The election is now 6 days away and we’d like to remind you that many of your local NDP candidates are active COPE members. Please find some time to head down to your local campaign office and help out in the final push to see progressive political change in B.C. You can find your local campaign office by visiting: http://www.bcndp.ca/candidates
You can find a list of all the candidates in your riding by visiting: http://126.96.36.199/voter/edfinder.htm
If you plan to volunteer for a campaign on election day make sure you vote during advance voting, which starts today and ends May 9th.
However, while the provincial election has been under way, your COPE representatives have remained busy.
COPE Councillors Oppose Residential Tax Increase
COPE city Councillors David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth are concerned about the tax shift included in the 2009 budget, which moves taxes from business to residential property owners. “Residential home owners will be seeing a significant tax increase, well-above 2% inflation,” says Cadman. He continues “we need to remember that this tax shift doesn’t just hurt home owners – the costs inevitably get passed to renters who are already having a difficult time with the extremely low vacancy rate in our city.”
Councillor Cadman proposed that Council suspend the 1% property tax redistribution for this year which will result in a 7.89% tax increase for residential and a 3.87% tax increase for non-residential, following on a 19.7% tax increase for residential taxes over the past three years and a 1.6% tax increase for non-residential taxes over those same three years. “The City of Vancouver must address the legacy of deficits created by the former council and other factors but we should not continue the previous Council’s tax shifts onto the shoulders of residents who are hurting due to the recession" said Councillor Woodsworth. Adding that, "the overwhelming majority of citizens surveyed opposed such tax shifts".
Both councilors argue that it is important for Council to halt the shifting of taxes from business to residents that began in 2005 under the NPA. Continuing with this shift could see homeowners pay 52 percent to businesses’ share of 48 percent within the next few years.
Woodsworth and Cadman will continue to work for the creation of a new taxation class to support small business, noting that Vancouver has only one business tax class that does not differentiate between large corporations and small businesses.
Fighting for Students
Naturally the focus, over the past month, of our COPE/Vision board has been keeping the $7.12 million provincial funding shortfall away from students. Working well together, and supported by the education community, trustees were largely successful, but it was a difficult and painful process.
Al Blakey, Allan Wong, and Jane Bouey attended the BC School Trustees Association Annual General Meeting. The AGM outcome was a strong and united voice for improved provincial funding.
COPE trustees have also been working to improve labour relations in the district, continuing our advocacy for seismic upgrades, and striving to protect and expand childcare in our schools. Our Board attended Family Night at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, and soon will be signing an Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement. Improving educational outcomes for aboriginal youth is one of our main priorities. Trustees work to engage the community in the school board. Recently, the Vancouver Skateboard Coalition gave a fascinating presentation on their growing and family oriented sport.
The H1N1 flu has also taken quite a bit of attention of trustees. Coastal Health’s Medical Officers are in close contact with the School Board’s Health and Safety staff. Our focus has been to ensure that accurate information reaches the school community.
Park Board Commissioner Loretta Woodcock wants to get more seniors active through history walks
COPE Commissioner Loretta Woodcock, chair of the Park Board Services & Budgets committee, is asking staff to pilot some pedestrian walking paths that would incorporate a history theme. "An Ipsos Reid public survey identified that 44 % of city residents prefer walking as their main physical activity, compared to 21% for gym, 20% for running and 13% for cycling" states Comm. Woodcock. "With the fastest growing population being seniors, health issues threaten independence and oftentimes mobility decreases, so we need to inspire more of our seniors to get out and exercise".
Under the ‘Active Communities’ physical fitness initiative launched by the City of Vancouver in 2004, it’s "20 by 2010" challenge is to increase physical fitness activity by 20% by 2010, with an outcome of making Vancouver one of the healthiest municipalities to host the Olympics.
"Vancouver became the first municipality to accept the Province’s "ActNow! BC" program to promote healthy lifestyles, and the Park Board has created 44 Step Out Walks that map out the walking paths throughout city parks and streets. By highlighting accessible walking paths and adding historical points of interest, we want to inspire more of our seniors to enjoy these walks" states Woodcock, who has served on the Seniors Advisory Committee at city hall since 2002. For more information on Vancouver Park Board’s Active Communities Step out Walks you can go to the website: <http://vancouver.ca/parks/activecommunity/index.htm>
Have your say
There are a number of public consultations on the horizon. Please visit the ‘Have Your Say’ link at the City’s website to see how you can participate:
COPE is Moving!
On June 1 COPE will be moving to the Dominion Building on West Hastings. We will be joining a host of progressive organizations located at this transit accessible heritage building. We’ll send our full address along in the next newsletter.
Thanks again to our outgoing executive!
COPE would like to thank the outgoing executive for all its work. More news to come from the 2009-2010 exec after the provincial election!