Author Archives: wbmstr

Planning, Development and Community Engagement: Putting the Community back into Community Planning

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is proud to announce an All-Party Meeting in advance of the Vancouver Municipal Election.  The meeting will take place at:

 St. James’ Hall, 3214 W. 10th Avenue
 7:00pm to 9:00pm Wednesday 15th October 2014

The theme of the meeting will be:

Planning, Development and Community Engagement: 

Putting the Community back into Community Planning

Each party has been asked to send two candidates standing for either the mayoralty or City Council.  We have already received confirmation of acceptance from five parties.

The final format is still being negotiated, but we will ask each party to respond in opening remarks to the Coalition’s Principles & Goals document that seeks to significantly improve planning, development, and rezoning processes in the city.  Much of the balance of the evening will be given over to an open-mic opportunity for residents to question the candidates about their planning, development, and zoning policies.

Read the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ Principles and Goals (143kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Principles-and-Goals-Apr7_2014.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods challenges all candidates to support Neighbourhood-Based planning

June 12, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Angered for years by Vancouver’s divisive community engagement practices, communities from across the city have united as the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods to demand more from elected officials. The Coalition today published its Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-Based Planning in the City of Vancouver. 

The Coalition will be calling on all candidates in the city’s upcoming November election to declare publicly their support of these shared principles. The Coalition, which maintains no party affiliation, will then actively publicize which candidates and parties support the Principles and Goals and which candidates and parties reject a collaborative relationship with neighbourhoods.

The Principles and Goals document calls for re-establishing a partnership between the City and its neighbourhoods, and recognizing neighbourhoods as the fundamental building block for future land use and development. The document asks elected officials to:

• work collaboratively with residents, neighbourhood associations and community organizations throughout development planning processes;

• consider the interests of communities and residents above developer profits;

• work with local residents and local businesses to determine how best to meet city-wide and regional goals within their individual communities.

 

The Coalition now represents a majority of Vancouver neighbourhoods, and continues to attract and welcome new member associations. It has grown to include 24 diverse community associations from all across the city, from the West End, Downtown East Side and Point Grey, to Mount Pleasant, Strathcona and Shaughnessy Heights, all in strong support of a collaborative relationship with their civic government.

“The Coalition has clearly articulated what we expect of our government,” says Grandview-Woodland resident, Jak King, one of the founders of the Coalition. We’re seeking a Collaborative Partnership that is transparent and accountable; Development that builds community, not just bricks and mortar; and a Livable sustainable city that acknowledges neighbourhoods as the fundamental building block for future development.”

In supporting the work of the Coalition, Dunbar Residents Association representative Jonathan Weisman said: “We’ve demonstrated that a collaborative neighbourhood-centred planning process can be very successful. In Dunbar, our community vision continues to enjoy broad and strong support, and contributes to the neighbourhood’s sense of pride and engagement.”

“The absence of neighbourhood-based planning only leads to conflict and opposition to development,” said Fern Jeffries, co-chair of the False Creek Residents Association and a founding leader of the Coalition. “Our statement of Principles and Goals is timely as our neighbourhood continues fighting for a park that has been a legal commitment since 1990. Current plans involved absolutely no meaningful consultation with the neighbourhood, and that has to change.”

The full document detailing Principles and Goals and a complete listing of participating organizations can be found at our web site: coalitionvan.org. Also available is a one-page summary of the document.

-30-

Download this release (232kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-June12_2014.pdf

Electoral Reform, Or Cementing The Status Quo?

April 2, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Electoral Reform, Or Cementing The Status Quo?

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods urges all members of the Provincial Legislature to reject Bills 20 and 21 and implement meaningful reforms in advance of the November 2014 municipal elections. “Although the Provincial Government says these bills will reform municipal elections, in fact they will just cement the status quo in which Big Business, Big Labour and Major Land Developers control what happens in our cities.” says Jak King, Chair of the Coalition.

