Where are the Voices of Vancouverites in the Vancouver Plan?
by Carol Volkart
The voices of residents and neighbourhoods are missing from the Vancouver Plan that’s supposed to guide the city’s growth for the next 30 years, says TEAM for a Livable Vancouver mayoral candidate and Councillor Colleen Hardwick.
“How can you have a Vancouver Plan without including Vancouverites?” she asked in a news release issued before she voted against the plan, which City Council passed 9-2 on July 22.
The plan is indicative of the City’s long-term disregard for residents, said Hardwick, whose party is based on the premise that residents and neighbourhoods should have a strong voice at City Hall. “Quite simply, over the past 15 years, City Hall has stopped listening to Vancouverites and this proposed plan is the proof.”
The City’s public engagement process, which was “only about ticking boxes, rather than actual engagement” means the plan doesn’t reflect what residents really think, she said. “Stand at the corner of Georgia and Granville and ask people about their city, or density, or livability, and then show them the proposed Vancouver Plan and they’ll tell you the perspective and opinions of Vancouverites are nowhere to be found.”
Hardwick said the plan’s dismissal of neighbourhoods – they weren’t even named in the Vancouver Plan map – abandons decades of award-winning neighbourhood-based planning, and ignores the diversity of the city’s different neighbourhoods.
The plan’s top-down, one-size-fits-all approach “jeopardizes what has made Vancouver unique and the qualities that made the world sit up and take notice of our community.”
Hardwick has been focusing on neighbourhoods since her election to Council in 2018, even before the creation of TEAM for a Livable Vancouver. Early in her term, she divided the city into 50 neighbourhoods and set a goal of visiting one per week to talk to residents about how their area could accommodate future growth.
“It’s amazing what you hear when you actually listen to what Vancouverites are saying about their city,” she said. “When you take those 50 neighbourhoods and you include them in real community engagement, you can actually see what makes this city tick, and why our livability attracts international attention and applause.”
Hardwick hopes citizens will get more respect after the October 15 civic election. “When City Councils and City staff stop listening to citizens because ‘they know best,’ we need a real course correction at the top,” she said.
“Planning for the future has to start with Vancouverites and finish with Vancouverites, because anything less is an elitist exercise in arrogance. . . .A Council that doesn’t listen to Vancouverites does so at its political peril.”