Vision Vancouver threw a party last night at the Westin Bayshore and it attracted some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the city.
Developers, union bosses, architects, taxi drivers, firefighters, nonprofit housing operators, aboriginal leaders, gay activists and former and current politicians all showed up for Vision's biggest fundraiser of the election campaign.
The sold-out event, which cost $250 per ticket, featured a speech by a very hoarse Mayor Gregor Robertson. And I have to say of all the speeches I've dutifully listened to over Robertson's three years at the helm, this was probably his best.
Many times during a Robertson speech-even when it's to his own crowd-people are yakking and couldn't be bothered to listen.
Not last night.
The speech wasn't his best because of the content but because the guy was loose, made a few wisecracks and even made a reference to Winnie the Pooh!
The shout-out to A.A. Milne came as he criticized the NPA, saying he doesn't understand the party's mentality that "sees in every purposeful step forward a threat."
"It's a mentality that sees calamity in a new bike lane, that sees apocalypse in a chicken coop," he said to laughs. "It's the mentality that reads Winnie the Pooh and sees the character Eeyore and says, 'Hey, that's a role model for me.'"
But describing Vision's 2008 campaign as one of "hope" and the NPA's as one of "fear" was a little much. No one seemed to mind, however, clapping along as Robertson captivated the crowd.
"The NPA ran a campaign of fear against us three years ago and we ran a campaign of hope-and we had some help down south of the border on the front," he said, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign of "hope and change." "People of Vancouver chose hope and this election we again have that choice-vote for a vision of Vancouver's future or for the fears that might hold us back."
He rattled off a list of achievements he says the party led over the past term, including reducing street homelessness, getting the Olympic Village "back on track", creating rental housing, fighting school closures and developing a strategy aimed at mental health and addictions.
Robertson told the crowd Vancouver is no longer a no-fun city-which prompted a crack from a fellow scribe at my table about the Stanley Cup riot-and that adding food carts (some of which were in the ballroom), car-free days and "neighbourhood celebrations" have erased that label.
"Blown it out of the water," the mayor added.
He also pointed out crime has dropped in the city in recent years at twice the rate of the national average. His biggest applause came when he said Vision "stood up" for the Insite drug injection site, which the Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled could stay open indefinitely.
Interesting comments since crime has dropped across North America and the VPD wasn't able to hire 35 cops because of budget cuts at city hall.
As for Insite, I can't recall any major push from Robertson or his council on the drug front-unlike predecessors Sam Sullivan, Larry Campbell and Philip Owen. I've previously asked Vision what they think about a supervised inhalation room for crack smokers and they didn't have a position on it.
As well, Robertson's 2008 campaign statement that Vancouver could use more injection sites is now less forthright, saying the city will support whatever Vancouver Coastal Health decides on that front.
As for his proudest moment as mayor?
"It was the morning this last June when the people came out onto glass-strewn streets downtown, clutching brooms, shovels, garbage bags and went to work cleaning up," he said.
He went on to talk about the party's "bold vision" regarding the so-called greenest action plan and how Vision rejected a bid from Paragon Gaming for a mega casino adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium; interestingly, Great Canadian Casino bought a table at the fundraiser.
Among the recognizable guests were NDP leader Adrian Dix and architect Bing Thom, who both sat at Coun. Geoff Meggs' table.
B.C. Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay and his wife Janice Abbott, who runs Atira Housing, sat at Concord Pacific Developments' table (at the front of the stage) with Concord boss Terry Hui. Former deputy city manager Brent MacGregor, who works with Pavco and worked with Paragon on its casino bid, also sat at Concord's table.
Former Richmond MP Raymond Chan was there, so was former NDP MP Ian Waddell and NPAer Bob Ransford. Aboriginal leader Jerry Adams, gay activist Jim Deva, financier Joel Solomon and sister Linda of the online Vancouver Observer also attended.
