Vancouver's new councillors weigh in on prospect of a city-wide plan

With the Green Party and the NPA onside, it’s possible the new council could move forward on a city-wide plan considering it was in both parties’ platforms.

The Courier polled councillors, who were sworn in Nov. 5, about their thoughts on the idea:

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Colleen Hardwick, NPA

I have been advocating for a new city-wide plan for many years. It is long overdue. The last 10 years have featured a top-down planning process that has largely ignored our legacy of community planning in this city. Before moving ahead on any major pending plans, the City needs to press the pause button. We need to engage with the residents of Vancouver and determine what kind of city they want to live in in the future. We need to be sensitive to the nuance of neighbourhoods as opposed to applying one-size-fits-all rezoning, for example. It is important that this city-wide process begin as soon as reasonably possible to reset our collective response to planning for the future of Vancouver. A design exercise (not a planning exercise) could be done in 1.5 years, subject to the City of Vancouver setting up, beforehand, the proper inputs towards meaningful co-design engagement with citizens.

Lisa Dominato, NPA

I think there’s value at looking at the idea of having a city plan... I understand even [chief planner] Gil Kelley has pointed out we’re a large jurisdiction that doesn’t have one. If you look around, others do. So I think there’s value in that. I’m really looking forward to having a dialogue with our staff and our professional public servants. Having been a public servant myself, I think it’s really important to sit down with them and hear from them about what’s working, what isn’t, how you approach a city-wide plan and how quickly it could be done. I certainly welcome the conversation and we look forward to that dialogue with our staff.

Melissa De Genova, NPA

I support a city-wide plan overall. We still need to look at how we would address the fact that Vancouver has 22, and I would argue 23, unique neighbourhoods and it can’t be a cookie-cutter plan completely city-wide. We need a terms of reference and some rules to govern the process, which is what I would see as the city-wide plan. Each neighbourhood has different needs, different heritage. For instance, in Shaughnessy, there’s a reason we moved forward with a heritage conservation area. So I still think we need to address each neighbourhood separately. It would stop, perhaps, the public outcry about the spot rezonings if, perhaps, we did have a calculated plan for what we anticipated development looking like for each particular neighbourhood.

Jean Swanson, COPE

My highest priorities are getting a rent freeze and ending homelessness and getting a source of revenue for ending homelessness like a mansion tax that could then be used for building social housing for renters after the homeless are housed. A source of revenue is what's stopping us from dealing with the housing crisis effectively in the absence of adequate senior government contributions. So, a city-wide plan in not on my priority list. My fear is that it could set back building social and modular housing that we desperately need now.  On the other hand, if it could down zone some places that Vision upzoned it might help protect tenants. But maybe the greens and NPA are wanting upzoning. I need to see some details. To be sure, I'm not against upzoning for social housing especially in neighbourhoods where no one will be pushed out because of it.

Christine Boyle, OneCity

I'm not against a city plan, but I want to ensure that the types of housing we desperately need — temporary modular housing, social housing and affordable purpose-built rental in every neighbourhood — aren't being stalled by the process. The urgency that vulnerable people in Vancouver are experiencing is real. We need to ensure we are moving forward on addressing their housing needs, as well as strengthening tenant protections, and talking with the province about a land value tax, while we engage with communities about a livable future for Vancouver.

Here’s what the three Green Party councillors, as well as two NPA councillors, said in late October when asked what their top priority was for the coming term:

Adriane Carr, Green Party

[One of my two first priorities is] implementing and actually accomplishing within 18 months a city-wide plan that focuses on affordable housing, transportation and sustainability — bringing down our greenhouse gas emissions — so [that] it’s a really robust plan and it’s done really consultatively, in fact, co-created with residents.

Pete Fry, Green Party

At the root of it is the whole idea of a comprehensive city plan that really informs a lot of other things that we need to accomplish. A city plan, in and of itself, doesn’t sound very exciting but I think it’s an opportunity to kick start a conversation about what we, as a city, aspire to do. When I say, we as a city, I mean the citizens and residents, not just city councillors and staff. It’s an opportunity for how we want to re-set some of the stuff that’s not working in our city. That includes housing and how we’re adding new homes and housing choices to neighbourhoods across the city — revitalizing those neighbourhoods; and how we’re addressing homelessness and the opioid crisis… It’s about changing the culture at city hall and about changing the culture of how we as a city are moving forward and working together. It’s about openness and transparency and collaboration and co-creation.

Michael Wiebe, Green Party

My number-one priority is to restructure the way engagement and consultation is done to co-create the city-wide plan.

Rebecca Bligh, NPA

… In the immediate [term], it appears quite obvious to me, we cannot move forward without a citywide plan. Meaning we must project 15 to 20 years into the future and ask ourselves, “What will Vancouver require in terms of liveability?” Then and only then, can we get to work, with confidence, in building a city where people can thrive.

Sarah Kirby-Yung, NPA

Did not respond to a query about her thoughts about a city-wide plan

noconnor@vancourier.com

 

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