- by Matthew Hoekstra – Richmond Review
- posted Oct 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM
In the wake of a report documenting a rapid rise in municipal compensation, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie defended city workers’ salaries in a Thursday mayoral debate.
Brodie, campaigning for a seventh term in the Nov. 15 vote, said unionized workers’ pay is governed by negotiated agreements. As for management—who are paid too much according to an Ernst and Young report made public last month—Brodie said “it’s all relative.”
“If we don’t pay our management enough, then they go somewhere else,” he said in front of a Minoru Place Activity Centre crowd of approximately 250 people. “That’s a huge cost, when you lose a longtime employee and that person goes elsewhere. So you have to pay market rate to your employees, and it’s also a matter of fairness.”
To probe municipal pay, the province hired consultants Ernst and Young, whose report criticized cities for allowing pay levels to climb by 38 per cent—twice the rate of the provincial public service—from 2001-12. The report also suggested municipal managers are paid too much and recommended the province take strong action to curb the trend.
Richard Lee, who is making a second run at the mayor’s job and running with Richmond Reform, said staff are entitled to their current deals, but suggested there’s room for wage scrutiny.
“I believe in the free market, we could have and in the future we will under my leadership, to hire somebody at a reasonable rate, not at the alarming rate that was shared with us in that study…”
Richmond City Hall’s payroll has grown by $15 million in five years. The city’s top earner is chief administrative officer George Duncan, who made $291,250 last year. Department heads also score high on the pay scale, as five of six general managers topped the $200,000 mark in 2013.
Thursday’s short debate, organized by the Richmond Centre for Disability, served as a prelude to a much larger forum featuring 28 candidates running for councillor.
Mayoral candidates also waded into the contentious waters of Chinese-only signs. Lee said they’re “not a good thing.” Some will argue for freedom of expression, he said, but added “all rights are conditional.” Continue reading
“We’re in heaven,” says Ms. Hong. “I can’t find any house that can compare to my house.”
The serene West Coast lifestyle did not come cheaply: Ms. Hong’s home cost $6-million. But it is an investment she can easily afford. The irrepressible businesswoman founded a successful lighting-design business in Beijing that thrived in China’s building boom. It now has more than 100 employees. But tired of Beijing’s hectic pace and foul air, she decided to come to Vancouver – after looking in Switzerland, Germany and the United States – on the Canadian government’s immigrant investor program in 2011. She now also owns three other houses on Vancouver’s west side, each valued in excess of $1.3-million, as well as a downtown condo she uses on weekends and lends to visiting friends.
Demand from wealthy migrants from mainland China such as Ms. Hong has helped make the Vancouver area the most expensive real estate market in Canada. The average price of a single-family detached home is $1.26-million, higher than any other Canadian city. The rising flow of foreign capital – stemming from a long tradition of transpacific migration and investment – has turned Vancouver into a truly global real estate market. One large real estate firm calculated that roughly one-third of the detached homes it sold within the City of Vancouver last year went to buyers from China. Vancouver developers and real estate firms have hit the jackpot, and some have rushed to set up offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Some now say Vancouver is a bedroom community for the world.
But Vancouver real estate prices have also become increasingly unhinged from local incomes, prompting concerns about affordability. It has led to middle– and even upper-middle class Vancouverites renting permanently or fleeing for cheaper suburbs such as Burnaby. There is a search for better data on foreign buyers, which is only haphazardly tracked. There is now a heated debate – that includes accusations of racism – about whether anything should be done to curb foreign buying, or if what is happening is simply an inevitable, and welcome, facet of globalization in a free market.
After all, the ebullient Ms. Hong hasn’t just bought houses here. She founded a charity with other wealthy migrants from China; the group just held a Thanksgiving lunch for 1,000 seniors and recently collected $250,000 for a local hospital and pet shelter. She has founded several businesses in Vancouver, including one in real estate, and drives to ESL classes. She’s learning English, and has even joined a protest, hitting the streets during the recent B.C. teachers’ strike. While she stays busy in Vancouver, her husband frequently flies to China to manage the firm.
