Changes On The Drive #33

May 1, 2014

What a fabulous day to be strolling the Drive today!  Warm and sunny, bringing shorts and golf-shirt out for the first time this year.  It was wonderful to feel the air against the skin again. The lunchtime patios were full, the sidewalks and Park busy and friendly. The good weather has improved everyone’s moods.

Down south, the Far East Building doesn’t seem to have opened for business yet; at least not the retail units on Commercial.  I would expect it to be very soon though.

2064 Commercial Drive which used to be the Commercial Drive Food Store is now signed as the Rub A Dub Convenience Store.

RubADub

rockpaper1839 Commercial, the set-back stable-like building that houses a tat shop, now seems to share its space with a barber — at least according to this sign.

Talking of barbers, I was sad to hear that Luigi (Lou), who had a chair at Aldo’s for years and was also at La Cabana, has died.  He was 81 years old and had never missed a day’s work.  When he missed two days, his friend went looking for him, finding him in his apartment, dead from a heart attack.

The old Caffee Roma space at 1510 Commercial is completely stripped down, with a lot of work going on. A block down, at Pasture to Plate at 1420, the full interior reno seems complete.  There were rumours they were going under, but it sure doesn’t look like it.

Down at 1346, the Maz Market is now open.  It looks boringly impersonal, like a million convenience stores around the world, and a few up and down the Drive already.

Maz2

1264, 1250, 1108 and 1102 Commercial are still vacant.

Finally, up at the far north end of my district, Adeline’s at 952 is papered over while it undergoes a major renovation.  I hope it doesn’t change too much as it was developing an excellent repuation as a breakfast and meeting space.

That’s it for this month.

See here for previous Changes on the Drive posts.


In Place of Engagement

May 1, 2014

As any of you who have followed this blog for a while, or the Our Community, Our Plan! blog, or some of the local media, will know, the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan process has essentially been on hold for almost nine months. For the last five months or so, we the community have been active in trying to keep the Planners’ attention on moving the process forward; and each time we seem to be rebuffed, delayed, given another excuse why things cannot move ahead faster or at all.

Documentary films have already been made about failure of process in Grandview-Woodland, and the failure to engage with certain important groups. This disengagement, this inattention to the community needs of  the Plan, led directly to the formation of Our Community, Our Plan! (formerly the Ad-Hoc Committee) and the challenge it now poses of a community-led parallel process leading to the developlment of a community-led Community Plan separate and apart from whatever Plan the Planners push forward.

The latest salvo began this week when, after weeks of silence, Planners scheduled a private briefing on Monday for Councilors on the Grandview-Woodland situation.  It was a private briefing and no word was released about what was said.  The meeting of the Our Community, Our Plan! group had previously been scheduled for 7:00pm on Tuesday.  Just before that meeting started, local Planner Andrew Pask issued a mass email stating:

“We’re delighted to share that there is a strong community support for holding a Citizen’ Assembly on the Grandview-Woodland Plan, and the City is working hard to make this happen …. our planning team is meeting with smaller focus groups to supplement the community-wide consultation we did earlier this year. These meetings have involved groups that were not well represented in the January and February consultation ….This additional outreach is important, as it ensures that we are able to design an Assembly process that is balanced, representative and inclusive.”

Pask’s email goes on to describe a schedule of events through May, June, July and August during which an assembly is “recruited”, trained and prepared for what appears to be a very busy September.  The “job” of the Assembly at that point is very clearly defined:

“Once the Assembly is launched, it will proceed through three key phases: Learning, Consultation, and Deliberation.

  • Learning: Assembly members will build their knowledge of community planning issues through presentations from a variety of speakers, a review of existing planning documents, and various learning exercises.
  • Consultation: Assembly members will engage the broader Grandview-Woodland community on key issues, and ask for feedback to help with their decision-making.
  • Deliberation: Assembly members will work together to make recommendations and prepare a final report.”

Which is odd to me. Surely the job of the Assembly and how it proceeds will be determined precisely by the Terms of Reference for the Assembly, and that is key to the entire transparency and integrity of the Assembly.  The definition of the job of the Assembly and the way it proceeds needs to flow from the Terms of Reference, not to precede those Terms, which is what we seem to have here.

What is also odd is that this exact description of what the Assembly will do and how it will do it was disseminated by Planners last year.  In other words, none of our meetings and media coverage and letters and arguments for six months have changed their minds by a single comma.  Staunchly defending an impeccable Plan, or blinkered to other realities?

Perhaps the Planners have already decided what the Terms will be.  If that is the case, then, what is the point of continuing a travesty of engagement?  Trust me, the people can live without the cabaret this charade produces.  Why not just come out and say, this is the way it is going to be.  We can all save time. No doubt the taxpayers can save some money.  And we are all saved the mountains of BS that will go into the debate otherwise.

As for the continuing meetings with “focus groups”, Our Community, Our Plan! was obliged to note that Planners had not scheduled a single meeting with the community group.  Three reps from the group did meet Planners at City Hall for one meeting, but that was way back in December, and we have been asking for a meeting for the entire group since then without success.

All joking aside, many of us are concerned that Terms of Reference which restrict or restrain the Assembly, its size, and the scope of its mandate, and which reduce its independence from Planning will produce a product that cannot and will not fairly represent the views of the residents of our neighbourhood.  However, we are confident that a meeting in the very near future between Our Community, Our Plan! and the Planners could go a long way to resolving most of the hard issues and allow our neighbourhood to move on from this nervous hiatus.

 


May!

May 1, 2014

“It’s May! It’s May!
The lusty month of May!
Those dreary vows that ev’ryone makes,
Ev’ryone breaks.
Ev’ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May!”

–  Lerner and Lowe