Vancouver neighbourhood activists cautiously optimistic about election results

With Gregor Robertson winning his third term as mayor, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods remains “cautiously optimistic.”

That’s how co-chair Larry Benge described Vision Vancouver’s continued majority on council, just moments after the election was called.

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“We are going to be dealing with much of the same things we were dealing with before,” Benge told the Courier. “It’ll be interesting to see how authentic and meaningful the mayor’s apology was at the tail end, where he said he hadn’t been listening and that there are things he would have liked to do better. It’s time to hold his feet to the fire and see if he will do better.”

The coalition formed last year after nearly 20 community groups banded together in an effort to change the city’s planning process, arguing major development projects lacked transparency and resident consultation.

Most recently, the coalition created a set of principals and goals, outlining a more collaborative approach in planning, including household surveys and access to land-use data. Robertson did not endorse the document, stating in a previous interview with the Courier, “The majority of people understand we have to add more density and more housing, more business opportunities in the city. We try and do that as thoughtfully and carefully as we can, with an open process. And there’s always going to be some disagreement about that.”

For Benge, the next step will be to gather coalition members and reassess. “We’ll have to decide what our role is and our mandate is in the future.”

But for this Kitsilano resident, the coalition won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

“My feeling before the election was for CVN to continue. Until our city government, either in its structure or departmental makeup, has a way for the city to deal with its neighbourhoods in a direct manner, there is a place for CVN.”

Benge welcomed the mixed makeup of representatives on park board and school board, noting there’s more opportunities for discussion.

“With more of a balance, you listen to other people more. When you have a majority, you have the ability to take what you decide to do and run with it,” he said.

Fellow chair Fern Jeffries echoed much of the same sentiment by saying “Vision will have a majority on council, but there is a chance with that kind of mix for communities to be heard.”

Benge predicted Vancouver residents will know soon enough if Robertson will stay true to his word.

“We’ll see if there’s any change, most likely at the next city council meeting,” he said.

tverenca@gmail.com
Twitter.com/ tverenca

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