FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CityHallWatch “Future of Vancouver” Community Issues Forum Oct. 20 adopts resolution, finds City Hall has broken its social contract with citizens
(Vancouver, October 22, 2012) Over 80 participants attended the CityHallWatch “Future of Vancouver Community Issues Forum on October 20, at St. Patrick Parish Hall on Main Street. The website currently indicates speakers, and a full report will be posted online this week (http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/future-of-vancouver-oct-20/), including presentations and comment highlights. The meeting unanimously adopted the following resolution:
Be it resolved that we call upon our Mayor and Council to honour their commitments to neighbourhood-based planning, stop creating city-wide policies without meaningful consultation, and halt spot rezonings that override community plans.
Initial presentations were on the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability’s “Interim Rezoning Policy,” adopted on October 3 by City Council, against opposition and without public consultation. Next came presentations from nine neighbourhoods at different stages of city planning and implementation (Grandview Woodland, Marpole, West End, Downtown Eastside, Norquay, Cambie Corridor, Shaughnessy, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant). Applause punctuated the presentations as attendees noted common concerns.
One participant articulated well the essence of the meeting. Alan Herbert said, “What I come away with today, and please think this through, is that the City of Vancouver’s government — the Mayor and Council — has broken the social contract. That’s serious. I have 40 years of public participation in various communities and neighbourhoods, at various levels, from bureaucrat to citizen… What they have also done — and I have noticed this slowly but ever so creepingly — is that the city government has made a mockery of the public participation program.”
The latest trigger for this meeting was City Council’s adoption and immediate implementation of the “Interim Rezoning Policy,” launching a “trial” of 20 rezoning applications for up to 3.5 storeys within 100 meters of “arterial” streets and up to 6 stories within 500 meters fronting on arterials near “neighbourhood centres” and “shopping areas.” Many suspect the Vision Vancouver-dominated Council will soon remove the “interim” limitations. Neighbourhood associations from across the city had written to Council prior to the October 3 decision, asking for more than the three working days the public had to review the text prior to the planned adoption of the policy. The City had not contacted any of them in advance for input or consultation. Many groups and citizens cited inadequate debate and challenged the Mayor and Task Force assertions that some of the most controversial policies would actually create “affordable” housing in the normal definition of the word. Many were concerned about the City’s opaque and politically-driven processes, as well as the failure to provide adequate information in a timely way. (As the City failed to publicly release any maps indicating the impact zones of its policies until AFTER they were adopted, CityHallWatch created and released maps based on its understanding of official City statements. http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/updated-maps-impacts-of-interim-rezoning-policy/)
A major conclusion of the meeting is that neighbourhoods must connect the dots to understand what is happening at City Hall, and must support each other more in the face of a failure of City Hall to respect communities due to excessive influence from certain sectors, particularly the development industry. Momentum and networking among neighbourhoods of Vancouver are expected to increase. [One example is the call for citizens to scrutinize the Development Permit Board decision on Arbutus Ridge development at 3 pm today, Oct 22.]
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