Despite the lows of 2023, OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle writes that she sees the strength of community and solidarity growing.
Well, 2023 was not what we had hoped. I can’t count the number of times I said something like “I’m just so shocked / frustrated / disappointed by what Mayor Sim and ABC did today”.
I think a lot of Vancouverites thought that Mayor Sim and ABC would be middle of the road, that they would be relatively collaborative and govern to build a better city for all Vancouverites. Instead, we saw many truly jaw dropping decisions with negative impacts for affordability, renters, road safety, climate, and parks in 2023.
I didn’t intend to be in opposition. I have consistently tried to work with whoever I can to get good things done - that continues to be my priority. But ABC keep shutting me out by voting down my motions and amendments, showing up to meetings having already decided amongst themselves what the outcome will be, and trying to silence me for speaking out.
It’s been frustrating and heartbreaking. But I have seen residents working together to push back and make their voices heard, from all across Vancouver. When I meet with you, get your emails, see your important work in the community, I am reminded again and again that I am not alone. Thank you.
Amanda Burrows, Executive Director of First United Church; Joan Phillip, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, and OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle gathered together.
A recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly:
A Fair Share for South Vancouver, Finally
For decades, the neighbourhoods of South Vancouver and Marpole have been under-resourced, and residents have watched their parks go un-maintained, their streets neglected and their local services underfunded relative to other neighbourhoods. Working alongside community leaders, we brought forward a motion to correct this imbalance and ensure that residents of South Van get the respect and support they deserve. Read more here.
A Safer City for Trans & Gender Diverse People
In November I brought forward a motion to create a Trans Gender Diverse & Two Spirit (TGD2S) Inclusion and Safety Plan, which passed unanimously. This means that the city will prioritise updated solutions to address how TGD2S folks can be better supported in the city. Amid rising harassment and hate against queer and trans communities, I am hopeful for what this reinvestment in the community will bring. It was an important win, for a community that deserves to feel safe, welcome and at home in Vancouver and everywhere. Read more here.
OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle at the 2023 Vancouver Pride Parade
Renters Abandoned: Mayor Sim and ABC eliminated the Vancouver Renters’ Office
In a city where 55% of our neighbours rent their homes, ABC went against the recommendations of city staff and left renters out in the cold when they closed the Renters Office, with no advance notice, in January. Read more here.
$3.8 Million wasted: Refunding wealthy investors at the cost of Social Housing
In May ABC not only froze the Empty Homes Tax at 3%, but a ridiculous amendment by Councillor Klassen refunded wealthy investors a total of $3.8 million for taxes already paid in 2022. $3.8 million might be pocket change for some housing speculators, but it's significant for non-profit housing providers, and revenue from the Empty Homes Tax has made a big difference in ensuring an ongoing investment into social housing in Vancouver. Read more here.
Living wage for workers: Cut
In a closed door meeting in February, Council voted to no longer ensure all city employees are paid the living wage, a calculation done each year based on the cost of a very modest, bare-bones life in Vancouver. I voted against this decision. Everyone deserves a job that pays them enough to live in the city they work in. This February I have a motion to bring back the living wage policy. Add your voice in support HERE.
Police Prioritized over Mental Health Nurses
Amid heightened concerns about public safety, ABC campaigned on a promise to hire 100 new police officers and 100 mental health nurses. More than a year later, fewer than 10 mental health nurses have been hired. In the meantime, ABC had no trouble upholding the other side of that promise, increasing the VPD budget to $415.9 million dollars, more than 20% of the city’s total operating budget. Read more here.
Exclusive Neighbourhoods Prioritised over Affordable Homes
In November, ABC voted down my motion to explore options for affordable and rental housing in Shaughnessy, despite our deepening housing crisis. Over my lifetime, the population of the City of Vancouver has grown by more than 50%, while the population of this beautiful, central Vancouver neighbourhood has shrunk by 20%. Blocking rental and affordable housing in this neighbourhood pushes more people further from their jobs and communities. Read more here.
I’m walking here! ABC’s year of killing or stalling my motions for safer streets
Making our streets places that prioritise walking and rolling is not only great climate policy, but is essential in making this city a safer place to get around. What does ABC really mean when they tout public safety in their campaign and then flatten my motions that would keep cyclists and pedestrians safe? Safe active mobility lanes as part of the Broadway plan? Killed. The much used and well loved Stanley Park Bike Lane? Ripped out. Speeding past schools, parks, and beaches on Cornwall? Not an issue for ABC. Worst of all, ABC killed my motion to install speed cameras on busy streets near schools and the most dangerous intersections across the city, which would have created a new revenue source for the City, and kept kids, pedestrians, and cyclists safer. Read more here.
OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle speaking at a forum at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, with MLAs George Chow and Michael Lee
Safety ignored: Street Sweeps & Homelessness
Throughout the spring and summer, instead of real solutions to homelessness and the poisoned drug crisis, Mayor Sim and ABC repeatedly chose to push the problem further from view. Street sweeps scattered community members, displacing people who had nowhere else to go and making it harder for homeless residents to connect to peer and health supports, making this crisis even worse. And then, with thousands of residents sleeping in parks and on the street, ABC voted down my motion to extend leases on temporary modular housing units. Read more here.
More safety ignored: Drug poisoning deaths continue
In July it was announced that the lease for the life-saving Yaletown Overdose Prevention Site wouldn’t be renewed this year. Despite concerns from health experts, family members, and people who use drugs, ABC haven’t been clear about whether they will support a new location in this neighbourhood, which has seen the second highest number of drug poisoning deaths of any Vancouver neighbourhood. I offered support to help find another location within the neighbourhood, as thousands of residents continue to die from toxic drugs, but Mayor Sim and ABC have been non-committal. Read more here.
Parks Board Fiasco: Steamrolling Democracy
The year ended with a bang when Mayor Sim brought forward a motion to dismantle the democratically elected Park Board. And it got worse when ABC voted down my amendment requiring them to consult and work with Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh in this major governance change. There was widespread outcry over Mayor Sim’s motion from all corners of the city. Read more here.
Last but not least. Mayor Sim tried to silence me on the Living Wage. But I won
Earlier this year I spoke out against Council’s decision to no longer pay City of Vancouver employees the Living Wage. In response, Mayor Sim filed a code of conduct complaint against me for saying publicly that I voted against the change. After a long, stressful and expensive investigation, I won. The Integrity Commissioner ruled that I hadn’t done anything wrong. Read More Here.
Despite the lows of 2023, I have seen the strength of community and solidarity growing. Organized people beat organized money every time. The more we work together and build bridges - across issues, across neighbourhoods, across political affiliations - the more we can accomplish. That is what grounds me.
I see this happening at the school board, where OneCity Trustee Jennifer Reddy is working tirelessly, alongside students, parent groups, teachers and school staff to ensure these voices are heard, fight against the sale of public land, and protect our public education system for current and future generations. Trustee Reddy is such a strong, courageous leader, and a great friend and human, and no year-in-review would be complete without letting you know that she is my hero.
There is so much important work to get done, and so many good people to work with.
As we enter into 2024, I hope you will continue to join me in the fight for a city where all of us belong. Update your info here to make sure we can keep in touch.
So much love,