January 12, 2014
One of Australia’s leading urban planning theorists, Wendy Sarkissian, has been looking at Vancouver’s planning system, and she has little good to say about it, especially Eco-Density:
It is now widely accepted that the [Eco-Density] Charter misrepresented community views and did not adequately address issues raised in the public process. There were strong community complaints of misrepresentation by Council officers (and senior planners) of the contents of community submissions; there were serious weaknesses in the analysis of submissions about the draft Charter. In meetings to work out the Charter, it was observed that the moderator skewed public comments.
In the community’s view, the 2008 EcoDensity Charter represented a “battering ram” approach to densification. Considerable discretionary power was eventually granted to Council by the Charter, thus undermining well-established policies of community engagement and implementation. Despite the extensive publicity campaign, the community hated and distrusted the policy. It sank Sam Sullivan politically. Shortly after he announced it, his popularity went into steep decline and, despite thirteen years as a City Councillor, he lost candidature after only one term as Mayor …
Research reveals that even the City of Vancouver planners were not convinced that the policy would work. Brent Toderian was quoted in 2007 as saying: “EcoDensity won’t provide housing that meets average incomes. I don’t think we would affect housing supply to the point that prices would go down.”
Dr. Sarkissian is in Vancouver on a private visit this month, Several of us are hopeful of meeting with her while she is here.
January 12, 2014
Yesterday there was the latest meeting of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, which this time took place in Dunbar.
It was a full and fascinating meeting at which we welcomed three additional neighbourhood associations as members. The Coalition now has a sturdy 23 member organizations, covering about 80% of Vancouver’s territory and probably more in terms of population.
Much of the meeting was technical work as we continue to design and edit a new Planning Paradigm for Vancouver which will be a process in which the rights of residents and communities are treated with the respect they deserve. This is exciting work that will help create a far more livable Vancouver.
Beyond that, we also discussed a number of issues that concern us. The views below are my own, not necessarily those of the Coalition, though I doubt the majority view would be much different:
- The depressing situation in the West End, where a Community Plan has been forced through against the expressed wishes of the majority of the residents. An enormous amount of the neighbourhood is to be rezoned in favour of developers — many of whom are major contributors to Vision Vancouver’s coffers — and with just a single public hearing on the evening of January 23rd. It would be good to get as many people as possible to attend that meeting or at the very least write emails to Councilors expressing distaste at the greed-filled haste. Email me if you need assistance with this.
- Oakridge is proceeding against the promises of the local Plan, again to the benefit of developers and in opposition to the wishes of many local residents.
- The imposition of a specific type of social housing at the Biltmore in Mount Pleasant. We all want to see more social housing made available but, yet again, all the decisions were made BEFORE any public meetings. This is typical of how “public engagement” works in our City, and is reminiscent of the Ramada controversy in Vancouver Heights.
- Bad decisions on the horizon for the viaducts and the False Creek lands.
- The upcoming demolition of Marine Gardens — an internationally well-regarded and highly successful affordable housing location in South Vancouver.Marpole — in favour of yet more highly expensive condo highrises. This is a truly extraordinary situation about which I will be writing more as time goes on.
This is a busy start to the year. There are just 307 days left until the election. We need to get organized to make sure that we don’t have four more years of being ignored and disrespected.