(Vancouver is currently without a chief planner. Former City Councillors May Brown, Marguerite Ford, and Darlene Marzari have sent the following message on that topic to Vancouver’s current Mayor and City Council. Copied below with the authors’ kind permission.)
Sent Jan 22nd, 2016
To Mayor and Council,
There seems to be a growing concern about City Council’s quest to hire a new Planner. As former city councillors, still in touch with a cross section of our community, we would add our voices to a gathering consensus that a new City Plan might help us to manage and set targets for growth, regulate where it occurs as well as retain affordable housing.
Our years of experience in working with neighborhood and downtown core planning gave us a liveable city. It was never easy, but the discussion included everyone and public hearings were taken seriously as part of a social contract with communities. Similarly, zoning bylaws gave citizens and developers alike a level playing field where each knew what to expect. The recent spate of spot zonings that now dot the city, fuelled by money from zoning “uplifts”, and the resultant tower mentality have undermined trust in the land use process, threatened neighborhoods and favored large developments over smaller more liveable projects. The last CityPlan was developed in 1994. It has been a template for what has come to be lauded as “Vancouverism” even though it never included a city wide land use map (a feature common to all official community plans produced by the other 20 member communities of the Vancouver Metro planning area). This deficiency can and should be redressed now, in the context of an updated and more explicit CityPlan.
The Green Plan for Vancouver is admirable in its intent, but it cannot replace the city’s major contract with its citizens: an explicit zoning bylaw, including a zoning map that would be the embodiment of our collective future hopes for our city rather than a record of all our spot zone exceptions. A new plan, developed inclusively and operated transparently, is achieveable. We do hope that the new City Planner will be hired with this in mind!
Sincerely, Former City Councillors