A resolution made by Councillor Whetham was recently passed at our local Council meeting to look at future planning for a city block in our own downtown. That block is made up of a substantial amount of city owned heritage property, the FireHall, City Hall, the brick Electrical Building and The Studio, Stage Door. The block also houses the RCMP building and city owned empty lots. Public input will be requested for this planning exercise.
In Vancouver and around the world, middle-class citizens rage against planning that favours profit over people.
by Patrick M. Condon, 26 Aug 2013, TheTyee.ca
What do the demonstrations at Gezi Park in Turkey,, and the in Vancouver's Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood have in common?
Throughout the world we are observing what happens when you suppress a debate about who the city is for, and how it should be built………..
Rage is real
But this brings us back again to the parallels between the Turkish revolt over Gezi Park and the Brazilian "Bus Revolt" actions.
While the case is very strong for increasing Vancouver's economic magnetism -- for Vancouver to be one of the world's "winners" over the course of the next few decades -- the weakness of this vision is the view of what makes cities thrive. It assumes that the fickle goddess of global investment must be persuaded to direct her gaze our way for us to flourish.
But not everyone agrees. The protests in Brazil and Turkey are all in opposition to this view. The critique is that when decision makers focus exclusively (and in most cases undemocratically) on attracting global investment to achieve economic development ends, it undermines the natural rights of citizens.
The rage generated by this feeling of impotence can sometimes seem incoherent, leaderless, unfocused -- but the rage is real and it's powerful enough to threaten established governments.
This rage seems particularly acute when democratic practices have been subverted -- when leaders present a face of community connection and a commitment to consultation on the one hand, but are driven by external motivations which have only a limited connection to immediate local needs and current democratic processes.
In the case of Vancouver, it feels particularly heartbreaking to many.
Political leadership in Vancouver has been united for decades across three different leading parties and their commitment to sustainability. Beginning with NPA-led efforts in Yaletown, continuing with COPE's commitment to sustainability demonstrated notably by efforts at southeast False Creek, followed by Sam Sullivan's courage in tying density to sustainability in his EcoDensity plan, and finally now with Vision's Greenest City initiative.
The despondency, present in many conversations heard across the city, is consequent to a feeling of having lost our way. There is a feeling that the green progressive agenda has been co-opted by the same forces many thought it opposed.
Certainly it can be and has been argued that there is more than one way to measure and arrive at a sustainable city, and to ignore global realities is unwise. But absent of a legitimately democratic conversation about what kind of city best accommodates our lives and the lives of our kids, the frustrations among the electorate will likely remain palpable, and our progress towards our common goal will be halting at best.