Bill 20 will increase municipal terms of offices from three years to four years. “We need more accountability not less” maintains Mr. King. “The Coalition believes that having politicians accountable to the citizens they serve every four years instead of every three years means that elected officials will have a longer time without public scrutiny, able to make decisions that please their Party funders rather than the electorate.”

Current campaign finance rules allow parties to spend unlimited sums — far in excess of what we see in other provinces. Vancouver municipal politicians can accept money from foreign sources. This is very significant for Vancouver’s neighbourhoods as so much of the new housing stock is built for foreign investors rather than for local residents. We urge the legislature to make important amendments. for example, capping donations at an amount consistent with other jurisdictions, and ensuring that only individuals, not corporations can make donations.

The Coalition wants to see real reform, similar to what we have at the Federal level where there are requirements for full disclosure and for limits to individual contributions, where the non-elector influences are severely limited and it is the citizens who have the real influence over party platform and policy direction. One of the most egregious gaps in what is proposed is that Big Business and Big Labour can still make significant contributions in non-election years with no transparency or public scrutiny. Page 2 of 2

 

The Coalition believes that significant electoral reform is critical to improving the relationship between Vancouver’s municipal government and our communities. Last year was named “The Year of Dissent” by the media. “We saw unprecedented numbers of community rise up in protest against forced redevelopment, demolition of affordable housing, extinction of view corridors, and this Council’s ongoing dancing to the tune of major developers and party funders.” maintains Fern Jeffries, Co-Chair of the False Creek Residents Association and the Coalition, “We need the Provincial Government to stand up for accountability and good government”.

The Coalition is committed to developing a better relationship between the City of Vancouver and the city’s neighbourhoods. Meaningful community engagement and local resident influence over land use and development is critical. Bills 20 and 21 undermine this, making it easier for elected officials to avoid public accountability and continue to respond to the influences of major corporations.

We want real reform, reform that will redress the undue influence and power of money in our local political system.

-30-

Download this release (232kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-Electoral_Reform_or_Cementing_Status_Quo-Apr2_2014.pdf

 

Why Isn’t City Council Prioritizing Public Participation in Civic Process?

February 28, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Why Isn’t City Council Prioritizing Public Participation in Civic Process? 

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has written to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Council asking them to reconsider the City’s recent decision to schedule vitally important public hearings during inconvenient daytime work hours.

These scheduled hearings include significant and controversial rezonings for the massive $1.5 billion Oakridge Centre Mall project, for Southland’s Casa Mia, as well as contested spot rezoning proposals in Kitsilano and other neighbourhoods.

The Coalition notes that public hearings held during traditional working hours severely limit the ability of most citizens to attend, imposing barriers to public access to City decision-making that are inconsistent with the recent publication of the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force Report. In particular, these hearings fail to meet any of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)’s core values that were included in the Task Force’s recommendations.

Mayor Robertson himself stated on January 30 this year that “I’ve heard the concerns people have raised over how City Hall engages with residents. There’s no question we can do better.” However, such ideals appear to have been ignored almost entirely by the actions of Council in scheduling these hearings. Public access, input, and influence are priorities officially accepted by Council. These should be honoured and fulfilled.

The Coalition understands that evening and weekend hearings are inconvenient for Councillors and City staff but notes that this is the people’s business and the people’s convenience too. We eagerly await the Mayor and City Councillors’ response to our letter.

-30-

Download this release (154kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-7-Feb28_2014.pdf

On Public Participation and Hearing Schedules

February 27, 2014

Mayor Gregor Robertson
City Hall
Vancouver, BC

Mayor Robertson:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is writing to ask that you urgently reconsider the City’s recent decision to schedule vitally important public hearings during inconvenient daytime work hours. These scheduled hearings include significant and controversial rezonings for the Oakridge Centre Mall project, for Casa Mia in Southlands, as well as contested spot rezoning proposals in Kitsilano and other neighbourhoods.

