So last night’s meeting(s) of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) were interesting and mostly productive. After votes at the Executive Board meeting, I was elected President, for which I feel profoundly privileged. The other candidates for Exec positions that I endorsed were also voted in. That means we have in place the nucleus of an excellent team to turn the organization into an active policy-driven group working on behalf of the residents of Grandview.
Most of the organizational matters we wanted to straighten out (AGM date, standardized agendas for Membership meetings, and the establishment of policy-focused sub-Committees on Planning, Transportation, Communications and Outreach) were agreed to. We also made a good start on establishing a formal membership policy, the absence of which has been a bugbear for the organization for some time.
At the Membership Meeting immediately afterwards, we had Neighbourhood Police Office Const. Mike Lemon as the main speaker. He explained the concept of community policing, noting that he believed his role was to help re-direct those causing a nuisance in the neighbourhood rather than issuing tickets for punishment. He was questioned by members about aggressive pan-handling, the wide availability of drugs on the Drive and in Victoria Park, traffic conditions at Charles & Commercial, and cyclists riding on the sidewalk. His general response was the same: education and guidance rather than punishment. I don’t think there was too much disagreement about the general policy although several speakers thought that a heavier hand might be taken with some of the problems mentioned.
We had also invited City Planner Andrew Pask to give us an update on the Community Plan. He wasn’t able to make the meeting but sent along some notes. They are finishing up the last of the specialised meetings and two surveys this week. He hopes to start issuing reports from the various Workshops next week. This will be the first time for months that we will be able to see whether they have captured a true picture of the limited public input we have been allowed to date.
I gave a brief speech on the hopes and aspirations the new Board seeks for this coming year and I most especially urged everyone to attend the City Hall Open House on the Regional Context Statement on May 16th between 4pm and 8pm. The Regional Context Statement is a document that will control development and neighbourhoods for the next generation or more: it is that important. If passed by Council it will oblige our local Community Plan to be governed by its terms regardless of what our community wants.
Several City Council members have said that the RSC is nothing more than a roll-up of existing City policies; but that is not accurate. For example, of particular importance to Grandview is the mention in the RCS of a “Local Area” based as First & Commercial. This is essentially new and would allow significant development above the current zoning. What it could mean is best expressed by looking at what has happened to the Norquay development on Kingsway. That too started out as a small dot on a map called a “Local Area” and has led to massive tower building and similar developments, and to the near destruction of an old functioning community.
We cannot allow this to happen to First & Commercial.
GWAC will be preparing a statement of its position during the RSC Public Hearing in June (and if you are local and want to help, please email me and I’ll make sure your voice is heard) but in the meanwhile, the more people that attend the May 16th Open House to learn about these issues the better.
GWAC meets at 7pm on the first Monday of every month at the LRC at Britannia. Please come along and help us both protect our neighbourhood and move it forward into a prosperous and happy future.