(Special Meeting of Council) Vancouver Plan – Emerging Directions and Big Ideas: A Dialogue with National and International City Builders on the Vancouver Plan (Tues, Nov 23, 2021)

ABOVE: The “Planning Vancouver Together” board from the ongoing Public Open House that ends on November 30, 2021. Work on the Phase 4 Draft will take place between Dec 2021 and June 2022. Do either of the featured illustrations resemble any street in Vancouver?

(Post-meeting update: Brian Palmquist shares observations about this meeting in Conversation #16 “The Vancouver Plan—Listening to Neighbours or Nobodies?“)

Council has had a number of special meetings to get input from outside experts for the Vancouver Plan. A previous one we covered was on September 28, regarding data-driven planning for long-term growth.

Now, Vancouver City Council has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday, November 23rd at 3pm to discuss the ongoing process to create a 30-year citywide official development plan: “Vancouver Plan – Emerging Directions and Big Ideas: A Dialogue with National and International City Builders.”

The meeting format will include panel presentations and a moderated discussion. No public speakers will be heard. However, members of the public can provide comments to Council on the comment page (link here) and also follow the live video feed.

We expect the discussion to center around the panel’s areas of expertise, but from the citizen’s perspective, we hope that a spotlight will be shone on how data is being used (or not) to project the city’s future needs, and how Vancouver planners are providing information (or not) and engaging (or not) with residents for the development of the Vancouver Plan. We hope the panelists know the background and how high the stakes are, that staff are racing to get the Vancouver Plan adopted as the city’s official development plan prior to the Oct 2022 civic election, and that the provincial government is talking about eliminating the need for public hearings for rezonings that fit the ODP.

Below is the basic flow and speakers.

Vancouver Plan – Emerging Directions and Big Ideas: A Dialogue with National and International City Builders

a) Introductions by Moderator Alex Bozikovic, Toronto-based Architecture & Planning Critic, Globe and Mail (See bio and link to his articles) [CityHallWatch note: Planning staff have picked a moderator who knows the field well, but he appears to come with biases that would simply reinforce Vancouver planners’ biases. Let’s hope he is able to maintain an open mind and provide balance as should a moderator. More below.]

b) Vancouver Plan Update from Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability staff

c) Panel Speakers:

i. Paty Rios, Executive Director, New Cities Foundation (Montreal). (Previously with the Happy Neighbours project and Happy City, and a lecturer at UBC on urban policy.)
ii. Andre Brumfield, Design Director, Gensler Cities & Urban Design (Chicago). (Past works include redevelopment in emerging urban districts; neighborhood and community revitalization; high-density, urban-infill; city-wide master planning…)
iii. Jay Pitter, Senior Fellow, Canadian Urban Institute; International Placemaker; and Author (Toronto) (website) (Past projects include the former Honest Ed’s, now Mirvish Village redevelopment project now under construction by Westbank in Toronto. The documentary There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace, was made about that project.)
iv. Solomon Wong, President and CEO, interVISTAS (Vancouver). Extensive work on airports, and the firm works with clients “to solve problems with credible, data-driven insights and forward thinking strategies,” so let’s hope he reads up on Vancouver’s need to get proper data to develop a citywide plan.

d) Moderated Discussion with Council Questions

*********

CityHallWatch comments: The public consultation phase on the Vancouver Plan ends in November. Something that has been conspicuously absent in this citywide planning process is the involvement of any kind of community liaison group, citizens’ assembly, or working group of volunteers. This contrasts with previous major planning processes. Some of our current Council members will remember this well. Before being elected, Councillors Fry and Swanson volunteered to help with the DTES LAPP (Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Process) while Councillor Wiebe was a volunteer on the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (MPIC). Councillors Carr and De Genova also attended meetings with residents in some of the previous community planning processes and received input from liaison groups. Why has this component — of active resident involvement in a plan — been dropped from engagement in the Vancouver Plan and from the concurrent Broadway Plan?

We’ve covered many topics that relate to Vancouver Plan and hope the discussion touches on some of them. What do the panelists think about where urban planning is today with rapidly changes happening with technology, work-from-home, autonomous vehicles, and adjustment to post-COVID life, and more? What do they think about the need to “pause and pivot“?  How about the fact that Vancouver’s chief planner admitted the City has no comprehensive inventory of zoned and development capacity on which to base policy? Do they believe the City should compile and share that information and use it in a comprehensive urban plan? What are the panelists’ views on how to balance developer interests with engagement with neighbourhoods? Do the panelists believe a municipal government and its employees (especially planning staff) should be truthful and honest, and engage with residents in good faith? Planning staff at this point appear to be getting quite specific about the heights and densities they have in mind for many parts of the City. Should they be using modern interactive 3D modelling software to give the public, anyone who wants to see it, ample opportunity to see what staff now have in mind? The conversations by Brian Palmquist on many aspects of the Vancouver Plan could be good prep reading for panelists.

More on the moderator, Alex Bozikovic. In selected articles below he comments on Vancouver and development topics.