The Coalition notes that public hearings held during traditional working hours severely limit the ability of most citizens to attend, imposing barriers to public access to City decision-making that are inconsistent with the recent publication of the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force Report. In particular, these hearings fail to meet any of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)’s core values that were included in the Task Force’s recommendations.

The Core Values define the expectations and aspirations of the public participation process as follows:

1. Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.

2. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.

3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.

4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.

5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.

6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.

However, these ideals appear to have been ignored almost entirely by the actions of Council in scheduling these hearings. Public access, input, and influence are priorities officially accepted by Council. These should be honoured and fulfilled.

Mayor Robertson, you stated on January 30 this year that “I’ve heard the concerns people have raised over how City Hall engages with residents. There’s no question we can do better.” We ask you to confirm those fine words with concrete action.

The Coalition understands that evening and weekend hearings are inconvenient for Councillors and City staff but notes that this is the people’s business and the people’s convenience too.

For and on behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Jak King

cc:

Clr. Affleck
Clr. Ball
Clr. Carr
Clr. Deal
Clr. Jang
Clr. Louie
Clr. Meggs
Clr. Reimer
Clr. Stevenson
Clr. Tang
Dr. Penny Ballem
City Clerk Janice MacKenzie

West End Zoning Amendments – Public Hearing January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014  – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

West End Zoning Amendments – Public Hearing January 23, 2014 

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods today wrote to the Mayor and City Council stating that the Coalition “is opposed to the zoning amendments for the West End as currently proposed. We have major concerns that the zoning amendments have been brought forward for approval without acceptable community input based on the West End Community Plan which has been flawed in the same ways that City Council has recognized in three other current planning processes.”

West End Neighbours, one of our member residents associations, has provided many examples of problems with the current zoning amendments, including the following:

  • The West End Community Plan was not the product of a meaningful public engagement exercise.
  • Residents have not had a fair chance to digest the many and complex proposals – and the City has not done an adequate job of educating residents, or even of answering questions following the release of the Plan.
  • Insufficient rationale was provided for the West End needing to absorb 10,000 more residents.
  • The City failed to adequately explore or evaluate with our community the variety of options for housing these theoretical future residents.
  • The Plan is imposing what the vast majority of residents did NOT want. Most residents surveyed by the City indicated they did not want new buildings exceeding 11 storeys in height. But the Plan, and the proposed zoning changes, propose that almost all new dwelling units be provided in buildings exceeding 11 storeys.

The objective of the Coalition of Vancouver Communities is to create a new development and planning paradigm that will stress community involvement and local influence in land-use and zoning decisions. We have major concerns about the current planning processes and is observing with interest how the City addresses the concerns of the West End.

-30-

Download this release (123kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-5-Jan23_2014.pdf

 

Pearson Dogwood Lands Report Rushed To Judgment

January 20th 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pearson Dogwood Lands Report Rushed To Judgment 

Vancouver, B.C. – The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods expresses its serious concern that once again the City of Vancouver is short-changing the public by publishing a detailed 118-page policy document a mere six days before an important Council decision.

The future of the 25-acre Pearson Dogwood Lands, bounded by Cambie, 57th, Heather and 59th, will be debated by City Council on Wednesday January 22nd. This is a major development, with plans calling for more than three million square feet of gross floor space, including towers ranging in height up to 28-storeys (265 ft/ 81m). The cost of the development is likely to exceed $450 million.

An important development, yes; but the public have been given just six days to study the report by Assistant Planning Director Matt Shillito called the “Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement” which will “guide the future rezoning and development.”

The release of this report with so little time for the public to study it and its implications is in line with a series of such delayed publications. A few examples of many:

  • the zoning changes to the West End Community Plan have been issued just ten days before the relevant hearing;
  • the Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation Report was published with just 6 days notice;
  • the public was given only a week to study the Jackson Report on four Community Plans last September;
  • the massive Transportation 2040 policy was approved just three working days after being published.

