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‘All we wanted to do was create a little advisory committee for fuck sakes’: mayor

Profanity 'not a big issue' but West Enders feel ignored: Helten

"I was frustrated after a long and contentious council meeting that day and that night," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. Credit: Janet Rerecich photo

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has apologized for uttering “f-bombs” after footage of him cursing and criticizing his constituents surfaced on YouTube on July 11. 

“They were inappropriate comments, particularly in the context of a council meeting and I’m sorry about that,” the mayor said in a July 12 statement.

“I was frustrated after a long and contentious council meeting that day and that night,” he explained.

During a July 8 council meeting, several speakers had been calling for greater transparency and community consultation in the selection of a 12-member West End Advisory Committee Robertson had proposed to address the rezoning of the West End.

“Who are all these fucking…Who are these hacks, man? Are they NPA hacks?” Robertson is heard asking fellow Vision Vancouver councillors Tim Stevenson and Heather Deal — all three unaware that chamber microphones were still on at the end of the meeting.

The recording captures mocking banter among the three and ends with Robertson saying, “All we wanted to do was create a little advisory committee for fuck sakes.”

“I have been known to swear at times for sure,” the mayor later admitted, adding he generally reserves profanities for the rugby field or spectator sports games.

“I resorted to the usual f-bombs,” Robertson added. “But live and learn.”

Repeated attempts to reach Stevenson, a long-time gay politician, were unsuccessful by posting time.

The clip of the exchange, which was initially on the city’s website, was subsequently removed.

West End Neighbours, a community group that opposes radical rezoning in the West End, posted the mayor’s comments on YouTube.

“The profanity is not a big issue,” says West End resident and community activist, Randy Helten, a member of West End Neighbours.

The real concern is that some West Enders feel ignored by the Vision council, he says.

Helton says his group is not against rental housing but the spot rezoning under the council’s Short Term Initiatives for Rental Housing [STIR] program.

Helten says he’d urged council to postpone voting on Robertson’s motion during the July 8 council meeting, but his request was denied.

The motion eventually passed.

For his part, the mayor denied being dismissive of the community’s concerns.

“We’re trying to do the right thing and it’s [a] challenge working with diverse voices in the community,” he said.

Helten is not convinced.

“Either [the Vision council] can’t comprehend the complex issues or they are too busy spinning them,” he says. “They just don’t get the message.”

The Mayor’s West End Advisory Committee is to be formed in the fall, a process Helten says he’ll scrutinize “closely.”