speculation about former NPAer Alan De
Genova’s chances.

An on-line CKNW poll asking, “Who would
you like to see as the next mayor of
Vancouver?” found that 55.4 percent think hockey player Trevor Linden the best person
to sit in the big chair at 12th and Cambie. He was followed by Carole Taylor at
14 percent, Sam Sullivan at 8.6 percent, and even 5.7 percent for talk-show
mouth Philip Till. While tongue-in-cheek speculation will go on over the next
10 months, the real campaign is already underway.

The NPA have hired Conservative organizer
and big-business lobbyist Byng Giraud to head up what’s expected to be a
40-person campaign team. And Sullivan is busy squirrelling away thousands in
his unaccounted for re-election coffer.

On Tuesday Jan. 8, COPE held a press
conference at City Hall and called on opposition parties and progressive
organizations to unite behind a common campaign, a joint mayoral candidate and
single list of candidates for city council, park and school boards. A common
platform would focus on crucial issues of homelessness, transit, environmental
sustainability, safe neighbourhoods, and democracy at city hall.

Last week Vision Vancouver supporters
elected new directors. We are encouraged that many Vision supporters said a
common campaign is the only way to defeat Sam Sullivan and the NPA. Talks with
Vision continue.

Meanwhile the COPE Executive held a
strategy workshop to start the hard work of developing a campaign. Among the issues discussed were preparations
for this spring’s AGM, strengthening COPE’s organizational capacity, holding
public events on civic issues, organizing candidate search committees, getting
committees up and running, and launching a fund raising campaign.


COPE Executive and supports attend strategy session.

We are tremendously proud that 2008 is
COPE’s 40th Anniversary! It is fitting that we are again fighting an election
campaign in the spirit of Harry Rankin, Bruce Erikson, Libby Davies, Joe
Arnaud, Jean Swanson and so many other principled
and dedicated COPE candidates who put the needs of ordinary
Vancouver people
first.

Go to http://www.cope.bc.ca
to keep posted on upcoming COPE events.

I urge you to support COPE by getting
involved in one of the Committees or by making a donation. Please call: 604-255-0400
or email: cope@cope.bc.ca to find out how you can help.

Sincerely,

Ellen Woodsworth

External Co-Chairperson

Join COPE Committees

Call
255-0400 or email cope@cope.bc.ca to find out more about COPE committees and
how to get involved.


Park
Support Committee:
Work with park board commissioners on park related issues.

COPE
Education:
One
of COPE long standing committees that brings school trustees, teachers, parents
and students together on crucial issues affecting education and children in
Vancouver.

Policy
and Constitution Committee:
This important committee works on issues related to the constitution
which governs how COPE conducts its business. In election years the committee
works with COPE members, supporters and the community to identify key issue and
develop the policies and issues that make up the platform.

Finance/Fundraising:
Crucial to any
campaign, this committee does the hard work of funding the election campaign.

Membership,
Outreach and Events:
Other parties buy elections. COPE has always depended on the efforts of
volunteers and supporters who are the ones who can make real change
happen. This committee organizes events
and works with other organizations and community groups to build the support
and people power that has always marked COPE campaigns.

Media
and Communications
:
Not just web geeks, this committee works on the details of getting COPE’s
message out to members, the media and the general public.

 

Vancouver COPE School Trustees blast
NPA school closure and reorganization plan

"Utter stupidity," is how COPE School Trustee
Allen Blakey describes the Vancouver NPA school trustees’ UBC/Dunbar Street
Study
of school closures. Blakey says the study, which reviews only one
part of the entire district in isolation from the rest of the district’s
schools, is "a fragmented and totally inadequate approach."

All three COPE trustees want a report
prepared by former Vancouver School Board facilities director Les King to be
released immediately to counter the current piecemeal approach to school
closures. King’s report, commissioned by the previous Board, was tabled in
camera last June by the NPA. COPE trustees say this is the only document that
provides a district-wide perspective on school closures, as well as program
consolidation, amalgamation and re-location.

Rushed
agenda mocks public consultation:

COPE Trustee Sharon Gregson said scheduling
six back-to-back meetings, the first at University Hill Secondary on January14,
and the last on January 22, “makes a mockery of the board’s claim to meaningful
consultation." Parent and teacher representatives have also strongly
criticized the Board’s rushed agenda.

Gregson notes that District Parent Advisory
Committee representatives are concerned that parents do not have adequate time
to study all the detailed documentation released by the Board.

Sale and leasing of school building challenged:

COPE trustees say plans to sell off school
property and lease some buildings is flawed. The decision to reach an agreement
with UBC by this March to eventually move University Hill secondary students
into a building vacated by the National Research Council in the University
Endowment Lands is particularly ill-conceived. COPE trustees point out that UBC
is offering the Board only a limited lease on the NRC building.

“There is an urgent need for proper
facilities for U Hill students, as their current school is cramped and
inadequate,” said Blakey, “But this rushed plan skews the entire proposal and
could impact negatively on other schools in the
Dunbar area."

COPE trustees also strongly disagree with
the rush to sell taxpayer owned land at Queen Elizabeth School Annex in order
to defray the cost of new schools before considering other options.
Furthermore, with the ongoing explosion of the school population in the
University Endowment lands, the possibility of needing two new elementary
schools, not one, was very much in the mix.

Vancouver‘s 16 school annexes at risk:

Within the past six weeks the Board has
announced the possible closure of two of the city’s 16 school annexes –
Garibaldi, on the Eastside, and Queen Elizabeth on the Westside – without
considering the district-wide implications of closing these valued entities.

With an average of 100 students each, these
small, closely knit annexes are unique to
Vancouver and have
been providing services for young children from kindergarten to Grades 3 and 4
for over 45 years. So far there has been no district-wide consultation with
parents and teachers about the continued existence of annexes.

Seismic
upgrading concerns emerge:

“I am appalled that since this
NPA-dominated board has come to power in 2005, not a single
Vancouver school
has been approved for seismic upgrading," said COPE Trustee Allan Wong.

Wong notes that the UBC/Dunbar Study schedules
University Hill Secondary and Queen Elizabeth Main Elementary for seismic
upgrading, bumping them above other schools that were accorded a higher
priority on the VSB list of designated schools. Wong says this is as an example
of how the current isolated approach is distorting district-wide planning.

January 18 2008

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