City of Vancouver Planners, answers please!

OCOP has sent a letter to the City of Vancouver Planning department and to City Council asking that the Citizens Assembly process be put on hold until some basic questions regarding representation on the Citizens Assembly and land use/density questions can be answered. OCOP is seeking a meeting with  the City’s planning staff to make sense of a process that once again looks like it it will result in misunderstanding and confusion.  The full letter is below.

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June 29, 2014

TO:  Mayor Robertson, Council Members, Planning Department Staff, Grandview Woodland Residents

Re:  Grandview Woodland Community Plan (GWCP)

Members of the planning department representing the Grandview Woodlands Community Planning process and representatives of the Citizen’s Assembly consultant team met with residents on June 9, 2014 at Britannia Centre to discuss next steps in the planning process including the Citizen’s Assembly (CA) Terms of Reference document.

Questions and answers focused two issues:

  1. The composition of the CA and
  2. The need for the neighbourhood to understand the Emerging Land Use Directions (ELUD) presented to the neighbourhood at an open house on June 2013.

Residents met to discuss the outcome of this session.  It was agreed that before continuing the planning process and the formation of the CA, an open and complete discussion of the ELUD with the planning department is required.

The community planning process ground to a halt last year when the ELUD was released.  There were no substantial discussions of density and land use during the community planning process and therefore, the release of the ELUD was understood by the majority of the neighbourhood as a betrayal:  why would the community not be consulted on this fundamental aspect of the plan?   Without any clear communication from the City, the community assumed the ELUD reflected either a gross lack of judgement or a will within the planning department to deliberately change the form and character of Grandview Woodlands.  The public outcry resulted in the request for an extension of the community planning process, many assuming to develop a Land Use plan that reflected the community’s values and vision for the future and that the recommendation by Council to form a Citizen’s Assembly to be the best method to achieve this.

Many residents agree that the formation of the CA is not democratic.  The CA Terms of Reference grants the City discretionary power over which of the CA’s final recommendations (if any) will be integrated into the Grandview Woodland Community Plan.  The lack of democratic structure combined with the City’s discretionary power over the CA’s recommendations defeats the spirit of an Assembly of Citizens.

We request that planning staff, including the Director of Planning, Brian Jackson, meet with the residents to review the following issues regarding the CA:

1. How does the proposed recruitment process ensure a democratic representation?

2. What is necessary to ensure the CA’s final recommendations are incorporated, in their entirety, into the final Grandview –Woodland Neighbourhood Plan?

 

We also request that planning staff, including the Director of Planning, Brian Jackson, meet with the residents to review the following issues regarding the ELUD:

1. What population growth targets were used to determine the density?

2. What planning principles determined the location and form of development?

These issues are fundamental to the community, considering a revised ELUD is the primary goal of the process using a democratic Citizen’s Assembly as the tool.  At the June 9, 2014 meeting, planning staff suggested that the planning principles and density/growth targets would be part of the “curriculum” for the CA.  Vancouverites believe that this fundamental criteria for determining the future of our communities should be general knowledge, shared in the most open and democratic methods possible  and is the reason for our request to meet with the Director of Planning and key planning staff.

As a show of good faith, we request the Planning Department suggest a date to meet before proceeding with any further work of the CA. We request a written response to the Contacts listed below by Tuesday July 15, 2014.

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