Squall Coming In

November 15, 2013

Squall coming in

“Squall Coming In”  (2008), oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″

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Engaging Developers

November 15, 2013

UDII had a grand time today as a panelist at a meeting of the Urban Design Institute’s Under-40 branch.

We had a splendid buffet lunch on the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency (with views that you don;t often get of downtown) and a good long time to meet people I know, people that I had previously only “spoken” with on social media, and people I didn’t know at all. There were more than 200 there, I believe.

Bob Ransford was an excellent moderator and the other panelists were Jonathan Baker, Sandy Garrasino and Wayne Fougere. The topic of the discussion was how to engage with neighbourhoods during planning.

We had a fascinating discussion but generally there seemed to be agreement that the current engagement process isn’t working.  No definitive answers were established, but some ideas were mentioned over again:  early engagement with the community, the submission of options by planners rather than a single take-it-leave-it design, more information and context behind decisions of planning requirements.

I got the distinct impression that the developers were as upset with Planning as are the residents, though no doubt for different reasons.

I enjoyed it.

Update:   The Vancouver Sun gave the meeting some coverage.


One Year To Go

November 15, 2013

Today we are exactly one year away from the next Vancouver municipal election.  If the rumours of the electoral reforms proposed by the Provincial Government are to be believed, these will be the last elections for four long years.  They are, therefore, of supreme importance to the future of our City.

I have written here before about my preference for a ward system, independent councilors (i.e., no municipal parties), and finance reform.  None of that is going to happen before next November (especially under the wishy-washy do-nothing legislative changes suggested by the provincial Liberals), so we are stuck with the system we have.

In the absence of independent councilors, the next best option is to make sure that no party gets a majority on Council.  This current session of Vancouver City Council has shown us what the tyranny of the majority can do to us.  Therefore, it is vital that the parties in opposition to the majority Vision Vancouver party step up their game.

On the right of Vision, the NPA is at least talking a good game. They have money, and a chairman who I suspect drives them like he drives the trains  he runs — hard and fast.  As I write this, they are making a major announcement downtown, presumably to coincide with the one-year-from-election date.

To the left of Vision we have a crowd of parties that need to work hard to gather a joint slate (at least) that can challenge for Council seats.  TEAM and NSV, the Greens and COPE — none of them alone can challenge Vision in my opinion. But working together, I am certain they have a chance to break Vision’s grip on power.

If the calculus works out that Vision’s majority can be disrupted, then that also opens the door to the possibility of an independent candidate for Mayor.  It was interesting to see that in this fall’s Georgia Straight‘s Best of Vancouver poll, Gregor Robertson was both most popular politician and the least popular. He is clearly vulnerable. If someone steps up that could be supported, even lukewarmly, by both left and right, that someone has a real chance.

And an independent Mayor will have the best chance of working successfully with a Council that has no majority party.

Three hundred and sixty five days and counting …