  • Bio at The Globe and Mail.
  • Cities need to find the missing middle – and more” (13-Sep-2020). Refers to UBC professor and urban designer Patrick Condon as an example of “prominent anti-development voices in that city.” Conclusion: “The missing middle is desirable. But these places require big buildings, too.”
  • The long debate over an apartment building means it’s time for change in Vancouver’s city planning and politics” (26-July-2020). Article about the controversial 28-storey tower at Broadway and Birch. Excerpts: “Never mind that the neighbourhood is about to change. Back up and consider the basic question: Why does it matter if a new building is taller than what’s around it? In Surrey and Burnaby, forests of towers are springing up with no real visual coherence. That’s how cities generally grow. Life goes on.” “… Then let it be tall.” CityHallWatch had a Twitter interaction with him that he dropped out of, but it’s clear his attitude is build-build-build and don’t worry about the integrity of consultation and urban design, nor does he seem to pay much attention to financial aspects of affordability and developer incentives.
  • The storeys Margaret Atwood condemns” (29-Aug-2017). Regarding community opposition to a taller building in the neighbourhood. Bozikovic falls back on the development/anti-development and NIMBY/YIMBY divisive thinking with a condescending tone that either you’re for big development and towers or you’re idiot. Let’s hope that as moderator he can do better.

Public Open House for the Vancouver Plan at 511 West Broadway. Most engagement on the Vancouver Plan has been online. In-person opportunities have been very rare. Survey questions were formulated without citizen involvement.

For reference, the meeting agenda has been reproduced below:

https://council.vancouver.ca/20211123/spec20211123ag.htm

Special Council meeting agenda
November 23, 2021

Date and location

Tuesday, November 23, 2021  3 pm

Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall

There are no agenda items open for speaker registration.

Get involved and stay informed

Send comments to Council

Watch the live broadcast  Get updates on Twitter

  • Read the minutes PDF (usually ready two business days after the meeting)
  • Watch the video View a complete video stream of this meeting (usually ready one business day after)
  • Download the voting record (usually ready one week after)

Questions about this agenda?

This is a Special Council meeting called by the Mayor under section 14.5 of the Procedure By-law for the purpose of this meeting is to enable a panel discussion and dialogue with national and international city-builders to discuss emerging directions for the Vancouver Plan https://vancouverplan.ca/ .

  • Members of the public may attend City Hall to hear the meeting proceedings but are strongly urged to listen to the proceedings via the City’s website or follow Twitter @VanCityClerk
  • Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, even if vaccinated
  • Health protocols associated with COVID-19 will be observed for all persons in attendance
    Speakers will not be heard at this meeting
  • Send your comments to Council at http://vancouver.ca/contact-council
  • Watch the meeting live at http:vancouver.ca/council-video
  • Ask a question about this agenda: email speaker.request@vancouver.ca or call 604.829.4323

ROLL CALL

RULES OF CONDUCT

1. Vancouver Plan – Emerging Directions and Big Ideas: A Dialogue with National and International City Builders

a) Introductions by Moderator Alex Bozikovic, Architecture & Planning Critic, Globe and Mail

b) Vancouver Plan Update from Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability staff

c) Panel Speakers:

i. Paty Rios, Executive Director, New Cities Foundation
ii. Andre Brumfield, Design Director, Gensler Cities & Urban Design
iii. Jay Pitter, Senior Fellow, Canadian Urban Institute; International Placemaker; and Author
iv. Solomon Wong, President and CEO, interVISTAS

d) Moderated Discussion with Council Questions

ADJOURNMENT

* * * * *

Download the agenda

Public Open House for the Vancouver Plan at 511 West Broadway

2 thoughts on “(Special Meeting of Council) Vancouver Plan – Emerging Directions and Big Ideas: A Dialogue with National and International City Builders on the Vancouver Plan (Tues, Nov 23, 2021)

  1. The time is long past when we need to be cute or guarded expressing our opinion on planning work in Vancouver.

    Dating back to the CityPlan—where planners told me “we are up to our asses in alligators”, to the Norquay Plan, the Mount Pleasant Plan and the Grandview Woodlands Plan, planning in Vancouver has been devoid of any and all urban methodology except one—Towers-and-Skytrain.

    Planners don’t design neighborhoods because they are not trained to design. So, the opportunities are missed. Plan after plan after plan.

    Honestly, what has changed in the last 5 years, 7 years, or 9 years to suggest that Grandview Woodland, Mount Pleasant or Norquay need a new plan?

    Yes—that ONE thing—the GREED factor. More towers so we make more money so we can continue on the model that local government is being monetized just because it will advance the interest of the builder class (and their cronies) and screw Canadian citizens.

    Missing in Vancouver since the heyday of the 1990s is just that: Good Neighborhood Design, Squares, Streets and Parks (The Corridor Plan has NO NEW parks!).

    Think of ‘Good Neighborhoods’ this way:

    Walkable Neighborhoods
    Livable Streets
    Affordable Houses

    How many boards at Cambie & Broadway ILLUSTRATE these concepts? Total = 0.

    What has changed since the 1990a is that today all pretence for building Good Middle Density has been dropped. All pretence for having stakeholders own the place they call home has been dropped. What has taken its place is easily defined and tabulated:

    Tower Product
    High-capitalization projects using off-shore money and REITS
    No concern for where the capital originates (Communist countries, oil producers, drug and sex trade, you name it)
    Pre-sales as a Ponzi-style financing
    Towers for piling up rents on one site as high as possible

    Every other consideration is left up to government.

    Except that this Council—like the one that ramped up the process 20 years ago—is in the pocket of the developer. Election campaign reform and political contributions have only gone so far.

    And the professional staff that was supposed to be our fire wall against these despicable practices? A bunch of idiots sold on the idea that they will live condos; can’t afford to drive alternative fuel vehicles; don’t understand the Skytrain is a toy choo-choo badly underperforming modern tram; and don’t understand anything in its own terms. They are constantly asking for direction from the top: Tell me what to do next?

    Certainly that was the impression we had speaking to the young and green staffers that greeted us at Cambie and Broadway. Where a Gong Show is impersonating a consultative planning process.

    Time for change!

  2. The people chosen by planning is very telling.G and M reporter is obviously favouring developemnt from my years of reading his columns?

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