Vancouver voters: Think about the city you want before you vote (Elizabeth Murphy in Vancouver Sun)

Voting dayWe have paraphrased the title, but here is the full text of a op ed in the Vancouver Sun on October 9, 2018. Very timely, as the civic election is on October 20, and advanced voting has begun. Whoever is elected is in there for the next FOUR years, til 2022.  Full text follows, but we have bolded some words for emphasis.


Vancouver voters need to think about the city they want before they vote

This is a critical year for Vancouver to restore its reputation for the Jacobs model of planning and move away from Moses-type destruction

Elizabeth Murphy, Vancouver Sun, October 9, 2018

Vancouver became renowned for participatory community planning based on the principles of Jane Jacobs. But over the last decade, this reputation has become undeserved. There has been a shift from a sustainable complex city of neighbourhoods for people to bland density obsession for the benefit of developers. Vancouver has lost its way.

Jacobs’ influential writing was central to stopping major highway and urban renewal that was destroying inner-city neighbourhoods in the 1960s. She stopped the Lower Manhattan Expressway through her neighbourhood of Greenwich Village in New York City, the Spadina Expressway when she moved to Toronto and this also inspired the 1970s cancellation of Vancouver’s proposed highway through Grandview, Strathcona, Chinatown, Gastown and the waterfront.

This set Vancouver on a new sustainable path based on Jacobs’ principles of neighbourhood-based participatory planning.

Prior to 2007, the planning process in Vancouver included meaningful involvement from the people who lived here, such as CityPlan and earlier Local Area Planning. This was a basic principle that resulted in a sustainable mix of neighbourhoods that focused on social capital. However, the shift over the last decade from livability to growth, at both the regional and civic level, has resulted in housing primarily as a commodity that has caused a severe affordability crisis and increased homelessness.

Globalization has only made this worse as over-development has been consumed by inflationary forces that locals cannot compete with. Yet those who live here are increasingly being excluded from the decision making process that is dominated by the development industry that benefits through their control of city council.

Recent citywide rezonings are a case in point. Without community consultation, the outgoing Vision council is forcing through rezonings that affect the majority of the city right before an election when few are running for office again. Adriane Carr (Greens) and the NPA voted against the rezoning while Hector Bremner (of Yes Vancouver) voted with Vision for the rezoning.

The reasons why this approach is failing Vancouver are many. In simple terms, it is because we are demolishing the older more affordable housing and replacing it with new, more expensive units that most locals cannot afford. So as rezoning increases outright supply, this cycle continues. Continue reading

Hot off the presses, “Light Rail Transit – Smart for Vancouver” video challenges Broadway subway

“There is only so much taxpayer money available for transit. Do we use it all up on one street? Or create sustainable transit for all of Vancouver …”

In this video, city planners Adam Fitch and Patrick Condon weigh in on Vancouver’s best options for sustainable transit.

In the lead-up to the 2018 municipal elections on October 20, 2018, there’s been lots of discussion about the future of rapid transit in Vancouver. The Broadway corridor along Broadway Street – reportedly the busiest street in western Canada – is due for a transit upgrade.

A Skytrain extension and subway is one solution but will cost about $10 billion dollars and take at least 10 years. Some mayoral and council candidates have declared their support or opposition for a subway on Broadway to Arbutus, and onward to UBC.

Light Rail Transit (LRT) is a cheaper, quicker and more sustainable option but has yet to be implemented.

See Adam Fitch’s website fore more information:

West End Mayoral Forum for 2018 civic election: 9-Oct-2018 (Tues) at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church

WE Mayoral Forum 2018The Vancouver civic election is October 20, 2018. This also happens to be five years since City Council adopted the West End Community Plan. A good time for taking stock and communicating with election candidates.

Several groups are organizing a West End Mayoral Forum. The information below on the Mayoral Forum is adapted from the event’s dedicated Facebook page.

West End Mayoral Forum
Tuesday, October 9
7 to 9 pm
St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
1022 Nelson Street, Vancouver

CANDIDATES: Ken Sim, Kennedy Stewart, Hector Bremner, Shauna Sylvester

Organizers: West End Families in Action (WEFA), WE Arts, Denman & West Neighbours (DAWN), West End Seniors’ Network, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Metro Vancouver Alliance, Young Ideas, and St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.

To provide a forum where candidates can explain their positions and hear the concerns of local residents via questions to be provided by stakeholders. Among the themes of concern within the West End about which candidates will have an opportunity to share their ideas are:

1. livability and quality of life;
2. residential affordability and homelessness; and
3. viability of independent local businesses.

Candidates will answer questions provided by stakeholders, and a moderator (Richard F Zussman, Global) will ensure that answers and exchanges among candidates are concise and on target so as to make best use of the 7:00-9:00 pm time frame for the event. Continue reading

A subway to UBC? Prof Patrick Condon video says it will only enrich UBC + developers, but cost students and taxpayers

Here is a new video explaining why the subway out to UBC will only enrich UBC and developers at the expense of students and taxpayers. Dr. Patrick Condon speaks about the proposed Broadway Subway Line (including the idea of an extension to UBC). View it on Facebook at this public link here. Or click below to play:

The video is part of a series by “Vancouver Review Media” on 2018 civic election issues. Prof. Condon is a professor of Urban Design at UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.






