Madam Chair, Mr. Mayor, Councillors, Dr. Ballem, City staff and honored guests, my name is Sean Bickerton and I appear before you as a member of the Board of Directors of the False Creek Residents Association, although my remarks here today are my own as a private citizen:
I’m here today for the purpose of addressing the city’s plan to remove the Georgia Street Viaducts, but I would be remiss on a day that is historic for gay rights around the world due to today’s US Supreme Court’s ruling, if i didn’t first publicly commend and thank Mayor Robertson for his principled leadership in ending a historic wrong by granting civic status to the city’s single-largest event and one of the largest and most important pride events in North America – Vancouver’s Pride Parade!
It’s easy for those of us on the sidelines to call on our government to do things. It’s much harder to implement them, to find the money at a time of tight budgets and public concern over government spending, and to solve the myriad political, logistical and legal obstacles preventing action.
Mr. Mayor, you have my undying gratitude for your courageous leadership on this issue. You have made me even more proud to be a native son of Vancouver and I am here to thank you for it.
I would also like to thank in particular in this regard your chief of staff, Mike Magee; the City staff who put in so much hard work on this file; and all members of this council for supporting the initiative, Councillor Stevenson in particular.
On New Years Day, 2010, I sent out a card titled Ten Wishes for the City of Vancouver. The seventh wish was for the viaducts to come down and 1,000 parks to bloom in their place.
Yet again, something very easy to call for, extremely difficult to implement.
Today you are contemplating a comprehensive plan to do just that, and I would like in the short time remaining to implore you to do the following as you work through the thousands of interlocking issues involved:
1. Seize the opportunity and find a way to deliver some portion of Creekside Park Extension early in this process – people most affected by the rest of your decisions in this area will be forever grateful if you do.
2. Please keep the Larry Beasley / Jim Green / Margot Long plan in the forefront of your minds – and I’m addressing staff here as much as I am elected officials – as you work through these issues. The public loved that plan for many reasons and i believe their support and acquiescence to the process will depend on it.
3. Please ensure that the concerns of Citygate, International Village and Chinatown are heard as part of the process. They feel somewhat – and I mean no criticism here – that their concerns are not fully reflected in the report in front of you, and yet they are still here today wanting to support you. Please heed their concerns.
Thank you for your time, thank you again Mr. Mayor For your leadership, and thank you all for listening.