A rally at Vancouver City Hall calling for changes to the city’s community planning process drew residents from neighbourhoods across Vancouver today (September 24).
Dozens of people carrying signs listened as representatives from communities including Marpole, the West End, Grandview-Woodland, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and the Downtown Eastside criticized the city’s planning and consultation processes.
“It’ s a sad commentary on the state of politics in Vancouver today that we have to meet like this in order to get our voices heard, rather than have sensible debate and conversation with city council and our planners,” Jak King, the president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, told the crowd.
The rally took place a day before city council is scheduled to consider a report on four community plans that are currently being developed.
City staff have recommended an extension on the plan underway for Grandview-Woodland in order to establish a “citizens’ assembly”, and have called for a brief delay on the Marpole plan to allow for consultation on proposed changes.
Two other plans for the Downtown Eastside and the West End are expected to go before council as scheduled in November.
Ginny Richards of West End Neighbours said her group has written to city council asking for an extension on the community’s plan and a “re-think” of the process.
“Did you know the city wants to increase our neighbourhood by 9,000 people? It’s already one of the densest neighbourhoods in the city, and they can’t even explain how they arrived at those numbers,” she said.
“We ask the city council Vision people to show us the options and start a discussion. That’s the type of challenge that creates true engagement.”
Mike Burdick of the Marpole Residents Coalition told protesters the changes that city staff have recommended to the plan in the neighbourhood are “not nearly enough”.
“But you know what, it was a start,” he said. “And now we have to keep going, and with the support of all of you, we can change this broken planning process.”
Some speakers said density increases are being proposed without the expanded infrastructure and transit necessary to support the changes.
“As we all know, densification without transit is just plain dense,” stated Kitsilano resident Garry Chalk.
Other demonstrators, like Ned Jacobs, criticized the nature of the city’s consultation with residents as they formulate the four neighbourhood plans.
“What Vancouverites are now being subjected to is not really community planning—it is developer planning,” he charged.
The report going before city council Wednesday (September 25) includes a summary of consultations held to date on the four community plans, including open houses, workshops, and questionnaires.
City council is scheduled to hear from staff and members of the public on the next steps for the plans at 1:30 p.m.