Developing Story: City of Vancouver staff recommend delays for two community plans

City staff are recommending council extend the timeline for the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan in order to create a “Citizens’ Assembly” that will offer input on all areas of the plan, including “options and challenges related to planning appropriate transit-oriented density along the Broadway corridor at the south end of the community.”

Additional outreach is expected to cost $275,000.

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At the same time, staff are recommending “significant revisions” to the Marpole Community Plan, such as amending the draft plan to focus change on arterial streets and to limit change in single-family areas, as well as to remove a defined area west of Cambie Street from the plan for further planning work. Staff recommend the plan be granted a short extension until the end of this year or early next year for consultation on proposed revisions.

No delays, however, are recommended for the draft Downtown Eastside Community Plan or the draft West End Community Plan, which staff suggest move forward on schedule for consideration by council in November.

The recommendations are included in a report about the progress of the four community plans and the implications of extending timelines. The report will be discussed at the Sept. 25 city finances and services committee meeting.

Brian Jackson, the city’s manager of planning and development, told the Courier that if council approves the Grandview-Woodland recommendation, the plan will be delayed for at least a year and might not be brought before council until 2015, after the next civic election.

“Of the four area plans, this was the only area that had not been studied or had a plan before in some sense, so we felt it was really necessary to take a deep breath — not start all over again, but build on what we’d done and move forward and address the concerns in the community,” he said.

Some residents, particularly in Grandview-Woodland and Marpole, have complained about consultation and elements within their draft community plans, some details of which they argue were not raised during initial public consultation.

A rally is being organized for the steps of city hall at 5:45 p.m, Sept. 24 to protest how the city is handling planning.

Jak King, president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, expects residents from at least 18 Vancouver neighbourhoods to attend. King told the Courier in an email Monday night, shortly after the staff report was posted online, that residents need time to absorb its contents, but he already has concerns.

“We can see that the planning department is using a divide and conquer strategy to try to split the neighbourhoods by giving nothing to some, a little to Marpole, and a lot more to [Grandview-Woodland],” he wrote. “I will let the other neighbourhoods speak for themselves but we would like to have seen consistency across the city and I am sure the rally on the 24th will make it clear that we are unified in our opposition to the way both the planning department and the city council deal with all the communities in the city.”

Jackson maintains staff tried to come up with a response that was appropriate for each community, “recognizing that each community’s concerns were different, recognizing that the processes involved were different and recognizing the level of work that had been done in each of the communities over the years was different.”

King said he’ll wait for more details about the Citizens’ Assembly to decide if “it is just another smoke & mirrors engagement exercise that we have seen so often from this council.”
“Also, at first read, Jackson is still trying to sell the line that the only real problems we have in [Grandview-Woodland] are at Commercial & Broadway. That’s nonsense and he is well aware that the community has serious issues about all geographic areas of the draft plan. The towers at Commercial & Broadway were, many of us believe, deliberately provocative, deliberately designed to draw attention away from the other areas. We assume the hope was to solve the tower problem and thus claim that [Grandview-Woodland’s] plan was now complete.  I can only wish them good luck with that!,” he wrote.

Jackson said he’s not disappointed with how the planning process has turned out thus far.

“It’s challenging to be able to deliver four area plans on time and within budget and so the fact that we’re recommending that two go forward on time and one have a slight delay and that the fourth one is significantly delayed is not disappointing for me — it’s what I think is a reasonable approach to the issues raised in each of the four area plans,” he said.

noconnor@vancourier.com

twitter.com/naoibh

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