An Active Week

July 13, 2013

buttonI haven’t had much chance to post this week because I’ve been so darned busy — and loving it.  The big meeting on Monday generated an almost endless stream of emails and media and discussions — on the phone, on the street, in the park, and, inevitably, over lots of cups of Commercial Drive coffee.  We’ve received a vast amount of advice, much of which is excellent, and offers of volunteer assistance which is gratefully appreciated and accepted.

Yolande Cole had a good piece in the Straight, and the CBC did well, too.  But it was probably Allen Garr in the Courier who captured our situation best.  The City’s “the neighbourhood misunderstood the process”

explanation doesn’t nearly come close to the truth of what actually happened to cause the incredible lack of trust and sense of betrayal harboured by the local residents who have been among the staunchest of Robertson’s supporters. Nor does it begin to touch on the potential for disaster Robertson and his Vision majority face regarding this and three other community plans now in the works.

Discussing our meeting:

Noticeably missing was Brian Jackson, the city’s general manager of planning and development. I mention this because, given past practices of the planning department going back to Ray Spaxman then Larry Beasley and even Brent Toderian, whenever there was a contentious issue around planning and development, the head of planning stepped in to take the heat. That was particularly the case when the head of planning was responsible for that issue as was the case with the 11th hour addition of towers to the Grandview-Woodland community plan.  The mayor was also absent. But then he prefers more mellow settings where he can kiss babies, kick soccer balls or cut ribbons to open urban orchards.

[What those who were there] saw and heard was remarkably eloquent, informed, passionate and intimate. It demonstrated unanimity of opposition that ranged from activist Garth Mullins to the executive director of the Hastings North Business Improvement Association, Patricia Barnes.

It is interesting to note that even pro-development activists like Bob Ransford agree the process has been flawed from the beginning.”

At the Council meeting on Tuesday, City of Vancouver Director of Planning Brian Jackson said that there had been a high degree of consultation in Grandview. I guess he is either deaf or badly briefed because to suggest any other reason for this refusal to accept the vast amount of evidence to the contrary would be impolitic.  Where he did mislead, however, was in telling Council that “7,500 people had participated.”  In an email exchange with me later, Jackson agreed that saying “7,500 people had participated” did not actually mean what the words suggest. Rather, this may be the number of sign-ins to events.  I went to 10 events and so I was counted 10 times.  He did not agree that his earlier statement was misleading.

It is this kind of double-speak that has soaked this Planning Department in the ocean of mistrust it finds itself in today.

Anyway, a busy week, and one that has opened up a number of possible trails to a future for Grandview that is a whole lot better and healthier than the one Planners and Vision have in mind. My colleagues at GWAC and I will continue to meet and plan and shout blue murder whenever we feel the need.