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Quotable: What Vancouver city council had to say in 2021

Michael Wiebe: ‘It's been an emotional rollercoaster for sure, and the support has been pretty amazing’
Vancouver city council is heading into its final calendar year of its four-year term. File photo Jennifer Gauthier

Your mayor and 10 city councillors had a lot to say this year.

In fact, they say a lot every year.

But I had to get into this preamble somehow, and that opening sentence is what I came up with.

I’m tired, your tired, we’re all tired.

So without further ado, I give you some memorable quotes of 2021 from each of your 11 elected officials.

Here you go…

Court case

“It's been an emotional rollercoaster for sure, and the support has been pretty amazing. I had a couple of councillors call me crying this morning.” — Coun. Michael Wiebe on the day he heard that B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves dismissed the court action brought on by 15 citizens who alleged Wiebe was in a conflict of interest over his vote in May 2020 on a temporary patio program.

“The reality is, little will change for me. As a caucus, sometimes we would vote together, sometimes not. I expect that to continue.” — Coun. Melissa De Genova on suddenly being the lone NPA representative on council after the four colleagues she was elected with all quit the party.

“This budget is a broken promise to Vancouver taxpayers, to residents, to renters, to homeowners, to families, to small businesses and the youth of our city — a promise council made on the motion put forward by the mayor that council will not exceed a property tax increase of five per cent. Council promised one thing, and is doing the complete opposite.” — Coun. Lisa Dominato on the majority of council approving a 6.35 per cent property tax hike.

Coun. Pete Fry. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Little Mountain property

“It is odiously perverse that in our city, against a backdrop of dire housing unaffordability, that this particular land has been sitting fallow at a taxpayer-expensed, interest-free holiday for over a decade. Obviously, this was a pretty sweet deal for Holborn, but I hesitate to single them out — after all, this was the ugly era of wild west campaign contributions to both the provincial and local governments of the day.” — Coun. Pete Fry on the release of the contract between the B.C. government and Holborn Properties Ltd. to redevelop the Little Mountain social housing site in Vancouver.

“Here’s the deal, we’re 115 square kilometres between Boundary Road and the University Endowment Lands — 115 kilometres against the globe’s 510.1 million square kilometres. So we really have to be careful about what we do to move the needle in impacting the planet, and what we can do in the next few months.” — Coun. Colleen Hardwick on council’s approval of an ambitious $500-million climate fight plan that aims to cut natural gas heat in existing buildings, discourage vehicle use and find less polluted ways to produce and transport construction materials.

Coun. Rebecca Bligh. Rob Kruyt/BIV News

Climate change

“This is where major cities are going across the world, and it is because we have to work together as cities. You can’t just look at Vancouver and say, well this is our population and this is our impact on [greenhouse gas] emissions, and therefore we shouldn’t do anything because we’re too small.” — Coun. Rebecca Bligh on the city’s climate plan and her dismissing critics who say Vancouver can’t have an impact on global pollution.

“Because I am married to a police officer, I think I'm probably one of the most informed councillors in terms of what's going on day-to-day, and the types of calls that members are dealing with. I have the benefit of not only having that perspective in terms of knowing what calls officers deal with every day, but I also have the councillor perspective of hearing from residents. So like any resident in Vancouver, I have the same interest in ensuring we've got an appropriate level of public safety in the city.” — Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung on her support for the Vancouver Police Department’s budget request to council.

“I appreciate that I wasn’t arrested — that’s good. I don’t think it would have been right to arrest me because we were handing out safe drugs — not dangerous drugs — and it was a protest.” — Coun. Jean Swanson on Vancouver police not arresting her in July for handing out heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine obtained from the “dark web” to drug users as part of a protest to push governments to increase the “safe supply” of drugs

OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Rental housing in Shaughnessy

“This neighbourhood in particular has been off-limits to most Vancouverites at most income levels for a very long time. In a city as diverse as ours, I don’t think we should have neighbourhoods where renters aren’t able to find a home.” — Coun. Christine Boyle on her support for a 24-unit rental housing project in Shaughnessy after a majority of her colleagues rejected the developer’s original proposal in 2019 largely because of concerns identified by a neighbouring hospice.

“You don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be an easy life, you go into this to do the service. And I have to say, despite the hours — which can be very draining and my body takes a beating sitting in those chairs — that I still love it. I still love the work, and it still feels meaningful and important.” — Coun. Adriane Carr, who was first elected in 2011, on the record number of hours council has logged since elected in 2018.

“There does seem to be this kind of thing that I’m anti-police or something, which is not true. I know that my opponents often try to drum up this conflict, but the conflict is not there.” — Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who doubles as chairperson of the Vancouver Police Board.

Gil Kelley, the city's former chief planner. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Bye, bye Gil

Here’s a bonus quote from Gil Kelley, the city’s chief planner until he reached a “mutual and congenial” agreement in March with council to leave his job:

 “I don't want to speculate where council is right now. Maybe there's a bit of a shift in their focus or their tone or their anxieties, but I can't speculate as to what those are. I just know it has been a good working relationship up until now — with the majority of council anyway.”

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