Monday, March 27, 2017

Fighting city hall

It's a lot easier to deal with city hall as a journalist than as a community member trying to change its direction on housing issues, I've learned.

As a reporter, it's easy to dismiss community activists --  endlessly outraged about some neighbourhood cause or other. But after years of simmering over orange construction fences, white survey posts, and all of my favourite old neighbourhood houses being reduced to piles of woodchips, I have finally had enough. Now I have a cause too.

Shattering the rule of public neutrality ingrained by a lifetime in journalism, I wrote letters recently to each member of Vancouver city council. I wrote an opinion piece published in The Vancouver Sun and Province on March 21. I spoke on a CKNW radio news show on March 25. And on March 27 I met with some other people concerned about the way council is dealing with demolitions, housing and affordability in this crazily-out-of-whack Vancouver market.

After my own small endeavours, I was struck by the time, effort and dedication some people have poured into the cause. Some have been fighting home demolitions for four or five years -- giving interviews, attending council meetings, speaking out at public meetings, reading interminable city hall reports, meeting council members, keeping each other updated by email. All for no pay and so far, little reward.

It's always been hard to fight city hall. But now, knocked out of my comfortable observer's role, I see first-hand just how hard. Such a different view, from the other side of the interview table.

My Sun opinion piece is at

Vancouverites have learned to dread these little white markers -- signs that a property has been sold, and virtually certainly will be redeveloped for a monster house.

We also dread the orange fencing, which protects trees during construction. This orange construction fence stretched for nearly a block in the Shaughnessy area of Vancouver. 

Another old house that dares to display some character and beauty on the way to the woodchip pile.

This is the kind of house that will replace it. Do you think it's big enough? Once completed, it will likely stay empty for years. 

Two adjacent small houses have been sold and will be demolished. I took this photo because there is a beautiful old tree between them. We will see if it ends up on the woodchip pile too.


  1. I am looking forward to how this all goes and good to know there are people out there doing something and being concerned. Maybe you can beat City Hall...

  2. Go, Carol! I never imagined you going that way and good for you! My biggest pet peeve is quickly becoming all the new restrictions on dogs. I see a world of muzzled, declawed dogs on foot-long leashes! Never mind that we actually have bears and moose up here. Beware the friendly, doe-eyed doggies!