“In my opinion, I think it’s good for the economy,” Ms. Hong says, noting that the number of Chinese residents on her street has soared in recent years and that the local businessman she bought her house from made a cool $1.5-million more than he originally paid. “In Vancouver,” Ms. Hong says, “the house prices are perfect.”
Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
According to newly released data, Canada’s population growth is slow and getting slower. This is bad news. Great nations are not made from fewer workers, fewer youth and more retirees. If Canada wants to thrive, if we want to influence the world, we will have to change this. We need immigrants and we need lots of them.
Canada is doing well. As we approach our 150th birthday, we are rated among the world’s most peaceful, prosperous and admired nations. The Canadian experiment is, objectively, a success.
The Canadian model works, but we are simply too small to ensure that this will continue to be the case 50 or 100 years from now. It is time we began to scale it up.
While Canada is ranked second in the world by reputation, we are 37th by population. Statistics Canada’s newly released report “Population Projections for Canada” shows our growth is now stunted. Our birth rate continues to fall and the 258,000 immigrants we accepted last year are not enough to meet our labour shortages or significantly expand our size. Unhappily, as our growth slows, our aging accelerates. The number of retired Canadians is now predicted to increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent over the next 15 years. Simultaneously, our working-age population will shrink from 69 per cent to 60 per cent—fewer hands feeding more mouths.
Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail has, in the past, convincingly argued that Canada should embrace prime minister Wilfrid Laurier’s dream of a significantly larger and more muscular nation. Saunders proposes we set a target of 100 million by the end of the century. Put more simply, let’s triple the size of Canada.
It would not be hard. Now at 34 million people, we would only need an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent to reach that target. Assuming our fertility rates remain low, this means an additional 186,000 migrants annually, bringing our total immigration numbers to 444,000 per year. This may sound like a lot, but we could absorb them easily. By comparison to most cities around the world, Canadian urban areas are sprawling and empty. Even if we doubled our immigration numbers, the lineup at Tim Hortons would stay the same. It would only increase our workforce by one per cent per year, a number that our economy could easily engage, especially if we continue to recruit and favour skilled and educated migrants.
More immigrants mean more minds, more hands and more tax dollars. There is a misconception that new arrivals are a net drain on our economy. In fact, they are more entrepreneurial and work longer hours than average Canadians. The added muscle would make us smarter, stronger and louder.
As of this month, Ontario university enrolment has begun to decline due to our changing demographics. An influx of immigrants would turn this around and help grow our campuses into academic centres that matter globally.
(…) Continue reading
Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe said if elected his NPA Vancouver government would help revitalize shuttered stretch of Main Street that has declined under mayor Gregor Robertson.
VANCOUVER - Although there aren’t many Indo-Canadians left in Vancouver and thus the decline of the once thriving Punjabi market in Vancouver but the upstart NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe is making the South Vancouver market which has become a ghost town of shuttered businesses, a key election issue, hoping to win whatever Indo-Canadian-South Asian votes left in Vancouver.
“The Vision Vancouver machine has failed this area,” LaPointe said last week while touring the area.
Jay Jagpal, NPA Park Board Commissioner candidate, lives in the Punjabi Market area. His family’s South Vancouver roots extend to 1971.
Speaking in Punjabi in a video release, Jagpal said: “this neighbourhood needs a government that is directly connected to it and cares about it, and that’s the change the NPA is offering.”
The stretch of Main Street between 48th and 51st Avenue once boasted a variety of retail outlets, restaurants and other South Asian cultural offerings. It is now a strip of empty stores, their windows papered over and displaying “Closed” signs.
An example of the City’s neglect of the struggling community is the India Gate that was to be finished for the 2010 Olympics. The City supported the construction of the project. It was never built.
Mayor Robertson has done nothing to develop plans that would market the area and help restore it to its former vibrancy, says LaPointe.
“When neighbourhoods face tough times, their civic government must step in, build a new plan to support them and help resolve the issue,” says LaPointe. “Mayor Robertson has not done this. But I will.”
Toronto feels somewhat Parisian these days, with upper-income folks claiming the city centre, and the rest streaming back and forth on public transit from suburbs we never see.
