On Tuesday it will be two months since City Council approved the Jackson Report on the four Community Plans (Grandview, Marpole, West End, Downtown Eastside). The motion regarding Grandview’s plan obliged the City of Vancouver Planning Department to report back to Council “in December” on the progress made on the development of a Citizens’ Assembly, and on the Boffo development proposal for a huge tower at Commercial and Venables.
Brian Jackson, General Manager of City Planning made it very clear on the public record in his response to City Council that his team would be consulting closely with the Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC) on the design of the Citizens’ Assembly. And yet, two full months later, GWAC has had no official contact with Planning. no discussions, no consultations, nothing.
GWAC and I have advised Planning that our ad-hoc working group on the Citizens’ Assembly has been meeting and has ideas we want to share with them. We have proposed meetings at which these ideas could be shared. We have received no response.
We have, however, been told that they plan to hire an “expert” on Citizens’ Assemblies to help them in their work — even though they admit that there has only ever been one CA in North America and that one produced results that were rejected. So in what way could anyone consider themselves an “expert” in this matter is a question to be asked?
What terms of reference will this “expert” have? How will he/she be hired? What will they be paid? I wrote to Jackson to inquire if the expert’s fees were to be paid from the $275,000 budget City Council granted for additional workshops etc., but Mr. Jackson declined to answer in a straightforward manner, leaving us wondering if the Community Plan’s budget is to be raided to pay for this “expert”.
With regard to the Boffo development, again GWAC has had no discussions with Planning. Planning has advised me that they are in discussions with the developer, but apparently we are not to know what they are talking about.
There are now only two more Council meetings before the holiday break — December 3rd and December 17th — and thus only two more chances for Planning to fulfill the mandate they were given when the Jackson report was approved. I have checked the Council website and no agendas for either meeting have been published. There is a motion in force that all documents relevant to the Community Plan are to be made public at least two weeks before they are brought before Council. That deadline has already passed for the 3rd December meeting, and we are barely more than a week away for the deadline for the final Council meeting of the year.
The approval of the Jackson Report back in September gave us some hope for the future. This two months’ silence is quickly throttling that hope.