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"Draconian" Arbutus Legislation Undermines Democracy

April 19, 2023

VANCOUVER (April 19, 2023) - The provincial and city governments are using the dire need for supportive and affordable housing to undermine democracy and impose draconian legislation that abolishes public participation in community development, says TEAM for a Livable Vancouver.

“These legislated amendments are a great loss for democratic city building, for the democratic rights of residents,” TEAM President Cleta Brown said of Tuesday’s announcement that the province will pass legislation to ensure the controversial Arbutus Project is quickly built, despite a court action launched by residents.

While there is an urgent need for affordable housing and effective supportive housing, TEAM believes the answer is not rushed and ill-conceived projects rammed through without public support.

Instead, TEAM says the solution is to embrace MORE public participation and input in the design and growth of each unique neighbourhood. Residents should be involved in the creation of neighbourhood plans, from their inception through all stages of development. This is a democratic and successful way to address community growth and change. It has worked in the past, when Vancouver was the gold standard in urban planning, and it works in many cities today.

TEAM believes the provincial legislation, undertaken at the request of ABC Mayor Ken Sim, is a gift to developers and big agencies with arbitrary targets. “It is a gift to lazy or co-opted civic politicians who do not want to change the way business is done in their communities,” said Brown.

There is no doubt that Vancouver is growing and must better meet its housing affordability challenges. But TEAM believes shutting out residents and doubling down on municipal bureaucrats and developers shaping our towns and cities is not only undemocratic, it is corrupt.

After the 8-3 approval of the project last summer, even though 75 percent of 300 speakers at the public hearing opposed it, then-TEAM Councillor Colleen Hardwick said it showed how far council had distanced itself from the city’s residents. The Kitsilano Coalition later announced it was seeking a judicial review of the decision, based on the public hearing process, lack of information and restrictions on questions during the hearing.


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