The media has been quick to focus on the discontent we are feeling in Grandview-Woodland about the draft Community Plan; there have been numerous articles this past week or two in the Sun, Tyee, Courier, the Georgia Straight and, soon, the Vancouver Observer. These are in addition to a number of excellent radio pieces.
The current round of community planning has essentially collapsed.
The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan completely failed to discuss land use and rezoning during the “consultation process” and now that a land use map has been issued by the planners, uproar has ensued, partly over the zoning itself and partly over the complete absence of civic engagement in the creation of this draft plan. In the Downtown East Side, the Local Area Planning has failed completely, with major players exiting the city’s process and attempting to create their own.
It appears the Marpole Community Plan process has also resulted in mass meetings of protest. I suspect from personal conversations with interested parties that the West End Plan is facing similar difficulties.
Surely it is about time for city council to wake up and smell the acrid stink of failure. Surely they must recognise that the planning department process is out of control and causing them future headaches galore.
I am not usually one to give useful political advice to Vision Vancouver but can they not see that, if these four plans are pushed through under the current process, then next year – election year – will be full of community protests, not by anarchists or even activists but by regular folks, their supposed constituency.
If, on the other hand, they were to reign in their staff and reorganize these planning exercises into genuine examples of community engagement, then perhaps they could be seen as belated heroes, worthy of another term.
City council should call a halt to the community plans today, have a re-think, cancel the present terms of reference and re-launch them with a more inclusive process. After all, what’s the rush? Isn’t it better to have plans supported by the people even if it takes five or six months longer than originally scheduled?