The Citizens’ Assembly: A Policy of Deliberate Distraction

Last night I attended the latest weekly meeting of the Our Community, Our Plan (OCOP) group to discuss the latest chapter in our on-going Community Plan exercise as we approach tomorrow’s deadline for residents to sign up for the Citizens’ Assembly lottery.  It was splendid to see so many people willing to spend a summer evening discussing the danger to our neighbourhood in a stuffy room.

OCOP came up with a number of important and innovative strategies to further the cause over the next couple of months. As those plans develop and come to fruition, they will be announced on the OCOP site.

As I have reported here earlier, I have had meetings with both Charles Campbell (Assembly staff) and Rachel Magnusson, the Chair of the Assembly appointed by the City without consultation.  I have therefore some idea of how they want the Assembly to work.  I have also been following the elusive pronouncements of Brian Jackson, the City’s planning boss, who has made it clear his priority is to get Grandview-Woodland finished by next spring and approved by Council immediately thereafter.  From these sparse gleanings I have divined my own thoughts on what is actually happening.

I believe the Assembly was first seen as a sop to the extraordinary outrage expressed by residents last summer to their original land use planning draft. It then became a useful tool to delay the entire Plan beyond the next election. And now it is being used as a distraction to keep activists busy while the meat-and-potatoes of transforming our neighbourhood into a developer’s wet dream takes place elsewhere.

It is perfectly clear to me that the detailed planning work of replacing what we have with what they want will take place well away from the Assembly and, when it is completed, a report will simply be filed with the Assembly for the comments (not approval, just comments).  I say this because Ms. Magnusson told me that the sub-area workshops (where the detailed destruction will  take place) will be handled by Planning outside the Assembly process.  That is the key.  The rug will be pulled from beneath our feet while our attention is diverted by whatever non-binding conceptual and philosophical discussions the Assembly is allowed to partake in.

This will be another fine example of Vision’s bread and circuses, faux engagement strategy — unless we keep our eyes peeled and our powder dry.


Selected earlier posts about the Community Plan:

There are many more — see “Grandview & Commercial Drive:  Community Plan” on the right hand sidebar.


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