OneCity is a new political organization and yes, we want people to vote for our City Council candidate, RJ Aquino, and for our ideas about making Vancouver a place we can afford to live in and love. But more than anything we want people to vote, and to feel like that imperfect but crucial act of personal expression matters when decisions are made about the things that shape our communities.
That is why OneCity has signed a letter sent to the Elections Officer, City Council and Mayor from the Vancouver Eastside Votes initiative requesting three more advance polling stations for the east side of our city. OneCity raised this issue soon after the map of polling stations was released and received a social media response from the City of Vancouver that included a reference number, 5357681. Despite additional requests for action, however, we have not received a response.
Almost two weeks have gone by and time is running out to fix this. Because we want the many voices of Vancouver — wherever they are raised — to be heard and counted.
Join us in calling on Vancouver to do the right thing — and to do it soon — and we will forward your messages to City Hall.
A transcript of City Council candidate RJ Aquino's remarks at the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods event at St. James Hall on October 15:
"Thank you for joining us tonight. And special thanks to the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods for hosting this event and leading this very important discussion.
"We know something is wrong with the relationships and connections between City Hall and what is happening in our neighbourhoods and communities.
"There is too much talking at communities instead of listening to them, too much marketing instead of authentic consultations. Consultations with teeth, that are creatively delivered and that affect how this city is run.
"We need to be talking together so we can work together to build a better city without destroying the things that make our neighbourhoods special right now.
"You will hear that a lot tonight. But what do we do about it? The OneCity team has been working hard on this and I’m going to put forward four solutions tonight:
"Number One, we believe Vancouver must establish Neighbourhood Councils. They must be democratically elected and funded by the city. And they must carry out real, meaningful community consultations that are listened to at City Hall. The voices of the neighbourhoods need to be heard loudly and clearly -- many neighbourhoods, OneCity.
"Secondly, to make sure that happens and happens city-wide, we need to apply decisions -- for example decisions about development, about density and supportive housing, about child care -- to every neighbourhood in Vancouver, not just one or two. So City Council sets the general direction, the long-term plan, and then it is up to the neighbourhoods, through their councils, to decide how those decisions are carried out and implemented in their communities. And then City Hall listens to them. We want to put into practice what the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has set out in its Principals and Goals.
"Number three, we need to change the way we elect our City Council. OneCity believes we need a ward system, with councillors representing neighbourhoods and constituents, councillors who are directly accountable to the residents of their neighbourhood.
"And number four, Vancouver needs the right kind of campaign finance reform. We need strict limits on donations and strict limits on spending by candidates in the elections themselves. Once those donation and spending limits are in place, then we can ban union and corporate donations.
"I’m looking forward to getting into more detail about these ideas tonight and throughout the campaign. Because we’ve built our new party around the idea of Many Voices, but OneCity. This is about making sure more voices, your voices, are heard when decisions are made at City Hall.
It has been a great week for OneCity. Vancouver is talking about the ideas that City Council candidate RJ Aquino is putting forward to support and protect a sustainable city that people can afford.
But what we're building here isn't a political machine. This doesn't end on November 15. OneCity is a community of people from different backgrounds, generations and neighbourhoods who are learning from and about each other as we go.
This long weekend, as you gather with friends and family, we hope you will talk about OneCity and encourage them to get involved. This is an opportunity to be part of something new and to make our voices heard.
A great way to start is to sign up for the OneCity mailing list. You can find and share it here:
Have a wonderful weekend.
-RJ Aquino and the OneCity team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9 October 2014
VANCOUVER — A real-estate speculator buys a Vancouver residential property for $1 million. The home is left empty, with no improvements or a single dollar flowing into the local businesses around it, and in less than a year it is sold for $1.5 million. That is a speculative profit of $500,000 — and it is a big part of the reason housing prices in Vancouver are leaving too many people who live and work here on the outside looking up.
The OneCity team and City Council candidate RJ Aquino say we need to curb rampant speculation in Vancouver with a Flipping Levy, a policy being used in cities around the world facing out-of-control housing costs: Singapore, Hong Kong, and potentially San Francisco, where it is on the ballot later this year.
“Instead of homes for people who are trying to live, work and raise a family in this city, housing in Vancouver has become a real-life Monopoly game for speculators. We need a City Council that values housing as a social good, not as a game with too few players,” said RJ Aquino. “By reining in real-estate speculators who are driving up housing costs, the Flipping Levy will help people who have been priced out of the market and too often priced out of Vancouver.”
The Vancouver Flipping Levy will be applied only to speculative profit, the difference between the initial purchase price and the resale price. It will encourage long-term home ownership and spending in the local economy by decreasing over time, disappearing after the fifth year, and by exempting the cost of renovations, green retrofits and other capital improvements.
The revenue generated by the Flipping Levy will be transferred to the Vancouver Housing Authority to create new living spaces for low- and middle-income people throughout the city.
OneCity’s proposed Flipping Levy will be 50 per cent of speculative profit in year one; 35 per cent in years two and three; and 20 per cent in years four and five. The speculative profit of $500,000 in the example above would result in a Flipping Levy of $250,000 to support affordable housing. Aquino and OneCity define affordable as housing that costs no more than 30 per cent of a household’s monthly income.
- “The average sale price of a single-family detached home is now around $1-million. Over the past five years, Vancouver homes worth $1-million to $2-million have doubled in value, according to tax-assessment records. That puts property beyond the reach of most local residents. A Vancouver family earned a paltry $68,970 total median income in 2011, putting them 23rd out of the 28 major cities in Canada.” http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/06/housing-vancouver
- “In one stunningly profitable sale, a buyer purchased [an Olympic Village] unit for $1.27 million in August 2012 and sold it for $1.7 million in September 2012 — a $433,840 profit in one month. In another case, a unit bought for $2.2 million in October 2012 was sold for $2.6 million five months later.” http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/vancouver-olympic-village-condos-flipped-for-big-bucks-1.962343
- The Flipping Levy works in concert with 20 Over 5 Housing, a policy released last week by Aquino and OneCity that calls for 20 per cent of the living spaces in new developments over five units to be reserved for low- and middle-income people throughout Vancouver. Watch and share the OneCity 20 Over 5 Housing video here: http://youtu.be/SzpaksYvUXI
Scott Colbourne, OneCity Communications Director: 778-679-1110; email@example.com