Spent all day yesterday (from about 11am until gone 10pm) at the City Hall hearings on the four Community Plans, including ours here in Grandview.
With their typical efficiency, City Hall booked speakers to start about 1:30pm but we didn’t get to it until about 5pm. There are more than 70 on the list and by the end of the evening we had heard from about 30. We will be back for the next session at 2pm this afternoon. I’m guessing it will be an equally late night.
We got some good early coverage from the Province and the Georgia Straight. There will be more as the day goes on.
I was the second speaker and this is what I said (more or less):
“I am the President of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, which represents the residents of one of the four neighbourhoods covered by Mr. Jackson’s Report. I am here to tell you that we are deeply disappointed by this Report – disappointed but not surprised because we have become accustomed to being misheard and misunderstood throughout this exercise.
This Report is an indictment of failure in Grandview-Woodland, a failure acknowledged several times publicly by Mr. Jackson himself. This Report trumpets a highly inflated number of 7,500 participants and yet never once acknowledges that in all of the meetings prior to the publication of the Emerging Directions document at the beginning of June, not a single moment was given to the discussion of important land use and rezoning decisions .Not a single moment.
This was not consultation with the community. This was disrespect for the community.
I do have to give the planners credit for one thing – they didn’t even try to pretend to be surprised at the outrage leveled at the Emerging Directions plan. They were well aware that all of the important changes in zoning and land-use would be completely new to its readers.
And now, a full three months later, this Report still offers us nothing in the way of concrete improvements. It talks about an extension of time, but gives no end-date, thus leaving the residents and the developers of Grandview-Woodland up in the air.
This Report offers us nothing in the way of details of a better process, just vague promises of a Citizens’ Assembly – whatever that may be – and for the details we have to wait yet another two months. And this Report says nothing about how that Assembly and the new processes that might accompany it are to be achieved. There is no reference at all to discussions about its role and responsibilities with the community, nor its relationship to the stakeholders, the citizens who are supposed to assemble.
Yet again it seems we are to be treated not as active agents of change but simply as passive consumers of someone else’s product. This is very disappointing.
Our position is that any extension of time without a fully rebuilt process will be a waste of energy for the planners and for the residents, and a waste of money for the taxpayers.
From the acknowledgment of the failure of Emerging Directions to the apparent disclosure of the new details in December, a period of five full months will have elapsed; five full months in which the Planning Department could have been talking to GWAC and other representatives of the community in an effort to clear up this mess. If we are to wait until December for the new details, GWAC begs Council to order the planners to spend the intervening period in close consultation with us and others to determine what those details should be. We note that GWAC has already submitted a detailed 12-point set of recommendations that could be used as the basis for such discussions.
We are also disappointed that this Report continues to suggest that the major problems in Emerging Directions are about the Commercial & Broadway area. While it is true that the towers suggested for that area were both provocative and completely inappropriate, any alternative to them will not distract from the significant problems of the land-use and zoning proposals throughout Grandview-Woodland. We urge Council to instruct the planners to treat all areas of our neighbourhood with equal respect and care.
Further, in order to bring clarity and completion to this exercise, we implore Council to instruct the Planners to set an end date of twelve months from today for the completion of what will then have been a thirty-month process.
Finally, I repeat that this Report is an indictment of abject failure in Grandview-Woodland and, because the process and the Terms of Reference were the same in Marpole and the West End, then this must indicate failures in those areas too. GWAC supports consistency of treatment across all neighbourhoods. If Grandview-Woodland needs a process re-set and more time, then we strongly encourage Council to grant the same to the other neighbourhoods affected by this failed process.
These are our communities and these should be our Plans.”