Yes, downtown Toronto is a hive of diversity in retail stores, offices, universities, clubs and streets, but a great proportion of these people go home at the end of the day to their challenging “priority neighborhoods.” For the first time in my life as a white, blue-eyed male, I am a conspicuous minority in any subway car I enter, as a wholly new population inhabits a world beyond the city centre. One has a sense that we live as tourists in each other’s lives, hoping for the best. This is the undertone of the civic election campaign in Toronto: How many cities are we, and what does this portend?
On broad measures of quality, Toronto ranks high on global lists for livability and economic fertility. It is something of a thrill to stroll through downtown these days, surrounded by thrusting towers, luxury stores and sexy people sporting earphones and architectural haircuts. Avenue Road at rush hour, connecting Bay Street to the lush inner suburbs, is a fashion runway for expensive cars—easily a million dollars worth of BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, Maseratis, Porsches and an occasional Ducati awaiting the light change at any given corner. Between 2006 and 2011, the population of central Toronto grew by 16 per cent—three times the rate of previous decades. Bloor Street is reborn as a luxury shopping promenade up there with the rest of the world in glitz, anxiety and profit margins. Jobs are flowing back downtown into new knock-off office towers. Crime rates are falling faster than police budgets soar. Hollywood stars walk red carpets. Insouciance rules the sidewalks. We love it: and yet. Continue reading
As some older, more established community press fold, others try to reinvent themselves to survive in the niche but competitive ethnic market.
RON BULL / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Corriere Canadese, the Italian-language newspaper publised in Toronto for almost six decades, has suspended operations.
Immigration from Italy to Canada was at its peak in 1954 when the late Dan Iannuzzi founded Corriere Canadese, an Italian-language newspaper, in Toronto.
Almost all of the Italian migrants — more than 60,000 a year — then arrived in Canada as labourers, with little English or education. The community paper was their link to their new and old homes in the pre-Internet world.
“They had no voice. They were viewed as people who acted funny and talked funny with their hands,” said Lori Abittan, president and CEO of Multimedia Nova Corporation, the public company that now owns the paper.
“Corriere Canadese helped them integrate into the Canadian society and created the links for them with the rest of Canada.”
While Canada has been experiencing an explosion of multicultural and multilingual media outlets — with about 3,000 alone by one estimate — their booms and glooms go in cycles with the fluctuating immigration inflows from their respective communities.
These days, things are not good for the long-time publications among the older, established immigrant communities from Europe, as immigration flow from the old world on the continent has slowed to a trickle. Continue reading
Is Vancouver a rude city?
CBC News Posted: Sep 23, 2014 1:56 PM PT Last Updated: Sep 23, 2014 2:02 PM PT
Can’t we all just get along?
Yes, Vancouver may have sparkling towers set in a gorgeous, natural setting of mountains, ocean and fresh air but we seem to have forgotten our manners and that’s making the city unlivable, at least according to one resident.
Vancouver drivers need to pay a bit more attention to the road, according to one UBC professor.
Truly livable cities are made up of citizens who are polite and respectful to one another, says Bruce McManus, Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, at the University of British Columbia.
As a guest of B.C. Almanac on CBC Radio One, McManus said Vancouver may consistently rank high among the world’s most livable cities but those rankings leave out the ‘civility’ factor.
“We have the opportunity as a community to actually elevate our game and be number one as the most livable because we are the most civil large community in the world,” McManus said.
McManus what he calls “mom’s index of incivility” should be included in criteria for a livable city.
Here’s his top peeves about Vancouver’s rude residents.
- Loser Litterbugs: People throwing cigarette butts, restaurant wrappers and even condoms on the streets, often near trash cans
- Petulant Pedestrians: Walking side-by-side on the sidewalk or seawall, blocking elevator doors, clogging grocery and restaurant aisles, refusing to get out of the way.
- Transit Troublemakers: Blocking exits, not moving back, refusing to give up seats to the elderly, bad hygiene, loud music, abusing transit drivers.
- Bad Bicyclists: Riding on sidewalks, blowing through stop signs and red lights, general sense of entitlement.
- Demon Drivers: Running lights, rolling through stop signs, talking or texting on phones, leaning on the horn.
- Stupid Smartphoners: Loud talkers, sharing way too much information no one else wants to hear. Continue reading