Mayoral candidate videos via Vancouver Sun

CoV my city my vote election Oct 2018 imageVancouver election: Watch seven mayoral hopefuls debate the hot topics
With the Vancouver municipal election less than a month away, The Province and Vancouver Sun invited seven leading mayoral candidates into the newsroom for a debate. (As of October 3, 2018)

Click the link below for video and audio.

Consider this: A seven-point process to address community opposition

Grassroots Citizens Meeting in Dunbar (Updated Oct 6) Below is a seven-point process with suggestions on how to address community opposition. The specific example is for “non-market housing” going into existing neighbourhoods, but perhaps the same approach could be applied to many other scenarios. The author has extensive experience in community dialogue and wishes to remain anonymous. In the upcoming civic elections in B.C. will any candidates take this approach to heart?

1. First, make sure you understand the underlying reasons for the opposition.

Neighbours could have concerns for safety, opposition to density beyond what their area is zoned for, concerns about construction (noise, traffic, etc.), concerns about neighbourliness (noise, belligerence, panhandling, etc.), loss of property value, belief that their neighbourhood is already delivering more than their fair share of non-market housing, or any of a host of other issues.

Don’t assume that you accurately know what their concerns actually are. Take the time to identify all of their concerns, by actually talking to (not just surveying) those who have concerns.

Listen, and don’t try to convince them of your own opinion. Don’t (at this stage) try to gain their agreement to proceed with your intended plans.

Just listen, acknowledge to them that their concerns are real, and make sure that they believe that you understand them.

Let them feel heard, by actually listening and actually seeing things from their perspective.

Gain their agreement that you have identified all of their concerns.


2. Second, actually believe that their concerns are real.

You don’t have to agree that their feared negative outcome will happen — just that their concern about the negative outcome is real.

Take their concern as a fact. Don’t deny — to them or to yourself — that their concern is real.

This is called empathy. Without true empathy, this approach will not work.

Whether their feared negative outcomes will actually happen or not is immaterial at this stage: their concern is real.

3. Seriously and collaboratively work with the neighbourhood and other stakeholders to actually address all identified concerns.

Don’t claim that the concerns aren’t real. (See step 2.)

Don’t claim that they’re not worth addressing. They are.

Take tangible, collaborative steps to identify ways to mitigate and/or prevent the negative outcomes before they happen.

Create these plans, collaboratively with the neighbourhood, in advance of the negative outcomes actually happening.

Gain agreement that these plans, if enacted, will actually address their (real) concerns.

Don’t claim that addressing these concerns would be too expensive. If these concerns aren’t realized, then neither are the mitigation expenses. And if the concerns turn out to be realized, the planned solutions will already have been budgeted and planned.

Ensure and demonstrate that the required resources and funding are pre-committed for the duration of the potential for the negative outcomes. Share the plans and make sure that the neighbours believe that the compromises / mitigations / preventions will actually work.

In other words, actually collaborate with the neighbourhood to actually remove the (potential for) the causes for concern.

If at the end of this step, the neighbourhood doesn’t trust these plans and believe they are/will be effective at addressing their concerns, repeat this step 3.


4. Once this is done, if opposition to the non-market housing still exists, go back to step one.

It is highly likely that the true reasons for opposition is not opposition to non-market housing, but fear or concern about some anticipated outcome related to the housing.


5. If after addressing all identified concerns, and you’re sure all concerns have been identified, it’s time to tackle the issue of non-market housing itself.

Most people — even those who live in so-called NIMBY neighbourhoods, are not against non-market housing itself. We’re all safer when our neighbours have a roof over their heads, are well nourished, and feel safe. To be against such basic needs is inhuman. Call it out if this mindset (and not the above-mentioned concerns about negative outcomes) persists.

Most people are also not even against non-market housing in their own neighbourhood. If this is the actual root cause of neighbourhood opposition, and not one or more of the other above-mentioned concerns about negative outcomes, address this viewpoint directly — but only after removing all of the identified feared negative outcomes and concerns as outlined above.

6. Address this mitigation-resisitant opposition for what you (and they) now must acknowledge what it is: NIMBYism.

By this point, you’ve addressed all of their real concerns about negative outcomes — now they’ve got no remaining defence against being called a NIMBY.

Now address the NIMBYism by appealing to their sense of fairness; every neighbourhood must bear their fair share of the commitment to the greater social good.

If this neighbourhood is already bearing its full share, go back to step 3. Target a different neighbourhood, or reduce the project scale, so that the plan actually is fair.


7. At this point, it becomes a pro-social-good vs. anti-social-good argument.

By this time, it’s clear which side has the moral high ground and the upper hand, and holdouts at this point are likely to be a decided minority.

The outcome, at this point, is a community that no longer fears the negative outcomes of social housing, because those negative outcomes have actually been addressed.

The outcome is a community that believes that they’re doing the right thing by supporting the greater social good.