Concerns over community plans draw residents to Vancouver City Hall

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      City council began hearing from a list of more than 70 people Wednesday who had signed up to speak about four community plans underway in Vancouver.

      The day following a rally attended by about 200 people on the steps of city hall, residents brought their concerns to the council chambers, with many calling for more time on the neighbourhood plans.

      “We are here to tell you that we are deeply disappointed by this report,” said Jak King, the president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council.

      “Disappointed, but not surprised. Because we have become accustomed to being misheard and misunderstood throughout much of this exercise.”

      King added that despite consultations held in the community, “not a single moment was given to the important discussion of land use and rezoning proposals”.

      Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning and development, summarized the process that has taken place to date on plans for the West End, Marpole, Grandview-Woodland, and the Downtown Eastside.

      He told council that thousands of people were consulted in each of the areas, with 63 events held in the West End, 148 events in the Downtown Eastside, 62 in Marpole, and 100 in Grandview-Woodland. 

      “I’ve been a planning professional for 34 years, and I have led between 20 and 30 area plans, sub-area plans and city-wide plans,” he said. “I have never seen the depth and breadth of community consultation that...the literally hundreds of staff who’ve worked on this with us, and the 25,000 people who participated in the four area plans, have also participated in.”

      Former Vancouver planner Ray Spaxman asked council to give the local area planning committee in the Downtown Eastside more time to review the city’s plan before it goes to council. 

      “We concluded that you were in danger of running into a plan that doesn’t work," said Spaxman, a co-chair of the committee. 

      He added that the communities being studied as part of the four plans are “so vastly different”.

      “These are different character areas, with very different needs, and my goodness the Downtown Eastside has very special needs—it’s a crisis area,” he said. “We need to give it the care and attention that it deserves.”

      Mike Burdick of the Marpole Residents Coalition told council the city has made “the majority of residents in Marpole angry”.

      “How did you think the residents would accept the rezoning of almost 60 percent of the single-family homes in Marpole, effectively raising their taxes,” he asked. “How did you think the residents would accept the densification of their community? A community of almost 22,000 people. A community where over the next two to three years we’ll have 8,000 to 10,000 more people with the buildings that are presently being built.”

      He said his group is in favour of the extension to the Marpole plan being proposed by the city, but wants to see a longer delay of a year.

      City staff have recommended that the West End and Downtown Eastside plans go before council as scheduled this fall, that the Marpole plan be delayed until later this year or early next year, and the Grandview-Woodland process be extended and a citizens’ assembly created.

      Council is scheduled to continue hearing from speakers at 2 p.m. today (September 26).



      Bill Maxwell

      Sep 26, 2013 at 10:29am

      Seems to me the City Council does as it pleases. I thought the people decided what was good for their community? The City Council was elected to represent the people, seems to me they do whatever they want. It's time for them to be accountable to the citizens.

      Disillusioned and Disengaged

      Sep 26, 2013 at 11:22am

      As a resident of one of these communities, I became involved in the planning process with a sense of optimism that we could plot a roadmap for the future - balancing what needs to change with what is working now. Early on, it became clear that the nature of "the map" had already been decided, and the process was being crafted to suit that outcome. A common theme from the speakers at Council was that showing information at open houses and asking for input on sticky notes is not consultation if there is no "feedback loop" on the input received. Throughout this process, comments from the public have gone into a black hole with little connection between the input from the community and the recommendations in the plan policies. This lack of meaningful consultation has caused many people to disengage. But then, perhaps that was the intent?


      Sep 26, 2013 at 12:26pm

      The "consultation" process under Vision is a sham, even done to the number of meetings they arrange for "community input." Somehow the West End, the most densely populated part of the city, gets less than half the number of meetings given the DES: that is propaganda by the deed folks showing their "concern" for the benefit of the poverty industry. How about their 100 meetings in Grandview-Woodlands and the decision to delay unveiling their plans until after the next election? The area is vital to Vision as their co-opted COPE subsidiary always delivers the votes there. The outcry over the proposed development has only delayed the inevitable outcome: Vision gives developers exactly what they want as long as the company donates to the party. There will be towers at Broadway & Commercial and whatever else the developers want there and in other neighbourhoods as well.

      Vision's much ballyhooed plan for increasing density is an open chequebook for developers. Zoning will allow for 6 floors within 500 metres of a "shopping area" like Fraser from 40th south to 51st or Dunbar from 30th north to 26th or Commercial from 13th north to at least Venables. Sometimes the designated areas are within a km or so of another designated area, such as 49th & main being around 1Km of 49th & Fraser meaning the area between the two can be packed with 6 floor condos. The Vision plan will also allow 4 storey buildings within 100 metres of an arterial street/avenue and there are plenty of those throughout the city.

      Note that the zoning will allow buildings of 6 & 4 storeys respectively but you can be assured that certain developers will be permitted to go beyond those limits. Developers will make a tidy profit and a percentage of that is kicked back to Vision and individuals associated with the party to finance their future campaigns or life in general. Vision & their members who aspire to higher office will make out like bandits following the next civic election when they give away part of Langara Golf Course to key donors from the development community. The deal is done, the YMCA is moving to the VCH development at 57th & Cambie freeing up that sliver of land for development as well.


      Sep 27, 2013 at 6:37pm

      Citizen's focus needs to move to actively removing Vision from power in the next election. Vision have proven again and again and again that the only input they really value is that of the developers. There is little value in continuing to participate in Vision's kangaroo public meetings and sham public consultation. It is time for those concerned with Vision's conduct (who isn't at this point) to get politically active and work towards the next municipal election, where we will show Vision the door in a manner that will send a stern message to all future civic parties who think they can behave the same way.