This is in response to Ms. Elizabeth Wilson’s story “Future citizens of Vancouver will be ROVERS,” May 25.
I believe it is safe to assume that this piece in the Vancouver Courier may be part of a building campaign (pun intended!). Vancouver council, developers and their media relation agents have been severely criticized about planning processes in some very high-profile, public ways.
Ms. Wilson and David Allison’s particular plea for “can’t we just get along and talk” has a distinct echo to elementary school days when being asked to co-operate meant do as the teacher/authority figures wanted. It is likely also a response that many people have to discussions where opinions differ, and often emotionally and/or passionately charged. We seem to want to avoid disagreement in a misguided effort to “be nice” to one-another. Such avoidance behaviour can be very damaging because we avoid real debates or discussions and lose the opportunities for better understanding and/or exploration if the solutions proposed fit a real problem or situation.
In Vancouver, there are four official community plans being developed: West End, Marpole, Grandview-Woodlands and Downtown East Side. Citizens and all kinds of “community-of-interest” people are indeed talking, listening and dreaming about our community and neighbourhoods right now. How the wishes of the citizens are interpreted and acted upon is the challenge. How to find balance for competing interests so that “we can all get along” is the real challenge, not inventing new labels for dissenting voices and methods of how to eliminate NIMBYism.
Ms. Wilson quotes Allison who works with developers to “…make their projects appeal to buyers.” Preparing plans does indeed take a long time. Being thorough, deliberate and keeping the community in mind can be and should be good for successful marketing. The consequences of such planning will be with us for a long time. All over North America we see great examples of what not to do. Many of those are with us since the 1960s—Metro Vancouver has its fair share. But that’s another movie.
Being an old woman and hopefully aging still for some time, I’ve become more sensitive to comments and characterizations of me and my cohorts. This is particularly so when the assumptions are tenuous at best and ageist at worst. Resisting rapid change could just apply the appropriate and necessary brakes to slow down rampant and thoughtless destruction and building. (Well, not entirely mindless of profit, I guess.)
By the way, it feels like “Rovers” (the four-legged kind) have taken over the park I like to go to. Please don’t let Rovers take over all of Vancouver. That is not to say that Ms. Wilson’s opinion piece is a dog of a story. Also, put me down as in favour of more theatrics. Some has the potential to enlighten as well as entertain. We could use more humour, too: it lubricates social discourse.
Gudrun Langolf is a Marpole resident and community activist.