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Archive for ◊ Public Health and Safety ◊

New data released to the Vancouver Police Board shows that 2014 is so far the safest year on record for pedestrians in Vancouver, dating back to the 1930s when safety data was first collected by the VPD.

“While even one incident is too many, it’s incredibly positive news to see that our streets are becoming significantly safer for pedestrians,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, who serves as Chair of the Vancouver Police Board. “Pedestrian safety has been a big priority for City Council this term, with the implementation of our first-ever Pedestrian Safety Action Plan two years ago and the goal of zero pedestrian fatalities established by Council in the Transportation 2040 Plan.

“The VPD has done excellent work on enforcement of dangerous behaviour that puts pedestrians at risk, and ICBC has worked with the City and VPD as a leading advocate against distracted driving. Together we’re focusing our efforts on making Vancouver a safer city than ever before, and the numbers show our collective efforts are working.”

Data to date shows that there has only been 1 pedestrian fatality this year compared to 7 in 2013, with overall traffic fatalities (both pedestrians and non-pedestrians) down to 5 from 14 this time last year. The City is investing $7.5 million in 44 priority intersections for safety enhancements, including better lighting, wider sidewalks, dedicated left turn lanes and longer crossing times.

Vancouver streets are now also safer than ever from the threat of crime, with property crime and violent crime down over 20% since 2008 and last year resulting in the lowest homicide rate in the city’s history.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions released its first report today, outlining 23 priority actions to improve the health and housing needs of residents living with mental health issues and addictions in Vancouver.

“Untreated mental illness and addictions continues to be an issue that our City confronts, whether it’s through our social services, policing, or schools,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Through the work of the Task Force, the City is committed to mobilizing the support of stakeholders and senior levels of government to address the challenge of mental illness and addictions, and help our most vulnerable residents get the support they need.”

Caring for All: Priority Actions to Address Mental Health and Addictions includes recommendations to:

  • Convene an advisory group to create concepts for Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centres in Vancouver;
  • Build academic partnerships with SFU and UBC to design a collaborative real-time data sharing model as part of a Collective Impact approach that involves people with lived experience, family members, health and community service providers;
  • Enhance training and outreach with the Vancouver Police Department, working with people with lived experience;
  • Increase community awareness of mental health and addiction by expanding the City Dialogues project to discuss the impact of poverty, and stigma of mental illness.

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Mayor Gregor Robertson says that with last week’s decision by the National Energy Board (NEB) to reject a request for oral public hearings and cross examination on Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion, Vancouver should hold its own meetings to give residents an opportunity to express their concerns.

“The National Energy Board continues to restrict and reduce public input on Kinder Morgan’s proposal for a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through Vancouver’s local waters, which is undermining public trust in the process,” said the Mayor. “The approval process for Kinder Morgan has even fewer opportunities for public input than Northern Gateway.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from the residents of Vancouver that they have major concerns about this proposal. If the NEB won’t allow residents to express those concerns, then the City should provide opportunities for the public to let their voices be heard on this important issue.”

At yesterday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, a City staff update identified new gaps in Kinder Morgan’s proposal, including a “worst case” oil spill scenario that assumes calm, warm water and long daylight hours. The 15,000 page proposal also fails to include plans or impact assessments for fires, spills or explosions impacting the City of Vancouver.

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Mayor Gregor Robertson will be introducing a motion on notice at this week’s Council meeting for the City to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Federal Government to guarantee open public hearings and cross-examination of witnesses at the National Energy Board’s upcoming review of the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

This motion follows a letter sent last week from the City of Vancouver to the NEB, in support of Intervenor Robyn Allan’s motion to amend the Hearing Order to include oral cross-examination of all witnesses on their evidence by Intervenors, the NEB, and Trans Mountain, if they choose do so. The ability to cross-examine all witnesses was part of the Northern Gateway review process, but is not part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline review.

“Vancouver has substantial concerns to express about the enormous risks posed to our local economy and environment by a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in and around Vancouver’s harbour,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The National Energy Board’s review process must guarantee a thorough, inclusive, and open hearing of input from all stakeholders. It’s clear to me that the current process will preclude important evidence from being examined and prevent far too many voices from exercising their right to be heard.”

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Program to improve taxi accessibility first of its kind in Canada

At Vancouver City Hall today, Mayor Gregor Robertson, the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities officially launched ‘Ask-Listen-Act’, a new form of enhanced taxi driver training involving seniors and people with disabilities. The program is the first of its kind in Canada.

“The launch of ‘Ask-Listen-Act’ will help make our taxi fleet more accessible and convenient for local seniors and people with disabilities,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “From our new building code to enhanced investments in pedestrian safety, the City is committed to improving accessibility for everyone. I want to thank the VTA for their leadership in creating this program, and to the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities and all of the stakeholders who were involved in its development.”

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I have been very clear that I am opposed to any expansion of gambling in the City of Vancouver. Today’s decision by the Development Permit Board ensures that the proponent will have to align operations with the concerns raised in the recent Provincial Health Officer’s Report on Gambling.

Before a relocated casino can begin construction, the proponents have to come back with a plan that addresses the health concerns raised by Dr. Perry Kendall. If they don’t, it cannot proceed.

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