Mayor Gregor Robertson rejects collaborative process between the city and its neighbourhoods
In an interview with the Vancouver Courier on October 30, 2014, Mayor Gregor Robertson acknowledged that the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ principles that promote a collaborative process with the city and communities for community planning was “worthy”, however, he rejected it saying it “doesn’t align with the city’s existing policy”. The Coalition is disappointed to hear this position from the current Mayor on behalf of the ruling Vision party.
The Coalition asked all the parties running candidates in the 2014 civic election if they would support the Coalition’s principles. All parties, except for Vision, supported the principles, including the NPA, Greens, COPE, Cedar, Vancouver First, One City and independent candidate Bob Kasting. This was confirmed in public at the Coalition’s candidates meeting on October 15, 2014 in front of media and an audience of about 400.
“The Principles,” said Coalition Co-Chair Larry Benge, “promote a collaborative process consistent with the city’s CityPlan practice to implement growth that is sustainable, affordable, and livable. Yet Mayor Robertson dismisses this as simply a means to avoid change, when in fact it is a means to accommodate change.”
We are also concerned that the Mayor, in the same interview, said our members come too often to present their opinions to Council. “We conclude that Mayor Robertson does not want to hear alternative views,” said Co-Chair Fern Jeffries. “He wants citizens to refrain from presenting their views, and the opinions of their neighbourhood associations, to our elected officials. We represent a more democratic perspective.”
Further, Mayor Robertson is unaware who the neighbourhood associations are, even after his six years in office. He dismissed them as politically motivated when in fact they are long established non-partisan groups and associations, some with more than 50 years history, with the objective to represent their neighbourhoods on issues that concern them. This is a very important role in our democracy particularly because Vancouver does not have a ward system or any other systematic way of hearing from neighbourhoods.
The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is a group of 25 such associations and groups that came together in the summer of 2013. The Coalition is a vehicle for citizen engagement, for inclusion, and for a collaborative partnership in community engagement. We look forward to a more positive relationship with City Council.