Hundreds of residents and their supporters braved intermittent rain to rally outside city hall Tuesday to protest several community plans and to voice their frustration over what they say is a lack of public consultation by the Vision Vancouver city council.
Protesters held signs opposing plans for Grandview-Woodlands, the Downtown Eastside, the West End and Marpole.
Rally organizers from the Marpole Residents Coalition said on their website prior to the rally that 600 residents from across the city were expected to take part in the event. Vancouver Police Department members monitoring the rally estimated 200 to 250 people were present.
Approximately two-thirds of those were holding “Stop Marpole Rezoning” signs.
Speakers included Mike Burdick of the Marpole Residents Coalition and Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr.
Burdick said residents were tired of being “treated like illiterate children” by council and said while some changes had been made to plans, not enough has been done to address concerns about the city’s “broken planning process.”
The loudest cheers from the crowd came when any of the speakers talked of ousting Vision in the next election.
Carr said she and the Non-Partisan Association’s George Affleck were the only two council members who came out with the protesters. The crowd of mostly Marpole residents surrounding her erupted with applause and cheers when she said, “[This] should not be city council’s plan. It should be your plan.”
Derek Poon, a Marpole resident who brought his young son to the rally, called the Marpole Community plan “fundamentally unfair.”
He added: “If the council gets their six votes then homeowners don’t their say.” He said he hopes when the Vision council sees the crowd of angry residents at the rally it will “step back and stop or postpone rezoning.”
Demonstrator Bob Fitzpatrick doesn’t live in Marpole, but came out to support the community’s protesters. He said people are frightened by the rate of “helter skelter development” along Cambie Street where there are four developments planned, but not the infrastructure to accommodate them. Fitzpatrick, who lives in Kitsilano, said he wants council to slow down and rethink its plans.
Holding a sign that read “No! No more big profits going to developers.” Terry Slack of the Dunbar Residents’ Association said, “We know for sure developers are making a lot of money.” He wants the city to take a step back from its plans and then communicate with communities more. “They [council] have a plan and that is to density Vancouver until it is unlivable…Vision has no vision.”
Reached by the Courier for comment prior to the rally, Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer said while everyone’s point is valid, there is a cost to not acting.
“My interest is in meeting everyone’s needs, the wants get more challenging. I wouldn’t want to prioritize people’s wants over needs,” she said.
Reimer said access to affordable housing is a huge issue in the city and that is where the focus should be.
Staff and members of the public are set to present to council regarding the plans at the city finance and services committee meeting at 1:30 p.m, Sept. 25 at city hall.
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