VANCOUVER ― Pedestrian deaths in Sweden have decreased 50 per cent since 2009. There are more people walking and more cars on the road than ever before, but Swedish streets are the least dangerous in the world because the country has placed safety at the centre of its planning process, part of a comprehensive program called Vision Zero that targets zero traffic deaths.
With memories fresh with the joys of taking to sidewalks for Halloween, the OneCity team and City Council candidate RJ Aquino are calling on Vancouver to walk faster and catch up to solutions that are saving lives and making communities healthier around the world. It starts with the formation of a Pedestrian Advisory Council to kickstart pedestrian-oriented community planning in Vancouver.
“Walking as a mode of transportation is central to public health, economic development, and social equality and inclusion,” City Council candidate RJ Aquino says. “But in its rush to develop pockets of the city, Vancouver is falling behind other jurisdictions that have made walkable, connected neighbourhoods a priority.”
According to Statistics Canada, commuting by foot in Vancouver is stagnating, remaining at 6.3 per cent since 2006 (compared to 71 per cent who commute by car and less than 2 per cent who bike).
Aquino and OneCity believe a Pedestrian Advisory Council, based on successful models such as Portland’s PAC, is the best tool to address City Hall’s current stop-and-go approach to walkability. The council will be volunteer-based and made up of representatives who reflect the diversity of Vancouver and its pedestrian potential, including seniors, neighbourhood and business improvement associations, and city agencies such as the fire and police departments and housing authority.
The advisory council will help the city better integrate pedestrian and walkability policies, programs and plans as Vancouver evolves. It begins with putting the safety of our walkers first, breaking down barriers to walking such as land-use patterns and too much density along arterial roads, and building truly connected communities where people are allowed the choice of getting to their destinations on foot.
VANCOUVER — JL Aquino and her spouse, OneCity council candidate RJ Aquino, spend more each month on child care for their two young children than they do on rent. And rent is not exactly cheap in Vancouver. Child care is a big part of the reason so many people, especially young families and single parents, are working hard to barely get by in this city.
That is why RJ Aquino and the OneCity team say it is time for Vancouver to take the lead and implement the $10-a-day plan in a Vancouver neighbourhood that desperately needs it. The $10-a-day plan is a made-in-BC solution from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
“It is shameful that child care has barely been mentioned during this election because we need to put it at the top of the agenda at City Hall,” City Council candidate RJ Aquino said. “It is time to put our money where our kids are by seeding and providing the $10-a-day plan in a Vancouver neighbourhood that does not have enough child care to meet the needs of its families.”
The OneCity plan calls for the $10-a-day funding formula to be put into practice in a demonstration project in co-operation with a neighbourhood-based, non-profit organization. This one-neighbourhood pilot will allow us to gather data about demand, assess up-front costs, and track the impact of the $10-a-day plan for families facing a child-care crisis right now in our city.
Vancouver’s child-care program is currently focused in areas with new developments instead of responding to existing needs. Renfrew-Collingwood, South Vancouver, Hastings Sunrise, Kerrisdale, the West End, and Cedar Cottage are among the many neighbourhoods that have growing populations of children and simply not enough child care. The plan is to start with an area that is under-serviced and, with support from senior levels of government, expand the program throughout Vancouver.
“It is telling that the only thing the NPA will say about child care is that we need more so-called ‘practical standards’ for businesses to get child-care licenses. In other words, they want to make it easier for corporate, for-profit child care to spread throughout Vancouver,” Aquino said. “At OneCity, we believe we need a moratorium on for-profit child-care operations. We need to ban corporate child care that puts caring for our kids in the profit margin and show Canada and the world a real alternative that families can afford.”
"Affordable child care to me means that families at any income level, in any Vancouver neighbourhood, can offer their young ones high-quality and nurturing early-education opportunities." — Thi Vu, parent and founding member of OneCity.
"When we as a society invest in child care, we give an equal start to life for all our children, we give parents an opportunity to balance family with work, and we create jobs in our communities.” — Christine Boyle, parent and founding member of OneCity.
Find out more about the $10-a-day plan: http://www.cccabc.bc.ca/
And watch and share a video of RJ Aquino and Shane Simpson, NDP MLA for Vancouver Hastings, addressing the OneCity Open House:
Today in the Huffington Post, City Council candidate RJ Aquino and the OneCity team called on City Hall to close the loopholes in bylaws that are supposed to protect low-income and supportive housing and prevent homelessness.
The City needs to actively enforce the Building Maintenance and Safety Bylaw to protect renters from poorly maintained buildings, especially single room occupancy hotels (SROs) that are being neglected despite past commitments and promises.
We need to strengthen the Single Room Accommodations bylaw to stop developers who are converting existing single-room accommodations into condos, sitting on empty dwellings, or worse, demolishing them and shipping the waste to landfills.
City Hall must also amend the Rate of Change bylaw that is supposed to replace rental units lost to redevelopment, making sure it applies to all zoning types, replaces bedrooms on a one-for-one basis, and that rents increase by no more than five per cent.
And we need to stop shameful renovictions by acting before development permits are issued, giving existing tenants rights of first refusal and again limiting rent increases.
These are concrete, real changes that can make a big difference to thousands of people throughout Vancouver. We believe that with a balanced city council, we can change the way we approach housing in Vancouver. We can prevent homelessness and we can help young people and working families who have given up hope of owning their own home here.
It starts with valuing housing not as game for only the big players, but as a social good.
Hear RJ Aquino this Thursday at the SCARP Affordable Housing Debate at UBC Robson Square Theatre, and read the full Huffington Post here.
Image from WonderRooms on TheTyee.ca
You see that sign on the wall behind Shane Simpson, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Hastings, just after he endorsed OneCity council candidate RJ Aquino? That baby would rock your lawn, window, and balcony. RJ and OneCity are putting out exciting new policy ideas every week and since we're fresh and new, we need your help to get our names out there as this election heats up. And if you're an early adopter in a high-traffic area, ask for our splendid large version in full-colour tomato.