I spent Tuesday morning at City Hall, witnessing what is in theory at least the last City Council meeting of the summer. I was there with a number of others because we were keen to support Clr. Adriane Carr’s Motion to extend the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan process by six months.
The presentations on National Reconciliation Year and the Bike Share program took a great deal of time (not whining, they are important issues for many people) and it was unclear whether the Carr Motion would actually be reached before Council rose at 1pm. But they shifted the agenda and allowed it to be discussed in the final 15 minutes. Adriane Carr made a good short speech about why we should get the extra time, and both Andrea Reimer and Mayor Robertson suggested they agreed that Grandview-Woodland (and Marpole) had made a good case for more time.
We had anticipated, not unreasonably, that the Motion would be refered to the Planning Committee’s meeting today (Wednesday) and we had a number of people slated to speak to the Motion at that time. However, Clr. Reimer’s referal motion put us off until 25th September, requiring Planning to give a Report at that time on the pros and cons of delaying any or all of the four current Community Plans (GW, Marpole, DTES, West End).
The fact that we were not allowed to speak to the Motion today is doubly disappointing. First, a number of people had booked today off work in order to speak and they will now have wasted an expensive day for nothing. Second, we would have made the point during the various speeches that (a) the process needs changing, not just the schedule; and (b) that the problems with the GW Plan are not just about Commercial & Broadway but stretch across the neighbourhood.
Had Council heard those speeches they may have still told Planners to come back with a Report in late September, but the nature of that Report may well have been broader and more aligned with our overall concerns. Right now, the focus of the Report will be on what effects a delay will have on the planning department and the other neighbourhoods in the planning queue. Not the same thing at all.
Without impugning motives, I am sure that some part of the reasoning for delaying the process for 9 weeks is that the local and media hue and cry against the Emerging Directions document will die down in that time. That isn’t going to happen, believe you me.
As the beginning of this new phase, GWAC and its supporters will rally at the Open Houses of 29th and 31st July to make sure the planners know we want more substantive discussions on all areas of the Plan, all areas of the neighbourhood, that “fixing” the towers at Commercial & Broadway will NOT fix the GW Plan, that Open Houses are NOT consultations. Thereafter, the next public meeting of GWAC is on 12th August and I am sure more actions will be discussed there.
It is going to be a hot summer for local politics!