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Public e-scooter service on Vancouver council’s agenda this week

Broadway subway, SROs, seniors and booze also on tap for council
Electric kick scooters are allowed on local streets and protected bike lanes in Vancouver but Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung wants to see a public share program for the two-wheeled machines.

Vancouver council meets Wednesday (June 15) to complete unfinished business from last week that includes whether to direct staff to launch a service that would allow the public sharing of electric kick scooters in the city.

Currently, Vancouver is participating in a three-year experiment that the provincial government announced two years ago that allows the city and five other municipalities to amend bylaws to approve street use of the two-wheeled machines.

In Vancouver’s case, e-scooters are allowed on local streets and protected bike lanes.

But there is no rental or shared e-scooter program, which is something Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung wants to change and have a trial in place by spring 2023.

“They're out there on our streets and it makes sense to regulate it,” Kirby-Yung said Tuesday.

Affordability is one of the main factors driving Kirby-Yung’s interest in a public share program.

In her research, Kirby-Yung learned that it costs about $1,500 for “an average, decent” scooter, a price that is a barrier for many people and not in line with the city’s goal to make Vancouver a more equitable city.

The city has had a public share bicycle program for several years. Kirby-Yung said she envisioned a program for e-scooters to be similar in nature, but with all major costs borne by an operator chosen through a request for proposals process.

Regulation of e-scooters could include speed limits and no-go zones such as sidewalks, said Kirby-Yung, noting a public program also gives citizens another option than driving a car and helps the city towards its goal to reduce carbon pollution.

Her motion is one of five on council’s agenda for Wednesday, although debate on a potential e-scooter program is likely to be moved to Thursday because of the number of speakers to other motions, which include:

Liquor licence

• Coun. Pete Fry’s push to have the city lift its moratoria in the Downtown Eastside and Granville Entertainment District to allow food primary businesses to also operate with a liquor licence after 10 p.m.

In other words, allow a licensed restaurant to convert to a bar or lounge in the evening, but not have to keep an otherwise unnecessary full kitchen open and staffed.

'Campus of care'

• Fry and Coun. Colleen Hardwick have teamed up on a motion aimed at developing a “False Creek South Campus of Care” for seniors.

Nearly one in three residents in False Creek South are above the age of 65, proportionately double that of Vancouver as a whole.

“As residents age in place in False Creek South, there are very few opportunities for them to move into appropriate ‘right-sized’ housing, forcing them to otherwise stay in affordable housing that could be freed up for families,” their motion says.

“Through thoughtful and proactive planning there is an opportunity and imperative to provide appropriate housing and services so that seniors and people with disabilities can age in their community.”

'Rapid displacement'

• Coun. Jean Swanson wants changes to the city’s single-room-accommodation bylaw “to better guarantee that SRO tenants [who get evicted] are re-housed in self-contained social housing at shelter rate, or in suitable market housing with owners topping up the shelter rate if necessary, before SRO demolition or conversion permits are issued.”

“A variety of factors are currently leading to rapid displacement of tenants from several SRO buildings, including atrocious building conditions, fire, extreme vulnerability of some tenants and development pressures,” Swanson says in her motion.


•. In another motion, Hardwick points out the disruption to businesses along Broadway affected by construction of the subway line to Arbutus Street — especially those located on “cut-and-cover” sites along the route.

“Merchants located adjacent to ‘cut-and-cover’ sites are more severely impacted than other areas along the Broadway Corridor,” she says in her motion.

“Cut-and-cover sections of construction restrict pedestrian, vehicle and bus access to merchants. Visibility of businesses in cut-and-cover sections is severely limited and significantly impacted.”

Added Hardwick: “Therefore it be resolved that council direct staff to explore options on ways to provide relief to commercial properties affected in the ‘cut-and-cover’ locations along the Broadway Subway corridor, including relaxation of business property taxes, and developing a program similar to that of the City of Montreal’s financial assistance program for businesses affected by major construction.”

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 3 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Council will reconvene Thursday, if any unfinished business is not completed Wednesday.

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