These days Vancouver city hall is twisting itself into pretzels trying to figure out why citizens have stopped engaging with the political process. In my view, Philip Owen was the last mayor to really make a personal effort to get to know the city he led. He wasn't in a bubble created by political aides -- his staff was tiny in comparison to those in office today. Often regarded as a "mayor's mayor," he made himself available to citizens, media, and through a primetime cable TV call-in show.
It was crisp and gloriously bright day in early January in Vancouver — the perfect conditions for outdoor chores like taking down Christmas lights. Or, in my case, it also meant grabbing tongs and a pail to scour my block for coffee cups, bus tickets, plastic packaging, as well as used condoms and discarded bags of dog feces.
Close Robson Street first, then ask the public what they think afterward. That's what was announced this week in Vancouver. City voters by now are used to the "act first, consult later" antics of the Vision government. Make no mistake — the permanent closure of Robson Square is a done deal. Since the 2010 Olympics I've spoken to many people who object to the permanent closure of Robson Street. One realtor pointed out to me that on one side of the square you can sell haute couture; on the other side you can sell pizza by the slice. Blocking the street has done little to improve the appeal of Robson Street between Howe Street and BC Place. Keeping the street open in their view is important to its success. It helped moderate my own view on closing off 800-block Robson.