This afternoon I visited the City Planner’s Open House at WISE Hall to see the plans for new zoning, and thus new housing types, that the GW Community Plan is visiting upon the neighbourhood. I am not going to discuss the approved Plan’s conclusions (there have been millions of words, quite literally, been written about that already) but will concentrate on the process.
Anyone reading this blog carefully over the last four years or so should understand that my issues have never been about housing form or types, new or old. My entire concern — throughout the GW Plan period, and today — is with the process being used to bring change. I said to someone the other day, and it is quite true, that if a fully open and transparent process brought forth a huge tower on every intersection on the Drive, I would accept it (hate it though I might). The GW Plan process was anything but open and transparent which is why it was opposed so vociferously by so many for so long. But the Plan was pushed through and, regardless of how badly we have been treated to this point, we need to ensure that the process moving forward is more open and transparent. Which brings us back to today’s event.
Rezoning and introducing new styles of housing into a community is a complicated business for both planners and residents who may be anxious for the future of their properties. I thought the Planning Department did a pretty good job today of explaining the new zoning areas, and what each type of housing actually meant. The poster boards were clear and full of illustrative detail.
Most importantly, I listened to several conversations in which residents discussed their own very local issues and anxieties with members of City staff — what larger, higher, buildings might do to their own streetscapes. In each of the conversations I heard, the staff were respectful and helpful and, yes, caring about the consequences. Obviously, with general approvals in place already, there is little that can be done to change the new zonings. But this meeting did, at least, try to explain and impart useful knowledge to residents.
Thanks to Andrew Pask and his team.