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Municipal Politics
Urban Planning

Please Advise! Has Vancouver’s ABC Council Lost Its Way?

Only if you think expanded gambling, more traffic and climate change denial are problems, says Dr. Steve.

Steve Burgess 16 May 2024The Tyee

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Recently the ABC-dominated Vancouver city council made a couple of decisions that seemed regressive. While nixing an ambitious waterfront preservation scheme, they voted to allow the return of two-way vehicle traffic to Beach Avenue. Then council voted to remove a moratorium on gambling expansion in the city. More slot machines and gaming tables could be the result.

What do you think of this civic direction?



Dear Def,

The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea... doo bee doo bee doo... sorry, you caught Dr. Steve humming a few Sinatra numbers. Because count on it, friends, that’s what is coming. Vancouver city council is bringing back the Rat Pack.

Dr. Steve is not referring to the recent reports of rat infestations downtown. Those are just ordinary rodents, and for the most part terrible singers. He means the swing-a-ding-ding Rat Pack of yore, Frank and Dean and Sammy and the gang, the darlings of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s clear the ABC council is determined to bring back that golden era, right here in Vancouver.

More gambling! More cars! Fewer seat belts! More heists! More smoking!

Nobody rode a bicycle in Ocean’s Eleven. Makes it too hard to light up a smoke.

Remember how much fun smoking used to be? In the glory days of Kingsgate Mall, even the mall Santa was huffing an Export A. In Vegas, everybody smoked, onstage and off. Let’s get back to that.

Having facilitated more beachfront limo traffic carrying more tuxedo-clad baccarat players to the Parq Vancouver’s casino, ABC should now begin handing out free cigarettes to schoolchildren. They’re going to be inhaling wildfire smoke anyway, and when you think about it, that’s socialism. Community smoke — no, thank you. Show some initiative, young people — don’t be bumming free smokes from Fort Nelson and Fort McMurray. Buy your own. And let’s get those kids into cummerbunds and poodle skirts, too.

ABC estimates that increased gambling will bring the city over $5 million a year in revenue, but don’t worry, it won’t come from you. It’ll just be Dean Martin, or somebody, betting wads of cash after a few too many martinis. Lara Gerrits of the BC Lottery Corp. told council that there’s a shortage of facilities. “If you go to Parq after a concert or a Canucks game or a Vancouver Warriors game,” she said, “it’s really hard to get a machine there.”

A family doctor is tough to find, too, as is an affordable place to live. But first things first. Let’s pick the low-hanging fruit — slot machines we can do. Crossing something off the list will feel good.

The cancelled waterfront plan involved raising the beach by a metre to allow for rising sea levels. That’s off for now. Which is good news for those West Enders who want waterfront property — it could be at your doorstep pretty soon.

As for the Beach Avenue traffic plan, to be fair, the ABC council says they’re going to create a dandy new bike lane by removing the sidewalk, sometime in the hazy, smoky future. But first things first — let’s get those cars moving in both directions. Worry about the hippie stuff later. This could even tie in with the gambling. Maybe you’d like to place a bet on when that fancy new ABC bike lane will get built? You’ll get great odds.

The main thing is, this city is going to swing like Vegas in the Rat Pack days. Comedian Shecky Greene used to tell a joke: “Frank Sinatra saved my life once, and I’ll be forever grateful. A couple of goons were beating the hell out of me, I thought they were gonna kill me. Then Frank said, ‘OK boys, that’s enough.’”

Now you can almost hear Frank singing again — the summer wind, blowing in. Warm, smoky summer wind. Light up a cigarette, roll up the windows and turn on the air conditioning.  [Tyee]

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