Jennifer Chutter has written an interesting review of Battleground: Grandview for the always useful Ormsby Review.
She notes three over-arching themes in the book: Who is the city for? What is a neighbourhood? and What is an expert? For the first, she writes that:
“From the City of Vancouver Planning department’s perspective, the city is for the future residents and not for the current ones. It is clear throughout King’s work that current residents are disregarded as having any sort of role in creating the current vibrancy and functionality of the city; furthermore, the poor are unacknowledged … King’s argument challenges the reader to think through the larger political machinations that are guiding urban growth and the impact it has on smaller neighbourhoods.
As for the neighbourhood:
“King does a strong job emphasizing the difficulty of defining what constitutes a neighbourhood … According to King, City planners misunderstand the complexity of planning for urban growth because they don’t account for the interconnectedness of people and structures. The problem with the initial Community Plan was that it homogenized the entire area and flattened out the distinct features that make the neighbourhood unique, and there appeared to be little understanding that changes to one area would impact the whole.”
And as for the role of “experts”:
“Despite hundreds of residents giving up their time to participate in events hosted by the Planning Department, their expertise from living within the neighbourhood for years was denied as having any value.”
In conclusion, the review says:
“In Battleground Grandview, Jak King presents a strong call to action: it is time for the City of Vancouver to take into consideration the needs, wishes, and desires of current residents to maintain the vibrant areas of the city, rather than persistently planning for future urban growth in the form of tall towers.”
I want to thank Ms. Chutter for taking the time to study and understand the book, and to the Ormsby Review for sponsoring the review.
Copies of Battleground: Grandview are still available at People’s Co-op on Commercial Drive, direct from me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and from VPL.