Ned Jacobs lashes out at Vision council for lack of consultation

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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He's had such a bad week that Mayor Robertson now fondly refers to the backyard chicken debate as the "good old days"

It wasn't quite an earthquake, but reading Ned Jacobs (son of Jane Jacobs) opinion piece in the Georgia Straight today was I'm sure enough to shake up a number of stalwart Vision Vancouver supporters. Over the years, Jacobs has become a fixture at Vancouver City Hall, presenting on a variety of issues relating to making Vancouver a better place to live, work and play. You could easily say he is truly a chip off the old block. Tonight, Ned's opinion piece slamming Vision Vancouver has everyone shaking their head in disbelief.

During the previous term of Council, Vision Vancouver councillors regularly quoted Ms. Jacobs and her vision for building more walkable compact cities. They never came out and said it, but Vision hinted that Jacobs was clearly sympathetic to their cause. Therefore, it was naturally assumed the son was also a big supporter of Vision. If that were true at some point, that no longer appears to be the case based on what he wrote in the Straight. Here are a few excerpts:

The Vision Vancouver-dominated city council was elected last fall based on a platform of citizen engagement, openness, improved process, community consultation, and grassroots neighbourhood-based planning. To date, the Vision mayor and councillors have reneged on all of these promises.

Council continues to disregard the community in favour of the development industry. Public process is not improving; in fact, it is getting worse. During the election campaign and at the beginning of the term, citizens were assured that they would be included early and often in the decision-making process. Instead, staff reports are made public with even less time for review and comment than under the previous council, and “block” voting by Vision Vancouver sends a clear message that decisions have already been made behind closed doors.

Jacobs doesn't pull any punches when he attacks Vision for their lack of consultation and due process regarding their new STIR (Short Term Incentives for Rentals) program we wrote about in an earlier post:

For example, council passed the Short Term Incentives for Rentals program on June 18, 2009, without adequate public consultation. Vision councillors announced that their civic “partners” were the development industry, declaring that there was no need for further public process because “the consultation was the election”. Only COPE’s Ellen Woodsworth (David Cadman was away) and the NPA’s Suzanne Anton opposed STIR, due to lack of public consultation, lack of affordability provisions, and many other concerns. Such disregard for civic democracy and due process is shocking and demonstrates the urgency of implementing meaningful campaign-finance reform.

STIR waives development cost levies, relaxes parking requirements, and potentially uses city-owned lands for new market rentals, at rates that most renters cannot afford. Because DCLs currently subsidize affordability and pay for the public amenities that help make Vancouver livable (especially for those with low or moderate incomes), this amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

He goes on to state:

Meanwhile, council has not followed through with numerous promises made to the community. The city is continuing with the CityPlan Vision Implementation Review, which undermines the neighbourhood-based planning that Mayor Gregor Robertson and his party supported during the civic election. The unsupported EcoDensity initiative, primarily a greenwashed grab-bag for developers, is still policy. EcoDensity’s one-size-fits-all, top-down planning is being used to override approved community visions, which allow for increased housing options and density, including laneway infill, through a community-supported process.

The public have clearly indicated that they want council to respect neighbourhood character and community voice rather than handing the city over to the development industry. Vision Vancouver may be counting on their development “partners” to pay off their campaign debt, but they would be wise to remember that it was voters who put them into council seats.

Mayor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver caucus have had another terrible week. They are still feeling the HEAT over the bungled no-barrier shelters initiative. They have STIRred up more controversy with their lack of consultation on corporate giveaways to Vancouver's development community. They are taking it on the chin for the upcoming Burrard Bridge lane closure. The business community is upset they cut funding for the successful Ambassador program. Even Allen Garr took a swipe at them. Not a good week indeed.

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