Click on image for a better view.
Yesterday I spent a long, long time at City Hall, waiting my turn to speak on the proposed West End Community Plan. I was there as a representative of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods. In the end, almost seven hours after deliberations began, I was obliged to leave for another urgent appointment without getting to my turn to speak.
Not surprisingly, the majority Vision Council approved the plan against the wishes of the West End Neighbours group of residents.
Of interest was the almost total lack of fully independent West End residents speaking in favour of the Plan. There were quite a number speaking for approval, but most of them were paid in some way to be there, or are beholden to the City for certain Community Amenity Contributions their groups are to receive.
Council members even looked with favour on the comments of a group, WERA, that has no members, holds no meetings, and has had nothing to say on their expensive-looking blog for months. They claim to be a registered society, but they won’t answer questions about when their AGM might be, and how West End residents can join and vote for their Board. I can’t say for sure that they are a Vision front, but we know that Vision stacked one group in the West End that was allowed a lot of say in the Plan.
This is in contrast to West End Neighbours (WEN) which was almost shut out of the process — and was treated shabbily at Council yesterday — even though they managed to arrange 13,000 signatures from West End residents on a petition not long ago. This treatment is probably because WEN has identified several hundred deficiencies in the Plan — not what the planners, the majority on Council, or the developers want to hear.
Still, the day was not entirely wasted. I spent a lot of time talking and strategizing with many Coalition partners and colleagues. This time will prove to be valuable down the road.