I went to the open house this afternoon at Federico’s Supper Club to see what the folks who control the Safeway site at Commercial & Broadway have to say. It turned out to be a PR trap, a Gary Pooni special.
First, let me say that having an event like this at Federcio’s on a Saturday afternoon was an excellent idea. The space is right in the heart of the Drive, making it convenient for shoppers. I was quite surprised that there was no street signage saying what was going on inside and so the passing trade was missed; I am sure all the people who attended knew about it before hand.
I also have to apologise for previously making some fun out of the idea that there would be face painting and balloon for the kids. It worked out well, and no doubt enabled some parents to come who might no otherwise have been able to leave their kids.
Now for the nitty gritty.
There were a couple of dozen poster boards around the room which attendees were led to read in a particular order. Many of the posters had colourful and attractive images. And many more were filled with aspirational phrases such as “revitalizing the node to match the eclectic nature of the Drive”, buzzwords such as “family housing”, and ideas based on a false history, such as “reuniting” the Drive on either side of the Cut.
There was nothing — nothing — in the way of genuine project information; not even as conceptual ideas. And the questions that were asked of the attendees were so broad as to be useless as data except for cherry-picking positive statements. So what was the point of the meeting?
It was, as I said before, a Brook Pooni special. Developers’ PR companies are well known in the city for their style of “community engagement” which attempts to manufacture consent, especially when it is clearly not there. And that is where this meeting comes in. Pooni and the developers can now say they have had a community engagement, at which xxx people showed up and they collected xxx comments. Just as importantly, they now have an email database of everyone who signed in.
This meeting met all the needs of the developer and none of the needs of the community. Glad I went, because the cannoli were excellent.