Regional Context Statement: The Next Disaster

April 22, 2013

Vancouver’s Regional Context Statement is the development plan for the entire City for the next 25-30 years.  It will help determine the look and feel of every neighbourhood in Vancouver for generations to come.

Important, yes?  But public consultation, no!  It is coming up before City Council tomorrow, just days after the plan was made available, and — without a lot of public outrage in the meanwhile — will be approved and sent on to a Public Hearing.  Under City rules, once an item is referred to a Public Hearing, Councillors are no longer allowed to discuss it with the likes of you and me — we are silenced, until the Public Hearing.

As we know from long experience with Vision’s administration, Public Hearings are not designed to change the already-agreed policy.  They are a forum where, under very strict guidelines, we are allowed to vent our frustrations for no more than five minutes, and no debate with Councillors is allowed unless they ask questions.  These are public relations exercises, nothing more.  The policy has already been set.

Our only chance to challenge either the content of the Statement or the process under which it is being forced upon us, is to write to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca by 9:00am tomorrow.  Yes, 9:00am Tuesday 23rd April.  These are the kind of timelines that Vision uses to avoid any public consultation.

My own email read as follows:

“Like many of the residents I speak with every day in Grandview Woodland, I am shocked and outraged that Council is planning to move such an important policy as the Regional Context Statement to a Public Hearing without any opportunity for communities such as ours to question either the content of the Statement or the process being used to force it upon us.

I am obliged to note the impotence of previous “public hearings” to change the mind of decisions already taken by Council and its staff.   This entire process is a hijacking of democratic procedure.

I urge Mayor and Council to delay putting this issue to Public Hearing, and thus to allow interested parties to bring their concerns to Council and staff within a reasonable timeframe.”

If you get a chance tonight or early in the morning, please fire off your own version.

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