All Hell Breaks Loose with Proposed Housing Density Increases in Vancouver!

 

Vancouver protestsAll hell is breaking loose in Vancouver.

I wish I were there to watch it.

 

For decades, the so-called Lotus Land has prided itself on its premier status as the most liveable city in the world.

 

 

Etc.

 

And so on.

 

 

Visiting Overseas Experts

Its retired or retrenched planners (those Visiting Overseas Experts) frequently visit this country as speakers and consultants and evoke images of delighted citizens embracing planning reforms — including (especially) housing density increases.

 

The proposed NSW planning reforms are apparently modelled on the now out-of-date, irrelevant and (for our State planning purposes) discredited “Vancouver model” of community engagement…

 

… which in NSW turns out to mean proposals for no substantial or authentic engagement about what matters when it matters.


What’s really happening in Vancouver?

 

The Vancouver vision is one of peaceful acceptance of housing density increases. Hmmm.   Nothing could be further from the reality!

 

stop marpole rezoning placards

A basic Web search will reveal that community activism is alive and well in Canada’s Evergreen Playground — and the residents of ordinary suburbs (such as Marpole) are up in arms about rezoning.

 

And have a look at the ages of the activists.   They remind me of the H.E.A.L. professionals in their sensible shoes in Sydney’s Northern Beaches protesting against the closure of the Manly Hospital.

 

The Mayor of the City of Lotus Land (oops, Vancouver) seems to keep backing down.

 

Ugly scenes occur as hundreds of protesters rally outside City Hall (just last week!).

 

And yet the juggernaut continues.

 

 

The word on the street is that the community planners ARE listening to the community — but (comme toujours), back at City Hall, they’re being rolled.

 

 

But ordinary citizens are saying that they don’t accept that “You can’t fight City Hall.”

 

They say it’s a vicious rumour spread by City Hall!

 

You can't fight city hall rumour

Video demonstrates this so well.

 

Take a look at this:

 

 



A Warning

 

Let’s be careful in Australia not to be seduced by the Lotus Eaters from the Lotus Land. It’s a powerful drug: denial.

 

In another life, decades ago, I was a scholar of Victorian poetry. I wrote a thesis on Robert Browning’s long poem. A thesis about truth.

 

And I also read Tennyson.

 

Tennyson’s The Lotos-Eaters is salutary reading at this time, especially for our Australian politicians and planners who have inhaled deeply of the exotic fragrances, eaten the poisoned fruit and fallen for “Vancouverism”:

 

But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song

Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,
Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong…


The mariners (aka our Australian planners and ambitious politicians) have been entranced by the “mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters,” who approach them bearing the flower and fruit of the lotos.


Those who eat it feel as if they have fallen into a deep sleep; they sit down and can no longer hear their fellow Australians speaking to them.

They have succumbed, hearing only the music of their own heartbeats.

 

I say: Let’s wake up.

 

Inhale the fragrance of the lemon-scented gum.

 

Listen to the kookaburras.

 

And let’s stop this nonsense!

 

For more video from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), see:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 comments


  • Brian Bosworth

    Wake up Australia, if you’ve been using Vancouver as an model!

    The real problem in Vancouver is that (unlike at the Canadian federal and provincial levels), there are NO restrictions on civic-level campaign funding in British Columbia.

    So guess what happens? the civil political parties are funded by those with the money: real estate development interests.

    No bonus points for guessing what they want.

    The current (Blurred) Vision regime in power in Vancouver, including a mayor popularly referred to as “Mayor Moonbeam”,backed by these development interests are great practitioners of “green-washing”.

    That is, they build bike lanes as cover for the kangaroo consultation they allow on massive density increases aimed at destroying traditional Vancouver neighbourhoods.

    The city has time and time again on multiple development issues ignored what the current residents of these neighbourhoods desire (as reflected in the development visions developed with REAL neighbourhood input as long as 30 years ago).

    The city practices mock consultation with the help of a large contingent of city fart-catcher spin doctors, then rams through development.

    The city has been at this game long enough that they have finally pissed of a critical mass of neighbourhoods large enough to push back politically. That and the next election is a little over a year away.

    Densification must first be removed from between the ears of the politicians. As usual, that means you have to throw the bastards out.

    hopefully, Vancouver is well on the way to doing that.

    09/30/2013
  • Brian Bosworth

    Wake up, Australia, if you’ve been using Vancouver as an model!

    The real problem in Vancouver is that (unlike at the Canadian federal and provincial levels), there are NO restrictions on civic-level campaign funding in British Columbia.

    So guess what happens? The civil political parties are funded by those with the money: real estate development interests.
    No bonus points for guessing what they want.

    The current (Blurred) Vision regime in power in Vancouver, including a mayor popularly referred to as “Mayor Moonbeam”,backed by these development interests are great practitioners of “green-washing”.

    That is, they build bike lanes as cover for the kangaroo consultation they allow on massive density increases aimed at destroying traditional Vancouver neighbourhoods.

    The city has time and time again on multiple development issues ignored what the current residents of these neighbourhoods desire (as reflected in the development visions developed with REAL neighbourhood input as long as 30 years ago).

    The city practices mock consultation with the help of a large contingent of city fart-catcher spin doctors, then rams through development.

    The city has been at this game long enough that they have finally pissed of a critical mass of neighbourhoods large enough to push back politically. That and the next election is a little over a year away.

    Densification must first be removed from between the ears of the politicians. As usual, that means you have to throw the bastards out.

    Hopefully, Vancouver is well on the way to doing that.

    09/30/2013
  • John Buckberrough

    Perhaps you should wait to judge and comment until you read the report to be written by architect Andrew Marlow, who visited Vancouver and a number of American cities on a travelling scholarship from the Architectural Institute of NSW to study planning models which might be of use in plotting Sydney’s future.
    It is perhaps no surprise that, under our (Canadian) parliamentary system, the residual powers which devolve to municipal governments are mainly those connected with land use and regulation.
    The sky IS NOT FALLING (except as rain) in Vancouver, and life will go on.

    10/01/2013
    • Thank you, John. I have been helping Andy with his study, providing contacts and context. Like you, I await his report with keen anticipation. I am Canadian-born and grew up in Vancouver. Wendy

      10/01/2013
  • Corinne Fisher

    Sooner or later, unfairness always ends badly, which is why it is absolutely essential for any planning system to be fair and perceived as being fair.

    In NSW (and maybe Vancouver?), it looks like we haven’t learnt this lesson yet.

    10/01/2013
  • Andy Marlow

    John, thanks for the plug. The report is on its way.
    Wendy, thanks for assistance.

    My current understanding is that the NSW government sees Vancouver as a model that had some successes in the past but is currently not an exemplar. I agree with this (simplified) explanation.

    I believe the current situation has arisen due to poor system design, not asking the important questions and no visible means of delivering on the infrastructure/amenities that the community desire/need.

    I recognise the potential influence of the political structures and the funding model but believe that system design can provide sufficient safeguards; the extent of rezoning proposed in Marpole and Grandview-Woodland and genuine surprise from those engaged indicate that the current Vancouver system is far from optimal.

    10/01/2013

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