A new coalition of community groups has formed in Vancouver, aimed at making changes to the city’s planning process.
Jak King, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, said the 18 groups currently involved in the initiative will work to create “a new planning and development paradigm”, which they will bring forward before the November 2014 civic election.
“The neighbourhoods have to be at the centre of it,” King told the Straight by phone. “They have to be involved, and the neighbourhoods have to have influence.
“What we’re seeing right now is we have a form of engagement, but there is no influence, there’s no real genuine involvement—and that’s what we need to change.”
King said proposals outlined in the “emerging directions” for the four neighbourhood plans that are currently underway were what prompted the formation of the coalition.
“We spoke together because we were facing similar problems, all four of us, and it was agreed that there were also problems in Oakridge, there were problems in Norquay, there were problems elsewhere," he stated.
“So it felt suitable to include as many neighbourhoods as we can, so that the city understands that they’re not just dealing with a problem with one neighbourhood at a time. We all have the same issues, and we want something done about it.”
He noted an example of a measure he'd like to see implemented is the use of joint working groups to manage the planning process.
Vancouver city council recently voted to extend the timeline for the Grandview-Woodland community planning process by at least a year and to establish a citizens' assembly. The process for Marpole has also been given some additional time, while council is expected to consider a plan for the West End next month, and the local area plan for the Downtown Eastside by the end of January 2014.
The new coalition features resident groups from communities across the city, including Arbutus Ridge, the Downtown Eastside, Dunbar, False Creek, Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, Mount Pleasant, Oakridge Langara, and the West End.
King said the groups will continue to meet about once a month as the coalition works to produce “a comprehensive planning strategy”.
“This is an attempt to be positive,” he said. “We want to regain the initiative in planning by creating a positive atmosphere between the city and the neighbourhoods, which is exactly what we don’t have right now. We have a very negative relationship, and we need to sort that out.”