Here's a list of the majority of people, companies and organizations who showed up, as supplied by Vision Vancouver:
Seating by table #
# TABLE NAME Business
1 GBL Architects GBL Architects
4 New Way Concrete Aquilini Group
5 Concord Pacific Developments Inc. Concord Pacific Developments Inc.
6 Aquilini Group Aquilini Group
8 Brook Pooni Associates Inc. Brook Pooni Associates Inc.
10 Interdependent Investments Joel Solomon
11 BC Cleantech CEO Alliance Cleanworks Alliance Corp./McCarthy Tetrault LLP
12 Artists for Vision sponsored by Wall Capital Wall Corporation
13 West End Supporters
14 Vision YOUTH
15 Vision STAFF
16 Women with Vision donated by Wesgroup
16 Women with Vision - Wesgroup Wesgroup
17 Gord Wylie Ivanhoe Cambridge
18 Westbank Westbank
19 CUPE 15 CUPE 15
20 Wall Corporation Wall Corporation
21 Tim Stevenson Tim Stevenson Table
22 Corinex Communications Corinex Communications
23 Chrysalix Chrysalix
24 Elemental Energy
25 Out in Schools
26 Rory Richards
27 Friends for Life
28 VanEdge Capital VanEdge Capital
29 Geoff Meggs Geoff Meggs
30 Ryan Beedie Beedie
31 First Nations Friends of Vision
33 Reliance Properties Reliance Properties
34 Parklane West Group
34 Parklane Anthem Property
36 Henriquez Partners Architects Henriques Partners Architects
37 W2 Media
38 Marcella Munro
39 Women with Vision
40 Elegant Development Inc. Elegant Development Inc.
41 COPE 378 COPE 378
42 Earnscliffe Strategy Group Earnscliffe Strategy Group
43 Bastion Development Bastion Development
45 Raymond Louie
46 PCI Group PCI Group
47 CUPE 1004 CUPE 1004
48 International Union of Operating Engineers Local 963 International Union of Operating Engineers Local 963
49 Bentall Kennedy Bentall Kennedy
50 Phillipino Friends of Vision
51 Artists for Vision sponsored by Wall Capital Wall Corporation
52 Friends of Ken Clement Friends of Ken Clement
53 Farmers Market
55 Wanson Development Ltd. Wanson Development Ltd.
56 COPE 378 COPE 378
58 CAW CAW
59 Renewal/Renewal 2 Renewal/Renewal 2
60 Vancouver Taxi Association Vancouver Taxi Association
61 Stratcom Stratcom
62 We Back the Juiceman
63 Busters Towing Busters Towing
64 Artists for Vision
65 LGBT Friends of Vision Outlooks TV
66 Donnelly Group Donnelly Group
67 Rising Tide Rising Tide Consultants Ltd.
68 BARWATCH BARWATCH
69 Lafarge Lafarge
70 Concert Concert
71 Richmond Elevator Richmond Elevator
72 Denise Taschereau Denise Taschereau
73 Nicli Antica Pizzeria Nicli Antica Pizzeria
74 Vision STAFF - Bradley Shend Vision STAFF - Bradley Shend
75 GC Gaming GC Gaming
77 Perkins & Will Perkins & Will
84 Vision Exec
86 Friends of Rob Wynen
87 Friends of Vision General seating
88 Friends of Vision General seating
I plan on taking in the NPA's fundraiser at the Hellenic Centre tonight and will no doubt run into some of the same people I saw at the Vision gala; developers and others like to hedge their bets when it comes to civic elections.
I'll likely be Tweeting and post to my blog Friday morning.
In other NPA news this morning, the party issued a press release saying former NPA mayors Sam Sullivan and Philip Owen have endorsed Anton for mayor.
No doubt I'll be talking about all this tonight with Stephen Quinn On The Coast at around 5:35 p.m. Jeff Lee from the Sun will be my wingman. Tune in, call in, make a Winnie the Pooh reference, if you can.