Getting Told Again
The latest step in Norquay planning is announcement of one 30 April 2011 “information session” on zoning for new housing types. “Staff anticipate Council considering approval of zoning … in June.” The purpose of this sudden single meeting is to satisfy a formality and allow planners to claim once again that residents have been “consulted.”
City planners look to bring their finished work to a public display before going to City Council for a rubber stamp. The zoning schedules themselves are not being offered for prior inspection or review. What Norquay residents may have to say does not matter. Presentations and Q & A means that planners will talk and then have no time left for the questions they do not want to hear. There is no mention of comment being sought. If any were expected, how could planners anticipate racing their documents to Council a month or so later?
The assumption common to planners and politicians and developers is that they can do whatever they like with the zoning of Norquay’s 1500-2000 single-family properties, and freely alter the character of an organic, long established neighborhood, as long as they have even flimsy grounds to claim that their actions may increase property value. Incidental matters like property tax acceleration, loss of existing green space, and aggravation of traffic and parking impacts are met with standard fuzzy dismissals.
The interests of existing residents do not matter, nor does the density achievable with existing zoning. The agenda is revitalization — the incentivizing of always-more-expensive new construction that will profit developers, increase tax base, generate permit fees, displace lower-income residents, and meet outside consumer demand for brand-new building. Meanwhile, the “greenest city” sets out to deliberately accelerate the destruction of affordable rental housing and to ship the embodied energy of existing dwellings to the landfill.
On 3 February 2011 city planners unilaterally disbanded the Norquay Working Group, and said that sign-up would be provided at the February 19/21 Norquay open houses for two new groups on zoning specifications and benefits strategy. But at those open houses Norquay residents were told that they would have no opportunity to participate further in the planning for their own neighborhood.
The timing of the 30 April 2011 information sessions once again shows cynical manipulation of the calendar: considerably less than two working weeks of notice has been provided, and a double-long holiday weekend intervenes to distract attention and encumber schedules.
Appendix: Record of Notification and Advertisement for 30 April 2011 Norquay Information Session
• Mailout – 3.5 x 8.5 inch printed card postmarked 14 April 2011 and received 18 April 2011:
“Information Session: Zoning for New Housing Types”
• Email from planner 21 April 2011 reproducing verbal content from postal mailout
• Advertisement dated 21 April 2011 and published in Vancouver Courier 22 April 2011:
New Housing Zones in Norquay Village