In none of these cases was timing of such importance that the hearings could not have waited until after a reasonable period of study was allowed. The short notice given to the public to respond to such important reports makes a mockery of genuine consultation and citizen engagement.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods proposes to work with the City to co-create a framework for a meaningful consultation process, including minimum publication times, engagement, and reasonable discussion of options as part of a new approach to planning.

-30-

Download this release (123kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-4-Jan20_2014.pdf

Letter: Neighbourhood coalitions working

Re: “City forms truce with Marpole residents,” Dec. 4,
Editorial and Letters, Vancouver Courier

To the editor:

Re: “City forms truce with Marpole residents,” Dec. 4.

We were interested to read this story about the new attitude city planners seem to have adopted regarding community engagement in Marpole.

As your readers will recall, this summer and fall witnessed unprecedented levels of discontent with the City of Vancouver’s planning process.

This was particularly evident in the neighbourhoods where the city is drawing up 30-year plans — the West End, Marpole, Downtown Eastside, and Grandview-Woodland — but also in many other districts where innumerable hours of residents’ participation has led to little but frustration.

The loudly expressed anger of thousands of residents gave rise to the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, which is now  made up of 21 community associations from across the city.

The prime goal of the coalition is to redesign the planning process to ensure that residents are actively involved in development decisions and that their views are respected.

The coalition has engaged with the planning department and city council to argue for the greater involvement of residents in land use, development and zoning issues.

The apparently more respectful attitude by planners in Marpole is evidence that the efforts of the Coalition, along with those of the Marpole Residents who are part of our Coalition, are having a positive impact.

We will continue to work on behalf of residents across the city, especially where development and zoning projects are being pursued in opposition to the expressed wishes of residents’ representatives and we look forward to better results right across the city.

Jak King, spokesperson,
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

 

Originally published: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/editorial-and-letters/letter-neighbourhood-coalitions-working-1.724813#sthash.bw2L2x4d.dpuf

 

West End Community Plan Flawed

November 18, 2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Re: West End Community Plan – Council Committee November 20, 2013

Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is opposed to the adoption of the West End Community Plan as currently proposed. The West End Community Plan has been flawed in the same ways that you recognized in three other current planning processes, and the West End deserves fairer treatment than immediate adoption will allow.

West End residents tell us that the most important final stage of consultation has been rushed, the community still has many unanswered questions and concerns, and important gaps remain in the content of the draft Plan. We are sure that Council will agree that everyone is seeking a thirty-year plan that West Enders can accept and that the entire city can be proud of. The current Plan does not meet that objective.

We request Council to not adopt the Plan at this time. Instead, we ask that it be referred back to staff and the community, utilizing an improved process, with innovation in engagement techniques to more fully address the community’s concerns. For example, we believe the City should provide visualizations of streetscapes so that the public can see the real impacts of proposed revisions in land use provisions. Knowing that extra work is still required, we also request an extended timeline for completion, and adequate additional funding.

The objective of the Coalition of Vancouver Communities is to create a new development and planning paradigm that will stress community involvement and local influence in land-use and zoning decisions. We have major concerns about the current planning processes. Please be assured that the Coalition is observing with interest how the City addresses the concerns of the West End. Continue reading

What’s The Rush? Vancouver Communities Question Rapid Rate of Development

November 4, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What’s The Rush? Vancouver Communities Question Rapid Rate of Development

Vancouver, B.C. – The City of Vancouver is accepting proposals and approving residential construction five times faster than their own projections demand.

According to the Regional Context Statement approved by Vancouver City Council in June this year, the planners anticipate that Vancouver will see an increase of 153,800 people in the thirty-five years from 2006 to 2041 – a rate of an additional 4,350 people per year.

It is this expected increase of 153,800 people that the City says demands the densification plans they have been pushing.

However, since 2011, the city has already proposed or approved sufficient new housing to accommodate 43,000 people. In just two years, this planned housing satisfies 28% of the growth the city projects being required over the next 35 years.

Continue reading